Monthly Archives

November 2010

Toast, Tea and Twitter

November 29, 2010

What is it about Sunday mornings that makes them so blissful? Saturdays harness a more hectic vibe, often spent meeting friends or family, attending parties or doing some other energetic activity. Yet come Sunday morning I find myself splendidly tranquil, perfectly content to curl up on my couch with a pot of tea with the morning papers sprawled around me. I can leisurely peruse and sip for hours.

Toast is the perfect accompaniment to tea and papers. This past Sunday morning involved Dench wholegrain sourdough toast with natural peanut butter and cherry jam. We added a fruit salad and fresh watermelon juice and I moved from contented, past happy and into elation.

Heidi xo

p.s. I now have a twitter account. Ben and some friends have said that I should get one. So now I have one. I’m not quite sure what to do with it, but I’ll figure it out soon. Please follow me if you have a twitter! Is that how it works?! Twitter link here.

Double-Podded Delight

November 27, 2010

Broad beans are such a treat amongst my family. We rejoice whenever a dish in which they feature comes up in conversation. Their sweet, earthy flavour and soft texture send us all into fits of rapture. More so my mum, who until her mid-twenties, had never experienced the joy that is a double-podded broad bean.

As a child mum was fed bowls of bitter, pale, un-podded broad beans whenever she stayed with one particular relative. Naturally she developed a strong dislike for these unpleasant beans, and avoided them at all cost. It wasn’t until dining at a restaurant as a newlywed that she encountered some delightfully soft, blissful bean-shaped morsels. Upon beseeching the waiter to identify these assumingly foreign, heavenly bites, and hearing the words “broad beans” spat out ever so patronisingly, mum’s culinary world changed forever. She discovered a whole new and exciting side to the humble broad bean. All those years she simply needed to peel away the hard exterior to find a soft, quietly confident, delicious bean. Tedious is the process of double-podding, yet it is oh so worth it.

For mum’s birthday last month, we had a wonderfully vibrant breakfast of smashed broad beans and peas, fetta and mint with toasted sourdough. We celebrated not only her birthday, but the beauty of the bean (with homegrown beans, no less), and the way it re-entered her life after years of banishment to reclaim it’s rightful, esteemed position.

Dad bought mum this gorgeous antique fan. Isn’t it beautiful?

Heidi xo

History and Family Traditions

November 25, 2010

I am a bona fide history buff. I just can’t get enough. Immersing myself in old tales and period movies as a child left me fascinated with the past and fuelled my curiosity for what life was like in another time. I longed to join Jo in Concord, and knew nearly all the lines from the 1994 film version of Little Women by heart (I have two 1940’s copies of the book, and I’m still searching for earlier editions). When I was younger, if anyone asked me what time I would like to be transported back to I would wholeheartedly proclaim “to Salem with the witches!”, following a long-term obsession with the movie Hocus Pocus and later on, The Crucible.

During my final year of High School, my interest grew from books and film to include History studies. I fed my love of the past as I studied the French and Russian Revolutions. But I was left hungry, famished rather, to travel to these destinations rich in historical significance. Later that year, positively buzzing, I visited Paris and walked the streets where Robespierre and Danton stood. In Place De La Concord I dramatically re-enacted where the Guillotine was set up and took photos of landmarks everywhere I went. One of my main reasons for travelling to Russia was my fascination with the Revolution and the Leningrad blockade. So tragic and awful – how could this have occurred in the same world in which we live in today?

I digress a little. I was simply wanting to introduce myself to you as someone who thrives on learning about the past. If only I could combine my two loves, food and history, and become a food historian. Could there be anything more grand? One of my favourite television series is ‘The Supersizers Go’, which takes you on a journey through past eras and the food they ate during that time. It is one hour of pure, unadulterated viewing bliss. My only qualm is that it is not on the television nearly as often as I would like.

Naturally, I adore learning about my family’s traditions. I can sit and look at my nana’s slides from the 60’s for hours. Seeing my mum and her two siblings in adorable little outfits, the trips they took and houses they lived in makes me so happy. If only there were more food photographs, as oh, do I love to hear what food my parents ate as children. Retro fabulousness.

As a side note, my nana has now begun to take photographs of interesting or delicious food she encounters, as she knows that I love to hear about these things. Just this week I received an email with a photograph of strawberry pancakes that my grandparents ate while visiting the Big Strawberry. Maybe I’m starting my own family tradition here?…

Today’s post is a rather nostalgic one, focusing on history and family tradition. It revolves around my family’s Christmas Pudding. Mum was passed this beloved recipe from Aunty Daphne, my nana’s brother’s wife. The pudding is very typically English.

