Thursday, 27 October 2011

my aspirations.... & my giveaway winner!

A few weeks ago, I hosted my first giveaway. The prize was a book called Will Write For Food by Dianne Jacob. I asked those of you interested to submit your entry in the form of a comment answering this question: As an aspiring food writer, what are your goals and what are you doing to reach them?

I was touched by the thoughtful and heartfelt responses I got in return. There is beauty in our collective desires but also in our diversity as food lovers and writers. And because you have enriched me with your hopes and dreams, I, too, am inspired to share with all of you my answer to the same question.

However, to be honest, I'm not the kind of person who has very well-defined goals. I've always drifted through life... a life peppered with passing obsessions that eventually move along to give way to the next new flirtation. I look upon the people who know what they want - really know what they want, with an all-consuming passion and drive - and I often catch myself envying them.

Before I knew it, the years flew by, and it seemed I had very little to show for it. I began to feel trapped by my job, yet I didn't know what else I could do. I wanted more. I wanted a creative outlet. I wanted direction; I wanted purpose. I wanted to commit myself to changing the status quo.

So I started this food blog... the indolent cook.

I've been blogging about food for over a year now, and I'm enjoying it. Will this turn out to be just another one of my temporary infatuations? Will it bring me lasting contentment? Who knows. But I've always loved food, and I've always loved writing. I'm happy to see where this takes me.

So I continue to blog. I continue to read, watch, smell, taste and learn. I keep an eye out for opportunities and I seize them. Sometimes, the opportunities come to me. I'm still working full-time at my current job, but I've also started to do some freelancing. A few articles here, a few recipes there. Slowly but surely, things are coming together. I don't know what the future brings, but I am optimistic.

But enough about me. Now, on to more pressing matters... the announcement of the giveaway winner: Ashley! Congratulations Ashley, I'll be contacting you to arrange the delivery of your own copy of Will Write For Food. Hurrah!

For those of you who missed out, you can buy this book for very reasonable prices on Fishpond, The Book Depository or Amazon. You may also pop by Dianne's blog to keep yourself up-to-date with her latest articles.

I wish every one of you the best... keep cooking, eating and writing!

Love, leafy.

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Friday, 21 October 2011

carrot ice cream / carrot kulfi

It's funny how things change. I never understood the appeal of carrot milk when I lived in Malaysia. My cousin loved it, and would often order it at cafes and mamak stalls. I'd try it and be all, "I don't know, it's still kinda weird to me..." And she'd be taken aback - "Really?! It's so nice and refreshing!"

I could never understand it... but one spring afternoon in Melbourne, I finally did. As you may have guessed, it's not something I would normally make for myself, but I was experimenting with a carrot-flavoured milk recipe for research and work purposes (outside of my full-time job, I freelance as a recipe developer) so it was all in the name of professional shenanigans.

Now, I don't know whether it was because my tastes have changed... or if the ingredients I used were better in quality... or if my version of carrot milk was simply more suited to my palate. Whatever it was, I liked it. After all this time, I finally understood what my cousin was on about: it was so nice and refreshing!

My new-found friendship with carrot milk got my brain ticking, it did. Not surprisingly, it didn't take long for me to take the leap from carrot milk... to carrot ice cream. A little bit sweeter. A tiny bit more decadent. And much, much colder.

yellow-orange kulfi-inspired carrot popsicles.

carrot ice cream / carrot kulfi

200ml pure cream, approx. 45% milk fat* (4/5 cup)
2 medium carrots (200g or just under 1/2 lb), peeled and chopped
200ml water
100g raw sugar (just under 1/4 lb or 1/2 cup)
a pinch of salt

Blend carrots with water. Filter the juice through a sieve/strainer. Reserve both the carrot juice and the carrot pulp.
In a saucepan, simmer together carrot pulp, raw sugar and salt until carrots are soft and no longer gritty**, stirring and adding a little water if necessary to keep it from completely drying out. Let it cool slightly.
Blend the carrot juice, sweetened carrot pulp and cream until thoroughly smooth and well-combined.
Freeze until firm in your choice of ice cream moulds.

*Pure cream in Australia is similar to double cream in UK and Europe, and heavy cream in North America.
**The softer the carrots, the smoother the texture of the ice cream.

sweet and creamy carrot ice pops, anyone?

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

simple pleasures: unhomogenised milk

"Love unhomogenised milk. LOVE. Come to mamma, you gorgeous little bits of cream."

That was my tweet over the weekend. Oh, good old-fashioned milk with light and lovely clouds of cream. What's not to love? I don't buy milk very often, so when I decided to get some recently, I chose to treat myself at my local providore with a bottle of full-fat, bio-dynamic and unhomogenised milk.

a bottle of biodynamic and unhomogenised milk.

Sadly, it appears that not everyone shares my sentiment... unhomogenised milk is the exception rather than the norm these days.

Quick summary: milk, left in its natural state (i.e. unhomogenised), eventually settles down so that the cream separates, floating to the top. Evidently this is unappealing to some - and thus homogenised milk was created. Fat globules are broken up with high pressure methods, enabling them to suspend evenly throughout the liquid, forming an emulsion.

I spent a large part of my life drinking homogenised milk, but the first time I tried unhomogenised milk, some years ago, I instantly fell in love. It was fuller... it was richer. It was even a little sweeter and nuttier. It tasted like... well, it tasted like what real milk was meant to be, and what it should be.

