Miso Eggplant and Mango Salad

One of my friends has the honour of being born on the very last day of the year and, as is the custom, is hosting a birthday BBQ.

Devastatingly, his lovely wife is sick and I have therefore offered my salad making skills to help out with preparation for the shin dig. But what to make!?

Looking through the veggie crisper, I noticed I had some eggplants which needed using, along with a solitary mango, some miso paste, garlic, coriander, ginger and a bag of mixed greens. Combined with the walnuts and soba noodles I knew I had stashed in the pantry, inspiration hit.

What follows is a combination of an Ottolenghi and a Hetty McKinnon recipe, both of which I’ve had before and loved… what could be better than combining the two?

Miso Eggplant and Mango Salad

2 eggplants
1 mango
Spray extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons mild miso paste
200 mls of dashi, vegetable stock or water
3 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons salt reduced soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon of cooking sake
1 round of soba noodles
½ cup green onions, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of coriander, finely chopped
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 200C

Cut eggplants into rounds, and each round into quarters. Place on baking tray, spray with EVOO and roast for 20-25 minutes

Meanwhile, cook ginger and garlic on a low heat until fragrant. Add the miso, mirin, soy, honey, sake and water/stock/dashi and let heat until getting thicker.

Cook soba noodles as per packet directions (mine says to cook for 4 mins in rapidly boiling water) and refresh under cold water immediately.

Remove eggplant, place in bowl and pour over dressing. You probably wont need all the dressing for only 2 eggplants so use common sense. Stir through the soba noodles

Chop the mango into bite sized pieces and add to the eggplant, soba mixture.

Add mixed greens, coriander and walnuts.

Serve and enjoy!

Adapted from a Hetty McKinnon recipe found in Community (and here: https://thebackyardlemontree.com/2014/11/17/miso-eggplant-with-soba-noodles-and-walnuts/)

and an Ottolenghi recipe found in Plenty (and here: http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/soba-noodles-with-aubergine-and-mango-shop)

Image sourced from: mysecondbreakfast.com

 

 

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2016

So, another year over… and it’s been quite a whirlwind.

This time last year I created a list of 15 highlights of 2015 and it’s a tradition I’d like to continue. So, here goes:

