Friday, 22 February 2019

Brighton Soul cafe and Brighton Beach

"Instagrammable" is a thing!  I would like to be snooty and old school about not judging a book by its cover.  But I am a food blogger with a love of colourful beautiful food.  An instagrammable cafe has me rushing in.  So when I decided to go to Brighton to see Instant Family at the cinema on my birthday, I was delighted to have an amazingly pretty (aka instagrammable) lunch at Bright Soul.  And it tasted great too.

The menu has lots of interesting dishes but not a lot without meat or egg.  But they do have some pretty smoothie bowls and a beautiful Buddah Bowl.  Who can go past blue noodles!  For the kids there is a special menu.  I was pleased they were happy to take the ham out and make Sylvia a cheese filled quesadilla.  She really loved it but was distracted by her Blue Unicorn Freak Shake!  And who wouldn't!

The Blue Unicorn Freak Shake was so over the top that it made me feel like a bad parent.  Fun with food is my weakness.  It had double ice cream, persian fairy floss, waffle cone, warheads, marshmallows, wafers and other lollies.  So imagine your kids wants dessert and you say have a milk shake and an ice cream and here is a handful of lollies (candies) in case you haven't had enough sugar.  But it looked so amazing.

Whereas my Buddah Bowl was on the healthier end of the scale with teriyaki tofu, blue vermicelli, roasted mushrooms and heirloom carrots, greens, blueberries, beetroot hummus, smashed avocado and turmeric tahini dressing.  The problem with such a big ingredient list is that they whisk away the menu and by the time the meal comes, I had to ask for the menu to remind myself what the sauce was.

I really loved the Buddah Bowl.  I felt so guilty about Sylvia having too much sugar that I gave her one of my pieces of tofu teriyaki.  She also occasionally had to sip my orange juice and take a few more bites of her quesadilla to cope with the sweetness of her shake.  Of course she couldn't finish it.

I did a pretty decent effort with my bowl.  I have to share this photo of my noodles.  Not a great photo but it gives you some idea of the different colours that were worked through the noodles to make them look like rainbow noodles.  I really loved it.  And the bowl tasted great.  I love mushrooms and carrots in meals but not as the main event.  The roast mushrooms and carrots were really amazingly good.  The blueberries did not work so well.  The tofu was lovely.  The greens were lettuce which is not my favourite thing.  I found the turmeric tahini sauce very intense but I loved all the flavours together.

We enjoyed seeing Instant Family at the Brighton Dendy (thanks to my older sister for the generous cinema passes).  Then we headed to the beach to see the famous Brighton Beach Boxes.  It is odd I have never seen them before living in Melbourne for so long (albeit most over the other side but my grandparents lived there for a while when I was a child).  As you can see, it was really busy, as was the car park even at $5.70 an hour!

The beach bathing boxes are fun to view as you walk along.  I was surprised at just how many there are.  They have been recorded in the history records as far back at 1862 and there were many more years ago.  These days there are 82 and there is a heritage overlay.  They are brightly painted and some have artistic designs.

We enjoyed walking along the beach but did not swim as it was late and we needed to get home.  It also reminded me of why I don't go to Melbourne beaches.  The sand is so much coarser than the lovely ones we go to down on the Great Ocean Road, and there were lots of crushed sea shells in the sand.  (Apologies for my beach snobbery.)  Nevertheless, it was lovely to walk along the beach on the evening and a great end to our visit to Brighton.

We drove home and were so full from lunch that we had a pretty basic dinner but we did have a slice of a favourite chocolate walnut fudge cake with caramel sauce and cream.  It was a really nice birthday that started with pancakes and wonderful presents (I highly recommend reading Jane Harper's The Dry but have found Lush's jelly soap a very weird experience) and ended with chocolate cake. 

Brighton Soul
129 Church Street Brighton
(03) 9592 8305
Opening hours - 7am-6pm daily

Brighton Soul Espresso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Street Art in Melbourne: Hosier Lane 2018-2019

Hosier Lane in Melbourne CBD is possibly the best known place in Melbourne to see street art.  It is quite central so every now and again I wander down the lane to look at the new artworks and take photos if the crowds aren't too thick.  Today I have some artwork I saw in September 2018 and some I saw on the weekend.

