Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year

On this, the last evening of 2007, I find I'm reflecting on what has happened over the past twelve months.

There's been plenty of good food, new experiences, and good company.

I've decided to take control of my body and what I do to it by joining a gym, beginning to lose weight, learning to make exercise a part of my life, and making better food choices.

There's also been a relationship breakup and the rediscovery of single life, and new friends. I'm working on my discomfort with new people.

I've shaved my head, confronted my fears of heights and crowded spaces (neither are conquered, but it has begun), and settled comfortably into my home.

I've decided what I want from the next twelve months, and I'm putting things in place to achieve these goals.

Have a great evening and 2008 everyone. Sink a drink or two for me during your celebrations, have a happy and safe evening, and catch you all in the new year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Season's Greetings Everyone

Hi Everyone,

After getting soaked and freezing this morning at work, I'm now packed and ready to jet off to the sunny skies in Brisbane, then south to Woodenbong, the closest thing I have to a home town.

The countryside around there can be quite lovely, although I think I may be biased. I'll attempt to take some good pics to share with you all when I come back.

Until then have a happy and safe festive season.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Eating Out: High Tea at the Windsor

111 Spring Street, Melbourne
P: 03 9633 6000

Afternoon Tea at The Windsor. Sounds posh, doesn't it? I tell you, it feels a bit posh too! This lovely old building has been around since 1883, and it's been well-kept. If you're wanting the afternoon tea be sure to book.

It's the little things that make me smile. The old silver settings, with the "W" engraved lightly in the plate. The nice table cloth. The details on the ceiling and architraves... Mel and I have been saying for months that we want to do this, and a couple of weeks ago Mel made the wise move of saying "right, that's it, we're doing it now!" and booked us in for today.

A glass of bubbles, cups of tea or coffee, and your very own cake stand of goodies is what you get. I won't reiterate the menu for you, exactly - you can look that up. But I will tell you a little about what we ate.

The sandwiches were an interesting mix. I've never had smoked salmon before (heck, until a couple of months ago I'd never had any type of salmon!) so I dived into those sandwich wedges curiously. Hm... not bad. The rare beef ones were bland, but nice, the ham and chutney ones took me back to my childhood, and the egg sandwiches were lovely.

The sweet cakes were, well, interesting. I'm quite done with chocolate now for a while, and the lemon meringue tart was let down only by the pastry (otherwise it was lovely, I could have happily scooped out the lemon and the meringue bits and had a bowlfull of just them).

The scones were a little bit of a disappointment - a bit dry, and not risen very much. Perhaps they didn't add enough "lifter" to the mix, perhaps they over-worked them... but the jam and double-cream was bliss!

I think I'd love to do this once in a while - perhaps once a year or so. It was a lovely afternoon, and watching the rain pouring down through the old windows was pleasant.

When Mel puts up her review I'll be sure to add the link!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cumin and Kumara Scones

Kumara? What the fecking hell is "kumara"?!?! Ooohhhh, I see: sweet potato. Huh. Ok then.

I made these some months ago - I got this recipe off the internet SOMEWHERE, but it was a while ago, and I now can't remember which site I copied it from. When I do remember I'll be sure to give them the kudos. I was a little hesitant about trying this one, as I'm not a fan of cumin at all (hell, I don't even know how to pronounce it, there seems to be several options. I seem to be falling towards "cue-min"). But, while you can definitely SMELL the cumin, the flavour doesn't overpower these little dough-balls at all. Absolutely freakin' dee-lish-us straight from the oven with just a smear of butter (shame I accidentally deleted that picture), and equally nice after a zap in the microwave. Nice and soft, too. Try 'em, I dare ya.

Cumin and Kumara Scones

450g self-raising flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
2tsp icing sugar
2tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup cooked kumara, mashed (works out to about 150g-worth)
50g melted butter
150ml chilled milk
180ml chilled water
extra milk, to glaze

Preheat the oven to 200C. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the kumara, butter, water and milk and mix with a spatula or round-ended knife blade until it forms a sticky dough. With floured hands (VERY important, cos it's VERY sticky), press dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes*. Place onto lightly floured oven tray and brush tops with extra milk. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden and cooked**. Serve warm with butter.

* I turned it onto the floured surface, and then gave it a VERY light knead to work in a bit more flour, as I found the dough was still far too sticky.

** It might have been the size of the ones I made, or my oven might be slow, but I ended up leaving them in there for about 20-25 minutes, before they turned a nice colour and cooked through.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

ROADTRIP!!! Daylesford for a Day

Did you know that Daylesford is only about 95km from my front door? Which means that I really do have no excuse for not having visited this gorgeous part of Victoria before now. With a couple of days off work I decided "What the hell, I'll do it" and went up for a day.

On arriving at the town I saw signs pointing to Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens. "Sounds alright" I thought, so off I went. The gardens were small, but lush, and home to this monster of a tower. Tall, and thin, and the stairs were enough to make you dizzy. But I climbed it, and the views were lovely, if somewhat blocked by the old trees (darned trees, who put them there?! hehe).

See that blue thingy waaaaay down there? That'd be the trusty old Pulsar. He performed quite well on the trip, and must have some mountain-goat genes as he handled incredibly well when I took him on gravel tracks (the one at Mt Franklin was mostly bare rock).

From the gardens I found my way to the old Convent (Cnr Daly & Hill Streets, Daylesford. P: 03 5348 3211). This was a truly beautiful place, with so much history. It's now a museum and art gallery, with the most amazing gardens surrounding the buildings, which are a mixture of old and new parts.

Here's part of the front of the building, looking up the hill through the greenery. The first picture of this post is also from the garden. Just beautiful, so calming.

Yet another piece of garden. How great does this look?! I took so many pictures just of the grounds. Also at the convent there is a cafe, Bad Habits, and a restaurant and function room.

Of course, as the cafe offered a devonshire tea I had to partake. The home-made scones were delicious, with thickened cream and sweet strawberry jam. Lovely. Unfortunately it was one of the most expensive I've ever had. Still, it was good, and the atmosphere was lovely.

The gallery and museum at The Convent are interesting, although there is a small entry fee (adults $5, unsure of children/pensioner costs). I spent a pleasant hour and a half wandering around looking at the two floors of artwork. A third floor, much like a small basement room, makes up the museum, with some interesting pieces from the days when the building and grounds were a convent. A little eerie down there, what with the candles and low lighting. But interesting.

