Travel Diary: Mont Saint Michel and the Two Tides

Oh, my poor readers.  You came here for a food blog.  And then I go AWOL for a week, and come back and rant about politics, and now I’m writing about my travels again, and to add insult to injury, this particular post is going to be incredibly picture-heavy, because Mont Saint Michel is so picturesque that I took something like 200 pictures in a 24 hour period, and while I have culled extensively, that still leaves a lot of pictures that are too exciting not to share.

So I apologise in advance for this.  I shall try to come up with a really good vegan cupcake over the next few days, to make amends.

But without further ado, let us return to the Travel Diary, in which our intrepid heroines climb an incredible number of stairs, get hypnotised by the tides, and then spend the evening at an incredibly sound and light show.

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Recipe: Green ‘couscous’

Oops, bit of a hiatus there, wasn’t there?  I really owe this blog another travel post, but basically, I got distracted by politics, and then I got angry about politics and then a woman in my suburb was beaten up on a train for wearing Hijab and I got absolutely furious about politics, joined Women in Solidarity with Hijabis, and put on a headscarf for a week.  Which I then felt compelled to blog about.  And it turns out that when you are writing political blogs nearly every day – and also fighting with scarves and pins every morning, though I seem to have finally mastered the art of getting my scarf to stay on – there isn’t much time left for food blogging.  Sorry.  I have a feeling that between the Islamophobia and the coming State Election, I’m going to be living on Cate Speaks rather a lot for the next little while.

Anyway, the recipe that follows is inspired by a recipe for cauliflower couscous in the Green Kitchen App, which I exhort you all to buy, because it’s awesome.  Also, it has this ribboned asparagus salad recipe with blueberries that I’ve made about four times in the last fortnight.  But, while I wanted to try the cauliflower couscous, my cauliflower was looking rather sad, and my broccoli cheerfully green. Then, couscous is supposed (in my book) to have fruit in it, and here I was with a bag of freeze-dried pomegranates.  Also, I didn’t have pumpkin seeds, but I did have a bag of mixed pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.  And so forth.

Also, my quantities are different.

What this is is a lovely, fresh-tasting recipe that can be made quite fast, and makes a lovely accompaniment to anything rich or protein-ish you were having for dinner.  And one can never have too many recipes like that, in my book.


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1 head of broccoli
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1/3 cup freeze-dried pomegranate seeds (or, of course, you could use the seeds from 1 actual pomegranate)
half a bunch of basil
a small bunch of parsley
80 g goats feta cheese
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup pumpkin seed oil

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Recipe: Six-ingredient Chilli

I’m afraid there are no photos to go with this recipe, because I made it when I was very, very tired and couldn’t face cooking – and so I didn’t think to photograph it.  Which is a pity, because it’s a nice, tasty recipe for a tired night.  And vegan, too!  (Until you cover it with cheese, like I did…)

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1 brown onion
1-2 tbsp chilli con carne, guacamole, mole, or other similar Mexican spice mix.  This is a recipe for a tired night, you don’t have to come up with your own mix, but do make sure this contains both cumin and chilli.
2 chipotle chillis in adobo
1 -2 large sweet potatoes (around 800 g in total)
2 x 400 g tins chopped tomatoes
2 x 400 g tins black beans

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Travel Diary: Paris part 3 – Chateau de Vincennes, and farewell Paris!

In which our heroines are reunited, and discover the most perfect castle that Catherine has ever seen.  And then they go on a Ferris wheel!

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Review: Cake, Bake and Sweets Show, Melbourne

I’ve spent the last couple of days at the Cake, Bake and Sweets Show in Melbourne.  So, judging by the crowds, has most of the rest of Melbourne, but just in case anyone missed it, I thought I’d write a bit about it.

I first heard about the show about a month ago, when my Entertainment subscription offered me two for one tickets.  Of course, I took one look at the program and decided that what I really wanted was a three day ticket, but I also took the two for one deal so that I could invite a couple of friends along to hang out with me.  The show promised to be a mixture of baking and decorating demonstrations, classes, and stalls, with a few competitions thrown in.  Sort of like the Royal Melbourne Show, only all sugar, all the time.

I was a pretty easy sell, I have to say.

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Travel Diary: Paris Part 2, with Farmers’ Markets and the Bois de Vincennes

In which our heroine actually has the day she envisaged when she first thought about going to Paris.

