Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tasty tomatoes

When you get down to it, tomatoes are pretty easy to grow, if not to keep disease-free. I've never had any trouble growing tomatoes. But growing really tasty ones? Well, that seems to be another story for me. For years, it has been a hit and miss affair; sometimes sweet juicy success and sometimes a good effort but with a tad too much acid or a hint of grainy flesh. I have tried growing many varieties, adjusting my soil conditions and my aspect. But I still haven't nailed the science of the perfect tomato. This year's early crop, however, have been quite the triumph.

The only thing I can put it down to is that they grew and ripened quickly. But maybe there's something else I'm missing. Do you have a secret for growing really tasty tomatoes?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fun and minor tragedy in the kitchen

This morning I made these super yummy date and nut balls inspired by the latest edition of Delicious magazine.

They are chock full of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, cocoa and spices; calorie rich but highly nutritional.

They were a raging success, except...the pressure of long term blending was too much for my 20+ year old food processor, which started emitting an alarming amount of smoke :(

Thank goodness the food wasn't spoiled. We are now fantasizing about buying a Thermomix. Back in the real world, where money is perpetually tight, I guess it's time to start saving for another food processor...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Good surprise

I found out yesterday that I won a prize at work that involves a significant cash bonus. The best thing about it is that I didn't even know I'd been nominated for a prize. Good end to a fairly crappy week :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


When you've been relegated to a saturated fat free diet for the rest of your life, the glory that is cheese covered pizza becomes a wistful thing of the past. I have been playing around with a few options to try and reclaim my pizza joy. The calzone is the best so far. Kind of like a large pizza turnover, the calzone effectively steams the pizza toppings, giving them a nice melty texture, while also ensuring the integrity of the crispy pizza dough.

This one was filled with grilled eggplant, spinach, tomato paste, tuna and mushrooms. Very tasty. Next time, I think I will try a prawn combo.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One year on...

A year ago, I finally managed to get off my arse and start losing the weight that I had let pile on over 10 years or so. I had tried to do this once before, experienced success but then sustained an injury that benched me for over three years. This time around, I'm not letting anything get in my way. I am 17kgs lighter than I was this time last year and I only have a couple of kilos to go to get to that stupid socially constructed goal I seem to have attached myself to. This last little bit is going to take a while, because illness is now constricting my activity. But I am going to get there, no matter how slowly. This has been a good year for learning a few things about myself and about getting strong. Here are a few of the things I've learned:

1. I have to put myself first sometimes.If I am fit, well rested and happy, then I am also productive and more present to people I care about.
2. I am tough - I can do a lot more than I start off thinking I can.
3. I have to plan to workout every day - that way, I get it done about 5-6 times a week. If I plan rest days, I usually end up working out 3-4 times a week because things come up. Life's annoying that way.
4. I am pretty fit, but I'm still not that strong - my core strength is shocking. I have to honour my abs (which I don't like doing, because they're my weakest bit)
5. I love wearing groovy clothes (actually, I already knew this, but I'm glad I can fit into them again)
6. Replacing an entire wardrobe, from the underwear out, is very expensive :( I am slowly getting there, but I still look like I'm wearing a tent some of the time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Many years ago, when I was a first year psychology undergraduate (before I realised that I was more interested in ideas than 'rats and stats', so switched to sociology), I was a guinea pig in a PhD student's research experiment. As was the nature of research ethics at that time, I was told nothing about what I was participating in. It turned out he was doing some kind of examination of people's responses to stress. I basically sat in a room, wired up to various monitors, being shown pictures of spiders and other 'stressful' things. I remember I had a bad cold and was sweating a lot. Anyway, shortly after this experience, I had a phone call from the PhD researcher begging me to come back in. According to him, I was his most interesting subject as I rated off the charts on both subjective and objective measures of anxiety. Personally, I think it was just the cold!

I am actually pretty anxious, but I don't think I am in the ballpark with people who suffer true anxiety disorders. I have been reminded this week of just how powerful anxiety can be. I was hosting a big forum this week, with people attending from all over the country. It was a massive undertaking and I was stressed out of my mind. The thing that really gets me, though, is my retrospective anxiety. You'd think, with the event over, I'd be having a lovely relaxing weekend. But no, instead I am playing the event over and over in my mind, stressing about small mistakes and my own inadequacies (despite the objective evidence that more than 15 people have already emailed to say what a great day they had). Do you suffer from retrospective anxiety? I'm off to the gym to try to work it off.

Friday, November 5, 2010

An excellent dinner

This rice salad is a pretty bog standard weeknight meal at my place.

But it's special because the tomatoes, eggplant and greens are all from my little pot vegie garden.