Back to routine last week and man it flew past which was good as the week back to reality after a break is always a tough one. My little exercise routine is going great as I have been doing this for the last 2 months now – counting calories, exercising for 30 minutes every day with a rest day on Saturday – I will ride my bike or if I feel like people go to a yoga class. To be honest, I am peopled out by the weekend as a teacher you are on all day and with people all day so by the end of the day/week I just want to chill ideally solo! My strength / HIIT workouts have been amazing and every other day I walk or do a low-intensity workout and the exercise really helps with stress and feeling good for the week ahead. Admittedly, by 10pm it is bedtime after a big day.
The other big element in my life is studying for my education degree online from Swinburne University in Melbourne. I was busting through my last essay and I received my results and I managed to score a high distinction, I had no idea I would actually get such a mark when I had crammed and written that paper in a week! I am now working on my second paper for the course focussing on the different philosophies of education such as Montessori, Reggio and Waldorf/Steiner. The research is fascinating so I am motoring along this week as we have consolidation week so time to hunker down and get some essay planning done.
Tonight I was inspired by an heirloom tomato to make a salad of grilled asparagus, cucumber, celery, fresh basil and quinoa with a dressing of balsamic vinegar, lemon and olive oil. Sitting on top of the salad is a very underrated protein addition tuna fish topped with mayo and capers, yummo this really packs an excellent protein feast with the quinoa and tuna.
As I am building lean muscle it has been very tricky for me to get enough protein in each day so Naked Pea protein drink has been a great saviour with 27g of protein per serving which is excellent for a vegetarian/pescaterian. Also, tempeh and seitan are good sources of protein and really I should be staying away from the vegetarian bacon but I am craving salt!
Here is my buddy Bella laying on top of a pillow my other little bud used to love (my boy Mackaroni RIP) – she is way more of a homebody now that she is alone. One day I will get another friend for her but until we leave the USA it is hard to justify the costs of shipping animals back to Australia. She does get a lot of love from all of us, even though she can be very aloof, though I think that is what we love cat lovers like – the independence of our feline friends!
The big news that made me so happy last week was the approval of my hubby working remotely in Australia. Now with all the plans moving along it was a hard decision to up and leave a job but now with this in the pipeline and a presentation from our architect in Melbourne shortly I am getting excited to be back in Australia. This illustration was found at the park after I took the kids for a walk as I could not sit still after my hubby gave me the news. Day by day I am patiently waiting for the green light that says now start packing and selling everything it is time to go. But until then I am enjoying myself here and having fun carving out my future career in education.
I was still on a balanced nutrition diet last week had me caving and wanting extra flavour in my food with sriracha and miso mayo. Tacos have carbohydrates that I do not want to be eating in the evening, so I turned Taco Tuesday into a bowl minus the taco of salad, avocado salsa and beer battered fish. I know my diet of no bad stuff, but hey it fitted into my macro plan for the day! The bowl on the right is smoked salmon on a kale salad with miso mayo and spring onions. I am finding with eating fish is helping me reach my protein limit to build muscle, fingers crossed I am doing this thing right! I love food too much to eat bland food all the time…
At Ventana School where I work we made some pipe cleaner dolls for the dollhouse the kids built, and here they are all ready to be sold at the auction.
Speaking of the auction my hubby and I had a lovely night out on Saturday night at the adults-only event with cocktails, wine and a delicious catered dinner by Opa! It was a game theme, so my outfit was my own interpretation of a Candy Land princess :D. It was a bit wacky but anyway it gave me the opportunity to wear the lovely raw silk vintage beaded jacket (from my fave vintage store in Mountain View, which is now gone!) with a dress I made out of FabMo silk pieces.
The quilt that is pictured was created with help by the 1st-grade class I help teach. A grandma of the students (who is a star quilter) designed and made the quilt, and it is incredible. It was won by the parents of the class and will be shared by the parents to travel with this cohort of children at the school. It is an absolute treasure and captures the spirit of the community at the school.