From there I decided it was time to check in to my cabin at the Daylesford Victoria Caravan Park (Ballan Road, Daylesford. P: 03 5348 3821). On my way back into town I noticed the sign for Jubilee Lake... you can hire canoes to paddle around the lake, although when I was there the weather was overcast so there were no people, and the canoes were huddled quite forlornly on the shore, waiting for the sun to come out so they'd be wanted again. I can imagine this place would get quite busy in the summer months, kids screaming in the playground, BBQs sizzling, young couples rowing their way around the watery expanse... I must go back for a look on one of those days.

Of course if you go to Daylesford you HAVE to go out to the Chocolate Mill (5451 Midland Highway, Mt Franklin. P: 03 5476 4208). YOU MUST! It was built several years ago by the owners, and it is a bonafide straw-bale house with earth render. What's this mean? 900 straw bales were used to build it, and inside it's cool and funky (and I mean cool as in both temperature and appeal). The smell hits you right between the eyes. Yup, that's right, it goes right up your nose. All chocolates are made fresh on the premises. Caramel and ganache chocolates are made using fresh cream and butter, so you have to eat them within a week or so. Yeah right, like anything you buy here will last THAT long. BTW, I'll never enjoy Cadbury chocolate again. Or basically any other mass-produced chocolate, for that matter. Free talks are given at 11am and 2pm daily. The walls also have some background information on the chocolate, and how the Mill came to be.

Naturally I had to buy me something. I got two boxes of christmas chocolates (plain belgium chocolates), a bag of their 70% dark chocolate, a bag of their fruit and nut clusters, and a sample box that contained chilli mama ganache, caramel cups, cocoabana truffle, port truffles, and peanut butter cups. Possibly something else too, but I can't remember. Ooohhh so good. There's also a cafe out there that offers limited goodies - tea, coffee, hot chocolate, spiders, some soft drinks, ice cream...

With my chocolates safely stowed in my cooler bag I made my way to The Mill Markets back in town (105 Central Springs Road, Daylesford. P: 03 5348 4332). I'm not sure what I was expecting, but certainly nothing this big. It took me about 45 minutes to work my way through the first room, and I thought I was making good time... then I passed through an unassuming walkway and found this... a massive shed-like warehouse of goodies. Some antiques, some genuine collectables, and some junk - just the type of stuff I like wandering through!

There were some other places I checked out, but I was a little pushed for time. I think I need to go back and spend a few days exploring Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. I want to have a better look at The Blowhole, and actually check out the springs in the area. Perhaps when I'm not on quite so tight a budget! Unfortunately I spent a day there, and then the next day had to mosey on up to Bendigo and across to Shepparton before heading home.

All up the trip was around 600km including all the to-ing and fro-ing between attractions. Easy driving. Had a fantastic time.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Baking: Banana Date Loaf

My fondness for the website is no secret: it's one of my first ports of call when I have an ingredient and want some ideas for what to do with it. So with a couple of nicely-ripe-and-squishy bananas just begging to be used, where else would I go?

I won't type up the recipe, you can find it here. You'll notice my chunks of date fell to the bottom - I think my mix was a bit too moist. But if you're looking for a REALLY easy, quite yummy cake, give this one a try.

Gym: Update!

Hi All,

Well, I had another fitness assessment tonight.

Results since beginning:

Weight lost: 5kg (nearly 6kg)
Blood Pressure: greatly lowered
Resting HR: wow... now down to 65bpm. Back in August it was still 75bpm. When I started it was even higher
Biceps: 3cm lost
Waist: 27cm lost
Legs: 3cm lost
Calves: 2cm lost
Waist/Hips Ratio: now 0.75 (last assessment 0.78) No idea what that was to start with.

So there you go. Results could be achieved quicker, the reason they're not is my own fault. But hey, kilo's keep going, and centimetres keep disappearing, so I'm happy enough. If I really ramped up my gym sessions and radically changed my diet things would happen quicker, but for me that wouldn't be sustainable. So I figure I'm getting the results just changing things slowly, so that's good enough for now. Here's hoping my trip home to mum's at Christmas won't undo all this good work: she feeds everyone like a stockman!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Hehe, I'm Silly

Hehe, I'm such a silly doofus at times... the Principal Advisor's EA in National Office offers regular "Lucky Dip" prizes for people who suggest the best caption for a picture, or answers to a quiz, things like that. Well, I won something! A caption I suggested for a photo (showing new PM Rudd and US President Bush) was one of the winning suggestions! Yay me :-)

The Deputy Sheriff star is now blu-tacked to one of my monitors, and the gummi-worms are long gone. All in all, a nice goofy start to a Friday! Next post will probably about my wild adventures in Daylesford next week. Stay tuned....

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Eating In: Mmm, Chicken

Now, I don't know about other families, but in mine a BBQ just isn't a BBQ unless you have at least three different types of meat or meat-product. Last night I had a BBQ at my place with my dad and his lady-wench and, true to family tradition, I had meat three ways: sausages, steak, and chicken. Of course there's some salad involved as well - coleslaw, lettuce, tomato, cheese...

With the chicken I decided to try a variation on a idea Ollie (who I went to uni with) gave me years ago, so I cubed a single breast from what must have been some type of mutant chicken, based on the size of it, and marinated it in a small-jar's-worth of dijonnaise for an hour or so (personally I love Maille brand dijonnaise). I then threaded it on the skewers with pieces of onion and green capsicum. I'm really annoyed that I didn't take pictures - they looked lovely and fresh and yummy. Maybe next time. But what really blew my mind was my dinner tonight.

After making enough skewers for the three of us there was plenty of chicken, capsicum and onion left, so I threw it all together in the marinade and left it in the fridge overnight. Tonight I cooked it up in a frypan with a little added chilli, a little garlic, and a tiny amount of brown sugar and dished it up on top of jasmine rice.

It might not look all that pretty, but DAMN it was good. Try it - you won't be sorry.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Book Review: Garlic & Sapphires

Garlic & Sapphires - The Secret Life of a Restaurant Critic in Disguise
Ruth Reichl

Mel recently loaned me this book, saying it was a brilliant read. I have to agree.

I can admit, I've never heard of Ruth Reichl before in my life. And I will, in all likelihood, forget her name before another week passes (I am truly hopeless with names). But I will remember this book for a VERY long time.

