Friday, March 02, 2018

The one where I find happiness.

Whoever said money can't buy happiness clearly wasn't into Lego.
I started with some mini builds of "Seasonal" sets. Very cute and very, very, very quick to put together.

Halloween 2017 Set

Halloween Set 2017

Halloween Set 2015 - Trick or Treat!

Halloween Set 2015 - Trick or Treat!
 Then there was the big build, there are three floors, so I did a floor at a time. It took me a few weeks to finish it entirely as I had to make time on my rare days off to sit and build.
First floor comprises a barber shop and pool hall, with the detectives agency complete with dame on the second floor. The second and third floor on the right are a toilet and kitchen.
Inspired by Prohibition in America, the Lego equivalent is contraband cookies. Which are being made in secret in the top floor kitchen, and smuggled into the pool hall through a secret tunnel from the barber shop.
Detective's Agency - Front View

Detectives Agency - Back View
The next big but not so big build. The Vampyre Castle from the (now sadly retired) Monster Fighters series.

Friday, February 16, 2018

What's new with you?

I have been having an episode, a moment, a, dare I say it, midlife crisis? When I decided to take the leap of faith and do what I'd always wanted to do and went back to study cookery, I knew trying to get into hospitality would be hard. Actually it turned out to be harder than I thought.

There's been some bewilderment at why I would want to start at the bottom doing what one chef referred to, if I'd excuse his language, all the shit jobs.
Because I told him, I know that's where I need to start to get to where I want to be.

I can't be the first person who has made a complete career change later on in their life. Lots of people do it surely?

Work is, well, I like it, I do. But it has made me very restless and anti-social which has led me to be generally unhappy.
I've neglected a lot of things I loved to do, haven't gone out of the house anywhere much but to work. My rare days off seem to revolve around doing laundry and buying cat litter. And checking the job ads.

I've been compiling a list of my skills and past experience that relate to hospitality and looking at what I'm doing now, which is a kitchen job that's not a kitchen job.
If I'm not happy, the only way that's going to change is if I do something about it. No luck so far, but as the slogan goes, you've gotta be in it to win it.

I miss cooking, now that I've gone from consecutive days off to split days off, I don't do it as much. I'd usually shop one day. Running around the supermarket, Asian grocer and heath food stores and the next day, cook.
Despite that I have bought new cookbooks, I've even branched out into gluten free territory to try and teach myself something new.  Fortunately cook books never expire, so they can all sit there waiting.

With the Lunar New year, maybe it's finally time I had a go at making dumplings. It's something that's been on my list of things to do for awhile.

I moved house, downsized on space, much of my life still feels to be in boxes. On the upside of the move, I had a long over due clear out. While it was nice to let some of it go, somethings were harder to let go of, letting go of parts of my life I wasn't really ready to let go of and it feels a little like defeat.
Like the current job search, I'm still hopeful, that I'll move again, into a bigger space, that I'll actually own and can renovate the kitchen - lots of work bench space!

Now I just wait and see what happens.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Cooking the Books

Not much to report, this was my great amount of effort dish the other week.

Tofu Shortribs with Gingery Mashed Root Vegetables and Seared Dragon Green Beans from The Superfun Tines Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
I start my new job this week! And they offered me extra shifts which is exciting, so rather than looking for a second job to fit in with this one, I don't need to look for a second job at all. Stress levels lowered.

Although I'm now looking at my list of things to make, and I'm down to the more labour intensive recipes. I'm going to pull some more books out and look for some more quick ideas to make on the days I'm working.

I'm buying myself a treat to celebrate the new job, I have my eye on a Le Creuset French Oven, fortunately my favourite kitchenware store still does lay-by so I can pay it off over time rather than spend all the money up front.

In other news, I have spent a lot of the time waiting to commence the new job by having a bit of a clear out.  I must admit I was surprised at just how much stuff I had accumulated in my cupboards. The process of parting with it has been painless though.

