Nov 30, 2010

Journey To The Top End Part 2

Ok so I promised you guys big juicy pics of all the fruit we got from the markets on both Saturday and Sunday whilst in Darwin and here they are...

We went to local markets with Brock's sister Asha and her husband Darren. Different markets, both with amazing local produce. Check these out...

Lady finger bananas - and possibly the actual size of pudgy lady's fingers.

Mangoes. Mangoes. Mangoes.

More mangoes, delicious red papayas, ripe bananas.

Papayas, lady fingers, asian greens.

The insides of a red papaya. So juicy and sweet. Brock and I must have easily had over 15kg whilst away. Everything we got was SO GOOD. Juicy. Delicious. Fresh. And so cheap! We were in FRUIT HEAVEN!

After our journeying through Litchfield National Park on Saturday we decided to chill-ax with a lazy picnic dinner by the sea.

We drove to East Gardens to watch the sunset which was beautiful. You can see the pink-purple sky. Asha and Darren had their home made wraps, while Brock and I had more mangoes AND... DURIAN!

Brock got himself one from the markets that morning and was very much looking forward to it. Not a fan myself, I left it with him only insisting it stayed outside the house. These things STINK. I mean S-T-I-N-K. Really really bad.
I've only had it once myself and hated it. But as it seems, most people I know also hated it the first time they tried it, then liked it, now LOVE it. Weird. But I have heard that from loads of people, so I was willing to try it again. And fair enough, it wasn't as bad at the first time I tried it. I won't go as far as to say I like it, or even love it, but it's O-K. Just O-K.

Monday morning Brock and I were up early and in the car, setting off to KAKADU NATIONAL PARK. This place is World Heritage listed and rightly so. I remember visiting when I was about 8yrs old and loving the beauty of this place then so to go back was awesome. And even more beautiful than I remembered it to be.
The drive is east of Darwin and it takes about 2 1/2 - 3hrs until you hit the park entry. The roads are long. The stop off are few and far between. Just us, the car and the open road.

The first place we stopped was a place called Ubirr. We did a shirt 1km walking track, spotting Aboriginal rock art sites along the way before coming to a steep climb to a view that took my breath away...

It looked like something out of the Lion King. We sat there in silence. Still. Looking out over the Nadab floodplains as far as our eyes could see. The photo does not do this place justice. Dare I say I've never seen anything so beautiful.

Lush green grasses. Massive rock formations.

As the day neared it's end and the sun was going down we ventured on to Cooinda where we had planned on crashing that night. Home of the Yellow Water, and the Yellow Water River Cruise. A cruise where you get the see CROCS!

So the following morning we headed off at 630am. The sun was already awake and beaming, the heat was already soaring, and we were ready to go check out what nature had instore.

Brock was alert and on CROC-WATCH. With eyes like an eagle, and an enthusiasm like a little boy, all he wanted to see were CROCS. Not dissapointed.

But the surrounds of the area are beautiful also. The water was like glass. So smooth and still.

Complete mirror image in the water reflection.

I LOVE these lillies. They come up out from the water and hold their heads high. I can only imagine being a little frog and having an afternoon snooze inside one of the lily pads :)

This little guy is a Jabiru. Well he was. Apparently there is also a bird in Mexico (if my memory serves me correctly) with the same name, so this cutie is now named the Black Necked Stork.

But I can't finish this without letting you in on this SENSATIONAL FRUIT we found and tried. I wonder how many of you will actually be surprised, in knowing my favourtie fruit...

Um... Red-skin-bananas.
I say that like it's nothing new. But TOTALLY COOL!! WOW was I excited when I saw them.

This picture however was taken when we had already eaten the majority of them and the only ones left were these mini ones. We had them in the fridge overnight due to scorching temperatures in the middle of Kakadu, and they were sitting on a wire shelf so when they came out they began to sweat real quick and looked like little grilled sausages. But so delicious! If only I could get them down here...

And on that note I think I'll leave it there. You've seen enough pics, read enough about fruit.

