Uforic Food Cafe Torquay

Random thoughts

Pappardelle with chorizo

Toughening up, plus delicious pappardelle with chorizo and basil

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The past week or so has been really positive following my last post. Reading back I feel like it was a bit of a “woe is me” whinge fest. I have since toughened up – and my resolve for health first, rather than just weight loss,  has been restored.

Weekend breakfast

Two free-range eggs – a slice of bacon and two delicious tomatoes made for a filling, and pretty healthy weekend breakfast

I think that might have been where I got a bit depressed. When I strive for health, I feel positive – but when I strive for weight loss first – well, I get down. And, as you can gather, I don’t necessarily think the two go hand in hand. There are unhealthy skinny people out there – and there are fuller-figured people who are fit and healthy. We all come in different shapes and sizes and each have our own health concerns to deal with. it just so happens that my health concern, PCOS – makes it not only hard to lose weight – but weight is a key indicator for the improvement, or deterioration of symptoms.

Sunrise

With beautiful sunrises like these over Ocean Grove beach – who wouldn’t be inspired to get up and walk each morning?

So, with health in mind, I’m proud to say I walked every day of the week, except Friday.

With being on the cusp of the end of daylight savings – it was so dark I decided to allow myself a sleep in. But with sunrises like the one below – why wouldn’t you want to get out of bed and welcome the new day?

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A lovely picnic and the come back of The Love Cake

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This weekend marked a year since Matt got down on one knee out the back of his parents’ house, while I was looking fabulously glamorous in my ugliest PJs – and asked me to marry him.
I don’t know how many times I have asked him since if he is really sure – and every time, he says yes.
I mean, I’m a pretty challenging woman at times, and I feel it’s only fair to give him him an out. But no, he swears he wants to walk down the aisle with me, even if I have been a slight bridezilla since I started planning our November 18 wedding.
Well, not so much a bridezilla – I mean Matt picked the venue, decided that it would be wonderful to have a chocolate ripple cake for our wedding cake (I so agree!!) and we have decided everything together, from colours, to bridesmaid dresses, and he was pretty much the boss of the honeymoon. He also wanted a band with drums … Done!
But I suspect I enjoy talking about the wedding a little more than him. But hey, I’m a chick – surely that’s to be expected!
Ok, ok – ill stop talking about the wedding!
Anyways … To recognise that a year has gone by since the proposal, Matt suggested we head out for a picnic at the Geelong Botanic Gardens. Brilliant idea!
We walked around for a little while, and picked a lovely, shady spot.

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The Geelong Botanic Gardens are really quite beautiful – and it was in this vicinity where Matty presented me with the ring – a few days after his initial proposal.

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I had a real Jamie Oliver moment as I cut up kabana in the outdoors. All I needed was one of those lovely wooden chopping boards he always seems to have on hand. No such luck this time around.

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We also enjoyed some lovely cured meats and some cheese – from France. It was just a little bit fancy – smelly, and completely yum!!

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For desert, there were strawberries – probably more for my benefit then for Matt’s – I figured it was a healthy touch to an otherwise fairly unhealthy meal.
I’ve never really been one to “cook” picnic food. I think it’s a great time to have nibbly, antipasto type stuff that doesn’t require too much fussing.
What do you think? Do you go all out, or just pop into the local deli for some delicious delights?
What else did we do to celebrate – well, I made Matty some “love cake” – this cake has a gorgeous story behind it and, if you like, you can read about it here. But otherwise – here is the recipe. Apple, Date and Pecan Cake aka The Love Cake.
Give it a try – feed it to the man or woman you love – you never know what might happen!

APPLE, DATE AND PECAN CAKE

  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean, deseeded
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 tbs of hot water
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of baking soda
  • 5 cups of diced Red Delicious or Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 a cup of pitted dates, diced
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Mix the first 9 ingredients, add apples and nuts, mix thoroughly.

Grease a ceramic or glass baking dish with some butter. Pour in the batter and bake for 45 minutes.

Frosting:

  • 1/2 a cup of butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 6 tbs of milk
  • 2 ½ cups icing sugar

Bring the butter, brown sugar, salt and milk to the boil and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes and then add the icing sugar.

Smear on top of the cake and then serve.

