Chickpea Curry

This is my new favourite recipe. It’s super easy and tasty. I know you’re probably supposed to have rice with this sort of thing, but I prefer couscous. It’s faster to prepare than rice, and (in my opinion) tastier. But I have been brought up on rice-based meals, so maybe it is just boring to me!

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
tablespoon oil
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can diced tomato

Slice onions finely; crush the garlic. Heat oil in a pan. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring until soft.
Add the chilli powder, salt, turmeric, paprika and cumin. Stir over heat for 1 minute.
Add chickpeas and tomatoes, stir until combined. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garam masala and coriander. Simmer, covered, for another 5-10 minutes.

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Special Effects Blue Haired Freak & Purple Smoke… and Stuff

More gratuitous hair posting. Ah, yes:

Taken about a day after colouring with Special Effects brand dye. A mixture of Blue Haired Freak and Purple Smoke. Widely touted on the web as the best unnatural dye out there, I found Special Effects rather disappointing on both occasions I tried it. This time, I thought the dye was rather more transparent than the Jean’s Colour I normally use. When applied, I could still see through it to the magenta underneath. I left it to process for about three hours, but the end result was not punchy enough. You can still see the magenta tones quite clearly through the violet. Oh yeah, and I used a mix of blue and purple because the place where I ordered the dye from had run out of Wildflower, and suggested the combination of colours to achieve a similar effect. I reckon I got a better purple from Manic Panic Purple Haze.

This is my pocket watch that I bought from the Vic Markets in Melbourne. I asked the man to put it on a chain to wear around the neck rather than the pocket clip it was originally attached to. It’s a good watch for teaching because wrist watches are annoying when I’m playing the piano.

Here are some root vegetables:

I only like carrots when they are cooked. The other night I cut up some raw carrots to dip in hommus and remembered that yes, I don’t much like raw carrot. It’s kind of bitter.

Hello dog:

Bye now.

Vegetarian Food in Adelaide

Image by Dan Eriksson

Here are my pick of Adelaide’s vegetarian meal options that I’ve discovered so far:

  • Vego ‘n’ Love’n It. When a friend first showed me this place in Rundle Street, I was surprised at how many times I must have walked past it and not known it was there. It’s located up a narrow staircase and gets packed out at lunch times. Very delicious burgers and good value for money.
  • Sumo Salad. I used to work here and the freshness/quality is great. Quite a few meat salads but the vegetarian options are quite tasty.
  • Bangkok Bites (Chinatown, in the “old” food court). Lots of vegetarian noodle and rice options at about $7 a pop.
  • Barbecue City. It’s mainly a meat restaurant but the Vegetable Dumplings are really good, you can have them pan-friend or steamed, both are yummy. They have a fair few other vegetarian options, but I haven’t been able to get past the dumplings.
  • Pure Vegetarian (Chinatown, in the “new” food court). You can have a choice of several dishes with rice or noodles. I LOVE that brown rice is an option.
  • Burp Burritos. Vegetarian burritos are cheap but delicious.
  • Ky Chow. Ying Chow has a bit of a cult following these days but I maintain that Ky Chow is the best place on Gouger Street! (I eat there WAAAAY too often.) I admit that pure vegetarians might have difficulty choosing suitable dishes, but what they do, they do well (except perhaps for the Malaysian Vegetable Hot Pot, I found it a bit boring). My dishes of choice are Shallot Pancakes, Vegetable Rolls, Hot and Sour Vegetable Hot Pot and Salty Fish Eggplant Hot Pot. The last has fish in it, so it’s for pescetarians only!

Pescetarianism is going well and I do not miss eating meat at all EXCEPT perhaps for duck. I love me a good old Peking duck. The transition has been interesting, especially the aspects of dining that involve significant others, but I am really enjoying discovering all this yummy food.

If anyone knows of good vego joints in Adelaide, your recommendations are so very welcome.

