Friday, August 30, 2013

Childhood apple cake

I have a few memories of creative childhood cooking. The earliest is from when I was about 5, when I decided to make a soup for our tea. My 'soup' consisted of boiled water with rounds of cut carrot and celery. I was disappointed when my Mum suggested it might not be quite enough for our tea. I was also disappointed when I tasted it and the soup I imagined was not what I found in my mouth!

A consistent memory (and a tastier one) from middle childhood onward is of apple cake. My Mum did a lot of apple baking, although her products weren't normally cake. She made an apple charlotte pudding with a crumbly oat topping, and another apple crumble that was delicious in winter.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Northern Queensland finale - Daintree region


In my last Queensland post, I took us up to our crossing of the Daintree River by car ferry. Once you reach the other side, you're in the heart of the Daintree National Park and there are no shopping complexes, high-rise buildings, phone networks or even mainstream electricity. There are generators for power, one petrol station, a convenience store, and a scattering of accommodation and food options.

It is like a different world, and it is very peaceful.

Walkway to our cabin, Daintree Wilderness Lodge

I had hatched a cunning plan for our Daintree accommodation. I suggested that if we camped and used budget accommodation for the first part of the trip, we could have a more luxurious ending in the Daintree. Mr Bite didn't need too much convincing and so it was that we came to stay at the Daintree Wilderness Lodge, a small eco-friendly resort that has just 7 cabins, all set into rain forest off their private walkways. 

It has long been a dream of mine to stay in a tree house (as per my previous ramblings on the topic), and this is as close as I've come to date.

Daintree Wilderness Lodge

Monday, August 26, 2013

Easy chickpea salad with balsamic roasted sweet potato and carrot

I seem to be constantly posting 'easy' recipes these days. I think I am overdue for an afternoon in the kitchen with a complex, multi-step dish. For now, though, easy seems to be it.

Fortunately, I think some of you appreciate easy recipes as much as I do. Also fortunately, this salad is easy and delicious. After all, can you go wrong with chickpeas, sweet potato and balsamic vinegar? I don't think so.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Snapshot of Melbourne

For the last few days, I have been in Melbourne for a work conference that started on Thursday afternoon and will finish this evening. It has been an opportunity for some brief sight seeing and meeting with friends, in addition to the work component. It has also been an opportunity to rely exclusively on my camera phone, so I apologise for the quality of some photos!

The conference is being held at the Mercure-Pullman Albert Park, which is a slightly odd hotel that actually consists of two hotels. The Mercure, where I am staying, is the slightly less fancy half. The Pullman, where rooms are a little more expensive, is reportedly a little more upmarket.

Mercure hotel room

I think my room is fine, although the view out the window is not, perhaps, Melbourne's best front.

The View!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Supermarket discoveries: The mad and bad edition

I think it's well established that my supermarket willpower can be a bit lacking. Remember when I bought multiple boxes of coconut ice creams? And my UK supermarket purchases? I could list many other examples.

Fortunately, there are some products that repel me so utterly that my willpower is refreshed and I am put off supermarkets altogether. It doesn't necessarily last long, but there really are some awful products out there. This post is about them! 

First up - flavoured raisins. Strawberry, blackcurrant and cola flavoured raisins to be precise. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beetroot pasta with spinach and white bean sauce

When I posted about my beetroot pasta purchase, I got lots of queries about what I would do with the pink noodles. At the time, I really had no idea. I routinely buy food like that - drawn in by novelty or beauty with no meal plan at the time of purchase.

Over time, though, ideas came to me. I wanted something that would contrast with the pink colour. I thought about corn, and still think yellow kernals against pink pasta would be a beautiful thing. In the end, though, I settled on green.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Northern Queensland travels - Cairns to the Daintree, via Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge

It is difficult to grasp that 2 months have passed since we returned from our northern Australia holiday. Or rather, it is easy to grasp that 2 months have passed, but hard to understand why I haven't finished writing up my travel posts!

