Sunday, July 31, 2011

An Everyday Place, An Everyday Grace

When I was a little girl Mum would make a pot of tea every morning. I would watch her from the table as she carefully wound the strings of the tea bags around the handle of the pot, listen as the boiling water made a slight hiss as it hit the tea leaves, and wait for it to be placed on the table to draw wrapped snugly inside the tea cosy my grandmother had made years before.
A few minutes would pass as Mum busied herself in the kitchen making toast, waving the warm bread back and forth to cool so that it wouldn't melt her butter. Two slices with a yellow coating of butter topped with thinly sliced cheese would be placed at her spot at the table as she sat down to her breakfast. Then the teapot would be carefully turned three times in a clockwise direction before Mum would pour herself a cup and stir in two teaspoons of sugar.
Every morning, tea and toast and a little sigh of contentment.
That half hour ritual at the start of the day reveals more about my mother than an hour's conversation with her could possibly yield; she is tea and toast and a little sigh of contentment.

Rituals are an experience and expression of ourselves in the everyday. They are the fundamentals of self that carry us through the ordinary and the extraordinary. A simple way to connect with what lies at the core of who we are, and what we need, on a daily basis.

Rituals are what soothe and comfort us, excite and entertain us, or give a specific period of time a special meaning for us as individuals or with the ones we love. These simple acts or grand can be a way of showing people we care about them; now I make my Mum's tea some mornings, or they can be a way of saying something about ourself without having to say anything at all.

 The most important rituals to me are those that lie in the every day. I still make myself a cup of tea every morning like Mum used to, even though I now drink it when I get to work and it doesn't come out of a teapot, I still feel the comfort when I wrap my hands around that mug. There is a link across time to the memory of the little girl watching Mum in the kitchen that warms me, starts my day off correctly. There is a link to my Mum, knowing that somewhere she too is holding a cup of tea, letting the liquid warm her hands, breathing a sigh of contentment.
So I stir my tea three times in a clockwise direction, breathe a sigh of contentment, and start my day.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fallen in Love With...Friday (finally)

This edition of Fallen in Love With...Friday comes with a sheepish grin since it's actually Saturday night. This week I thought I would share some of the cookbooks that have enchanted me over the past week. These tomes that I have recently acquired from the local library to peruse at my leisure and cook from for my pleasure have had me salivating in my dreams over new baking cuisines, confronting my baking fears, and running out of sticky notes trying to mark every page I want to try!
Let's line up the suspects:

New cuisine: 'Turkish Bakery Delight' by Deniz Gokturk Akcakanat.
I must admit I had never considered Turkish cuisine as a future baking frontier but Limonlu Mereng (lemon meringue cookies), Aycekirdekli Susamli Ekmek (sunflower and sesame seed bread), and Pogaca (breakfast buns with ricotta) have me taking a gastronomic baking journey across the Mediterranean. I can't wait to dive in!

Confronting my fears: 'Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day' by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.
I admit it. Some parts of baking scare me, especially bread and pastry. I don't think that I am alone in my fears that somehow the flour will turn against me and leave me with soggy, crumbly, or parched baked goods that even the crows don't see fit for consumption. So I have decided that the only reasonable way to allay these fears is to confront them. Even though bread is not chickpea friendly I yearn to be able to make yeast my baking ally; to use it at my will to leaven bread, give brioche bounce and create crumpets worthy of Elizabeth David. So I borrowed this book hoping that the former physician (Hertzberg) and Culinary Institute of America trained pastry chef (Francois) could impart some yeasty wisdom onto this challah challenged chickpea. As I write this post my dough is resting in the refrigerator in preparation for tomorrow morning's breakfast and I can't wait to slide my first loaf into the oven and await the smell of a golden loaf wafting through the house to wake up my family.

Running out of sticky notes: 'Savory Baking' by Mary Cech.
I marked nearly every page in this book, and so I decided that it would be far easier to buy the book than keep persuading the library to let me borrow it out a million times in succession until I had baked my fill. Sweet baked goods have always held my heart but I am ready for a casual relationship with its savoury cousin. Who can blame me when such tempting goods as scones stuffed with caramelized red onions and brie (page 34) or sesame eclairs with honey-soy asparagus (page 113) are on offer? First on my list though is the pumpkin-hazelnut spice loaf (page 46) perfect for a midwinter morning tea!

