Sunday, 14 October 2018

White Night Geelong 2018

Last night I went to White Night Geelong.  It was the first time that White Night, which I have enjoyed in Melbourne a few times, this year was its debut in regional city, Geelong.  It was lots of fun to wander around with my parents, my daughter and my niece.  We mainly stayed around Johnstone Park which had the great atmosphere of convivial crowds enjoying fantastic light creations on a balmy spring night.  Here is the trip I took.

We started at the Town Hall.  I have seen light shows at the town halls over quite a few years at Christmas time.  The festive light shows last a few weeks so it is fairly quiet when we go.  Last night the street was closed and it was full of people coming and going.

The light show last night was for the 1918 World War I Armistice centenary in a couple of weeks.  It started with a display for every year of the Twentieth Century up to 1914.  We were bemused and thought perhaps we were going to sit through a display for every year up to the present.  But in 1914 the story of World War I began and it started to make sense.

Here is the map of Europe with the red blotch of Germany spreading across it as it acquired countries.

A lot of the story was from an Australian perspective.  So here is Australia pledging full support for the "home country" Britain halfway across the world!

We saw lots of military footage between the pillars.

Here the pillars bear the name of battles such as Ypres (which I still think of as "Wipers" as the Aussie soldiers used to say).

And here are some statistics to remind us of the toll on Australia.  It wasn't in the light show but I still remember my shock and horror when studying World War I at school (even if I now rely on the web for exact stats) that our nation of less than 5 million had 416,809 men enlist, over 60,000 deaths and 156,000 wounded, gassed or taken prisoner!

And this is why the Town Hall had poppies floating down until it was covered.  Poppies for remembrance.  Lest We Forget!

It was a pretty intense way to start.  After that we just wandered at the Geringhap St edge of Johnstone Park.  I really loved this green lit building but never got to stop and understand it.  Such is the nature of White Night.

This eagle seemed like it might be Bunjil, supreme creator in Aboriginal stories but I never verified this.

I loved how the colours on this part of the Civic Buildings worked around the advertisements for the Archibald Prize exhibition in the Geelong Art Gallery.  The portrait of Guy Pearce was the winner.

Then we walked into the roundabout where Geringhap Street meets Mercer Street and Malop Street.  Buildings like the one above usually don't get much attention but suddenly they were worth a second glance when lit up with dreamy images

The Dalgety's Warehouse had images of different decades.  It is a mystery to me as to why they had the 1960s, 1980s and 1990s but not 1970s.  And the 1960s had lots of stylish people and cultural events such as the Vietnam War and Aboriginal rights. 

Then 1980s were just a load of junk food like chiko rolls and bubble o bill.  I was outraged that it was like nothing interesting happened then.  What about the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989!

We continued wandering down Geringhap St towards the waterfront where there were more lights but never got that far.  We got talking to family friends we bumped into (one of whom it turns out knows my boss!) and my niece got really tired.  The lights on poles along the side were birds that at times lit up one at a time to look like one bird flying.  Really effective.  And there was live music on a rooftop.

We had to move aside for this amazinggiant of a robot.  The people in the crowd barely came up to his knees and it was very impressive from afar.  Like some Dr Who alien.  Close up it was fascinating to see puppeteers at work.

I really liked this quirky display.  It say Capitalism works for me.  People were queued up to push a button to say either True or False.  While we were there the True vote was just winning.

Then we walked back through Johnstone Park and enjoyed the festival atmosphere.  This light show was a wishing tree but we didn't stay long enough to understand it.  People seemed to be writing on large pieces of card hanging from the tree.

Kids were dancing on these light discs.

And there was the Neon Dog Park.  For the dog lovers in my family.  (There are many.)  I took photos but quite a lot of people were posing with the dogs so it was challenging.

Dog peeing on the tree.


Dog begging for a bone.

Dog on a leash complete with glowing turd (not in picture as man was trying to post with leash).

Cute dog. 


Past the dog park were lots of critters in a mix between a Chinese new year and Alice in Wonderland.  A huge toad.


Spider.  Is that a redback?

And then we headed back to the car.  My parents were not aware of the buses but my brother at the Waurn Ponds cinema last night said there was a huge queue there for buses to White Night.  The organisers were very lucky with the weather and I am sure it will be considered a great success.

You can read about my previous White Night outings:

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Tex Mex vegan bowl - and how to make a stress ball

Last night I wanted something fast and healthy.  So I made this Tex Mex vegan bowl.  The cooked black rice was in the freezer, as was some refried beans.  I fried up half a red onion and 2 peeled tomatoes and cooked it with a splash of water, salt, maple syrup, smoked paprika and about 1/3 cup refried beans.  Then I made some cashew cream.  Actually I didn't have many cashews so it was mainly macadamia and walnut but that worked fine.  I added corn on the cob, red capsicum and spinach and rocket.  Really good.

