Thursday, 28 February 2013

simple, refreshing kaffir limeade

simple, refreshing kaffir limeade.

It's the end of February, and those of us in Melbourne, Australia, are flitting between hot, sweltering stretches and cool, wet episodes. You might say it almost feels tropical.

So let's talk about kaffir limes today. You may be more familiar with kaffir lime leaves, which was featured in this blog last year (see my chilli kaffir tamarind tofu recipe here). The kaffir lime fruit, however, while edible, seems to fall by the wayside and go largely unnoticed, unloved.

Kaffir limes have an interestingly rough, squiggly, bumpy skin, the zest of which can be used. The ones I buy at the markets are usually the size of golf balls. They tend to have many seeds, and yield only a small quantity of rich, yellow juice. The taste is sharp, almost pungent and herbaceous, which may need some getting used to. Due to its distinctiveness, I prefer to use it lightly, and pair it with ingredients that take its edge off a little, while still showcasing its unique flavour.

I sneakily added it to my jalapeno sour cream dip/spread a while back, and it works well there because it is but a squeeze of juice, buried within the spicy, tangy dip, just enough to impart a hint of exotic.

to me, kaffir limes look like little round puzzle balls, or mini green brains.

In this easy recipe, however, kaffir limes are the star of the show, mellowed only with honey, water and ice. The honey softens the sharpness of the kaffir limes, and you can use as little or as much water and ice to dilute and cool as you see fit.


simple, refreshing kaffir limeade (serves 1)


1 kaffir lime (yields about 1 tablespoon kaffir lime juice)
1 tablespoon honey, or, to make it vegan, maple syrup (I used raw honey)
1 cup water
1 small handful ice cubes

Stir together kaffir lime juice, honey, and water until all is mixed/dissolved.
Add a few ice cubes, stir again, and serve.

P.S. Feel free to adjust the ingredient quantities to suit your taste buds!

try this easy kaffir lime fruit recipe and make yourself some kaffir limeade!

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Thursday, 21 February 2013

chinese new year, chinatown, melbourne, 2013.
also, nostalgic childhood memories...

Following the lion... Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown, Melbourne.

On Sunday the 10th of February, the first day of the Year of the Snake, I took the day off work, and skipped off to Chinatown with Simon to take in the Chinese New Year festivities.

It was lots of fun. Crowded, yes, but with an air of camaraderie. For some it is a familiar event that reminds them of home; for others, the celebrations hold an exotic appeal.

I left all the picture-taking to Simon while I enjoyed our walk through a veritable lagoon of people... the photos here I stole from him, though I did slightly crop and process them before uploading. Outsourcing to him was a great idea, even with the severe lack of food representation, as he captured gorgeous, atmospheric moments that I don't think I could've caught.

A boy enjoys the view atop his father's shoulders.

I have fond memories of spending Chinese New Year in Malaysia with a crazy number of relatives. There is always a lot of eating, drinking, and yes, gambling with card games. Usually in that order, and late into the night. New clothes and shoes are bought and saved months in advance, and trotted out for the occasion. For us young'uns, outfits with pockets are favoured for their ability to safekeep money-filled red packets.

For the two weeks, there will be an abundance of cakes, biscuits, nuts, seeds, and candies, and we would wander through them anytime we felt peckish. For beverages, there are soft drinks such as the delightful but questionably named Kickapoo, and the cardboard packets of chrysanthemum tea, sugarcane juice, soy milk, herbal tea, as well as the tinned longans, rambutans and lychees served with grass jelly and ice, and sometimes, jackfruit and pineapple, too. Let's also not forget the lovely and lightly alcoholic shandy, of which I would take the occasional naughty sip.

On top of it all, there is the comfort of being with all these people I know; the raucousness, the good spirits. Playing with my sister and our cousins, the sort that requires nothing fancy other than a little imagination, and a lot of enthusiasm, like "The Eagle catches the Chicks". Going off to the shops together, to buy little treats with our red packet money. Sometimes even joining in with the adults for a round of Big Two or Blackjack, or teaming up with the other kids to form our own posse.

Chinese New Year in Australia isn't quite the same, and I have doubts that it will ever measure up to my nostalgic childhood memories. We're all grown up, scattered across different countries, doing our own thing. And the food... oh how I miss the food.

But life can be good, anywhere you end up.

A jubilant couple dancing.

So I'll leave you here, with all these glorious, wistful reminiscences.

Happy Chinese New Year, Happy Lunar New Year, whoever you are, wherever you are...

More lion dance goodness at Little Bourke Street, Chinatown, Melbourne, during the Chinese New Year festival.

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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

spinach melon cashew smoothie (raw & vegan)


spinach melon cashew milk smoothie

February is proving to be a hip and happenin' month with celebrations galore. The two-week extravaganza that is Chinese New Year started on the 10th, for which I'll hopefully create a post to follow this one, and then there's Valentine's Day on the 14th, which likely isn't going to make an appearance on my blog this year, just because, well, I haven't gotten around to preparing anything. Ha!

But despite being a bit lackadaisical in some aspects these days, all's not lost. I'm happy to report that, inspired by my experimental mini-detox, some healthy habits have been kick-started and they are still going strong. There hasn't been a drastic change to my meals - I'm mostly an "everything in moderation" kind of girl, and I don't really "do" diets - but I've been increasing my efforts to include more fresh fruits and vegetables in my regular routine, and I do this by whizzing up a breakfast smoothie every morning, and sometimes, later in the day, too.