We had a nice time the city (although there was one shop where I waited patiently for the shopkeeper to finish with one couple who had a very complicated question and when I had a few quick questions after them I was told to wait for a few other transactions which ended up not being as quick as I was told it would be.  I would have left if I could have found the products anywhere else.)  Hosier Lane is a nice place to calm after an experience like that, even with tours and tourists and an unwilling child beside me!

So above and then the next few pictures are 2018 with the above one alluding to the Marriage Equality bill and a few below having a footy theme because the grand final was nigh.  It was just a few weeks before 3500 tulips were planted in Hosier Lane because they were destined for the bin because local sellers could not sell them.  Wish I had got down there to see that.  But the beauty of the place is that it is always changing.

Below are the photos taken on the weekend.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has started in Melbourne last month.  Hence the weird scene here with the sign "Excuse me young man are you harry potters son the cursed child.  I am not sure why the question is being asked by a man in a business suit and high heels.  Perhaps I need to see the play to find out why!

This picture is about the craziness of Melbourne's real estate markets.

Lily Allen played in Melbourne a week ago.

Is this a kangaroo?  Sylvia just liked the rude words!

There is a message on this girl's face and it reads:

"All I want in 2019 is water.  Yes.  Water in Melbourne ... actual water.  And men's restrooms - functional ones.  Next water tap and restroom located in Toronto, Canada.  Nothing in Melbourne.  Sorry.  (No we're not really.)"

Wow I know the water situation isn't great but it isn't like Johannesburg!

Allusions to Ned Kelly?

Clever painting here rather than neon lights!

For Valentines Day last week?

I know it doesn't look like him but it makes me think of Ozzie Ostrich!

What does "Hand over the Bag" mean?

And one of the street artists.  Actually there were artists at work while I was there.  This does not seem so unusual but it is always fascinating to watch.

More Hosier Lane Street Art:
Street Art in Melbourne #9 Hosier Lane June 2014
Street Art in Melbourne: Hosier Lane 2015  

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Chocolate peppermint candy cane slice (vegan option)

We got the local supermarket magazine today and it has lots of great vegetarian recipes.  However vegan recipes are still slim pickings.  I would say this is true of many mainstream food magazines.  So perhaps I should not have been surprised to find a "vegan" chocolate slice in a magazine before Christmas and then find it had honey in it!  Well it is good to see a vegan menu added.  Baby steps, people!  So today I bring you a slice that is not vegan but could be if you so desired.

Ironically although we didn't use honey, we topped our slice with white chocolate and candy canes.  White chocolate is definitely not vegan and candy canes seem to be likely to be not vegan but some are.  However it would be easy to make the base and put vegan dark chocolate on top.  The recipe has a coconut oil, cocoa and maple syrup topping.

The real reason we made the slice was to use up candy canes we found leftover from Christmas.  Luckily I checked my post about last time I did crushed candy canes to remind me to put a chopping board under them because last time they dinted my table (which was in much better condition back then.) 

Did I also mention that this is a no bake slice which is perfect for summer when you don't want to bake!  We made this a few weeks ago in the summer holidays.  At first it was in the freezer for a while and I really loved eating it frozen on sweltering hot days when it was hard to find relief without an air conditioner.  I still think back to childhood and student days when no one had air conditioners and wonder if it was cooler or we were tougher.  Probably tougher! 

As we were eating this at home I didn't matter how rustic the shards of slice looked.  We just stuck a knife in it and watched where the cracks appeared in the chocolate.  With just a little oil and maybe at room temperature it should be easier to cut, if you want it neat.  I loved how the bits of candy cane (which were very difficult to chop) softened on the slice so they weren't so crunchy.  It was a great slice to have in the fridge over a few weeks including when I went back to work as a little was quiet satisfying thanks to the healthier base.