Each year mum makes this pudding, just the same as the year before. Come November I always see it hanging in the corner of the kitchen, ripening, to be ready for Christmas Day. Walking past the calico cloth with it’s bulbus, plump bottom, my heart is filled with warmth and anticipation, as I know that Christmas and celebrations with loved ones are just around the corner.

One adaptation that mum has made to Aunty Daphne’s recipe is the soaking of the fruit for two days (rather than one). Mum will soak the fruit in whatever alcohol she has in the house (i.e. some sherry, brandy or whisky).

For the past five or so years, we have paired our pudding with a Boozy Sauce discovered in an issue of Delicious. I adore this sauce. I always request a doubling of the recipe, as we only make it once a year and like to savour it. We often turn the second batch into ice-cream. This year I am thinking of making a third batch, for me to take home for Ben and I – it is that good.

Another family tradition relates to what goes inside the pudding. We no longer put a coin in the middle, as is a very old and common tradition. Mum and I travelled to Italy and France over Christmas 2003 and returned with little trinkets from the inside of a King Tart, which we shared with our French friends at their house over the festive season. We now put these trinkets inside our pudding, to infuse a bit of French flair into our English pudding.

This year I documented the pudding process, and I know that I will cherish these photographs in years to come. Hopefully my children develop the same love of history and family traditions that I have, and we can all come together, discussing the past and those who lived years before us over a bowl of Aunty Daphne’s Christmas Pudding.

Now we just have to wait for Christmas Day. What a tease.

What is one of your family food traditions?

Heidi xo

Our 65km Walk

November 22, 2010

Well, we did it!! We walked from Red Hill to Bentleigh, 65km over two days (you can read about why we walked 65km in my previous post here). We’re sore and have some freaky blisters. I am also a little sun-burnt (despite reapplying sunscreen diligently!) and have some seriously strange tan lines. But we feel great!

I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of support our friends and family have given us. We have been able to raise over $2000 already, with some more donations to come. This will all help Baan Dada get closer to building the Technical School. Thank you to everyone who donated and supported Ben and I. It means the world to us, and the money has gone to a great cause. Well done team! I have such admiration and empathy for the amazing Baan Dada workers and kids, who walked for more than 10 days! Lying in bed last night, I could not have contemplated walking another 30+km this morning.

Fuel for Walking

As soon as we came up with the idea of doing this walk, my mind switched into menu planning mode. Is there anything more fun than menu planning? I wanted food that was high energy, high protein for the amount of exercise we would be doing, and which wouldn’t sit heavy in our stomachs. It was also important to keep our fluids up, especially with the weather being warm.

Breakfast

I decided we should start our mornings with eggs, wholegrain sourdough toast and avocado. Great fuel to start the day!

Lunch

For lunch I made natural peanut butter and jam sandwiches. On the first day I had peanut butter and banana, but this didn’t sit so well in my stomach – shocking, I know, as I usually love this combination.

Snacks

You all know how I love to make my own muesli bars, however I had a big bag of fresh dates to use up, and felt like trying something new. I recalled some Power Bars that I had bookmarked to try months ago, and decided now was the perfect time to make them (recipe link here – Camilla Saulsbury’s Fruit, Seed and Nut Power Bars).

These are really delicious. They remind me of IXL Apricot Fruit Bars, however they taste far more natural. They’re super soft, with the occasional crunch of a seed or almond. Some natural sugar from the dates and apricots, and some protein from the almonds and seeds – they’re the perfect light snack to give you a burst of energy.

I also made some Power Balls for another light, quick energy snack. I blended up some fresh dates, pecans and almonds with a dash of vanilla extract, pure maple syrup, fresh grapefruit juice and some chia seeds. This made a moist date/nut paste, which I made into three different flavours. I will post a recipe soon once I work on the measurements a little – they were a bit too moist for my liking.

Some I rolled into balls then added flaked almonds.

With others I added a touch of ground coffee and then rolled them into balls. We both enjoyed this coffee flavour the most. They were really rich and intense, yet light and happy at the same time. I only wish I made more of these!

For the rest, I added a touch of coconut, formed them into balls and then rolled them in more coconut. This gave them a flavour reminiscent of rum balls – healthy rum balls, who would have thought!?

Lastly, I packed us some apples and water (which we refilled frequently).

How To Get Really Big Blisters 101

Here is a non-food related (although I won’t be held accountable if some food chatter sneaks in) recap of our walk. We actually had a lot of fun. We talked and laughed a lot, and were blessed with beautiful weather – blue skies and an agreeable, yet sometimes overzealous sun. Some dear friends met us along the way too, which was fabulous.