My daughter came with me to work today, and we had a fun time in the classroom together. She was a bit tired by the end of the day, so she did some reading when I was working with the kindergarten kids. She had a fun time with the 1st grade and enjoyed the tinkering with the kids at lunchtime and ate and played with them all which was so good!
After work, we went to visit the lovely ladies AKA the chickens at the ranch, and they have a new addition an Easter Egger whom we call chicken cheeks which is just beautiful and tiny. Apparently, these ladies lay different coloured eggs which are how they get their name. I cannot wait until she starts laying. I was so happy to spend time with the chickens where at one point I turned around, and the whole flock of standard hens had followed me out into the grass, I am so looking forward to having chickens of our own one day!! At the coop we now have 13 bantams and 10 standard chickens so that is quite a flock and they are all very entertaining, I am sure they remember the people they interact with and most especially whoever gives them the best treats like strawberry tops and kombucha!
As I have to make the most of my time these days with working full time I am either doing a bunch of cooking at one time or prepping for the dishes ahead of the week. A couple of weeks ago our Community Support Agriculture (CSA) box was taken from our front doorstep and found in the next block of apartments near the carpark with most of the fruit taken out of it and left with some vegetables and the dozen free range eggs I ordered. This was confusing as I thought OK this person is vegan as they do not eat eggs and enjoy fruit?!? Due to this shenanigans, I have had to have my delivery changed to my hubby’s workplace on a Thursday which means the fresh food and veggies come at the end of the week when I am totally knackered and it is hard to find the energy to cook. So this weekend, as I had a little bit of time I did a batch cooking experiment and whipped up a quiche with a couscous base, a pumpkin soup, apple crumble and baked eggplant. I have many kitchen hacks that are super helpful for worknight dinners, and now that I am working, I need a meal either heated up or ready in 30 minutes or less.
Our fave since I started work in August has been Taco Tuesday where a box of frozen battered fish, corn tortillas, a slaw – easily made at home calling upon the food processor to chop and guacamole is a hit with the kids for a super simple weeknight dinner. My guac is a couple of avocados, lime juice, cubed tomato, salt and pepper and is delicious!
With the colder weather now that fall is finally happening I have wanted to turn on the oven and cook up a storm. So with the baked eggplant, I made a tasty eggplant parmigiana that I used to have at the local pub with a nice cold one at the end of a workday! This one was super easy with sliced baked eggplant and layered with cheese, a mozzarella or tasty cheese works well with a rich veggie-laden tomato sauce. For extra protein, I have added refried beans to this sauce, and it cooked up into a loved gooey eggplant dish that only my hubby and I will eat as the kids will say, “Ewww eggplant!” Still, this will work for a lovely lunch as well and its better than eating all the babaganoush that I usually make when eggplant is in the house.
I had a bunch of collard greens sitting in the fridge from last Thursdays delivery, and I usually make wraps with lots of raw ingredients wrapped in a bright green collard green leaf and its refreshing on a warm day, but with this colder weather I experimented and make Collard green enchiladas. The idea is to take some leftover rice or quinoa and refried beans with a tasty tomato sauce and top it all off with grated cheese.
Collard Green Enchiladas
Bunch of Collard Greens (stems removed with a sharp knife)
Bottle of Pasta Sauce or any Red sauce
Can of refried beans
Cooked rice or quinoa
Grated tasty cheese or mozzarella
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Blanch Collard green leaves in boiling water, leave on a plate to cool.
Prepare your red sauce with added vegetables like grated carrot and cabbage.
Add your refried beans and keep them intact – the consistency has to be somewhat thick.
In a square Pyrex dish, coat the bottom with some red sauce and start preparing the collard green enchiladas (have a plate handy, so the sauce is not all on the stovetop!)
Use the whole leaf of a collard green folded in half and add the rice or quinoa on the leaf top with refried beans, red sauce mix and arrange in the Pyrex dish.
Top with grated tasty cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until brown on top.
