Unblogged Food: January – March 2013

Obviously I eat a lot of meals that I don’t share on this blog, so I thought I would do a little photo recap of some of my meals from the last three months. The concept of an ‘unblogged’ post is inspired by Sarah Cooks.

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Our version of a Vietnamese salad. I’ve mentioned how beautifully fresh the ingredients were in many of the meals we had while travelling around South East Asia. We tried to replicate that on our return to Australia, with a few meals of fresh Vietnamese style salads. This one in particular included julienned carrots and cucumber, fresh herbs (Thai basil and coriander), vermicelli noodles, mixed salad leaves, grape tomatoes and a dressing of fish sauce and sweet chilli sauce.

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Les Miserables was the first movie I watched on my return to Australia, as I’m a real sucker for musicals. Not that I have a shred of musical talent in my body, or any ability to hold a note of course, I just have fantasies of becoming a famous singer. Anyway, I saw the movie at Macquarie Shopping Centre with a friend, and we dined at Inferno Caffe beforehand. This is the grilled John Dory with chips and a side salad, and it was one of the most disappointing pieces of fish I’d ever eaten in my whole life. It had been cooked to within an inch of its life, and was dry and unappetising. I definitely wouldn’t recommend dining at Inferno.

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This is the first loaf we ever baked in the Sunbeam bread maker that we received for Christmas from my not-quite-brother-in-law. Unlike other gifts that may languish unused in a cupboard, we’ve actually been using it two or three times a week! There have been a lot of learnings along the way, and deviations from the recipes and methods suggested in the manual that came with the appliance. K has taken primary responsibility for this task, and to his credit, has perfected a loaf that suits our needs. This probably deserves a blog entry of its own to be honest!

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I attended a market research evening for eatlove¬†with a small group of about twelve people. We represented a range of people involved with the food and digital industries – from a TAFE teacher of hospitality, to a designer of cookbooks, a digital social media expert, and a lawyer who had studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I was there as a representative of the Australian “food blogger”, but also to provide some other professional insights given my day job working in marketing and communications.

The evening was held at Danks St Depot, days before it closed its doors forever, and we were joined by chef Jared Ingersoll halfway during the meal. It was one of the most enjoyable evenings I’d had dining with complete strangers, bonded together by a mutual love of food and an ability to talk about food for hours on end (we went about an hour over schedule, and barely got through all the questions!).

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I skydived for JDRF, the charity I work for on March 2, as part of our annual “Jump to Cure Diabetes” campaign. As part of my fundraising efforts to raise $1000 for essential research into type 1 diabetes, I sold home-made frozen dumplings to friends and colleagues, at $30 a pop for forty dumplings. I spent approximately ten hours (if not more) in the kitchen, churning out batch after batch of dumplings over the course of a month. I also held a few fundraising dinners as well – for a $30 donation, I held themed dinner parties (e.g. Italian pasta and wine, Chinese hotpot, Breakfast for dinner, etc.).

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I’ve mentioned once before that K and I don’t often eat out for breakfast, as we prefer to have a fancier dinner out and simpler breakfast in. Last month we broke this habit and shockingly went out for breakfast early on a weekday before work to Tablespoon, a cafe close to home. Disappointingly, we were left waiting for nearly half an hour for our food as we saw tables regularly arrive, eat, and leave before we even received our food. By the time the food arrived, we had to gulp it down in under ten minutes in order to make sure we could get to work on time. We will not be visiting again – the food was standard, and nothing spectacular.

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We’ve had a few celebrations at work lately (birthday, engagements, etc.), and sadly, some farewells too. One of the more imaginative foods provided at one of these farewells as a pineapple hedgehog, dreamed up by a colleague with a fascination for the retro styles of yesteryear. Chunks of cheddar, cabanossi, and pickled cocktail onions were skewered and then stuck into a pineapple to create a ‘hedgehog’ of finger food. These were apparently a big hit in the 1970s, which was quite before my time!

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To celebrate the end of Chinese New Year, K and I went out to dinner at Sambal with his family. One of the dishes we had there was “yu sheng”, or literally, “raw fish”. “Yu sheng” also sounds like another Chinese word meaning abundance, fortune, or luck, so is considered a ‘lucky’ dish to eat at the new year. Once the dish is delivered to the table, everyone is expected to mix the different ingredients together with their chopsticks, to ensure that they all manage to partake of the ‘good luck’ for the year. The whole process is full of symbolism.

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I do a lot of slow cooking at home, and will be sharing a few of my concoctions over the next few months as we begin to move into weather that calls for hearty cooking. The dish above ended up becoming a delicious vegetable and roast meat soup. Ingredients included leftover roast beef (diced), yellow capsicum, red capsicum, green capsicum, green beans, lentils, potatoes, onions, carrots, and chicken stock. It was a real ‘throw everything into the pot’ kind of a meal.

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This is typical of the type of dinners that I often have at home. It’s very simple, relatively healthy, and very budget-friendly for those last few days of the month when you’re trying to stretch your pay out as far as possible! I find that buying Asian groceries and planning for more Asian-inspired meals tends to be friendlier on the budget than buying and preparing Western style roasts and stews. And let’s face it, with the amount of times I eat out, I need to come up with strategies for saving money on meals at home!

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into my world of food outside of the fancier meals that I blog about.

One thought on “Unblogged Food: January – March 2013”

  1. Hi Amanda, yes I LOVED this sneak peek into your food world. There is just to many amazing glimpses of food to take it all in. Love the retro hedgehog of finger food and your dumplings..one of my favourite foods. I’ve done a similar thing with cupcakes in the past raising money for the RSPCA, it’s fun but alot of work. The market research evening sounded great also, a table never looks better than when it’s covered with lots of plates of yummy looking food! Have a great weekend. Catherine :)

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