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The Natural FK & P Series [Just be]

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If you held a dinner party, and you could invite any 5 people in the entire world, dead or alive, who would you choose…? 

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I would invite Bear Grylls, Matthew Kenney, Will Smith, David Attenborough, Ellen Degeneres but they unfortunately couldn’t attend this dinner party, so I invited 5 of the closet people to me. This was a surprise birthday dinner for my Mum…

A dinner party I called, ‘White Zest’.

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Anyone who knows me well enough, knows that I prefer experiences to ‘stuff’, memories to gifts and overall a good feed over anything. I love being able to share an experience with the people in my life, and a lot of those experiences always start with food!

For my Mum’s birthday, all she ever asks for is for me to cook, so I cooked and made a dinner party of it, my present to her was an experience turned memory! 5 courses, 5 people, a garden and a good time. Let this photo story show you a little love and a whole lot of joy! 

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White Zest

Two words that represent me. Possibly a cookbook title? Possibly a new blog title?  It’s another phrase for Casey Trebilcock, my tagline?

I play around with words all the time, synonyms, antonyms, verbs, nouns, I frolic in grammar and swing on sentences. White Zest formed from my minds scrabble board, it’s a word play, a dictionary meaning of Casey.

White is the foundation of bLANk (www.abLANkblog.com), the vision of hope and creativity, it offers me that of growth, liberty and scope, it welcomes the unplanned and seeks to preserve visual expression. White is how everything starts in my life, white can embrace any colour, any situation and adapt, transform and invent the new. White is the starting point.

As for ‘Zest’, it’s the one adjective I have heard multiple times that describes me, that reflects who I am, my personality, my ‘zest for life’.  Zest is the way I live, I always give a little piece of myself to everything I do, I do it with enthusiasm – keenness – gusto – taste – relish – appetite – tang – bite, all words that are synonyms to Zest fit to me to a T.

Put white and zest together, you get Casey Trebilcock, you get the ‘White Zest’.

So my first dinner party had to reflect exactly who I am and where this passion came from, it came from white and it came from my zest. I had to pour it onto a plate and let my food carry my essence and personal expression.

23The Natural FK & P Series Menu [White Zest]

Spring 2013

Appetisers

Pre dinner drinks accompanied with a classic coriander homemade tzatziki dip with a walnut and beetroot flair alongside pricked tomato and basil.

Tasting Plate

A trifecta tasting plate display of (1) Lime and herb marinated chicken black skewers, (2) Rosemary infused smashed pumpkin bruschetta finished with rocket and a balsamic drip (3) A chargrilled zucchini rolled ‘sushi’.

Entree 

Double stuffed portobello mushrooms with black sesame and rocket with free formed, quinoa flaked, seeded wholemeal dinosaur bread rolls.

Main

Green Beans and smashed cashews.

Lemon and rosemary roasted asparagus and roma cherry tomatoes.

Lightly tossed green garden salad.

Atlantic infused seeded salmon with a cumin, herb and nut, white quinoa salad.

Dessert

Avocado whipped mousse underneath a dark chocolate pistachio and ginger bark finished with garden fresh mint.

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bLANk’s Homemade tzatziki dip with a walnut and beetroots flair - Makes 1.5 cups – 5 Minutes

170g Chobani Plain 0% Greek Natural Yoghurt – 15cm’s of Cucumber – 1/2 cup Coriander – 1/4 cup Chives – 1 tsp crushed garlic – 1 tsp Lemon Juice – 1/2 cup Beetroot – 1/4 cup Walnuts – 1 Packet of Sorj Wholemeal Wraps

1. Preheat the oven to 160c. Finely chop the fresh chives, coriander and dice the cucumber. In a bowl, mix the Chobani yoghurt with the fresh herbs and cucumber and crush a tsp of garlic and mix together. Squeeze the lemon juice into the mixture and stir a few times. Set the dip aside.

2. Spray the Sorj Wholemeal Wraps with some olive oil or drizzle with some coconut. Add to a baking tray and allow to become golden in the oven for about 10 minutes. Take them out when crispy and set aside.

