Tuesday, 25 May 2010

This recipe ROCKS!!

A few weeks ago I stumbled across the wonderful 64 sq ft kitchen blog. Warda's blog contains her favorite family recipes from Algeria and The Maghreb. Now doesn't that sound yummy!

The night after I made the discovery I was having a couple of friends over for a casual Sunday night supper (BTW - I don't normally refer to dinner as supper but this blog has me hooked!). I had promised said friends homemade burgers done on the BBQ and intended to make my stock standard wedges as accompaniment (potatoes cut into wedges, sprayed with canola spray and sprinkled with cajun = low fat, scrummy fake chippes). After seeing this recipe, I decided to change plans and try something new. Oh boy I am glad I did (and so were my guests), the chips were absolutely delicious!

Warda calls the recipe "Weeknight Potatoes" but I'm afraid that in the Holden household, these would count as "Main Event, Saturday Night Dinner Party Potatoes". They were a real hit!

I have reproduced (copied) Warda's recipe below. I have also included the link above. I know this might sound crazy, but this recipe is a keeper and I want it saved on my blog permanently!

Roasted Spiced Potatoes Recipe: serves 4

Six big Yukon Gold (or any of your favorite yellow flesh potatoes)
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tsp Harissa, or your favorite hot sauce (Optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven at 400F.

Peel and slice the potatoes into wedges or fries. Put them in a bowl, along with the olive oil, salt, black pepper, ground cumin, paprika and harissa, if used. Toss the potatoes to combine.

Arrange them in a baking sheet in a single layer and bake until golden brown and crisp on the outside, turning them over once, about 25-30 minutes.

Mix the herbs, garlic, lemon juice in a bowl. When the potatoes are baked, toss them quickly with the garlic infused herbs and serve.

Image from here

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Monday, 24 May 2010

Hi there !

Happy Monday morning (if it's ever possible to be happy on a Monday morning)!

How was your weekend? Did you get up to anything exciting? Try something new?

Unfortunately I didn't have the best week last week. About this exact time last Monday morning I was getting ready for work and managed to hurt my back (which I later found out meant I slipped a disc - VERY painful)! I was forced to spend the rest of the week flat on my back in bed/on the couch. I tell you what, that experience gave new meaning to the words "cabin fever". By the weekend I was literally pulling my hair out (and anybody else in close proximity).

It is going to take a while to make a full recovery (loads of physio and exercises etc.) but I am at least mobile now, for which I am extremely grateful. I am even going to head off to work today and see how that goes. Hopefully I last the whole day as I have truckloads of work to catch up on, but if not, then alas, there is not much I can do about that.

Due to last week's stresses, I was unfortunately not able to carry on with The Project. It got me thinking though, whilst flat on my back in immense pain, I found myself stressing that I hadn't taken my daily pic. That got me thinking even more, was it the fear of failure in not being able to stick to it that bothered me, or the fact that I didn't have anything exciting/interesting to capture and show you? What/who was I doing The Project for? That's when I decided (I had a LOT of time to think last week...), that I would take The Project "off-line". To be honest, I felt the pressure to capture something exciting everyday too much. Some days I just go to work and come home and whilst there are adventures along the way, they may not be particularly noteworthy, or picturesque. If I am going to do The Project, then I need to feel free to capture stuff that isn't necessarily for your eyes (I mean that in the nicest possible way). Like when I was on the couch in my most comfy (aka least fashionable) attire, looking like I was on my death bed, did I really feel comfortable publishing a pic of that here for all to see. The answer is no! But it was my day, my reality, and if I am to use The Project to capture my daily life, then that was it! It's not that I only want to share the glamorous side of life on here (I try not to make this a brag book!), it's just that a diary is I guess private by nature, and it needs to be in order for the author to truly express his/her feelings in an honest and raw way. Do you agree? I guess to a large extend it depends on the diaries purpose...

Anyway, the long and the short of it is, I am going to try to stick to The Project, but in a more private "off-line" kind of way.

Now that I have got that off my chest, I had better get ready for work. I am looking forward to this week! We got the Award (judgment) on the Arbitration I have been working on AND WE WON!! Of course, we got it last week whilst I was flat on my back, and so the elation of the win will be all but gone in the office by the time I arrive this morning. Nonetheless, there are a million things to do now that it has been decided, and I need to crack on with them. It also means that we are 1 week closer to Will's 30th, which means 1 week closer to his parents arriving (that is a good thing btw - I love my in-laws), and 1 week closer to our Paris/Spain adventure. Oh boy do we need a holiday!

Hope your week is a lovely one. xox

Image from here
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Monday, 17 May 2010

Would you choose this?