Now I think it's time for me to get back in the kitchen!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Petite Treat Thursday: Courgette Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

To continue the tradition of some diminutive decadence on a Thursday this week I present to you courgette cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
I know, I know, just call it zucchini Amy, really.
But there is something so pretty about the word courgette that suits these petite pleasures.

Courgette Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
This recipe was lightly adapted from the one and only Martha Stewart, find the original here. See notes at the end for vegan substitutions.

3/4 cup wholemeal plain flour
3/4 cup white plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (courgette - see I can't help myself!)
1/3 cup macadamia oil (or other light flavoured vegetable or nut oil)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line two twelve space 1/2 cup capacity muffin tins with paper liners or oil lightly instead.
  2. Whisk together flours, brown sugar, cinnamon and baking powder.
  3. Stir through walnuts.
  4. In a separate bowl mix together the zucchini, oil, eggs and vanilla.
  5. Add wet mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  6. Divide between lined pans, filling each cup to about 2/3 full and place in the oven.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to rest in the pan for 5 minutes. Then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Once completely cooled top with cream cheese frosting!
Note on vegan friendliness: Use two flax eggs to replace the chicken eggs in this recipe. Simply whisk together 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds and 6 tablespoons of water until thick.

Cream Cheese Frosting

50g butter, softened
250g cream cheese, softened
2 tsp vanilla essence
3 -4 cups icing sugar

  1. Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy
  2. Add vanilla essence and 3 cups of the icing sugar. Beat until incoporated. Your mixture should be soft but stiff enough to hold shape. In warmer weather you made need to add more icing sugar to achieve the right consistency.
  3. Spoon into a piping bag with a star tip and decorate your cupcakes with a swirl!
Note on vegan friendliness: Use Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and non dairy spread in place of the cream cheese and butter in this recipe.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Girl with a Reputation

I am a girl with a reputation.
I might look light and sweet and bubbly on the outside.
Yes, I have been known to skip and whistle, sometimes at the same time.
But I have a dark side.
A very dark side.
A very wicked, dark side....
Oh yes, this chickpea is a girl with a reputation.

I think I should clear this up a little.
I have a reputation for a deep, dark, wicked chocolate cake. In fact this cake has become so synonymous (or should that be sin-onymous ?) with my reputation that it is simply called 'the cake'. No other title necessary.
If you want a cake that will help you make friends, win people over, let you hold them in the palm of your hand, wrapped around your finger, enchant them at first bite and have them begging for more; then this is the cake for you.
This cake is of the sort whispered about in certain circles, dealt out in careful portions, used as barter in lawless places.
The first moist crumb that passes your lips dances on the fine edge of sugar and butter, the second bite topples you over into the grip of something...darker.
At third bite your eyes glaze over, you will involuntarily whimper, and yes, you may even drool a little as the chocolate and coffee drag you into their domain.
When the last crumb is picked delicately from your plate, the last scrape of icing greedily licked from your fingertip and the cake is nothing more than a memory you will be under its spell.
Welcome to the dark side.
I told you I had a reputation....

The Cake
This cake is now the traditional birthday cake of my Mum's workplace. I have been known to receive random phone calls/texts/emails from my mother with one line simply reading 'need the cake for tomorrow'.

1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
200g dark eating chocolate, chopped
200g butter, chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup self raising flour

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line two 20cm (8 inch) round cake tins and grease the sides.
  2. Place coffee, chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and transfer mix to a large bowl.
  3. While warm stir in vanilla extract and cocoa.
  4. Add eggs one at a time alternating with the sugar, stirring well between additions.
  5. Add flour and use a whisk to gently combine.
  6. Divide mix between two pans and bake for until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.
  7. While baking lick the bowl.
  8. After removing cakes from oven allow to stand in tins for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  9. Once completely cooled sandwich together with about 1/3 of the frosting and cover top and sides with remaining mix.

Then cut a slice and earn a reputation for yourself...

The Frosting

180g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa, sifted
1/3 cup milk

  1. Whip butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, until soft and pale.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and beat on medium to high speed until they are combined and change to a lighter colour.
  3. Use on cooled cake.

