Discovery in the Blogosphere: the Liebster Award

A slightly different post, but I had fun with this so maybe more like this in future. Three-ish days ago I got a super nice comment from a fellow blogger who tagged me in this. Here goes!

The Liebster Award is all about welcoming new bloggers and learning something about the blogger behind the blog. Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Display the award on your post.
  3. Write a small post about what makes you passionate about blogging
  4. Provide 10 random facts about yourself
  5. Answer the questions given to you
  6. Nominate 5-11 other blogs for this award
  7. Ask them creative and unique questions of your own
  8. List the rules and inform your nominees of the award

1, 2, 8. Shoutout and thanks to How to be an okay person for the tag! 

3. I’ve a lot to say on this one, and I’ll expand on this prompt. Bear with me, or skip to the end.

I love the idea of creating original content and my blog is one outlet for creativity. I crave more of that creative aspect in my life. I want to write my truth as I am now, as I am at this point of my life. 

My blogs through the years have been things I’ve started, then failed on consistency, and then abandoned. There was always a reason these blogs of the past decade were not good enough.

My blogging has always been a personal outlet. From time to time, I go back to writings of the past—thoughts, stray observations, short stories. 

I used to read back at some of my thought posts with some level of disdain—mainly because the writing of past me lacks authenticity. I know because at that time it was impossible to be myself. Even on my own personal blog that I’d created for myself to read, which is ridiculous. I was scared future me would judge my actual thoughts at that time. It is a cruel irony: the very thing I was scared of writing is the very thing I regret. I know this because that was me then.

I look back now through lens of acceptance. I suppose growing up teaches you that you don’t need to constantly validate (or invalidate) your thoughts against or based on some construct of what they should be. Thoughts just are. In hindsight, I see how this aspect controlled who I was to the world. My identity. My projected identity and hugely the way I interacted with the world. I cannot stress how important it is not to compromise on identity. 

Who you are to you is critical. Who you are to make you happy is critical. If you cannot be authentic with yourself, then how can you ever feel free in any sense? Being true to yourself. Being the authentic version of you is where happiness starts and ends. 

It was the beginning of 2016 that I started to write down my thoughts with some consistency. I was curious to know what I might think of myself in years to come. It’s one thing to remember a time of your life; it’s another thing to be able to read about it from you. I also wanted to improve the fluency of my writing, and to get better at writing you need to write—about anything.

Come mid-2017, I decided to extend my blogging to creative areas beyond that personal space. 

This year, and particularly from May onwards, I’ve looked to exploring content in ways I haven’t before. Original content that is real, that represents exactly that, is content that makes me happy. 

4. If I have to isolate ten facts about myself, how can they be random facts? I will try to honour randomness. 

One – I was born with ten toes.
Two – The last meal I had was a Four ‘n’ Twenty beer flavoured pie.
Three – I would be a tomato sauce goes in the fridge not the cupboard person if I ate tomato sauce on a more regular basis.
Four – As stated in my profile, I am an under-100 year old.
Five – I wear glasses on occasion.
Seven – Based on this list, I clearly can’t count.
Six – Midnight is when my thoughts are clearest.
Eight – I love wrapping presents.
Nine – I do not have a shortcrust pastry recipe yet on my site.
Ten – The sky is usually blue wherever I am. Coincidence?

5. 10 Questions 
1) What would the official soundtrack of your life be?
This is a hard one it would be a very eclectic mix of things making up the soundtrack. Here are a few things that would be on my multi-CD soundtrack:
Sun

– some pop/prog-rock: Genesis
– some pop: Richard Marx, Miley, 1D and their individual spin-offs haha, Linkin Park, Evanescence, Elton John
– some classical: Jacqui Evancho, Martina McBride, Celtic Woman, Martina Prior
– some popera: Il Volo, Collabro
– some Norwegian stuff: Sveinung Hølmebakk, Sigvart Dagsland
– some random bits and pieces: Joker Xue, Samantha Barks, Westlife, Susan Boyle, Deuter.

2) Describe the ideal superhero in the real world.
The ideal superhero would be a fund that takes my super and multiplies it! My ideal superhero is a hero who is someone who does what a superhero is supposed to do: save the day. Be there. Be the hero. And be super at it.

3) What would the motto and the crest of your family be?
I would go for a dragon or lion’s head or maybe a unicorn. A beast of sorts. The motto would need to be simple. I would be okay with getting forever lols from something like ‘beast mode 4 lyf’.

4) What is your most/least favourite English word?
I can’t decide! The worst would be a least favourite person’s name. 😎 The most…I can’t decide.