More Christmas leftover recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Baked brie with cranberry sauce and walnuts (gf)

Candy cane brownies
Cheese, cranberry and thyme muffins
Cranberry, apple and butterscotch muffins
Cranberry and orange glazed tofu (gf, v)
Fruit mince flapjacks (v) 
Fruit mince scrolls (v)
Rice krispie slice with peppermint candy canes (gf, v)  

Chocolate peppermint candy cane slice
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Christmas 2018

1 cup almond meal
2 cups desiccated coconut
1/3 cup cocoa
4 candy canes, crushed (optional)
1/3 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp peppermint essence

250g white chocolate melts (or dark chocolate)
1 tsp vegetable oil (optional)
8 candy canes, crushed (or desiccated coconut)

Mix almond meal, coconut, cocoa and candy canes in a medium bowl.  Melt margarine with maple syrup (I do this in the microwave and mixing these stops the butter splattering everywhere).  Now pour margarine, maple syrup and peppermint essence into the dry mixture and mix well.  Press into a greased and line slice tin (18 x 24cm).  Leave in the freezer about 10-20 minutes until set.

Melt white chocolate.  If you want to cut into neat slices I advise adding vegetable oil but I didn't and it was fine but messy.  Pour white chocolate over and spread evenly (ours had a few dark spots from the base but these weren't so noticeable once chilled).  Straightaway before the chocolate sets, scatter with crushed candy canes.

Freeze for about an hour before cutting or refridgerate about 4-6 hours.  I loved it both frozen chilled rather than room temperature.  Cut into squares or shards.  It lasts at least 3 weeks.

NOTES: We crushed our candy cane by putting it in a bag and bashing it with a wooden rolling pin on a chopping board (warning: once we did this on the table and it left marks on the table).  If you wanted this vegan or do not have leftover candy canes (and a daughter who wants a white chocolate topping), I would advise using dark chocolate on top and then scattering with desiccated coconut.

On the Stereo:
A hundred million suns: Snow Patrol

Friday, 8 February 2019

Kale and pea soup, holidays and random notes

When I contemplate a month of holidays I am so certain I will be in the kitchen cooking up amazing meals.  I regret to say it definitely did not happen over January.  We were busy.  It was hot.  I was relaxing.  Dinner is nothing that a tub of hummus can't solve.  And so I bring you this easy kale and soup with some holiday snaps and some random notes.

I love soup.  In any weather.  So one January summer night, in need of using up some kale, I made this soup.  It was the perfect meal for someone with only limited holiday energy who needs something simple and healthy.  It was meant to be an accompaniment to some very sour sourdough I bought but was a bit more grassy than creamy because I just used my hand held blender.

And now onto some holiday reflections.  I'll try and make them quick because the holidays are over and we are busy working and collapsing afterwards.  (More holiday posts can be found in January when I had more time.)

I had a really nice time catching up with some uni friends, Jane and Alison in Warrigal.  This plate of salads from Earth Market cafe wasn't the most perfect but it was healthy, satisfying and much better food than I ever expect in the country.

I took this photo of signal box art after catching up with my baby sister in Geelong at Sticks and Grace in Pako Street.  Sylvia was at a playdate so we had a rare one on one which was really nice.

I went with my dad, sister and nieces to see Romeo and Juliet at the Fairfield Ampitheatre.  Good to see some amateur theatre.  Lovely to sit outside on a balmy summers evening eating chocolate cake and cherries while watching the theatre.

Sylvia bought this Grow-Your-Own-Penguin with her own money. It looked pretty evil.  That's what happens when you let your penguin grow in an Oreo cup.  But not quite as bad as a dentist check up.  Less disturbing ways to entertain her included a trip to Latitude rock climbing and trampolining centre, sleepovers and swimming.

Yet again we didn't celebrate Australia Day.  I would have liked to go on the Indigenous protest march but wasn't organised enough.  We happened to be eating lunch in Lord of the Fries as it passed on Swanston Street.  It was about 30 minutes of watching the parade and listening to people chant slogans like No pride in genocide.  As this was all I saw, it really felt momentous but we watched the news that night and they made it feel less important. 

I really love having the time to go swimming on the holiday.  Visiting beaches and the local pool.  Makes me realise I need to make more time for swimming.  Everything is better when we go swimming.  Even if it is too cold to go in the beach which happened a few times over summer.

And then there was this blue butterfly pea rice in the Glass Den's Nourish bowl.  Not so keen on the mock chicken chunks but had to have blue rice.  The rest of the bowl lovely and so colourful (avocado, nori, edamame, pickled daikon and pickled ginger with the slightly spicy sauce underneath so as to note destroy the beauty.)

