By way of reintroduction

Sunrise behind clouds. Perth, Western Australia

Sunrise 26 July 2014

I’m returning to this blog because I have started running and this will hopefully be a way to track my progress.


running and I are not friends. I tried the Zombies Run equivalent of Couch to 5k. I tried just going for a run. In all of that I have discovers that I hate exercising for the sake of exercising. I’m happy to cycle 10+km to get from A to B, but to just go out to cycle 10km? I’d rather stay home!


what brought all of this running thing on, then? Another trip to Iceland is in the works. We’re making preliminary plans and that includes deciding where our stop overs will be while we fly there. The purgatory of CDG airport still looks in the memory so we have been weighing up other options and it’s possible that our European stop could be Copenhagen.


In researching Copenhagen we have discovered that there is a thing called a running tour, where you get to see the sights of a city on foot and at pace. That’s enough of a novelty thing for me to use it as a fitness goal — especially 13 months out.

The running tour has a goal of 8km at a pace of 6.5min/km, so my aim is to be able comfortably to 10km at that pace. I’m heading into this with no idea what pace a run at and uncomfortable doing 4km.


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Flesh free February (redux)

My month of ovo-lacto-vegetarianism went surprisingly quickly.

In the past we've been basically vegetarian at home anyway (apart from that brief obsession I had with bacon jam) so I wasn't worried about what I would eat in my own kitchen. My main concern, and reason for doing it, was the meals eaten away from home — work lunches, meals while out, that sort of thing.

I admit I “cheated” on Feb 1, we had gone out for dinner the night before and the leftovers I had brought home included chicken, but I thought it worse to waste perfectly good food than break the arbitrary date I had for starting/finishing. There was probably also meat in a samosa I was given yesterday, but that wasn't a conscious choice and it had been offered in goodwill by a neighbour who had us around for morning tea.

The difficult parts of the month were eating with groups of people. Early in February friends had had a birthday meal at an Indian restaurant where my go-to choice is the butter chicken. Whatever it was that I ordered had definitely been tasty, but watching people eating the meat dishes I could easily have ordered was trying. Thankfully it had been early in the month and I had the resolve to stay strong to my plan!

Super Bowl Sunday Monday was another trying time. The Super Bowl should mean hotdogs and ribs and bbq meat, but I happily snacked on the vegetarian spring rolls my host had supplied, and managed to vegetarianise the pizza I ordered for dinner. Over the course of the month I got good at converting Dominos pizzas to vegetarian.

The low-light of the month was having lunch with my family at a Chinese restaurant. We had figured that there would be a number of things that I could eat, but in the end there turned out to be three — vegetarian rice, vegetables and rice, and noodles and rice, the latter two covered in exactly the same sauce.

In the end, I got something of removing all animal meat from my diet for a month. I had to consciously consider what I was going to put into my body. I ate out of my comfort zone, albeit in a less exciting way than most people would consider. I challenged myself to do something for a month and stuck to it.


Now to pick something g to do for April…

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Meat-free February (A Challenge)

Whilst suffering in a haze of meat in the Christmas-New Year period, I swore to myself that my February would be meat-free. A gluttonous menagerie of barbecued meat on Australia Day cemented my resolve.

I had found over the course of January I was choosing the meat option more and more when eating away from home. Sadly, the meat option on a great deal of menus tends to come with a dearth of vegetables, when all I would really want is a nice balanced mix of the two. That craving for animal-based protein would sway my decision — and the fact that its faster and easier to find somewhere that caters for that decision — and I would grab something to eat that would end up being much less healthy.

In the end my own personal Meat-Free February challenge comes down to wanting to force myself out of the habit of choosing meat dishes as an instinctive choice. Twenty-eight days of eating only vegetarian food (non-meat animal products allowed) should do that.


Of course, tonight we're going to an Indian restaurant that does a damn fine butter chicken.

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And as you mean to go on. Or start again.

In the lead up to the new year I had planned to write blog posts every week. Obviously, eleven days in to said new year, that plan is already falling by the wayside.

So, let me announce this now. I hope to have (at least) weekly posts here for the rest of the year. Some of them might even be interesting, but mostly I hope to get into the habit of blogging again, because I read enough of other people's blogs that I feel like I should be giving something back.

So welcome to new folk, and welcome back to previous visitors, and lets hope that this goes well for all of us.


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Simply Salad

As I had mentioned previously, I had been looking forward to the Ponzu Truffle Dressing from Gala. A little research on the Internet after reading the ingredients on the bottle seems to suggest that it is more of a ponzu-like sauce than a traditional one (I guess the addition of truffle suggests that, too).


