bloody mary, bloody mary, bloody mary…

Last year around this time I was hiking through the Annapurnas. Well almost – I actually just realized that at this time last year I was probably eating dinner at a tiny restaurant in Pokhara, Nepal called The Olive. It was: the best. For some reason, all over Nepal, happy hour consisted of cheap alcohol and… popcorn? I wasn’t mad about it. It’s quite apt that this is exactly what I have decided to make today. I only just realized that. WOO! Paralells!

Anyway, last Halloween I spent the night at a tea house called ‘The Excellent View’ and yeah, it was OKAY… I guess. ;) However it did not feel like Halloween at all because a) no one was dressed up ridiculously b) there was no chocolate and c) I didn’t get any birthday carrot cake. LAME. Instead, I was considering the likleyhood of altitude sickness while scarfing down one of many apple pies. Like I said… it was only OK.  (So it was pretty much the best ever, but let’s talk Halloween)

This year though… This year I am bringing Halloween back in a big way. Australia is not huge on this holiday… so when I found out that our apartment building was taking part in trick or treating for the kiddies followed by a party for the adults I was more that a leetle bit excited. And the next day I made this happen:

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Only door in the building that is decorated. Sean may have mumbled something about ‘excessive’ when he got home from work that night. But I am not be deterred.

I’ve also watched no less than 7 horror movies including:

* The Loved Ones (What the WHAT!? This movie is effed up. Thank you to Andy and Jenn for that gem of a recommendation haha)
* The Conjuring (Demons are hella scary)
*Scream (1996 in ALL it’s glory)
*Scream 2 (cause… duh)
*I Know What You Did Last Summer (Classic and so so bad)
*(Half of) Halloween
* American Horror Story: Murder House (Heebie Jeebies GALORE)

So, while my family is celebrating Halloween and the many family birthdays in Toronto with our annual pumpkin carving party, I am sitting in sunny Sydney carving a pumpkin (which I am sure will rot before Halloween) whilst sipping the Ultimate Bloody Mary and eating the Ultimate Popcorn. Let’s talk about it.

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Lately, I have wanted a cocktail that is less about the sugar and fruit and more about the savoury. A Bloody Mary is where it’s AT. Now if we were in Canada, we might be having a Caesar – but being the vegan that I am -we’ll stick with a Bloody Mary. Let’s partner this delightful cocktail with another salty treat. You might think that Worcestershire sauce on popcorn is like, the weirdest thing ever and it very well might be. But this is how Mama Hicks has been making her popcorn for years and I’m not about to change it. However, I am about to add garlic butter and nutritional yeast. So there’s that. This popcorn is major. All in all – it’s a perfect Halloween combination, whether you’re in Nepal, Canada, or Australia.

Happy Halloween friends. :D

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The Ultimate Bloody Mary
adapted from HonestlyYUM

Ingredients

2oz Vodka
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 big dash Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes Tabasco (or to taste)
2 pinches celery salt
1 pinch black pepper
a quarter of a tomato
Tomato juice to fill

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Garnishes

extra celery salt for rim
celery stick
lemon wedge
capers
gherkins
pimento stuffed olives

First, Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker (minus the tomato juice) and muddle. Fill the shaker with ice & shake for ten seconds until cold.
Pour the cocktail into a salted tall glass and top with tomato juice – garnish as you like. This is not a less is more situation. DRINK UP!

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Ultimate Popcorn

1/2 c. popcorn kernels
2 tsp. coconut oil
salt
pepper
1-2 tsp butter
chopped garlic or dried garlic granules
Worcestershiresauce
nutritional yeast
celery salt

Melt the coconut oil in large pot over a medium heat. Add the popcorn and a pinch of salt – make sure all the kernels are covered in oil and then cover the pot leaving a crack open for steam to escape. Melt your butter in a separate bowl and add the garlic to it. Wait for popcorn to pop (3-5 minutes) and wait until it begins to slow down – take the popcorn off the heat and allow the kernels to finish popping.  Toss the garlic butter, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and nutritional yeast into the popcorn and mix thoroughly. Nutritional Yeast is, as it’s names suggest, nutritional… but also it tastes a bit cheesey. You could also add parmesan and I’m sure it would be delightful… ENJOY!

