Monday, March 31, 2014

Kalgoorlie and surrounds, Western Australia

Lake Ballard salt lake and sculptures

Kalgoorlie was our final destination on our recent 4-night stint away. Approximately 600km east of Perth and 400km north of Esperance, it is set in the heart of the Western Australian Goldfields region. Gold was found in the area in the late 1890s and continues to be mined today, making the region one of the richest gold producing areas ever discovered. The district is also a huge producer of nickel.

The Kalgoorlie-Boulder 'super pit' - a huge open-pit gold mine

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Carrot and apple soaked oats

I think I've mentioned before that I don't often make overnight oats. This doesn't reflect a lack of interest in oats. Rather, it stems from a reluctance to commit to breakfast the night before, mixed with a need for easily portable breakfast foods due to my tendency to eat breakfast at work.

Overday oats, though, I am a fan of. Most often, I turn to them when I need a substantial mid-afternoon snack. Sometimes, I'll even enjoy them for lunch. These carrot and apple oats would work perfectly in either category. If you are a fan of overnight oats for breakfast, they could obviously fit in there too.

I know carrot-based oat dishes aren't new, and this recipe is simply my spin on a concept that has been blogged before. The truth is, I am on a bit of a carrot kick at the moment. Carrot cake flavours have taken over my imagination, and I suspect I'll be sharing more carrot containing snacks before long.

I topped these oats with diced apple rather than mixing apple pieces (or grated apple) through the oats themselves. I imagine a mixed up version would be equally enjoyable, and I might try that next time myself. If you like your oats with sweetener, then you could also add a little maple syrup or other sweetener to taste. The carrot, currants and apple do a good job of sweetening this naturally though.

Carrot and apple soaked oats
This dish can be prepared in the evening to give a delicious breakfast, or made in the morning to give a substantial afternoon snack (or an easy lunch!)
Vegan and low fat
Serves one

Author: Bite-sized thoughts, with acknowledgement to the many similar recipes out there

1/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup non-dairy milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond)
1 small-medium carrot, grated
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice
1 tbsp currants or sultanas
1 small apple, diced

Combine the oats, milk, carrot, vanilla, cinnamon/spice, and currants/sultanas. Mix to combine. Set in a jar or bowl and top with the diced apple. Allow to sit for at least 4 hours, until the oats are creamy.


Submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Are you an oats for breakfast person? And do you enjoy carrot-containing oat mixes?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cottesloe Sculptures by the Sea, 2014

This is the third year I've posted pictures from the annual Sculptures by the Sea event held at Cottesloe Beach. The event doesn't need much introduction. Each March, it delivers several weeks of creative sculptures set on and above the Cottesloe shoreline. It seems to have become increasingly popular each year, and as a free event in a beautiful setting, the popularity is deserved.

Here were some highlights from our visit this year!

Spot the wire cloud in front of the real one; the wire is lit up after dark too

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sweet and sour tofu with kale

This sweet and sour recipe is not a traditional sweet and sour recipe. The type you can buy from your local Chinese take-away is likely to use rice wine vinegar for the sour component, brown sugar for the sweet component, and cornflour as a thickener. Most recipes online call for tomato sauce (ketchup) too. 

In contrast, this dish uses pineapple for the sour and sweet components and delivers a subtle spice kick thanks to (you guessed it!) sriracha. It also uses a whole bunch of kale. I liked it a lot. 

If you're like me, you will have all the ingredients for this as pantry (or fridge) staples. In an ideal world you would press your tofu ahead of time, but if you walk in the door at 6.30pm this could be on the table 30 minutes later. Served with quinoa or rice, it is a perfect mid-week meal. It is so good, though, that you might want to whip a bowl up on the weekend too.

Sweet and sour tofu with kale
Serves 3 if served with a grain base

Author: Bite-sized thoughts

1/3 cup natural pineapple juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sriracha or other chilli sauce, or to taste
350g block firm tofu, pressed and sliced or cut into squares
1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, finely sliced
1 small bunch curly kale, roughly torn or chopped
1/3 cup canned pineapple pieces

Oil, for sauteing

Quinoa, rice or noodles, to serve

In a measuring cup or jug, whisk together the pineapple juice, soy sauce and sriracha and set aside until needed.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and drizzle with oil. Add the tofu and allow to cook for several minutes on each side, until starting to crisp up and turn golden.

