Darcy’s excellent dinner … power bowl magic

Is there anything better than when you’re sitting around reading the Saturday paper in front of the fire and your utterly lovely daughter says “I’ve made a bit of dinner, want some ?’

The answer, hell yes please.

This is what came my way two minutes later ….

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Super yummy, healthy, nourishing.  The beauty of this kind of meal is that you can use whatever you have at hand and zing it up with her crazy good dressing.

In this version we had brown jasmine rice, steamed sweet potato rounds and spinach, fresh julienned carrots, seared tofu and thinly sliced nori. The nori really makes a difference so make sure you include it !

Darcy’s Power Bowl Sauce

2 tablespoons white miso paste
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon tahini (we used black tahini but white is fine too)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

Mix it all together with a whisk and pour over your choice of yummy things.

 

 

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Wedding carrot soup with coriander pesto

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About 14 years ago my eldest daughter Zoe changed schools. On her first day at her new primary school she met a girl called Sammy and from then on they were inseparable. She loved Sammy and so did I and since then I’ve always thought of her as one of my girls. Last weekend I had the honour of attending Sammy’s wedding to her lovely new husband and it was such a wonderful thing to see them so crazy happy together.

Sammy is one of those girls that you cant help but love – brave, beautiful, kind, creative and gentle. She’s a dreadlocked, musical, vegan, fun loving girl and it’s no wonder she has found someone who loves her so well.

After a walk down the aisle to Radiohead in her lacy gown (and Doc Martens) we headed for the party where the vegan food and great music kept coming. I was so taken with the super delicious carrot soup that I pulled up all my carrots and picked some coriander and now have a pot bubbling on the stove.

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Carrot soup with coriander pesto 

1kg carrots
2 onions chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon curry paste
1 litre vegetable stock
pepper

Fry onions and garlic till soft. Adding curry paste and stir until fragrant. Add in chopped carrots, stock and pepper. Simmer for 30 – 40 mins until carrots are tender. Whiz in a blender till smooth.

Coriander pesto

A good handful of coriander – about 2 cups
1/2 cup roasted cashews
2 tablespoons each of sunflower and sesame seeds
1/2 clove garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Olive oil

Place all ingredients in blender and whiz till smooth adding enough olive oil to get the consistency you like.

 

Something for Cate…

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Firstly, apologies for my absence. I have been feeling heartbroken. My very dear friend of many, many years died a week or so ago and I am feeling the loss of her keenly. I have been feeling quiet and blue thinking of her and missing her presence. I’ve been remembering how she lived her life and how incredibly brave she was. It was complicated, colourful, loving, passionate, opinionated and messy at times. It was motherhood, friendship, moving all over the country, big heartfelt hugs, bright lipstick. It was real, brave and a little bit crazy at times. In other words, a memorable, meaningful life which may have only lasted 50 years but she sure packed a lot in. Even in the last few weeks when the prognosis was dire she was still sitting at my kitchen bench cracking jokes and telling me she was liking how good she was getting at saying f**k whenever she felt it all overwhelming her. We drank tea and chatted with our kids like old times and my heart was feeling thankful and broken all at the same time.

Some of my most treasured memories of Cate are about kids and food. Our children were little ones together and there were LOTS of days of hanging out with our tribe of kids, making play dough and changing nappies. We made sandwiches and pancakes for the hungry hoard we had created. She transformed what could have been quite an isolating time (I was a young Mum and none of my other friends had babies yet) into something entirely different. With Cate I found my way. Tie dyeing onesies and cloth nappies, going apple picking with a bunch of preschoolers, sewing up a storm and generally feeling reassured that this simple, loving, maternal life I had so desperately yearned for was something she understood too.

One of my strongest memories is sitting on Cate’s front step with a big mug of tea, no doubt some strange brew that she had recently taken a shine to – I remember a liquorice tea stage that lasted way too long for me – and a bowl of her burghul salad. For Mums running around after six kids under six the idea that we could actually carve out a few minutes to sit in the sun with something other than toast for lunch felt like an afternoon at a day spa. For a woman who was never blessed with great wealth she sure lived a rich life and I feel incredibly lucky that she shared some of it with me.

In honour of my darling friend and all she gave to me I share with you Cate’s perfect lunch time salad. May you all have a friend like her and hold them dear…..

