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A Travelling Cook: January 2014

A Travelling Cook

A Travelling Cook: January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

More decluttering

And lots more...I've been posting stuff in a Facebook album so you're welcome to friend me (Cate Lawrence) to see all the stuff!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ways to make travel with a partner and survive with your relationship intact.

Just thought I'd write a few thoughts here. I'm certainly not an extensive traveller by any means but I find ways of making things fun and interesting. Bear in mind, I've done most of my travelling in the UK,  Europe, Scandinavia and the States and a couple of trips to China. I'm also more of a 'comfort on a budget traveller' rather than a backpacker (you can't walk everywhere when you have dodgy feet) so some of you might roll your eyes at my advice.

There's no shame being a tourist. 

But it doesn't mean you have to just work off a list of places to visit from a tour guide. I find Churches very dull but I enjoy other experiences. I've really enjoyed a four hour cheese tasting class, some natural beauty classes, a day trip to Monet's garden in Provence,  tours of street art in Amsterdam, arts classes and more. I've used the odd hop on, hop off tour, they're there for a reason and handy to see places which aren't easily accessible by public transport (see dodgy feet above) but they do contain the pain of other tourists.

Once I've worked out my dates of travel (even roughly) I usually have a recce to see what festivals are on during my visit. In this way we've enjoyed the Montreal Jazz Festival, Carnivale in Venice, Berlin Music Festival, various film festivals and celebrations and more. Check out Time Out, the town or city's website  and local press online for more ideas. Blogs are also a great resource with many offering reviews of bars and cafes and places of interest by local and tourists alike.

We also use to internet to source tasty vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Happy Cow is a great resource but blogs again are very useful for finding up to date restaurants and supermarkets.

Stay where you want to visit
If you travel with your partner you'll most likely find it cheaper to stay elsewhere than a backpackers once you work out the cost of a double room in a youth hostel-it's often comparable to the cost of a hotel. The vast majority of the time we preference Airbnb as we like to live in neigbourhoods rather than in tourist centres. They can be accessed very easily by public transport and are in walking distance of local bars, cafes, supermarkets etc rather than expensive soulless, tourist precincts. The owners usually provide loads of knowledge on where to go and what to do. For Melbournians, a comparison would be staying somewhere you'll be keen to visit (say,  Collingwood or Fitzroy) rather than near Southern Cross station.

Pace yourself
We generally find we get tired and annoyed with travelling (and each other) if we get up early, stay out all day and come home late. So we tend to head out after the morning rush hour and go see something, have lunch, go home for a break/siesta then go out again later. Travelling somewhere unfamiliar, particularly in another language) can be quite draining so allow yourself time out. You don't have to do everything! Think quality not quantity.

Download a currency converter on your phone. That Marimekko dress on sale might not be the bargain it appears. But that said, don't stress yourself out with the cost of everyday things, you are on holiday, there's no need to live in noodles and peanut butter sandwiches unless you really want to. We set ourselves a bit of a daily budget with some space for deviation.  Even when staying in dearer places like Copenhagen we usually try and have at least one more expensive meal for the experience. For example, we had an amazing 3 course dinner in Hamburg when we were there last year and the cost wasn't much more than we'd pay in Australia in reality (let's face it, Australia is getting more and more expensive).

Keep your suitcase in mind. 
We usually travel very light in regard to clothing (meaning we often have wear the same stuff in most photos) as we stay in places with bathrooms and laundries for washing. The first time I went to Europe I bought so much stuff I had to buy a second suitcase. But this was long before internet shopping.   Other times I've become very good at making things fit. Put on weight means I tend to buy less clothing as vintage clothes are rarely bigger sizes and most plus sizes are available online anyway. But more space has meant I've been able to buy some great shoes, vintage crockery and bits and pieces over the years. Don't buy posters, they are a pain to travel with and most galleries and museums will post them to you.

Factor in some alone time
Travelling with a partner (or a best friend) can really make or break a relationship so in many ways it's the ultimate challenge. There's another person to lose something or get you lost besides yourself. I'm sure we're not the only ones who've had blazing arguments in public after visiting somewhere only to find it had closed down or was shut for the day due to a strike. But at other times you feel like it's you and them against the world. We particularly found this in Beijing when visiting Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden Garden and having Chinese tourists take photos of us due to our colouring and 'difference'. I like some down time reading books or sitting alone in a coffee shop or sorting through crockery at a vintage shop. Or just watching TV shows on the net.