And finally some random notes (not quite all holiday ones):
  • I was recently told that if people eat lots of turmeric, it has been found that their brains are slightly yellow.
  • A colleague picked up whooping cough in China and took the plane home with a tickle in his throat before it was diagnoses.  Doesn't that make you shudder about long haul plane trips!
  • A quick rant about crazy politics - ignoring extreme climates (we had a massive thunderstorm and 2 hour power cut this week), Brexit is a mess, I can't believe how Trump has used public servants' salaries as pawns, and now the Banking Royal Commission is responding to all the bad stuff banks have done by punishing mortgage brokers.  If I had a choice, it would be a no brainer that I would trust my mortgage broker over my bank.
  • We put out about 5 bags of Sylvia's old clothes and a few toys after a big clean out in her room.  It is not that I suddenly got into  the Marie Kondo decluttering.  We still have clutter but with kids growing out of clothes and toys, it is necessary to do a cull regularly.  We gave away some stuff to family and put the rest in the op shops (charity shops).  I had been worried the op shops would not take our stuff because they apparently are inundated due to the Kondo craze but they did. Phew!  But then I felt guilty anyway because I have been reading that some of the op shop clothes goes to landfill.
  • One of my little victories of the holidays was to have a parking fine withdrawn.  The Council sent a fine for parking illegally at an address I had never been and when I provided documents to show I wasn't there, they said just pay anyway.  So I appealed again to express my outrage that they had ignored their mistake and never apologised.  They dropped the fine.  No apology of course.  The Council acts as if people who park in the wrong places are the only ones that ever make mistakes.
  • How digital natives think.  Sylvia told me that the internet was around before travel agents.  When I asked how people bought houses she told me, on the internet!

I am sending this to Eat Your Greens being hosted by VegHog.

More kale recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Kale and broccoli salad (gf, v)
Kale, cheese and mole quesadillas (v)
Kale sourdough tortillas (v)
Tahini lime rice with kale and cashews (gf, v)
'Teriyaki' tofu with brown rice and kale (gf, v) 
Tomato and kale soup with pistachios (gf, v) 

Kale and Pea Soup
Adapted from Veggie Desserts
Serves 2-4

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 potato (or more), diced
4 cups water
3 tsp stock powder
 5 large leaves of curly kale, roughly chopped
1 cup peas
1/2 cup soy milk (or more) 
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and cook onion, garlic and potato for 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add water and stock powder, pinch each of salt and pepper and bring to the boil.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add kale, peas and cook a further few minutes.  Stir in milk, nutritional yeast flakes and vinegar.  Blend.

On the stereo
Best of the Kinks

Monday, 4 February 2019

In My Kitchen - February 2019

The January holidays are over!  School's back!  Work's back!  No more sleeping in and swimming.  January was both busy and relaxing.  We were either out all day and exhausted or sitting around at home doing nothing but watching Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events tv series on Netflix.  Sylvia enjoyed some cooking over the holidays and we have eaten lots of easy summer meals like the hummus platters above.  I am just back to work after 5 weeks off work and still getting my head around being in the office.  And getting back to riding to work again which was not fun when I got a puncture on my second day on my bike.

Sylvia dropped her ipad while taking it to my mum's.  We were wringing our hands at getting it fixed until I remembered we had put a screen protector on it.  So when I peeled off the screen protector and found the actual screen was indeed protected and fine I was very relieved.  It cost us another $40 for a screen protector instead of a new ipad.

We had the Australia Day weekend recently.  We didn't celebrate because there are so many conversations about how hurtful this day is to our Indigenous people.  But we have been enjoying some patriotic Vegemite and Cheese Shapes.  They don't just taste good but they look so cute in the shape of Australia.  And they were great snack food when wandering around Sydney!

There was a lot of slime making over the holidays.  Sylvia went through a lot of activator and glue, has added shaving cream to lots of slime, and now has her own play tray to protect some her clothes and our furniture.

Slime is messy enough but Sylvia had a day when she mixed shaving cream and yoghurt and corn flour to make snow.  It was the messiest I have ever seen the kitchen.  Which is a big call to make.  It gave me the motivation I needed to mop the floor, wipe the cupboards and generally have a big clean up in the kitchen.  Because it needed it desperately once covered in this muck.  I have told her, never again!  Slime is much preferable.

