Tuesday 25th Dec '07


Merry Christmas! After having only several hours of sleep, I got up to start preparing lunch. Jocelyn had flown back from her overseas holiday last night and Christina was home so it was nice to have us three sisters sitting down to lunch on Christmas Day.

Our feast consisted of:
Lobster with a Lemon, Chilli & Basil Infused Olive Oil
Oysters Kilpatrick
Oysters with Red Onion, Lime & Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar
Grilled Blue Spot Emperor Fillets
Warm Potato Salad with a Mustard Vinagrette
Chicken Kebabs

After lunch, I felt so lethargic due to the heat and ended up napping with Simba through till the evening. Feeling hungry (of course), I made some pasta with the left over prawns and lobster from lunch. The following is how I made this particular pasta:

Prawn & Lobster Pasta
  1. Boil a pot of water to cook pasta while making sauce.
  2. Heat olive oil in pan and sautee chopped garlic, chilli flakes and basil.
  3. Stir in tomato paste/pesto.
  4. Add chopped zucchini and tomatoes.
  5. Add the lobster, prawns, a handful of halved cherry tomatoes and al dente spaghetti.
  6. Toss all the ingredients together for a few minutes.
  7. Serve with pecorino.
Christina made some Strawberry Sundaes for dessert.

Monday 24th Dec '07

Christmas Eve Dinner with the Pelle Family

Tonight, Marissa and her family welcomed me to their home to share in their family's Christmas Eve dinner.

Having had to work during the day, I had no time to prepare anything to bring so instead I managed to get a hold of a couple of decent sized cooked lobsters. Teresa worked her culinary magic and whipped up a delicious dressing for them, using lemon, parsley, chilli, garlic and olive oil. I was helping with preparing the lobster and donned one of Mrs Pelle's aprons for the rest of the night.

Matching aprons!

Marinating the lobster

We feasted on:
starter: Anchovy, Sundried Tomato $ Cheese pastries
(I absolutely loved these!!!)

Italian Baked Fish (Baklava?)
Greek Salad
Baby Octopus
Cooked Prawns
Marinated Lobster
Choy's Satays & Chicken Wings

Teresa's Mango Pudding Dessert

After dinner, although not being religious, I attended midnight mass with Marissa, Teresa and Mr Pelle to participate in the spirit of Christmas and partake in the Christmas carols. Afterwards, we had a few nightcaps back at home - Teresa's homemade Lemon Cello - before I sought a taxi to get me home to bed at about 4am.

Saturday 22nd Dec '07

After a last minute run to the shops to grab last minute things, Sarah came over to do some baking.

The German Gingerbread Cookies fresh out of the oven!
One batch was made using treacle, the other using maple syrup to get the contrast in colours/taste.

Apple Strudel Muffins

Friday 21st Dec '07

I've been flat out running errands and dashing around the shops doing my grocery shopping everyday before work this week. I've had to get ingredients for the dishes I'm preparing for Ling and Shallen's Christmas dinner on Saturday, ingredients for all the food I'm preparing for my own Christmas BBQ on Sunday, as well as general groceries to sustain my hungry existence (and that of Christina).

Me hard at work

Monday 17th Dec '07

MELBOURNE - day four (returning home)

On the way to the airport, we had breakfast at a little cafe in the Hardware Lane Precinct. I was really disappointed with my Big Breakfast. The bacon was overcooked, the spinach and mushrooms were bland, the breakfast was served with a side of some sort of relish. It tasted like a Mexican bean dip. Very disappointing.

At the airport, I bought three dozen Krispy Kremes as per the orders from work friends. I have never had one myself, even though I walked past one about ten times a day in the hotel I stayed at in Las Vegas. They just never appealed to me. They were a staple for Markus while we were there - he'd wake up in the morning and find one he'd bought the day before and be munching on that for breakfast. I felt like such a knob walking around the airport with a Krispy Kreme environmental green bag full of donuts.