Puff Pastry

 

Image by sonicwalker (with an accompanying recipe)

Image by sonicwalker (with an accompanying recipe)

How good is puff pastry?? No, seriously. Think about it. It only takes five minutes to thaw, requires no further preparation, you can put whatever you like inside it and it always turns out flawlessly flaky and delicious. (It’s also vegetarian and vegan – bonus.) Compare this to fillo pastry, that other ready-made pastry of the freezer aisle. Fillo can take an hour or two to thaw and if you get impatient waiting, the pastry easily cracks and breaks with mishandling, you have to brush it with oil and prepare it into stacks of multiple sheets and it tends to be messier. 

Anyway. Puff pastry is rad. I like putting roasted root vegetables inside. Pumpkin, potato, carrot, garlic and cheese is good. I also want to try nutella/chocolate, left-over or home-made curry, sugared fruit. And I haven’t experimented much with puff pastry as a pie crust so I want to do that.

It’s too bad puff pastry is so fatty. I guess that’s often the case with things that are delicious.

The Road to Pescetarianism…

… is not a rocky one, I’m finding. It’s actually been quite easy. I think the fact that I had already cut pork from my diet for quite a while has something to do with it. When I quit eating pork, I soon found that even erasing that one meat from my diet meant I had to do more thinking about what was in my food. That was a bigger change than I had expected because it meant I had to change my thought processes every time I ate… if that makes sense. So enlarging the list of what I won’t eat to include all land meats wasn’t that big a change. 

Also, even before my decision I didn’t regard meat as a staple part of my diet anyway. I don’t believe humans need that much meat. Imagine if meat was served as a side dish rather than vegetables! It seems a little strange to me now that main courses in any food culture have meat at the centre of the dish, in the starring role. 

The hardest part about pescetarianism has to do with situations where I’m eating socially. It’s hard not to feel excluded when you go out to a dinner with friends and you are the only one not partaking in a shared meal. My folks have been pretty good about it but I have still felt a pang of guilt now and then when I realise they are pandering to me. I appreciate it lots, but I am perfectly okay with feeding myself; I don’t want to inconvenience anybody. 

At first I was worried that my family would be offended. My parents show that they care by offering food, they also do it to friends when they come over because it’s a way of being polite and welcoming. So I was worried that I might offend them. I think that having been moved out has really helped them perceive my “independence”, so they don’t really take it the wrong way. 

What is interesting is having to draw a line. I still eat fish but I’ve drawn a line at land animals. But if I’d cave for anything, it would probably be Peking duck, even though I’ve had a pet duck, the idea of eating duck doesn’t upset me nearly as much as some other things. But you have to draw a line somewhere.

Eggy Bread

Hungry? It’s eggy bread time! My favourite breakfast at the moment, I whip it up after my morning run. 

You need eggs and bread. If having two pieces of bread, use two eggs. Mix up the eggs in a bowl with some salt, pepper and a dash of milk (cows or soy). Note that the awesomeness of the eggy bread is directly related to the amount of milk added. I’ve found that using little or no milk results in dry eggy bread, like fried egg. If you use too much milk the bread will get too soggy and break easily and it might be hard to cook. Maybe try about a tablespoon or two at first and adjust for next time?

Anyway, mix it up in a bowl, then put the bread in the bowl of egg. Make sure each side of the bread is all soaked in egg, you can leave it soaking for a while if you like, but I’m generally hungry after my run and can’t be bothered. 

Fry the egg-soaked-bread in an oiled pan until it’s golden brown on both sides. Yum! It’s ready. When having eggs savoury, I like them with soy sauce, when craving sweet, I use honey. I really like eggs with honey. Try eggy bread with butter and honey spread on top. Delicious.

Junk Food

Image by belinder77

 

Image by belinder77

New almost-vegetarian diet notwithstanding, I ate SO BADLY today and now I feel like crap. Here’s a list, lest I forget today’s mistakes.

  • A whole block of Lindt dark chocolate with almonds.
  • Four Mr Kipling’s Cherry Bakewells. (The packaging does not lie, they truly are “exceedingly good”.)
  • A chocolate doughnut.
  • Two cookies.