Ruth was the New York Times food critic back in the 90s who resorted to wearing disguises to avoid being recognised in the restaurants so that she could experience the "average" person's dining event.
Her writing style is warm, engaging, witty, and humourous. Be warned: if you start reading this book it is entirely likely that other parts of your life will grind to a halt until you finish the last page. You will also find yourself laughing out loud in parts, and grinning happily in others, which will make other public transport patrons look at you oddly. But you simply can't help it: as she recounts her adventures as Brenda, Holly, Chloe et al. you can just picture it all happening. And don't get me started on her descriptions of the food... I've never been a sashimi fan, however after just one paragraph where she describes what must surely be some of the most divine sashimi on the planet, I found myself almost able to taste and feel the food and, dammit, I wanted some! So, before Christmas I am going to taste at least three different types of sashimi. But I digress.

Several of her favoured recipes are also dotted throughout the book (thankfully there is an index at the end to help you find them again), and I have scribbled many of them down to try at some point.

Other books to Ruth's credit are Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples, both of which I can't wait to find and read.

Thanks again Mel, I enjoyed this book SO much, it really brightened the end of my week (alas, because I could barely put it down I read it in a little over a day).

I give it 4.5/5

Monday, November 26, 2007

*THAT* Was Cycle LIGHT?!?!

Well, I attended by first Cycle class tonight EVER (Cycle is sometimes known "Spin"). My gym offers a class on Monday nights called "Cycle Light" - a 25 minute class for cycle beginners. All I have to say is... people do that for 45 minutes?!?! THE FREAKS!!

I was all red in the face, covered in sweat, and MY BUTT IS NOW KILLING ME!! But, despite all that, I'm planning to go the the class next Monday as well. It can only get easier!

Wednesday I have a day off, so will be attempting the Butt+ class. I figure I have 1+ butt-worth of butt, so Butt+ should be a good one!

I haven't updated on the gym thing in a while. I'm into a regular program now, which has unfortunately been a bit interrupted in the last few months by illness.

BUT, weight loss has continued, blood pressure improvement has continued, strength has increased, the benefits are still rolling in.

AND kilo's are still coming off, albeit slowly.

AND I bought a new dress last week... in a size lower than the last dress I bought for myself!

So, things are going REALLY well. Wonder if mum will notice the difference when I see her (less than four weeks now till then)...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Yoghurt Cake - Revisited!

You may remember, back in May I blogged a fantastically easy recipe for a yoghurt cake. At the time I made cupcakes from the mixture. This time I wanted to try making the one big one, as a birthday present of sorts.

But, me being me, I felt I needed to do a test run first, just to make sure the chances of getting it right when it mattered were maximised. So I did it all... sift the dry stuff, whisk the wet stuff, combine it all, mix it up well, throw it in the tin and bake it for the hour. The results - not bad at all! I threw some lemon icing on it instead of the lemon syrup and took it in to work on Sunday - not even crumbs remained when work finished. Although you REALLY do need to use a very deep cake tin: I used my regular one, didn't pour all of the batter in, and still had an overflow!

BTW: that leftover cake mix makes some of the most FANTASTIC light and fluffy pancakes I've had:

So yesterday afternoon I prepared to do it all again. This time I used what I call my 'christmas cake' tin (you know, round and deep enough to bath a baby in). Perfect! AND... I decided to go the whole way and try for the lemon syrup too.

The finished product. A little plume of mix cracked through the top in the last 15 minutes of baking, but I like to think this makes it 'decorative', hehe. The lemon syrup was lovely - I heartily recommend making it. AND any leftover syrup is really nice cold and served on top of creamy vanilla ice cream with some chopped pistachios. Or on pancakes. Mmmm pancakes....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Killers

I've heard some people say that The Killers have given some disappointing performances on their tour.

If that's the case, then they have certainly improved out of sight!

Last night marked their final performance of their current tour, and it was fantastic. I missed the first supporting act, however the Howling Bells were incredibly good, and I'll be looking out for their album.

Normally the antics of the crowd don't amuse me much, but for just a few moments there was the most amazing sight: in the seats to the left of the stage the old Mexican Wave was started up. After a few faltering tries we all got into the spirit of things and it flowed smoothly around the stadium until it hit the right-side of the stage. Left started again, around to right... and then the mosh-pit joined in! Now I've always thought the Mexican Wave is a bit, well, silly, but it really did look awesome rippling around the stadium, then across the front of the stage to start again. We all did it twice, then the allure wore off. Still, points to the die-hards to the left of the stage who kept trying to revive it.

Then: the main act. Suspense was built: images from their Sam's Town album were played over a swathe of gauzy white material in front of the stage... the music gathered momentum with a stomach-shuddering intensity, the crowd was cheering, and then... MOVEMENT BEHIND THE CURTAIN! The noise from the crowd reached a nigh-unbearable level and then BOOM! The curtain dropped, the mosh pit was showered with sparkliness, and the show was underway.

It truly was brilliant, a mix of old and new stuff, with everyone's favourites getting a hearing. The show opened, quite appropriately, with the title track: Sam's Town, a big, loud, head-bopping, rhythm thumping, guitar-slaying glory of a song. And you should have heard the roar when old favourites Jenny Was A Friend of Mine, Somebody Told Me, and Mr Brightside were played.

Brandon will never make a career as a dancer, but his energy is amazing - I don't think I saw him stand still for longer than about two seconds, even when he was at the keyboard. The two guitarists faded somewhat into the scenery, not really drawing too much attention to themselves (or maybe they did, and I didn't see*) but, as a fan of drummers, I was glad to see Ronnie stand up (quite literally) and get a bit of attention from the audience.

I'd love to see these guys again in another couple of years to see how much they've improved again, providing I can afford whatever they charge if/when they come back and are hugely successful. To see this show was about $84, which works out to $21 per band member. Less if you include the guy at the back of the stage playing additional guitar and keyboards. And even less again if you include the supporting act I caught (I hope you follow my thinking - I'm dividing the ticket price up to see what I paid roughly per person I saw perform). In my opinion, it was well worth the cost. But here's where female logic comes in - regardless of the number of people in the group, I really hate paying more than $100 for a concert. Bon Jovi is coming early next year, tickets $130. Damn I hope I find some moolah stashed away somewhere so I can go. I saw them about 11 years ago, I think, up in Brisbane, and they were brilliant: it'd be nice to see 'em again...

