Friday, October 29, 2010

It's Alive!

Drum roll please....I finally have a vegetable garden! It's only taken three weekends; one to clear the huge mess, one to work out what the hell to do with the giant pile of weeds I'd created, and one to purchase and plant.

There's regular mint, Vietnamese mint, Moroccan mint (just to cover all bases!), parsley, sage, chives, oregano, coriander, dill, basil, chillies, tomato, spinach, silverbeet, cucumber, capsicum, eggplant, zucchini and squash. You know, thought I'd start small...

And they're growing! Which is the complete opposite of anything I've ever had a plant do before. I am, as Sherry Strong would say, 'horticulturally retarded'.

Look at my zucchini!

Ta-da! A new leaf! Whose a good little planty!

It's also given me an excuse to play with my camera, so expect to see more of the progress of my new little babies.

As for this weekend, I plan on spending the rest of today doing some yoga
(if anyone's interested Yoga Download are having a 40% off sale this weekend, the code is 'HALLOWEEN2010'), cleaning the house, and working on reading the giant pile of books next to my bed. And tomorrow I'm heading down to World Vegan Day for some inspiration and tasty food.

In other super exciting news, my brand new toy arrived last week.

It was love at first blend. Banana icecream never tasted so good. Especially after having to lug the box home in the heat. Note to self: cheap trolley + awkwardly weighted box + awkward individual + cobblestones is a recipe for disaster. I haven't quite recovered from the experience yet. And I haven't had a chance to spend some quality time experimenting with him yet, but that's what rainy days are for, right? Next stop homemade hommus.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Sad Goodbye

I've got some sad news, last week my blender died. We had some good times blendy and I, with once or twice (and occasionally thrice) daily blending since last November. She changed my life and introduced me to all kinds of tasty treats. RIP little friend, life won't be the same without you.

I have often find myself wondering, "what did I eat before I had a blender?" and over the last week I've had to find out. I haven't had smoothies for breakfast for months, but of course as soon as I can't have one it's all I want. And mashing second breakfast with a fork just isn't quite the same.

However the loss of something old leaves room for the purchase of something new. Something new and exciting. Something new and exciting and with a 2HP blending capability. Something new and exciting with a 2HP blending capability that can make hot soup in minutes and that I can't wait to welcome into my kitchen!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Good Garden!

I alluded here that I would clean up the backyard over the weekend but I didn't actually think I would do it.

Yes, that is a mega pile of weeds. No, that wasn't all of it. Yes, I am ashamed.

I was creating that monster all day yesterday and holy carp I'm paying for it today. Everything hurts! The upside is that I'm not too embarrassed to go out into the yard anymore and there's now room to plant new things. Herbs! Greens! Vegetables! Exclamation!

My aching muscles didn't stop me getting into test kitchen to make some little treats to take to work this week.

These lemon ginger balls are a mix of cashew butter, Sun Warrior protein powder, mesquite, honey, lemon zest, ground ginger, coconut oil and coconut flakes. They taste exactly like my Nanna's lemon slice. Except, well, better.

Friday, October 8, 2010

An Allergic Reaction.

I've started this post so many times. Both in my head and on paper. But I'm never quite sure what I'm trying to say. I guess in the end it doesn't matter, it's the act of writing it down that helps.

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling great. And it had been so long since I'd felt so good that it was really quite strange.

And then I crashed.

A month or so ago I did an allergy test and the results came in last week. Turns out I'm highly reactive to lots of my favourite things. And it also turns out I was highly reactive to this news. Over the last twelve months I've taken huge steps in trying to eat as cleanly as I can. And this was the second time that I've been thoroughly knocked off my high horse and told that my healthy diet could very well be making me sick.

The kinesiology sessions and introspective work I've been doing have started to make me think about things in a different way and I came to the conclusion that the strong reaction and resistance I had to the idea of allergies and the feeling of vulnerability that came with it is most likely because, mentally, it's linked to something big. My kinesiologist wholeheartedly agreed and the next steps are to clear whatever it is that's holding me back. This, of course, scares the crap out of me. But more and more it's also becoming a hopeful, positive and exciting prospect.

So as I'm coming to terms with the immediate future without some of my favourite things (almonds! pineapple! kidney beans! oats! chickpeas!) it has also led to more experimentation in the kitchen. Which I'm always more than happy to do. Even with very simple flavours.

This was an allergy friendly lunch of grilled eggplant and asparagus, kale salad and Choosing Raw's amazing sunflower dill spread.

So now that I've got it back together plans for the weekend include a morning run tomorrow, some very much needed cleaning up of the garden and some long overdue lounging and picnicking in the park. (Questionable segue:) Something I certainly didn't plan was running into a lovely couple and their pet snakes on the way home from work tonight. I can now officially say that I have patted a python. Fact.

