Saturday, October 20, 2012

granola #2

I'm keen to make my own breakfast granola to replace my normal pre-packaged cereals whenever possible. This time I included: rolled oats, puffed wheat, linseeds, crushed cashews and almonds, sultanas, cinnamon, dessicated coconut etc. Compared to the last time I made granola, I decreased my portion of honey and used two heaped tablespoons for the whole mix. This made it less sweet (duh) and not as crunchy. Nevertheless, two tablespoons were enough as the sultanas sweetened the granola. I thought this version had less character than my previous version although my housemates thought this one smelt like anzac biscuits.

On a somewhat related note (I'm stretching it here), I finally grew the balls to learn to ride a push bike over the past few months (my ease at baking compensates for my former inability to ride a bike). When I told my friends about this, I often got responses of horror and shock. People also asked - can you swim or even catch a ball? Yes (idiots). I never got past the training wheels stage as a kid - apparently I was stubborn and whimped out when my dad took away the training wheels. Anyway I just wanted to show you my new bike... my male housemate calls it a 'hipster' bike - HAHA. The weather is warming up and I'm making an effort to ride it each weekend.

bbq on voting day

Today was A.C.T's voting day. When I was driving around, it was obvious when I was approaching polling centres as there would be lots of people walking and campaign posters strategically placed (100m away from the polling centres of course).

Anyway, the weather was gorgeous today. Mid-20 degrees and Canberra's first sign of summer. Dan and I revisited a spot we found last weekend during a random drive - a BBQ/picnic spot in the 'Uriarra Settlement'. It was just a 30 minute cruise through rolling hills from my home in South Canberra. During the drive, I didn't feel like I was in Canberra at all - we could have been in the middle of NSW or QLD for all we knew. The picnic spot has a 'nature reserve feel' and is surrounded by greenery overlooking a calm river.

The BBQ facilities were 'cute and small' - from afar, it was hard to distinguish the tree stumps from the BBQs, lol. All of the good ones were occupied, so we did some 'hawking' and pounced on one as it became available.
I heard from someone or somewhere that you could cook a banana on a BBQ in its whole skin. We did this and the banana started jumping on the hot plate, as if it was alive! Probably best to pierce the skin a little to let the hot air out. While we ate the meat/veges, we left the banana on the hot plate til the majority of the skin turned black and voila! The actual banana tasted smoky, was soft and lovely. Brilliance. Dan suggested that it'd be better with cinnamon, nutmeg, oats, honey etc - genuis. BBQing an apple would also be delicious... oh the possibilities!
I was also wearing my new thongs. All I needed was a straw hat and a ute with a dog then I'd be a true bloody Aussie.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

living green festival

I went to the Living Green Festival in Canberra again this year. The festival had more stalls than last year and it was interesting to see the types of 'green' organisations in Canberra e.g. The ACT Nudist Club? I didn't get a chance to see what they were though.

From Veganarchy, I tried a French Toast cupcake - I loved the concept and mix of cinnamon, butteriness etc. The cupcake was delicious and I probably wouldn't have guessed it was vegan/gluten free. It was moist, fluffy, tasty and not starchy.

From a baking perspective, I wonder what egg substitute was used (perhaps baking powder perhaps or a vegan butter) and what the flour was made of (perhaps nuts). Vegan/gluten free cake ingredients are often more expensive than its mainstream counterparts, so I was surprised the cupcake was only $3.50 where mainstream cupcakes are often pricier. I would definitely have this cupcake more often if they were more accessible.

Maybe I shouldn't even compare vegan/gluten free cupcakes to 'mainstream' cupcakes. Embrace something for what it is, not for what it could be.

Also tried a curry pie from Funky Pies - it was delicious too. As it had no animal fats, I felt at ease that I could eat it without damaging my cholesterol.
While the festival had more stalls than last year, there were more voices yelling 'buy me, buy me'. Even through consumerism negatively impacts the environment, it's a bit sad to see environmentalists promoting themselves through products, goods and the market. But what can I say - in this blog I talk about my own consumption of food.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vietnamese in Weston Creek: like a theatre performance

Sometimes I find the experience of eating in a restaurant similar to going to the theatre. How well is the food's performance i.e. taste/smell/aesthetics? What type of people eat at the restaurant? Does the customer service enhance your experience? Can your waiter/waitress explain each dish before you choose it? It's also the anticipation/waiting before your food/the performance arrives.

