Thursday, 26 March 2015

tahini-lime pistachio plum zucchini salad

Tahini-lime pistachio plum zucchini salad.

Now that I live in an area with an affordable farmers' market, I have been lavishly buying fruits every weekend. All through summer, and spilling into autumn, I have been snapping up peaches, nectarines and plums when I catch them at two dollars a bucket. The plums, in particular, frequently appear in different varieties - I don't know if I have a favorite, and if they're all cheap, I just play mix-and-match.

It is not often that you see plums in a savoury salad, but while I was peeling zucchini one day, I looked over at my assortment of gorgeous plums sitting on the kitchen counter and I thought - why not?

Why not, indeed. I'm proud of this salad. The plum slices went prettily with the zucchini strips, and they tasted great, too - a sweet, tangy counterpoint to the plainer zucchini. Pistachio nuts add a bit of crunch, and the creamy-yet-refreshing tahini-lime dressing pulls everything together for the final satisfying touch.

tahini-lime pistachio plum zucchini salad

1 medium zucchini
2 plums
1/4 cup pistachio nuts
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon lime juice (add some zest too, if you like)
1/4 teaspoon each of salt and freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste

Use a peeler to peel the zucchini flesh. Aim to achieve nice, fettucine-like strips.
Slice the plums into bite-sized pieces. If you use two different types of plums, it can add more interest or color to the salad, but this is not necessary.
Toast and chop the pistachio nuts if you're not feeling lazy. I was, so I just used them whole. Shhh.
Place the zucchini, plums and pistachios in the same bowl. Stir in tahini, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Make sure that you thoroughly combine all the ingredients. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
Cover the salad and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle and dance together, then give it another stir just before serving.

Zucchini and plum salad, studded with pistachios and tossed through a lime and tahini dressing.

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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

illuminated giant rabbits intrude perth!

Brightly lit, inflatable giant rabbits for the Intrude public art installation.

It's starting to seem like we're seeing giant things every month in Perth. In February, we had giant marionettes. In March, we have inflatable, illuminated giant rabbits.

The big billowing bunnies play a whimsical part in the 2015 Fiesta festival, and they define the Intrude public light art installation by Australian artist Amanda Parer, whose works speak about our relationships with the environment. We decided to go for a picnic in the park and enjoy pizza in the presence of the giant rabbits.

Families taking photos with their kids posing in front of the giant rabbits.

It was nice to see other families around, some walking their dogs, others watching on as their delighted children played with the giant rabbits, and still more just chilling out and taking in the atmosphere. It's not as epic nor as dynamic as the giant marionettes, but it's not meant to be. It was a peaceful, pleasant evening and I had a lovely time.

The Intrude public art installation is free and it is on every night 6.30pm to 10.30pm from Sunday the 15th of March to Saturday the 21st of March 2015 at Sir James Mitchell Park, South Perth.

Families having fun with the giant rabbits!

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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

cayenne, mint & bay leaf tea (and it's more than just a tea!)

Cayenne, mint, and bay leaf tea. A herbal drink to enjoy hot or iced.

Hello, everyone! It's been a while. I've been busy with some freelance work, and have thus neglected this blog. The lack of work-life balance is really not cool, though, so I'm going to take a step back, and try to regain some measure of blogging momentum.

Here is a simple cayenne, mint and bay leaf tea that is more than just a tea. More about that in a moment, but as a beverage, this tea possesses a certain intrigue with the use of bay leaves. The distinct fragrance of bay leaf lends a pleasant sense of mystery that fascinates the nose and the taste buds. I originally made this for another purpose, but bay leaf tea is definitely now in my tea-drinking repertoire. Apparently bay leaf tea is good for digestion, so that's a benefit to add to the appeal - but mostly, I'm drinking it because I like it.

cayenne, mint & bay leaf tea

2 cups freshly boiled water
4 fresh mint leaves
4 dried bay leaves, torn up
1 pinch cayenne powder

Pour the hot, freshly boiled water over the mint leaves, bay leaves, and cayenne powder in a mug or jug. Stir, cover, and allow the flavours to steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain and add sweetener of your choice, if desired. I like it with a touch of honey. You may drink it while it's still hot to keep yourself cozy, or chill it and add some ice for an invigorating coolness.

Note: Some people simmer the bay leaves with boiling water in a saucepan for a few minutes instead of steeping them. This will likely draw out more flavour, so if you choose this route you can probably use just 2 bay leaves. I was feeling lazy and I thought it would be more convenient to use the electric kettle.

Some cayenne, mint and bay leaf tea, coming up!

But wait, there's more! As I said, there is more to this bay leaf tea, it goes beyond a mere beverage. In fact, I originally created this as a natural insect repellent. That's right! We have had some issues with ants and cockroaches lately, and apparently a combination of cayenne, mint and bay leaf can work to deter both. For the natural insect repellent, I made the solution more potent, adding extra mint, bay leaves and cayenne powder, as per the following:

cayenne, mint & bay leaf insect repellent

2 cups freshly boiled water
1 sprig mint, or 1 mint tea bag
6 dried bay leaves, torn up
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

Almost the same instructions as for the tea recipe above, except I leave the "tea" to sit until it's completely cool, and obviously I don't use any form of sweetener. I then stir the mixture, strain it, and pour the pinkish-orange water into a spray bottle.

I've been using this spicy, aromatic solution in lieu of store-bought detergents to wipe surfaces around the home, so I'm basically using it as a 2-in-1 spray for cleaning surfaces and repelling insects. It works nicely as a cleaner, and while I have not performed any controlled experiments with this, I do observe less insects around. I feel good about using this - it's all natural with edible ingredients, so if I drop some food on the counter and pick it back up, I know that instead of potentially toxic chemicals, it will have traces of mint, bay leaf and cayenne in it. Which is totally fine by me!

Cayenne, mint and bay leaf solution as a natural insect repellent.

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