* There's a good reason I may not have seen. Indulge me for just a moment to send out a message to the girl in the upper section, row FF, seat 263: your ass is neither as tiny, cute, perky, nor see-through as you seem to think. Also, "muffin-top" is not a good look: hipster/low-rider jeans are a privilege, not a right (thanks Mel for giving me that little quote).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Going away for a little while...

Hi Folks,

A quick note - I'm taking a short break from the blogging world. I made a very difficult decision tonight, and now need (want?) some time to sort things out - which means I won't be devoting time to sharing my interests with the wide world for a little while.

Thank you for reading thus far, and I hope you'll continue to read when I'm back on my feet.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Join the Bloggers' Banquet

If you're a food blogger, check this out.

I'm hoping to get there - anyone else out there interested?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

On Holiday: Brisbane in October

I can hardly believe it, but it's been 10 years since I finished high school. I'm trying very very hard not to dwell on all the things that I planned to have done with my life by now, but nothing really makes you think about the time that's past more than attending your 10-year high school reunion.
I went to school up in Ipswich, and also had the dubious honour of boarding at the school for the four years I spent there.

This is a picture of a picture (probably of a copy of a picture) of the school in 1894, two years after it took in its first students. This original building housed both the schoolrooms and the bedrooms of the students.

And this is that same building now. It's now the administration block, complete with myths and legends about ghosts and deaths from the belltower (which is out of photo, to the right). I've always loved the history about the place. The original gatekeepers cottages are also still standing, at the start of the driveway, and are used for drama classes now. I was disappointed, though, that the school drive seems to have lost half of its trees. People used to come along there in a horse and carriage and have their wedding pictures taken there. I'm guessing not many do that any more. I'm ambivalent about my feelings for the school in general. My first year there I would have sworn it was hell on earth. But as the years passed I developed quite a soft spot for the grounds, the old buildings (not so much the new buildings - they are all quite utilitarian), and some of those truly OLD trees.

Anyway, I wasn't sure, even up until I walked in the room, that I wanted to go to this reunion. I'm now glad that I did, as it was interesting to see people I haven't spoken to since that final day at school. But it also hammered home to me that all the people I WANTED to stay in contact with, I have. I decided to head up for more than just a weekend though, so I took a couple of weeks off work (amazingly, from BOTH jobs) and headed up for a week. Since funds are always short I opted to look for a backpacker hostel, and wow did I hit the jackpot.

Somewhere to Stay touts itself as "The BEST backpackers accommodation in Brisbane". Are they the best in Brisbane? I don't know, I haven't been to every other place in Brisbane. But hell, they must come bloody close. I chose to pay a little extra for a standard single room so I wouldn't have to be sociable in a dorm room. The advertised room rate for a single is $39, with discounts for longer stays (so for me 5 nights ended up costing $178 instead of $195. Hey, a discount's a discount!). Check out the website - what more could you want from somewhere to stay than what this place can offer?! There's a pool to cool off in, a kitchen to cook your own food (cos although West End has some fantastic places to eat, that's an expensive way to live), a MASSIVE TV to watch, a laundry to clean your clothes, lots of foreign guys to drool over... when it came time for me to leave I seriously considered asking my Monday-to-Friday boss for an extra week, and running the risk of being fired from my weekend job. But really, lovely though it was there, I had to finish the holiday and head home (sniff, sniffle). Believe me, I'll be back there next time though.

Speaking of fantastic places to eat, I did give a few of them a go.

185 Boundary Street, West End QLD 4101
Ph: (07) 3846 7746
This place seemed like a nice funky little cafe. They were advertising a "Big Brekky" including a cup of coffee for $14. I figured, yeah, that'll do. Huh. I've had bigger. However the eggs were poached to perfection, the toast was thick and crusty, and the chippolatas were deliciously herby. On the downside I wasn't thrilled at being told that 50c was going to be added to the cost because I wanted tea instead of coffee - the reason I was given was that "tea is more expensive" (what the...?). Right there and then I almost walked out. The atmosphere of the place was good, with nice jazz/funk music playing, and interesting decor. That being said, I didn't go back again, as I found better places nearby.

169 Boundary Street, West End QLD 4101
Ph: (07) 3844 8324
Now here we have a place that could very quickly become a favourite, if I lived in the area. Espressohead was a bit grungier than Satchmo's, but was so friendly, and the staff so nice, that who could care? They were also a fair bit busier than Satchmo's, so I think there's a lesson there, but for all that the atmosphere is fairly relaxed and laid back. The mural painted on canvas on the wall kinda freaked me out, as it has a picture of a very large rat (hopefully NOT a statement regarding things you could find in the kitchen). Can't fault the food, though. Vicki and I had lunch there one day, and I figured $7.50 was a decent price for a chicken and salad sandwich. Then a monster of a sandwich between two slabs of Turkish bread came out. It supplied me for two meals! The chicken was real slices of herb-roasted chicken, and the salad fillings seemed very fresh. So after such a successful lunch I simply had to go back and try breakfast.
Enter one "Aussie Breakfast" of bacon, eggs, tomato, chippolatas and toast for $9.50. Then add hash browns and a pot of tea to take the total to $14. Now the same price as Satchmo's, but SO much better. Next time I'm in West End I'll be going here again to check things out a bit further. Oh yes, good coffee too.

The Gunshop Cafe
53 Mollison Street, South Brisbane QLD 4101
Ph: (07) 3844 2241
Oh my, this place is interesting. It apparently actually used to be a gun shop, complete with dark windows, rows of firearms, and boxes upon boxes of ammo. Nice! It's now a swanky little cafe/restaurant that gets pretty darn busy, despite the prices (two of us ate there for $100)
. Jane and I were looking for somewhere to eat while we caught up a little (as the reunion was a difficult place to chat for any length of time) and ended up here. We each ordered the 300g rib fillet - it came out atop small whole potatoes and broccolini, with a dollop of herb butter on top and a thin slice of prosciutto. It didn't blow my mind, but it was nonetheless very nice. Before starting our mains we had considered sharing a cheese platter to finish (especially when I noticed the Timboon Brie on the board!) but when the time came we found something sweet was calling. We ordered a creme brulee (Jane) and lemon panacotta (for me). The waitress getting the two of them mixed up (calling the creme brulee the panacotta and vice versa). And the creme brulee was missing the brulee bit, if you know what I mean - it was more just a creme caramel. Jane reported that it was still quite nice, but she'd been looking forward to that first tap with the spoon. The panacotta was quite nice, but again, nothing to get too excited about. Overall we agreed that the meal was somewhere between "good" and "very good". I'd be interested in going back to see what they can do with lunch.
We also (well, mostly Jane) came up with an interesting idea for Jane to take up in the new year, which I'll be very interested in seeing if she follows through: 12 dates in 12 months. Sounds simple - we shall see how simple it is, and how it unfolds.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Great Ocean Road... Finally!!!