Day One

Speaking of friends, Ben made one early on in a tiny beetle who hitched a ride on his finger. We called him ‘Gob’ after the Arrested Development character.

John rode all the way from Elwood (70km!) and met us in Red Hill. Pure champion! He walked with us for a few km and then rode back home (ouch!).

Jackson joined us for nearly 10km, which was great – he’s always tremendously entertaining. When mum collected him, she further proved her brilliance by bringing us Frosty Fruits.

Coconut water! Young coconut water contains some electrolytes (and is delicious!) so I thought I would pack a bottle. Honestly this isn’t my favourite brand, however it was the only one I could find at the store with a screw top (i.e. not a can). This one had some sweeteners in it and tasted quite artificial. I prefer the four-packs I get from the Asian supermarket.

Mum joined us for the final leg of Day One from Mornington to Mt Eliza, setting an undoubtedly perky pace (when we our stride was decidedly less chipper). Her high spirits carried us through to the end point, where we met my friend Emma and Louis (her new, adorable, teeny tiny puppy). Unfortunately I didn’t catch a snap. This may be a good thing, as seeing his precious picture may have overwhelmed you lovely readers and sent you into a cuteness-induced conniption!

Dinner

Due to our Mt Eliza lodging plans falling through, we ended up sleeping back in Red Hill at my parent’s house. This was, in fact, wonderful, as dad had decided to show his support by greeting us with a refreshing mocktail (mango nectar, soda and mint) and putting on a delicious spread, quinoa salad included (he used lemon rind in his quinoa salad, which was a great addition).

Happy dance after having completed Day One!

Mum had made a delicious bolognaise to help us refuel. It is made with pork and veal mince, and has a fairly laborious cooking process. It is completely worth it though. I will look for the recipe to share with you, as it is the best bolognaise I have ever had!

Day Two

The next morning we walked from Mt Eliza to Bentleigh, via the Bayside suburbs. The beach in Frankston is surprisingly beautiful – so very far from the bogan-esque connotations that are inherently summoned when one thinks of Frankston. Our good friend Debbie joined us for an hour from Frankston to Seaford, which was lovely.

Our eats were pretty much the same over the two days – see, I can’t help myself mentioning the food! Lunch was more Peanut Butter and Jam.

Snacks of Power Bars and Power Ball – they somewhat melted and became sad and limp in the bag, but they still tasted delicious and did the job!

Just to really make sure we developed some good blisters, we made a detour and ended up heading into Beaumaris, adding an extra ~5km to our walk. We got distracted talking and weren’t paying attention. Pure genius. Great job 🙂

Finally, at ~7pm we bounced, nay hobbled, through our door and were home. But not before I detoured to the supermarket to purchase ingredients to make my lemon, tuna, chilli, garlic pasta. I am aware that this behaviour is not normal, and that most people would not bother going food shopping after walking close to 40km. What can I say, I wanted to cook my pasta?! I did, however, sit on a chair in the kitchen whilst slicing and sautéing 🙂

We showered, stretched, ate and then….slept…

We had a lot of fun walking (and menu planning!) and can’t wait to visit Baan Dada in 2 months time to see how all the fundraising initiatives have come together to make this dream come true. Thanks again to everyone who supported us, you are all so special and fabulous.

I’m considering doing many long walks in the future, if only as an excuse to make and eat Power Balls 🙂

Heidi xo

A Picnic in the Park and One Long Walk

November 19, 2010

On the weekend, when the sun shines gently and bright, one of my favourite things to do is pack a fresh meal, head to a grassy knoll and laze about on a rug sharing a meal with loved ones. The lingering sun beckons you to stay all afternoon… reading, puppy spotting, performing handstands and cartwheels, munching on picnic perfect food and snoozing. If you’re lucky, a fellow picnicker will have a guitar and play Jack Johnson-esque tunes as a backdrop to your blissfully nonchalant day.

Ben and I did just that the other weekend (minus the guitar). We bathed in the sunshine, shared a big, fresh salad (roquette, tuna, roasted beetroot, goats cheese, olives, carrot, cucumber, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil) and were happily gate crashed and smothered by a gorgeous Labrador puppy. All capped off with a peaceful nap.