It's also raised some questions of how to best store things, I acquired extra knives when I went to cookery school, I've acquired unique knives (Japanese style vegetable/light weight Chinese Cook's knives) to try out at home.
While a universal knife block solves the problem of the wider bladed knives, finding a block that holds knives over 20cm in length is more problematic. Maybe it can live in my knife case, along with my boning knife which I have no use for at home what so ever. I'm not ready to give that dream up yet, my knife case is still packed, my uniforms are washed and ready to wear, just in case. Never know when opportunity might knock.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cooking the Books

Here's this week's round up of what I cooked. A lot of time went into cooking this weekend, did a quite time consuming dish for dinner Saturday night and then prepped stuff ready for Sunday brunch.

Let's start with the first dish, I loved garlic prawns, was it about the prawns or about the garlic sauce? Possibly more about the garlic sauce they were in than the prawns themselves.
Here are the vegan prawns in a spicy garlic sauce, so spicy, and the prawns? Texture wise it certainly seemed familiar to a cooked prawn but taste wise not really like a prawn.
Gambas Al Ajillo from Smith & Daughters A Cookbook

And back to the smoothies! I can't get away from them, I have become a smoothie person.
Candy Bar Smoothie from Bake and Destroy: Bad Food for Good Vegans

Yeah, It's A Green Smoothie from Bake and Destroy: Bad Food for Good Vegans
 I went the hint of not using kale as a green smoothie noob, also omitted the optional additions of wheat grass powder and spirulina powder. It was way better than I expected.

And as for this weekend's delicacy's...

Chandra Malai Kofta from Isa Does It with a bonus book recipe - Chapatti from Vegan Eats World

Brunch - Overnight Thai Tofu Scramble from Isa Does It and Arnold Palmer Granita from Bake and Destroy. 
The tofu hater has requested the tofu scramble again, the tofu hater seems to love all the tofu dishes I've cooked lately. The granita has received rave reviews all round, I've had requests to make it with other types of tea. We drink a lot of fruit infusions and herbals in our family.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Cooking the Books

Bonus Cookbook! Made Corn Tortillas from Viva Vegan!
Ancho Lentil Tacos from Isa Does It with fresh Corn Tortillas from Viva Vegan! and the Orange Granita (Slushy) from Bake and Destroy.

Chocolate Chia Pudding from Hippie Lane The Cookbook

Spiced Ginger, Pecan and Pear Granola from Hippie Lane The Cookbook. I had this for breakfast this morning with coconut yogurt and fresh berries, very yummy.

And it was with great excitement that I got a price drop notification from Book Depository the other week to say Bed & Broccoli: the food, the lifestyle was 50% off! It would also ship apparently in 2 business days from Australia, it actually took a week for it to ship but it did arrive within 3 days of it being sent.
It was waiting for me when I got home from orientation today, for my new job which starts in 2 3 weeks.

It's a beautiful book and full of photographs of the bed & broccoli residents, some very nice looking recipes. I've already made a mental list of things I want to make, but it'll have to wait till I've cooked from the other current books I've picked out. :(

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Notes from the Darkside

Picked two new books to add to the rotation, I've also menu planned for the next three weeks while I await the start date for my new job. I'm waiting to see what my hours are like before I plan anything then.

The books I picked are Vegan Street Food: Foodie Travels from India to Indonesia by Jackie Kearney and Bake and Destroy: Good Food For Bad Vegans by Natalie Slater. Two very different books from each other.

Vegan Street Food

Jackie Kearney was a finalist on the UK Masterchef in 2011, I don't watch Australian Masterchef so what can I tell you about Masterchef? Basicially that it exists, that's the extent of my knowledge on it.

I picked this because a) this is the regions my favourite foods come from, b) I've always wanted to try more from this book, c) Jackie Kearney has a second book coming out later this year on world cuisine which I'm excited to see and d) when you talk comfort food for me this is it, foods inspired from Indian and South East Asian cuisine are what I want. My new job is in a brand new just been built building so there's been some stressors involved with the whole waiting to start and impending start processes.

