Five things: The July edition

Five things: The July edition

One. I’m crazy about card making right now. I’ve dived head first into YouTube land with the likes of Kristina Werner and Jennifer McGuire (and more) and have gathered bundles of inspiration that I think my head is going to explode. Thank goodness for Pinterest! I need more excuses to send cards to friends. And I’m hating on the fact that Australia Post keeps increasing postage prices but it won’t stop me. How I love snail mail.

IMG_3205

Two. I’m in full KonMari mode again and attempting to purge all my unwanted material possessions. I’ve discovered Carousell and Shedd. Why do these apps need the superfluous extra letter you ask? Maybe it adds to their success. Who knows. I’ve sold a bunch on both apps. I find it convenient enough to list quickly and efficiently, but find the hagglers a bit much to deal with.

Three. Truffle season is happening right now and whilst it is usually Canberra that gets the bulk of the celebrations, Sydney is getting onboard with the truffle party. I’ve visited some restaurants with truffle specials and I’m addicted. I just can’t say no to a smattering of fresh truffle atop my jaffle. And all other indulgent foods just because. Winter.

IMG_3376

Four. Hobonichi research dominates my free time right now. At the moment I’m using an Appointed weekly notebook planner. I love it for task planning and an overview of what’s to come, but what I’m really craving is the day-to-day journalling. I guess this related to point number one and documenting and stamping everything in sight. I think I’ve decided on an A6 version, now whether I want the Avec or the traditional… I really wanted some cute planner clips so I ended up making my own.

IMG_3519

Five. I saw they just released the Instax Square, which is a hybrid camera. Not sure how I feel about this. I love how the older Instax captures moments without any editing. However I can see why you would want to edit your photos to print. I just purchased the SP-2 printer after years of detesting it, just because I can’t deny it in this digital age. I have SO many photos on my phone, on my hard drive that I just want to physically touch.

Now, all I need is some time to pursue my 103,482,298 hobbies. That is all.

Eating my way through the capital city

Eating my way through the capital city

For the Queen’s birthday long weekend, we decided to do a road trip down to Canberra which is an approximately 3 hour drive. Let me just say that the Australian capital city has changed quite a bit from what I remember. There are loads of jobs in C-town which I guess means the foodie scene has been flourishing. We stayed in the New Acton area, which was pretty much hipster central. We made Japanese pancakes (AMAZING) before setting off on the drive down.

IMG_6291

We got to Canberra late in the afternoon, driving to Joe’s Bar for a late tapas lunch. No regrets. We got three dishes to share (admittedly 2 fried dishes #noregrets). I started off with a floral G+T, too pretty to drink.

02 drink

We got the burrata con tartufo, an oozy mozzarella made from fresh cows milk and cream, finished off with fresh local truffles. Did I mention it was truffle season? Oh and some arancini and calamari as well. Jokes aside, the calamari was pretty amazing. It was the most tender calamari I’ve had. You didn’t even need cutlery to slice it up, it was that soft. The calamari was paired with a black squid ink aioli, which despite it’s scary hue, was quite salty and went nicely with the seafood.

03 food
Arancini di Riso on the left, and Burrata con Tartufo on the right.
04 squid
Calamari Fritti with black squid ink aioli hidden underneath.

We stayed at the newly renovated QT hotel, which was previously the Rydges hotel. The verdict? It wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t horrible either. Each QT hotel has their own theme, and in Canberra it’s no surprise that the theme is politics.

There are multiple prior Aussie prime ministers hidden within the wallpaper in the lobby and streaming political tweets all over the walls. Overall it was a good stay, however we found the mini bar fridge didn’t work well. It was faster to chill a bottle of champagne on the balcony in the sub-zero temperatures!

05 lobby

06 balcony.jpg
A stunning view at sunset.

Dinner that night was at the Capitol Bar and Grill at the hotel, famed for their enormous tomahawk steaks. Naturally we chose to have some truffle mac and cheese on the side. Amazing. I love truffle season. M&C didn’t look too attractive, but believe me, it was the most delicious thing ever on a winter’s night.

07 capitol

The handmade markets happened to be on during the weekend we were visiting. We stopped by at EPIC, the Exhibition Park In Canberra. It was like a slightly less crowded version of the Finders Markets that they hold in the other capital cities. We ate a few things, bought a few things, and had a pretty good day.

08 markets
Cinnamon donut ice cream and a cute wall shelf stall.

I have a part 2 Canberra post lined up as we ate at so many great food places, but for now, thanks Canberra, you’re alright.

09 sunset

Shepherd’s pie with cheesy truffle mash

Shepherd’s pie with cheesy truffle mash

H and I were faced with a dilemma last week – deciding what to do with some beef mince we had frozen a few weeks ago. Initially we had decided on nachos, but after realising I had some potatoes in the pantry, I searched around for a shepherd’s pie recipe. Now I realise traditional shepherd’s pie calls for lamb mince, but I didn’t think beef would hurt much.

I found a recipe by Donna Hay and adapted it a little to suit the beef modification. Plus I added some truffle to it. Who can resist truffle? This is a great recipe for preparing in advance on a weekend, and cooking in a snap on a school night during the week for a quick dinner. I used my piping bag to get pretty little florets on top, but in the end it melted together and didn’t resemble anything like what it used to be. Still pretty tasty despite its appearance.

Shepherd's pie

SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH CHEDDAR MASH
Makes 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
500g beef mince
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary/basil/thyme
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1kg dutch cream potatoes, peeled and chopped
¼ cup milk
60g butter
1 cup grated vintage cheddar cheese/mozzarella/parmesan

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over high heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and carrot. Cook for 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Add the mince and cook for 5 minutes or until browned.
  4. Add the tomato, vinegar, paprika, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Place the potato in a saucepan of salted cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 12 minutes or until tender. Drain and squeeze through a potato ricer to ensure a smooth consistency.
  6. Add the milk and butter, then mash. Add the cheese and salt and mix to combine.
  7. Divide the beef between 4 x 1½-cup capacity ovenproof dishes (or one large dish).
  8. Top with the mash and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. I used a piping bag to get some pretty shapes on it and make it extra crunchy.
  9. Drizzle with truffle oil before serving.

What do you cook in advance for dinner during the week?