The perfect Spring day…

This weekend looks to be ideal picnicking weather in Melbourne. However Ben and I will not be pulling out our tartan rug – quite the contrary. We will be walking 65kilometers this weekend, from Red Hill to Bentleigh. Why? Just for fun! No, honestly I alluded to it in this post. We are walking to raise money to help build a Technical School in Thailand. We volunteered at Baan Dada, a children’s home in Western Thailand, for 5 weeks last October.

Baan Dada do a lot of fantastic and necessary community work (helping Thai locals and Burmese refugees) including vaccinations, eye checks and affording kids an education. Baan Dada is such a special place. Every cent goes to these kids and the community.

The latest project initiated by Baan Dada, is the building of a Technical School in the area (the locals don’t have access to further education other than a 4 hour drive away). This is a massive task, and requires a lot of funding.

The Dadas (‘brothers’), current volunteers and some of the kids have already completed a 218km walk last month, aiming to raise funds for the school via sponsors. Check out this youtube video if you want to see the beginning! One of the Dadas is still making his way down to Phuket, hoping to raise more funds. You can read his walk journal here – he is an amazing man.

This weekend, we are doing our bit and walking from my parent’s house (in Red Hill) to our apartment (in Bentleigh) with an overnight pitstop in Mt Eliza. We have already had some very generous donations, of which we are so very grateful. I’m not using this blog to beg for donations, my friends and family will endure this :), however if you do wish to donate you can email me. Any donation is greatly appreciated. Ben and I are returning to Baan Dada this coming January, which is very exciting. We cannot wait to get back there!

This evening I was busy making power bars and energy balls for us to eat on this massive journey. You can imagine how much fun I had planning our menu 🙂 I will post an update on how we travelled, as well as what we ate and some recipes on Monday.

In the mean time, wish us luck!! And if you’re not also walking 65km this weekend, I suggest you go out and enjoy the beautiful weather with a picnic 🙂

Heidi xo

The Watermelon Song

November 18, 2010

“Watermelon. Watermelon. I love, you love Watermelon!”

When Ben and I stayed in Hong Kong for a few weeks at the tail end of our European/Thailand adventure last year, we were finally able to spend a good amount of time with his gorgeous little niece, Ella. She is far too cute (and smart) for words, and loves to sing. Ella would listen to The Watermelon Song, by Justine from Play School, over and over again. Even now, whenever we see some watermelon, Ben and I break into song.

Last Sunday morning, I made us a refreshing breakfast following our gym workout and a very successful op shop visit.

Fresh “Watermelon. Watermelon.” and Raspberry juice.

Served with Banana and Yoghurt Soft Serve – inspired by Choosing Raw.

Banana Yoghurt Soft Serve

Two frozen bananas mixed with ~300g vanilla yoghurt, blended until the consistency of creamy, delicious soft serve (~2 minutes). I adore making and eating this, and will often have it as a healthy evening treat.

I also whipped up a quick batch of my Maple Granola with Vanilla and Pecans for something crunchy to sprinkle on top.

Eaten whilst reading the Sunday papers, marvelling at our recent op shop purchases and singing The Watermelon Song, it was a positively perfect Sunday morning.

Heidi xo

Chocolate

November 16, 2010

What can I say about chocolate…velvety, luscious chocolate? Bless those heavenly, mood-enhancing, bittersweet, sensuous cocoa bean of the Gods. It is an unusual evening when I don’t end my day with a piece of dark chocolate, dissolving it on my tongue ever so graciously as it sends my heart a flutter.

As a child, I was rather odd in terms of my candy preferences. I didn’t like hard sweets or sugary lollies. Occasionally I would enjoy some of those little yellow and green pineapple lollies or ‘nerds’, these were the delicious exceptions. However I would never seek candy out, nor relish its presence at birthday parties. My heart was sold to a far more delicious treat…chocolate.

I simply adored chocolate. Sweet, melt-in-your-mouth divinity. Clearly my adoration has not faltered. I just loved playing the chocolate dice game at birthday parties, where we would all sit in a circle and roll a dice, hoping for a six so we could dress up and eat chocolate with a knife and fork, all the while giggling hysterically. The sight of that royal purple Cadbury chocolate block meant that fun and deliciousness was in store.

Easter was a favourite time of year, as mum would hide Easter eggs around our garden and I would grab a little basket and eagerly hunt and gather little chocolate eggs. They never lasted long. My bother would keep his chocolate Easter Bunnies for months and months, and it was all I could do to not sneak into his adjacent room and take an ear…or two (the ears are the best bit!).

These days, my chocolate affairs are a little more mature, even sultry. Whether carefully peeling back the foil of a newly purchased block of dark chocolate and relishing the first touch to my lips, popping a Lindt ball into my mouth and delighting as it melts and oozes silken gold, or demolishing a perfectly poised chocolate fondant with a spoon and watching with gleeful eyes as the gooey, rich centre spills forth, I love my chocolate.