Have a lovely weekend!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Small Discoveries

Over the past few weeks I’ve been making a series of small discoveries that have helped make life seem that little bit better.

I’ve discovered that my body actually likes being active. I went for my first run in a long long time the other morning. And was rewarded with the sight of hot air balloons floating over the city. It’s such a beautiful peaceful sight, I plan on making the effort to see it more often. Unfortunately I was also rewarded with an aching body for the next two days!

I discovered that starting a relationship with a new hairdresser isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can be just the shake up I need.

I discovered that mixing powdered mineral makeup with coconut oil makes a brilliant foundation. I’m sure I’m not the first person to do this, but I’m still pretty happy with myself.

I spent a day last week discovering vegan Sydney. And stumbled across a place stocking six different flavours of Conscious Choice raw cheesecakes. For the record I had the chocolate strawberry cream pie and it was absolutely incredible.

I discovered that pumpkin used in sweet dishes is pretty freaking amazing. I made a modified version of this smoothie for breakfast this morning and love loved it. It ended up as more of a pudding really, which was fortunate as all the glasses had mysteriously disappeared and I ended up having to eat it out of a bowl.

And just now sitting in the sun in my backyard I’ve discovered how hilarious it is to watch a worm walk.

And lastly, I re-discovered how much fun it is hanging out with my housemate, retreating into our own little world and just being silly. Perhaps the best discovery of all.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Holy Carrot Cake!

Just a quick little update to say that an innocent glass of carrot juice yesterday turned into a monster. A tasty, tasty monster...

Mini raw carrot cakes! These little guys are freaking delicious!

No recipe (sorry!) because I never measure anything. But it was inspired by a combination of this and this and a recipe from here.

Ground walnuts, lots of flax seeds, coconut, raisins, dates, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, lucuma and about a cup and a half of carrot pulp. The dry ingredients were ground first then the wet ingredients were mixed in until the texture was right. Moist, but able to stick together quite happily. Then refrigerated until firm-ish and topped with a tart cashew lemon icing. Wow.

Luckily I've found plenty of people to give these away to or I would have had to sit down and eat all twelve before they went bad. All for the greater good, of course.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Happy Hibernation

I don't think I realised quite how fragile I'd been feeling. So I've been spending some down time reading novels and pampering myself.

During my latest kinesiology session my body asked for filtered water and while I was in the homewares department (swoon!) I couldn't say no to these little guys.

Tee hee. I'm seeing heart shaped raw chocolate brownies in my near future.

I had a splurge on a fabulous late 50's (very Mad Men!) dress from Clara Fox Vintage. (Have a sneak peek into the store here) I whiled away an afternoon in there trying on hats and accessories and generally just playing dress up.

I finally bought my second bar of Wild Mane shampoo.

I've been using it since March. Literally the same bar since March. It smells good enough to eat, being mostly made from food, and lasts forever. My hair is particularly fussy about what it likes, and it likes this.

I also got some calendula and oat soap which I am yet to try out, but I expect that it would be just as good.

Kristen threw in a sample of a basil-lime-coconut soap which smells incredible, seriously my whole house smells like this stuff. Thanks Kristen!

Somewhere in mail between here and the UK is a little care package to myself from Raw Gaia. I've used their clay masks before (and they're amazing) but this time I branched out and indulged in an MSM moisturising cream and a floral toner which I'm anticipating will be lovely and refreshing during the upcoming summer.

And finally I picked up some favourites from Raw Pleasure.

I wasn't a huge fan of kelp noodles after my first experience, but I've discovered the magical marriage of kelp noodles + zucchini noodles + olives + cashew cheese sauce. Love. Which is funny, because I hate traditional creamy sauces. A contradiction maybe, but that's me. And I'm learning to be ok with that.

And now it's to bed with peppermint tea and a borrowed Murakami. A very happy hibernation.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Rainbow Connection

Lots to catch up on this week! I had another session of kinesiology on Monday. It was far less confronting than the first, partly because I knew what to expect and partly because it headed in a different direction. I do believe that this therapy will help me unravel the tangled web of chicken-and-the-egg emotional and body issues that I've felt trapped in for far too long. And while that prospect scares the crap out of me, it feels like the right time. I've got another session next Monday, so I'll see where that takes me.

Since finishing school I feel so much lighter and more than one person has commented that I've got my glow back. Which makes me happy. More strange things have been happening to me lately too, I met one of my favourite artists by accident last week when he overheard me talking about him to a total stranger in a record store. Forgetting my wallet in one of my (many!) favourite health food stores led to making friends with the guy who works there that I've had a mini-crush on for ages (tee hee). And I walked home in the rain from work tonight and loved every minute of it - largely influenced by the spectacular rainbow that popped up to accompany me.