The recipes I picked are things I've been trying to find a version of that I like, I struggle with Dals. Things I've seen on cooking shows, like the hoppers. Things I hoped to try while I was traveling and never got a chance to like the Banh Mi. Or things that involve a new cooking skill, like the steamed buns.
And with the curries, because I have eaten versions of them out and really want to have a go at recreating them at home.
  • The Hungry Gecko's Dal Masala - Yellow Dal with Eggplant
  • Green Jackfruit Vindaloo
  • Banana & Date Lassi
  • Wedding Hoppers - Fermented Coconut Pancakes
  • Gaeng Keow Wan - Traditional Thai Green Curry
  • Banh Mi Buddha - Vietnamese Stuffed Baguette with Gochujang Tofu, Roasted Mushroom Pate and Pickled Vegetables
  • Nam Rom Kho To - Mushroom Claypot
  • Buddha's Tapas - Hoisin Mock Duck & Chilli-Bean Tofu Lettuce Cups with Steamed Flower Buns
  • Vegetarian Mee Rebus - Sweet Potato & Soy Bean Noodle Curry
  • Hungry Gecko Jungle Curry - Country Vegetable Curry with Tempeh (This version is based on the Indonesian style rather than the Thai one, so might be slightly different to what I've had.)
Bake and Destroy

Quite a lot of vegan cook books are written by American authors, no matter how many American cook books I read I still find American food foreign exotic unusual different unfamiliar. Where Asian food feels familiar in a way as if I grew up eating it, American food is as alien to me as the cuisines of a European or Middle Eastern country.

Bake and Destroy certainly covers the quirky aspects of American food that I'm intrigued by, it also has fun little cartoon drawings through out the book which makes me love flicking through it. I delved a lot into the breakfast chapter, most days I have a smoothie for breakfast, I will admit to being a rabid convert these. I decided one day a week to have a breakfast that required a bit more time and effort, something a bit fancier than a glass of liquid.

A huge influence on my food is things I see on television or read in books, like that episode of Seinfeld about the muffins. And the struggle to get rid of the muffin stumps after they cut the tops off to sell by themselves. One day while strolling through the supermarket I saw they had muffin top tins, I bought the tin. I had no idea how I would make muffins in it at the time but knew I would eventually find a recipe. (I did courtesy of another American vegan cook book.)
Another food item that always peaked my interest was a story Bill Bryson wrote about going to the supermarket with his wife shortly after they moved back to America. He was talking about the odd food products he found in the supermarket and the ones that found the way into the trolley for him to try. The most memorable for me was a breakfast pizza. What? I mean I've eaten leftover pizza for breakfast...

  • Orange Juice Granita
  • Arnold Palmer Granita
  • Double Soy Latte Granita (I no longer drink caffeinated coffee, so this will be decaf.)
  • Breakfast Pizza (I suspect Bill Bryson's one didn't have scrambled tofu on it.)
  • Candy Bar Smoothie
  • Yeah, It's a Green Smoothie
  • Whole Wheat Choco-Coconut Donuts
  • You Don't Know Jack Hash
  • Taco Lasagna
  • Samosa Potpie
  • Baked Potato Spring Rolls
And because I'm making soup to Feed the Freezer* with, I wanted something stashed in there to pull out and have with the soups.
  • Stuffin' Muffins
  • Crouching Cornbread, Hidden Broccoli 
*Feed the Freezer, I'm trying to build up a stash of meals that I can just pull out, reheat and eat on busy days. Soup is excellent for this as a single serving thaws/reheats super quick, essential when you come home late and are slightly feral.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cooking the Books - Midweek Special

Chickpea Bolognese from Thug Kitchen 101

Present Glow Bars, before chilling and cutting from Oh She Glows Cookbook

Pureed Split Pea & Rutabaga (Swede) Soup from Isa Does It
I've finished the current selections from two of my chosen books, so back on the bookshelf they shall go and I will get to pick another two books to choose recipes to make. What to choose?