5) If you had the chance to turn back time, how different would the decisions in your life be, knowing what you now know?
Knowing what I know now in the past, my life would be very different. My decisions would be very different. I would have more belief in my decisions.

6) Describe your most prominent memory anytime it rained?
Not my most prominent moment but an abstract moment that held significance. 

She stood in the shower and turned up the hot water. The running of the hot water against her skin was immediately calming. The wind had been howling all day and the rain had been heavy. On and off, hail and drizzles. Wintery and terrible. It was heavy rain again. Tomorrow’s forecast, too.

The dips in the streets would fill with little pools of water. Cars would look extra clean. Cheeks would be dewy. The trains would be holding free umbrella day.

There would be the inevitable dripping of water from the hole in the ceiling, to the bed post, to her pillow tonight if the rain continued. The roof knew where best to spring a leak. It was great at playing raindrop dominoes. 

The rain had been making it difficult to go anywhere this week. Water everywhere. If only it would drown out her thoughts.

The hot water against her felt like relief. The shampoo, apple infused, had been a good choice. It lathered well and the scent was pleasant. 

The long shower came to a reluctant end. Feeling fresher, she hopped into bed and pulled the covers close. What a day. What a week.

Droplets began to pelt the pillowcase. 

The rain outside had stopped.

It looked like the cloud had moved inside.

7) What one mythical creature would you like to turn into and why?
I’d turn into a fairy because every fairy’s story has to come with a fairy tale ending.

8) Who is one person, dead or alive, you would love to spend 24 hours with?
The who they are includes their kindness, their care, the joy they bring, and their expressive eyes which speak more than words can ever say.

9) If you could have a tattoo (or another one, if you’ve already gotten some), what would it be and why?
I would get a tattoo of a rainbow unicorn. A reminder that there is bliss to be had if you look hard enough.

10) How much chocolate is too much chocolate?
Never enough. Can you ever have too much chocolate? I eat chocolate everyday.

6. I tag these blogs for the Liebster Award because they have cool content (and look forward to their replies to my list of questions below, should they decide to participate😎).

TrkingmomoeCooking for HumansRewarded with WordsThank you GB Bake OffChef Keith, Simple Gourmet CookingVegan BajanRachael HakimJourney from a Polish KitchenThe Hungry Food MonstersMaking a Long Story ShortOh Yes They Did

7. My questions
1) How would you describe yourself?
2) What’s the most extreme thing you have done?
3) If you could spend a day with someone who would that someone be?
4) What is one piece of advice you’d give on a 21st birthday?
5) What/who is on your playlist?
6) Describe a moment that made you happy.
7) Describe your favourite breakfast, lunch, dinner, and/or dessert?
8) How’s your day looking tomorrow?
9) If you could gain one superpower what would you choose and why?
10) Answer a question that’s not on this list that you’d like to answer or that would make this more fun!

No expectations, but I’d love to read yours back if you (or any bloggers/commenters old, new, and inbetween) do participate.

😊
Cheerio

– enchirist

Baking: No-bake Lemon and Coconut Slice

Slices are something I want to get into, and this one I had been wanting to try for some time. 

I feel like having a slice and coffee during a coffee break is the less fanciful, less pretentious option compared to having cake and coffee. 

Maybe it’s my overactive imagination. 

If you have coffee and a slice, more often than not I feel the coffee is the main event and the slice is merely a nice accompaniment. It is pretty standard fare, a non-event, to add a slice to an order of coffee. 

With coffee and cake, I think this raises the bar on the type of coffee break being had. At the very least I feel it connotes something more, something less ordinary than just coffee and a slice does. 

Cake is laden with more than just calories. 

‘Cake’ is more loaded with potential meanings than ‘slice’. 

Cake with a morning coffee is easier to judge. 

Cake implies countless things. From celebration, to decadence, to gluttony, but also, to why—having a bad day? In need of a sugar hit? Cake in the morning? Sugar-much?

There’s the matter of determining whether the drawcard, the reason for the coffee break, was more the coffee or more the cake. The ratio for the underlying reasons is a grey area. Was it a coffee break, or a cake break disguised as a coffee break?

In all fairness, I don’t ever think getting a slice could ever inspire as much excitement or interest as cake does. To have cake, is to treat. Birthdays are cakedays not slicedays for a reason.

Still, in good company, if you scoot off to grab coffee but come back with cake too, tell me that you won’t be seen any differently than had you come back with a slice. 

But, like I said, I have a good imagination.

Slice and cake: different and unique and delicious in every way. I do get pretty cut up about these things. 

I must say I’m really pleased with how this midnight no-bake slice turned out!

