Lockdown cooking has been fun, to be honest. We have been eating well.
Homemade sushi with salmon, steamed yam, cucumber, avocado, cream cheese.
Rice paper rolls with shrimp, rice vermicelli, tons of vegetables, cilantro and mint. Dipped in the most tasty peanut sauce.
Scott made this for me after seeing it on Facebook… a KFC popcorn chicken pizza with corn and gravy. LOL.
Scotch eggs and salad. These were a bit hard to make, but sooo delicious! If I made them again I would try to get smaller eggs so it doesn’t use as much sausage per egg. The sausage stuck to my hands so much and was so hard to get to seal around the egg and do the breading, but somehow they held up well during deep frying and in the end came out great!
Arancini and umm… charred broccolini. The deep frying adventures continue. Scott made the arancini. It took a long time but they were delicious!!
Montreal style bagels. Not linking the recipe because I don’t recommend that particular one. I don’t like the bagels in this country much so I have to make my own. Still needs some work.
A quarantine classic, although not sourdough, just regular no-knead bread.
Kouign-Amann. This took me EIGHT HOURS. It wasn’t actually that hard, but the whole process was like “do one fold, roll, then chill for 30 minutes”. It was the one day I was happy that our house is never hotter than 15 degrees…. perfect for laminating pastry.
Raspberry cheesecake muffins. They don’t look that hot in the picture but these were SOOOOOO GOOD. I’m coming around on cooked fruit. These muffins have a cream cheese filling and a super delicious crumble topping. I think I’ll make more of these v soon.
Almond Brittle and Salted Chocolate Ganache ice cream. I’ve written a lot about Salt & Straw ice cream. We once drove all the way from Vancouver to Seattle for ice cream. Then a couple months ago I realized that Salt & Straw might have a recipe book. I looked it up and yes they did, and wow it was available at the shopping centre right around the corner from us here in Melbourne. Shortly after I’m making batches of brittle and ganache and making my all-time favourite ice cream at home. And it’s perfect and delicious and I am so happy.
Scott made Boston Cream doughnuts. Don’t they look awesome!?!
Scott made more doughnuts for the one time we were allowed to have a family gathering. White chocolate glazed, and filled with passionfruit curd.
We had quite a busy start to the year! A lot of our spare time was taken up by preparing to move and moving but we still squeezed in plenty of fun stuff as well.
As is becoming tradition, we started 2020 by going to the beach on January 1 for a swim in the ocean. It wasn’t as hot as last year but plenty warm enough to jump off the pier and paddle around for a bit. It was nice to lie under our sunshade and read too.
We went to the local T20 derby. It was freezing. And kind of boring. I do not want to see good bowlers! I want to see bad bowling!!
I can’t walk to work any more so I bought an electric bike from Aldi. :D It is so fun, I really love it. It takes away all the parts I hated about biking and leaves all the fun parts. I can get to work in 20 minutes without getting sweaty! It can go 50km on one charge, and helps me go 25 km/hr (after that you’re on your own).
Noah’s parents went on holiday for their anniversary so he stayed with us for a night. Him and Scott played a lot of Fortnight, and I took him to my gym. One of the coaches showed him how to squat and deadlift and stuff. Jono was in town as well so we met up with him and some friends in the city for more T20 cricket. Which was also quite boring. That’s three times I’ve been recently and none of them have been particularly interesting. I’m really starting to think even big bash is not really that exciting.
We had the craziest hail storm I’ve ever seen. The pictures don’t do it justice because those chunks on the pavement are ones that have already smashed/melted. The hail was the size of pool balls!! I was so worried that the windows of the car would break since it was just parked on the street. Scott ran out to throw some blankets/towels over the car which helped a lot but we still ended up with three monster dents on the hood and one above the door. UGH. There was SO much damage to all the cars in our suburb.
Plus I think it cracked some of the roof tiles (we told the landlords/have moved out now so… not my problem..). We found out about that because Melbourne had BROWN RAIN for a couple days after for some reason (YAY CLIMATE CHANGE). This brown rain really highlighted the leak by staining the walls and carpet as it flowed into the house.
The hail was super localised so our new house appears to be completely fine btw.
I started to feel very sick that weekend but still went to work on Monday because Scott’s January #SMAJ activity was corporate tickets to the Australian Open on Monday night and I felt like I couldn’t call in sick and then go to the tennis. So I suffered through a day of work, then went to the tennis, which was probably a terrible idea. To make it worse it was POURING RAIN and I got 100% soaked from waist down (I did have my good coat on) on the way there.
