The good, the bad and the ugly

Hello 2013, so much for trying to post more often.  That’s one resolution out the window.

I’ve wanted to share so many things about my Christmas break (I had 10 days off work) but too much time has passed, too much wine was drunk and now I can’t remember all those things.  Perhaps editing via wine drinking is a good technique to spare you the boring details.  So I’m giving you a summary of some of the happenings of the last month.

The good:

The weather -thank you mother nature – although its been hot its been fantastic to have a non-raining summer. My little part of the world has come to life, the beaches are swarming with happy people, the BBQ’s have been getting a work out and its been so much fun.

Thank you santa for my new bike (yes I do sound like a child but my new bike is making me very happy)

my beautiful papillionaire bicycle

my beautiful papillionaire bicycle

The interesting

This year I got my Christmas ham in a somewhat unusual way.  No supermarket or butchers shop for me, I met with some fabulous organic pig farmers in the carpark of a train station – don’t believe me, check out this photo.  Faces were not shown, just bums (sorry Meg).  These are people who are passionate about food quality and animal welfare.  Their pigs get to spend alot of time foraging for food, eating the excess from their harvests, snuffling aorund in the dirt and simply enjoying life as a pig.  Time to maturity depends on many things – the quality of the crops, the natural cycle of growth of the animals, the weather etc.  Last year they didn’t have any hams for christmas as the pigs did not grow fast enough.  Not to worry, they sold easter hams.  This year the piggies were huge, much bigger than expected and the butchers had to get creative when cutting up sellable pieces of ham.  Thats nature and I love it.  The ham was amazing, beautiful texture, great flavour and I feel really lucky to enjoy such a special product.

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As we were driving off, the gorgeous M’s mini me asked ‘was that lady a real cowgirl?’

So now onto the The Bad

Food waste – sorry, close down now if you find this boring.  Last week new data indicated that half of the food produced in the world is thrown away!   Alot of produce simply doesn’t leave the farm because our multi national food companies have forced prices so low, the cost to the farmer is greater to get it to market than to trash it.  Just last year on the Sunshine coast hinterland my students visited a strawberry farm whilst in the process of trashing tonnes of strawberries.  It was a bumper crop year and the prices were so low that the farmers couldn’t make a profit by selling to large markets.  I remember one large multinational company selling strawberries last year  3 punnets for $5.  Okay so its great that a fruit is so affordable but its not great if its putting farmers out of business.  So what can we do – we can try to buy local and buy from farmers markets, roadside stalls or join a co-op that buys straight from farms.  Do some searching on the internet, there are so many ways to buy food and cut out the middle man. I got 10kg of grass fed beef delivered to my door over christmas from a mob called Bonnie Beef.These types of sellers are popping up all over the country.

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The second bad to this equation is food waste in the home.  2 out of every 6 bags of groceries bought is thrown away.  Thats your precious hard earned money going in the bin. So what can you do – try meal planning and maybe doing your shopping list at the same time.  Don’t impulsively buy a perishable (because its on sale ;-)) without considering if you will actually cook it or eat it.  Go through your vegetable crisper and make some meals to use up the vegetables that are starting to look sad.  Or juice them or make a big vegetable coup.  Or buy some chooks or learn how to compost properly or get a worm farm. I have a wise young friend who collects her childrens half eaten fruit (especially apples – you know what I’m talking about don’t you), cut off the bits they haven touched and freezes these scraps to use later.  You can stew the apples to put on porridge or through yoghurt etc.  I know, this is all boring and hard work but do you want to keep throwing your money away?  Think of all the pairs of shoes you could buy if you didn’t chuck 2 bags of food away each week/fortnight.

Sorry for being preachy, but its the big stuff that I care about.  Do you throw away alot of food or do you have some tricks that you use?

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dinner at my house

The wonderful Lorraine from ‘Not quite Nigella’ recently posted a weeks worth of her eating. Its strangely interesting to see how another person eats. So in this theme, I have decided to record a weeks worth of dinners at my house. Its not a usual week but then there is no usual week for me. I decide my meals on mood, what I’ve bought at the markets and time.
The gorgeous M spent saturday night coughing. I woke up and decided that we would have chicken soup for dinner. A quick look through my recipes and I knew that I wanted chicken pho. Not a quick meal but enjoyable to make – there is something very satisfying about boiling bones don’t ya think!

Naturally, I forgot to take the plated up meal. We have the table set with herbs, bean shoots, chilli, lime and the bowls ready to go with rice noodles and chicken meat.

Dinner plans were cancelled for monday night as we were invited to a little birthday celebration for our beautiful 5 year old twin friends.