Add the onion and approximately one-third of the sauce mix to the pan. Allow to cook, uncovered, for another 5 to 8 minutes until the onion is soft and the tofu starting to brown. Add the carrot and another one-third of the sauce and cook for a further 5 or so minutes.

Add the kale, pineapple pieces and remaining sauce to the pan and reduce heat to low-medium. Allow to cook for 10 minutes or until the kale has cooked down, stirring occasionally.

Serve with quinoa, rice or noodles.

I'm linking this in to Catherine's Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food challenge for March - non-terrifying tofu; and to Ricki's Wellness Weekend.

Do you like sweet and sour dishes? I go through stages with them - sometimes they seem just right, other times not at all what I want!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Esperance, Western Australia

After seeing Hyden's Wave Rock, we drove another 4 hours east to reach Esperance. In contrast to the tiny 200-odd population of Hyden, Esperance is home to nearly 15,000 people and has multiple accommodation options, cafes and shops. The contrast was pronounced!

As is typical of Australia, the scenery also changed dramatically as we moved from flat, inland plains to the coastal region where Esperance sits. Water is everywhere. Our first afternoon was cloudy and overcast (and, to us, beautifully cool - under 20'C!) but the magnificence of the coastline was still evident.

Twilight Beach, Esperance

Friday, March 21, 2014

Peach and hemp snack balls

I have had these snack balls in mind for a while now. In fact, I bought the dried peaches over a month ago. Somehow, it has taken until now to make them - a slightly ridiculous time frame given they take about 5 minutes to prepare.

I am glad I did eventually get to these, because they delivered exactly what I was hoping for. The peach provides the dominant flavour, but hemp seeds and puffed cereal mellow out the sweetness and give texture contrast too. These are a little lighter to eat than traditional fruit and nut balls, but are just as satisfying.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wave Rock, Western Australia


Wave Rock, Hyden, Western Australia

The last four days have reminded me that Australia is a really, really big country. Logically, of course, I knew this already - but there is nothing like driving the open expanses to bring the fact home.

We covered over 17,00km in roughly 18 hours of driving, and still covered just a small corner of Western Australia. When looking at Australia as a whole, that small corner becomes an even smaller component.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Orange and almond cake, and orange chocolate truffle balls

I am picturing the horror that this post title will send through orange haters, and can only apologise even as I smile at the thought of your reaction. For those of you who think oranges are best served whole, and never paired with chocolate, feel free to look away. For the rest of you? Settle in and enjoy.

Whole oranges, pureed

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Random Thursday

1. It rained this morning. The last time I experienced water falling from the sky was, I think, in early December 2013. On a hot humid morning, running in rain drops was blissful.

There's no actual rain in this image, but it captures this morning's sky

2. I just finished two Australian books: Eyrie by Tim Winton, set in Fremantle, Western Australia, and Peace, Love and Khaki Socks by Kim Lock, set in Darwin, Northern Territory. I rated them both 4 out of 5 on Goodreads and recommend them highly whether you are Australian or not.

EyriePeace, Love and Khaki Socks

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vegan hazelnut praline chocolates, and spread - for 3 years of blogging

Today, Bite-Sized Thoughts turns three. I thought we could celebrate with chocolate.

I have commemorated previous blog anniversaries with raw dishes. In year one, there were three different types of raw vegan cheesecake (that post is still one of my favourites!) and in year two, there was raw sushi and raw chilli-cinnamon-sea salt chocolates.

When thinking about what to make this year, I was struck by my comment on raw food in last year's anniversary post: it is, to me, like kitchen alchemy. At heart, that is what I love about blogging. The magic of kitchen creations - and in my case, creations without animal products.

Today's recipe is not raw. However, I think it captures kitchen alchemy perfectly. The picture below shows the transition from whole hazelnuts to creamy hazelnut butter, in what may well be chemistry and physics at their best. 

