super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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On a smoothie kick

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I’m glad blenders don’t have feelings or workers’ rights otherwise mine would be going on strike soon. Poor little thing must be tired from getting used every day but I’ve been on a real smoothie kick lately.

I haven’t really taken advantage of this craving to make anything even remotely healthy but then we all know that was never going to happen anyway. I save my spinach for soup and my kale for nothing because kale is kind of yuck and I’m not entirely sure why the entire blogosphere seems to be obsessed with it these days. But I’m going through my ripe bananas like it’s nobody’s business and I suppose freezing them for smoothies is a bit healthier than mashing them for cake.

Above is the vanilla and coffee smoothie I had today. Don’t you just love when the name of something is also its entire recipe? I do! Vanilla + coffee = smoothie. Simplicity is underrated. You can add cinnamon or whipped cream or whatever else you want but, really, there’s only two basic ingredients for this. Two ingredient recipes are the best kind of recipes, even if they’re barely a recipe.

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Banana + mixed berries + berry yoghurt + skim milk

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Frozen banana + peanut butter + vanilla essence + skim milk

There are a bunch of other things you can add to each of these, of course. A lot of people add protein powder to their smoothies but that requires the extra step of acquiring protein powder.

Other combinations I’ve been making include blueberry + banana + vanilla yoghurt, strawberries + banana + berries yoghurt, and pineapple + banana + vanilla ice cream. So yeah, I’ve been obsessing a bit. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s a meal and a drink! A mealdrink! Or something. Either way, it’s perfect for the hot weather we’ve been having here down under.

Blender, please don’t break. I have a lot more combinations to try before summer is over.

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On non-smoothie related news, I’ve got something pretty exciting to share. I told the Pro Compression peeps about the giveaway winner and they decided you all deserved a little something just for being awesome. Head over to the Pro Compression website, buy yourself some marathon socks and use the code FIT2013 to get 40% off! Yep, a whole 40%! Plus, if you live in the US, the code also gives you free shipping! Who’s awesome? Pro Compression! And smoothies. Smoothies are awesome too. Those are the two main messages to take from all this.


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fudge for lazy (ahem, tired) hungry people

You know how sometimes you get home and you’re tired and feel like crap and head straight to the cupboard for one of those pre-cooked meals in a packet that you just need to add water to or heat up in the microwave? And then you eat them watching some equally cheap show on TV and feel sorry for yourself and resolve to not be so lazy from then on, except the next day comes around and work is stressful so you go home and do the same thing all over again except this time with more tears and maybe you forgot to turn the dishwasher on and doing dishes by hand is too much work so you reach for the old paper plates from that last barbecue from years ago before all your friends had babies and stopped having time for barbecues?

Okay, me neither. That was a slight exaggeration. But the point is that sometimes I’m tired. Really tired. And lazy. But mostly tired. And I want some dessert. But I also don’t want to move too many muscles.

Enter the perfect fudge recipe for the tired full time worker and runner in need of a sugar fix.

You need: one microwaveable bowl, cake mix (I used vanilla but I suppose any cake mix will do), icing sugar, butter and milk (and sprinkles, if you’re feeling festive). THAT’S IT! The instructions are here, complete with photos and everything. Follow those steps and eat until your stomach cries of happiness. Seriously, this paragraph alone took longer to write than it takes to make this fudge.

When it comes to stuff like cake mix, I’m a pretty vocal supporter of the making it from scratch movement. It’s therapeutic, easy, and extra delicious. I don’t think I’d ever bought a packet of the thing before until I came across this recipe and decided that the future of humanity depended on me figuring out whether this was as amazing as it sounded. Plus, if I make cake batter from scratch and I don’t put it in the oven, there’s something to do with its magnetic field and laws of gravity somethingsomething that just makes it go straight into my belly. Because screw you, salmonella).  So now I’m a convert. I might just have to have a packet of cake mix at home at all times, just in case I need to make good use of 3 minutes and get me some more of this fudge.


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Portuguese food in Nelson

Ever since I visited the top of the Sydney Tower a few years ago and the first voice I heard was one of a lady telling her elderly mother “olha ali! olha ali!” as she pointed at the view, I’ve become more and more convinced that it is true what people say about Portuguese people being just about everywhere. When I approached Senhor Jorge last Saturday morning at his stall at the Nelson markets, it was only around 10AM and I was already his second Portuguese customer of that day.

I had no idea I’d go all the way down to Nelson (at the top of the South Island) to find some Portuguese deliciousness but that was exactly what I found. My stomach is not normally ready for something as heavy as beef and mustard in a bun quite so early in the day but the excitement of seeing and smelling the food got the better of me and a few minutes later, after having a bit of a chat with Senhor Jorge, as he prepared the food, I was digging into this.