Tuesday night – lamb saagwala.  i had some lamb forequarter chops which I trimmed and diced.  I also had a big bag of spinach and some leftover fresh coriander from last week.  At my local market I buy spice mixes from a sunshine coast company called ‘spice it’.

Wednesday night – whats in the fridge?  Some leftover stock from the chicken pho, some beautiful pesto from a local deli and lots of green vegetables.  Dinner was green risotto with a little feta cheese crumbled through.

Thursday night – the gorgeous M’s mini-me (Master 4yr old)got his favourite meal- sushi.  Thick rolls with smoked trout, avocado and cucumber and thin rolls with tuna and Japanese mayonnaise.

Now its friday night and I’m feeling tired and uninspired.  We have BBQ’ed sausages on wraps with salad

The last night is saturday night and guess what – I forgot to take a photo.  We had a BBQ at the beach with our wonderful neighbours.  There were a number of salads and we enjoyed BBQed steak with salad, chilled white wine and really great company. So that was a week at my house.  Every week is different but overall we try for at least one fish dinner, one meatless night and there is usually one BBQ night.  Do you have any stock standard favorites at your place?

The Pocket espresso bar, Moffat Beach

Some things are best kept a secret.  But secrets never stay a secret for long and this little place was being stalked by coffee lovers for weeks before they even opened.

As it happens, my neck of the woods is a region of the Sunshine coast called Caloundra.  Caloundra is often overlooked by those looking for that winning combination of glamour and beach.  What they don’t know about Caloundra is my secret and I’m happy to keep this a secret.  But, back to coffee.  Sadly, Caloundra is also full of awful coffee.  Muddy, burnt, milky, weak – you think of a bad coffee and you can probably get one here.  Or, if a place does extract a good brew they often can’t do it again.  So its a russian roulette that you lose more often than win.

But alas, the saviours are here, please meet Jonny and Ester.

A Brother and sister team with an amazing crew of young, hip, gorgeous but friendly people.  And they can make a good coffee, every day, consistently.  At first, you think the parties up the front, all good coffee and the funky vibe.  I didn’t even look at the food for a few weeks, I had eyes only for the coffee.  So the coffee is seriously good, if you want to know some details they use campos beans and a La Marzocco machine.  Jonny spent weeks getting the brew just right and has trained Lochie and Sebastian to strive for the same quality and consistency.  So that should be that, coffee review done, but hang on a minute because the fun is just starting.  Let me tell you about the food.

In case you don’t know, I’m a bit fussy with my food and I don’t usually bother with food from cafes.  The bought in cakes that are all the same, the stodgy muffins – really I don’t have much interest in eating food like that.  But this is where the lovely Ester comes in and not only does she have the brightest, bestest smile in town, the girl can cook.  We discover that the real party is out the back, in the kitchen!

And I think that her talent lies with all things buttery.    Those blueberry muffins come studded with white chocolate and the muffin top is perfect.  The texture is just right, the top has lovely crunchy edges and the insides are fluffy and light.  You need to be quick though because they sell out really quickly and I think she only makes one batch every morning.  I’ve also tasted the gluten free bars and they are made on the premises and delicious.

If you are in the mood for something savoury and a bit more substantial, you must have a look at these babies. I love butter, I love cake and I love pastry and the pastry on the pies is the star for me.  The fillings are delicious, I’ve tried the pork, cider and apple pies and it all works really well.  I’ve also tried the beef, cheese and jalapeno pie and they pack a flavour punch that leaves the insides of your cheeks sweating but begging for more.  Perhaps not for the faint hearted.

They also do an assortment of paninis and wraps that work well for both breakfast and lunch.  Its a tiny space with a lounge at the back and stools around the front window bar.  It looks straight onto the park and moffat beach.  Its the perfect place to get a really good coffee and some food and then wander over to the park or the beach.  They open at 6am and its really busy with the early morning crowd – dog walkers, surfers, yogee’s, boot campers, and those needing a good brew on their way to work.

someone from Campos helping out

All coffees, muffins and pies were paid for, both calorifically and financially by me x

Sydney eating

I’ve just come back from 5 days in Sydney at a conference.  I’d love to share some of my dining/food experiences with you so here is my first attempt at a restaurant review style post.  Before I start – where do you go to get a decent cup of coffee in Sydney?  We were staying at Darling harbour and I had 3 terrible coffees (couldn’t drink 2 of these), one nice but a bit lacking in the balls department (sorry – thats official coffee speak) and one good brew.  I guess I should have asked this question before I left. So onto the dining.

