Wednesday, 29 February 2012

traditionally tropfest

Each and every year we pack a picnic, pick a patch of grass + plonk ourselves in the sunshine .... waiting to watch the 16 short films that are Tropfest.
This year (and I know it's hard to believe from the photos below) a huge thunderstorm decided to pay a visit as soon as the second film started! The rain was so heavy that we were forced to quickly throw everything into the esky and head home :(

We blocked out ears over the news announcing the winner, and held out the whole week until we got our hands on the DVD thanks to SMH. Tropfest take two @ home in the backyard on a warm Summer's night was amazing ...  

+ perhaps it will be a new tradition :) We never really agree on the winner but that's half the fun! A light-hearted and funny story about a man and his Grandfather, and their successful refreshment stand - LEMONADE STAND took out the top prize this year and it definitely put a smile on our faces.

NOTE: The Tropfest Signature Item item for next year is BALLOON - we always forget!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

rainbow surprise cake

The best thing about birthdays is cake!

My girlfriend Fi & I used this recipe from whisk kid for a joint birthday surprise ...

2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
2 1/3 cups
(426 g) sugar
5 egg whites, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups
(426 g) flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 c (355 ml) milk, warmed for 30 sec in microwave

Red, blue and yellow gel food colouring (mix together to make purple, green & orange) - liquid will not be vibrant enough

Preheat the oven to 180C . Oil and line how ever many 9 inch cake pans you have (we re-used two). Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt . Set aside . Cream the sugar and butter, then slowly add the egg whites . Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated . Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts . Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls - about 1 cup each . Whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl . Keep in mind that the color of the unbaked batter will be the color of the baked batter. Pour into the pans and bake for 15 minutes each . When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes . Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly .

Assembling the cake is a little tricky as the layers are quite thin . Make sure you have plenty of icing to go in between the layers and over the whole cake a few times so that it is prefectly white with no coloured crumb clues! Any icing would work - we used a buttercream icing for the layers and a royal icing for the outside.

The looks on their faces say it all!

>>> I have also read about people using cheap packet cake mixes and adding the gel colour. Check out this 30-layer masterpiece!

pineapple day

Monday, 27 February 2012

german style

'A home doesn't need to be big, just smart' - Ikea

My German girlfriend Luise sent me some photos of her new room in her new apartment and I absolutely love the simplicity, colour & space!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

lamb, feta + lentil fattoush

Fattoush is one of my favourite salads & the lamb, feta + lentils in this variation = perfectness! 

1 cup french-style green lentils
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, + extra to drizzle
2 juiced lemons + extra to serve
2 teaspoons sumac
3 lamb backstraps
2 lebanese pita breads
2 lebanese cucumbers, seeds removed + sliced
handfull of grape tomatoes
bunch red radishes, cut into wedges
bunch torn flat leaf parsley
bunch torn mint leaves
bunch torn coriander leaves
3 spring onions
lots of crumbled greek feta

Cook lentils in boiling water for 30 minutes . To make dressing whisk oil, lemon juice, sumac, salt + pepper in a bowl . Pour half of dressing over lamb to marinade and the other half over the cooked lentils . Chargrill lam for 3 minutes each side for medium rare . Rest for 5 minutes before slicing . Drizzle lebanese bread with olive oil and season . Cook on grill until toasted . Add all ingredients together in a big bowl and toss with hands . Serve with lemon .

an arabian engagement

colour | kebabs | sheesha | dress ups | baklava | love. 