3. Finely slice the beetroot and then dice. Crush the walnuts roughly with a knife or rolling pin.

4. Break up the Sorj Wholemeal Wraps into decent savoury biscuit pieces. Top the dip with the walnut and beetroot and an extra handful of coriander to taste.

Tip: The trick with my homemade dip is to let it sit in the fridge for a little while to let the flavours combine. 

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It’s the company not the cooking, that makes a meal.” – Kirby Larson

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“One of the very best things of life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating” – Luciano Pavarotti

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Pricked Tomato and Basil – Makes 20 – 5 Minutes

20 Small cherry tomatos – 20 Toothpicks – 20 Fresh basil leaves

1. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and rip of some basil leaves.

2. Prick the toothpick with half a cherry tomato and fold the basil leaf in half in the middle. Add the other half of the tomato on top of the basil leaf.

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Rosemary infused smashed pumpkin finished with rocket and a balsamic drip – Makes 6 – 25 Minutes

Fresh rosemary sprigs – 1 cup Pumpkin – 1 cup Rocket – Wholemeal or rye pumpernickel bread – Balsamic dressing

1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Roughly chop the pumpkin (The secret to beautiful roasted pumpkin is cutting it in different shapes) and place on a baking tray. Mix with some rosemary sprigs and a dash of olive oil. Allow to roast for about 15 minutes in the oven or until soft.

2. Cut three pieces of pumpernickel bread in half and lay out on the tasting plate. Add the roasted pumpkin.

3. Drop some rocket on top, it doesn’t need to be neat. Drip over some balsamic dressing and serve next to the marinated chicken tenders.

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Lime and herb marinated chicken black skewers – Makes 10 – 25 Minutes

10 Chicken tenders – 1 Red Chilli – 1 Fresh lime – 1 tbsp Mixed dried herbs – 10 Skewers – 1/2 cup Coriander – Cracked Pepper

1. Soak the skewers in water for around 20 minutes prior so that they don’t splinter.

2. Lie the chicken tenders in a large dish and dress with the juice of a whole lime. Sprinkle with the mixed herbs, finely sliced red chilli, coriander and season with cracked pepper.

3. Allow to marinade over night or for 20 minutes depending on your own time restrictions. Once the flavour is strong, add the chicken tenders to the skewers.

4. On a hot grill, place the skewers side by side and allow to become charred before turning them. Cook until tender and serve on the tasting plate.

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My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.” - Orson Welles

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“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” - Cesar Chavez

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[The Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series - Just be]

*Disclaimer: All photographs in bLANk’s ‘Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series’ are taken by bLANk and rightly owned by bLANk

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“Ohana means family – no one gets left behind, and no one is ever forgotten.” – Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, Lilo & Stitch

Ohana is a word that I hold close to my heart. Where would I be without my family’s love, support, kind hearts and presence?

We all know the importance and value of family and my family celebrates our strong ties every week. Yep, every Sunday for the past 23 years, since my brother (Matt) was born, we have a family BBQ or the traditional Sunday Roast. That’s approximately 1,190 BBQ’s – fair effort I say! The BBQ’s came around because my parent’s had just had Matt and at a young age, trying to find their feet, my grandparents made sure that every Sunday they had a good ol’ home cooked meal and the tradition stuck.

Now we do dinners at everyone’s house and I spent my Sunday night at my Uncle and Aunties, Brett and Jules beautiful home. Easily said one of my favourite houses – stocking up on my fresh eggs from the chicken coup and my vegetables from the veggie patch, the boys on their toys, the fire burning and the wood fire pizza oven cooking! They have water tanks to hydrate the whole of Melbourne, a vegetable patch with the biggest zucchinis I have seen, stingy chickens and now, the beginnings of a sustainable trout farm!

WARNING: My family is healthy but not as full on as me so BEWARE images of red wine, cheeses and dumplings.  

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Two weeks ago we celebrated a huge milestone in our family – my grandparents, Marcia and Colin’s 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary! I was honored to do the speech in the presence of such pure and enduring love. [Below is my speech]

Mum, Dad, Matt, Nanna, Grandma, Grandpa, Brett, Jules, Kerrie, Rob, David, Jai, Sahara, Myah, Brodie, Chevi and my beautiful puppies, Bundi and Bailey,  I just want to say and remind you all that I love you.