Here’s the Recipe

Base
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
125g butter, softened
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
Grated rind of 1 lemon
3/4 of 400g pack of plain digestive biscuits, crushed (McVities are my fav. They also crush very easily: no food processor needed, just whack them in a bag to crush.)

Combine butter and sweetened condensed milk well. Microwave to ensure combined, under a minute should do. Add biscuits and mix well. Add coconut and lemon rind. Combine very well. Spoon mixture evenly into a lined slice tin. Press down firmly with back of a glass until all compacted. Refrigerate while preparing icing. 

Icing
1 3/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
3-4 tbsp lemon juice, depending
40g butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut + excess coconut for topping

Combine icing sugar and butter. Cream as far as possible. Add in lemon juice, more if needed. Mix well. The mix should be fairly stiff, playdough like. Add in coconut and mix well.

With a spatula, spread icing over the base and compact. Once completely spread, sprinkle over a generous amount of coconut to completely cover the icing and press down. Refrigerate for an hour, or until set hard before cutting.

My midnight baking brain decided I’d take the photo opportunity to advertise McKenzie’s. 🤦

I had my slices in the fridge for about four hours after. This did wonders to fully set them so they firmed up. For a more citrusy ‘fresher’ taste I’d double the lemon rind. I might do when I next make these. 

They’re sweet; have them with coffee or tea.

Enjoy! 

Katsu Chicken Curry at Zushibento, Brookfield Place

For lunch at the end of the week I decided to go the Katsu chicken curry for $11.90 at Zushibento, Brookfield Place.

Rice with crispy chicken on top and just-poured curry arrived after a productive five minutes—during which my usual donation to charity was made and it was confirmed​ that the coming weekend would unfortunately not be spent at the beach.

This far-hotter-than-your-average dish on a cold day hit the spot. Think actual steaming rice. With visible steam. Think OH&S hazard levels of hotness. 

As a massive fan of eating things right out of the oven, right off the stove, for the burn, this was awesome. 

The chicken and curry were respectively like KFC done without three of the eleven secret herbs and spices, and some strangely kick-ass Kan Tong creation that if mamma was making would not take long for the word to spread around. In other words, it was pretty delicious and beyond average tastiness—and on a scale of boring-desk-job-lunch to showstopper-in-the-communal-office-kitchen, this was more of the latter.

On a musical note, who else thinks Kan Tong had a pretty catchy jingle? No? Just putting the question out there. I… I mean I don’t whistle it from time to time thinking about the 2000s…

Taste verdict Katsu curry that’s lunchtime good.

⭐⭐⭐

Softshell Crab, Wagyu Steak, and Sticky Date Pudding at the Grand Bar and Bistro, CBD St Georges Terrace

The EoFY lunch at the Grand Bar and Bistro came up awfully fast. There was the whole lead up to it: the planning, the phonecalls, the visits, the background to get everything in order for the day and then it was finally here. Overall, it turned out well. 

I had for entrée the softshell crab, for main the Wagyu streak, and for dessert sticky date pudding.

The softshell crab was crispy on the outside and moreish on the inside. With the mayo and a seaweed salad, this was a great tasting Japanese-inspired dish that had the elements down pat. It was a generous serving by comparison to the other entrees at the table. 

The only complaint: it was cold. 

For context, the service was lovely but unfortunately slow.

The entrées came out with some confusion​. Entrees were matched to names rather than tables, which meant extra work for the waitstaff finding who was sat where in a mad scramble as the dishes made it to the service counter. At one point there was a string of five or six dishes on the countertop awaiting direction as to which table they should be sent.

They cottoned on to as much, and for mains decided to bring around the options and ask tables for numbers of takers.

As we soon found, this too proved problematic. All dishes had been pre-ordered against names and the billing for meals set accordingly.

What wasn’t factored in was people being people. When the waitstaff brought around the mains, several from our party forgot what they had ordered, decided to eat what they hadn’t ordered, or simply took someone else’s meal—with no harm intended I thoroughly appreciate, but perhaps also with blissful ignorance of what this meant for others. 

The end result was wasted paid-for dishes, the kitchen having to conjure up replacement dishes, and, needless to say, long waiting times and cold mains.

All that said, my main course when it arrived was cooked beautifully. My blue steak was a raging dish; it showed off a deep purple inside and a scorched outer crust. Justice had been done to the Wagyu. It was tender, juicy, full-flavoured, and left as natural as possible. The beef was bloody good. This blue steak was a textbook example of less is more and letting ingredients speak for themselves. Being the only blue steak order in our party, I really had been spoilt.  

The sides of carrot and potato added to the appeal of the dish and were favourably warm. The medley of potato was particularly delicious; crispy potato atopped more mashed counterparts and was layered with butter and cheese. As I sliced through the beef, piling on the carrot puree, and the potato, enjoyment on a plate was all I could think of.