Cate’s Salad

1 cup bulgur ( cracked wheat )
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 red capsicum diced
1 small cucumber, diced
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley ( dill and basil is also good, or a mixture of all three )
1 can lentils or chickpeas, drained and well rinsed

Dressing
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the burghul in a bowl and pour over 1 1/4 C boiling water.  Add a teaspoon of salt and cover with cling wrap. Leave for 30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Uncover and fluff with a fork.

While the burghul is soaking cut up all the other veggies and herbs and mix together your dressing ingredients. We liked to soak the red onion in cold water for about 10-15 minutes to lessen the rawness of the onion.

Mix together all ingredients and stir through dressing adding salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with a nice chunk of good bread if you have it and of course, a cup of hippy tea.

Feel free to change the vege and herb ingredients according to what you have in the fridge. Cate’s version was always a surprise and usually involved whatever herbs she had growing in a pot on her back steps. It was always yummy but that may have been the love in it.

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Moving Day Apple Gingerbread Cake – for Eleanor….

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My daughter shares her house with a couple of friends who have steadily wiggled their way into my heart over the last couple of years. Charlie is a gingery, kind, chutney making gentle soul. Eleanor is a funny, feisty, funky-glasses wearing gal. Together with Zoe – cat loving, vegetable gardening, ever loving, vegan feminista –  it makes for the basis of a great sitcom. Some of the tales from their home make for laugh out loud stories and I am so glad that Zoe has these friends to share her days with. They are incredibly supportive of each other and I am loving having a little place in their lives.

We spent some of the end of year break helping this trio move into a new house and what do mothers always bring to moving day ? Drinks, sandwiches and cake ! Yummy, sticky, spicy, gingery, vegan cake.

This cake was a particular hit with Eleanor so, in her honour, I am dedicating this one to her !

Eleanor’s Gingerbread Apple Cake 

2 teaspoon flax seeds soaked in 1/4 cup water ( or 2 eggs if you’re not vegan )
1/4  cup each of brown sugar and caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons of molasses
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large apples grated
1 cup milk – I used almond
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
1/2 cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease or line a round pan or loaf tin.

Mix together flax seeds or eggs, sugars, oil, milk, vanilla, water, molasses and apples.

In a large bowl place flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and whisk to combine.
Stir through wet ingredients until combined. Gently stir through oats. Don’t over mix !

Pour into pan and bake for about 40 minutes.

We had this with some vegan cream cheese icing but it was still good even without it. I’ll leave the toppings up to you !

 

Ho, Ho, Ho

merry christmas

Well this week has been an eye opener for me.

I have seen people deeply grateful for a fancy lunch at a restaurant which offers free food and presents as a grand gesture of Christmas community cheer. I have eaten yummy food and played with my gorgeous one year old niece who has single handedly bought back all the ooh and ahhh of Christmas again. There’s nothing quite like a baby to make you smile especially when she is babbling away and playing with her new toys.

I have seen a family benefit from a donation of toys and other goodies from a dear friend of mine. It’s incredibly heart warming to see complete strangers impacting in such a lovely way on each others lives.
I have said cheerio to clients till next year and watched them walk off with their arms loaded up with herbal medicines knowing that no amount of naturopathy is going to negate all the pudding they are going to eat ha ha ha.

I have spent hours in various supermarkets and fruit shops stocking up the pantry for the big day. I have listened to people get cranky and yell at their children. I’ve heard them threaten to call Santa and tell him to not bring the presents. I have seen people getting pushy and frustrated and not very cheery at all. To those people I say ” Bah Humbug!” and I also say that if the shops are trying your patience imagine how it feels when you are three years old.  So just stop buying into the hype and be gentle with the little souls entrusted to you.

I have been busy playing with my baby chickens, cleaning the house, planning the food and wrapping the presents.

I have been feeling hugely grateful for the fact that I can afford to do this and that I have a beautiful family to share it all with.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas.

 

Keeping the faith …

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It’s easy to feel jaded sometimes. Christmas consumerism runs rampant, the shops are crazed with glitz and spending, everyone is feeling the effects of a long year and the parties just keep on coming.

I must admit that I have been starting to feel pretty tired and a bit overwhelmed by lots of stuff. The idea of a couple of weeks of down time appeals to me in a big way. I’m looking forward to books, swims, a road trip with my husband and dear friend Melissa, time with my family, trips to the library, helping my daughter nest into her new home, gardening and getting to know my new baby chickens Dorothy and Helen.

Life can feel very tiring sometimes so it’s good to know that just when you need it something comes along to keep you going…..

