Adventures in furniture building
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Apr 292014
 

I don’t think of myself as a particularly creative person but I do enjoy creating and restoring things for my home.  It is this interest that has sustained me during 3 years of renovations, and I’m quite sure it’s genetic. When I was growing up I remember my Mum visiting antique stores and restoring furniture on weekends.  Of course, when I was younger this didn’t interest me at all and I’m sure I’m complained constantly about being dragged into another antique or second-hand store.

My, how the tables have turned.  Now I love to visit vintage stores, although I don’t seem to have inherited my Mum’s talent for finding a diamond in the rough.  I find myself driving slowly up and down the streets whenever the kerbside collection is on in my neighbourhood.  Just the other day, I pulled over to throw two 50′s dinnette style vinyl chairs into my car – despite the pervading smell of mould.

It should therefore come as no surprise to learn that when I wanted a new desk, I decided it wasn’t enough to buy another mass-produced mdf number from a big box store.  I wanted something a little different, something that would give me a new project and stretch my creative juices.

That’s how J and I ended up in a salvage yard early one Saturday morning, sorting through piles of floorboards.

Desk in progress
Once the materials were acquired, assembly was actually fairly simple.  For once, the gods of DIY were favouring us!

The floor boards are tongue and groove, so we laid them out first to ensure we would avoid any large cracks or flaws.  We then glued them together with wood glue, flat on a piece of mdf we had lying around.  We braced the floorboards between two wooden chocks screwed directly into the mdf and braced against our garage wall.

Once the glue was cured, we used a piece of decking timber, cut into three even pieces, as bracing and screwed in the bottom of every second floorboard.  We used the unfinished side of the floorboards as the top, to simplify the sanding and finishing process.  A little time with the belt sander and both coarse and fine sand paper before we finished the top with some restoring polish and 3 coats of Gilly Stephenson’s cabinet maker’s wax.  Throw on a couple of Ikea Lerberg trestle legs in white and we were in business.

After some thought and patience (never one of my strengths) we ended up with this computer desk.  I am in love.

IMG_0038

 

In fact, it turned out the hardest part of the whole project was corralling all of the computer cords under the desk!

 

Apr 252014
 

In my never-ending quest to fatten up my husband (I am failing miserably) I am trying to do more baking.  The idea is that J will have something he can easily snack on, or throw into in his lunch for a bit extra.  I am trying to keep the baking semi-healthy, as I am also known to partake.  One of the best tricks I’ve found is to substitute at least some of the oil or butter for Greek or natural yoghurt.  My stalwart is banana bread or muffins, but I will now be adding this recipe to my repertoire.

Instead of chia seeds, I subbed back in the poppyseeds.  I also left out the almonds and cranberries and found they were just fine without.  I highly recommend this recipe, it’s relatively low in sugar and fat, particularly when compared to a store-bought muffin!

IMG_0054

Apr 212014
 

The Easter long weekend was the perfect mix of fun, social and relaxing.  After a visit from some family and a chance to see Brisbane through a tourist’s eyes, I spent today puttering around the house, cooking for the week ahead and doing odd jobs.

Ethiopian chicken stew

Tonight’s dinner was this delicious Ethiopian-style chicken from Food 52.  I used chicken drumsticks instead of chicken pieces and served it with a simple side of green beans.  It was a delicious start to the week, after a weekend of indulgence and copious amounts of chocolate.

Dec 282012
 

This post is slightly overdue, but the festive season caught up with me!

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited along to breakfast at Riverbar & Kitchen, the new venture from Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan.  It’s located beside the Brisbane River at the business end of town, at the site of the ill-fated Boardwalk Bar.  I was pleased to hear something new was going into the site, as Boardwalk Bar was one of my regular haunts during my private practice days, and the site of many a big night.  Riverbar & Kitchen looks set to fill the gap around that end of town, for business people looking for a place to have a casual bite to eat or drink.  And the view is pretty spectacular!

A number of us sat down for a pre-work breakfast one Wednesday morning and were lucky enough to meet Matt and Peter and have a chat face-to-face.  I confess, I found myself a bit nervous, but I regrouped and tried to string together sentences that made some kind of sense.

I loved the little details, like the amazing plates and bowls that look to be handmade, and the huge rope light feature that runs down the centre of the restaurant.  The food itself was delicious – good, honest breakfast food.  I particularly liked the bircher muesli, and (surprisingly enough) the blood sausage that came out with the bacon and eggs.