Now stop reading and go get yourself some! :)

Nov 26, 2010

Journey to the Top End Part 1

So I've been away up north which totally explains my lack of blogging to you guys. But just as a... Balinese furniture buyer needs to holiday every-now-and-then to find new supplies and what not... I have been hunting for the best mangoes, and trying out NEW and DELICIOUS fruits to come home and share with you guys! ;)
(good excuse I think)

Brock and I ventured up to Darwin a week ago, got back Wednesday afternoon, and I've been busting to tell you ever since all about the MANGOES! My favourute fruit, alongside the beautiful banana of course, Brock and I were on a mission to only eat mangoes on our little getaway. But as a few more interesting treaties popped up here and there, we went with it. Any new fruit put infront of us and we'll try it.

And we did.

Fruit. Fruit. And more fruit baby!

- Nam Doc Mai mangoes
- Bowen mangoes
- Celebration mangoes
- Valencia Pride mangoes (yep - not just an orange)
- Kensington Pride mangoes
- R2E2 mangoes

We tried them all! Nam Doc have a really intriguing subtle herb taste to them, Valencia Prides were firm and juicy, R2E2 are still waiting to ripAen in the kitchen, Celebration caused a celebration when we tried them at the marekts, but Bowen were the winners!

Aside from mangoes, we tried JACKFRUIT! Brock and I were both virgin-jackfruit-eaters but can now say we've tried the monstrosity of a thing, and did so under the shade of a coconut palm on the side of the road in a farming town called Humpty Doo (driving there we entertained ourselves by singing "we're going to Hum-pty-Doo!" in memory of Bonn-y-doon from The Castle). Good laugh :)

One green leafy coconut palm next to one red dusty road. Kinda odd. But kinda cool.

We saw a farm that had jackfruits all over the trees so decided to pop on in for a chat to the owner. Cranky ol' b*$%@&d he was but he did let us take one of the jackfruits that had fallen from the tree.
Now if you've never seen a jackfruit before; HUGE. HUGE. I'm talking HUGE. Well ok I'm sure you can get small ones but on average (and I'm not exaggerating), they were the size of footballs. Big round footballs!!

They hang from trees and have a blunt-but-spikey casing that is kinda squishy. When Brock managed to tear it open with his bare hands, we saw a long thick centre piece running from the top of the fruit to the bottom which held it all together.

The rest was white spaghetti-like strands strangling the yellow fleshy pillows of fruit, which each had a seed the size of a large grape inside. The smell was a strong sticky sweetness, and yep, it stayed on our hands for quite some time.

Another beauty we tried that day - the RAMBUTAN.
Rip open the skin, pop these babies into your mouth and gently suck the flesh off of the woody pip inside... similar to a lychee if you had to liken it to another fruit, only a more subtle delicate flavour.

Later Friday afternoon Brock and I drove to Berry Springs to cool off with a swim and have short stroll through the bush. We were amazed at the beauty, and loved being the only people there.

Watch out for crocs!

And that evening we tried SOURSOP!! Another intriguing looking fellow we picked up on our travels.
This thing looks like a bigger version of a custard apple, only not so lumpy. And it always seemed to be kept in newspaper as once it's ready to eat, it's ready to eat. And you'll know it. Very very soft.

We got it off a little Asian lady selling fruit on the side of the road (same place we got our rambutans) and she told us it tastes "like a custard apple only more sour".
Wow! Ice cold straight out of the fridge after a hot sweaty day, tiny morsels of this creamy fruit slide down your throat. It's soft. Silky. And tastes exactly like tangy frozen yoghurt. Yum!

Then Saturday morning we headed down to local markets (which I'll have more on in my next blog) for fresh fruit before driving out to Litchfield National Park with Brock's sister Asha and her husband Darren. We ventured along walking tracks, swam at water holes, ate more mangoes, and had loads of fun together (until my thong broke and I had an entertaining walk back through the bush tip-toeing around rocks, pebbles and muddy patches, one thong off and one thong on, much to Brock's amusement)

One of the water holes we swam at in Green Ant Creek; appropriatley named too. And Asha and Darren below cooling off.

One mighty big waterfall...

And Brock paddling around at the top of it -

Cooled off, had fun, last swim at Florence Falls...

And a well deserved ruby red papaya to replenish the energy reserves :)

And that's not even close to the BEST bits of the trip! Wait up for MARKET MADDNESS and Kakadu National Park!