Brace yourself, folks, this is going to be a long one!! After nearly two years I have finally gotten around to "doing" the Great Ocean Road. Finally!!! And it was well worth the wait.

The original plan was to have morning tea in Lorne, however the lack of a car park or any establishment that tempted me resulted in my driving straight through. So I then thought "Oh well, there's always Apollo Bay". And much the same thing happened as in Lorne! So after that I decided to stop making plans, and just go with the flow.

Please allow me to digress just momentarily to chat about one of the big loves of my life - my car:

This here is my trusty steed. Ever since I gave him a work-over about 2.5 years ago I've longed for a road that will REALLY test whether the money (and blood, sweat, and scars) were worth it. What you're looking at is a 99 model N15 Pulsar SLX with an engine chip, Whiteline "works" suspension and handling kit (complete with springs, shocks, rear 20mm adjustable sway bar, steering rack bushes, camber bushes, and a few things I've now forgotten... still haven't got the front strut brace), 2.25" cat-back exhaust system, CAI, 16" mags, spotties... basically a car with 1.6L of power (cough cough, hehe) that corners like a frikking DEMON. Many outside the Pulsar forums don't think the old pulsar is worth the effort. But for love, anything is worth it :-) But enough car-speak.

I hit the intersection at Lavers Hill and was going to keep on going, but saw a sign by the side of the road at this place

advertising Devonshire Tea. And I'm a complete sucker for a Devonshire Tea, as you might have gathered from a previous post.

And this one was well worth the stop. Beautiful scones, delicious jam, and absolutely divine thickened (not whipped) cream. Oh wow. That, and the views down a valley through the window made it WELL worth the stop. And I once again made a furry friend. What is it with cats and me? Why do they take one look at me and think "here's a sucker that'll pat me for a while"? He was a gorgeous ginger-and-white guy who quite pointedly let me know he expected much behind-the-ear scratching before I was allowed to leave. So I obliged - it seemed the only thing to do.

Once refreshed and fortified I continued on my way, heading for the Otway Fly Walk and all the terror it held.

I love a good walk through tranquil lush forest. It was a particularly windy day on Monday, so the roar of the wind through the trees was loud, but quite relaxing in its own way.

And then I got to the scaffolding that announced the start of the climb to the tree canopy.

From where I took this pic, at point 10, I was only 26m up. And you can see how high that tower goes. Perhaps now is a good time to mention that I do suffer from a HUGE fear of heights. To me, the scariest ride on earth is the ferris wheel. But I wasn't going to let some silly little fear stop me. See all those stairs going round and round and round and round and... well yeah, I did them.

And here I am, 47m above the ground. I have to wonder about the kindness of strangers... Some examples:

1) When you go to places like this, complete strangers are almost always happy to take pictures for you (especially if you're on your own) and even offer to take several to be sure you get a good one

2) I started chatting to others also on the small viewing form at the top of the tower, and mentioned my fear. They smiled and offered encouragement and praise for my efforts to conquer it. I know quite a few 'friends' who would tease me and make many jokes at my expense instead. Guess which would be most welcome, and help the most.

Aaaanyway, once I made it DOWN from the tower (oh God, that was an experience) I then decided to REALLY test myself, and go out on the cantilever. The cantilever is a viewing platform 33m from the ground - and the only thing holding it up is a couple of steel cables attached to a pole a looooong way from the end. From the safety of that pole I watched it gently swaying in the breeze, and with the footsteps of everyone out on it. I decided to wait until it got a bit less crowded out there. And then, white-knuckled and gripping the handrail, I shuffled out. And I kept that hold on the railing until I realised - hell, if it goes, I'm going with it! So I let go.

I even made myself kneel down and take a picture through the walkway... not sure how it looks, but that's 33m down... a looooong way. By the time I got back to the nearest stable-ish point I was quite clammy, sweaty hands, and my legs were shaking so bad I thought I'd fall over. But I didn't, and finished the scaffold walk back to the forest floor. I'm so proud of me.

From the Otway Fly Walk I headed a little further along the road to the Triplet Falls. Oh. My. God. SO much beauty. I took so many pictures, but the one above and the one below are my favourites from this area.

After a brief picnic in my car of orange juice and fruit, I decided that was enough stuffing around for the day, and it was time to get to my final destinations of the day: the Twelve Apostles and Port Campbell.

Here, of course, is the obligatory picture of some of the remaining apostles. I took heaps of great pictures, including one of flying sea-foam, as if the ocean were hawking up giant lugey's and spitting at me (nice imagery, eh?), but due to my infamiliarity (yes, I make up words) with the camera I was using, they weren't saved... due to the memory card being full (duh, me smart). And I'd taken an awesome shot of a storm coming over the ocean, framed through the blackened branches of a dead tree. *sigh* I would have liked to see how those shots came out. Ah well - I'll just have to do it again!

I stayed at the cabin and camping park in Port Campbell for the night. A nice little cabin to myself. Tuesday saw me heading back for home, via the inland route. I stopped off in Timboon and visited Timboon Farmhouse Cheese (23 Ford and Fells Road, Timboon. Ph: 03 5598 3387). Oh wow. I had me a little taste test of the cheeses on offer, except the blue cheese (never got the hang of those). Their organic Brie and Camembert were just, just, well, just divine. They also had on offer a Surprise Bay Cheddar and Stokes Point Smoked cheddar from their sister-farmhouse - King Island Dairy. There was also a gourmet feta marinated in olive oil and herbs, and two fresh cheeses - one coated in herbs, the other in peppers. Oh wow, oh wow. I LOVE my cheeses. Each of the types I tried just blew my mind. There were three blue cheese on offer that I declined - Timboonsola Blue, St Joseph's Blue, and one other I can't remember now. If the others are anything to go by, these would have been sublime as well. One corner of the shop is taken up with all the various awards they have won for their cheeses. All well-earned, I'd say!