The last 48 hours have been a bit of a heart lifter. We spent a lovely afternoon yesterday celebrating the first birthday of our ‘yummy enough to eat’ niece. Watching her crawl around on my daughters lap with her little wobbly legs and gummy grin made me smile from ear to ear. A gorgeous woman at the party said she had bought a few things with her to donate to the charities and organisations that my daughter and I collect for … an amazing boot load of lovely clothes and toiletries filled my car. Then came an offer of a cot and mattress which will come in handy for some mum’s we work with who are feeling the effects of unemployment and limited opportunities.

This morning a dear friend Lauren offered up a Play Station on FB, “yes please” I said for a family I had in mind. I just got a message from Lauren saying that she’d picked up some extra presents for the kids and had even wrapped something up for the Mum.

These wonderful acts of kindness and generosity fill me with hope and help me keep the faith.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by harsh governments, climate change, greed, consumerism, violence … but these kind offerings are the antidote we need to keep faith and to continue to believe that things will get better…. one small act at a time.

Birthday boy…..

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Today is my son’s birthday. He is 17. He did his driving test this morning and now my youngest child is driving independently and I am feeling equal measures of delight for him and wistfulness for me. When I think back to this time all those years ago when I first held him in my arms I could never have imagined him as he is now. He is so much more than I could have ever hoped for …. laugh out loud funny, smart, kind, brave, loyal, loving, compassionate. How did I get so lucky ?

Where we live there’s no public transport. Here on the top of our lovely mountain it can be kind of limiting if you don’t have wheels of your own. For my two daughters getting their licence was a huge rite of passage, a door opening to a world of their own making, no more getting lifts, they could skedaddle when and where they liked. I am so happy for Simon that his turn has come.

He is out at the moment and we have pimped up the house with fairy lights, candles and birthday banners for his return.

I cannot tell you how much I love this boy of mine. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

We are getting ready for a yummy birthday dinner and a vegan tiramisu (tastes decadent but is so much better for you than the usual version) for celebrating….. recipes to follow but right now I’m heading for the kitchen in honour of his wonderful presence on this earth.

 

 

Physician health thy self …. Labrynthitis

 

take care

 

People often assume that when you work in health you don’t get sick…. not true !

This last week has been a huge challenge for me. I got a cold a couple of weeks ago and, because I’m good at giving other people herbs and tips to heal themselves but not so good at doing it for myself, what started as a cold ended up as viral labrynthitis.

Scary name huh ? Sounds like something from the middle ages but it’s actually more likely to be middle ear.

I woke up at 3am with the room spinning and feeling like I had downed a bottle of tequila although there was no preceding party (and I don’t drink alcohol so that rules the slammers out).

I felt utterly nauseas and no matter how gently I moved my head the room continue to whirl and spin and it stayed that way for a number of days. I lost my sense of depth perception so putting one foot in front of the other became a major achievement. It was, without a doubt, one of the most unpleasant things I have experienced and although I am not fully recovered I can stand up now and that’s a big improvement.

All the things I do through the day without really thinking about it – brushing my teeth, having a shower, walking to the letter box, cooking, gardening, reading – were suddenly beyond me and I have to say that I am really looking forward to getting back to some normality and independence.

It has reminded me once again to be grateful for the incredible gift we are given when we are born with good health. I am careful with my health – eat well, no smoking or drinking alcohol etc – but am pondering now how precarious wellness can be when you’re not paying attention.

There are lots of things that can impact our health – genetics, stress, disadvantage, what we are taught about wellness, how we eat and exercise, our attitude, acquired illnesses or injuries to name a few. I guess the take home message is “Be grateful for your body and health and treat it with respect”.

My husband, who volunteers for the Rural Fire Service was just called out to help at an accident involving a young girl who crashed her car into a tree. The emergency services are there right now trying to cut her out of the wreck of her car. I feel utterly heartbroken for what she must be going through right now.

I bet when she got up this morning she didn’t even imagine this could be in her realm of possibility. None of us do. So today I am going to be grateful that I am slowly but surely on the mend and make good choices that help my body heal so I can get back to living my life.

I hope this finds you well and happy and looking after yourself.

 

 

Day 365 of my year of gratitude…..

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This time last year I made the decision to be mindful of the things in my life deserving of gratitude. In order to keep me on track, and following the example of Ingrid Mason, I decided to make it public by posting every day to my Facebook page.

