For those of you lucky enough to be blissfully unaware, for the second time this month Melbourne is in the throes of another heatwave, with temperatures set to soar above 40 several times this week.
I didn’t cope well in the heat 2 weeks ago. I live in a ground floor apartment by by beach, that normally stays nice and cool till the afternoon sun streams in, then quickly cools down again at night time. However lately it hasn’t been cooling down at all – we’ve either got no breeze at night, or just warm gusty winds. Not pleasant. Especially when you don’t even own a fan, let alone an air-conditioner.
Last time the weather was like this I was working from 2pm to midnight, and actually kind of looked forward to going to work, just to get some air con time. This time I’m on holidays for the week, so no such luck. Tomorrow I do plan on going to buy a fan, however I fear most shops are going to be sold out, with everyone having the same thing on their mind.
At least the shops will be air-conditioned!
In the meantime, my blender has been getting a workout, making endless smoothies and soups. Soups in summer? Gazpacho is the ultimate summer soup – its like a smoothie in a bowl.
Does anyone else associate Gazpacho Soup with Red Dwarf? For many years this was my only knowledge of the soup. One hot day I tried making it myself, and I was hooked. Visiting Spain I had the chance to try it there a few times, and loved every version I tried.
My version is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe, which you can find here. It’s ridiculously easy to make. I like it best served with parmesan cheese and sliced avocado. It’s close to being a bloody mary, without the vodka!
Gazpacho Soup recipe
- 4 or 5 ripe tomatoes
- ¼ loaf of yesterdays bread (crust off)
- small cucumber (peeled & rough chopped)
- 1 red capsicum (deseeded & rough chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic, (peeled)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sherry or red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- Tabasco sauce
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Prick each tomato with a knife, cover with boiling water for about 30 seconds. Take out and peel.
- Slice bread and place in a bowl.
- Pour over 100ml of water to soak
- Place cucumber, red capsicum, garlic and peeled tomatoes into blender. Blend them together.
- Add the soaked bread, a good glut of olive oil and a small splash of vinegar and tabasco. Blend again.
- Taste soup, season with salt and pepper, and a good splash of water to loosen the mixture.
- Retaste and re-season if necessary.
- Pour into a jug, and keep in the fridge to chill – the longer the better!
I am a big fan of flavour and spice, particularly chilli. In general I’d say I tend more towards the heavy-handed end of the spice spectrum when it comes to flavouring foods.
However it really is true you can have too much of a good thing.
This morning I was seasoning my morning bowl of muesli with cinnamon. Unfortunately in my pre-coffee haze I didn’t carefully check which end of the spice jar I was opening.
Instead of a healthy sprinkling of cinammon, I got 2 giant clumps of cinnamon, sitting happily on my yoghurt.
It was edible, but only just. I’m now sitting drinking my long-awaited coffee, and all I can taste is cinnamon.
First world problems, right?
The above quote forms part of the lyrics to one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite artists, Carus Thompson. Until I just googled the image, I had no idea the quote came from Eleanor Roosevelt, but there you go; learn something new every day.
I was feeling very sorry for myself on Friday night. I’ve just been away in Spain for a month (which I plan to write much more about later!) Needless to say I had an amazing time. However on Friday night I was feeling sorry for myself for being back at work, on a nightshift, on a Friday night, 24 hours after landing back in the country, and when I’d just gotten a cold.
However as I was seeing a patient at about 1am that night, my woes got put back into perspective. A man in his early 50s, diagnosed with lung cancer a mere few months ago after feeling tired and getting a bout of pneumonia. Now on palliative chemotherapy, with the cancer already having spread to multiple organs including his brain. He lay in bed confused and worried, but not for himself. For his 24 year old daughter and his 19 year old son. And the fact that he has so much to do, and so little time.
Made my worries that night seem minuscule. Something I should try to remember more often.
I could have sworn I’d already posted a polenta fries recipe here, but perusing my scanty archives suggests otherwise. I find that quite surprising because a few months ago I was obsessed by them. I still love them now, but haven’t eaten them for a while due to combination of polenta overload, their relative inaccessibility in restaurants, and the fact that although they are very easy to make at home, they do require pre-planning and are not ready instantly.