Whilst most people dream of living at The Peak, I don't think I could cope with the constant cloud and mist that would shroud your existence. I took this pic yesterday on our walk, looking down from the very top of the peak. It's a bit gloomy hey?

It's not like this is a rare occasion either, I would hazard a bet that this is a typical view - 80% of the time. Last week when I went to visit baby Barrett in the Matilda (which is incidentally also at the Peak), you could not see an inch out of her window. Not to mention how you would ever get anything dry or keep mould at bay (although I am sure peeps living up here don't concern themselves with that sort of thing)!

I never realised, before moving to Hong Kong, what havoc humidity can play in your house. We have to have de-humidifiers running constantly otherwise our clothes, shoes etc. would be ruined from all the damp. And then there is the daily commute, suited up in heels and all. You really have to consider having a second wardrobe at work. These days I usually opt for dresses and wear thongs (flip flops!) to and from work.

The humidity makes you feel alive though, and for me, it is a constant reminder that I am living in Asia - which I LOVE!!

PS. I haven't forgotten Day 10 (it's just that the pics are on someone else's camera:)
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Day 11

16 May 2010

A stroll in the woods.

After taking CoCo for a play in our favourite park (yeap, the one at the top of the Peak), we walked back down the path to the ring road and around to the touristy part of the peak. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, and I think CoCo enjoyed it too!

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Day 9

14 May 2010

Dinner at Bistecca with Zoe & Saf.

Bistecca is a new Italian steakhouse opened in Lan Kwai Fong. Whilst "Italian" and "steakhouse" wouldn't first come to mind as a dining combo, that may be more a display of my lack of foodie insight than anything else. And, it worked well I must say!

Obviously the main thing on offer here are steaks, HUGE steaks! Although there was a range of other Italian specialities to choose from.

Steak and I have a love/hate relationship. Truth be told, I have never been a big steak eater. I like meat don't get me wrong, but I would rather it served in smaller pieces than a big fat slab. I love the thought of a nice steak, but I usually find after a few mouthfuls I am feeling stuffed and bloated, and like on Friday night, totally zapped of energy whilst my body starts the digestion process. Too much info I know!

Anyway, the dinner was lovely and as always, it was nice to try something different.

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Friday, 14 May 2010

Day 8

13 May 2010

Last nights dinner!

For some reason, this pile of vege's we had for dinner last night tasted sooooo good. It must have been exactly what Will and my bodies' needed cause we both devoured it whilst licking our lips and making loud "mmmm" sounds.

Will has been feeling a little under the weather this past few days. A fix of vege's should sort him out I reckon. Although, on second thoughts, that dreaded man-cold is a pretty nasty thing. Us girls wouldn't know of course, having never had the experience. I hope he feels better soon!

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Thursday, 13 May 2010

Day 7

12 May 2010

My desk at work. Something a little bright today after the rather depressing post yesterday about the dog poisoner!

I like to start the work week with something bright and cheery on my desk. This usually involves me stopping in to visit the lovely flower stall in the markets on my walk to work. This week they had peonies, which they informed me where HUGE (at the time they were only teeny tiny buds).

I must confess I have had mixed success with peonies here in Hong Kong, despite them being my all time favourite flower. I often buy them with great anticipation of things to come, and then a couple of days later find the buds droopy and dead having not opened at all.

Anyway, I am an eternal optimist (especially when it comes to peonies), so I took the risk and bought some. I took them to work, trimmed them up and placed them on my desk. To my absolute delight, before the morning was over each of the buds had burst! One by one the little darlings opened up to reveal the most amazingly soft layers of pink. They are absolutely magnificent and have worked a charm in keeping a smile on my face this week. They smell good too!

NB: Upon complaining to my florist friends that I was having mixed success with their peonies, they let me in on a little secret. Because peonies are so tightly held in the bud, they sometimes need a little massaging in order to help them open. I know it sounds funny, and let me tell you people will think you are crazy if they catch you doing it (picture me at work lovingly massaging the little buds whilst singing a happy "open up" tune - people think I have finally lost my marbles). BUT, it works a treat so I don't care!

Happy hump day friends!
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Day 6

11 May 2010

Unbelievable! Right behind our house there is the most wonderful walking/running track called Bowen Road. It skirts the city from Midlevels to Happy Valley, with amazing views along the way.

I try to get up there for a walk (and these days, a run) about 2 or 3 times a week. I usually take CoCo, and would prefer to let her wonder off the lead EXCEPT... for years there has been a dog poisoner on the loose laying baits along the track in an attempt to kill as many dogs as possible. Can you believe someone would do that!!