Research also suggested that the usual vehicle for ponzu sauce is fish, but as we are a seafood-free household, the next — and I must say more exiting — idea was to use it as a salad dressing.

The salad is a simple one, a bed of lettuce supporting discs of cucumber and wedges of Roma tomatoes. Tossed amongst these are cubes of pumpkin, spiced with pepper, smoked paprika and smoked sea salt (I wish I could take credit for these), plus the remainder of a tub of cherry boccocini and crumbled Mersey Valley cheese. Also added to the salad are the leaves and flowers of Nastursiums scavenged from a nearby empty block and wedges of a navel orange from the box to tie in with the citrus of the drizzled ponzu-truffle dressing.

As tasty as that all sounds, and it was delicious, the surprise winner of the meal was the bread we ate with the salad. We had picked up Turkish bread when we had bought the lettuce, and that had been sliced horizontally, toasted under the grill and spread with a thin layer of the truffle butter from Oak Valley Truffles. The warm bread melted the butter into the cracks of the Turkish bread and released the scent and flavour from the truffle pieces in the butter. I suspect if we had not just finished the salad we would have toasted the other two breads and eaten them straight away.

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An Urban Locovore

July's Urban Locovore Box with complimentary Pink Delight
Recently I discovered Urban Locavore. Put simply, they're a local company endeavouring to promote and support other Western Australia food producers.
The July Box is my first one, but will certainly not be my last. I was so excited to be getting it this morning that every single time a car drove past I would check the driveway. I need not have worried because twenty minutes before it's arrival I received a notification via twitter that it was on its way.
I let my girlfriend take the box, because if I had taken it then I quite possibly would have run back into the house screaming “It's mine, MINE!” maniacally. Thankfully I managed to keep myself composed for long enough to take some photos.
Biodegradable packaging and Duck Jumplings (bottom left)

The first thing out of the box — and straight into the freezer — were the Duck Jumplings from Jackies Cooking. They will probably become part of dinner later this week.
Chocolate Ganache Tartlet from Hugo's Patisserie. The only reason that this escaped being eaten straight away was that it was forgotten in the excitement to see what else was in the box.
As much as we're both big fans of camembert, the Starry Night Camembert from Over The Moon Organics will have to wait about a month. Included in the box — and also on Urban Locavore's website — was an information sheet about the fact that this artisan cheese has to undergo a ripening process before it can be eaten. We were (un?)lucky enough to receive our box a few days after our scheduled delivery date*, so I'm guessing our cheese is from the a new later-dated batch and those that received their boxes earlier may have had cheese ready to be eaten now.
I must say that I wasn't enthused about the Truffle Butter from Oak Valley Truffles. Mostly because I just don't 'get' truffles. I may be leaning toward being swayed thanks to the lunch we prepared after unpacking the box.
The Truffle Ponzu Dressing from Gala was probably the item I was most excited about. Every so often I like to step out of my food comfort zone and try something new. This idea of a citrus-based dressing that also included truffles was something I thought I might like but did not think I would ever choose to buy myself.
Another item I was really looking forward to was the Hot Chocolate from Rochelle Adonis. I am not a huge fan of coffee, so I normally order hot chocolate in the social situations that involve imbibing hot beverages. I haven't found one I like when I've prepared it at home.
I have to admit that I was unenthused by the Navel Oranges from WA Citrus. I grew up with family friends that owned an orchard so I was spoiled by oranges fresh from the tree. We're also suffering from a glut of oranges at the moment, but as these are the ripest I'm sure we'll use them first.
Last, but certainly not least, there was the Country Fresh Rolled Oats from Mason's. We worried what we would do with a kilo of oats, but once we've made a batch of ANZAC biscuits and a few serves of muesli, we probably won't have much left.
* The popularity of the box meant that there had been a shortage of the cheese. I was happy to wait until the new shipment, though the offer was also there if I had needed the box on my original delivery date — ie if I had planned a event around it. The Pink Delights from Angelina's Biscotti we received as a Thank-you-for-being-understanding gift were delicious, and normally I'm not to fond of meringue. I especially like the inclusion of what I believe is roasted almonds in them, no wonder they were Pick of the Box in January.


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That First Post

It's always hard to write that first blog post. The question is, should you leap into a first post with no context, or introduce yourself, or just bury that information away on an “About Me” page that nobody except the search engine robots looks at?

I figure I might as well start by way of introduction. My name is Frog, I'm 32 and I don't like defining myself by what I do to make money (if you must know, I work in retail). I much prefer talking about all the things I do outside of work time, and since those things are varied I figured a catch-all blog would be updated more often than stand-alone ones related to each topic.

So welcome to Chasing Focus, a blog where I'll post about whatever creative endeavour is holding my attention at the time.


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