Senhor Jorge’s Fernando’s business is not just a market stall and he sells his own homemade chouriços and other stuff online as well (I have a feeling I’ll be placing an order very, very soon). He let me have a slice of chouriço and asked me if it tasted like home. And it sure did. He also told me he’s working on some ideas for what other Portuguese traditional stuff he can start selling in New Zealand and there was a mention of pasteis de nata (real deal ones, not the fake portuguese custard tarts you find in other places) so I’m sure as hell going to keep checking his website for new stuff.


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apple and cinnamon turnovers

Not exactly the best looking treat I’ve ever made (also not the worst, trust me) but really tasty nonetheless. Inside, a mix of bits of apple, brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Not sure about the quantities, just basically made a big mixture of those four ingredients in a bowl. Drizzled with a mix of icing sugar and milk on top, in a failed attempt to make them look slightly less boring. These had the added bonus of making the kitchen smell like Christmas.


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a half-arsed commitment

One of the 1,458 reasons why running is awesome is the way it makes me want to improve other aspects of my life. Like what/how I eat, for example.

When S. and I started this running malarkey, the idea was that, well, if we were going to get together for a curry anyway, we met as well run first and then gobble down the curry. Our sense of entitlement lasted a few months, admittedly. We often felt like we had the right to reward ourselves with the tastiest thing we could think of, just because we had made the effort to go out and run.

That has, however, begun to change. Rather than having my brain tell me that I ran, therefore I deserve a curry, I now try to follow the logic that, if I ran, I shouldn’t ruin the effort with something unhealthy.

(You’d think I would have gotten to this stage a bit quicker, wouldn’t you? I’m not that smart.)

S. got there a few months ago but the change for me has been a bit slower. The minute I finished the half-marathon in August (yep, I’m mentioning it again), I got in the car and devoured a bag of jelly beans, which was followed by a large combo from Burger King (a triple whopper, chips and full-fat coke, of course, because, you guys!, I’d just finished a half-marathon!). I then had peach crumble and ice cream which I followed with more peach crumble and ice cream, after a nap. So yeah, a fountain of health.

Going back to training after that, however, has put my mind in a different place. My fitness level right now is not as good as it was back in August and I know I have to do more than just cross my fingers and hope it’ll all improve soon so I get back to how I was. I have another half-marathon to run in 6 weeks and curries aren’t going to get me across the finish line.

So I’m sort of maybe kind of going to try to give this no-sugar thing a go. Mostly. With the exception of the Wednesday cinnamon roll (a tradition is a tradition) and the odd mistake here and there (not my fault that Whittakers has just launched a Berries and Biscuit chocolate bar!). Brace yourselves for some angry blog posts but, hopefully, writing this here will mean I will hold myself accountable for this decision.


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vanilla cupcakes with passionfruit icing

It really must be true what people say about how running leaves you full of energy because, following the run of death, I ended up having a fairly productive weekend.

On sunday morning, I was out of bed by 9am and, since my legs were too sore to go for a run in the morning, I stayed home and got a bunch of stuff done. And then I made cupcakes. These only took me like 10 minutes to make, plus the 15min to bake and the time to let the cupcakes cool down before icing them (if you look at my icing job up there, you can tell I didn’t wait long enough for them to cool down). Anyway, I’m a big fan of anything delicious that only requires about 10 minutes of work so I thought I’d share the recipe here.

For the vanilla cupcakes: mix 125g of melted butter with 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and half a cup of sugar. add two eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. fold 1 cup of self-raising flour into the mixture and then add 1/4 litre of milk and mix well. bake for 15min at 180 degrees celsius.

For the passionfruit icing, I just used 5 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar (which turned out to be enough to ice 12 cupcakes) and some delmaine’s passionfruit dessert topping that I had already bought for another dessert (that I’ve since forgotten to make). I’m not entirely sure how much passionfruit topping I used but it was quite a bit, maybe one third of the bottle. It was quite passionfruity (what a terrible made-up adjective for a journalist to use, I know) so I think next time I’ll add some butter to it.

Enjoy!


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cupcake mania

 

In the beginning of this month, I decided to start referring to it as Awegust rather than August. Because this has to be the most awesome month of the year. These photos are some of the evidence. Lots of homemade sugary treats, birthdays, a half-marathon (and plans for another one)… and to make it all even more awesome, running the risk of completely blowing up the awesomeness scale, I’m writing this post from Portugal, where I arrived yesterday for a much overdue catch up with family, friends…and summer!

