Oslo: Norwegian metropolis (day 1)

Our first stop on our Nordic Adventure began in Oslo, Norway. This metropolitan city is the largest city and capital of Norway. It is known as a cosmopolitan hub for its architecture, arts scene, museums, great restaurants and fashion. We spent a couple of days in Oslo and it’s a city I could see myself living or revisiting.

Oslo has so many amazing museums, sites and public parks. With only a couple of days and a toddler in toe, we had to be picky to what we could see and do. Another consideration we had is that Norway has such a strong currency, making this the most expensive country we have ever visited. On the plus side, the public transport is really accessible and pretty cheap and can be purchased from 7/11. We decided against buying the Oslo pass, for this reason and also because we would not been able to see everything on offer in such a short time frame. However, we did get to see quiet a bit, so this destination needs at least 3 posts. Some of the highlights include the Norsk Folkemuseum, Vigeland Park, Royal Palace Gardens, Oslo Opera House, City Hall, Akershus Fortress, Botanic Gardens and Mathallen Food Hall.

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6# Life Update: home again, birthday and transit eats

I officially returned to Australia at the end of June after three weeks of travelling in Nordic Europe. It’s taken me a little bit to get over the jet lag since I was living in the lands of the midnight sun, with an 8 hour difference to my home timezone. I was only averaging about 4-5 hours sleep which is normal for me when I travel, since I am always on such a high. However, after having a child, my sleep isn’t as important as someone else, so I am not able to bounce back as quickly and get cankles from the aeroplane. The joys of age and responsibility. So anyway I am finally feeling like myself again the past couple of days.

 

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Banana, Date and Chia Bread

Hi everyone, I recently got back from my trip, but I am still dealing with jet lag and getting my toddler into routine. Plus it’s my birthday tomorrow! I will update you on my trip very soon.

In the meantime I am sharing this recipe with you today that I adapted from an previous recipe I posted on my old blog. I made this banana bread for a wonderful friend that has been visiting us over the past few months to do yoga with us. I was really happy that he enjoyed it. I am look forward to making some more sweet treats when he visits us again since I have been really inspired to bake since my recent trip to the Nordic countries.

 

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Harbour Front: Vivo City

On our Singapore Trip we booked a couple of hotels. The first was in Little India and the second was at the Harbour front, within the Bukit Merah district.  This is a convenient location if you want to visit Sentosa Island, but want to save on the accommodation. Our hotel was located across the road from the VivoCity shopping centre. Since it was my favourite shopping centre and we spent so much time there thought I would dedicate a post for it.

VivoCity is the largest shopping centre in Singapore and is both a shopping, entertainment and dining destination. No matter your budget you will be able to shop, eat and enjoy yourself in this centre since it caters for just about everyone. The centre houses Singapore’s largest cinema, biggest toy store, an amphitheatre, wade pool and four food courts. They are open from 10am until 10pm, giving you plenty of time to get all your minute shopping in or a place to hang out to get out of the heat. The Sentosa monorail and Broadwalk  leave from VivoCity, so its a convenient place to stop in at between attractions.

I found the selections of brands really great at this centre. There are international and Singaporean brands and a variety of high fashion, casual wear and quirky stores. I think the only thing that was really missing was a good bookstore. My only advice when navigating the centre is stay away from the stores leading out to the exits. This is where the beauty services are and they will try anything to get you in their shop and try to manipulate you to spend an obscene amount of money of their beauty products. I made this mistake twice, since I’m so polite. I didn’t buy from them but I did try to not return to these areas for another time wasting exercise.

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Sentosa Island: beach and attractions

After a fun day at Universal Studios, we spent day 8 of our Singapore trip on Sentosa Island again. On this day we had some fun at the beach and did a few of the other attractions available on the island.

 

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Tiong Bahru: hipsters paradise

On day 6 we visit one of the hippest neighbors in Singapore, Tiong Bahru. It’s not a really touristy hot spot and it was had a very different vibe to what I had seen in the city so far.

Tiong Bahru is actually the oldest housing estate in the country and was built in the 1920’s. It’s name actually stands for ‘new cemetery’ (thióng in Hokkien for “cemetery” and bahru in Malay for “new”), since there were a few cemeteries in the area. It  became quite a polluted and shabby part of town, so in the 1930s it got a face lift. Before I tell you about the interesting architecture, I first have to tell you what we had for breakfast.

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Gardens by the Bay: Garden Rhapsody

After visiting the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, we made our way to the SuperTree Grove, in Gardens by the Bay. This area features 12 Supertrees (out of 18) and is located in the center of the park. These special trees are man-made vertical gardens that are designed like large canopies. They give shade during the day and come to life during the night.They measure between 25- 50 meters, the tallest being 16 stories high. You can take a trip to the top of one of the trees or walk along the OCBC Skyway for an 128-metre aerial walkway. The trees contain up to 162,900 plants of over 200 species, including  bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers.

 

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Miso Noodle Soup with Hoisin Tofu

Just when I thought I picked up all the kindy bugs, I just got another one this week. I was feeling pretty terrible today and was thinking of ubering some Japanese ramen. But I was so hungry I didn’t want to wait 40 minutes for delivery. I really wanted soup but I have ran out of stock. So while I was scouring the pantry, I found some Instant miso soup that I had bought in Singapore. So my lunch crisis was solved.

