Celebration & good times

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Monday was my hubby’s birthday so I got rid of all the crap on the dining table and created this lovely posy of plants from the garden.

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This is one of my fave quiches to make for a special occasion – the Spinach Impossible Pie with crumbled feta, spinach, cheese and egg custard, made with a base from the pie book below so that was meatless Monday dinner.

I had to stop briefly in amongst my assessment writing over the weekend to get some celebrations happening for my hubby! I always love preparing a good feast for birthdays and the menu started on Sunday with a Strawberry Crumble pie – made from scratch with my kitchen helper Missy with a lemongrass cream, so divine!

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Heres the surprise birthday cake on a relaxed Sunday morning – well for some of us who did not have to get up early to make a birthday pie!

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This was hot out of the oven which is why there’s a piece of bread with candles to celebrate, it was super tasty and from my favourite pie book – A Year of PiesThe pie was meant to sit for an hour before we ate it but it was so good we tucked into it straight away!

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Oh, I always love a cocktail for a party so I made this watermelon fennel cocktail, it went down so well – the kids loved the juice, hehehe they had no idea about the fennel.

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This has been my number 1 drink for focusing, a nice cup of Matcha tea – discovered in Queensland with my sister. This is a coconut matcha which is probably way high in fat but if you are into Paleo this is the biz for you.

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The countdown has begun and as of tomorrow, I have 3 months left in the United States. I am getting rid of so much stuff and giving it away to neighbours who I don’t even know which is excellent as they are going to people who are happy to enjoy it. The shelves are emptying when I get need a brain break from study. My sewing and study room is slowly getting rid of fabric – I have a couple of projects before I put the machine and fabric away for the year. Our bedroom is getting rid of pictures and excess clothes – I still need to work on that space! The kid’s room is slowly getting there – though I have a plan to get rid of more stuff! The lounge needs to get rid of furniture but that will come later before we sell up and go. A plan is really starting to develop and I scored a great flight with taking myself and the kids back in December and my hubby will come for a trip in 2019 and then sell this place and come back for good.

So much stuff to do after living here for 12 years and it is strange to finally say I am going home to Melbourne FOR GOOD! It is so exciting as I am happy and things are falling into place. I have the kids enrolled in schools that I really like, one in primary and one in high school. The house remodel is still moving along and scheduled to start as planned. Once everything is a little settled maybe I could do a practicum for University at a primary school, it may have to wait another year until we have our house. I am so happy to be going back and finally be at home with my family and friends, the future is looking bright again!

 

Comfort food week

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Taco Tuesday

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!

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Eggplant Parma

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.

 

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Collard green enchiladas

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

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Blanch Collard green leaves in boiling water, leave on a plate to cool.
  3. Prepare your red sauce with added vegetables like grated carrot and cabbage.
  4. Add your refried beans and keep them intact – the consistency has to be somewhat thick.
  5. 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!)
  6. 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.
  7. Top with grated tasty cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until brown on top.
  8. Enjoy!

 

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Salmon and Vegetable Pie

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 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell Melbourne, until we meet again!

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Our final week in Melbourne was a week of how much more delicious Melbourne food can we eat?

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Melbourne is a foodie city which is why I love it so much, it speaks my language – the language of food in many cuisines. Melbourne is an absolute delight to visit, and there are always many superb restaurants to discover! My sister told me about a place called Lankan Tucker in Brunswick – as one of my last lunches with my foodie friend Cath we went for a feed of pan rolls and stuffed roti, it was absolutely delightful. The day before we had visited my uncles take away Sri Lankan shop and had a pan roll and brought home many treats we had with dinner – the kids wanted more by the time we left, which is always good. Sri Lankan food is always an excellent find – these treats of pan rolls and stuffed roti are quite time-consuming, so it is a real score to find them. At Lankan Tucker, the toilet was the best with some sayings we used to hear all the time from our parents, these sayings were described as “Lankanisms”, an absolute classic! Indeed, we would love to go back for more next time we go to Melbourne, and we will be visiting Uncle Glens take away for an order of pan rolls from Curry and Chips.

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We always find well-made coffee in Melbourne that is just amazing but the kids even score with a beautiful hot chocolate as well – to me it is all about the ritual of coffee and tea, enjoying time over a cuppa. None of this takeout and go business, no thank you!

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On Sunday we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary – it was a hot day, so off we went to downtown Mountain View for dinner of a $12 salad from sweetgreen – I really like their ethos towards food sustainability and their support of local food and agriculture. I felt like a salad and scored a salad a mighty big one at that, it was chilli hot which added to the salad and our first time there. It was OK, but I think it may have been better with pickles, everything is better with pickles. As steel was the element for our 11th anniversary, I said to my hubby hey we were in a steel aeroplane for a very long time I think that makes a great anniversary gift – a trip home to Australia! Even though I have been living here for nearly 11 years, Australia is where I feel I belong.

So I was very excited to come back and see the ladies at the ranch – I love the chickens, and the Bantams have grown so much, time for some selfies with the chicks!!

On Monday it was hug a chicken day, in our neck of the woods! I don’t think they were that excited to see us but we bought them some treats, so in the end, they were happy. The kids really spent so much time with them and gave them lots of hugs and attention. Now it is back to reality, and I actually start a full-time job in August as a Teacher Assistant, life is going to start to get real busy!!

Steppin’ Back in Time

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Going back home and finding funny pics from back in the day!

Something that I enjoyed the other day when I visited my parents place was looking through the photo albums from back in the day – just seeing what we wore and the memories of what we got up and that hair – now that is some long hair do!

On a mission down to the local shopping precinct for supplies for cat toys (for my sisters kitten Milly) we passed a few icons and met some new ones like this kissing Gourami at the candle store. The button box was at a place called JJ’s Bargain Center where my sewing adventures began, I am sure that some of the stock from the 1980’s is still there as I saw some pastel stretch fabric that bought back some sewing memories from when I started sewing in Home Economics class.

When our craft supplies mission was over we grabbed a juice and headed on down to the lagoon and the kids couldn’t resist going in even though it was winter. In the end we said strip down to your undies and go as deep as you can. At least it was sunny for a winter’s day and being in Queensland this is a tropical winter so dressing in layers is best with the cool air in the morning. The kiddos enjoyed our walk along the beach collecting shells and writing graffiti on the beach as we were looking for shells we found a little sea caterpillar – very exciting! On closer inspection and reseaching this little fella we discovered it was a toxic marine animal AKA a Bristle Worm, yikes lucky we watched Australia’s Deadliest Animals for some reminders on the many venomous critters that inhabit this large island.

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Still getting through all the junky food we have been missing since moved to the US and we enjoyed some very tasty pastries from Big Dad’s Pies – the Spinach and Feta roll is delicious. Ash is enjoying a sausage in some pastry here called a BBQ Smokey. I love the pastry sold here as it is flaky and very tasty. Funny how savory fast food is what I miss when I’m away from here!

 

 

Petaluma weekend away..

Light under the tree with a wagon wheel and carousel horse

We had just moved house in the beginning of September, making this a busy year! So we had planned this weekend away to catch up with friends at Napa for the weekend. We stayed at lovely vacation rental in Petaluma – the food is local, organic and straight from the farm. The farmers market had a lot of amazing produce and we came home with some local honey. There is an amazing pie shop there called the Petaluma Pie Company and they have real savoury pies which were so tasty – with local ingredients which is a plus. If anyone goes by and likes pies definitely check it out! All in all we had a relaxing time away eating the local produce and watching movies before we went back to our new place to start unpacking!