I can see how unhomogenised milk might be a bit of a culture shock for those who grew up drinking homogenised milk. It doesn't look clean and white and perfect. It's a gentle pale yellow with creamy clumps and clusters. When I opened up my bottle of milk, there was a large fatty puff sailing serenely on the surface. I had to shake the bottle vigorously to break it up, and even so, there were still stubborn little chunks remaining.

my unhomogenised milk, shaken but not stirred. ;)

Personally, I think those little chunks of cream are awesome; I love the way they melt in my mouth. After all, cream is fantastic stuff, so why wouldn't I want random bits of cream in my milk? Yeah, I'm all for it. Nom nom nom.

Now, when all is said and done, it's really an individual preference. However, if you've yet to try unhomogenised milk and it sounds like your thing, I highly recommend going for a full-fat version that is either bio-dynamic or organic, just to get the most out of it.

I hope you like it as much as I do!

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

chilli garlic cucumber in sesame oil

We're right in the middle of spring now. Flowers are growing, hemlines are shortening... and I am sneezing. Oh hay fever, how I do detest thee.

I'm not partial to pumping myself full of chemicals, but I had a terrible season last year, so when the first symptoms struck this time around, I surrendered immediately. Tablets and sprays, here I come! So far, they seem to be working. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, I still like the idea of getting a little boost from natural remedies. Garlic is purported to be good for fighting hay fever. Apparently chilli also helps. With that in mind, I made this easy Chinese-inspired cucumber salad over the weekend.

chilled cucumber in a chilli garlic sesame vinaigrette

Boy, this may be a simple recipe, but it sure is potent. The cucumber is hacked up like firewood, bombarded with minced garlic, scattered with chilli and drenched in sesame oil. Subtlety be damned, this is a dish that shoves itself deep into the receptors of your taste buds and smirks, "here I am!"

chilled cucumber in chilli garlic sesame vinaigrette

2 lebanese cucumbers (or 200-250 g / 1/2 lb of any cucumber), peeled and cut into chunky sticks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chinese white rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or 2 teaspoons light soy sauce)
1/8 teaspoon raw sugar

Toss all ingredients together till well-combined.
Cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Lightly toss again just before serving.

While sharp and satisfying at the time of consumption, this cucumber dish WILL result in hours of gloriously pungent breath. Not recommended for romantic dates, unless both parties have a garlic fetish.

Now, I have no idea whether this did anything to alleviate my hay fever, but I'm sure it did me good anyway. If you've had any success with natural remedies, do let me know!

chilled chilli garlic cucumber in sesame oil

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Monday, 3 October 2011

giveaway! will write for food, dianne jacob

Hello, dear readers. I'm hosting my first blog giveaway! Even if you're not excited, I sure am!

This book giveaway came about in a rather accidental fashion. I purchased a copy of Will Write For Food by Dianne Jacob from online bookstore Fishpond awhile ago and after several weeks waiting for it to arrive, both the Fishpond customer service staff and I were convinced it was lost in the mail, so we organised for a replacement copy.

It turned out that the first order was just severely held up, so I ended up receiving TWO copies of Will Write For Food. Rather than sending the extra copy back to Fishpond, I asked them for permission to give it away on my blog instead, and they gave me their blessings. So here we are.

Will Write For Food, a book on food writing authored by Dianne Jacob.

Alright, I know there are many of you out there who love food... and writing about food. You will probably want to have a copy of this book... so let me tell you more about it.

If you have a strong interest in food writing, you may already be familiar with Dianne Jacob's blog. I discovered it earlier this year and have been a regular reader since. I find it to be constantly challenging, interesting and helpful, factors that spurred me on to my eventual purchase of Will Write For Food.

The chapters in the book cover blogging, freelancing, restaurant reviewing, cookbook and recipe writing, fiction and non-fiction writing, and getting published. I am only about halfway through at the moment, so I can't give a complete review of it, but I'll tell you this: Dianne gives me the realisation that my writing can be so much better, and tells me what I can do to achieve my potential. The examples in the book are illuminating, the advice insightful and the writing exercises practical.

For more in-depth and technical information on a particular food writing niche, you'll want supplementary resources (and Dianne provides helpful lists of reference books for this purpose, too), but this is a great overview and starting point. I'm glad I bought the book, and even though I'm yet to finish reading it, I can already see myself returning to it again and again to improve and revitalise my food writing.

A snapshot of the chapters inside Will Write For Food.

Now we get to the fun part... your chance to win your own copy of Will Write For Food! This giveaway is open to anyone who loves writing about food, regardless of where you are in the world, so to be in the running, just leave a comment telling me about your food writing aspirations. What are your goals and what are you doing (other than entering this giveaway!) to reach them? I'm sure there will be some really great answers, so I'll pick a handful of favourites and draw a winner out of those shortlisted.

Please ensure that there is some way I can reach you (e-mail address, twitter account, blog URL etc) if you win. The deadline is the 26th of October - I'll be going by the time stamp on this blog, which is based in Melbourne, Australia - and the winner will be announced shortly afterwards.

P.S. Besides Fishpond, you can also purchase this book at The Book Depository and Amazon.

P.P.S. For those who are not aware, I now have a Twitter account, and even more recently, a Facebook page! It's not compulsory for entering the giveaway, but if you would like to follow me on either, or both avenues, that would make me quite a happy girl.

Click here to read the rest of the post!