I must admit that I felt a little self conscious. I wondered if people might think me a bit cheesy or PollyAnna-ish. I wondered if it might just be boring to other people and perhaps I should have just been more private about it.  Throughout this 365 days of gratitude I have been meet with encouragement, kindness and nothing but positivity.

This process has allowed me to hone my sense of thankfulness and more importantly, to find the good in days when sometimes there seemed there wouldn’t be any. Because the page I posted to is my work FB page I did chose to be careful of my privacy and that of my family and friends. There were days when I was publicly thankful for one thing while knowing in my heart what that day actually meant to me – some days I wanted to be thankful for the best kiss ever, or for the fact that someone dear to me had managed to step out of their overwhelming grief for a few minutes. I have been thankful for fantastic breakthroughs with clients and for crazy things like not getting caught out when I realised that I had accidently gone to the shops with no undies.

For all the things said and unsaid at the end of this process I am still enormously grateful.

When I look back over the year there are obvious patterns to my thankfulness –

My extraordinarily brave, kind and laugh out loud funny children.

My best friend and husband whose loyalty and kindness leaves me gobsmacked every day.

My vegetable garden, my fluffy bottomed chickens and the peace and groundedness they give me.

Meaningful work and the chance to make a positive change in someone’s life.

Noticing the small things and how they impact on your life in a big way.

The value of real friendships and connectedness.

The good things – health, wellness, change, other people’s joys, opportunities, belly laughs, Toby the Wonderbike.

For the hard things – illness, sadness, grief, loss. It may seem strange to be thankful for these but that’s where the opportunity to make a difference came and I am very grateful for that.

So at the end of it what have I learned ?  There is nothing like a sense of belonging. The things that truly make me happy have nothing to do with stuff. Most things that lifted my heart and left me breathless with gratitude were things that took me out of myself and found me focused on someone else. That the small stuff is actually the big stuff – at the end of an awful day where you feel like there can be no reason to be grateful a smile, a cup of tea, a kiss or patting a chicken can be the thing that saves you.

Would I do it again ? Oh yes. Would I recommend it to someone else ? Oh yes again. Has it changed me ? I think so.  I feel more able to find the gold quickly these days. My attention has been on finding things to be grateful for and when you do that the other stuff seems to take more of a back seat. It all comes down to where you put your focus.

I’m going to continue this daily practice but in a more private way now. I hope that some of you may chose to give this a try – you won’t be disappointed. So finally, THANK YOU, for being part of this process and for your encouragement along the way.

Sharing the love….. Agadashi Tofu style….

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The last few days have been great in my world. An intense but ultimately satisfying day at work, lots of new vegetables planted in the garden with some gentle rain to water them in, my chickens have finally stopped bickering and I don’t have to hang around them all the time like a, well, like a mother hen and to top it all off it was agadashi tofu time last night. Yipee.

In the interest of sharing the love and spreading the joy here it is….

Agadashi Tofu (vego/vegan style)     TAAA  DAAAA

Agadashi tofu is one of life’s great pleasures but is usually off limits to vegans and vegetarians as it is made with fish stock as the base of the soup and often has bonito flakes (dried weird looking fish) shaved all over the top.

This is our version. I grant that it may not be totally authentic but it sure packs a punch as comforting, warm, lovely, tasty soupiness for the perfect winter supper.

Here we go, it may seem a little fiddly but once you get the hang of it it all comes together in about 15 minutes.  This recipe serves four.

2 blocks of firm silken tofu, taken out the packet and wrapped in lots of paper towel (you will be surprised by how much water comes out) You are aiming to get it as dry as possible and if you can leave it wrapped in paper and weighted down with a plate for 30 mins or so the results will be much better.

Broth :

250 mls water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons sake
1 heaped teaspoon of white miso paste

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

While the soup is bubbling and the tofu is draining –

Finely chop a couple of spring onions, some pickled ginger and some greens like spinach, wombok or bok choy.

Place 1 cup of potato starch in a bowl. ( You can get potato starch from an Asian grocer and some supermarkets. Use cornflour if you can’t get it but the results won’t be as good.)
Cut the blocks of tofu into eighths.

Heat a fry pan with about 1cm of peanut oil. Gently roll the tofu in the potato starch and place in the hot peanut oil. Fry until a light golden colour.

Place the chopped greens in the bottom of the bowl. Put the cooked tofu on top and pour over broth. Top with spring onions and ginger.

If you are looking for something more substantial, or you have ravenous teenagers and a cycling crazed husband like me, you can serve with some sushi rice.

I hope this becomes one of your favourites too.