This is the second to last post that will relate to this trip, and it picks up where my two Cairns posts left off. After we left Cairns, we drove 1.5 hours up the coast to the Daintree region, a drive that is as scenic as it is winding.

Look out point mid-way between Cairns and Port Douglas

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fitness Fridays - Perth Half Marathon 2013

Last Sunday, I ran my second half marathon.

In contrast to my first half (the Bunbury Half Marathon in April this year), this run didn't have 6 months of advance planning or carefully tailored training. Having run 21.1km once, it is, of course, much easier to run it a second time. I've been running steadily since April and it wasn't difficult to focus my training after we returned from our northern Australia holiday in mid-June (8 weeks before race day). I moved my long runs from 14-16km to be a little bit longer, peaking at 19km.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Apple cider pumpkin fries

I am a detail-focused thinker. There are times when it would be appropriate to say that I don't see the wood for the trees, and I am terrible at puzzles that require you to see one thing in two different ways.

This trait can be useful sometimes, and it can be a bit unhelpful at other times. As I confessed to Mr Bite this week, I only recently realised that the Tudor, Elizabethan, Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods in British history actually lined up with the names of the ruling Kings and Queens of the same time periods. I had thought of the different periods as being characterised by distinctive styles of architecture and art, with it pure coincidence that the titles overlapped with royal names (which, after all, do repeat themselves frequently). Now I've made the connection, it is glaringly obvious where the names came from, and I'm embarrased it took me so long to work it out. That is generally the way - once you have spotted the woods, it seems incredible you didn't put the trees together beforehand to see the bigger picture.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Carriley Estate Winery and Whistler's Chocolate Factory

Earlier this month, we celebrated my niece's 10th birthday with lunch at Carriley Estate Winery in the Swan Valley east of Perth. Lest you think a winery lunch is a bit sophisticated for a 10-year-old's birthday, this girl had her 6th birthday lunch at a winery too - on her own request. That lunch (4 years ago) was the first time I met Mr Bite's family and I was a little daunted by what sort of family they would prove to be. I'm pretty sure I wasn't qualified for winery visits when I was aged 6.

Carriley Estate Winery

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Orange and almond couscous

Some things are so simple, it's hard to believe they taste as good as they do. Fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables are one such example. I would submit that this dish is another.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In my kitchen - August 2013

I am linking this post in to Celia's monthly In My Kitchen event at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

In my kitchen, there have been snow pea crisps, a surprise find in the Asian section of Woolworths. Clearly not as good for you as fresh snow peas, but a highly enjoyable crispy, slightly salty snack nonetheless.

In my kitchen, there are some pink beetroot-coloured noodles. I'm very excited to cook with them. It's going to be a beautiful dish when the time comes!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

For weetbix


Plain bricks of wheat

I ate you as a 6-year-old, mushy with grated apple and sultanas

I ate you as a teenager, made up with hot chocolate powder and hot water

I ate you as a university student, mixed with yoghurt and topped with fruit

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Northern Queensland travels - Cairns (part 2)

In my previous Cairns post, I focused on the things we did in Cairns itself. This post is all about the trip we did from Cairns up to Kuranda, a small rainforest village inland and uphill from the coast. The journey can be done by skyrail, rail or a combination of both; we took the skyrail out and the train home.

Skyrail images

The skyrail leaves from Caravonica, just outside of Cairns, and covers 7.5km of rainforest views. It is a breathtaking experience. I had actually done the skyrail once before, when I was in the area for a conference in Port Douglas in 2006 (the perks of a conference in Port Douglas are another story), but that trip was rushed. Doing the journey on holiday and with Mr Bite instead of work colleagues was immeasurably better.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Crispy dark chocolate peanut butter bites - vegan and no bake

I hate to say it, but sometimes I get bored by commercial chocolates. Unless I want to spend a small fortune on expensive vegan brands, the dairy free options are limited and get old quickly. Plain 70-85% cocoa chocolate? All well and good, but not exactly exciting.