Hm, now that it’s all down on paper, so to speak, it doesn’t look so bad. The worst bit was the chocolate and cherry bakewells. I shall console myself with the knowledge that it could have been much, much worse. And after this I’m going to make an egg soda. If you want an egg soda too, you can learn how to make one here, but be warned that it is probably not the healthiest drink you could have. Plain soda would be better for you.

On the topic of food, Mum asked if I’d be available for a Mother’s Day barbecue. My response was, “…barbecue? Will you make your potato salad?” followed by what I judged to be a timely statement of my new pescetarian intentions. She took it better than I expected, although I think I may have misled her because she said, “oh, you’re just trying it for a bit, right?” and I said “….yeeeeeaaah”. Note that she didn’t actually say that, because her half of the conversation was in Cantonese, I have translated it to English.

By the way, I just found out it’s definitely “barbecue” not “barbeque” because, according to Dictionary:

barbequenoun & verb, a common misspelling of barbecue. USAGE This common form arises understandably from a confused conflation of the proper spelling barbecue, the abbreviation Bar-B-Q, and phonetic spelling. Its frequency does not quite justify it: in no other English word does que attain the status of a stand-alone, terminal syllable.

So there you go.

Things About Phở

Pho is a “traditional Vietnamese thinly sliced meat and rice-noodle soup dish”. (Lazily, I am using the Wiki to save time on coming up with my own definition. Similarly, I can’t be bothered copying and pasting or going through the symbols to type “pho” with the correct accents, so apart from the title, it’s just gonna be “pho” with no jiggly bits. Sorry.) My usual pho haunt is the Vietnamese noodle place in the New Food Court in Chinatown. The other day, after getting our eyes checked and selecting some new frames at Arndale, Mum took me and my Aunty to a pho joint on Daws Road. I can’t remember what it’s called, something with a number, like “Pho 70” or something like that. 

Anyway, the experience turned out to be quite educational as my Mum and Aunty know a thing or two about pho. Mum’s great at randomly knowing things when you least expect it. A good pho should be served up really hot, the soup should be hot enough to easily “cook” the beef. Especially important if you’re having pho with rare beef, in which the beef slices aren’t cooked before they are put in the hot soup. Too few rice noodles and too much soup makes for a stingy pho. I announced that I thought the pho from the New Food Court was tastier. Turns out that’s because they add more MSG. You can tell, my Aunty said, if your mouth gets dry after you have your pho. Excess MSG will do that. A good pho doesn’t depend MSG for its flavour. Now, referring back to the Wiki, apparently claims that MSG is bad for you are scientifically unsubstantiated, BUT the point is that domestic knowledge passed down the maternal line is the good old fashioned way of learning things, and for some reason that appeals to me in a homey kind of way. 

I love the silky smooth rice noodles, the soup that is so remarkably flavoursome given how clear it is, the refreshing herbs and the zesty flavour from the lemon juice you squeeze in. Such a fantastic mix of flavours and it’s usually so inexpensive. Even the cheap plastic bowls and plates the meal is served in adds to the experience. I love you, pho. If anyone knows of any good local pho joints, do share please.

Blueberries

 

Image by J. Pollack Photography

Image by J. Pollack Photography

 

 

Definitely one of the highlights of the summer months is the summer fruit. I have been loving blueberries lately, and although you can buy them fresh, I always get the frozen kind, though I don’t doubt fresh blueberries would be just as good (if not better).

I have blueberries in my yoghurt. If you wait a minute or two before eating the berries will thaw and be softer and sweeter, but they are good to have a bit frozen too. I like how the blueberries stain the yoghurt purpley-blue.

I have blueberries in my smoothies. I also have been adding a small handful of baby spinach, yoghurt, soy milk, nectarines and bananas. But because of the blueberry content, I ultimately end up with purple smoothies.

I have blueberries in my fruit salad.

I have blueberries in my porridge.

I have blueberries just by themselves.

I ♥ blueberries.