The day before I left I was chatting with my neighbours (who are from Sydney) about wanting a great bowl of pho.  Where I live there are no Vietnamese restaurants full stop.  Their son lives in Sydney and swears to know the best pho joint in town. So off to Pho Pasteur we go (it sounds good if you say fur pasteur)(it almost rhymes but why) at 709 George st. Its daggy, brightly lit, old laminated menus plus menus on the walls, spelling mistakes a plenty amd full of happy asian diners. Yippee, happy days, here we go.

They have various types of pho on the menu $10 -$12, noodle salads and rice noodles.  I was after beef pho, but curious about the special beef pho.  The waiter told us that in addition to the raw thin slices of beef fillet, there are 4 types of beef cooked in the pho.  I wasn’t in my most adventurous mood and was a bit scared of getting some stomach lining or other such delicacy in my soup and opted for the standard.  Good choice gf, I saw a couple at the next table exchanging all manner of innards over their pho.  I love food, I’m pretty willing to try different things but just can’t seem to go for offal.  So here it is, it was delicious, served with wedges of lemon, bean shoots and vietnamese mint.  A mazing!!

Now to Breakfast!

I forgot to write down the address but we wandered down to a lovely little french cafe called Le Depot.  Its on the same road as Thorpies aquatic centre and the powerhouse museum and the provider of my best coffee in sydney.

I couldn’t face a carb heavy breakfast (I’m a bit irritable in the bowel department if you know what I mean) so ordered the salmon, potato and leek tart.  It was devine and oh yeah, it cost $6.  Coffee and tart cost $9 unreal.  My friends/work colleagues had – toasted cereal with rhubarb compote and yoghurt, a strawberry tart and a toasted croissant.

They also had the most wonderful looking cakes, fruit flans, baguettes etc. and all for a really good price.  So Le Depot – I’m a fan.  Thats 2 great dining experiences and you won’t be hearing about the not so great ones.  My next post will be about the wonderful night we had at Red Lantern on Riley and, Luke was in the house woo hoo

By the way, I was at the International Congress of Dietetics, check out some of the trade exhibitors

rocket pesto

My little winter garden is overflowing with rocket and green leaves but I’m not really loving my salads at the mo. Its never cold for long in Queensland so I’m enjoying some slow cooked meals, roasts and winter foods whilst I can. Oh but what to do with all those greens!

So I decided to make a rocket pesto with toasted macadamia nuts and green chilli.  The nuts come from a local grower who sells at a sunday market, the chillies came from my garden.  I won’t bore you with the detail but I added extra virgin olive oil, salt and finished with some parmesan.

Its a gorgeous colour and full of flavour but a tad on the bitter side. I’m not too sure as yet what I’ll do with it.  Any suggestions out there?

Broccoli – oh yeah

I may have mentioned that I love broccoli and basically most green things.  Not off mouldy green things but fresh, crispy or crunchy (if you’ve seen Rango you may choose to do a rango voice here) gorgeous green veggies/herb.  Just yesterday I received a tweet about some research on broccoli.  Of course I got a bit excited and had to go to the source article.

thats my broccolini!

So some research has found that combining broccoli with spicy foods can enhance its cancer fighting powers.  The spicy foods mentioned in the research were horseradish, wasabi (same thing really) and mustard.  Radishes, rocket, cabbage and brussel sprouts also got a mention.  Basically they found that by combining the broccoli with the spicy foods, the anti-cancer agent sulforaphane was released in the ileum as early as 30 minutes after eating the meal.  When these foods are eaten individually, the sulforphane is released much later in the colon.  The ileum is part of the small intestine (the first section after the stomach) and the colon is part of the large intestine (the last bit of the gastrointestinal tract).

But what does this mean for real people?  Nothing really but perhaps if you have a strong family history of cancer and you specifically try to eat a diet that will protect you against cancer, it may be of use to you.  I thought about this quite a bit yesterday; broccoli and mustard weren’t exactly inspiring food combinations, but I have come up with a few ideas.

1. Lightly blanche broccoli and add it to your salad.  Include rocket, radish and make a french style salad dressing e.g. olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
2. Make tempura vegetables (with lots of broccoli of course) and mix some wasabi in the tempura dipping sauce.
3. You could simply do stir fried greens including broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts. For some extra flavour, start the stir fry with mustard seeds.
4. If meat and veg are more your style, make a honey mustard sauce for the meat (lovely on pork chops or steak). I smother organic chicken breasts in seeded mustard and bake in the oven. Serve with a rocket and broccoli salad.

If you can think of anything else, please leave a comment!

 

 

mystery tomato from where?

Where did this strange tomato come from?  What descriptive words are springing to mind (nipple) when you look at its strange (nipple) form?  This thingy has self sown from my compost but I promise that I have never bought a tomato with a pointy nipply end like that.  Okay, I’ll stop saying nipple.  No its not funny, well maybe a little if you say it out aloud 😉

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