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these bagels. they are everything…

HEY! hi. I’m still here.

What’s happening? How are yas?

Yeah, I’m good. Thanks.

So, the last couple weeks have been super fun! Super Duper! We’ve been sippin’ wine, and dressing like fools, and camping! CAMPING! More on that to come. :) Oh also, if you are interested… I launched a website. A photography one. How ’bout that? I am based in Sydney, as you may know, and am taking bookings for portraits & events. Take a gander. ;) Baby/toddler portraits are my specialty! www.chicksphotography.com

This weekend though… this weekend my jazzy lady friend, Sam, & I made Bagels.

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DSC_8765Get. Excited. Lord knows I was.

I have never made anything that brought me so much joy when it worked out. Oh my good god this was exciting.

DSC_8775These were Montreal Style bagels, boiled in honey sweetened water and baked to perfection. And I do mean that. They were perfect.

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Montreal Style Bagels

Ingredients
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
3 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 c. honey
2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. extra flour for kneading

For boiling:
1 tbsp baking soda
1/3 cup honey

Toppings:
What ever you like, I usedCaraway seeds, garlic flakes, sesame seeds, poppy seeds & salt for my everything bagels.
I also made some with just poppy seeds.

In a large bowl, stir together the warm water and the packet of yeast. Cover and allow to sit for about 5 minutes while the yeast activates. Add the sugar, salt, & oil into the yeast mixture and whisk until combined.

Now add 1 c. of flour into the mixture and stir until combined. Slowly add the reamining cups of flour and mix until mostly combined. The mixture might not be holding together too well, but that is a-ok.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and start kneading for 10 minutes. The dough should feel start to feel elastic and smooth. Allow the dough to rise for thiry minutes, covered.

NOW! Slice the dough into 16-18 equal parts and roll each to create lengths of about 6-8 inches. Form each length into a cirle and squeeze the dough together to secure. Set each circle aside and allow them to rise for another 20 minutes. While they are rising, bring a large pot of water to a boil and dissolve your honey and baking soda. After the mixture is boiling, reduce it to a simmer. You should probably preheat the oven at this time to 475*F.

Add the bagels to the water two at a time and let them cook for 1 minute per side. Now, you can drop each bagel in your bowl of toppings and coat one side. Place each coated bagel on a baking sheet.

Once you have boiled each bagel, bake them at 475*F for 10 minutes and then flip them and bake for 5 more minutes. The colour should be very rich and golden. Careful not to let the seeds burn.

No need to let them cool (much). Eat them warm… they are amazing.DSC_8782If I was home right now in Canada, I would probably make these for Father’s Day. Since my Dad is so Rad.

It rhymes and therefore it is true.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DADDIO!

Now here are some pics of when my parents were in Australia. This first one just makes me laugh cause it’s a selfie which I think is awesome. And I mean… how many of us have taken the accidentally zoomed in selfie? Everyone, don’t lie. Priceless.

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This second one is us havin a fam-din at Jamie’s Italian! aka the best place to eat EVA.

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And this gem is of me and my dad! :)

IMG_1398Have a lovely day all you Dads.

Much love to my Grandpa too.

Can’t forget Watson.

xxx

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Filed under Adventures in Australia, Breads, Breakfast

long weekends & lenses

Who doesn’t love a long weekend?

Sometimes… you just want to get away for a long weekend, but maybe you took too long to decide what you wanted to do and now all the b&b’s are booked up and all the campgrounds are overflowing with children because the long weekend also coincides with school holidays. Yeah, so ‘getting away’ will be more stressful then it is relaxing.

So what do you do in that instance? You just drive someplace nice and the sleep in your car. obviously.

It didn’t take too much convincing… Sean and I decided that the only way to have a hassle free weekend away would be to stuff a bunch of pillows in the back of the car, open up that sunroof and crack a bottle or wine.