I had a lovely morning, one of the nicest Wednesdays I’ve had in some time!  If only every morning could start out with a relaxing breakfast, coffee and good company (and one wasn’t required to be at work afterwards…)

Riverbar & Kitchen
71 Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane
Ph: 3211 9020
Web: http://riverbarandkitchen.com.au/

 

Full disclosure: I ate as a guest of Riverbar & Kitchen, but all opinions are my own.

Oct 122012
 

J and I have been eating our way around the north-eastern part of the USA.  The
first stop in our little adventure was the Big Apple itself.  I’ve compiled a
little list of recommendations for foodie activities in NYC.  But bear in mind, one
of the best things about NYC is exploring it for yourself!

1.  Head to Hell’s Kitchen and grab some empanadas at Empananda Mama.  If you can
get a sidewalk table, watch the people passing by, and marvel at the NYC idea of
parking – bumpers are for using after all!

2.  Enjoy a fancy fancy dinner at Daniel on the Upper East Side.  Bookings
essential, but the three course prix-fixe pre-theatre (5pm-6pm) menu is a relative
steal at $125 with matching wines.  Follow up with a show on Broadway.

Smorgasburg!

3.Visit Williamsburg for Brooklyn Flea’s “Smorgasburg”.  Go straight to Baby Got Back Ribs and get the sweet bbq style with coleslaw.

baby got back ribs

Finish with a salted chocolate chip cookie icecream sandwich.  Loosen your belt.

salted chocolate chip icecream sandwich at Smorgasburg

4. Walking food tour.  We did the foodsofnyc Greenwich Village one, and it was
three hours of eating, walking and learning about architecture and history.  Loved it.  Wear comfortable shoes!

Faicco’s on the Greenwich Village Food Tour

 

Canoli on the Greenwich Village Food Tour

5. Visit the Chelsea Markets.  Get a real coffee if you’ve been hanging out (or try
Irving Farm Coffee Co on West 79th Street).  Try the flavoured vinegars and salts,
check out the delis and food stores.  Wish you lived nearby.

These are just some ideas – go nuts, you can pretty much find any kind of food you
can conceive.  Take loose fitting clothing…

Sep 162012
 

Spring has arrived in full force in Brisbane.  It only lasts about 3 weeks so I intend on making the most of it before the onslaught of an El Nino summer.

To celebrate the arrival of the season in the southern hemisphere, Sake Brisbane has launched a cherry blossom banquet menu, and I was lucky enough to be invited along for a preview.

One of the first things I noticed upon arrival was the cherry blossom tree inside the restaurant – it is a live tree that has been brought in especially for the festival.  Cherry blossom branches also festoon the walls, and out on the balcony is a twinkling cherry blossom tree – fake but convincing enough to fool one poor bee!

I start with the special “Cherry Jelly” cocktail, which combines cherry puree and sweet cherry liqueur with sparkling ume (plum jelly).  It is delicious but, I must admit, a little bit bizarre to have to chew bits of your cocktail!

We sample a range of items from both the normal Sake menu and the cherry blossom banquet menu:

Edamame

Popcorn shrimp (a highlight!)

Steamed prawn dumplings

Fresh Queensland scallops with ocean trout caviar and ponzu sauce

Sashimi

As well as:

  • pan seared ocean trout with sweet pea puree and asian mushrooms tossed with butter soy;
  • fried lamb backstrap with pickled beetroot puree, Jerusalem artichoke and baby carrot; and
  • very strawberry sorbet, mousse, jelly, marshmallow and crisp consumme

Unfortunately those options made it into my mouth before I could get a decent photo.  You’ll just have to trust me when I say they were all delicious.

I have been to Sake several times now, and every time I am impressed by the food – it continues to be innovative, fresh and to the highest standards.  The cherry blossom festival is a great idea, and I can certainly vouch for the banquet option.  The banquet with matching sake is $128, or just food is $88 and well worth it.

The cherry blossom festival runs until 30 September.

Sake Brisbane
Level 1
45 Eagle St
Eagle St Pier

Ph: 3015 0557
Web: www.sakerestaurant.com.au/brisbane

 

As usual, full disclosure, I was a guest of Sake Brisbane, but all opinions are my own.