And when I say “haven’t eaten them for a while” I mean at least a fortnight. The place I last ate them at was a new discovery, The Sporting Club in Brunswick. I’m always excited when I hear about a new restaurant that serves them, so when a friend told me about it, I was keen to check it out, despite it being on the other side of town.
But tonight I had to satisfy my polenta craving by less convenient means; making it myself. I follow a recipe for polenta fries from allrecipes.com and make a few modifications: I tend to eat a serve as mash rather than fries as I’m making it, just to mix things up a bit. I add everything except the parsley and parmesan before serving it as mash. Also I bake the fries rather than frying them; I find its easier and uses less oil.
Here’s my modified version.
- 500ml whole milk
- 1L chicken stock
- 30g butter
- 600g polenta
- 85 g Parmesan cheese
- handful chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- paprika, chilli, other spices as desired
- In a large saucepan, combine milk, chicken stock, and butter; bring to rolling boil. Slowly whisk in polenta.
- Turn down heat to medium-low, and continue cooking and stirring until polenta pulls from edge of pan. Eat as mash at this point if desired.
- Mix in cheese and parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spread polenta evenly over a cookie sheet, and refrigerate until cold.
- Transfer polenta to cutting board and cut into cut 3/4 by 3/4 by 3 1/2 inch sticks.
- Put on baking trays and cook in an oven preheated to 180 degrees until brown and crispy. Yum!
Oh and if you know any places in Melbourne that serves these suckers up, please do let me know. I’m always on the lookout for more!
Thanks to the gorgeous Nadine, I won a spot on the beautiful Stella’s 21 Days workshop. Not only do I *never* win anything, I have also never embarked on anything like this before.
I am not skilled at self reflection, nor at sharing those thoughts with others, but its not going to kill me to try, is it? I am yet again facing some major uncertainties and challenges regarding my future which for the last few weeks have left me paralysed into alternating between indecision and denial. Hopefully this course will help me make a few major decisions.
For starters I have just meditated for 2 minutes for the first time in my life. Already I’ve done something new – and it’s only day 1!
In no particular order….
1) Fresh tulips. You know what? This may be the first time I have *ever* bought myself fresh flowers. I’m already addicted!
2) The vision board I created today. Two of my friends and I spent the afternoon cutting eating pancakes, cutting pics from mags, chatting and drinking champagne. What more can you ask for in a day! More on the process soon!
3) Scented candles. No explanation needed!
4) Chocolate cake. Made this recipe for the first time yesterday. Super moist, and super easy to make. Yum!
5) New toaster. My own old one broke, but luckily its still under warranty so I swapped it for a replacement today. Am very much looking forward to not having to use the grill every time I want toast (which is often!)
6) Takeaway Indian malaki kofta with extra chilli for dinner. No picture as I gobbled this down way too fast
That’s a lot to like in one day. Love Sundays like this!!
This afternoon/evening I actually got stuff done! This was in no little part assisted by the fact that I was able to leave work by 3pm rather than my usual 5-6pm. But still, what a great feeling to know that I have managed to:
- go to the supermarket
- do a yoga class
- go fruit and veggie shopping
- cook a delicious meal (lamb cutlets, polenta mash, grilled mushrooms and sugar snap peas)
- study (hello vascular function curves!)
- bake brownies
- bring the washing in
- do a new load of washing
- clean my oven’s grill
- prepare my lunch and breakfast to take to work tomorrow
Of course, sometimes the things that you *don’t* do are just as telling as the things that you do. Here’s what I have managed to NOT do tonight:
- talk myself out of going to yoga because I was tired, only got 3 hours sleep and a hundred other excuses I thought of right up until 5 minutes before I walked in the door
- eat leftover takeaway pizza for a second meal in a row
- wash down my delicious dinner with some wine (I need to detox after Saturday night)
- open up the chocolate bar I bought this afternoon straight after dinner, instead of baking later on
- eat ridiculous amounts of my brownie batter/freshly baked brownies
- waste inordinate amounts of time on the internet
- watch endless episodes of Big Bang Theory
Nothing earth-shattering there, and by no means a perfect evening. There’s phone calls I should have returned, and plenty of emails I should have sent. I should have washed my car, cleaned the kitchen floor and there’s always more study I should have done. But you know what, I did a whole lot more than nothing, so I’m happy with that. I needed some downtime.
Oh and clearly brownies also!!!