Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fruity flapjacks

On doing some flapjack research for this post, I was surprised to note that flapjacks are a type of hotcake / pancake in America. I find the twists and turns of language delightful sometimes. Who first thought to christen the British oat bars I know as 'flapjacks' (was there a flapping Jack?), and who thought to take the same name and apply it to American pancakes?

To be clear, my flapjacks are the baked oat bar variety, similar to American granola bars. This form of flapjack is ubiquitous in Britain and is available in just about every cafe. I did have flapjacks occasionally in Australia but they are basically a staple food here.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


There are certain places that loom large in the world. New York City is one. I would submit that Rome is another. They are places you can't help having some sense of, even if you have never visited.

Rome scenes - Roman Forum (top) and Colosseum (bottom)

I had seen many Facebook-shared photos of Rome, as well as the usual images in travel guidebooks and in films. Despite this, the scale of Rome still took me by surprise. It didn't leap to the top of my 'favourite city' list but it is definitely one of the most dramatic places I've been to.

Central Rome...ancient ruins just pop up around the place

Friday, September 25, 2015

Five things Friday

1. We're home! Italy was great but I'm still happy to be back, even if it seems shockingly dark in the mornings.

I worked out that since we moved (5 weeks ago today) I have flown in and out of London Heathrow airport (for my trip to Dresden), out of London Gatwick airport (when we left for Italy) and into London City airport (when we returned from Italy). That's quite a lot of airport in a 5 week span, at least for me.

2. You know how I raved about Italian coffee in my last post? Since returning, I've seen signs for Starbucks pumkin spiced lattes and I kind of want one. I know, I'm terrible.

Last year's pumkin spice latte. 
It usually only takes one before I remember I like the concept more than the actual drink.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Vegan eating in Italy

A bonus shot of the Taormina amphitheatre

We have eaten well in Italy. As you might expect, pizza and pasta have featured. I was pleased to discover that pasta is not necessarily made with egg and that cheeseless pizza can be accommodated without question (or horror, which is sometimes the case elsewhere). I've also enjoyed some less Italian but veggie-friendly eating options.

Vegetarian pizza, Sicily style - from Etna Restaurant, Taormina

Whilst in Taormina, we took advantage of our apartment balcony to eat in on the nights we were together. One of these evenings featured take-away pizzas from Etna Restaurant, a restaurant that is deservedly well-reviewed. I had the vegetarian pizza minus cheese and Mr Bite had it in its standard form. The pizzas were delicious and featured thin bases that managed to be crispy and doughy at the same time. Interestingly, in addition to tomato, courgette and aubergine, the toppings included radicchio lettuce - not something I'd have thought to put on a pizza. It worked surprisingly well as the chopped leaves turned crispy when cooked. This meal was a good testament to Italian pizza and also seemed good value as our large pizzas were 8 euros each (£6 / AUD $13 / US $9). They were even large enough to yield leftovers for lunch the next day, facilitating the better lit photos above.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Taormina, Italy

I feel a little sheepish posting this, having proclaimed in my last post that I am starting to feel cold in England, and sharing earlier in the month that I was in Germany briefly for work. I don't usually travel quite this much but I'm now in Taormina, Sicily, for a conference. Instead of porridge weather, it is rather (very) hot and I spent this afternoon at the beach!

Two hours ago, I was swimming in this bay...Isola Bella, Taormina

My beach attendance was facilitated by the conference finishing at 1pm today. It was a great meeting, both in content and in allowing me to catch up with Australian colleagues. Mr Bite has come along too and having spent the last few days relaxing on his own, I'm pleased to be on holiday jointly now. We have one more day in Taormina and then fly to Rome on Monday morning, spending two nights there before returning to London on Wednesday afternoon. You can't really do Rome in that space of time but I'm looking forward to seeing bits of it.

Taormina scenes

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Chocolate tahini porridge (oatmeal) with raspberries

For me, there is no better test of the weather than how frequently I am eating porridge (oatmeal to Americans). I might have it occasionally in summer, but it takes cooler days and grayer skies for me to embrace it on a regular basis.

I've had porridge four times in the last three weeks, so it's safe to say the weather is changing.