I am quite a fan of savoury pies as I have had to make my own here as there are not many places that serve a savoury pie here in the USA. In Australia, I can go to a cafe and get a lovely veggie quiche and salad for lunch but here the things I miss I have had to make, so I have become quite competent in making quiche at home and usually is my go-to dish for a dinner party. The favourite book for my pastry is A Year of Pies and has many pastry recipes at the beginning of the book. I usually make the pastry with a shortening and butter mix, and it is delicious with the Spinach Impossible pie recipe I use as the pie filling either with spinach and feta or a salmon and vegetable. This pie was a bit of a hack as I did not make the time to whip up the pastry in my food processor, instead I cooked up some couscous and used that as a base for this pie. I felt it worked for a quick Sunday dinner and my family was ravenous after a day at the ranch laying concrete in the chicken coop! Oh and for dessert I made an Apple Crumble with a topping of coconut, brown sugar, oats, flour, butter, walnuts and spices. Another recipe fave of mine from a book I found at the local bookstore called Wholefood – 300 Recipes to Restore, Nourish and Delight.
A friend asked me to add some recipes to the blog, so I thought this week was an excellent opportunity after the excitement of Halloween. I really am having to really rely on kitchen hacks and prep in advance with this full-time work thing, and it works really well as I can never predict how a week will unfold, there could be many meetings after work, or I could be home early, who knows? This is where easy to prep recipes save the day! The other excuse I have is I use the kitchen as a place to create as I feel now with cooking and making meal plans since my son was born (12 years ago) I have quite a repertoire of recipes to draw upon. The kitchen is an excellent place to experiment, and most of all make wholesome meals for the family. Enjoy your week and eat well 😀
Last week I was in a flurry of making for a show with the Mountain View Parents Association on Saturday. It is a new energy of folks so it should be fun and the bonus is that it is at the community centre. I have made a lot of pouches for your glasses plus little coin or credit card purses that fit neatly into your pocket or evening bag. As I was chatting with my son I found this great little tool box he made with the scouts and I bought it off him for my table display. I had some gold spray paint and here it is living a new life holding my handmade goods.
Some information on the holiday show here that I will be doing this weekend – if you are coming mention this post and get 20% off your total order. Shop local this holiday and support local makers – all good for everyone!
As I was a bit of a busy bee this week with the sewing and then teaching at the end of the week and then I had to cook as a long lost friend was coming over for dinner – the week was over. Then came the weekend and now I am focussing on my studies!
The pic above is an amazing Green Tea Soba Noodle Salad I made on Thursday.
Green Tea Soba Noodles
Watermelon Radish / Radish
For the chickpeas
Cook your green tea soba noodles in boiling water following the packet instructions – I buy a brand from Australia.
Cut up all your veggies – I like mine raw – add them to a big bowl. Reserving the watermelon radish for finishing the dish
Have your chick peas cooked and ready (use canned chickpeas, otherwise soak them overnight and cook them in a pressure cooker) and in a bowl mix the miso, olive oil and warm water slowly to create a sauce consistency. Add to the chickpeas and coat them in the sauce.
In an iron skillet add some coconut oil and cook the miso coated chickpeas.
Keeping an eye on the roll them around on the skillet until they look cooked – careful they do not burn!
Take the chickpeas off the heat while you are draining the noodles with cold water. Add the drained noodles to the big bowl of vegetables and mix together.
Pour a dressing amount of sesame oil over the veggies and coat them until they are shiny.
Top with the chickpeas and watermelon radish and enjoy!
Such a super easy recipe and great for a weeknight – the prep is what takes the longest. Of course you can sub whatever vegetables you have on hand for any season – all it takes is some imagination!
And to finish my post this week with some inspiration I heard on the radio this morning from a favourite place of mine in the world – Hobart, Tasmania. This little boy is sewing teddy bears for charity and he taught himself to sew, I was so happy to hear this story it gives me hope for all those little fingers I teach sewing that it will not be a lost art after all!