Thursday, 16 February 2012

moon travel

Last year I invented the sunnymoon. After being away from my partner Chris for 5 months while he travelled Asia & Europe, we finally met up with each other again in Germany. It felt like a dream to be in a different country with him after so long. He proposed on a bridge in the rain with a ring that had been carried around for months in his backpack, and we were over the moon. The best part was that it was followed by an amazing three weeks of travel. Newly-engaged, we were filled with happiness. Exploring the sunny Amalfi Coast in Italy and island hopping in Croatia, it felt like a honeymoon but we hadn't had a wedding.
The word honeymoon originates from the the idea that the first month of marriage is the sweetest. Sweetmonth = honeymoon. The idea of bungalows over aquamarine water, scattered rose petals and champagne waiting on ice, sunbaking with cocktails and room service breakfasts, massages by the water and white fluffy robes does sound pretty sweet - not to mention the unlimited sexy time! However some couples these days are starting to trend towards travel rather than holiday -adventure over relaxation, or if they're lucky enough a bit of both! It is now common to hear about couples using their honeymoon as an opportunity to experience the world. Europe discoveries, action packed snowboarding, asian trekking and elephant riding, site seeing and culture chasing -again sounding pretty sweet to me. 

But the idea of only having a period of sweetness at it's sweetest at the very start of a couples lives together doesn't really sound very sweet. While you'll always remember the holiday that was your honeymoon, I believe that any time away and alone with your partner can be just as sweet, and is just as important.

Babymoons are also becoming popular theses days with couples taking a holiday before their new baby arrives. I don't think there could be anything sweeter than welcoming a baby into the world, but any excuse for a holiday is a justified one.  

Our honeymoon is unfortunately a fair way off, and a babymoon is far ahead in the horizon. Meanwhile, a little cottage on the South Coast made for the perfect place for a honeybreak. Bacon & egg bbq breakfasts each morning, reading books on the beach, cheese and bickies, sleep ins and a few gummy bears for added sweetness. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

travel belly

Travelling through Italy with my girlfriends a few years ago, we were lucky enough to experience the Blue Grotto in Capri. The water inside was magical and out of this world, and as the old Italian man rowing our boat started to sing, we were mesmerised. The bluest water I have ever seen, we jumped in. Getting back into the boat was tricky, and our rower had had to lift us out from the water. Struggling, he responded in his thick Italian accent “too much spaghetti, too much spaghetti!” We looked down at our swollen bellies and laughed and laughed and laughed. We had the biggest bowl of spaghetti we could find for dinner that night.
A few months ago while travelling through Thailand with my girlfriends, we discovered the absolute perfectness of a 50 baht Pad Thai. The ultimate way to cure hunger cravings after trekking, elephant riding and shopping, we ordered our $1.50AUD meal every day. The tofu, the dried shrimp, the tamarind, the lime! We judged the style and technique from the different street chefs, taking mental notes which would come in handy for the rest of our lives. Laying on the beach in our bikinis every afternoon, we would poke each others swollen bellies and joke “too much Pad Thai, too much Pad Thai!”
Then there was “too much baguette!” in Paris, "too much schnitzel!" in Austria, “too much currywurst!" in Germany, "too much paella!" in Spain, "too much squid!” in Croatia and “too much turkish delight!” in Istanbul. All the while knowing that too much is never too much. There is no saying no to food while travelling, and there is no need to make excuses for having gelato twice in the one day.

For me, travelling is eating and eating is travelling. When I think of the countries that I have visited, I think about the food that I ate. I am constantly cooking food from different cultures and love the colour and smells that are created. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when vegemite on toast for dinner is the most satisfying meal in the world, but, my international cook book collection is growing and I aim to host more big cook ups at home – one pot, many bellies.
Friendship is eating and eating is friendship. Catch ups with my girls always involve eating and chatting, often about past and future travel. We are known to induce cravings into each others minds; ice-cream is popular amoungst our bellies.
A meal for two with a bottle of red is always special when shared with my man. I love eating with him, cooking with him, travelling with him and growing a travel belly with him.
I can’t wait to experience more international eating. This year, saving for a house and a wedding will take all of my saving strength, and will undoubtably mean that there will be many eggs-on-toast dinners. I'll be sure though, to add every coin I come across into my travel teapot, and hold onto the thought of growing a travel belly with too much tagine in Morocco, too much naan in India and too much pho in Vietnam.