The other day, Ben and I shared a milk hot chocolate at the Lindt café. The perfect way to indulge a mid-afternoon chocolate craving.

A smooth, silky, sumptuous sweet stream of pure indulgence.

Heavenly. Decadent. Enchanting.

Heidi xo

Spring Minestrone

November 14, 2010

This Spring, I feel that Mother Nature has been particularly fickle. One day it will be a humid, sticky 32 Degrees, the next a rainy 19 Degrees with a palpable chill in the air, reminiscent of mid June. Whilst it can be rather frustrating, as I so long for sunny Spring days where I can walk in the park and literally smell the roses, I suppose there are a few things to be grateful for when Mother Nature’s mood swings bring around another Wintery day…soup, for example! What better time to make this Spring soup than now, in Spring, and when it is cool enough to be thankful for the warming effect that soup offers.

Two Sundays ago it was rather chilly, so for lunch Mum made Jamie Oliver’s delightful Spring Minestrone. Combined with fig and walnut bread, it was simply perfect. We added a dollop of basil pesto, as is suggested in the recipe.

I tend to stick to my usual minestrone, which is quite tomato heavy. I honestly much preferred this lighter recipe, which relied on some lovely chicken stock and sunny Spring-time vegetables.

I will be adding this refreshing recipe to my soup repertoire with a sunny smile on my face…even if outside the sun is decidedly absent.

Heidi xo

Hot Oats

November 12, 2010

I appreciate that it is 32 Degrees here in Melbourne today, and our apartment is like a sauna after another hot day yesterday, but I simply don’t care. I wanted porridge for breakfast… and so I made porridge for breakfast.

I know, I know, I’m pretty hardcore – recklessly disregarding the weather and all. Oats tend to bring out my rebellious side. Don’t try this at home if you don’t think you can handle it. It does require a major dedication to porridge. Here is a tip, eat your oats in front of a fan 🙂

My hot oats…

Oats cooked in skinny milk with chia seeds and a banana. Topped with raspberries, toasted almond flakes and a drizzle of maple syrup. Hotness.

Heidi xo

Pizza at Red Hill

November 11, 2010

On October 2nd, we were down in Red Hill for my younger brother’s birthday. He turned 20, apparently. To me he will always be my younger brother, and 20 seems far too old to be true. All of my family’s birthdays are in 6 weeks of each other. It’s a jam packed, busy time. Lots of fun, love and food. Jackson had some friends around and we had a nice, relaxing afternoon.

Nibbles…

Dukkah with Bread and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We had Gourmet Morsel‘s Egyptian Hazelnut Dukkah. Amazing. Possibly Jackson’s favourite food too. Give him bread, oil and dukkah and he’s happy.

The garden is looking lovely this Spring…

The vegetable garden has given us delicious Kale, and I am forever grateful.

Apple Mint – lovely with sparkling water.

Fingers crossed for our olive trees!

Happy.

Allie (Jackson’s ridiculously gorgeous girlfriend) and Jackson with Ben and I.

One of Jackson’s friends bought him 20 Kinder Surprises for his birthday. Brilliant.

Dad made pizza. He does this extremely well. He loves his oven, and so do I. I only wish I could have homemade woodfired pizza more often. Ben and I will definitely be having a woodfired oven of our own when we buy a house.

In no time at all…

…we had beautiful, thin crust pizza. Bellissimo!

Jackson requested tiramisu, and so mum and I made Jamie Oliver’s Tiramisu from his recent ‘Jamie Does’ book, which I have and adore. Jamie proclaims this as his ‘Best Tiramisu’. I think he was mistaken. I absolutely love Jamie, those close to me know this very well. But I didn’t love this recipe. I prefer a more layered tiramisu, with less chocolate – the chocolate layer was far too intense for my liking. The recipe called for a lot of mascarpone. We cut down the amount and it was still too much. I did, however, love the addition of orange zest. I still love Jamie. Maybe he just got a little drunk on the vin santo (which the recipe calls for) whilst making this, and subsequently labelled everything ‘the best’…

It was a lovely, chilled day. Happy birthday Jackson. Thanks for all the super fun, silly times. So often I made you watch girlie movies and forced you to perform musicals with me. You were a stellar Aladdin. You’ll always be my partner in crime. Love you, Bobdidiliod. Love, Bobdidiliana. I cant believe I just published our nicknames…

Heidi xo