My purchases - the King Island Surprise Bay Cheddar, Timboon Organic Brie, and Timboon Organic Feta.

From Timboon I went up to Campberdown and had a rather disappointing pub lunch, then set myself facing east and came home.

A rather full two days. About 600km trip, but so thoroughly enjoyable.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

For Balance of Body....

Well folks, it's been a long time since I've felt THAT uncoordinated and unstretchy.

The last time I did a "Body Balance" class at a gym was easily seven years and several clothes sizes ago. (I should explain, for those who don't know: "Body Balance" is a mixture of yoga and relaxation exercises.)

So tonight I finally did my first class at the gym since joining. I figured after a particularly annoying day in the office I could do with a little balance and relaxation, so confirmed the class time, and obediently turned up.
And it was frustrating, in a way, knowing what my body was meant do, but finding it physically impossible to make it do it (perhaps this is something like what people feel when they reach elderly years?). But I figure anything that helps me stretch, and could help my back, is worth it.

And really, I don't think I did too badly. Definitely room for improvement, and I really do need to learn how to relax, switch the brain off.
Thankfully I wasn't the only noob: there was one other. We had a good laugh about it afterwards, with promises to see each other at next week's class too.

So here's hoping, folks, that I discover a newfound bendyness over the coming months to compliment my increasing fitness level.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Eating Out: Esspressino

Shop 7, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Ph: 03 9662 3334

If you're up the eastern side of town and looking for a great coffee, snack, drink, or lunch, then look no further. This relatively new little place has very quickly become a favourite of mine - so much so that I rarely think to go anywhere else for my coffee or snack.

But really, where should I start when it comes to singing the praises of this little gem? Should I start with the friendly staff? The delicious selection of tarts, bombolone, or gluten-free treats (warning: these in particular are sinfully good), among other things? The yummy array of piadinas? Or the pasta I had for lunch today with Mel and Danny?

Wherever I start I can guarantee that you'll be happy with whatever you get from here.

Mel has assured me that she will put up her review of the place (and lunch today) this weekend, so once that's done I'll add a link to her post, where you can read more and see the pictures of the feast from today.

EDIT: And here it is: Esspressino, Rumbler-style

Thursday, September 13, 2007

90-Day Check-In

Well, folks, I was slack, and didn't report my 60-day results. They were good, in that there were losses in weight and centimetres instead of gains, but they weren't all that note-worthy.

But despite all the fine food in Canberra, and a few brushes with the dreaded flu, I've managed to keep up some steady progress.

Tonight I had my 90-day check-in, and thought I'd report some results (figures are total to date):

Resting heart rate: down 4 beats per minute
Blood pressure: MUCH better
Weight: 5kg
Hips: 5cm
Waist: 17.5cm
Thighs and Arms: 1cm each

Again, I've been told not to stress too much about the centimetres on legs and arms, as there are now definitely muscles in there! I just have to get rid of the insulation :-)

So, guys, I'm getting there. It's a slow and often painful (quite literally) process. But I'm getting there. My eating habits are also turning around.

So yeah, it's hard, but I keep trying, and it's nice to see results keep coming, however small.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Eating in: Bacon Leek & Cheese Muffins

When I've got something on my mind, or I'm suffering an extreme of some emotion, I love to bake. I find the structure and actions required to follow the directions soothing, I think. And today I'm in need of soothing.

So I decided to bake something I saw on Rosemary's blog a while ago, and here's the recipe.

I omitted the cheese, purely because after I started making these babies I discovered that I had none, and while I think they were lacking something, they still worked quite nicely without. Fresh from the oven (I ended up baking them for about 20 minutes instead of the 12-15 mentioned in the recipe, but these were also medium-large sized muffins), the one below was so soft and delicious it should have been criminal. Definitely something I'll be making again. Thanks Rosemary!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Baking: Burnt Butter Biscuits

Hold the phones, stop the presses, do whatever you need to do to halt everything for just a minute.

I've made a few batches of rock cakes now, and have been on the lookout for something different, but just as simple. Enter, stage right, the Burnt Butter Biscuit.

Now, the smart-asses amongst you might think "huh, that's just biscuits you leave in the oven for too long". Yeah, very funny. I tell you, I don't think I quite nailed these little buggers this batch, but they're so light, and crisp, and yummy, I'm not that upset!

Burnt Butter Biscuits

Melt 125g of butter over a low heat and cook it until it's a light brown colour. Leave it to cool slightly, and start preheating your oven to 180C. Once the butter has cooled a little add 1/2 cup of caster sugar to the butter and beat the mixture really well. Mix in one lightly beaten egg and a teaspoon of vanilla. Fold in 1 cup of self-raising flour, 1/2 cup of plain flour, and a pinch of salt. The mixture will come together into a stick glossy dough. Roll walnut-sized balls of dough into balls and set them out on a greased tray, leaving enough room for spreading. Bake for about 10 minutes or until they're lightly golden brown. The recipe suggests placing a blanched almond on top of each biscuit before throwing them in the oven.

This made 24 for me (which, amazingly, is what the original recipe said. I almost never get it right!)

Now, I'm pretty sure I didn't cook the butter long enough: I'm great at burning things accidentally, but apparently when I have to do it deliberately I can't. Go figure! Either way, these are NICE little biscuits. They'd be nice with a drizzle of melted chocolate on top, or maybe even a little orange zest added to the mix... wonder how that'd work... I guess, really, they're a great basic little biscuit, so easy, and taste fantastic.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Simple Things

Y'know, sometimes I forget how much I really enjoy the simplest of things. Warm sunshine, fresh air, birds singing in the trees, the smell of baking, and simple, basic food.

Things like a plate of fresh fruit. Nothing fancy, just an apple, an orange, and a bunch of juicy sweet grapes, chopped up ready for easy consumption. Generally when I finish work on a Saturday, if the weather has been as lovely as it was yesterday, this is the type of thing I crave. Usually I give in to that craving. Sometimes... (hanging head in shame)... I give in to the call of easy quick crap and grab something from the market before heading home. I definitely feel better after the fruit, so I have no idea why sometimes I go down the greasy fried route. I guess, on the bright side, it helps me really appreciate the good stuff more...