Tips to terrific Thai + a fabulous culinary weekend

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No matter how good you think you are at cooking, I think a cooking class from time to time is a fabulous source not only of inspiration, but of fun too!!
This weekend saw my lovely friend Ruza and I hit Melbourne for a Thai cooking class. We came away very impressed. We made my favourite soup ever – Tom yum – as well as six other fabulous dishes including green chicken curry, Thai spring rolls and the famous, pad Thai.
I think we have all attempted Thai cooking – I know I have – but I’ve almost always felt disappointed because I just can’t seem to properly recreate my favourite dishes. It always tastes like there is something missing, and I can’t put my finger on what it is.
So, while I’m not going to share the recipes from the day, because I don’t feel as though they a mine to share just yet, but I learnt some terrific tips to authentic Thai cooking that I can’t wait to put into practice in my own kitchen.

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One of the most important things about cooking Thai food is using the freshest and best quality ingredients. This bowl of beautiful, fragrant herbs and veggies just cooks so delicious!!
It’s important to find an Asian grocer you know has the best products and keep going back to them.

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Creating the perfect Thai dishes requires lots of preparation – but one of the best things is that in a lot of cases, including the Thai fish cakes we created – you can chop and roll the day before, pop them in the fridge and cook when your guests arrive. Perfect for entertaining as you won’t be left slaving in the kitchen.

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Perfect fish cakes is all about chopping the aromatic ingredients and the fish extremely small. It’s also about ensuring the mixture is very well mixed. Your clean hands are the best tools in this case.

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Be gentle when you’re forming your fish cakes. Be careful with them and they are more likely to hold together when you fry them.

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Spring rolls were also on the menu. I know most people think it’s easier to buy them from the frozen isle of the supermarket – but these were really yummy and actually really fun to make.
The best tip for the day was to cook the filling before adding them to the spring rolls wrappers. Without this step you run the risk of cooking your spring rolls beautifully on the outside, but the inside filling on the raw side. Not good at all!
So, this is me cooking the filling – we used pork mince, carrots, soy and other yummy delights 🙂

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Rolling them was surprisingly easy.

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Our wonderful teacher Gail said you can make the spring rolls to this point and then pop them in the freezer. You can even cook them frozen – but just need to make sure the oil isn’t too hot. Such a great tip for what, with a bit of organisation in advance – could be a very quick and easy entree.
Pad Thai is Ruza’s favourite dish – especially after she honeymooned in Thailand late last year. No wonder she was so keen to do these classes! So, she took to the stove to learn how to whip it up.

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Gail said the key to pad Thai – and stir-frying any noodles, is to soak them in cold water for about 10 minutes. Never use hot water as it will cause me to stick together and go gluggy. I know this is true from experience!

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Gail soaking the noodles for the pad Thai.

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The pad Thai sauce, which is being added above – can be made in large batches and kept in the fridge for a few months, making it easy to whip up a batch of delicious noodles at a moment’s notice.

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And, it’s ready!!

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After taking some time out to eat the fruits of our labour, it was back to the kitchen to make my favourite – Tom yum soup!!
And, it was revealed, this is the secret and pivotal ingredient…

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Galangal is part of the ginger family, but it’s stronger and has more heat. I have tried many times to make Tom yum soup and it’s always laked something. It was galangal!!
We added lots of other things including mushrooms, tomatoes, and made a stock from coriander root, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass.

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The other keys are these two ingredients. I’ll be going on an expedition to find them next week.

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It really is a simple process of building taste from here.

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I think the tip of the day was this one … Season with fish sauce and lime juice off the heat. Gail says direct heat causes these flavours to change – so the best thing to do is take your food off the heat once it is cooked, taste and season to your taste.

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Tasting.

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Adjusting flavours.

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And taste again. Perfect!!
Green curry was also a highlight of the day.
Obviously we learnt the importance of frying your curry paste as the first port of call.

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But with he next step came the best advice. Normally I would add my chicken at this point – but no. Gail says it is best to add a touch of coconut milk and cook for a good few minutes, until you get bubbles on the side of the saucepan. This helps to ensure the coconut milk won’t split when you add the rest of the can – but also adds a depth of flavour. Add the chicken, veggies and coconut milk and cook until done. It really was absolutely beautiful and oozed with authenticity.

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Thank you to Gail and her husband Nigel for the cooking class. Visit their website here to find out about their classes- http://originalthaicooking.com.au/ – highly recommended.
It was a memorable and fun day and I learnt so much about Thai cooking – I know I will put my new knowledge to good use and use it to create truly authentic Thai dishes.