As it's nearing Christmas, the Virgin flights are allowing its passengers to view the pay TV for free. On the way there, I had watched a bit of the food and lifestyle channels but napped most of the time. On my flight back, my eyes were glued to the screen watching the cooking shows. I am going to cure my own bacon. They made it look so simple!

After work, I was hungry as the cleaner had thrown out my half eaten pizza and garlic bread I'd had delivered from Chelsea's so I finally succumbed to the Krispy Kreme craze. I have to say...it was yummy!! The dough was alot lighter than I expected. I had one with a chocolate glaze and vanilla cream inside. Really hit the spot.

Overall, I had a great time in Melbourne. I love these little getaways. Nothing like a weekend of food and relaxation to get you rested up to return to work. Singapore is just over a month away now...

Sunday 16th Dec '07

MELBOURNE - day three

After a bit of a sleep in, I headed out to the Queen Victoria Markets and fell in love with the food there!! In one area they have all the gourmet stores with a huge selection of cold meats, cheeses, antipasto, tea, sweets, etc. I wish I could have bought some of the fresh meat and seafood to cook up a storm. I wish Marissa had been there with me...we would have spent all day trying out all the antipasto until being kicked out.

As I was heading out of the markets, I got a call from Shane saying he was on the train and heading into the city. We caught up at Young & Jacksons where I also met a couple of Shane's friends living in Melbourne, Tim and Helen. Liz also came into the city and we all went to lunch in Southbank. I forget the name of the restaurant but I had a few forkfuls of spaghetti bolognaise (I had had a craving for pasta) and spent the rest of the afternoon having Berry Good Night and Pimms cocktails.

After a quick stop at the hotel to get changed and re-energised, I went to the Watergrill restaurant again and was greeted as if I were a VIP customer. So special!

I wasn't very hungry but ordered a few things that I had been eyeing in the menu last night.

starter: Natural Oysters
entree: Seafood Chowder
main: Soft Shell Crab
dessert: Sorbet

I had actually ordered the Garlic Prawns but they made a mistake but I was happy to have the crab. They looked sooo adorable on the plate that even if I were hungry, I would not have wanted to eat them.

Saturday 15th Dec '07

MELBOURNE - day two

After spending the night going back and forth from my bed to the bathroom (too much to drink - ack!), I was starving in the morning! We headed to Chinatown and found a restaurant to have Dim Sum (Yum Cha).

While at dim sum, it began raining so as soon as we located the theatre Spamalot was playing at, I headed off to find a cafe to while away some time before the show. While I was sipping my mocha, Long called me and asked what I was up to. Rather amused, I replied 'Uh...I'm sitting in a cafe having a coffee in Melbourne".

Spamalot was well worth travelling all the way to Melbourne to watch again!! I could barely refrain myself from singing along to all the songs!

Being a matinee show (2pm), my stomach was begging for food when we got out. I had a craving for Vietnamese, so headed to Swanston St where I knew there were a couple of places serving Vietnamese cuisine. I ordered the Beef Noodle Soup and threw in lots of chilli. I also had a delicious Jackfruit Smoothie.

After the late lunch, I did a bit of shopping and then headed back to the hotel to change before hitting the Crown Casino. Once there, I wandered around getting lost for a while before I found a bar to get a drink. I played on the Rapid Roulette and was on a winning streak but cashed out once I won $22. That's less than what I won when I was at the Crown a few years ago but it was better than nothing. In good spirits after my little win, I went in search of somewhere to have dinner.

I decided to wait in a queue for about half an hour to get a seat in the Watergrill restaurant for some seafood. The staff there were so friendly and welcoming to me. Throughout my travels in America, I found that travelling on my own (and it doesn't hurt to be a girl!), it makes me stand out and the staff go out of their way to look after me. It makes me feel special! =P

entree: Natural Oysters
main: Half a Lobster with Garlic Butter
dessert: Creme Brulee

I sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen so you can watch the chefs preparing all the food. It makes you feel like you can eat more than you actually can when you're watching dish after dish get plated up. Yes...my eyes are definitely much larger than my stomach. Rather unfortunate =/

I spotted this really odd looking creature amongst the display of seafood. I asked the manager what sort of fish it was and apparently it's a Wrass. It looked like a dog. Is there such thing as a dogfish!?