Something else, that doesn't look so appetising, now that I look at this picture, is the simple meal of baked beans on toast. Oh my, I had this for "lunch" today (if you can really call a meal at 3.30pm lunch). Some forgotten memory from my days as a very young lass hovered on the edge of my mind, an elusive wraith, half-remembered, perhaps half imagined... sorry, I'm digressing. Suffice to say, it was good. Comfort food! So very enjoyable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eating Out: Blue Olive

56 Alinga Street, Canberra
Ph: (02) 6230 4600

As I mentioned, I finished up my Canberra trip with a visit to Blue Olive for breakfast. I've eaten my favourite-meal-of-the-day here several times now. The Big Brekky is definitely big... and this is the plate without mushrooms. They also do a mean eggs benedict. And a good bacon and egg burger. And muesli. And a few other things I haven't gotten around to trying yet. There's an extensive range of food for lunch as well. If you're in Canberra and hankering for a bite, here is not a bad place to start. They have gluten-free options, as well as vegetarian and more healthy choices. Noice.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Eating Out: Fekerte's Ethiopian Cuisine

74/2 Cape Street, Dickson
Ph: (02) 6262 5799

As I mentioned in my Canberra post, I stumbled across FEC while on my way elsewhere, and had to come back for a taste.

The service there was provided by a lovely lady and an... interesting man (Fekerte?). But both very friendly and polite.

I simply couldn't go past the cauliflower fritters: (quoting from menu) three pieces of "finely cut cauliflower and fresh herbs mixed with chickpea flour and egg deep-fried and served with a yoghurt sauce". Oooooh yeah. Delicate spices waking up my mouth, great tangy yoghurt. This is an entree worthy of my All-Time Top Ten.

Following on from the fritters I decided on coconut chicken: (quoting again from the menu) "diced chicken pieces and cauliflower cooked in a lightly spiced tomato and coconut sauce, served with enjera and rice". Mm, yum. Not much spice to it, especially following the fritters, but VERY nice. A decent-sized serve too... I had to leave some behind. And the enjera - beautiful, sharp and tangy on the tastebuds, and brilliant when it came to sopping up the sauce (and cleaning up my plate).

A little on the pricey side - my meal (exactly as above) plus a glass of lemon squash topped $30. But the food was excellent, there was plenty of it, so my tummy ranks it as GOOD!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

One Week in Canberra

OK, this will be a slightly less smutty story than the one you may have heard about Paris. And it wasn't really a whole week - only a working week. Buckle in though, it's going to be a long post :-)

Some may or may not know, but for a few years I called Canberra my home. So I suffer mixed feelings whenever I have to head back there for work. Usually I manage to stay in a serviced apartment so I have a kitchen and don't have to eat out for three meals each day. Not so lucky this week: with Parliament sitting accommodation was scarce. I ended up staying at the Canberra Rex hotel, somewhere I've never stayed before and, frankly, have always looked down my nose at... largely due to it being smack bang in between council flats and one of the ANU residences. But really, I can't complain. And if I was spending my own money then 3.5 stars would be quite adequate. The Rex has an air of faded gentility. OK, that might be going a bit overboard, but the rooms are clean, and a good size.

MONDAY 13 August

Checked in after a loooong day at the office. I decided to go the easy route and have dinner at Millie's Bar and Restaurant, at the hotel. In the way of most hotel restaurants that I know, the food was a touch over-priced, but my LORD, it was good.

Tonight I had the fresh oven baked canneloni stuffed with basil, pumpkin and ricotta, then smothered in a rich tomato sauce with two slices of sourdough bread covered with melted cheese. I am KICKING myself that I don't have a camera with me. It was fantastic. I followed it up with the lemon meringue pie and ice cream. That was also good: the meringue was so creamy. It was accompanied by the biggest strawberry I've seen in a while. The lemon was really nice, but I prefer my lemon to tart that a mouthful explodes my salivary glands into action and makes me wince. And this was lemony, but the tartness wasn't there.

TUESDAY 14 August

Y'know, there are a few things about Canberra that I like: the crisp winter mornings, the magpies singing in Garema Place, the view of the Brindy's from the office window, with their smattering of white on top. They're all familiar, even after an absence of two years, and comforting.

Years ago, when I first moved here and lived on-campus at ANU, the Rasa Sayang was a favourite dining experience for me and my then-boyfriend. The food was consistently great, and the prices weren't so high that a couple of uni students couldn't afford a night out now and then. So tonight I walked on up to Dickson to partake of some memories.

When I got there I had a momentary twinge of doubt: every other place I'd passed was at least half-full, but the Rasa had only two tables taken. I should have slapped myself for my lack of faith: by the time I'd finished my entree it was filling up quick.

Aahh, the entree... vegie spring rolls with a hoisin and sweet chilli dipping sauce (have I mentioned how much I love entrees?). Bliss. Delicious. Just gimme a plate of these and I'll be happy. Instead I chose a main of Ayam Siob, with steamed rice. Good choice. The menu states that it is "crisp-skin chicken marinated with tamarind fruit juice, ginger, onions and coriander and then baked and served with a mild tamarind sauce. Oh. My. Goodness. The food was better than I remember. Prices have of course increased in the last five or so years since the last time I ate there, but that's only to be expected. Kicking myself again about my lack of photographic evidence.


Last night on my way to RS I passed a heap of new restaurants (I use the term "new" loosely, meaning they weren't there the last time I spent any time in Dickson). One in particular caught my interest: Fekerte's Ehtiopian Cuisine. Ever since I first tried Ethiopian food a few years ago at the Canberra International Food Festival I've been a fan. I did actually manage to take pictures of this meal, so will detail it in another post.

THURSDAY 16 August

My last night here. Home tomorrow - yay! Another long and tiring day in the office, but the day wasn't without its highlights, such as picking up a new perfume for $11 less than the price at the first place I saw it... and a free bottle with the purchase!

Tonight I decided on the hotel restaurant again. After my positive experience on Monday I figured it couldn't hurt. Something light tonight - the chilli beef salad. The menu differed slightly to what I was served, but the beef was achingly tender, with just the right amount of chilli. Slices were laid across a bed of tomato wedges, strips of cucumber and rocket tossed with a tangy raita. A bit much raita for my taste, and I'm not a fan of rocket without other salad leaves mixed in, but yummy all the same. Washed down with a very palatable Four Sisters merlot (the house red). I thought I had grabbed pictures of this, but it appears I hadn't. Tsk tsk.