This noddle bowl for one was inspired by Vegan Ramen bowl from Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan. The soup base is a lot different and quicker to prepare. I did cook my tofu and vegetables in hoisin sauce and add it to the soup last, similar to Chloe’s recipe.  This dish only took me 15 minutes to prepare and gave my insides a warm hug. 

 

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Orecchiette with Tofurky Sausage and Broccoli

Orecchiette is one of my favourite pasta since I was a child. It actually means ‘small ears’ and originated from the Italian region of Puglia (the heel of the boot). It is traditionally paired with rapini (Orecchiette alle cime di rapa) or a tomato based sauce with horse meat (Orecchiette con ragu’ di cavallo). However, since these ingredients are rarer and/or not appetising, I often see it paired with sausage, broccoli and chilli.

This is a veganised version of a recipe by Jenn Segal of Once Upon a Chef, which was adapted from Lidia Bastianich’s recipe found in  Lidia’s Italian TableI used Tofurky Sauage in place of Italian sausage as well as a salted organic vegan butter and vegetable stock. Jenn also uses Pecorino Romano, which is my favourite Italian cheese, but I held back, as I’m trying to go completely dairy free right now. There is plenty of flavour in this dish, so you really don’t need cheese or even a vegan cheese substitute. Of course, I tested this recipe on my meat and dairy loving partner, who approved of the flavours and didn’t add any sneaky cheese when I wasn’t looking. This recipe is quick and easy and of course delicious as well.

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Ginger Anzac Biscuits

Last Wednesday we celebrated Anzac day in Australia and New Zealand. This day commemorates and remembered the soldiers fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It also celebrates all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Anzac Biscuits originated from WW1, as these biscuits were originally made by women’s groups and wives and sent to the soldiers. They were specially made with ingredients that would travel well, which typically included rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, boiling water, and desiccated coconut. It still remains a tradition to make Anzac Biscuits for this national holiday, but they are also popular to consume throughout the year as well.

Anzac biscuits are usually quite hard. I have never been a huge fan of them, as I prefer softer biscuits that don’t break a tooth. Homemade Anzac biscuits are a little softer then the hard commercial ones, but they do have chewy whole oats, which I’m also not a fan of. Most people do love them though, so I guess its a preference for me.

I never make Anzac biscuits myself, but we were having a BBQ with the family for the day and I really wanted to make something sweet. My intention was to use up the Buderim Crystallised Ginger, which I bought by accident when I was looking to replenish my Buderim Naked Ginger snack stash. I have been addicted to dried ginger since Marco’s Feast of the Seven Kingdoms. They are a great substitute for late night chocolate cravings and nobody likes them except me, so win win. I asked the kids if they prefer muffins or cookies and cookies won, so when I was looking for some inspiration I thought why not spike some Anzacs with a ginger infusion.

My recipe is a little different to the original. Most modern recipes call for butter, whole rolled oats, boiling water, golden syrup or treacle, and white or brown sugar. I wanted mine to be soft and chewy, but without raw oaty flavour and overly sweet taste. So I grind the rolled oats, skipped the golden syrup and traded regular sugar for coconut sugar. I also added some ground ginger and crystallised ginger, which gave a pleasant ginger flavour, that even the kids liked since the baking took away the ginger burn. These are also vegan, which is you can share with your vegan and dairy intolerant friends. I’m pretty happy with this recipe so I think this will be a tradition that I will continue every year.

 

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Coriander Pesto Noodle Bowl

We aren’t huge fans of coriander in my household. It’s not a herb we cook with a lot or use as a garnish. One way that I do like to use it is when I make Coriander Cashew Pesto, to serve with potatoes (eg. Roasted Potato Salad with Coriander Pesto Aioli). Something magical happens when you blend it with cashews and the taste transforms into something really different delicious. Another way I love to have it is with noodles and sauteed vegetables.

This is a delicious 15-minute meal that you can make when you hangry and need to get some healthy greens in your body asap. I whipped this up last night after my toddler was put to bed and I finally had some peace to make something without complaints. After it was made and eaten I figured the rest of the family would probably have enjoyed this too. I just won’t mention its coriander next time…

You can make this dish gluten-free, by changing the noodles. I really like the crunch of green beans and bok choy, but you can use any quick cooking greens. If you don’t have cooked or can chickpeas,  swap for tofu or some whole cashews. The Coriander Pesto can be made ahead of time. I also used this batch for in a chicken schnitzel and salad sandwich, on top of brown rice crackers and dollop on homemade veggie pizza.

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Mini Blueberry Cupcakes with Blueberry Jam Frosting

For Octavia’s 3rd birthday this year, I made some special cupcakes for her big party, with her favourite fruit of the moment, blueberries. These mini cupcakes are a great size for little people and dessert tables with a few options.

This recipe is similar to the cupcakes I made last year for her Trolls 2nd Birthday. This year I changed the fruit, shrunk them down, used less sugar in my frosting and organic butter inside of Nutlex. I found that the butter did better in the heat since Nutlex seems to melt and separate. If you have a better dairy-free butter alternative in your country then feel free to make them vegan. If you can’t get a good quality vegan butter then an organic grass-fed butter is the healthier option if you really want to include the frosting.

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