Nov 17, 2010

A bit about me with a recipe to boot!

Day numero 17 on the Vegan MoFo calendar and I'll admitt, I've been pretty slack for the most part (exciting news for me though - I was mentioned here on the offical website for my crazy awesome-ness Mango Weiss Bars). YAY!
So what have I been doing instead of blogging to you guys? Well Brock and I are still doing bits and pieces in our new place (I'll be sure to show you all the pretty pics once our place is looking pretty), I've been training more (got another great protein recipe for you all soon), getting out in the SUNSHINE more (so of course why would one spend time blogging when the sun is out?), as well as work, college, the usual.

Anyways, I thought I'd do one of the MoFo questionaires I've found floating around in cyber space (I did a different one a few months back you can read here) as I have a strange obsession with these sorts of things. Here to open the can of worms on myself so you can all learn something about me that you didn't perhaps already know... here goes nothing:

What is one food you thought you'd miss when you went vegan, but don't? ooo always a tough one... the first time I had a beef kebab I was hooked, until later I stumbled across the humble FALAFEL which is ten times better, and now I suppose my kebab resembles a dark green leaf of sorts filled with vegies and a raw dip!

What is a food or dish that you wouldn't touch as a child, but enjoy now? I think I could answer this the other way round more easily; "what did I enjoy as a child but wont touch now?"... a long list that one

What vegan food or dish do you feel like you should like but you don't? as a rawie (or high rawie) I'd have to say DURIAN. I tried it once and thought it was absolutley horrible; but apparently "that's how everyone reacts when they first taste it"... and they later fall in love with it (and the onion-scented, slimy, gooey massive spikey tropical fruit it is). Yum?

What beverage do you consume the most of each day? filtered water

What dish are you famous for bringing to gatherings? anything sweet I think... can I pass that one to close friends of mine?

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)? food-combining rules I do; eat melon ALONE, dont eat fruit after anything else, try not to eat anymore than 8 or 9 bananas in a day (been known to hit 20+ easily and can do more but being my favourite fruit I need to limit my numbers or I'd eat nothing else), juice on an empty stomach, dinner has to look pretty on a plate (is that a rule or just a preference?)...

What's one food or dish that you eat too much off when it's in your home? bananas hands down. Minor problem - they're always in our home! (love it!!)

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available repackaged?
hommous, activated nuts, buckwheaties, raw bread, raw ice cream

What ingredient or food is worth spending extra money on to get the good stuff? organic bananas, organic mangoes, organic extra dark chocolate, tomatoes, brazil nuts (there's only one brand I'll eat of them these days)

Are you much of a snacker? What are your favourite snacks? always a snacker, always got food with me and happily snack on bananas, green smoothies, protein smoothies, nuts and seeds, raw bars, organic licorice lately, dried dates, figs and goji berries

What are your favourite vegan pizza toppings? not sure I've got any really... well I suppose I could say sundried tomatoes, spinach, chilli, sweet potato

What's your favourite fruit and vegetable?
um need I answer that? BANANAS! And carrots dipped in halves of avocado. OH and mushies - but they've gotta be big and soft.

What is the best salad dressing? Maya's rich and spicey tomato relish from the cafe, a simple flax and orange with cumin, or try this one I made last week; zucchini, orange and hemp (check out the recipe further down)

What is your favourite thing to put on toasted bread? I don't really do toasted bread but coconut oil and nut butter or raw lemon myrtle honey together is the BOMB! As is miso and tahini. Sounds weird - try it!

What kind of soup do you turn to on a chilly day or when you don't feel well? never liked soup except mums home made pumkpin. These days it's the moroccan spiced carrot soup I'd do anything for!

What is your favourite cupcake and icing flavour? again, not a real cupcake fan. If I had to make something up, It'd be peanut butter/chocolate/banana.

What is your favourite type of cookie?
peanut butter, chocolate, banana?

What is your most-loved weeknight meal? a great big green salad oozing with fresh vegies and sprinkled with dukkah

What is one food or dish you enjoy but can't get anyone else in your house to eat? not sure I've got that problem now living with Brock, same at mums though. Everyone loved my cooking/not-cooking.

