Monday, February 25, 2013

30 before 30: #2 - make colourful pasta from scratch

Huzzah! I can strike my first 30 before 30 item off the list - colourful pasta creation. I received a big bag of fresh spinach in last week's CERES box. On a slight tangent, if anyone in the Melbourne area loves fresh, locally sourced, organic produce delivered to your door, CERES is the way to go. We get a small box delivered each week. Last week, the nectarines and tomatoes were the best I've ever tasted. Highly recommended! 

Okay, so back to my local, organic spinach. It was perfect for lurid green pasta dough. Basically, I adapted my standard pasta recipe slightly - I used about 320g of 00 flour, 2 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk and a little over 150g of fresh spinach. I first steamed the spinach and squeezed out the excess liquid. I then blitzed it in the food processor for about 20 seconds and then threw in my other ingredients. Once the processor had worked its magic, it was time to get down and doughy. About 10 minutes of kneading later and I had my ball of dough ready for resting.

I rolled out my dough and decided to hand cut my pasta, rather than use the fettuccine attachment - for the rustic look, you know. A few minutes in salted boiling water and topped with freshly made basil pesto and a quick olive oil, chilli, garlic and zucchini sauce (there can never be enough green, right?!), and it was time to dig in!

Definitely made all the more enjoyable when you're sitting on your deck admiring your garden!

Friday, February 22, 2013

30 before 30

I'm hitting the big three-oh in about four months. Weirdly, I've been looking forward to the start of a new decade if for no other reason than to present some sort of faรงade of maturity to the world!

In order to commemorate the occasion, I got a great idea from Cassie (one of the best bloggers around for those interested in food, fitness, craft and general awesomeness), who is also hitting this momentous milestone mid-year - a thirty before thirty bucket list. 

I wanted my list to be fun, achievable and get me to a good place prior to commencing the next decade of my life. Some of the items represent a personal challenge (a day of veganism, for this cheese- and meat-loving gal?!), some represent pure hedonistic pursuits and others will encourage me to do the things I love, but don't always make time for. In any case, they all make me smile and I think that's a pretty good way of moving into a new chapter of one's life.  

So here we go - 30 before 30, Georgia style (it's kinda like Gangnam style, only not really...):

5. Go vegetarian for a week (including one day of veganism)
6. Read at least one fiction book

17. Watch 5 movies on the IMDb Top 250 list that I've never seen
18. Bike ride into Melbourne and back home
22. Redecorate/reconfigure our "formal" lounge room to make it more usable
23. Learn how to decorate a cake

Cake made by Three Sweet Treats - the most beautiful and elegant cakes in Melbourne, in my humble opinion!

26. Go technology-free for 24 hours
30. Knit a scarf for winter

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Un-fun, fun run?

The stars were conspiring against me last night, as I lined up for my fourth fun run - a 4km trot around the Melbourne Zoo.

A brief history of fun runs a la Georgia:
I ran a mammoth 10km mid last year - my first ever race and one that I had done zero (and I mean zero!) training for. My goal? To jog the whole way no matter how slowly. The result? Success. Must have been due to some residual fitness built up at a boot camp I'd been doing.
I then participated in two shorter runs with my beloved later in the year. Both were good fun and we PB'd (that's sporty parlance for achieved a personal best) in both.

Skip forward to last night - my first ever evening fun run. I'd had an epic day at work, was on antibiotics for an infected toe, oh...and about that infected toe...umm...ouch! All this, coupled with the fact that there were cool things to look at, like this Gorilla (we also spent time checking out the giraffes, zebras, monkeys and, somewhat less awesomely, a toilet block), and the crazy (and unexpected) hilliness of the course meant that what was meant to be a fun run turned into a very un-fun fun run.

Basically, what should have been a 25 minute jog (oh yes, we are *that* slow!) turned into a nice evening stroll around the zoo.

I suppose I shouldn't get too down about the event. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and our surrounds and I know that, given the circumstances, I did my very best. However, I still can't help but feel a tad frustrated.

I think there's only one way to proceed: fun-run redemption in the near future. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Stuff I'm loving

Howdy blogsters. Long time no talky. Happy new year to all of you. Well, Christmas/January have been exceedingly busy, but heaps of fun. I'm pleased to report that the BMI is on its way down...albeit veeerrrry slowly (and, to be fair, this did not occur until late January when the bulk of the eating and drinking ceased). The family made it through the silly season with sufficient silliness and lots of catching up with new and old friends. During this time I've made some new discoveries, which I'm excited to share with you.

1. A new local!

The Glen Iris/Ashburton area is filling up with young families fast and there is a real demand for good quality, relaxed, family-friendly breakfast options. The Resident Cafe has been newly renovated and fits the bill perfectly. The coffees are outstanding - really made with care; and provenance and flavour are both emphasised in terms of the food. For avid cyclists, the cafe is right on the bike path and you will feel at home if you're into lycra (I personally have never understood why amateur male cyclists feel the need to wear fabric that shows everything - someone care to enlighten me?). I have frequented the Resident three times in the last month and have been impressed each time. My only (very minor) gripe is that the service could be a wee bit faster and more attentive.

Fennel, orange and raisin toast 7.5  |  Brioche bun, bacon, vintage cheddar, zucchini pickles & BBQ sauce 7.5

The Resident Cafe on Urbanspoon

2. Fromager d'Affinois with Trentham Tucker Fig and Ginger crispbread

Umm, yes. More. Now. That is all.

Both available from Leo's supermarkets in Melbourne.

3. Klops (and other Polish comfort foods)

My nana was the best cook in the universe (that's a fact, not a subjective opinion!). Her repertoire was small, but what she could make was extraordinary. To this day, I still have people asking me to cook her schnitzels, her apple cake, her chicken soup...the list goes on. One of her famed dishes was her meatloaf ("klops" in Polish). I have been experimenting with flavours to try to emulate her klops and, while I'm not even close, I'm pretty happy with some of my efforts.

I've also made a kugel (an Eastern European, Jewish cake made with egg noodles, grated apples and lots of spice). Next on the list: Cholent.

4. January dining specials

A big thank you to everyone who went away in January and caused Melbourne's restaurants to offer fabulous deals to fill seats. Famed chef, Gary Meighan's Melbourne eatery, Fenix, was one such establishment which slashed prices (50% off!) in the first month of the year. My beloved and I shared a wonderful meal at Fenix - three starters, two mains, a side, two desserts and a few drinks each. The price? $90-something. We will be back for food cooked with a lot of heart and soul.

L-R: Humous w. braised sweet & sour chickpeas  |  Southern style fried chicken wings w. chilli, caramel and lime sour cream  |  Spanner crab crostini w. avocado mousse

Fenix on Urbanspoon