If you are struggling with the shift to autumn (or are impatiently waiting for spring to arrive) then this chocolate tahini porridge is guaranteed to lift your morning. It's about as decadent as porridge can be, but is still true to what porridge should be - nutritious and based around real food.

What made this bowl particularly delightful was having chocolate from three sources (!). I added cocoa powder to the porridge when cooking, drizzled Choc Shot over the top, and sprinkled cacao nibs over everything for good measure. This is a breakfast to satisfy in every way.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Vegan hummingbird cake

Hummingbird cake is one of my favourite cakes, so I am surprised not to have baked it (or at least not posted about it) in the 4.5 years of this blog. I clearly have some catching up to do!

Apparently hummingbird cake is particularly popular in the Southern United States. My memories of it are Australian and come from my mother, who made a delicious banana-pineapple cake when we were growing up. For those of you who aren't familiar with the hummingbird concept, it is a moist banana-pineapple cake that can also include cinnamon and pecans. It is often served with a cream cheese frosting and perhaps for that reason, I think of it as a cousin to carrot cake. (Alternatively, I may link hummingbird and carrot cake because they are probably my two favourite cake varieties.)


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Latest book and TV loves

After a chilly start to the week, today we could be in Australian spring or autumn. The morning air was cool and crisp, but the midday temperatures nudged 20'C and the sky is pure Australian blue.

The weather was perhaps more striking because several of my recent reads have featured Australian scenes. There is something a tad unsettling about reading of places you know but no longer are. The books, however, have been good and inspired me to share a book-themed post. It's been a while between TV thoughts too, so I'm bundling them into this post as well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Stuffed sweet potatoes with tahini, sun dried tomatoes and paprika

Meal planning. Are you for it or against it? I've tended to be neutral in a sounds-good-but-it's-beyond-me kind of way. However, with the move and longer commuting times, I'm giving it another go. I suspect the meal plans will be flexible and variable, but we'll see how things work out!

One of the meals on our new plan (and a meal we had quite often before too) is stuffed jacket potatoes. I love British potatoes and the way they're called 'jacket potatoes' when baked and stuffed (in Australia I just called them 'baked potatoes').

I tend to alternate between regular potatoes and sweet potatoes because I love them both. Here, sweet potato was the perfect match for tahini, sun dried tomatoes, paprika and nutritional yeast. It is a combination I recommend and one I'll be making again.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Plum and oat bars

I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but it is starting to feel very autumnal here. Technically, autumn (fall to Americans) starts in England on the 23rd September, but there is a new crisp to the air that suggests summer is fading fast. Having loved the recent summer - such a change to my dread of Australian summer heat! - I am sad to see the long days end. At the same time, autumn brings its own delights and I am happy to embrace them as they unfold.


Plums are one star of autumn and they are showcased nicely in these oat bars. Featuring plums, cinnamon and raisins, they are delicious without being complicated. These can be breakfast or snack bars and if you want to add a touch of decadence, a drizzle of chocolate (or addition of chocolate chips) could provide that too.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

3 days in Dresden

Having posted recent images of our new home and neigbourhood, it seems a bit odd to now reveal I am in Germany. It has been a brief, jam-packed work trip (Tuesday through Thursday) and I return home today. It's actually my first real visit to Germany, other than a night train from Prague to Brussels that included an hour at the train station in Cologne. I have spent most of my time here indoors, but am fortunate to be staying in the attractive central old town area.

Dresden, views through to central square

Contrary to appearances, the old town is actually, in large part, rather new. Dresden was one of the many German cities bombed in WWII and most of the buildings pictured above and below were destroyed. They only finished rebuilding them in the last 5 years, but they have done an amazing job of the work. Other than looking particularly clean and well kept, the buildings could pass for their historical counterparts.

Dresden central square

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

In my kitchen - September 2015

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

This is my first IMK post since we've moved. I'm still figuring out where things sit in the kitchen and learning the temperament of our oven and hob. So, as well as some of the food within it, I thought I'd feature the kitchen itself in this post. Eventually we will redo the kitchen, but it is perfectly serviceable in its current form.

One of the nice things about this kitchen is it has room for my cookbooks. I like having them easily accessible for inspiration or direction.