That wasn't it, obviously, but it was stunning all the same. Spring is most definitely in the air.

As far as food goes, of course there has been a lot of it. I've always eaten healthily, but around twelve months ago I became enthralled with clean eating and raw food in particular. And I loved it. It opened up a whole new world of flavours and textures and ideas to me. However lately a few different things have led me to stray away from raw. Winter would be the obvious one. Another is that when the raw craze hit me I was still eating meat occasionally. I happily made the decision to officially stop eating it earlier this year and kept up with a high-raw diet, but I feel like I missed out on an intermediate step.

When it became colder and I began to fall under the fog of stress and general gloominess that I allowed to engulf me while I was at school, my attitude toward my food changed. I was stressing over every meal and trying to keep things raw when I really didn't want to and put far too much pressure on myself. It got to the point where cooking was almost (almost!) a chore for me, and that made me sad. So, now that I've got my mojo back I'm really excited about putting some love back into my food, eating what I really feel like and allowing myself to actively explore the wonderful world of 'vegan food'. It's not about kicking raw to the curb, in fact with warmer weather on the way raw will most likely begin to make a comeback, it's more about transitioning in a more forgiving and logical way (because Virgo's love logic!).

And while I am not strictly vegan and don't want to label myself, it is the closest and easiest thing to say (unless there's a shorter version of high-raw-wheat-free-dairy-free-but-eats-honey-and-bee-products-and-the-occasional-egg?). So with a copy of Veganomicon on it's way to me in the mail and loads of fantastic food blogs to help light the way I'm venturing deliberately into vegan cooking. Let the feasting begin!

In other news, my housemate and I are going to this tomorrow night:

A little excited!

Happy weekend!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Back on Track

I'm back!

And with big news! I bought a juicer! Eep!

I knew exactly which juicer I wanted, I'd done the research, scoped around for the best price and made the decision. And then...nothing. Places were either out of stock or not getting back to me. And then completely by chance (luck? design?) I found one listed for sale on my local Raw Food Meetup messageboard. Yes please! Less than twelve hours later, it was mine!

If you look closely you can see (a very excited!) me reflected in the glass.


Current favourite combination: broccoli, cucumber, spinach, orange, pineapple and ginger.

Now that school is over I've been spending a lot of time with different things to get me back on track. Spending time by myself is nothing new for me, but the concept of spending time on myself is something new. Over the last week I've seen my osteopath and naturopath and embarked on a six week detox (hello juicer!).

I also had my first experience with kinesiology. Again this was something that just fell into place at the right time. It was, in a word, confronting. On a few different levels. Not knowing much (read: anything) about the therapy before the session I had no idea what to expect and to be honest, now that it's done I'm not quite sure what just happened. I do however have a feeling that it can, and will, help me move past a lot of the things that are holding me back.

So while my internal world has been getting a tune up, my external world has been far from neglected. I finally made the time to catch up with these lovely ladies and have made many more plans for the near future. Long walks in the park, a decadent raw dessert day and an upcoming craft market to name a few. There have been a few dinners around town and with a little help from a borrowed copy of this I have reignited my passion for creating in the kitchen. So all in all things are looking up. It's amazing what a difference a week can make.

This week my plans are to finally get around to cleaning out my wardrobe, the pantry and the kitchen to make room for my new little friend and to get back on track with the Raw Food Rehab initiative which has somewhat fallen by the wayside. And to take more photos!

After far too long of feeling like crap things are finally falling into place for me. Happy coincidences have been following me around for the last week or so and I have a good feeling they're here to stay.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

News From The Cocoon

Hey woah! Yes I am still alive.

I've been hibernating in a little cocoon of biology homework. Not such a fun cocoon, but the end is in sight and I'm just about ready to emerge and start living again!

Look out galleries and craft markets and test kitchen and sewing machine and knitting needles and reading novels I come!

It hasn't been all about the books though (in fact nowhere near as much as it should have been!).

I had a chance earlier this week to make a batch of oat yoghurt. Here it is fermenting:

And a couple of days later in my bowl with yacon, apple, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and blueberries.

Green smoothies had been my breakfast of choice for a long time, but quite frankly I've had enough. So experimenting with new breakfast options is my new favourite thing. Now as this is my first batch of oat yoghurt I'm not entirely sure how it's supposed to taste. And I'm not sure what the texture is supposed to be like either.

Either way, mine came out thick, sour and somewhat doughy. And strangely delicious.