So today I'm sharing the recipe for this spinach melon cashew smoothie, which is an accidental favourite from my recent little raw weekend adventure. I have to confess that these days I fling myself into green smoothies with wild abandon, having found out that they aren't as scary as they may seem, and can actually taste pretty fabulous with the right combination and ratio of ingredients. I am also enjoying nut smoothies - I've been using soaked, softened cashews quite often to add a natural milkiness to vegan smoothies and make them more filling.

As a result, we have this green nut smoothie, and here's how it works, ever so nicely.

spinach melon cashew smoothie.

spinach melon cashew milk smoothie  (serves 1)

1/4 cup cashews, soaked 3+ hours or overnight, then drained (I used raw cashews)
1 date, pitted (optional, I used a medjool date)
3/4 cup water, + more if required
1 cup rockmelon/cantaloupe flesh (150g / 1/3lb, or approx. 1/8 of a melon - honeydew is a good substitute)
1/2 cup firmly packed baby spinach, or a rough handful
4 ice cubes*

Whiz cashews, date and water together until smooth (or as smooth as you can get it with your blender. This will form the cashew milk base for the smoothie.
Add rockmelon/cantaloupe chunks, spinach and ice cubes, and whiz again until it all breaks down into a thick, slushy mix. Pour and serve immediately. Drink and feel delightful.

*Sometimes I use frozen melon chunks for this smoothie (awesome!), in which case I omit the ice cubes.

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Sunday, 3 February 2013

a mini-detox? going raw for one day (almost two)!

Green smoothies, green smoothies galore!

I've never been the dieting type. But when Simon's housemate, Georgina, bought Anya Ladra's book, Raw Food Detox, recently, and suggested we embark on a weekend of clean eating with its guidance, I thought it was a fabulous idea.

Raw Food Detox - a cookbook by Anya Ladra of Raw Fairies.

Let's face it, while I like to think I eat healthier than the average person, I know very well that I can do with more fruits and vegetables in my diet. And I realise the concept of a detox is not for everyone, but I thought it would be an interesting experience, and kind of exciting. After all, even if you don't buy into the concept of a cleansing diet, you can still see this as a not-too-extreme experiment that puts more fresh, wholesome food in your body, which surely is a good thing.

Going with a more relaxed approach, we did not truly follow any of the detox programs in the book, but we did try a few recipes, plus some wildcards of our own. Here's a time line of my adventure!

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Friday night:

We have a naughty "last supper" of Sarawak laksa (so good!) and follow up with a very refreshing Melon and Banana smoothie with Parsley, made faithfully according to Anya's recipe to atone for our sins.

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Saturday morning:

I somehow wake up earlier than everyone else in the morning. I have a spicy herbal tea, which is technically not raw, but seems to be embraced as a "good cheat" by many raw foodists, except for the strictest ones.

After everyone awakens, we all enjoy some detox lemonade together (similar to the one from the book, but with mint added). Awhile later, we create our own spinach melon cashew milk smoothie, which is nutty, fruity, and all-round amazing - recipe to come!

Spinach melon cashew smoothie.

Saturday afternoon:

Feeling peckish, I whiz up a Carrot and Lemon juice with Omega-3 oils (I used evening primrose), also from the book, then follow up with a few snacks - a peach, a slice of watermelon, a couple of medjool dates, and a handful of raw hazelnuts. I feel good.

Carrot juice with citrus and good oils.

Saturday evening:

I start to feel sleepy and hazy. Georgina makes us a delicious ceviche - a bit of a cheeky dish outside the realms of Anya's vegan detox book, but hey, at least it's still raw! After eating this, I feel totally rejuvenated - perhaps my previous tiredness was merely a sign of hunger, or a yearning for protein. Brimming with energy, we all go for a walk with the dogs.

Ceviche.

Upon returning from the walk, we threw a few things together to whip up a cacao hazelnut shake. The thoughts are mixed on this one but it is still mostly satisfying.

Later in the night, I graze on celery, then wrap up with more herbal tea, a soothing one this time, to induce a sweet slumber.

Cacao hazelnut shake

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Sunday morning:

I don't plan on being as disciplined today, as I have to work, but I still want to try my best to continue with this health kick, particularly as I feel really bright and alert today (placebo effect or not, it's unusual for a Sunday morning in the office, trust me), which I take as a sign I have been doing something right. I brew myself some rosemary tea for breakfast, then tuck into lovely ceviche leftovers from last night.

Rosemary tea.

Sunday afternoon:

I snack on medjool dates, then quickly pop out to South Melbourne Market, get myself a dozen fresh oysters and a lime, duck back in to the office, and enjoy a scintillating seafood spread at my desk. Oh yeah. Probably shouldn't be eating all these ocean delights if this is to be a proper detox, but hey...

Fresh oysters.

Sunday evening:

After work, I go to Simon's place again, and concoct a green smoothie with watermelon, banana, lime and spinach. I also finally give in to cooked food, baking a comfortingly cheesy frittata for dinner - I will be sharing the recipe for this eventually, too. We also recharge ourselves with a carrot-lemon-celery juice.

Lime-spinach-banana-watermelon smoothie.

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Conclusions:

This self-structured mini raw detox has been a really excellent experience for me. I would be keen to do this again, and I want to find a way to incorporate more raw, fresh produce, especially vegetables, in a practical manner to my everyday life.

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Aftermath:

Inspired by my detox weekend, I've started blending fruit and vegetable juices/smoothies in the morning for breakfast, and I hope this shall become a habit. They really seem to wake me up and invigorate me for the day ahead, so that should be enough incentive to spur me on.

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Have you ever gone on a "detox" or a similar challenge to eat and drink only clean / raw / wholesome / minimally or non-processed foods? I'd love to hear about it!

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