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Grandma & Grandpa 50th Wedding Anniversary Speech

Although the wedding was many years ago, the celebration continues to this day. Not just in your hearts but in ours, especially our family.

The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret, whatever it is I think you have nailed it.

Fifty years on, fifty years strong. I haven’t, nor has the oldest grandchild even been around for half the amount of time you both have been married. But, I have been around long enough to see a bond full of pureness support, shape, encourage, and love a family, my family.

So, like wine, good buddies, improve with age. True companionship brings on a feeling quite like having completed a good meal. Something that our family is very familiar with – a. wine, b. food and c. of course golf.

What I love about all a, b and c, is that it brings us together, what family these days spends every Sunday night together knocking back 6 bottles, easily, of very decently aged wine accompanied by first class meat over a conversation about stable ford, stroke, handicaps etc! Or the fact that Grandma has cheekily tried to swap Grandpa’s top quality Uncle Toby Oats with Home brand, cheaper Oats IN the Uncle Toby’s box, to hear that Grandpa has instantly questioned and queried the new taste of his much loved morning bowl of oats. Grandma soon found out that she couldn’t get away with this one!

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Over 23 years, it averages to about 1,190 BBQ’s, luckily, for 3 of those years you saved a bit of money on food because I wasn’t there to get my 4th helping! But, these Sunday BBQ’s have taught me the value of friendship within a family, the importance of sustaining contact with your loved ones, it has taught me how to use a knife and fork, to have the confidence to speak to adults in mature environment, the BBQ has helped shape me as a stronger, more resilient woman. Even though I don’t normally want to share the 2kg’s worth of eye fillet, I am incredibly lucky to sit at a table with of course the Monarch at the head of the table surrounded by my extended family.

You have and continue to nurture your family, you have already given so much, taken us to some of the most beautiful neighbouring destinations together, you’ve come to graduations and birthdays, school plays, ballet, football, anything and everything to do with our family you are there in any form you can be. So thank you, for giving our family such positive light, special opportunity, deep love and a last name no one forgets.

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Now they say a mark of a good relationship is the sheer number of things you don’t have to say. I understood this on the TOOT’s Bali family trip. To show you both my infatuation with the entire design of Potato Head, the three of us ventured to the Beach Club at night. It was busy, we walked around, we admired but I admired you. It was that night that I understood and saw Grandpa’s love for Grandma, the way he treated her like lady, held her hand and protected her, showed me their true love. Walking behind them, I felt that love, I felt that protection, and I felt their bond. It’s the fact that the simplicity of holding hands or an adoring gaze, fifty years on really proves true love does exist.

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Now from me to you.

Grandma I am glad you weren’t too busy to be here tonight, your spirit is glowing gold, you radiate. You beautiful woman you have raised three charming, stubborn, strong willed and bighearted children. Your willingness to give your all as mother, grandparent, loyal friend and loving wife is a true testament to who you are in spirit. You have shown us all what strength is, you show sensitivity and share love. You give your all, you give it to everyone, and you are the Queen of our family. Whether you are at the Post Office, which seems everyday or bouncing in water aerobics, swinging the golf club, you do it with life, you do it with passion, you do it with energy. I love you.

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Now Grandpa. Words will never express my gratitude towards your influence upon my life. I must confess, a younger, more inexperienced me found the concept of ‘respecting her elders’ difficult to grasp, always asking why should I. A conversation that seemed to come up every Sunday leaving me red face from being overly opinionated on the subject, and now I look back I think a lot of intentional provoking had secret teachings behind it. I grew up and matured, I now understand the concept, now, I cannot begin to describe the respect I have for you. When you walk into Woodlands Club House, I smile because I am proud to be your Granddaughter, when you tell me I am beautiful, you make my day, when people ask my surname I am honored to share and say your last name. Matt and I can never speak highly enough of our Gramps, you have shown both of us the ropes to etiquette, respect, values and morals, you have given us some of life’s greatest teachings and some of those from a very young age. For all that you are, all that you have given and shared, you are a man I admire, look up to and over anything love with all that is in my heart. I love you.