The 16 Best Bits of 2016

  1. My baptism service at Redemption Church.- The amount that I have matured and developed in my understanding of my faith and my place in God’s family blows me away every single day and a lot of credit should go to this incredible church and the family I’ve made there.
  2. Starting to blog for eatmystreet.net -It’s been such a privilege to write for the lovely Dani and the way it’s reconnected me with my love of writing has both shocked and delighted me
  3. Speaking of love of writing; my first experiences with slam poetry- particularly my second performance wherein I got to meet and perform in front of my girl crush and huge inspiration: Maxine Beneba Clarke. To receive her feedback and be on the same stage as her was such a huge privilege
  4. My trip to visit my family in QLD and spend time with my little cousin.
  5. My birthday lunch at OMY… and Christmas… and the time we took Grandma… basically all the OMY meals. If you haven’t been… go.
  6. The Andy Warhol/Ai Wei Wei Exhibit at NGV. -This was spectacular and super well curated! Special shout out to the kids section too, the pop art selfie booth was glorious.
  7. The After Afghanistan exhibit by Ben Quilty in Castlemaine. -Definitely worth the road trip to see this important, moving and beautiful exhibition
  8. Bike adventures! -One of my intentions for 2016 was to ride as much as possible and I think I did that quite well. Darling Freddy and I have been on many the journey together…
  9. The conversation salons hosted by Moroccan Deli-cacy. -These important conversations were so incredible to be a part of and filled me with hope for the future that not everyone thinks as the media thinks (hopes?) they do
  10. My trip to Yalata, SA. I learnt a lot about myself and I honestly do think we gave the kids some joy too. I also had the pleasure of seeing some of my year 11 students absolutely shine in ways I never would have expected.
  11. My self defence and women’s circus classes. -Another intention for this year was to move everyday but in ways that weren’t necessarily how I would normally. These two classes challenged me in lots of different ways and increased my respect for others and own abilities 10 fold
  12. The shows I’ve been blessed to see with my Malthouse Subscription. Every show this year has been incredible and broadened my horizons in some way. I particularly enjoyed:
    Gonzo -The way the writers and actors so honestly conveyed the way that porn influences our teenagers and culture was so simple but exceptionally powerful
    The Events -This exploration of mass murder/shootings and the way people respond to trauma was heartbreakingly beautiful, timely and tragic. It was also masterfully performed and the perfect example of how some stories just need the stage.
    Hello Beautiful -Hannie Rayson, how much do I love you, let me count the ways. This funny, tragic, honest memoir was so lovingly read by its author that I couldn’t help but buy a copy. As Hannie read I felt like she was looking and speaking directly to me. Simple and brilliant.
    Purge -A show about a show about deleting your facebook friends made me cry. Well done.
    Every Brilliant Thing -This show about depression and suicide was so uplifting and pulled at everyone of my heart strings. The best audience participation I’ve been a part of too.
  13.  Other shows I saw… Matilda is the obvious stand out but Titanic was also super incredible. Men of Letters and the Writers Festival both enriched me so much as a person and a writer. Lion King, Finding Holmes and SPD all left me feeling deeply proud and exceptionally inadequate as I saw my students shine with God given talent.
  14. The opportunity to teach pilates classes at lunch time. Especially toward the end when some of my year 9 girls started joining in. Such a blessing to be able to combine my passion for health and fitness with my teaching.
  15. Starting work at Babaji’s Kitchen! A new challenge and an exciting one as I move into a new stage of life.
  16. And finally, every interaction I had with a student or staff member at WCC this year. This year has been absolutely amazing in terms of work. I’ve been blessed with the most exceptionally lovely students and their insights and dedication blew me away on a regular basis. I’ve made wonderful friends with my colleagues and I’m so glad I’ll still get to see them around next year… and I know that this goodbye is not forever. Special mention goes out to the final day and the speeches which actually made me cry; the cards and hugs from my students; my final lunch with my year 12s; Finney’s fourth year in a row of winning the Scripture Shield and OF COURSE, our threepeat win of the House Trophy (Or as I like to think of it, the House Cup… this is much HP-sounding though.)

This year has been a year of balance and busyness, planning and preparation, rest and risk, reliance and relaxation. I’ve learnt so much and been so blessed by my relationships with friends, family and everyone else in between. I’ve loved hosting friends and family and friends who may as well be family. Loved pushing myself at the gym to be better but also taking it slow when I needed to. Loved worshipping God and crying out to Him. Loved reading for pleasure for the first time in what seemed like ages.

2016 has been brutal for the world, I’ll admit. It’s been pretty crap for a lot of my friends too and that absolutely breaks my heart. Certainly, I’ve had my share of troubles… but overall and in comparison to 2015, 2016 has exceeded all of my expectations.

I pray that you can count your blessings amongst the hardships, taking time to reflect on both.

Love always,

Amy xx

 

Finishing up on a good note…

Right now, I’m just sitting outside, waiting to go to a Christmas Eve carols service, enjoying the beautiful warm sunshine and nice breeze.

One of my friends and I have a joke that if something is not quite up to scratch- not great… just isn’t everything one would like it to be- we say something like.

“Well. That was certainly a film.”

Like, it did what it said it would do but it wasn’t any good at it.

Last year, that was basically my motto for the year.
2015 was a year.
Let’s move on.

And move on I did! While 2016 bought its fair share of heart ache, break and yearning, it was also a vastly more positive year for me than its predecessor.

2015 was filled with a cloying sense of inadequacy, out of placeness, desperation to please and live up to expectations and a deep set exhaustion that no amount of rest days or sleep ins could fix.
I was working myself to the bone, got down to a dangerously thin size (for me) and was constantly thinking of how I could gain more control of my life.

2016 was my year of letting go and letting God.

I knew something had to give, and as ever, it had to be me.

I decided to go part time, something which I am eternally grateful to my school for making possible, allowing me more space for pleasure, rest and recreation.
While I was still working every day, I had a bit more flexibility which freed me up to do other things and ensure that I was looking after myself.