There are all sorts of conspiracy theories as to who might be behind the scheme, but to date, no-one has been caught. I must confess that there have been many a time I have been walking along the path watching out for suspicious persons. It always gets me thinking about what I would do if I caught the culprit... I would not like to be responsible for my actions that day, I can tell you.

Unfortunately for us, this means that CoCo is kept on the tightest leash and not allowed to sniff a thing. I think she still enjoys being in the great outdoors, but I do feel sorry for the little thing.

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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Day 5

10 May 2010

Our gorgeous puppy CoCo!

She really is the most adorable little thing (and I'm not biased...!) She is a little over 1 now, so I am not sure if she still classifies for the "puppy" title - but we continue to refer to her as one. She is just so small and cute, and she still runs and plays like a puppy.

I often see older dogs who have lost that puppy energy and I really hope she doesn't lose hers to quickly.

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Monday, 10 May 2010

Day 4

09 May 2010

Baby Barrett's first day in the world (born 8 May 2010, 10am).

Today we went to visit our dear friends new baby. She is absolutely perfect in every way. Cute as a button, and yummy enough to eat.

Aren't new babies just divine - they have such an innocence and gentle presence about them. I could have sat and watched her all day:)

Congrats guys!

I also wanted to wish my ma a big Happy Mother's Day! Hope you had a lovely day mum, wish we could have been there to spend it with you. xox

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Another level

When a new shop opens in Hong Kong it is customary for friends, family & business acquaintances to send bouquets of flowers. Not just any bouquet - a massive one!!

This is not a new thing, so we are quite used to seeing them. However, the new shop we walked passed on Saturday took it to another level. As you can see in the pics, there were so many flowers that you couldn't even see the shop. I have no idea why this particular shop was so special or popular - but I am intrigued to find out. Perhaps someone famous owns it?

I want to open a new shop just to get the flowers:)

What did you get up to on the weekend? Did you have a lovely Mother's Day?

We had quite a jam packed weekend. Friday night I had a work function, followed by drinks with Em (who has incidentally finished her 4 month dream holiday), and a house de-warming party all in one night. Saturday I took CoCo up to the park with Michelle and her two boys, then headed out to Horizon Plaza (27 story industrial building housing all sorts of shops - and home to our butcher, Pacific Gourmet - num num), then our lovely friends Louise and Kristine popped over for dinner (burgers and these chips)!

Yesterday we did something very random and hired a car (!!), rallied together 4 of our friends, and had a lovely afternoon in the peak park. The dogs played all afternoon whilst we laid around relaxing. The weather was spectacular and we had such a nice afternoon. We popped in to see the Barretts new bub (more on that anon), and then drove out to Shek O for thai on the beach (just because we could - and because we had to fit as much as we could in whilst we had the car).

Sound like a jam packed weekend? It was, I can tell you! I love weekends like this, but then again I also crave weekends where we do nothing. Perhaps we will reserve next weekend for doing exactly that.

Have a lovely week!

PS. For those that are wondering, the shop is actually a Canadian food store (i.e. a store selling Canadian produce). Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Day 3

8 May 2010

The (secret) park at the Peak.

The things you find out when you become parents...parents of dogs that is! When Will and I got CoCo we were on the search for dog parks in Hong Kong. A friend told us about a park at the Peak, not the part of the Peak everyone knows, a secret place. You see, the Peak is not actually the peak - if you keep driving to the top (which is quite a way further up), you get to the actual peak of the mountain. That's where the park is!

We were absolutely blown away with how beautiful this place is! In terms of public spaces in Hong Kong, I'm afraid to say that the Hong Kong government usually gets it wrong. This park however, they have got absolutely right! It is wonderful - there are wide open spaces, meandering gardens, blooms galore, streams, park benches - in fact, everything you would expect to find in a park back home in Australia.

Given how special this place is, you would think it would be filled with people all of the time. Quite the contrary actually, the park is always quiet and peaceful which makes it extra special.

The other amazing thing about the park is that, unlike most places in Hong Kong, dogs are actually allowed here. In fact, it is a designated dog park!

Today, the very friend who told me about the park drove CoCo and I up there with her two doggies (also poodles) for a play. We had a lovely morning in the sunshine chatting and playing fetch with our furry friends. What a perfect way to start the weekend.

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Saturday, 8 May 2010

Day 2

7 May 2010

I work on the 50th floor of Central Plaza. This is the view from my office.

I wasn't intending on capturing this view today. In fact, this is not always the view from my office (and not because we hot-desk)... because most days those mountains in the background are clouded in the most horrible pollution. Yeap, they are usually invisible! Yesterday however, they were as clear as could be, we could even see the satellite towers on top of them. The cloud through the buildings is just morning mist/cloud. I thought it made for the most interesting photo, and a rare one at that.