We bought these camembert and fig Kettle chips for a bargain $1.50 at our local $2 shop.  Where many things aren't actually $2.  The cirsps were pretty good.  I am not sure the flavour was really as amazing as it looked on the packet but we felt fancy eating them.

I was given this soda stream for Christmas by my parents and just love it.  When I started to look at how many plastic bottles we were using in soda water it seemed wrong.  The soda stream is a great alternative.  I am unsure if it is quite as cheap because we aren't monitoring how many bottles we fizz up.  But it is great to have soda water on tap.  Worth sacrificing a little valuable kitchen bench real estate!

We gave Sylvia this three part plate from Muji for Christmas.  It is great for serving her food because she loves it all separate.  I even went to buy another at Muji but it was sold out.  I quite like it for dinner with chopped vegies.  I tried buying some blue cheese to have with seedy crackers (see above) and ended up putting it in some fritters as it was too strong on crackers.

We came back from our holiday in Sydney with a small amount of souvenirs.  A tea towel and fridge magnet from Manly.

A Sydney Luna Park tea towel.  Just for fun!

And some spoons with Indigenous artwork.

We haven't been at the farmers market much over summer but have had a few visits.  Berries and stone fruit have been magnificent.  I bought nice sourdough bread because it has been either too hot or too busy to bake sourdough.  And I bought some yellow beetroot on a whim but have only used some.

However my sourdough starter has been kept healthy by baking pizza and flatbreads.  The most amazing pizza I made was pretty simple with some leftover mac and cheese on a tomato sauce with some cheese on top.  Mmmm crispy crunchy carb on carb comfort!

Sylvia has been loving pouring over her copy of Jolly Good Food: a cookbook inspired by the stories of Enid Blyton.  So over the holidays she made some recipes from it.  Above is the Perfect Porridge with blueberries and cream.  Not pictured is the tropical smoothie.

And the biggest hit of the book so far has been the Smashing potato salad.  We have adjusted it to suit us.  No radish or spring onion or other but Sylvia loves to cut up herbs from the garden.  We add a drizzle of maple syrup to the dressing.  And it has been made quite a few times because we all love it. 
Sylvia has developed a love of the We Bare Bears over summer.  Her favourite bear is Ice Bear who likes to hang out in his fridge knitting and watching tv.  When his brothers have a drink he has a glass of ice.  So here is Sylvia's Ice Bear hanging out in our very crowded fridge with his cup of ice.

Our garden has been interesting over summer.  Our tomato plant has done well and producing some lovely sweet cherry tomatoes.  The plant just keeps growing taller.  It used to be as high as my hip but is now as high as my shoulder.  Before I know it will tower over me.  Sadly the raspberry plant we bought at the same time is dying and has never produced fruit.  I think maybe it has not liked all the heat.

Our lemon and lime trees went through a bad patch last year when they stopped fruiting but this summer they are promising a great yield.  I have been giving quite a bit of attention and lots of worm juice.

Back at work it is busy.  We have had quite a few German visitors arrive bearing gifts.  I have had gifts from them 3 of the 4 days I have been back at work!  Above are some lovely spice mixes: butterbrot gewurz (sandwich spice salt) and Romergewurz (Italian spices).  I had to check the internet for what was in them and was impressed.  On Friday we all were treated to lots of packets of Ritter chocolates.  Then today I was given a box of chocolate that were really pretty and most were generously spiked with alcohol but very delicious (but it took a while to work out the German names).  I think it will quieten at work with new visitors for a few days and then next week will bring more visitors. 

A friend of Sylvia's came on Friday night for a sleepover.  They woke early and baked cake!  Sylvia has started to make mini cakes that she makes up without a recipe.  They actually turn out ok.  This cake was a birthday cake for a Beanie Boo dolphin named Echo.  Just to make it a real party atmosphere there was a candle, some little cakes (chopped nak'd bars and muesli bars) and some little cups of salad.

We went to the farmers market on the weekend and visited a new stall by a business called Small Numbers, a small batch bakery.  The baking was amazing.  I tried the peanut butter and chocolate chunk biscuits and swooned.  I was so tempted by the miso caramel shortbread but went for the Scandanavian style cinnamon rolls.  They smelled so so so good and tasted every bit as good.  Soft and aromatic and full of spice.  I hope to see them again at the farmers market.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to peek into more kitchens.