I truly think it’s a great idea, no matter how confident you feel in the kitchen – to grab a friend and go and enjoy a cooking class. You get to cook, have fun and eat … All things that put me in a very happy place! Next I think I’m going to research French cooking classes. Very exciting!!

So close, and yet so far … 11 weeks in and it’s getting tough

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That’s right ladies and gentleman – this new way of life is getting just a bit hard.
It’s not because I’ve given up drinking Coke, which I am really proud about, or eating more green veg and less white carbs.
Nope – it’s my inner voice.
I thought I had silenced the voice in my head which has been my worst enemy throughout the years. It’s the voice that gives me permission to give up on my goals – the voice that puts so much doubt in my head as to whether I can lose weight at all.
I was going along quite nicely until Australia Day. Matt’s nephew was born on this day, so we spent the evening celebrating with the family.
What is served at children’s birthday parties?

Party food, of course.
Now I have this stomach issue which really prevents me from eating any great amount of pastry. I have developed quite a distaste for this sort of food because it causes me so much pain when I eat it.
So, I had a plan. I would have one party pie and one sausage roll and that would be it. Just enough o be sociable, but not enough to make me feel sick.
With all the food laid out on the table – I found my hand reaching for this and that. Before I knew it, I’d eaten three sausages rolls and about four party pies. Major blow out of the plan! When asked if I’d like a piece of white chocolate birthday cake. Sure!! Why not!! I insisted on a small piece – but settled for a standard piece in the end. It looked really yummy.

Of course, there were also chocolate crackles. I haven’t had them for years!! Why not! So, I ate not one, not two – but five!!!
I was offered a beer or two – but by this time, I was feeling deeply ashamed of myself. I said no, and it became my favourite word to every offer, other than water, for the rest of the night.
I was in a funny mood all the next day. I ate an apple for breakfast – then nothing else for the rest of the day.
At the gym waiting for my trainer, I sat doing stretches on the matt – thinking about how hungry I felt but thinking it was an essential feeling after the indiscretions of the day before. Not only that, but my stomach was hurting because I had filled my body with such bad food.
On the treadmill, my trainer commented that I wasn’t my usual self. I hadn’t realized how much I was obsessing about the party food binge until he mentioned it. I blurted out what I had done – how I wasn’t only ashamed, but absolutely angry with myself!
I love eating out, I love eating full stop – but I plan to eat out – I save my points and it’s my special treat. There’s nothing to feel guilty about because I’ve worked for the meal at a nice restaurant, or ice cream or whatever I chose to indulge in. But at the party, I binged on food I don’t even enjoy. It was the first time since I started Weight Watchers 11 weeks ago that I had actively sabotaged by weight loss efforts. I felt shattered.
My trainer was really great. He explained that these things happen and that the fact I was there, walking on the treadmill, was testament to the fact that I’m still on track.
Still feeling like I had been my own worst enemy, my trainer reminded me of another goal I had set for myself – to run on the treadmill by February. At 112 kilograms, there was no way I was ready to run anywhere – but at 102.8 kilograms – I ran!

Only for 4 lots of 30 second intervals – but I did it! As I ran, all I could think about was listening to see how much noise I was making as I put one foot in front of the other. I was always scared of sounding like a herd of elephants. But, it wasn’t too bad! Still holding on to the rail, too scared to let go for fear of losing balance and falling over -my trainer encouraged me to let go. So, I did.
God it felt awesome. Sure, I’d didn’t run for long, and I got cramps in my feet and had to take my shoes off – but I did it!

I went home and talked to Matt. I told him how bad I felt and had a really good cry about it. He let me cry, he reassured me, and gave me lots of love and encouragement. I felt instantly better. I had let it go and was back on track!

Running on the treadmill changed my whole perspective on things. I had made poor choices the day before – but I had still managed to achieve a great goal. Not only that, but after a good cry, I came in the next morning to do another session. Half an hour of hard-yakka cardio. I was sore and tired – but after finishing that session – I felt like I had paid for my sins and could continue to go on and be proud of myself.
Today was weigh in day and I was prepared. Food wise – the week had not been a success – and so I assumed I would gain a little for the first time (other than Christmas). Well, I am very proud to say that I lost 200 grams. Not much. But I have officially lost 9.1 kilograms. YAY!
Today I also started back at yoga and I’ll be heading to the gym for another session tomorrow to discuss my workout plans going forward. I fear my body is starting to rebel – so it might be time to shake things up a bit.
So, alls well that ends well. I lost a bit, I’m back on track and I’ve got a plan to keep going. Life’s great!!