Of course, lick the bowl here too.

So there you have it, confessions of a chickpea.
Enjoy the dark side...

Also: thank you very much everyone who commented on my last post and wished me well (thanks Katy for your suggestions, I'm off to the pharmacy tomorrow and to spend some quality time with my yoga mat!). I wish I could send all my lovely blog friends a slice of cake!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Think That We May Have a Little Problem....

I can only thank the stars that this didn't occur before the half marathon. It seems that somehow I have picked up a little injury. My heel became painful last week after an awesome run and I didn't pay it much attention until I had to abandon my Friday run due to what felt like someone driving a stake through the back of my foot.
Solution, rest over the weekend and get back into things on Monday.
Or so I thought.
Monday's run was wonderful! 7km of uninterrupted tempo pace with a wonderful soundtrack and a stupid grin plastered on my face thinking all was right in the world of Amy again.
Not to be.
Today I stepped up to the treadmill and made it through precisely 18 minutes before the same invisible person decided to get to work on my heel again.
Not happy.
However, I am incredibly lucky to have gotten away injury free for such a long time. I am taking the steps towards recovering and will be talking to my doctor about whether my Brisbane Times 10km in two weeks time is actually a reasonable goal.
For now I am taking this as an opportunity to work on my cross training which is something that I am very poor at remembering to incorporate in my usual program.
I am still incredibly lucky that I can exercise; I can still find pleasure in movement in another fashion. I still have a body that is capable of cycling, swimming and ellipticising (is that even a word?) but more importantly I have a body that is capable of hugging, kissing, baking, lifting, and loving. So even though there is a minor snafu in my running plans at the moment I am still so lucky in so many ways.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Super Baking Sunday and Sweet Strawberry Galette

Amy come and play...
I heard the voice calling me as I lay awake in my bed on Sunday morning. don't need to sleep any more...come and play with us....
In my dream like state I wandered out of my bedroom and found the source of the saccharin siren's song.
My kitchen.
In all it's empty Sunday morning glory, ingredients in the fridge and a stack of bookmarked cookbooks on the bench it was like I had landed in the middle of my very own Disneyland.
So I rolled up my sleeves, put my apron on, grabbed my spoon and cosied up with my stove to have some Sunday fun.

First of all, there were the 'Black-bottomed Cupcakes' from 'The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook'. These disappeared to Mum's work this morning and I hope the girls and guys enjoyed the creamy cheesecake topping with a dense brownie base. I might have to make a batch especially for the household sometime soon.

That's right, a brownie base with chocolate chip cheesecake on top.
Bake with sighs of pleasure...
Martha Stewart called out to me next from the bookshelf and amid the pages of her 'Cookies' book I stumbled across 'Marbled Coconut Brownies'. The recipe can actually also be found on line as well.
Not tempted to follow the link?
Let me share some photos with you...

Sunday mornings don't get any better than this.

Whisk it all with love...

So pretty going into the oven. Coconut swirls and dense chocolate.

Even prettier coming out of the oven. This smelt like heaven.

The crackles on top are the best part. Welcome to brownie mountain.
Did you manage to read to the end of the post or have I already lost most of you?

Thank you for rejoining me!
After all this baking for others (the brownies went to Dad's work) I decided that we needed something chickpea friendly for dessert. As I shared on Friday we recently discovered a strawberry farm a very reasonable proximity from our house. We made the required pit stop there on Saturday after the farmer's market and so I had some lovely fresh ruby berries to play around with!
I decided on a galette as it truly showcases the amazing toppings and allows the natural beauty and sweetness of the berries to come through.
Before baking.
I doubled the recipe for the galette crust from  this recipe by La Tartine Gourmande. I had never baked with millet flour before and whilst the dough was a little bitter before baking when it was coupled with the sweet strawberries and baked it provided a lovely backdrop contrast to the fruit.
I just gently combined the sliced strawberries (about 500g) with three tablespoons of caster sugar and about two tablespoons of cornflour (to thicken the juices) before arranging them on top of the base.
Emerging from the oven.
Just a slice of heaven...
Unfortunately after this it disappeared quite quickly so there are no pretty plated up photos. All I can say is that not even the crusts were safe.
Case in point, the little chickpea, my sister Jess.
Should it be pastry then ice cream, or ice cream and then pastry?
Decisions, decisions....