Fruit Mince Pie Review

Image by northstander 

Image by northstander

 

This Christmas season I decided to sample as many different fruit mince pies from as many different sources as possible, a mission I undertook with relish as I love mince pies. This review is probably a little inaccurate now as I am writing it off the top of my head. I have lost my dearest Small Purple Notebook, in which was contained the List (an inexhaustive inventory of things to do as well as numerous other bits and bobs for treasuring) and would have been used to record my impressions of mince pies from various origins. But anyway, here we go. 

● Mr. Kipling’s — I reckon that out of all the supermarket-stocked brands, Mr. Kipling’s is the best. The packet says that they are “exceedingly good” and I tend to agree. The crust is very buttery and quite crumbly and not too thick or cakey. The filling is rich and has good flavour. They are “deep dish” and so don’t skimp on the filling. In the past few weeks I have kept coming back to Mr. Kipling’s as they are really quality. 

● Balfour’s — A friend warned me off Balfour’s mince pies, saying “you’d think with their expertise in meat pie making they might be able to pull off a half-decent one, but no, the pastry was tough and flavourless, and the mincemeat tasted like chemicals”. With this in mind, I expected the worst. But they actually weren’t half bad. True, the pastry wasn’t exactly flavoursome, but it was inoffensive, and the filling also; certainly not “chemically” in flavour. I think Balfour’s contribution is, however, rather forgettable, and with Mr. Kipling’s mince pies available at a similar price (if not, a little more expensive) it’s worth forgoing the Balfour’s option for something more rewarding. 

● Swiss Glory — Funnily enough, I accidentally typed “Swiss Gory” just now which actually an apt name for the awful mince pies this deluxe chocolate store has to offer. I was going past the Swiss Glory shop on my way to the Central Markets when I was caught by their sign which announced that they made the best fruit mince pies in town. Of course I had to try, but I was sorely disappointed. The filling was bland and had the texture and appearance of cold meat pie (think greyish and congealed). The crust was too thick and bready. I wondered afterwards if a customer had quietly informed them of the complete FAIL of their mince pies because the next time I went past, the sign was gone. 

● Goodwood Bakery — At $2.50 a pop, these mince pies are pricey but delicious. They have a definitely home-baked flavour about them. The filling is yummy albeit a bit scarce and the pastry is great. The top crust has an almost biscuity texture and is quite crunchy, something which I’m not sure would appeal to everybody but it certainly appeals to me. Also, the lady in the bakery gave me a decorative piece of holly, which is a bonus. It’s currently in the fruit bowl, with the garlic. 

● Walker’s — My lovely boy bought a box of these treats for my birthday. I don’t know how much they cost but I believe they are quite expensive. The first one I tried I had it heated up in the oven. Warm, they are rich and almost savoury with a buttery, crumbly pastry crust. When cold, the filling has a distinct bite of citrus flavour which is unique and certainly delicious. Walker’s is the only mince pie I have tried warm, next Christmas season I will try more kinds warm. 

● Baker’s Delight — I am a huge Baker’s Delight fan, even though I secretly feel slightly guilty for supporting a franchise instead of a small independently owned business. They just bake good bread, okay? I used to buy a fruit danish on most days, nowadays I am not nearly as self-indulgent. I have only had one Baker’s Delight mince pie thus far into the season, and I actually can’t really recall the details, except that I enjoyed it. But it’s Baker’s Delight, so it can’t be bad, right?

● The ones from the Foodland/IGA on Goodwood Road — I can’t remember what the brand was, but they were cheap and nasty. Truth be told I wasn’t actually game to try one. When removed from their plastic packaging and then from their foil patty pans, the bottom crust revealed itself to be actually moist and slimy to the touch! Ew! On the night I acquired these little beasts we had a party and I offered them to everyone just to get them off my hands. The next morning, out of the six there was just one left in the fridge and I still didn’t eat it. 

Hopefully this review will be updated as I discover yet more mince pie varieties. I am even toying with the idea of finding a recipe and making some pies from scratch. There is something about Christmas food that really appeals to me. I love the strong flavours of mince pie, pudding and Christmas cake. Sadly, my enthusiasm is not echoed in many others – most of my friends were quick to express their disgust at the idea of a mince pie review! Well, I’m the real winner here.