So yeah, July and all the months before that, sorry but Awegust is kicking your butts. September, whatcha gonna do about it?

 

 


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berries and white chocolate chip ice cream recipe

what’s one to do when one’s out of ice cream and gets a craving for this cold treat? well, one stops referring to oneself as “one” and “oneself”… and then makes ice cream from scratch.

I used the always faithful Edmonds cookbook (a kiwi classic) for the basic ice cream recipe. The result is the mixture you see below and, for that, you will need to get a few bowls dirty. Here’s how:

beat four egg whites until stiff peaks form. gradually add 1/4 of a cup of caster sugar to the egg whites, one tablespoon at a time, beating until the sugar dissolves before adding the next tablespoon.

in a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and another 1/4 of a cup of caster sugar until thick and pale. add one teaspoon of vanilla.

fold yolk mixture into egg white mixture.

in another bowl, beat 300ml of cream until thick. then fold the cream into the egg mixture.

That’s your basic ice cream done. If you pour that into a container and freeze it, you will have vanilla ice cream. Or frozen boredom, whatever you want to call it. So pick your favourite ingredients to add to it and make it more interesting. For this first attempt, I picked berries and white chocolate. I had a bag of frozen berries in the freezer so used those to make about 1 1/2 cups of berry pulp.

I didn’t have any chocolate chips, only chocolate buttons, so patiently broke them into little chips (because that’s how committed I am to ice cream).

Give the mixture a good stir to ensure the white chocolate chips are all over it and don’t just concentrate in one place. Pour the mixture into a container (or individual serving bowls) suitable for freezing.

Freeze for about three hours or until firm.

Eat it as if ice cream is going out of fashion.


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Note to self and to others: a list of things to eat in Portugal (WIP)

I’m going to be home in more or less 50 days. By the time I land it will have been 20 months since my last visit which is just ridiculously stupid. I would describe to you how excited I am about going home but then this would turn into a really long blog post full of crazy-happy yays and squees, capital letters and multiple exclamation marks so I’ll save you from that.

Besides all the obvious things that I’m looking forward to (ie, squeezing all my family and friends real hard until they start wishing I’d just bugger off back to NZ so they can breathe normally again), I’m really excited about the food. Yes, the food. After the people, the food is the best thing about my country, hands down. I mean, it’s beyond awesome and no other country can replicate the level of culinary awesomeness that goes on in that little country, I tell you.

So the other day I started writing down all the things I cannot wait to eat when I’m there. Last time I visited, I thought I wouldn’t need a list and ended up forgetting to eat a bunch of delicious stuff that I can’t get here in Kiwiland so this time I decided a list was in order. Then I thought I should put the list on here so that it can serve two purposes: reminding myself of all those things and, just in case someone happens to be planning a trip to Portugal, they don’t act all crazy like I did last time and leave without trying some of this stuff.

Note that this list is a work in progress and I’m sure there are at least 456,550 other things that I’ll think of before I make my way back to the northern hemisphere. Also, apologies in advance for the lack of accents.

  • pao alentejano (without a doubt, the best bread in the world. Even my kiwi agrees that life without that bread is a tough one)
  • cafe delta (best coffee in the world and lalalalalala I can’t hear you if you disagree lalalalalala)
  • gomas vidal (a particular brand of lollies that are super soft and full of flavour. to die for!)
  • tuli creme (sort of like nutella but about a bazillion and a half times better)
  • chocapic (best. cereal. ever.)
  • grilled sardines (one of the advantages of visiting in summer)
  • snails (again, amen to a summer trip for allowing me to enjoy these, after 3 years of visiting in winter and missing out on them)
  • acorda alentejana (with lots of pao alentejano!)
  • morcela de arroz (again, on pao alentejano)
  • pasteis de nata (the tarts that I keep telling everyone I can’t live without)
  • ovos moles (egg overdose. nothing not to like)
  • bolas de berlim (it’s like what in NZ you’d call a donut but giant sized and with heaps of egg cream inside. to consume on the beach, preferably)
  • farturas (a type of fritters… with sugar and cinnamon – deliciousness!)
  • churros com doce de ovo (churros are pretty well known here… except these ones are super-sized and have an egg mix inside that makes them divine!)
  • sumol de ananas (a pineapple fizzy drink that I haven’t found anywhere else)
  • queijo fresco (on pao alentejano!)
  • rol (is it still available? I read it made a comeback but not sure if it was for a limited time only! One of the ice creams made by Ola – the same brand that in NZ is called Streets)
  • tomatada (a dish made of basically tomatos and egg that you eat with, yeah, you guessed it… pao alentejano!)

(to be continued)

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