How about both at the same time!!
Happy little chickpea!
Two more happy chickpeas! Casey and I in the kitchen pre- galette apocalypse
So that was my sweet Sunday. A beautiful way to end the week!

Also an update on Molly my beloved special athlete.
After a few weeks of recuperation, a lot of well wishes from all my blog friends, plenty of smooches from Dad and a steady diet of banana bread and honey on toast....
Well, you can see for yourself! Good as new!

Oh Amy, come on one more muffin, please....
I hope you all had a sweet Sunday too!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fallen in Love with...Friday

Welcome to Friday everyone!
It has been a few weeks since my last end of the week round up of my latest loves so today I am back on track with several items and blog posts that have caught my eye in the interim.
  • The lovely Ashley at Not Without Salt who features beautiful recipes and stunning photography on her blog posted her regular Film Friday post last week and along with it a list of lessons that she had learned (or relearned) over the past week. Each item definitely made me pause in thought for a moment and consider how I am living parts of my own life. The last item made me smile because it reminded me of my endlessly generous Mum and Dad 'Even though our little house lacks in space, enough chairs, and is cluttered with kids and all their things I must open my doors and invite people in and feed them. It feeds me'.  Thank you Ashley for the reminder.
  • I am the sort of chickpea who makes origami out of her napkin when she goes out to dinner (or shreds it to pieces, depending on how the dinner conversation is going), not a particularly chic personality trait I thought, until I saw these napkins being sold at which seem to have been designed to make fidgeting tres chic!
  • Mum and Jess have recently discovered a strawberry farm only twenty minutes from our house, so every Saturday on our way home from the markets we have been treating ourselves to several punnets of the gorgeous ruby fruit. Upon discovering this recipe for strawberry galette on Martha Stewart I knew exactly what I would be making for dessert this Sunday night!
  • Another blogger that I have recently fallen in love with is Merry-Jennifer from The Merry Gourmet who features delicious dishes from her kitchen as well as stories about her beautiful family on her website. One of her latest posts in particular touched me and I have to echo her sentiment from the conclusion of the post. We need to talk more about the importance of mental health, we are here to help each other and support each other so let's talk about what is affecting us.
That's the round up for this week folks.
I'll leave you with photos of possibly the most random things I have ever seen in a pet store.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Petite Treat Thursday: Vanilla Kisses with Raspberry Butter Cream

There is something about the individual serve that beckons us with its dual personality. On the one hand the single serve is a measure of control, 'oh yes, I'll just have one', we can say, comforted by the fact that once it is gone we have had our share of the goodness, the treat is over.
On the other hand the individual serve is decadent, it's all mine; this cupcake, this biscuit, this ice cream cone, is all mine and I'm not sharing because this is made for one. Just for me.
In honour of the petite treat and it's restrained decadence I am announcing a new theme for Thursdays:
Petite Treat Thursday.
Each week will feature a small treat, something small enough to not be a full blown indulgence but hedonistic enough to satiate our need, our right, to have a little pleasure, every day.

This inaugural Petite Treat Thursday is dedicated to my Dad. The recipe for these vanilla kisses is based on a biscuit recipe that he taught my sister and I to bake when we were little girls. I fondly remember Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons spent in the kitchen with my Dad and his cracked copy of the 'Australian and New Zealand Complete Cookery Book' deciphering imperial measurements into metric and beating butter, learning to watch how it creamed together with sugar to the right consistency before adding the next ingredients.
Daddy, I loved those moments, they are some of my favourite memories of childhood. During those times you taught Jess and I so much more than how to make shortbread or marshmallows; you taught us that patience  and hard work can turn something basic into something beautiful, that sometimes you can take a basic recipe and add your own flair, it is okay to wing it sometimes in fact it can lead to great discoveries (turquoise icing anyone?), and that at the end of the job it is essential to lick the bowl. Cook's treat of course! So Dad here is a little bit of something you taught me mixed with some things I've picked up on my own.

That's my Daddy!

