Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Squid salad with roast eggplant, baby carrots and rice wine vinagrette

{squid salad}

Whenever we make the trip out to the Pyrmont fish markets, we're never disappointed. There's always taste testing and various specials on really fresh seafood. Sometimes I buy salmon, kingfish and tuna sashimi thinly sliced so I can make lots of nigiri (my favorite). This time we picked up a few hoods of Australian squid, as well as the freshest Aussie tiger prawns they had.

This recipe was inspired by all the eggplant and baby carrots we found on special at the fruit and veg store. You can use whatever salad ingredients you have in your fridge. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, roast zucchini or capsicum would also go really well.

Squid Salad

1 large squid hood, cleaned
1/4 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon chilli flakes
pinch of salt & black pepper
Oil for frying

1 medium eggplant, sliced thinly
10 baby carrots
salad greens (I used baby spinach and rocket)

juice of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to med-hot. Rub salt and olive oil into the eggplant, and place on a baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning once.

Blanch carrots in boiling water for about 5 minutes until slightly tender but still bright orange.

Fill a supermarket fruit and veg bag with the flour, chilli flakes and S&P. Open up the squid tube by slicing length ways. Score the inside of the tube so it's all criss-crossy, then chop into pieces 1 by 2 inches. Put all the pieces in the bag and give it a good shake to coat.

Heat oil in a frying pan so it's nice and hot, and lay out the squid pieces (but don't overcrowd them). After about 3 minutes the pieces should be browned on one side, so turn them over. When the other side is brown, remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towel.

For the vinaigrette, put all ingredients into a jar and shake well.

Assemble greens, eggplant, carrots, squid in a nice salad bowl, pour over the vinaigrette and enjoy!

Makes dinner for two big eaters!
Takes 30 mins
Cost $10

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bliss Balls

{blissed out}

These little truffles are so easy to make and make a good after dinner treat. And you know that blah feeling you get after downing half a block of cadbury? None of that here. All natural, vegan and so yum...

1 cup shredded coconut
7 dried dates chopped finely
1/3 cup walnuts chopped finely (i just use a mortar and pestle)
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cocoa powder + more to coat
1 tablespoon brown sugar

You can substitute the walnuts with any other crushed nuts, and almond meal is a good addition. Sesame seeds would also go well in these. I added a bit of brown sugar because I love the taste, but you can replace with more honey or whatever you like best.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. If its too runny, add more dry ingredients like coconut and if its not moist enough then add more honey or tahini or even a bit of water.

Roll into little balls and then roll in extra cocoa powder. Allow to set on a plate in the fridge for 30 mins. Store in a container in the freezer for a yummy treat whenever.

Makes about 30
Takes 30 mins
Cost around $5

Friday, June 11, 2010

Clean, Green.


Two good mates S & N returned from Bolivia recently, in a trip that saw them attend the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. They held a meeting last night in Sydney to report back to us on what they learned.

Click to read more on "Clean, Green"

In response to the failure of Copenhagen, the Bolivian government called this People's Conference, which ran over four days and was attended by over 35 thousand people. People came together from all over the world to discuss real action on the climate crisis. The end result was The World People's Agreement, a formal document being discussed at the Bonn UN climate negotiations right now, providing new hope for people fighting for global climate justice.

This isn't the first climate event I have attended, and it wont be the last. I always come away from them learning many things that I would never have had the chance to. A few points that I took away from S & N's experience was:

  • The people in Bolivia have been so adversely affected by the climate crisis that it has brought communities together in big conferences like the World People's Conference. Climate change is the topic of conversation daily in these people's lives.  
  • Glaciers are the life-force of many in South America and around the world. In Bolivia they have been worshipped for thousands of years and soon this will not be possible. In the last 40 years climate change has reduced these Glaciers by over 50%. Some have completely melted away during that time. For thousands of years the people in communities surrounding the Glaciers have lived off the melt in the dry seasons, and watched as the glaciers restored themselves yearly during the wet season. Now they watch helplessly as their remaining glaciers melt away rapidly with little or no hope of restoration.
  • Coal exports are Australia's biggest contribution to the climate crisis. The greenhouse pollution from our coal exports exceeds all of our domestic pollution combined. Every power station, every landclearing operation, every car, truck, train, and bus, every source of greenhouse pollution in Australia combined is eclipsed by the pollution from our coal exports. Burning a tonne of black coal produces 2.4 tonnes of greenhouse gases, and the mining, processing and transportation of coal contributes enormously to greenhouse gas production.

As Australians it is easy to be ignorant about climate change. It's hard to appreciate the perils of those whose lives are being so severely affected by the climate crisis when in the comfort of our homes we can control our environment. The majority of the world get to see the changes first-hand. My hope is the developed world change to a greener way of living before it's too late.

It's so inspiring to see that after the complete failure of Copenhagen people haven't lost hope. Through everyone sharing their knowledge and experiences we can build up more awareness and help us better handle this issue which will eventually affect our lives a great deal.

To read more about S & N's insights go here.