The tennis was very cool though. Thanks Telstra! We got to have a great meal and then watched Ash Barty’s match and Novak Djokovic’s match. We had to leave before Novak was finished winning though because I was a disgusting snotty mess and I was running out of tissues and felt terrible for everyone around me. I ended up staying home from work and sleeping for two days straight after that.
Settlement day was uneventful. Almost too uneventful. We really had no idea if anything was happening. But eventually in the afternoon we got an email that said everything had gone through and I could go to the real estate office to pick up the keys to the new house. Hooray! Our mortgage showed up in our online banking as well which is very confronting every time I open the app.
We didn’t move in straight away though because we were going camping that weekend with some friends. I really don’t recommend doing that unless you love checklists a lot. It all turned out pretty well though with minimal mistakes. I’ll leave our camping trip to another post.
When we got back from camping I did a quick pop-in at my weightlifting club’s annual bbq while Scott unpacked the car at the new house. Then we packed all the last minute stuff at the old house and disassembled the beds and moved everything to the garage.
Moving day went well! My obsessive preparations were worth it. I used the same el cheapo Gumtree movers we used the last couple times and they managed to fit in 98% of our stuff in one truck load while Scott and I chilled in the garage. It only took 2.5 hours and came out way cheaper than I budgeted. Unpacking took much much much longer.
THREE OTHER RANDO JANUARY THINGS:
1. They renovated the gym a bit and now the ladies have a much bigger change room with a sweet giant mirror!
2. We played a few more games of Castles of Burgundy. It’s pretty fun although we still don’t really know what we’re doing. I would like to try playing with 3 or 4 players. *COUGH ROSEMARIE GET YOUR BUTT OVER HERE COUGH*
3. These bean and cheese enchiladas were quite tasty.
Rosemarie requested that I write about PBs, books I read, new board game reviews, and favourite recipes of 2019, so here I go…
PBs: snatch 41 kg -> 46 kg (in training), clean & jerk 49 kg -> 54 kg. The bigger accomplishment has been fixing my back enough that I can do all movements again! I think my PB potential is very good for 2020.
Books (TBH I’m not sure if I read these in 2019 or earlier but here are the last few books I read):
How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie – some of the chapters at the beginning were useful but then it got a bit too religious to me
The Secret History by Donna Tartt – a long one!! About the lives of a few students. I love really long detailed books if the story/characters/world is interesting
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – again, a pretty long one about a boy who loses his mom and ends up with a priceless painting. They made a movie of it but the book is better
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel – about a boy who wants to be a girl, and a family that loves her. A nice book
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – pretty much the male version of Don Tillman from the Rosie Project, entertaining
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – in my opinion it’s a corny book about racism written by a white lady for white ladies. :/ I guess that’s better than no book about racism?
New Board Games:
Drop It – a very simple but fun game where you try to drop pieces into the right spots to score lots of points
Azul – very easy game to teach people, can get brutal when you get stuck with tons of extra pieces
7 Wonders Expansions – fun on the ipad but a bit too much to keep track of irl
7 Wonders Duel – my very favourite two player game, I’m still not tired of it 10/10
Agricola All Creatures Big and Small – ok two player Agricola spin-off
Camel Up – fun light game, everyone loves the gimicky dice rolling pyramid and the KRAZY KAMELS
Jaipur – two player camel betting card game that we got for Christmas… first impressions are good, Scott likes it a lot
Puerto Rico – not as hard as Agricola, kinda fun that you get to do stuff even when it’s not your turn
Sagrada – quite simple game with NINETY dice, tricky fun
Terraforming Mars – very complicated game with lots of pieces, a bit hard to play well but still fun to play even when you don’t really know what’s going on
Great recipes of 2019:
Praline Almonds – I used the recipe in my ice cream book but it’s basically the same as this (except I used almonds). This was one of the craziest things I’ve ever cooked! It magically goes from a pot of watery almonds to a pot of sandy almonds to a pot of candy almonds. Sprinkled with a bit of salt… so delicious.
No Knead Bread in the cast iron pot – so easy!!! I use this recipe. I did try whole wheat once but it didn’t turn out as delicious as pure white.
Dutch Baby! – so visually spectacular, so easy! I’ve made sweet ones with fruit and ice cream toppings, and also savoury ones with smoked salmon, rocket and parmesan. This is my go-to sweet recipe.
Fish Tacos – Coles just started selling corn tortillas so we can make delicious tacos at home, like this easy Pinch of Yum recipe. I’ve made it with basa or shrimp. I love the garlicky sauce.