After dinner I headed back to the city and met up with Liz - one of the medical scientists I met while on the Haematology workshop in Egypt last year - and she and her husband, Phillip, took me back to their home for a cup of tea.

All in all...a really long but awesome day!

Friday 14th Dec '07

MELBOURNE - day one

I flew into Melbourne last night and started afresh this morning. I had breakfast of Muesli with Fresh Fruit & Berry Yoghurt at a little cafe in the Hardware Lane Precinct. The day was spent wandering around the city and doing a bit of shopping. I stopped into David Jones in the mall and decided to have lunch there.

two dozen Natural Oysters with Tomato Salsa
and a few glasses of the Cape Mentelle Georgiana. *hiccup*

Later in the afternoon, I found my way to Young & Jackson's where I had a few drinks and struck up conversation with Lexi, a bar attendant from Perth. Later that evening we headed out with her and her friend 'Gumby' (who had just arrived in Melbourne this very day after driving out from Perth!).

Wednesday 12th Dec '07

Just a quiet night in after work tonight.

Rosemary & Thyme Crumbed Lamb
with Roasted Balsamic Vegetables & Chilli Achar from Margaret River

Tuesday 11th Dec '07


Moroccan Night at the Pelle's
Mr Pelle, Marissa, Maria, myself, Teresa, Mrs Pelle

After being inspired by the 'Food Safari' show on SBS yet again, we decided to have a Moroccan theme for the night. I rushed through the shops after work to get some ingredients and managed to whip up a couple of side dishes.

starter: Refreshing Carrot & Orange Salad
main course: Marissa's Moroccan Chicken with homemade Preserved Lemons & Olives
sides:Blue Vein Cheese Cous Cous
Roasted Vegetables with a Spicy Curry Tomato Salsa

Maria digging in

My first serve

For dessert, I had brought some mini pavlovas. Marissa and Teresa had made our favourite ice cream - Cardomom & Rose. We finished with some refreshing Mint Tea.

Monday 10th Dec '07


After work, I headed over to David's place with Ben, Sarah, Noel & Fleurette to enjoy a deliciously authentic Indian dinner. Prepared by Indian chef David and his assistant chef, Tanya.

David throwing back his mane *roar*

For starters...idili with eggplant sambal

We also had a tofu & potato curry and Sarah's favourite - the yoghurt salad

Yoghurt Salad

Who says guys don't do the dishes?

After pigging out (I myself had about three helpings), we played 'Absolute Balderdash' and later in the evening, Ben and I were adventurous and had David make us a hot chocolate using carob chocolate. Tasted like watered down coffee. Not recommended!

Sunday 9th Dec '07

Today Ben, Sarah and I decided to go for dim sum (yum cha). We went to Emma's in Victoria Park. David's back in Perth for Christmas with his girlfriend, Tanya, and they also came. Afterwards we headed back to my place to have some pavlova because I've been craving it all week! I had just recently bought the boardgame 'Absolute Balderdash' and we spent the afternoon with lots of laughs.

Back at Ben and Sarah's place in the evening, we hung out for a little while until David and Tanya had to head off to watch the WA Symphony Orchestra. Sarah and I hit the shops to get ingredients for an impromptu picnic. We roasted some pumpkin, carrots and potato at home and picked up some Chicken Treat to enjoy in the beautiful weather at the South Perth foreshore.

When the flies got too much for us, we headed back home and Sarah set about making one of her favourites - Parkin cake.

Sarah's Parkin cake just out of the oven

If we hadn't been getting enough fibre, then we definitely got a good dose of it tonight! David and Tanya came back after their show to have some with us.

Saturday 8th Dec '07


Today Cameron and Long came over to give me a hand with the final stage of my backyard blitz. I rushed home from work and we set about evening out the soil and laying the turf.

I gave Simba a patch of turf to get him excited

Whee!! All done!