I took on new challenges of allowing myself to workout in different ways. I gave myself the mental health task of “moving everyday” but this didn’t have to be a structured workout. It could be a walk, ride, yoga flow, 10 minute fitness blender blast or even a mobility or flexibility session. It was all about moving holistically in a way that felt right on that day.
It worked exceptionally well and I’ve lost so much of the guilt that I harboured on rest days in the past. My workouts have become more varied and have included xfitness classes, reformer pilates and even a circus class!

I realised the importance of investing in people who would invest in me and while it has hurt to come to terms with the fact that some people who I once considered best friends no longer place value on our friendship, I know that I could have done nothing more. It’s also been incredibly refreshing to catch up will old friends and find out that even with months of absence, nothing has changed and we simply fall into comfortable, deep chats and bouts of pleasurable silence where we just sit in each others presence and that’s enough and ok.

This year has seen my grow closer to my God and intentionally seek to know Him better. I’ve been blessed with an amazing church community and fabulous group of people to ask questions of and answer questions from who keep me accountable and honest. God has given me wake up calls, led me realise my failings in different areas and also comforted me in my despair. How blessed I am to have Him as my Father and for Him to send me His Son.

And so, at the end of this year, I realise that I’ve finished strong. I’ve pushed through to the very end and have come out on top. I’m a much more well rounded, secure person than I was 12 months ago despite the fact that I’m in a much less financially secure place. I’m happier. I’m healthier (even with a couple of extra kilos on my bones). I’m closer to my friends, family and Father.

And the year ends, I’m looking forward to celebrating the year that’s been and looking ahead to what 2017 will bring.
I’m going to write 2 lists: one which details the highlights of 2016 and an intentions list for 2017- not resolutions necessarily, but things I want to see shift (or continue!) in my life.

I hope that you are able to come to a place of happiness and joy in your life this Christmas season as you reflect on what has led you to this point- even if that’s just happiness that this year is over or that you get to eat fruit mince pies.
And let’s face it, that’s reason enough to celebrate!

Starting anew

This is probably the fifth blog I’ve started in as many years.

I’ve tried to start an education blog, a letter writing blog, a fat-shion blog, a fitness blog… but it’s never stuck. I get too busy, too preoccupied, too lazy, feel too inadequate when I look at other blogs in the sphere and then fall apart and neglect my poor blogger-wordpress-tumblr-xanga(lol) to the depths of the interwebz where it lies in wait for people to stumble upon it, ignorant of the antique status of the page they just dredged up.

But this time is different. It’s a new beginning. I’ve just finished up at my previous place of work and bid it and the lifestyle it demanded (or rather, that I demanded of myself) farewell.

For the last four years, I’ve been teaching Secondary English and History to students ranging from 12-18. It’s been an amazing experience and I’ve loved it. However, it is exhausting and as I went from school, straight to uni, back to school I’m starting to feel it. To emphasise the feeling of being in the one system for a very long time, I was also teaching at the school I attended as a student. I loved it there and it was a sad goodbye but I know that it’s time to move on, explore other passions and gain some of that oft-lauded “life experience” everyone talks about.

This blog is to assist me in that endeavour. I’ll be writing on the various components of my life that really determine my identity- education, fitness, food, faith, human rights issues and other more personal posts. It may include snippets of my personal writing- poetry and prose have both been known to grace my page and it will definitely include what will seem like the ramblings of a mad woman.

I’ll be posting recipes, reviews, reflections and the odd rant.

The other thing which will help me in my attempt to gain life experience is what I’m dubbing My Ultimate Adventure.

Next year, I’m travelling over to Chiang Mai, Thailand to volunteer with Burmese Refugees and teach English in that setting. After the 6 month placement is complete, I’ll be travelling around SEA, specifically Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and (hopefully) Myanmar and Singapore (if I can stretch my funds that far).

The planning process and the experience itself will also documented on this humble blog as both an assistance to others who are considering similar journeys and also to spread awareness of the organisation I’ll be working with- Thai Freedom House.

So, we shall see. I’ve finished my year on a high note; I have a banging new hair cut, an exciting casual job, a great fitness routine, a lot of freedom, not a lot of funds and most excitingly, a deep trust that God will take me where He wants me and a willingness to go there- sans the feet dragging that I may have employed in the past.

Please follow along on here and interact with me as much as you so desire.

Keep smiling

Amy xx