I'm not sure if it's supposed to be doughy, maybe it was because there wasn't enough water (or too much?) or because I kept stirring it while it was fermenting or because the middle of winter is hardly ideal fermenting weather, but I'll definitely be giving it another shot!

Not much else happening in test kitchen this week. It's kind of difficult when my kitchen table looks like this. Sad face.

Although maybe I shouldn't complain, later today I'm heading to this raw food class. Even though I should be studying. Naughty.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Feeding My Addiction

Why is it that I derive so much pleasure from looking at photos of food? I devote much of my day to this (usually at work, sshhh). I can't smell it or touch it and I sure as hell can't eat it. But I'm obviously not the only one, hence the popularity of cooking shows, magazines and blogs. I guess it's because food is a common ground for everyone. Whether or not you have the same level of food obsession as me it is still something that is essential in life. So, without further ado some more additions to my addiction:

Roast Pumpkin Satay Salad

Self explanatory, really. This was roast pumpkin with a broccoli, carrot, cabbage coleslaw topped with a spicy peanut dressing and loads of coriander.

Green smoothies. This one was orange, banana, bok choy, broccoli and pineapple. With a sprinkle of bee pollen and my first experiment with yacon syrup.

Big Bad Beige Soup
This easy soup is fast becoming a winter regular in our house. It's leek, cauliflower, parsnip, potato with cumin, garlic and chili. Saute. Simmer Blend.

When it's accompanied with fresh coriander, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil it's much tastier than it's bland appearance would suggest.

In progress it looks a little like this...

And the finished product (Note to self, cracked pepper doesn't look so good in photos)

And introducing a new favourite breakfast!
Almond milk banana smoothie, mixed with oats, chia, sunflower seeds, honey and raisins. And then if that wasn't enough, topped with gojis and some of these tasty little friends.

My test kitchen has produced many other treats that either got eaten before the camera even knew what had happened or just didn't photograph well. Which is a shame, because coconut yoghurt is beyond delicious.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Update of Food Dates

Over the weekend I headed over to my lovely friend Connie's place for a day of raw food experiments. We had been talking about doing this for months and, finally, it happened. On the first day of the Raw Food Rehab initiative. Serendipitous, no? The day ended up not being what I expected and was less about the food and more about about us bonding. Of course, there was of course still plenty of food involved.

Like this
delicious apple-banana-coconut pie with rich cashew cream. Which looked fabulous.

Until it came time to serve it up. Then it was just a mess, albeit a very tasty one.

I also tried Philip McCluskey's cauliflower popcorn. I have to say I was hesitant before trying this as I have mixed feelings about raw cauliflower. It surprised me by being totally delicious. It didn't keep well though.

And this morning's breakfast. A banana, pineapple, broccoli, silverbeet, blueberry mesquite smoothie.

I know you're delicious and you know you're delicious, but why do you have to be so freaking ugly? (And what is that green growth in the background! Photography fail!)

I also whipped up a little something to take to work for second lunch. (First lunch was leftovers of a spicy pumpkin, potato, cabbage capsicum mush. Not pictured. It was even less photogenic than the smoothie. Believe it.)

Grated carrot, zucchini and apple with pumpkin seeds and raisins. Topped off with a honey-lemon-ginger dressing, I'm calling it a grated carrot cake salad. It was sweet and spicy and refreshing and generally just grate!

And tonight I headed out for some baked spud goodness with my spudtastic friend Hannah. I'm still not ready to take my camera out in public with me just yet. But soon.

Right now I'm drinking herbal tea and getting ready to curl up in bed with season six of the X-Files and call it a day.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Foray into Food Photography

I was struck by the realisation this morning that the only way I'm going to be able to take great photos is to start by taking crap photos. And lots of them. So, I began with my picturing my breakfast this morning.

A green(ish) smoothie. Banana, orange, blueberries, spinach, bok choy, mesquite and acai. (Ok, so it's a little out of focus. I have great respect for people who can photograph a smoothie in a jar and make it look fabulous)

It's good, see!

I bought some carob yesterday to see if I like it. Turns out I do. Very much. Especially when it's in the form of these tasty carob, tahini and oat balls.

Also featured is today's lunch:

Kelp noodles with a cashew cheese sauce, mushrooms, kale, tomato and capsicum. Leftover from dinner last night. And delicious!
Somehow, even after all this faffing about I still ended up being less late to work than usual. Go figure.

On my lunch break I headed down to the market for some supplies and another opportunity to work on my photography skills.

(Hello my deliciously ugly little friends...)

So there it is. My first foray into food photography. Hopefully it can only get better! And hopefully soon. I've got big plans for my camera and I tomorrow. Oh the suspense!