Simba having his first poo on the new lawn

After rolling around in the wet lawn, there was no way we were letting this dirty mutt inside without first being subjected to a bath

We went and caught up with a few friends at the Balmoral in Victoria Park where I treated Cameron to a 500g steak. Long's taken a raincheck. My next project in the new year will be to fix up the rest of the garden. Put in some hedging around the new lawn and perhaps a water feature. Long's volunteered to help dig me a pond and donate some of the Koi that he breeds.

Thanks for your help guys!

Thursday 6th Dec '07

Tonight after work I rustled up a very simple stirfy for dinner.

Honey Chicken Stirfry

Wednesday 5th Dec '07

Before work I spent about half an hour in the garden finishing off the one corner we left when it got too dark last night. It's amazing what a difference a pitchfork can make!!

Now all that's left to do is to prepare the soil and plant the new lawn!

I've been introducing 'pecorino' cheese into my pasta dishes, as recommended by Marissa. It's got much more of a bite than parmesan. Below is my minestrone with grated pecorino sprinkled (generously) over it. *drool*

Tuesday 4th Dec '07

Today I ran a few errands during the day and kept Simba company at home. It was quite cold tonight - so much for summer! - so I indulged in a late night snack by preparing myself a little platter before bed. I even snuck in a small glass of wine.

pancetta (from Charlie's!!)
sheep fetta
sundried tomatoes

Sunday 2nd Dec '07

After another terrible day at work (still on the pain meds that make me want to throw up all day), I managed to drive myself home on a can of 'Mother' energy drink. By the time I was home, I was awake and feeling better after all the fresh air from having the windows rolled down in the car. I got changed and went out in the garden and raked the exposed sand where we've removed the lawn so far. The idea was to not do anything strenuous so as not to aggravate my neck more, but the longer I stayed out there, the more tempted I was to start hacking away at the remaining lawn. So...I took the eagerly awaiting Simba for a quick walk around the block.

All I've had to eat all day is Smith's Salt & Vinegar potato chips. They're the only thing I've really been able to stomach with all the nausea. But I made a lasagne with some bolognaise sauce my mum had lying around in the fridge, and minestrone soup. Need to clear the stuff in the fridge since everyone is going away on holidays soon.

I usually like to add layers of vegetables in my lasagne to make it a more wholesome meal. Zucchini, eggplant and mushroom are great to use. I only had mushrooms available tonight. I always make the meat sauce (it doubles really well as a pasta sauce) but keep a jar of store-bought bechemel sauce in the pantry. Layer all the ingredients amongst lasagne sheets, with the last layer being bechemel sauce. I then sprinkle grated parmesan over the top so that it goes golden brown in the oven.

Here's one I prepared earlier...haha

My dinner tonight...home-made minestrone soup with a serve of the lasagne. It was a bit sloppy because I was too impatient to let it rest for a while after removing it from the oven.

Saturday 1st Dec '07

I sprained my neck really bad after gardening on Thursday and called in sick Friday. I had to wait till my mum got home from work to drive me to the doctors to get some painkillers. She then took me to a chinese herbalist in Canning Vale where I got an impromptu acupuncture session. Eep! My very first time. After spending most of Friday as an invalid at home, I stuck today out at work even though I felt like puking every five minutes from the painkillers.

Sarah came over to keep me company after work and we decided we'd do some baking. One thing led to another and we ended baking all night. I love cooking when I'm stressed, depressed, or have nothing better to do. It's extremely therapeutic and relaxing.

Top Left: Mini Raspberry & Coconut Muffins
Bottom Right: Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

We didn't have any gingerbread man cookie cutters and hand-shaping them proved to be too time consuming so my mum found her old cookie cutters and we used them. It brought back memories watching Sarah cut out cookies in the shapes that my mum used to make for my sisters and I growing up. Our cookies are in several different colours as we had to bake in multiple batches. The darker ones were in the oven a little longer than the rest and are crunchier.

Sarah's hand-sculpted star from the dough remnants.

My hand-sculpted gingerbread man makes it to the peak of Muffin Mountain.