Or drink exactly one half glass before it starts pouring down rain at which point you shut all the doors and sunroofs, tip out your wine and just go to sleep.

So that’s what we did.

DSC_7807Hey, hot damn! We are two cray-zay kids.

We went car camping! Up to Port Stephens to check out the sand dunes that I have visited once before…

DSC_7823Check out those endless blue skies!

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We may have tried to glide down the dunes on a body board. It mostly did not work. But we DID find this cool Goana track in the sand.

And then look what happened this past weekend! I bought a new lens!
DSC_8122Here is how ridiculously wide this lens is…

DSC_8132It’s a professional selfie yo. And this bad boy with make your arms look SUPER long and slightly anorexic. AWESOME! (kidding)

DSC_8143YAY FOR WIDE LENSES!

this post was essentially useless… but I just wanted to share some pics and good times!

xxx

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Pom-tastic Kale Salad

A couple weeks ago I was invited to a BBQ. It was a pot-luck affair and I wasn’t sure what to bring. My go-to lunch is salad. It’s pretty boring. Just lettuce, carrots, avocado, tomatoes, maybe some tofu… I mean, I love it! I love my boring salads. But for a BBQ I was thinking something more exciting might be necessary.

Last time I was in Toronto, my dad made the BEST salad ever. I think it was a recipe from Chatelaine magazine. It was simple, but so delicious.

DSC_8016 copy I didn’t have all the right ingredients in my kitchen, but I improvised and even created a new dressing that I thought would be an excellent addition. It was.

This is one flavourful salad. The cranberries really make it and the pomegranate dressing adds an additional hint of sweetness that ties it all together.

DSC_8022Cranberry & Kale Salad
recipe adapted from here

1 c. dried barley
1/2 c. dried cranberries
5 c. chopped kale, about 1/2 small bunch
1/2 c. diced red onion

Dressing
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the barley as directed on the package. Usually, I add the 1 cup to 4 cups of water and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Drain and rinse in cool water. Chop the onion, and kale and toss it together with the cranberries and barley.

In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, molasses and apple cider vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the dressing on the salad and toss until evenly coated. The longer you allow the salad to marinate in the dressing, the better it tastes!

:)

DSC_7760I didn’t have any pomegranate molasses and I didn’t know how easy it would be to find it, so I actually made my own. It was basically just pomegranate juice, sugar and a bit of lemon simmering for about 40 minutes until it develops into a syrup.

DSC_7765Easy peasy.

xxx

 

 

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Filed under Adventures in Australia, Salads

pb & spinach

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before… but I really like peanut butter.

DSC_7367I probably haven’t really mentioned it too much, because it’s kind of alarming how much peanut butter I eat. I’m talking a jar a week. Possibly more. Definitely more if I am trying to cut down on my chocolate consumption. It’s a give and take, ya know?

Well… anyway, my peanut butter habits are OUT of control. but I’m starting to get things under control, kind of. I’m not cutting back or anything but I have stopped spending my grocery budget on ‘Organic’ peanut butter and I’m starting to make my own. 1 Ingredient Peanut butter. This is where its AT.

I cannot even put into words how much better it tastes. I’ll give you a hint though… it tastes like PEANUTS. And if you decide to do a taste test and try your homemade pb along side your store bought pb you will realize that store bought one actually mostly tastes like nothing. It’s shocking but true.

Anyway. I started making peanut butter and it was alarmingly easy. I’m talking ridiculous. So ridiculous that I called Sean over during my second batch so he could watch the magic. And watch he did. He then insisted I put it on my blog because he was pretty pumped about the whole thing and was convinced that every one else in the world is missing out on how easy it is to make. Easy and FASCINATING. I mean it’s JUST peanuts in a blender and then boom: It’s practically liquified.

DSC_7364Granted, I think the Vita mix makes things faster and easier. But this can be done with any food processor for sure. Annnnd… if you want to spice it up by adding, say, maple syrup, or coconut oil… then I would say that is a damn good idea.