We didn’t leave the country in 2019. Actually we barely took any days off at all. The good news is we have enough holiday to go to North America in May 2020 AND possibly Fiji for our 10 (!!) year anniversary later in the year too! 2020 is gonna be gooooooood.
We did check out some new places in Victoria/Australia, here are a few highlights:
A very windy 90 Mile Beach in Gippsland.
A relaxing and fun few days of camping/day hiking at Wilson’s Prom.
On platypus watch in the Otways.
Day off at the Peninsula Hot Springs.
Whale watching on North Stradbroke Island.
Final thoughts: 2019 was not the most exciting year of my life, but we put in a lot of good work to our future. We did the hard stuff of finding a house, working hard, saving, rehab… and very very soon we get to enjoy the benefits of that. I feel very good about 2020.
The last couple months have really revolved around trying to get a stupid house. We’ve upped our pre-approval amount, expanded our search radius, re-evaluated our criteria, checked out about 9000 apartments/villas/townhouses, but no luck so far. Some auctions go 200k over the listed price and we don’t even get a bid in, and a few times we’ve come second, which is even more heartbreaking. This weekend we inspected eight places! A few of them are good. Please cross your fingers for us.
I decided we should take a day off work to do something fun. We drove out the Peninsula Hot Springs and had a lovely time floating around in various hot tubs. I really love the cold plunge pools! It was excellent going on a weekday because it wasn’t very crowded. If anyone wants to go there please let me know because I’m down.
We went out for dinner at the Red Hill Epicurean. There are not that many places open for dinner on weeknights near the hot springs but this was still a good option. They had a nice roaring fire in the fireplace and our food was nice. We got the brisket special and a fancy margherita pizza. The crust was nice and thin and the brisket was nice and tender.
I competed in a VWA Open comp. It went pretty well, I got 4 out of 6 lifts. I snatched 40/43/46x. The 43 was a 1 kg PB and the 46 was very nearly a huge PB but I stupidly let the bar drop behind me which is automatic red lights. I was very very annoyed with myself about that. I (power) cleaned and (power) jerked 50/54x/54 (1 kg PB).
Training has been pretty good lately. We’ve been re-introducing a lot of things that I stopped doing because of back pain and they’re not causing any problems this time! My main problem these days is that I’m weak AF and can’t stand things up. For example I can power clean much more than I can full clean. I have another comp in 3 weeks and then I think the plan is to not compete for a couple months and just work on all my weaknesses for a bit.
I got my hairs cut. Should have done it a long time ago tbh. Short hair is much better than a ratty ponytail.
We went to Scott’s friends house to watch the Grand Final. The game was a blow out but half time kick to kick was fun.
We made shortbread cookies dipped in white chocolate with pistachio to bring to the party. YUM. They were a hit.
I crocheted this bag. What do you think of Scott’s modelling?
Canadian election ballots are hilariously simple compared to Aussie ballots. I’m not sure our votes made it back in time. Next time I’ll get organised a lot earlier… if I’m still eligible to vote?
I decided to start practising drawing. I actually find it really hard because my hands are so shaky it’s hard to draw straight lines. I’m very curious to see if this project will make my hands get better or if it’ll just stay the same. Perhaps that will be my drawing style… wobbly.
October #SMAJ was a visit to the Cheese Festival with some of Scott’s work friends. Similarly to last year there weren’t a lot of actual cheese vendors there, but there were lots of food trucks serving cheese-centric meals. We had perogies (that weren’t really perogies imo, since instead of having potato in them they had halloumi + cranberry, vegetables, and chorizo fillings), and that pasta where they swirl the hot noodles in a cheese wheel. I enjoyed both. And we bought a lump of cheddar with those awesome crunchy bits in it.
Caught up with the old gang from my last job. More and more of them have also moved on. I wasn’t even there that long ago and it’s almost a completely different department.
Scott went to Sydney for work so we had a gym ladies night drinks at my friends house.
We had afternoon drinks with Scott’s work friends in Richmond. I got to eat tater tots.
Time for another monthly update. Apparently all we did this winter was eat. Almost everything in this post revolves around food, lol.
We went back to my Shira Nui for my 33rd birthday. It’s one of our favourite special occasion restaurants in Melbourne. Again we had the omakase which comes with 9 courses of two pieces of nigiri. They were all delicious although the final oyster/mayo one is probably my least favourite. I got a weather station (now I can tell when it’s warmer outside than inside) and a board game voucher (which we used to buy Drop It).