Vanilla Kisses with Raspberry Butter Cream
Makes approximately 40 individual biscuits, so 20 kisses

220 grams butter, softened
90 grams icing sugar
150 grams plain flour
125 grams cornflour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two rimless baking sheets with baking parchment.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl cream together butter and icing sugar until pale. Then mix in vanilla bean paste.
  3. Add plain flour, cornflour and baking powder and beat until well combined.
  4. Spoon into a large piping bag fitted with a medium star tip. Pipe stars onto baking sheets, leaving room for spreading.
  5. Slide into oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Do not allow to brown, bases of biscuits should be just golden and tops still pale.
  6. Allow to cool completely before sandwiching together biscuits with raspberry butter cream.
Just out of the oven.
Raspberry Butter Cream

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons raspberry sauce or raspberry jam


  1. Cream butter until soft and pale
  2. Mix in icing sugar and sauce or jam until well combined.
  3. Spoon a small amount onto one biscuit and place another on top, you now have a kiss!
Note: I used some organic raspberry sauce that was made from whole raspberries. We purchased it from our local farmer's market a little while ago. You can use jam with the same outcome.
My darling vegan friends please note that these can easily be made friendly by using a non dairy margarine, everyone needs petite treats!
Perfect with tea!

I hope you enjoy whatever petite treat you choose to have today.
These kisses are headed to work tomorrow, with one left for Dad to enjoy tonight!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Serendipity

Serendipity: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this.
(Merriam- Webster dictionary)

After all that I have seen in my life, after all I have experienced thus far in my tread across this earth, I have come to the conclusion that not only does serendipity exist, it is there everyday if we open our eyes.

Sometimes serendipity makes itself known in a grand manner; splashing across our lives in a Jackson Pollock print of connections and a brilliantly positive outcome for all. There is no denying that the universe has somehow pulled all the threads together and tied a nice shiny bow around our future. You step into a coffee shop, smile at a stranger, and live happily ever after.

There are times when all seems to be going wrong, the Monday mornings of life that seem to punctuate the landscape, even when it isn't in fact Monday morning at all and then, serendipity creeps in and the path suddenly takes a left turn and all is better again, unexpectedly. These are those grey sky days where you seem to be shouting from the bottom of a well when suddenly the sun comes over and you find that you are actually in the middle of a beautiful valley. The big turn around that comes every now and again.

Then, there is my favourite form of serendipity. The subtle everyday weaving of quietly and deeply valuable moments into our lives when we least expect it; the strains of my favourite song playing out of a neighbouring car when I am stuck in traffic, the glint of a dollar coin in the bottom of my handbag when I think I'm short of change for my morning coffee, a lunch time conversation with a friend that provides more insight than I thought possible in the span of thirty minutes.

So open your eyes.
In every moment, every breath, you can discover some form of serendipity. 
There is value in unsought happiness. The kind that comes knocking at your door unbidden.
Unbidden but never unwelcome.
When happiness comes calling make sure you listen.
Answer the door.
Let happiness in.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Story of a Pan

This is the story of a pan.
A pan that inspired a recipe.
A recipe that became a legend.

A few years ago I came across a recipe for pear upside down cake and was instantly enchanted by the thought of warm cinnamon and cardamom scented butter cake topped with caramelised pears dripping their buttery coating onto a plate accompanied by ice cream.
The only problem in this whole fantasy of mine was that I did not own an oven proof skillet. Mum had never needed one in her own baking endeavours and so our house was devoid of any stove to oven cookware.
So that afternoon I went out and purchased the pan.
Yes, I invested hard earned university student dollars, about eighty of them, in a pan so that I could cook an as yet untested recipe.
A little crazy? Yes.
Did it work out? Absolutely.
When that first cake came out of the oven and took it's topsy turvy turn out onto a plate and the glistening pears radiated enough heat to turn creamy vanilla ice cream into a molten pool it instantly won fans in those attending the family dinner.
Ever since, this cake has become the default dessert at every family dinner when no other sweet course can be decided upon.
Once you make it, you will understand why.

Apple and Pear Upside Down Cake

You can make this with all apples, or all pears if you wish. The mix of fruit is nice though especially in the middle of winter.