It has been quite a crazy week.  I will never understand why anyone thinks it is a good idea to start daylight savings just before the school term starts.  Obviously it was not decided by someone who had to get the kids back into routine for school mornings after two weeks of free and easy days.  Since daylight savings started last Sunday, we have been having late nights that knock us for six followed by virtuously early nights.

Yesterday morning Sylvia was up ridiculously early.  She decided to replicate the stress ball she had made the previous night.  By the time she left for school she had made two stress balls, cleaned her room and still got there early. 

The stress balls were quite easy and a lot cheaper than the ones at the shops.  All she used was a balloon, some slime, some netting and a small rubber band to hold the net in place.  She had seen on YouTube that you put a funnel into the balloon to fill it with slime but we found it worked with me holding open the balloon neck and Sylvia pushing it in with the blunt end of a bread and butter knife.  Once the balloon was full (without stretching the balloon) she tied up the end, then covered it in netting (the sort that vegetables are packed in) and used a small rubber band to secure the netting tightly at the base. 

She took the stress balls to school and gave two to friends.  One friend broke her in 5 minutes, Sylvia broke hers by lunchtime and her other friend took hers home at the end of the day.  So these aren't going to last long but neither do the ones from the shops.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Savoury monkey bread - sourdough and vegan

The idea came to me as I sat watching tv on the last saturday night before term 4 of school started.  My usual bread dough was ready to sit overnight and I dreamed of making the most of the last day of the holidays by making monkey bread.  So I kneaded oil and sugar into the dough.  It was a mess so I don't recommend you do this but I can tell you that the other half of the dough made a wonderful soft bread.

But today I am here to tell you about the monkey bread so I have halved the dough in the recipe below.  (But I recommend you double it because you can always use a loaf of bread even if it is to give to a friend!) 

I hadn't really known much about monkey bread but apparently it is usually a sweet bread baked with lots of little balls of dough dipped in butter and sugar.

The idea came from the recipe for savoury monkey bread in the Coles supermarket magazine many months ago.  The idea stayed in my head because this bread with lots of little different coloured balls looked so beautiful.  And my overnight sourdough bread is so easy, that it will adapt to any idea.

I had to think about what different herbs/spices/seeds to roll the balls in.  This was a chance to use my new jackaroo dukkah.  Sesame seeds and poppy seeds were obvious.  I had used lots of parsley in a salad so I had a little parsley, some baby leeks and thyme for the green herby balls.  I wanted to try my supergreen powder and I mixed some beetroot powder with smoked paprika and salt for a smoky taste.  The greens powder was no good. 

I wondered about other spice mixes or other seeds (sunflower?, pumpkin? chia?) and crushed nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds?).  Or something else might take your fancy.  Sylvia had me try some finely chopped nori on a few pieces but I was not keen on the taste.

I will give you this warning.  Do not make this bread if you are in a hurry.  The dough was pretty easy but rolling out lots of little balls and then rolling them in seeds and spices took ages.  I am sure it was the most time intensive bread I have ever made.  Normally I take 5 or 10 minutes to shape my bread and then took me well over an hour. 

However if you are avoiding cleaning the shower, this is an excellent way to convince yourself you are doing something else very important!  (Of course the shower did get eventually cleaned because there are some things that have to be done before school starts!)

My other disclaimer is that my bread did not keep together.  Oh the disappointment after all the work.  But after all that work, I am still going to share what I did and what I might do again.  I read somewhere that grated cheese could keep it together.  I was trying to keep it vegan but perhaps biolife cheese might work.  Or perhaps it could be baked in a skillet with a lid and eaten straight out of it.  I have seen videos where you bake the bread around a dish and then once cooked replace the little bowl with a bowl of dipping sauce.  We ate our bread with dips and with ratatouille.  It really made the meal more fun.  Who knows I might even have another go!

More fun yeasty/sourdough ideas on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Buffalo cauliflower sourdough pizza with tofu blue cheese (v)
Doughnuts - baked and topped with chocolate and coconut bacon (v)
Malted loaf with chocolate, figs and brazil nuts (v) 
Pumpernickel rolls with currants (v) 
Sourdough cheeseymite scrolls

Savoury monkey bread
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe

For bread dough:
150g of bubbly starter
285g water
9g salt
1/2 tsp sugar
40ml olive oil
500g of flour

For rolling balls: 
100g melted butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp poppy seeds
3 tbsp sesame seeds
3 tbsp dukkah
3-4 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tbsp beetroot powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp salt

grated cheese (optional, and can be vegan such as biolife)

[A few hours before making the loaf, take sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it so it gets nice and bubbly before you weigh it.]