Kind Deeds

Check out our little friend growing on our windowsill:

{chilli plant - fully ripe}

Whenever I walk past this little pot, it reminds me of how powerful it is to do good things for people. Even random people. Like paying for the car behind you when you go through a toll. Or picking up rubbish by the ocean. Or letting a chef or a musician or host or taxi driver know that they made your night. Small things make a difference i reckon.   

Click to read more on "Kind Deeds"...

Last year T and I tried to grow some herbs and veggies in pots out the back of our apartment building. Its only a small block, with 8 units in total, and separate lock-up areas out the back for washing machines and dryers. Everyone we had met in the building and around the area were so lovely and friendly we felt like our new babies would have a safe environment to grow.

T spent so much time and energy getting these little plants into a happy space with roomy pots, lots of sunlight and fresh water every day.

One day, he went outside to give our green friends some water, and they were all gone! Someone had come into the backyard and stolen 8 (pretty substantial) pots! It would have taken a lot of effort on their behalf to complete this mission stealthily. We looked around to see if we could track the thieves but to no avail. Who could have done such a thing? It was a very sad day for us.

A girl living in the apartments next door is often seen tending to her plants which line the sides of the brick building, so we got worried there might be other victims. We got chatting to the neighbors, asking if they had anything stolen or if they saw anything. No one had.

Later that week we found a bunch of pots sitting on our doorstep. They were cuttings, placed in an assortment of containers. The girl next door had prepared them for us! Our faith in humanity had been restored! Happy days again.

So this little guy grew from one of the cuttings. A (very spicy) habanero plant. A reminder of the wonderful people on this earth.

{our garden with ripening chilli}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ahh I understand now...

Some friendly office banter between the working parents here at a client I am working at, really enlightened me this morning about why the world has taken a very wrong turn somewhere along the timeline.

Click to

Two of the women were discussing how hard it is to have young children at home, juggling work and all of the kids activities as well as keeping up the house, when the boss here (a dad to a few teenage children) said its even harder as they get older. In response to their confused expressions, he explained that his wife has to cater to all the different dietary requirements of the picky teenagers, having dinner ready and on the table at all hours of the evening for everyone as they arrive home. Someone pointed out he should let them fend for themselves, maybe cook up a big pot of dinner and allow them to reheat whenever they like. Another women told him he needs to teach them to feed themselves, otherwise their future husbands/wives will have a tough job.

I just sat quietly not wanting to bring attention to myself (or my company), but inside I was making a mental note of what a man looks like when he's completely lost the plot.

He then goes on to say that his kids don't need to know how to cook or clean. That he and his wife are allowing their teenagers to focus all their energy on becoming "even more educated" than their parents, in order for them to earn so much money that they can pay for people to cook for, and clean up after them.

Hang on... Did I hear that right??!!
Now I get it.. I understand the booming popularity of take away food, the unwillingness of young people to do things for themselves, and the absurdly high expectations of 20-somethings to live to work in order to achieve this mostly unachievable, and highly unnecessary goal.

Some people have completely lost the big picture.

This makes me so mad. We should be teaching our children that to be rich is to have a tree full of avocadoes in the backyard, and friends to cook dinner for. Oh well. I guess this is what you get for living in a corporate world.

I promise I will be a lot more positive tomorrow.

Keeping in line with my thoughts of today, is my Hump Day cartoon:

What are your thoughts? Have you had a similar experience?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Nicely put.

{postsecret 31/5/10}

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The most amazing chocolate chip cookies ever.


These cookies are devine... They are everything I love in a cookie. Soft, melt-in-your-mouth, with nutty chunks and lots of chocolatey goodness.

1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 cup sugar (I use 3/4 brown sugar and 1/4 white for a more caramely taste)
1 egg
splash of a good vanilla essence
1 and 3/4 cup of plain flour (you can make part of this psyllium husk or wheat germ for a bit more texture)
good pinch of salt and baking powder
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (or more if you want it more chocolatey - who doesnt?!)

Preheat oven to hot (around 250 degrees).
Melt the butter and peanut butter so its nice and soft (I just pop it in the microwave if I dont have time), add the sugars and mix well with a hand-held beater. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 5 minutes, or longer, until pale and fluffy.
Add flours and salt and baking powder, and with a wooden spoon, stir until just combined.
Mix in the walnuts and chocolate chips.
Scoop out about a tablespoon's worth of the cookie dough and place onto a tray lined with baking paper. If you want them to be pretty, shape into balls, and make sure there are choc chips on top. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

{ready to go}

This bit's the most important: Place the tray in your oven on the top shelf, and keep an eye on it. When the cookies become a little browned (mine takes about 8 mins), remove, place on the middle shelf, and put your next tray on the top shelf. Continue to watch them, and pull the first batch out when they are thoroughly browned, but not too dark. They will still be really very soft (its molten sugar and butter) so wait for them to cool, and in time they will harden up enough for you to cool on a rack, or just leave them to cool on the tray (or you could eat it warm with a bit of icecream - YUM!)

When cool, carefully place in a container. Or wrap them up in cellophane, tie a bow at the top and give to friends!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Humph Day Inspiration

As it is Wednesday (aka hump day), and we all need a little something to get us through the rest of the week, I would like to share with you a drawing from one of my favorite artists.