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
14 tablespoons of butter, softened
2 firm apples, cored and thinly sliced
1 firm pear, cored and thinly sliced
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2/3 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Cut a piece of baking paper to fit the bottom of a ten inch oven proof skillet*; set this aside.
  2. Place the skillet over a medium-high heat and add the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of butter and thinly sliced apples and pears.
  3. Saute until the pears and apples are fork tender and start to brown a little. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes and the smell will be divine. Remove from the heat and pour the fruit and juices into a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Clean the skillet.
  5. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and remaining spices.
  6. In the large bowl of a stand mixer beat the rest of the butter and the caster sugar until fluffy.
  7. Reduce speed to low and add eggs and vanilla essence and paste, beat until well blended.
  8. Add flour alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.
  9. Place circle of baking paper in the bottom of the skillet and oil the sides if you do not have  non stick pan.
  10. Pour fruit and butterscotch-y juices into the bottom of the pan. Spoon the batter carefully over the fruit and smooth the top (or is that really the bottom?) with a rubber spatula.
  11. Bake cake until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool for ten minutes.
  12. Run a rubber spatula around the edges to loosen, invert cake onto a serving plate and remove paper (it usually takes two of us, Casey and I, to do this). 
  13. Serve cake with ice cream or whipped cream (or if you are my Dad, both).
Homely, but heavenly.
*Note: if you do not have an oven proof skillet you do not need to despair, or rush out and buy a whole new pan as I did. You can just sauté your fruit in a normal frying pan and then use a 10 inch cake tin to cook the cake in. In fact, this might be easier when it comes to the inverting / flipping stage.

Running Update.
Since my half marathon two weeks ago I have hardly run at all. I took a week off completely when I went to Melbourne and in the past week I have only run twice. I feared that maybe I had lost "it"; the motivation to get back out there and get some miles under my feet, the inspiration to start training for the next race that I have signed up for, the love of running just because. 
Yesterday, while out bridesmaid dress shopping for my sister's wedding (January next year!) I saw the new Runner's World magazine, that sacred publication for so many of us, and there it was; the little stirring within my soul to draw up a new training plan and get back in the saddle (or on the treadmill belt as it were). So while today's run was voided in favour of a sleep in and a kitchen session (both much needed) starting tomorrow I will be once again lacing up my sneakers and heading out with a plan. 
Ah, that feels better.
My little chickpea and I in Melbourne.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Seven Random Things for Saturday - One Lovely Blogger Award

Good evening sports fans!
I'm sorry this post is a day late, I was very tired yesterday and creative thinking was absolutely beyond my power. So here today I am responding to the One Lovely Blog Award that the fabulous Christina tagged me for! Thank you very much Christina for this wonderful award.
Here, in no particular order I present to you seven random facts about the One Chic Chickpea.

1. My favourite flavour is pistachio. Nothing beats the creamy green and rust coloured nut when it comes to flavouring ice cream, gelato or macarons.
All mine when we were in Melbourne....

2. I love the poetry of John Keats. When I was in Rome last year I was lucky enough to visit the Keats-Shelley House which was a dream come true. To wander the rooms where Keats spent his last days, writing, ruminating on life, and just generally being a classic poet of the romantic period was fabulous. My favourite poem would definitely have to be 'Ode to Psyche', there is such a nimble dance of language and rich visual quality to every word.

And there shall be for thee all soft delight 
        That shadowy thought can win,
A bright torch, and a casement ope at night, 
        To let the warm Love in!

3. I have a mildly embarrassing interest in Steven Seagal movies; he shoots, he punches, he plays guitar, he cooks! There's nothing he can't do. My top choices would definitely be Under Siege and Fire Down Below. There is nothing better on a rainy Saturday night with a big bowl of freshly popped popcorn.

4. I am a sucker for fine china. Tea cups, butter plates, sugar bowls...oh and teapots, don't even get me started on teapots.

5. If I could live anywhere in the world it would be San Francisco. I have written about my love for the city by the bay before, and I admit that my heart beats faster whenever I see the Golden Gate Bridge in the opening credits of re runs of Full House.

6. I have never seen snow in real life! In all fairness I do come from a subtropical climate but it is true, nowhere in my 24 years of life have I crossed paths with a real honest to goodness snowflake, flurry or snowball. Ben has promised to remedy this at some frosty future time - yay!