So there you go. Hope it wasn't too much of a bore for you guys. If so, here's the dressing recipe I said I had for you guys -

Zucchini, Orange and Hemp Dressing

You'll need:

1 large zucchini
2 small oranges
2 cloves of garlic
tsp hemp seed butter
drizzle of oil
salt to taste

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Serve mixed well through the salad of your choice.

I had it with a cabbage, carrot, parsley, chives, corn, apple and fennel salad. So good :)

Nov 13, 2010

SCREAM Summer!

Ummm... So who's just FREAKIN LOVING this hot weather the past few days?!?! I am that's for sure! I LIVE for this type of weather.

Everything lights up in my world. I can't help but smile and be happy. I want to get more things down. I want to spend all my time outside. I want to see friends, go to the beach, visit markets, be part of the BUZZ.
I LOVE the sound of cicadas outside coz to me, THAT'S SUMMER!

But there's one other thing that screams "SUUMMER IS HERE" to me, and that's MANGOES! (and before you make mention, yes I am well aware that Summer hasn't actually started yet but a girl can dream).

Ok so I've been a HUGE fan of these delicious, juicy, flavoursome beauties since as far back as I can remember. Anyone that knows me also knows that a mango in my hand is as good as gold!

(or 5 mangoes on a plate for lunch will suffice quite nicely also)

So with the warmer weather I wanted to create something cold and delicious... my inspiration of course? The good ol' Mango Weiss Bar. Remember those little guys? My childhood memories involve many a mango weiss bar. Ice cold. Juicy. Dripping down your hand even though it came in a great little plastic wrapper. And that of course meant that when you got to the end there was a nice little puddle of mango juice sitting there waiting to be sucked up :)

So I decided to try and recreate these using all RAW ingredients. Made off the top of my head I didnt measure anything but coz it tasted so good, and is so easy to make, I wanted to share it with you all. The measurements given are rough estimates of course.

You'll need:

Frozen mango (I pre-cut 3 and put them in containers in the freezer)

Flesh from one young coconut
1/4 - 1/2 cup pre-soaked cashew nuts
1/4 cup coconut oil
Agave syrup (drizzle worth)
Coconut water as needed

- Blend your frozen mango until smooth
- Spread it into a small container lined with baking paper

- Blend coconut flesh, cashew nuts, coconut oil, and agave syrup. Add coconut water to help blend it all up, but start with just a little. You can always add more but you cant add less. You're aiming for a completley smooth coconut cream.

- Then smooth this ontop of your mango layer and cover with foil, glad wrap, container lid etc and pop it back into the freezer to set.

When it's ready to eat, cut it into long pieces resembling Mango Weiss Bars.

Cut up on my plate ready to be bitten into...

Done! Cold on the teeth. Taste buds in Heaven. Welcome back Summer!

Nov 11, 2010

Anniversary Dinner

Happy Vegan MoFo Day 11

A celebratory post this evening for you all -

Tuesday was my one year anniversary with Brock and we celebrated - in style - in the comfort of our own home.

We set up a table in the backyard, donned our best going-out clothes, prepared the last-minute menu and enjoyed one another's company after both working all day.

The Menu:

Fresh chilled Thai young coconut water to begin...

A great big red cabbage salad with shredded carrot, parsley, celery, raisins, sunflower seeds, coconut, flaxseed oil and apple cider vinegar.

A layered lasagna with eggplant, zucchini strips, fresh tomato salsa, sweet corn, shredded kale and mushrooms topped with sliced avocado, chilli flakes and nutritional yeast...

Then onto dessert...

Due to my first thought (layered choc mousse/coconut cream/berries/etc) turning into something not so yummy, I was lucky to have had Maya's Moonlight Shadow brownie in the fridge waiting to be eaten... and it teamed up perfectly with my home made coconut ice cream (recipe found here) topped with cacao nibs and agave syrup...

...served with cacao-dipped strawberries... some also dunked in coconut.

Everything was DELICIOUS. Our evening was BEAUTIFUL. And we each gave each other a photo frame with a photo of us as up until now, we never had one. Now we have two.

Happy Anniversary babes xx