My mum came to visit me in Canberra a while ago and I brought her to 'My's Vietnamese Restaurant' in Weston Creek. We got the beef pho - I think we subconsciously think pho as a good indicator of how good a Viet restaurant is... and a 'chefs special' with beef, salad and Viet rice paper sheets. Many things amazed me about the latter dish - the unexpected flames underneath the dish which weren't just for aesthetics but for cooking the beef; the plastic things used to separate the moist rice paper sheets; the full-bodied taste; getting my hands dirty when preparing the rolls. Highly recommended.
My's Vietnamese Restaurant
35 Brierly Street
Weston Creek

reaquainted with solo restaurant eating: darwin

When I traveled overseas, I learnt the skill of eating by myself in restaurants. I loved eating out and soaking up the atmosphere in a restaurant/place - all I had to do was overcome my self-conscious thoughts like 'do I look weird eating by myself' and feel confident about my own company. Eventually, having dinner solo was a calming end to the day - I don't have to speak to anyone, but there was enough stimuli around me to keep me thinking. I liked the independence.

When I went to Darwin a while ago, I realised I hadn't eaten in a restaurant solo for ages. I felt awkward and out of place... Thank goodness for my smart phone 8) and capacity to daydream.

Amazing Thailand (Mitchell Street)
I'm a kind of person who must eat once I wake up, otherwise I will get dizzy and scatter-brained... On this occasion, I forgot to buy anything to eat in the morning and unexpectingly had to work for three hours... I then I navigated myself in 30 degree heat from my hotel to hostel. I was STARVING. Normally I steer away from tourist areas, but couldn't help myself this time. I stumbled into a Thai restaurant down the road - the restaurant was interesting as two whole walls were removed to help ventilation (and created a perfect opportunity for people watching).

I ordered a lemongrass stir fry with vegetables... The meal probably verged on horrible as I couldn't taste any lemongrass and the pumpkin tasted like it had been sitting in the fridge for a few days. I also got some sort of soup, which consisted of msg water and cucumber. Maybe the Thai food in the Top End is a bit different... but for what it was, it was still kinda bland. le sigh.

Manoli's Greek Taverna Restaurant (Smith Street)
I get sick and tired of the limited range of food in Canberra, so in Darwin I went on a journey to find a cuisine that's not easily accessible in Canberra - and Greek it was! Outside, the restaurant looked quaint and kitschy, with checkered tablecloths and blue/white Greek colour combination. Nevertheless, it was refreshing.

I was on a health kick, and ordered well for that purpose... Greek baked beans and zucchini (pan fried with some sort of seasoning and mashed potato). The food was tasty, but overpriced (I paid around $18 for both). I've made Greek baked beans at  home before and those at the restaurant were good, but not stunningly amazing. Oh well - it gave me ideas of what I could cook for myself if I felt ultra lazy and needed healthy food.

Oishi Ya (Mitchell Street)
In Canberra, I don't have many friends who I can enjoy Japanese food with... so I grasped the opportunity of being in Darwin and had a bento box. But a barramundi bento box? Is this common? I've never seen this combo before... Apparently miso paste was used to flavour the barra, but I couldn't taste a thing. Nevertheless, the fish was cooked well and the tofu was decent. I probably ate it all 5 minutes - again, I was starving as I had walked for 1 hour up and down hills with ballet flats in 30 degree weather... idiot.

Monday, October 8, 2012

home made granola and granola bars

It's the last day of a long weekend in Canberra and I feel like a heavy slug with an over-sized mid section and head/eyes - I didn't get much sleep last night as I overestimated how cold it was (wore too many layers and overheated). Now I feel tired, gross and edging on grumpiness... to cure this, I tried to nap a few times but couldn't fall asleep. I am basically shuttling between my bed, computer and phone saying to friends that I feel too gross to see them.

It might seem like I'm subconsciously on a mission to destroy myself and my sanity, but at least I have access to some of my home-made granola/granola bars, rather than chocolate/chips which would only worsen my sluggish mood.

I used to make granola a lot when I lived in Sydney - it is a great way to have customise your food and it's really easy. This time my granola had: rolled oats, linseeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews, cranberries, sunflower seeds, honey and a dash of oil. Place all dry ingredients (except fruit) in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients on a bowl on the side and mix it in with the dry ingredients. Spread it onto a baking tray, into a hot oven for about 20mins. Voila - the result was good and not too sweet. You can add other types of grains, fruits, protein etc.

On the side of this picture, you can see a stack of 'granola bars' - I got the recipe from some vegan website a few years ago. The bars were made from the same granola mix, but I replaced the honey with a mashed banana. The natural stickiness of the banana helped the mix bake as circular shapes - great snacks for work, although I'll probably finish them all before work tomorrow.

Thank you blog i.e. my invisible audience.

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