My coworker quit and moved to England. We had an epic goodbye dinner for him at Pizza Religion where we ordered nearly every single pizza on the menu and shared all of them. It was amazing!!! We worked very hard after he left. A couple other people were on holidays or sick and we were left very short staffed. It was exhausting tbh. Things are back to normal now thank goodness.
I have been having continual problems with my SI joint which is extremely frustrating but I got one of those belts that some people have to use during pregnancy and that helped a lot. (No I’m not pregnant.) Now that we’ve figured out what was irritating it (split jerks) I’ve still been able to keep weightlifting. Next we strengthen everything around the joint.
I went out to the city for my friend Ash’s birthday party. They had alcoholic bubble tea!!!!! Amazing!!
We “celebrated” our 9th wedding anniversary at Pancake Parlour with $5 pancake dinners, hahahah. I had the potato pancakes and Scott had something like bolognese pancakes. It was… good value. We’ll do something nicer next year. :)
I went to the Bendigo Wool Show with Ash and Penny. There was tons and tons of wool and sheep and crafty stuff. I bought some Bloom wool from Bendigo Woolen Mills and got Scott a bowl and a platter from his favourite pottery ever, Bendigo Pottery. The timing was excellent actually because the traditional 9th anniversary gift is pottery!!
Scott’s boss is on Australian Survivor and it’s weird seeing her there. She’s doing pretty well but I can’t imagine she will win when she’s already quite rich.
We had dinner in a bubble for our July #SMAJ. It was chilly at first but they had blankets and hot toddies. I enjoyed the bubble tent experience.
August #SMAJ was the hot chocolate festival at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie. I ordered the mint ho cho with a homemade mint slice and Scott ordered the macadamia ho cho with macadamia cheesecake, but we liked each other’s better so we traded. Jemma and April came too. It was an overwhelming amount of sugar and chocolate. Afterwards we went to Four Pillars Gin in Healesville and I did a gin tasting which was cool but I didn’t buy any because I don’t particularly like gin.
Ice cream all the time. We pretty much always have ice cream in the freezer these days hahaha. That ice cream maker was an excellent birthday gift last year. Left picture is real mint choc, and the right picture is white chocolate ice cream with blondie chunks. The white chocolate base is my current favourite recipe at the moment. It’s easy to make and suuuuper creamy and smooth. Much better than just regular vanilla. Other ones we’ve made lately: peanut butter chocolate, vanilla with Nanaimo bar, coffee, vegan coconut strawberry.
BY THE WAY I’m actually losing weight on this nightly ice cream diet, lol. Maybe I have worms. But actually I guess it balances out with walking to work and running around at work and weightlifting training.
More diet food. Half a Dutch Baby with a scoop of homemade ice cream. Anyone want to come over for brunch? I’ll make it for you.
I went to my friend Zory‘s art show called Incognito. She used to do weightlifting with me but had to stop when she got a job too far away. Anyway her show was really cool.
Bummer Weekend Part 1: There was a house that we REALLY liked and was actually in our budget. We’d checked everything and been to see it several times. It didn’t seem to have any of the weird problems that every other house has. We had PLENTY above the asking price but it wasn’t enough, the house sold for $151K more than the listed price. :(
Bummer Weekend Part 2: Noah’s footy grand final. Unfortunately they got crushed. At least we saw Noah kick a goal.
Bummer Weekend Part 3: We went to the Richmond v Brisbane game with my friend Connor from work. He saved us great seats and we had fun but Brisbane lost and Scott was sad.
Not getting that house really sucked. There hasn’t been any other properties since then that interest us. The market should pick up a bit now that it’s coming in to spring but yeah nothing so far. At least we got some auction practice in so next time shouldn’t be quite so scary.
There was some good parts of Bummer Weekend though. We drove out to Ascotvale to attend a POUTINE FESTIVAL. It was sooo busy and cost more than a ski lodge poutine but this was a special treat. We got an original poutine, with real imported cheese curds, and a ridiculous poutine BURGER. The burger had a potato cake, cheese curds and gravy, plus a regular patty with cheese, hahaha. It was wet and sloppy but tbh I liked it quite a bit.
Coles sells corn tortillas now! I made delicious fish tacos with cabbage slaw. (I substituted basa fillet for the shrimp in the recipe.) Mexican ingredients are gradually getting easier to find here. You used to not be able to get black beans either!
Last weekend we had Myles’s 2nd birthday in the morning and Michelle’s 40th birthday in the evening. To kill time in between we went to see the new Quentin Tarantino movie (I thought it was weird). Both parties were nice and any day that you get to eat two cakes is a good day.