When we moved here 5 years ago, the pollution was nowhere near as bad as it is today. Some days it's ok (usually after heavy rain), and others it is unbearable! Why do we live here you ask? I don't know, I grew up on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland Australia so I do know what clear blue skies are and if I really knew what it was doing to my health, I would probably feel compelled to move. But complacency is an amazing thing. You just seem to get used to it. IT becomes the norm. The blue skies back home become the unusual...

Incidentally, the view is from Hong Kong island looking back to Kowloon, near Kai Tak - the old airport.

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Friday, 7 May 2010

Day 1

6 May 2010

Walking through the Wanchai markets on my way to work. You can see snippets of a flower stall on the right (not my fav one which is down the road a bit further, but one I occasionally buy from).

I don't have to walk through the market to get to work, there is a side road which I could take if I wanted to avoid it. I don't know what it is about the market, but I LOVE walking though there everyday - it makes me feel alive, reminds me that I am living in Asia, and makes me very thankful. Most of all, thankful that I have this wonderful opportunity to live in amongst another culture.

The market is always bustling, and I ALWAYS find new things everyday when I walk through. If you ask any of our visitors, they usually say that they enjoy visiting this market the most in all of Hong Kong. It's only small, but there are so many treasures to be found.

Last night when I walked home through the market I went to visit the local tofu lady (who incidentally also sells bean sprouts - which is what I was after). Just as I arrived she pulled out the fresh batch of tofu and proceeded to yell down the street to alert everyone to its arrival (well at least that's what I could make out of her Cantonese). Then I called into the fruit shop to buy some mango's and got caught buying a bag full of fruit - lychee's just in season, the most wonderfully aromatic guava's, and some cute little pink gala apples (guess what we had for breaky this morning - fresh apple and guava juice! YUMMO). Then I called into the thai shop (one of my absolute fav shops in the market) to buy fresh mint, basil and lime. I had a quick chat to the owner (who incidentally used to be my beautician at the Mandarin Oriental before she opened this shop), before heading home to cook dinner.

I thought a shot of the market was appropriate for day 1 considering how integral it is to my life in Hong Kong, and also, just because I LOVE it so much!

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The 365 day project!

That sounds quite daunting doesn't it?

Yesterday I came across an idea which I thought was fantastic. A friend of mine has started a visual diary where she records her days through photo's - 1 pic per day for 365 days. I was feeling so inspired by the idea, that I have decided to try it out for myself. I thought this here bloggio was the perfect place for publication of the pics, considering that the inspiration behind The Holdens in Honkers was to keep in touch with fam & friends back home whilst we were living away. I think this project will hit the mark perfectly!

Hopefully I don't forget to capture each day... wouldn't it be annoying if after 365 days you only had 320 photo's! I guess I could live with that, although I will try my best to complete the project with 365 pics.

My greatest fear is that in the day to day humdrum of life, there won't be much to capture - let's face it, you can only take so many pics of your work desk (which is where I tend to spend the majority of my days). Anyway, I guess it will just force me to get creative which is not a bad thing.

So, here goes. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

I am a bad girl

Instead of working, I am sitting here at my desk dreaming about our upcoming trip to Paris and Spain (Barcelona, San Sebastian, Seville & Madrid). I can't stop thinking about it, and just wish I could fast forward the calender to 15 June NOW!

I really feel like I need a break, not a day off here and there, but a solid block of time to let my mind wander idly, without a thought of work or deadlines or 6 minute blocks of time. I want to be free to roam the streets and discover hidden treasures and spend time with hubby enjoying his company and our general banter about nothing and everything. I want to experience something new and exciting, something exotic and different, something fresh and inspiring - I am hoping for all these things on our trip. I don't think that will be too much trouble considering our destination...

Until then, I need to FOCUS! I have work to do, Will's 30th to organise, in-laws to visit, and loads of other stuff on my plate. 15 June feels so far away today, oh please hurry up and get here!

41 sleeps to go!

To show my appreciation...

for all the assistance the lovely receptionists at work give me throughout the year, I gave them each a little tin full of homemade cookies. I know, it's only a token gesture, but I wanted to give them something little and heartfelt to let them know that I do really appreciate their help.

I felt inspired to make cookies, and came up with the perfect idea of how to use the peppermint Haighs chocs that my lovely friend Louise bought back from Australia for me. I used a Nigella recipe as the base, and added the peppermint chocs (and a peppermint crisp - don't you love those!). Needless to say they were a little naughty (i.e. calorific), but they tasted so yum.

The girls were so surprised to receive the little treats, and I did notice a smile on their faces for the whole day following! Isn't giving such a wonderful thing. The feeling you get when you give is right up there in my books.
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