My travel essentials

  • Take extra prescription meds with you. Separate between cabin and stored luggage. It's a bitch when your antidepressants go missing.
  • Pain killers
  • Bandaids. Impossible to find in China!
  • Ear plugs ( I snore so I bring extra for other people)
  • Packets of tissues. I usually try and travel sustainably but you'll find public places where you have to pay for toilet paper, if they have any. In Singapore, packets of tissues are used to mark a seat at a food court table whilst it's owner goes to buy their lunch. No one takes the seat. 
  • Zip lock bags. Essential for anything you don't want to get wet.
  • Books. I tend to buy second hand ones before I travel and leave them in public (or free bookshops if I can find them). I haven't had all that much experience reading books on my IPad, but with moving we've digitized all our cd's and dvd's and will try get digital versions of most books. 
  • A laptop with movies/TV on it. Gives you something to do when sitting around waiting for trains etc. 
  • A big scarf
  • Umbrellas can be a pain to pack so pick up a crappy one if the weather is iffy or in a pinch, a plastic poncho thingie. You'll look ridiculous but dry. 
  • USB drive in case you need to print travel documents at a net cafe


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Easy peasy pavlova


          4 egg whites at room temperature
 Pinch of salt
 1.25 cups of sugar  2 teaspoons cornflour
 1 teaspoons white wine vinegar
A few drops of vanilla extract

To top your pav:
  • 250ml cream, whipped
  • Any fruit you like

1.       1.     Preheat oven to 140C  for a fan-forced oven
2.     Beat room temp egg whites and salt until they start to look foamy and then glossy
3.     Beat in sugar a few tablespoons at a time until stiff and really shiny 

4.     Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and fold very lightly with a spatula
5.     Spread onto baking paper in a circle shape about 20cms wide
6.     Make sure you make a nice smooth disc shape

7.     Carefully place in oven and reduce temperature to 110C
8.     Bake for 1.25 hours
9.     Once the oven is off, leave it to cool for 2-3 hours before opening

.  To serve turn upside down, top with whipped cream and fruit

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Vegan chocolate beetroot cake

I totally forgot to take pictures so here's some pictures of beetroot cakes made by another cook

  • 500g self raising flour (or gluten free and baking soda).
  • 180g cocoa
  • 100g sugar (more to taste)
  • 2 medium beetroot, grated
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 350ml orange juice
  • 1.5 tablespoons baking powder
  • 250g silken tofu


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 22cm cake tin (it’s easier if you’ve got a loose-bottomed one).
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa together into a mixing bowl. 
  3. Add the sugar and grated beetroot and mix to combine.
  4. Blend together the oil, juice, baking powder and tofu, until it has a smooth texture and is well combined. 
  5. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Then pour this into the cake tin and cook in the oven for 1.25 – 1.5 hours. 
  6. Check the cake after 1 hour by inserting a skewer into it – if it comes out clean the cake is ready. The cake will come out of the oven slightly cracked on top, but smelling wonderful.
  7. Leave to cool on a wire rack and serve with the spiced beetroot glaze.
Spiced beetroot glaze

1 litre water
1 medium beetroot, cut into 2 cm cubes
1 cinnamon quill
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla pod, split in 2
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice


  1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan. 
  2. Bring to the boil and then gently simmer for 30 minutes.
  3.  Strain the mixture, reserving the liquid. 
  4. Add the beetroot back to the strained liquid and then blend this together.
  5.  Pour the glaze back into the pan and heat for a further 2 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool a little and drizzle over cake.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Food for thought


Listening to:

477 Days: BBC Radio 4 dramas about missing people. (It's a tear jerker, and in many respects a very difficult listen).

Tribute album to Jack White:

Working: Working on my decluttering:(things to be sold/donated)

Cooking: chocolate mousse pie:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hot, hot, hot

Not much sleep or clear thinking happening this week thanks to Melbourne's rather horrid heatwave. I've never been a summer person, much preferring more cooler climates and I find the majority of people espousing the virtues of hot weather and those with the luxury of air conditioned workplaces, bedroooms and homes. things I do not have. I've been taking refuge in various public spaces since finishing the contract data entry job, today's 'office' is the State Library of Victoria. It's a great space,  I like it a lot and bought Chris a membership for Christmas.

You can read some tips on coping with hot weather in a crappy rental property from the Green Renters community here.

The other things I've been doing is organising bits and pieces for our move to Germany in July. We are taking Mr Pablo the cat with us so I've been exploring the realities of transporting a 17 year old cat from one side of the world to the other. It's a fairly convoluted process with trips to a quarantine approved vet, rabies injections, a special carrier and lots of paper work. We could do it ourselves for about $600 or use the services of  a pet transport company. I've spoken to three companies and a couple of excellent travel vets, as well as friends who have moved kitties and we've decided to go with the use of a company. They pick Mr Pablo up from our home, care for him overnight, do all the paperwork and medicals and ensure he is comfortable on the plane in the appropriate carrier, supervised during stopover in the middle east and arrives safely in Berlin. The quotes for this range from $1500-$3500 depending on who you choose to go with.