In the late evening, at least half an hour before going to bed (or first thing in the morning) mix the bread dough ingredients together.  It is easiest to mix everything except flour first and then add flour.  Use hands to mix if required.  Set aside covered with a tea towel for half an hour.  Knead in the bowl for about 1 minute.  Cover with greased clingwrap and leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Cut into four and then cut each quarter into 6 pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball.  (I started trying to shape it with the skin pulled tight but there were so many to shape I gave up.)  Use flour to stop it sticking to you.

Line a 26cm diameter lidded casserole dish / dutch oven and place a small ovenproof ramekin or bowl in the middle.  Set out the poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dukkah and parsley into 4 small shallow bowls.  Stir together the beetroot powder, smoked paprika and salt in another small bowl.  Mix melted butter and garlic together.  Brush each ball with garlic butter and dip in one of the bowls of seeds/spices/herbs.  Arrange the balls in the casserole dish around the ramekin so that they are a patchwork of colours.  I got two layers of balls in and put some cashew cream between but it didn't make much impact or hold the balls together.  Maybe next time grated cheese?

Preheat oven to 240 C and let balls rise for 30 minutes with the lid on.  Then bake for 40 minutes covered (turning around once to bake evenly).  Reduce heat to 180 C and bake for 10 minutes until just lightly golden brown.  Turn out onto a wire rack to eat warm or room temperature.  They last for a day or two but are best eaten on the day of baking.

NOTES: For more extensive notes on this method, go to my post on overnight sourdough bread.  Other toppings would work for rolling the bread balls such as other spice mixes, seeds and nuts.

On the stereo:
Greatest Hits: Queen

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Tofu scramble with cashew cream

Isn't it ironic that I had a busy working month in September when doing Vegan MoFo and then the first week of October I was on holiday and able to spend more time cooking and blogging.  Actually I spent more time cooking than blogging but I had time to make some of the dishes I had hoped to blog during Vegan MoFo.  One of these was tofu scramble with cashew cream.

This is a rather simple dish that was inspired by a scramble I made years ago with vegveeta cheese sauce.  There was something wonderful about the creaminess and the way the cheese sauce had little brown crispy edges.  So I tried a simple scramble with my current favourite cashew cream.  It worked really well and worked nicely with a side dish.  I like tofu scrambles but they can be a bit lacking in texture.  This is a revolution in the way I make tofu scramble.  I am delighted to find that with a bit of leftover cashew cream sauce I can have most excellent scramble quickly.

More scrambles on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chickpea hummus scramble (gf, v)
Fried rice with tofu scramble (gf, v)
My breakfast burritos (gf, v) 
Roasted vegetable tofu scramble (gf, v)
Spinach, sundried tomato and chive chickpea scramble (gf, v)
Tofu scramble (gf, v)

Tofu Scramble with Cashew Cream
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Serves 4

1 tbsp rice bran oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g firm tofu
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp dukkah, or to taste
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup cashew cream
seasoning, to taste

Heat oil over medium high heat.  Fry onion a few minutes until soft and then stir in garlic.  Crumble tofu into the oil and add soy sauce, dukka and vinegar.  Fry for a few minutes to distribute the flavours through the tofu.  Stir in the cashew cream and season.  Fry for 5-10 minutes allowing the mixture to sit long enough to get some crispy edges.

NOTES: You could use any neutral oil with a high smoking point instead of rice bran oi.  Another vegan cashew cheese sauce could be used instead of the cream.  I like the cream because it is simple.  The dukkah is optional depending on your cashew cream/sauce and how much seasoning you use.  Other seasoning mixes would work here too or even some curry powder if that is you preference.  This scramble would also work well with extra vegies, such as leftover roast vegies, grated carrot or leafy greens.

On the stereo:
Greatest Hits of The Cure

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Royal Melbourne Show 2018

Last week we went to the Royal Melbourne Show (aka The Show).  It was a fun but tiring day of food, carnival rides, cat judging, cake competitions, quirky displays and showbags. Here are some pictures.  We had glorious weather but were too tired to stay for the fireworks.

First stop is always to gaze at the showbags and think about which ones we might buy on the way out.

Then the ferris wheel.  It gives a great birds eye view of the showgrounds with the iconic pie in the sky.  Views also extend beyond the showgrounds to the Melbourne skyline.

While the Show has a huge carnival area, I really like some of the areas more related to the agricultural show.  These cow sculptures, on loan from Shepparton, were lots of fun and as close as I came to seeing cows.

We stopped for lunch in the Woolworths Fresh Food Pavillion quite early to beat the crowds.  E and Sylvia went to the baked potato stall.  I went to SpanThai where I had (I think) pad see ew.  Lots of dry flat noodles flavoured with soy sauce and some vegetables, bean sprouts and lemon.  I didn't mind that there weren't more vegetables as Sylvia quite liked trying my noodles.  I also bought a glass of lemon, ginger and mint drink which was wonderfully refreshing.  When we sat down to eat, beside us were two families from Sylvia's school.  It is a small world.