So follow this super specific recipe:

Start with as many peanuts as you want. I usually start with about 500 – 1000 grams and just add them as I go depending on how much pb i want to make. It’s not a science and you can’t screw it up cause there is only ONE ingredient.

DSC_7353Put peanuts in a food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency. Extra smooth? or Super thick? The choice is yours. In a regular food processor it may take a couple minutes (5-10mins) but you’ll get there eventually. Trust me. A bit of oil or liquid will speed up the process. You can scrape down the sides every minute or two as well to help it along. I store this in a jar and keep it in the fridge, cause ya know… no preservatives or anything.

So once you’ve made the peanut butter you should definitely eat it with a spoon. But when you’re done with that, maybe add it to a smoothie?

DSC_7331My favourite flavour combination is banana-chocolate-peanut butter. So that is what this is. A Banana/Chocolate/Peanut butter smoothie. And it’s what’s for breakfast. To make me self feel good about eating chocolate it the morning I added Spinach. Which is why it is that really appetizing colour of green-brown. Hmmm.

Life is all about balance. Spinach in Chocolate. You can’t even taste it, but you’re insides will love it.

DSC_7320Top with some coconut or more peanut butter and you’re good to go.

Amazing.

xxx

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Filed under Adventures in Australia, Breakfast

condiments & flatbreads

I have a real problem with condiments. I get it from my mother who brought me up in a house that had a huge fridge full of every single kind of pickle imaginable and about ninety different mustards.

Now, my fridge is similar. I have about 20 different jars in there. 20 different kinds of jams, jellys, mustards, pickles, olives, sauces… you name it. I have it. It fact, I might have two of it. It’s not a problem I am looking to fix though. I eat condiments on a variety of things. Sometimes off a spoon.

DSC_7221But just for fun, here is a flat bread that would be the perfect vehicle for any number of condiments. In fact I even made a cheese a couple years ago that is practically a perfect match for this flat bread. But let’s also put some red pepper jelly on top of that.

DSC_7210This flat bread is insanely easy, and I think you should try it.

DSC_7150Rosemary Flat bread
Adapted from here

1 c. whole wheat flour

3/4 c. ground flax

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 c. water

1/3 c. olive oil (plus more for brushing)

2 tbsp chopped rosemary

Pre heat the oven to 400*F with a heavy pan inside.

DSC_7160Mix the dry ingredients (including the rosemary) up in a large bowl and create a well. pour the water and oil into the well and mix until you form a large ball.

DSC_7183Separate the ball in to three equal portions. Flatten each ball into a very thin round on a piece of parchment paper. Brush on some oil and sprinkle with salt right before baking for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Bake one by one.

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xxx

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banana bread muffins

I’ve been in kind of a creative rut. And when I say creative rut, I mean more of a life style rut.

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Since I arrived home from my travels about a month and a half ago, life has been a little upside down. House guests (which were actually the best), new jobs, semi-new homes, lots of dining out and not a lot of time for thinking or baking. I’m not exactly complaining… I’m just sayin’. It’s been crazy.

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Even now, a week after my house guests departed, I still can’t seem to find a rhythm. I guess this might take a while.In the meantime, I’ll make muffins. It seems to be what I do when I’m having trouble re-adjusting.

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Chocolate Banana Bread
Adapted from Daily Garnish

1/2 c brown sugar (loosely packed)
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c coconut oil
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 c oat milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c chocolate chips
1/4 c walnuts

Add sugar, syrup, and coconut oil to bowl and beat until well combined. You can do this manually, or with a mixer.

In a separate bowl, combine oat milk with the apple cider vinegar. Add this mixture as well as the mashed banana and vanilla to the sugar/syrup/oil bowl and combine.

In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients and slowly combine them into the wet. Fold in the walnuts & chocolate but don’t over mix.

Spoon the mixture into muffins cups and bake for 20ish minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean.

DSC_6969xxx

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Filed under Adventures in Australia, Muffins