As well as this I've been gradually organising decluttering and selling off possessions. It feels like a strange thing to do. I've so much vintage and retro materials, souvenirs, knick-knacks and things of that ilk. It hasn't been too difficult to get rid of clothing (especially as most of it doesn't fit anyway) and I decided to easiest way to get rid of possessions is to invite a big group of people over who are into similar stuff and give them first pick. Any money made will go towards moving Mr P. You spend so long collecting things to make your home reflect your personality and interests but in the end, it really is just stuff. I will be keeping my favourites, but the rest is off to other people's homes (hopefully).

I've also been working on project work (not very successfully in the heat) and counting down the hours to the cooler weather!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Life this week


read about it here

read about it here


Far too much data (doing a short term data entry gig that I loathe. Luckily I finish this week).


Computer Chess


  • An afternoon of batch cooking today in preparation for the hot weather next week where we won't want to cook.
  • A decluttering party of all my vintage and crafty stuff

  • Tofu, tempeh and nut cheese masterclass
  • How to look after Mr Pablo in the upcoming heat wave....
Lots of tasting plates like cheese and crackers and olives

earl grey tea, rosé wine

Really funny
Written Off by Rebecca Mead

This makeover on Desire to Inspire

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Garden produce and saag aloo

We've been enjoying a range of produce from our garden. Greens grow very well in both the front and back garden, herbs are plentiful, our potatoes and carrots have gone wonderfully and we'll have a glut of pumpkins in a while. Basil was a dismal failure and our tomatoes and chillies are taking quite a while to come on due to our patchy Melbourne weather. We try and use seasonal produce in our cooking as much as we can and this recipe celebrates our lovely rainbow chard and other greens

  • 6 medium potatoes, cut into quarters
  • Mixed root vegetables (I used heirloom carrots and sweet potato), diced
  • 2 big handfuls spinach, silverbeet, rainbow chard
  • 1 cup broccoli, sliced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp yoghurt (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Parboil the potatoes, carrots and sweet potato until tender.
2. Wilt the spinach by adding it to a colander and pouring a kettleful of boiling water over it.  Whizz in a food processor with 1 cup water until smooth.

3. In a large fry pan, heat the oil and add the spices. Let them cook for a minute then add the add spring onion, garlic and chilli. 
4. Add the potatoes, sweet potato and carrots to the pan and coat in the spices.

5. Add the greens and broccoli, then add the spinach and allow to cook for 10 minutes.
6. Add the yoghurt and lemon juice, then season.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Buy my stuff

In preparation for a move to Germany late in 2014, I'm starting the process of decluttering my stuff. In short, this means lots of garage sales, ebaying (is that a verb?) and donations to charity shops.

I'm starting with clothes and shoes and will move onto crafty materials next. Loads of crockery and such to go through, may have to consign that to a garage sale me thinks...

Buy my stuff here

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My privacy policy

I have advertising on my blog (pretty obvious) which helps fund the cost of hosting my blog. I allow third-party companies to serve ads and/or collect certain anonymous information when you visit our web site or mobile application. These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g., click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you. These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information. To learn more about this behavioural advertising practice or to opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visithttp://www.networkadvertising.org/.

New year, new blog

After a long hiatus, I have decided to start blogging again. Why? I like making lists, taking photos and writing.

What will I write about?
Not entirely sure yet. I'll tell you a bit about what I am up to, the process of writing my novel, new recipes, books I am reading, a few photos. It'll be fun!

A few pictorial tales of 2013

Traveling overseas:

Visited parts of Europe for a few weeks including Hamburg, Prague, Bonholm, Copenhagen  and  a solo trip to Amsterdam, a city I absolutely adored.




Started working on my patchwork quilt

Read loads of books.

Became a cover girl for Australia's biggest selling magazine. Also delighted to be featured in a few others including Peppermint magazine!

Spent far too much time in hospital

Spent far too much time watching tv, videos and you tube clips online

Participated in Nanowrimo. I didn't finish my book but I will be working hard on it this month.

Spent alot of time with the lovely men in my life

Cooking firsts:

Made my first marmalade. It's funny considering I teach preserving, but I'm not a fan of marmalade although I've been told this one is absolutely lovely thankfully!

Made my first gnocchi

Made my first tofu

Made my first loaves of bread 

Work stuff:

Taught loads of classes included our jams, pickles and preserves masterclasses and a new Edible Gifts masterclass. I never take enough photos! We also did a cooking project with older people in high rise housing, taught pop up classes in Collingwood and Fitzroy at a range of venues from pubs to bookshops, share houses and aged care facilities.

Lots of projects including a Green Renting Expo for people living in social housing, private rental, rooming houses etc in Redfern, Sydney; a food waste program for a Chinese mothers' group and their kids; a community leadership program in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne (still going).

Holidayed and spent Christmas in Far North Queensland:

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