(This almost never happens)

And then she goes to Versailles, and finds beautiful gardens and too many tourists, but not the exit…

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Recipe: Asparagus and Carrot Pastries

My blog has gone a bit quiet over the last few days for several reasons. The first is that I bought an iPad, and succumbed to the excitement of cookbook apps and also interactive biology and chemistry textbooks, to the exclusion of all else. The second is that I got really cranky about politics, which meant that I started writing in my politics blog again, and there’s only so much writing I can do in one day. And the third is that… downloading interactive biology and chemistry textbooks (not to mention cookbook apps) kind of used up the last remaining shreds of our broadband for the month. I am currently writing this offline, while waiting for Cate’s Cates to load. It’s been ten minutes so far.   God only knows what it will be like when I have to upload pictures.

So you can expect a few more quiet days around here, until we get our broadband connection back.

Anyway, today is Grand Finals Day, and my team is in it. Very exciting stuff, and probably an apt occasion on which to post the delicious vegetarian goodies I made for last Grand Finals Day and inexplicably never found time to post about.

This is more of an idea than a recipe, but it’s a very good idea, and very easy to make, which works for me. I had bought a packet of puff pastry from the Fairfield Farmers’ Market, and was full of plans to make vegan sausage rolls, but then I was seduced by the simplicity (and cuteness) of asparagus and baby carrots in little puff pastry waistcoats (or more probably straitjackets, now that I look at them, but you probably shouldn’t tell your guests that while you are serving these).

And they were delicious, so everyone was happy. Especially me, because Hawthorn won.


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1 packet of puff pastry – I think mine was about 250 g
1-2 tablespoons of basil paste or pesto
1 bunch of asparagus (pick relatively slim asparagus, not the gigantically thick kind)
1 bunch of carrots
salt, pepper, lavender salt, chilli, parmesan – all optional


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Travel Diary: Paris Part 1

In which I manage to totally avoid tourists, mostly by staying in parts of Paris that are completely un-picturesque…

Also, I buy a lot of chocolate.  And a cookbook.  Nobody is surprised. Continue reading

Recipe: Asparagus and Haloumi Toasties

I love the word ‘toastie’.  I’m not at all sure I know what it means, mind you, and I’m fairly certain it doesn’t mean what I’m currently calling it, but it’s a great word.  So I am going to gleefully misuse it for the time being, and will choose to assume that it means ‘a toastie thing with grilled cheese on it’.  So there.

I’ve been under the weather for most of this week, and after a few days of this, I tend to start getting depressed as well.  At around day four of any malady, I start assuming that the pain will not ever stop, that I will feel sick and miserable for the rest of my life, that this is it.  And then I start contemplating the fact that when I was about seventeen, I had this very vivid belief that I would be dead before I was forty.  And I’m now thirty-eight.  Yep, less than two years to go.  This is clearly The Beginning Of The End.

And so that’s what the inside of my head looks like right now.  Well, not right now, or I’d be curling up with my head under the doona again, but for most of the last few days.  As of about an hour ago, I started suspecting that, in fact, I might live.  Which is almost certainly the benign outcome of all the asparagus I had for dinner.

Anyway, you are probably here for the toasties and are wondering why you were just treated to the dark side of my somewhat neurotic psyche.  I’m sorry.  I don’t actually know the answer to that question, either.  I suspect you are just lucky.

The point is, however – and yes, I do have a point – that toasties are one of the best foods to make when you aren’t feeling very flash.  Any meal that can be prepared in under ten minutes is a meal that is your friend.  If it contains melted cheese (the definition of comfort food), it is your very good friend.  And if you manage to make it so that you shoehorn a whole lot of vegetables into the meal, too, in a handy, minimal-preparation format, it is not just your very good friend, but your very good friend that might actually be providing you with some useful vitamins.

This is my favourite kind of edible friend.  (Note: most of my friends are not edible.  I assume.  I haven’t been going around nibbling to find out.)

And vegetable-infested cheese on toast is one of my favourite kinds of meal.  This one is especially good, of course, because it contains asparagus.

And that right there would probably have been introduction enough, without any of the neuroses.  Then again, if you were looking for concise introductions and no neuroses, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog in the first place…


Your Shopping List

Four slices of good bread (sourdough is good, but if you found beetroot bread at the deli, that is even better, because it is PINK.)
2-3 tablespoons of hummus
2 roasted red peppers
12 nice, fat asparagus spears
olive oil
salt, pepper
1 big handful of baby spinach (about 50 g)
8 thick slices of haloumi cheese (about 150 g, but that really is a guess)
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Travel Diary: Norway Part 6 – Bergen, and a farewell to Northern lands!

In which our heroines explore Bergen, miss all the museums, but do find some trolls (not the internet kind).

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