FRIDAY 17 August

Mere hours until I grab a Dash-8 and head south. But no trip to Canberra would be complete without a decent breakfast. A great place to go for that is the Blue Olive (unless of course you can get out to the Central Cafe in Queanbeyan). Again, I had a camera for that, so will blog it later.

There, see, told you: not smutty at all!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Eating Out: Nara Thai

2/6 Neville Avenue, Laverton
Ph: 9369 8799

After reading about Nara Thai in Epicure I decided to give it a go - after all, it's not far from my place, and goodness knows I'm always on the lookout for some decent Thai food close to home.

My entree
was Gai Hor Bai Thoey: bite-sized pieces of marinated chicken wrapped with pandan leaves and deep-fried, with a yummy chilli dipping sauce. Lovely! A shame there were so few :-( It was almost a tease, to have so few bites of yumminess.

Of course, with a massaman curry on the menu I couldn't order anything else. And it was... nice. Flavours were great, but I like a bit of grunt in my massaman, a bit of heat. But I'd happily have theirs again, no worries.

Nathan ordered the Pad Med Ma Muang: stir-fried cashew nuts with beef and mixed vegetables with a mild chilli paste. By all accounts this was awesome (well, he said it was good, I REALLY liked it). Simple flavours, great textures.

With these dishes we ordered a serving of steamed rice and some garlic roti. The cost of the roti was... high. But nevertheless, they were VERY nice.

Total bill was a little higher than I'd pay regularly, but the food was great, as was the atmosphere, and I heard many happy noises from neighbouring tables.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Baking: Rock Cakes!

I am now the proud owner of the Margaret Fulton Australian Classics cookbook. And the other day I felt like baking. After a batch of ANZAC bikkies (after which I ran out of syrup) I decided to see what Marg could do for me. And lo, I spied rock cakes! I haven't had rock cakes since I was about... oh, I don't know, maybe nine years old. Then on yesterday I saw someone on TV making some. And so I figured it MUST be a sign!

Once you've preheated your oven to 200C and greased some baking trays, sift 2 cups of self raising flour with 1/2 a teaspoon of mixed spice and a pinch of salt, then rub through 90g of butter. The recipe then calls for you to add currants, sultanas and chopped mixed peel (about 2 tablespoons of each), however I didn't have any of those - I had dates. So I added a dozen or so chopped dates instead (and I thought they worked out very nicely... at any rate, two batches of biscuits disappeared quite easily). Once you've added your fruit mix it through. Combine 1/4 cup of milk with a beaten egg, then add to the dry stuff and mix it till it forms a stiff dough. Put small spoonfuls onto the baking trays in rough heaps - remember, they're rock cakes, so they shouldn't be all pretty and perfectly rounded. Bake the little buggers for about 10-15 minutes, till they're nicely golden brown, and they're done! When you take them out lever them off carefully onto a wire rack to cool. Lovely.

I decided to have a little suppertime treat, so brewed myself up some hot milo, and sprinkled a little icing sugar over the bikky. Bliss.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Eating Out: Coffee Delight

Lonsdale Street (just down from the corner of Spring, near the IGA)

What you see above is the gastronomic delight that is a sandwich from the shop across the road from work: Coffee Delight.

This place has really created a place for itself in my stomach. My usual order there is remembered, to the point where I don't have to speak: just nod, and point. It goes something like this:

I walk in.
The lovely guy at the sandwich counter holds up his fingers: 1 or 2.
I respond (sometimes 1, usually 2).
If it's 1 he asks: chicken or ham. If it's 2 he knows it's both :-)
I respond.
No more interaction necessary, and I get my sandwiches exactly the way I like them (1 ham, beetroot and cheese, and 1 chicken, beetroot and cheese).

Well, today I decided to be different. He was shocked. Stunned. Gobsmacked! For two years I've been going in once every week or so and ordering the same damned sandwiches. But not today.

Today we have an egg and lettuce. Nice. Simple.

But what about that monster?

Roast beef, cheese, tomato, cucumber, lettuce. And they STACK it on (which is one reason why I like that place: they don't skimp on the fillings. Another is the chicken is REAL chicken). The roast beef and salad sandwich, when I'd flattened it somewhat, still stood at a massive 6.5cm tall - and I know, cos I measured it.

Friendly staff, nice fresh salads, and your standard deep-fried goodies. A nice place to duck in for a bite when you just want something simple.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Eating In: Salmon and Sweet Potato Patties

I really love the Super Food Ideas magazine. And Ready Steady Cook :-D (side note: I have a particularly high regard for Jacqui Gowan, of Garfish at Kirribilli - I love what she does with her ingredients, plus she's cute ;-) one day I'll go to Sydney and eat there!)

But I digress. The latest SFI had a recipe for Salmon and Sweet Potato Patties. I figured, continuing on from my salmon adventure of last week, I'd give 'em a bash.

Now, I certainly didn't need to feed four. And some of the ingredients I didn't have. So instead I'll tell you the variation I did. If you want the original recipe you'll need to grab the magazine.

Salmon and Sweet Potato Patties

Dice a 200g orange sweet potato and cook it in the microwave with a little water for about 5-7 minutes until it's tender (time depends on your microwave. I have an old one, think it's about 650W). Roughly mash it up.

Drain a 215g can of pink salmon really well, then pick out the big bones. Tip the salmon into a bowl and separate it into flakes with a fork. Add one chopped spring onion, and a dollop of sweet chilli sauce. Mix that together, then add the sweet potato and combine it all with a fork.

Now it gets fun! Get your hands into it! Shape tablespoon-full amounts of the mix into slightly flattened balls, then coat them in plain flour (shaking off excess), dip them into beaten egg, then coat them in breadcrumbs. From there you're meant to stick them in the fridge for half an hour... but I was hungry. So I compromised: I put them in the fridge while I cleaned up.

Then add a little oil (or spray some) to a frypan and cook them, a few minutes on each side, until brown and heated through. This made five patties for me.

Of course, no meal in my house is complete with the frozen vegies, so here they are: salmon and sweet potato patties with a slick of sweet chilli on top, with my frozen veg.

But they were SO damn gooood... I had this plate, then found myself eyeing off the remaining three!