Clockwise from top left: Roasted hazelnuts; shelled hazelnuts pre-processing;
after 5 minutes of processing; after 10 minutes of processing

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Beetroot and cacao pancakes, inspired by Solomon's Cafe

A few months ago, I discovered Solomon's Cafe on Beaufort Street in Perth. It is a wonderful place and they do a great job of catering to just about every food need or desire you can imagine. As their website proclaims, the restaurant suits the "common carnivore, vegan, vegetarian, raw foodist, paleo, allergics, food sensitives, GAPS follower and the overall health conscious" (Solomon's Cafe). This is somewhere for everyone.

Much as I love vegan-focused cafes, it is almost more exciting to discover somewhere that caters whole-heartedly to vegan eaters as well as other people. My Dad could enjoy breakfast here. I could invite any friend I can think of and trust they'd find something on the menu just as easily as I could. That's a rather delightful scenario.

My first visit to Solomon's was with my Mum, for breakfast. I knew ahead of time what I would be ordering: the vegan beetroot and cacao crepes topped with in house seasonal jam. The crepes also came with a generous scattering of dehydrated raspberry pieces, coconut, and slivered almonds.

Vegan beetroot and cacao crepes; $18

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tri-pepper, five-colour spaghetti

Remember, in this post, when I talked about the various 'niggles' that may haunt a dish? The things that can go wrong, the ideas you can't quite make, the recipes you somehow lose...

Dear readers, I have lost a recipe. Not a terribly complicated recipe, or even a very exciting one, but a combination of ingredients that turned pasta from simple to exciting. Lost might in fact be a little generous; I distinctly remember throwing the piece of paper out (!). I thought I had transferred my scribbled notes to a draft blog post, but it seems that happened in my imagination and not reality. 

I am really very sorry. 

On the plus side, I can remember most (perhaps all - who knows!) of the things that went into this dish. And, pasta dishes are pretty much a concept anyway. And, I'm sure you all adapt recipes to what you have to hand. 

Maybe we can pretend it isn't so bad.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Grilled nectarine and pumpkin salad

I think I have discovered the secret to salad beauty: Char marks.

Like many of the dishes I make, this grilled nectarine and pumpkin salad has a simple ingredient list. However, by grilling the nectarine and pumpkin pieces, it is lifted from basic to (if I may say so myself) beautiful.

As summer winds down in Australia, I vote for farewelling it with this salad. For those of you in the northern hemisphere? You may want to welcome spring in with this dish, just as soon as nectarines reach your stores.

Monday, March 3, 2014

365 project: February photos (plus ballet at the quarry and bouncing stonehenge)

Having done a post summarising my January photo-a-day photos, I thought I would continue on and summarise each month as the year unfolds. Here, obviously, we have February.

Featured in the February photo set are snapshots from two outings not yet mentioned on the blog. The first was our attendance at the Western Australia Ballet company's Ballet at the Quarry. Mr Bite gave me tickets for my birthday last December. It was the first time in a long time I had been to the ballet, and the first time Mr Bite had been at all. The modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, set to Radiohead music and appropriately titled Radio and Juliet, was a good choice for both of us.

Ballet at the Quarry - amphitheatre seating

The Quarry Amphitheatre is an atmospheric place, with grass tiered seating surrounded by towering limestone walls. We took a picnic and the hot day transitioned beautifully to a cool, clear evening.

The second outing was our visit to the 'Sacrilege' bouncing castle, part of the Perth Festival activities. It provided a full-scale bouncing version of Stonehenge, and was free for children and adults alike. We had enough of bouncing after about 5 minutes, but it was very fun!

Bouncing Stonehenge

Activities and outings explained, here are my 28 photos for February...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

In my kitchen - March 2014

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

It's March! The start of Australian autumn (we have a lazy approach to season changes, marking them as the first of the month) and, I hope, the start of cooler weather. The cool change is yet to happen, but I have high hopes for its impending arrival.

Kale, blueberries (defrosted from frozen), sweet potato

While I'm waiting on the weather to change, summer still features in my kitchen. My love affair with sweet potato continues, and it is featuring more often than not in my salads and smoothies