Writing this up now I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate to have in my life wonderful days and times and food. Good times such as this. It’s embarrassing that hashtags instead of reasonable prose come to mind thinking of how I might put it into words. I suppose I could say that if, perchance, I were part of the uber hip, Gen Y Twitter crowd, I’d be all over the tags: #blessed, #thankful, #Aussie and #luckycountry. Seriously though, good and great times put the less-good patches into perspective. 

Two courses down and things were now back on track for dessert.

I had the sticky date pudding. It was aesthetically​ beautiful. That’s where my praise for this dish ended. The sticky date pudding was very cakey. It was mild in a flavour I couldn’t pinpoint—sticky date related, maybe, but not dates. If there were real dates somewhere on this dish they must’ve been miniscule amounts, or completely pureed away into the sauce and cake. To the palate it was a sweet sauce on a sponge. The addition of an ordinary vanilla ice-cream, that was melting from the heat of the plate evidently lifted right out of the dishwasher, pulled no punches. The caustic taste of unincorporated baking soda as I bit into the bottom of the pudding underscored everything wrong with the dish. Perhaps it’d just been my sticky date pudding; it was the most popular dessert had on the day and I did hear later that others liked theirs. The lack of actual date content, now that can’t have been a one-off.

All in all, it worked out. 

On the food, my entree and main were fabulous, the main in particular. 

The process for service does need work. The staff were great with us and made a real effort to make things work despite the initial confusion. The management were accommodating with our requirements for the function. I’d not hesitate to get in contact again. 

The Grand has a great space. It has a large enough restaurant area and the space carries a certain intimacy about it. Courtesy of the dark and neutral tones throughout the restaurant, closely placed seating, and the use of largely ambient lighting, the space is personal and cosy, more dine and wine than grub and pub. The venue would work nicely for a smaller function.

Considering everything I think it went pretty darned well overall. 

Taste verdict What can I say on the food? I’ll leave it at the beef was most agreeable.

⭐⭐⭐

Baking: Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot cake cupcakes or carrot cupcakes? The former would appear to me to be far more recognisable than the latter because everyone knows what a carrot cake is. Carrot cupcake on the other hand, now that I think conveys savouriness, like a cupcake that’s by definition unhealthy but that is trying to go healthy and vego. But then again if I call it a ‘carrot cake cupcake’ is the ‘cake’ part redundant? Does that make ‘carrot cake’ a flavour which it really isn’t? Physically it is a carrot cake done in cupcake form so that name does work. I have left it so because these bad boys, while they aren’t savoury characters, are certainly not vego-levels of good for you. They are however freakin’ delicious, if I may humbly say. ‘Sold! To the buyer in the maximum-tint sunnies as ‘carrot cake cupcakes‘’. 

Midnight dilemmas sure do keep me nocturnal.

I decided to bake these cupcakes today to de-stress, you know because ‘stressed’ spelled backwards is ‘desserts’ and all. That’s​ my thang. Also, because I haven’t baked a carrot cake in a while. I was itching to bake cupcakes and do a less-dense carrot cake. Also, because I had a huge cravin’ for the best-est ever carrot cake—which of course means home made and super fresh out of the oven. God do I love just-baked carrot cake. Whoever came up with carrot cake kneads more dough, and more than a raisin, while we’re at it. 

Recipe:

Carrot Cake Cupcakes or Cake
3 cups SR flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder (extra rise, optional)
Sprinkling of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups butter
1 cup applesauce
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 – 4 cups grated carrots, about 3 large carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together well butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract. Sift in flour, baking powder and spices. Add in salt. Add in applesauce. At this point the mixture should be fairly aerated and difficult to  stir. Fold through gently carrots and walnuts. Bake at 160°C for 25-30 minutes in lined standard-sized cupcake trays or in a lined cake tin.

Creamcheese frosting
1/2 packet Philly / 125g cream cheese
1/2 cup mascapone
1/2 cup butter
4 cups icing sugar
Handful of walnuts for decoration

Cream together sugar, butter, and cheese. Pipe. Toast walnuts and decorate.

Sans-frosting and Frosted

Out of all the carrot cake recipes I’ve tried, this recipe takes the cake for being super soft and light. It is incredibly fluffy, and very different to the denser carrot cakes out there—which are also yum, just this is a variant without the heaviness. What is astonishing is that there is a great amount of carrot but it still turns out light.

One tip – mind the icing which will be soft and only pipe once cupcakes have cooled; the icing will harden and you should be able to turn the cupcakes upside down after the frosting has set. 

Enjoy!