I am simply proud and privileged to be your granddaughter.

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In my opinion, you both struck gold. You are each other’s gold rush, you hit the jackpot, and you found what most never find. You found the gold vault.

Love is something eternal; the aspect may change, but not the essence. Chains do not hold a marriage together, or some would like to differ but it is the hundreds of tiny threads, which have sewn you both together through the years, it’s the little things that make it so special and so irreplaceable.

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A golden aura surrounds you two, a couple representing all that is right about marriage. A pair, who has triumphed over time, over challenges, prevailed over all yet a pair that continues to bond, help and love. A golden aura symbolizes selflessness, generosity, and happy compromise out of love for each other. You are a beautiful duo, and everyone here tonight wishes you every piece of happiness, comfort and peace for all the years to come. May your beautiful and admirable union be richly blessed and for your love to grow stronger. On that, I would like everyone to raise their glasses in a toast to my grandparents.

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Half a century ago, they say, a wonderful marriage began that day. Two beautiful people joined as one, and worked together to make living fun. We celebrate now those fifty years, we raise our glass and give three cheers. To partners in life, in both work and play, it is our pleasure to share your golden day. Happy 50th Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa. Just remember one is never too old for romance, keep the spark a light – all you need is love. Three Cheers to the happy couple!

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“The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you.” – Kendall Hailey

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“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!” – Albert Einstein

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“Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.” – Author Unknown

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“The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” – Erma Bombeck

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Love your family. Spend time, be kind & serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised & today is short.

[The Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series - Just be]

*Disclaimer: All photographs in bLANk’s ‘Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series’ are taken by bLANk and rightly owned by bLANk

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Nettle is the new pop up venture, conceived by the botanical cuisine academy crew.

exploring botanical gastronomy and alternative dining spaces, nettle challenges the archetypal culinary palate, exploring epicureanism within the realm of raw botanical fusion.

Bringing together a shared expansive culinary repertoire in raw food coupled with a keen eye for aesthetic taste and style, the botanical cuisine academy crew work together in accordance to their fused accreditations and passion for what they consider “a symbiotic relationship and interplay between culture and culinary ritualism”.” – Botanical Cuisine

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“Vegan food is soul food in its truest form. Soul food means to feed the soul. And to me, your soul is your intent. If your intent is pure, you are pure”. – Erykah Badu

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When eco, sustainable, organic, raw, gourmet and vegan find themselves joined together in one event, as a health foodie, you know that you aren’t just going to eat food. You know you are about to go on some sort of mad hatter like innovative taste bud wander.

Styled and installed by the talented JooLee Levett from Lord Butler, the transformation from Botanical Cuisines experimental kitchen warehouse into a pop up restaurant, Nettle, vigorously ignites the pentagon of senses.

With a mission to “help people utilize the unique and health enhancing properties of plant foods to create delicious cuisine”, Nettle proves that not only do you eat towards *purposeful health within the precincts of raw veganism but it enlightens the significance of mother natures resources in the way of offering us originality, initiative and pureness.  Nettle to me, seeks to bring back a way of appreciating creation, nature, vision and taste all in one thoroughly explored recipe, produce sourced from the freshest, plated to perfection, served by the finest and devoured by the wanderers.

*Refer to bLANk’s Food Revolution Story  

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When food has the power to silence a room and see the pace from which the fork or spoon leaves someone’s mouth proves that if we allow ourselves to actually see, feel, taste, smell and ‘feel’ the food we gain a greater appreciation for all that is that creation.

From the creamy walnut ‘cheese’ to the soiled chocolate, the rhubarb mousse to the two day slow dehydrated tomato, whether it be the caramelised fennel or the candied orange zest, the experience that came with each left me in awe, speechless, mind blown, appreciative, stimulated and more than satisfied and full!  All ten courses made my palette jump, to say a favourite would be too difficult (The Pistachio & Milk Chocolate Semifreddo and Candid Figs literally made me silent from start to finish!) but to say what surprised me out of all ten would be the Heirloom Carrots, Carrot Sorbet, Liquorice Mousse and Raw Dark Chocolate. This one just stuck out, solely because it really did take me by surprise with the combinations of ingredients and techniques. It is in that surprise that makes Nettle linger within you as it revamps and reignites your own food inspiration.