7. I write song lyrics as a hobby. I unfortunately do not have a talent for tunes to suit these words but someday maybe I'll stumble across someone with a guitar and we can have some fun bringing them to life.

So there you have my seven random facts about Amy. I now pass this award onto the following three wonderful bloggers:
Keri from The Blue-Eyed Runner
Caitlin from The Arty Runnerchick
Nikki from The Worth Of My Sole

Everyone else I wanted to tag seems to have been awarded already! So to everyone else, please share some random facts about yourself with me!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chickpea Overdose - Headed Your Way

I was so incredibly honoured when I opened up my emails this morning to see that I had received two blog awards from two of my best bloggie friends! The wonderful Katy had awarded me the Amazing Blogger Award and the gorgeous Christina had awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award. Ladies, I am truly touched I find inspiration and amusement in each of your blogs so thank you for these awards.
Now people, get ready for perhaps a chickpea overdose as I answer questions and post seven random facts about myself in the one post. This is going to be quite epic, prepare for pictures galore!

Firstly the Amazing Blogger Award.

1. My favourite cartoon character/s is (are):
I was a Disney child so cartoons were encouraged from a young age. My favourite would definitely have been the 101 Dalmatians. I was so enamoured with them that I even dressed up as a dalmatian for a party once! I have a sneaking suspicion that this obsession has carried over into adulthood somehow because I own a large number of black and white polka dotted dresses!

2. My favourite thing to photograph is:
There are two answers to this question.
Firstly foliage and flora.

Secondly architecture:

3.My favourite thing to cook:
I am definitely more of a baker than a cook. Amongst everything I have ever made my favourites would have to be the classic chocolate chip cookie, made with chunks of dark chocolate instead of chips. Incidentally also my favourite ever dessert, there is nothing like a chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven with melty chocolate that spills forth from the pillowy belly of the dough when you take that first bite.

4. My favourite way to exercise:
Running is my relaxation, my challenge and helps me burn off the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies.

5.My favourite movie is:
The Day After Tomorrow or Inception. Both of these movies have incredible soundtracks which is one of my favourite things about them. I used to put The Day After Tomorrow on in the background while I was working on high school or university assignments purely because I enjoyed the musical score so much.
My all time favourite movie though would have to be The Wizard of Oz. I was lucky enough while in San Francisco this year to attend a sing-a-long screening at the Castro Theatre. You bet I knew every word!
See the excitement building! Side note: my legs are really that white, it is not the lighting.

I wanted this little girl's costume!
Verena and I decked out in the crowns from our goodie bags.

6. My favourite article of clothing is:
I love a good dress, especially a black dress. This polka dot one is one of my new favourites.

7. My favourite breakfast is:
Oatmeal with some sort of dried fruit (usually cranberries, raisins, blueberries or dates), flavoured with cinnamon or cardamom. When I'm at home I like to add a blob of natural yoghurt on top or sometimes a drizzle of maple syrup. If I'm going to get fancy my favourite breakfast would be pancakes with maple syrup or jam.

8. My favourite book I've read lately is:
I really loved 'The Brain That Changes Itself' because I find neuroplasticity and it's potential applications fascinating. I also loved 'In Defence of Food', this book really changed the way I eat and the way I shop for food. For something on the non fiction front I really enjoyed 'Shall We Dance' and 'Water for Elephants'.

9. My favourite place to be is:
California. Whether it's the winding streets and hills of San Francisco, the beautiful and bountiful hills of Napa Valley or the excitement of Los Angeles and Hollywood, I love the golden state.

10. My favourite celebrity couple is:
I don't know that I have a favourite celebrity couple. I certainly admire the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the poise and grace with which they handle the pressure of the spotlight they are in every day.

There we go Katy! All questions answered!

I now pass this award on to the following five wonderful bloggers:

Julia from Pain, Pride and Perseverance 
Dana from My Little Celebration
Katie from Chocolate Covered Katie
Courtney from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life
Lauren from Say What You Need to Say

Head on over and check out these ladies' wonderful contributions to the blogging world. I'll be back tomorrow night with seven random facts about myself to celebrate the One Lovely Blog award!
Thanks again to Katy and Christina.