We enjoyed wandering around the food stalls and having some samples.  I really loved the people at Gourmet Morsels and all their wonderful spice mixes.  I bought the Jackaroo Dukkah but it was really hard to choose just one dukkah as they were all really good.  The red velve dukkah was tempting.  I also bought Pop'd popcorn and Uncle John's licorice.

Sylvia had a small cup of blue chocolate from the chocolate fountains at the strawberry stall.  I had a chocolate covered strawberry.  We went to the animal nursery but Sylvia is not keen on goats coming towards her so we didn't stay in there for long.  Then we had a walk through the carnival area and up to see the cats.

The cats in their cages weren't too excited but I enjoyed seeing the cat judging.  I think we might have even seen Grumpy Cat! 

Sylvia had a go at a few carnival games.  Above is the fishing game where you fish out characters with numbers on the bottoms that are added up to show the range where you can select a prize.  She also did the laughing clowns.  We went on the dodgems and the swing ride carousel.  Then we stopped for an ice cream (strawberry with condensed milk filling) and to watch some horses.

Then it was onto my favourite place, the Spotlight makers pavillion for the cakes and craft.  The talent on display is amazing.  Above is an Alice in Wonderland cake.

We loved this Wizard of Oz cake.  It was fun spotting the four "gifts" that the Wizard gave to Dorothy (shoes), the Scarecrow (a diploma certificate), the Tinman (a ticking heart) and the Lion (a medal of bravery).

These cakes were on the theme of The Show.  I really loved the one with the pie in the sky and the ferris wheel.

These two cakes were the stand out this year.  Everyone crowded around exclaiming at the details.  They look too real to be made of sugarcraft.  And that cat is so cute.

We enjoyed working out what was on all the cupcakes.  Some were obvious and others less so.  So clever and so creative.

I love all the regular bakes and perserves.  This fudge above looks perfect.  Some of the jars of preserves were so beautiful and there were lots of great bakes like rainbow cakes, slices and breads.  I confess to walking past the breads and exclaiming I could do better.  But on the second last day of the show, some of the baking is a little old.

We started to look at the crafts but didn't get far as it is so easy to get distracted by another attraction.  I loved the teacosy display.

And here is the distraction.  A display of the history of showbags.  I was surprised to read that showbags is an Australian tradition.  It started with businesses giving out samples and then organising bags to carry the samples in. 

I really love this twisties bag for the ridiculous claim that it is a wholesome snack.  Twisties are processed crisps with lots of artificial flavouring.  But I guess in the 1960s you could get away with saying anything. 

The showbags were all a bit older than ones I had as a kid but I remember them fondly.  I really loved how there would often be a toy in them among all the chocolate bars.  But there were never the hug selection of showbags like they have today.  According to the display, in 1957 there were 42 sample bags on offer and in 2018 there are 400 showbags you can choose from.

Our last stop was the showbag pavillian.  It was not as busy as last time we were here but it is still overwhelming.  Everywhere you look are displays of showbags you can buy if you could only get past the people and get the attention of the people behind the counter.

There is something iconic about the Bertie Beetle showbag.  I think part of its popularity is because you can buy one so cheap.  It appeals to those who have very little cash left, to little kids who have very little to spend and to those like me who remember when showbags were cheaper and simpler.

These are more typical of the confectionary showbags.

And now there are showbags that are about brands, tv shows and toys.  These are more about commercialisation and branding than the old fashioned idea of samples.  We quite liked the look of the Adventure Time showbag but at around $30 a bag, you really had to want it.

Finally we stopped for a potato twist and a doughnut before leaving at 5.30.  We were tired as we waited 20 minutes for a train from the showgrounds and then another 20 minutes for a train on our line.  However public transport is the only way to go as we found one year when we drove to The Show and left without going in because parking was such a nightmare.

We got quite a few showbags this year.  E got the Bertie Beetle and the Red Rock crisps bags.  I got the Twisties bag.  Sylvia got the Girls Only, the Oreo, The Slime Zone and a Cadbury bag.  She didn't actually pay for the Cadbury bag but someone put it in another of her bags. 

The Slime Zone bag was probably one of her favourite bags.  She has had lots of fun playing with all the different slimes.  I am not a fan of slimes so Sylvia has been on her best behaviour with this messy stuff.  Mostly!

I decided to only get one showbag and buy some samples from the fresh food pavillion.  Here are some of my purchases.  It was a fun day out.  The child in me still loves The Show and coming home with some showbags.

To read about my previous trips to The Show, have a look at: