16.7.14

Feeling At Home

Sometimes I wonder where my life will go. Actually, I always wonder where my life will go.

Wondering, what car car I'll own next. What courier I'll settle on. How long I'll let my hair grow. and the big questions like, where will Mike + I settle? When will our first kid arrive? (And with that, the obvious, 'How many kids will arrive?'). These are things that I'm a little scared of to be honest. Not because I do or don't want to have children, or really care how long my hair is. But because I'm the sort of person who likes to know things. I don't really like asking the big questions, only to have them echoed back at me with no definitive answer.



It's been 7 months since we ventured across the border to spend time on the East coast. I don't know how long we will stay, or how soon we will go. But here are some things that I do know...

We live in an old white house right across from the beach. I desperately want to gut the place and give it a face-lift, but alas, being a rental my hands feel somewhat tied.
We have a puppy who jus turned 6 months old. She's the friendliest dog you'll ever meet, is incredibly clever (when it suits her), and (even though she looks it) she is not co-ordinated and can fall over at the top of a hat.
I spend most of my time working in a cafe making coffees and one-liners. I've become immune to the smell of coffee, which makes me a little sad.
My hair is at a stage where it doesn't hold a ponytail well but makes some cute-as-a-button piggy tails.
We've been welcomed into an amazing community here in the Mid North Coast, and I couldn't bear the thought of leaving them any time soon! (CS folk, I'm looking at you!)

_


If any of you have ever done the whole moving thing, or even if you haven't, what are some things that kept you going? How do you know when you're ready to settle? And, what have you found matters most through it all?

I'm so humbled by the Lord, constantly learning and being reminded that it's okay not to have all the answers I want - because I know that if I but put my faith in Him, pass on my concerns and desires to Him and acknowledge Him in everything - even if things turn out differently to how I expect or want - His way will always be the better way.


"Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track."

PROV 3:5-6












25.6.14

CARROT + COCONUT SOUP

I write to you all, from the comfort within this woollen-blanket-burrito I have made for myself; the steam from my freshly brewed, homemade masala chai tea (more on that later!) warming my face and tickling the pleasure-scensors in my nostrils with its spectacular aroma.

It seems winter has finally arrived in NSW. I know it because Mike is coughing like Carl Barron, and my nose may as well be a leaky faucet. But it's okay, because - not only do I have a decent supply of tissues - but I have heaps of natural cold and flu attack plans! After surviving two bitter winters in the state of Victoria, I've become well-aquainted with some beautiful, heart-warming recipes, that not only warm you to the bone, but can also aid in fighting the common cold!

This one is one of my absolute favourites. I remember one of my dear friends Emer, who I worked with in a quaint cafe in the cool hills of South Gippsland, introduced me to this fabulous combination of carrot, coconut, ginger and spices! At first I thought it a strange and unique combination, but ever since I've been turning to it more often than the well-known 'Pumpkin Soup'. It's creamy, delicate, hearty and soothing. Did I mention that it's also vegan and gluten-free? I can see all you celiacs virtually fist-pumping now...













I feel like carrots have become and over-looked staple, mainly used in salads, and simply steamed and pushed to the side of a dish. Although the myth that they 'help you see in the dark' is not true, they do have amazing benefits to your eye health; they've been shown to decrease your risk of glaucoma and may even prevent cataracts! This is just the tip of the iceberg. A recent 10-year study on yellow/orange fruit and vegetables (particularly carrots) has shown that including carrots into your diet helps reduce and fight your risk of cardiovascular disease. Cancer studies have also been encouraging; with studies and tests showing that carrots have the ability to physically fight against colon cancer. With their high amount of tract-supporting fibre, antioxidant-nutrient beta carotene, and  unique phytonutrients, it's no wonder! These beauties deserve to be recognised, and are the star of this dish.

If you know me, you know ginger is one of my favourites ingredients to work with. Not only does it add an incredible punch and freshness to this soup, but ginger is one amazing root-with-a-cure! It's great at suppressing nausea and vomiting, fights inflammation and heartburn, helps clear your blocked nose and aids in bronchitis, and even helps with arthritis. I could go on, but my main point is - don't be stingy on the gingy!

The curry powder in this recipe adds a depth and homeliness to this meal. If you're after something spicy, go for it, but I opted for a very milked Indian curry mix from my local health food store. A good quality curry powder contains wonderful spices that also aid in turning your winter blues around! Things such as turmeric help with lung infections, fever, and even depression. While others like fenugreek are known for reducing levels of bad cholesterol and can help prevent diabetes (in both types).

_



CARROT + COCONUT SOUP
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
1 kg carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 a brown onion, chopped
2 large "thumbs" of fresh ginger, chopped
1 tbsp Indian curry powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups of water
(270ml) tin of coconut milk 
'Easy Peasy Bread' (for dipping)

METHOD
1. Heat a medium/large saucepan with some coconut oil (about 1/2 a tbsp.) over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion, ginger and curry powder, stirring until fragrant. Add the carrots and stir until coated in spices. 
2. Pour in the water and bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes or until everything is soft and flavoursome. Add the salt and turn off the heat.   
3. Blend the cooked carrots, onion and ginger until smooth. Pour in most of the tin of coconut milk (reserving some for garnishing) and blend some more until smooth. Taste, and season with more salt or curry powder is desired. Simmer a little longer just before serving. Garnish with remaining coconut milk and a dusting of curry powder.

_

As you can see, this is an easy meal to whip-up. You can place it in the slow-cooker, and have it simmer all day, by all means. However I encourage you to sauté the vegetables as in method point #1, as gently frying the curry powder releases this amazing depth that you're unlikely to get simply from drowning in water. Also, don't forget that adding the coconut milk at the end is important. Boiling coconut milk can cause the fats in it to separate, and the result isn't so pretty!


So enjoy. Be warm. Stay well!




15.4.14

SALTED CARAMEL TRUFFLES

It's that time of year again! Chocolate eggs and bunnies are filling up the supermarket isles quicker than we can walk down them, their shiny wrappers promising delightful treats full of no regrets.

Yeah right.

Those of us who have fallen victim to the Easter advertising (steering us away from remembering  Jesus's death and resurrection, and towards a weekend full of chocolate indulging), we know the aches and pains of what a I call a chocolate hangover. Well, today I'm here wit ha solution. No, this is not a choc-hangover cure, rather an alternative served with a side of advice.


First, if you're someone who struggles big time with chocolate binging, then gather around. 

You might have heard the statement going around that "chocolate is good for you", yes? But what is excluded from this statement is the type of chocolate that benefits the body. Not all chocolates are created equal! Let's look at a standard bar of milk chocolate....

INGREDIENTS: Full Cream Milk, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Milk Solids, Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin, 476), Flavours

As mentioned is a few other posts, all ingredients (legally) are listed in order of descending mass, so when sugar is the second ingredient, it's obvious that what you're mostly consuming is sugar. Soy lecithin (476), also known as 'polyglycerol polyricinoleate' is fine as much as we know. 'Flavours' however come under the same scrutiny as 'parfum' in cosmetics does. Companies don't have to say what is in their 'flavours' because it may contain the secret to the taste of their final product. So who's to know what's going in there if they don't need to say? Well, we don't/ Luckily it's the last of the ingredients, so if there is anything worth avoiding in there, then there should only be a small amount of it. 

The basic rule with chocolate is, the darker the better! That is, the higher the ratio of cocoa mass to cocoa solids the better. I aim for a chocolate hat has a 70% rating or higher. There are some great cacao and raw alternatives out there, which use thins like dates to sweeten instead of refined sugar. In the following recipe though, you'll need a chocolate that is capable of melting, so raw probably won't work as well. 


A good quality dark chocolate, in small portions can provide your body with some wonderful health benefits. It contains antioxidants that help with blood flow, skin health, anti-aging, and help with UV protection. Dark chocolate can reduce levels of the stress hormones, and increases your dopamine levels (a hormone that makes you feel good!). These are just the tip of the iceberg, but remember - just because there are some benefits within a food, doesn't mean we should devour a lot of it! Your body needs variety and moderation in it's diet. 

_


What I love most about this recipe is that you can alter it according to what you want your final result to look like, and how difficult you want to make it. Instead of making individual truffles, you could make a layered slice, pouring the melted chocolate onto the uncut, set nut butter mixture, sprinkling with salt, and then cutting it after it is set. If you don't like or unable to eat chocolate, you can skip it all together and instead sprinkle the salt onto the nut butter mixture and have a simple fudge! 

If you have a nut allergy, however, there's no chance of you eating this, as it's all about nuts (however, if you come up with a 'nut-free' version, comment below!).


Nut butter is one of my all-time favourite things to use in food - I add it to my banana smoothies, and spread it on corn cakes for a healthy snack. And here, it acts as the bulk to the "caramel" centre of the truffles. Unlike traditional caramels, these babies are all good, the raw nut butter being full of essential fatty acids and nothing processed! You can make your own nut butter for this recipe, but because I don't have a food processor that would allow me to do a good job of that, I opted for Mayver's Nut + Seed Spread. Worked like a charm, and contains only nuts and seeds!

You all know how much I love coconut oil (from this post) for it's amazing ability to lower bad cholesterol, and here it acts as a binder, or 'firming agent'; but remember, it can only be hard when it's kept cold! As soon as it warms up, or enters your mouth, it will soften and start to liquify, so I recommend you keep the finished product in your fridge or freezer if you don't want any puddles around the kitchen.

I learnt when I first came up with this recipe that the melted chocolate needs to cool down, don't get excited and start coating your nut butter chunks with chocolate that's too hot - they'll melt faster than the wicked witch of the West. If you're patient, you'll get a great reward at the end I promise. 


SALTED CARAMEL TRUFFLES

INGREDIENTS
1 cup nut butter (homemade, or I used a 250g jar of 'Mayver's Nut + Seed Spread')
1/4 cup extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil (room temperature)
2 tbsp. honey
220 - 250g of good quality dark chocolate
Cracked salt, for garnishing

METHOD
1. Line a loaf tin or a deep, square baking dish with greaseproof paper. 
2. In a medium sized bowl, thoroughly combine the nut butter, coconut oil + honey. Spread evenly into the lined baking tray and place in the freezer for 1 hour, or until set. Remove from the freezer and cut into small cubes, around 1/1.5cm squared. Place back into the baking dish and return to the freezer until needed.


3. Break or chop the dark chocolate and place into a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water (make sure it sits nice and high in the pot, and the water is at least a few centimetres from the base of the bowl before you commit to heating anything!). Stir the chocolate continuously until mostly melted. Turn off the stove. 
4. Remove the glass bowl from the pot (with something to protect your hand, like a tea towel, napkin, or oven kit - as the glass bowl is more than likely HOT). Continue to stir the chocolate in the glass bowl until it is completely melted. Sit aside and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, or until it is at room temperature.
5. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a plate or small, flat baking tray. With a fork, and your salt ready to go, take out the cubed nut butter mixture from the freezer.


6. Place one cube into the melted chocolate and, with the fork, roll over and coat each side of the cube. Remove the coated truffle from the chocolate with the fork, wiping off any excess chocolate on the edge of the bowl. Place on the prepared baking paper and top with the cracked salt (before it sets). Add the next cube of nut butter, and just like the first, coat with chocolate and top with salt. Once you've coated a few cubes, place them in the freezer, along with the un-coated nut butter cubes, for 5 minutes to set completely.


7. Remove the finished truffles from the freezer and place in a storage jar/container (place win the fridge to add more finished truffles to later). With the baking paper now clear, you can coat another batch of the nut butter cubes - repeat this above process until all the truffles are set and stored! 

 _


I keep a stash of these in the freezer; so whenever I feel like satisfying my sweet tooth I can go and pop one or two in my mouth, or enjoy at a leisurely pace with a nice cup of tea. I have to constantly remind myself that these are made of very few ingredients and aren't full of nasties! I know you'll love them as much as I do. 

Have a wonderful Easter break everyone!

xx Kristy 



23.1.14

wordless wednesday #13


1  >>  North Haven Beach.
2 + 3  >>  Bettered flathead's best friend - fresh lemon juice.
4, 5 + 6  >>  Leaves, sand + sea.
7 + 8  >>  A new little friend; I'd probably try run away too if giant people scooped me up!


9 + 10  >>  Search and explore; two of my man's biggest thrills in life.
11  >>  No, I'm not walking on water - view from the rock groyne.
12  >>  Deep in thought.
13  >> Bottle; mid smash.
14 + 15  >> Hands on hips, and work that lens flare!
16  >>  What Tim saw.
17  >> This boof-head of a dog now lays at my feet looking less like a teddy bear, and more like a  tiny bloodhound, post shave.
18 + 19  >>  Brotherly love, sharing the pain.
20  >> Wanderer.
21  >>  Looking back towards North Brother Mountain.
22  >>  Kicking up the sand, just for me.


23 + 24  >> "Now?" Blow!
25  >>  There's something about being in front of the camera that gives me the giggles.


 26  >>  Mike, the cow whisperer. I'm not sure they're used to a Victorian cow accent beef-ore (facepalm).
27, 28 + 29  >>  Easily our favourite farm animal, cows are just so curious it's cute beyond words.
30, 31 + 32  >>  They liked the salty residue from Mike's last snack. Corn chips.
33  >> All keen to get a portrait.



15.1.14

wordless wednesday #12


1  >>  This is no ordinary lady. This is Sally. A new friend, and a stilt-walking, ukelele-playing, actor/performer (seriously, that's her job! See more here)


2  >>  Getting this shot of some skittish parrots took skills I learnt from reading the book Winnetou; walking through leaves without making noise, and watching some documentary on lizards; how to move so you blend in with the  movement of trees blowing in the wind. Photography really does require a knowledge of more than just your camera! Totally worth it. 


3, 4 + 5  >>  This man really does keep me entertained and smiling - discovering a tube of bubble mixture in the backyard turned into an afternoon of photo-fun!


6 - 15  >>  Our friends bought their first house. We popped some bubbly to celebrate, and I thought it would be good to capture the essence of the place pre-renovation. That wallpaper kills me.


16  >>  Sunset from their balcony (yes, balcony!)
17 + 18  >> Working with shadows and a tripod, something I aught to do more often.


19  >>  My Mummy's garden was runner-up in a competition once; which I was reminded of when a friend of a friend sent us these pages from a 14 year-old gardening magazine. 


20  >>  Let the renovations begin!


 21 - 29  >>  Beg. Pat. Scratch. Be cute. Repeat.