To eat out of jars, off white tiles, from stone plates, surrounded by pots and plants, you not only feel absorbed into the natural world but you begin to blend in with the overall mission of what Nettle strives towards.

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Raw

This means that nothing is heated above 42 degrees, retaining more nutrients than would be left if heated or cooked. Cooking not only destroys nutrition and enzymes but chemically changes foods from the substances needed for health, into acid-forming toxins, free-radicals and poisons that can destroy our health. Eating live, nutritionally dense organic uncooked and unprocessed foods will ensure optimal health and a wonderfully working system.

Vegan

Vegan diets, or vegan products, lend themselves to a sustainable, ethical, and cleaner lifestyle. most people find them easier to digest than animal products as these can be heavy and irritating in our system.

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[1] Tomato Consommé & Micro Basil

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With Botanicals team of thriving creatives, the detailing of Nettle’s events go beyond being just applaudable, it simply carries anticipation, imagination and vision deep into the personal experience on offer, leaving a flavoured memory of all ten courses. Together with detailing the tang and the taste bursting within each raw vegan delight, Botanical Cuisine extend the experience past just utilising organic, natural food. They take you through a process of ‘guess and expose’. With a menu illustrating a simple series of hand drawn, strikingly soft graphics, this is the starting point of the process of predicting. Which then sanctions your own creativity and raw vegan food original designs to flourish.

Main ingredients in each dish: [1] Tomato [2] Beetroot [3] Carrot [4] Fig [5] Mushrooms [6] Lemon [7] Orange [8] Pistachio [9] Blueberry [10] Cacoa

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[2] Beetroot Sorbet, Rhubarb Mousse, ‘Yoghurt’ Granita

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[3] Heirloom Carrots, Carrot Sorbet, Liquorice Mousse and Raw Dark Chocolate

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[4] Rum & Balsamic Glazed Figs, ‘Roasted’ Tomato, Botanical Cuisine Walnut Cheese

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a raw diet” – Albert Einstein

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[5] Mushroom Bouillon, Marinated Mushrooms and Cauliflower Rice

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[6] Tart of Botanical Cuisine Cheese, Asparagus, Sweat peas & Caramelised Fennel

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[7] Rosewater Granita, Orange Gel and Carrot Tops

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[8] Pistachio & Milk Chocolate Semifreddo and Candid Figs

“It is very significant that some of the most thoughtful and cultured men are partisans of a pure vegetable diet.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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[9] Blueberry Mousse, Orange Chocolate Biscuit & Candied Zest

“Life is too short not to eat raw and it’s even shorter if you don’t.” – Marie Sarantakis

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[10] Chocolate Soil with Botanical Cuisines Chocolate Gateau

Botanical-Cuisine

Botanical Cuisine’s products range is “for those whose tongue is bored and whose heart plays loud music that no one else can hear!”. The organic, raw, vegan and sustainable gourmet series offers the ultimate commitment to “beautiful, artesian inspired raw, vegan products.” Along with their “commitment to sourcing the highest quality organic, biodynamic or wild crafted raw materials for optimal flavour and health benefits, all the products are sugar, dairy and gluten free made with minimal processing at low temperatures with no artificial additives”.

*Botanical Cuisine use glass packaging with recycled paper for labels, solar powered energy, rainwater where possible, mindful purchases in regards to fair trade principles as they are on a mission to minimize their carbon footprint and build a sustainable foundation, “along with helping indigenous co-operatives add as much value as possibly to their raw products”.

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Omid JaffariFounder & Creative Director – “Good chefs, like artists, are visionaries. You have a vision of your masterpiece; you hold it in your mind and make it materialise”.

Omid started botanical cuisine in 2010, encompassing alternative dining space ‘nettle’ and the artistry & excellence “botanical cuisine academy”. Believing there are as yet unexplored opportunities to create new and interesting dishes from plant foods, botanical cuisine’s philosophy focuses on all things artisan and heirloom: ”Flavour and texture is central, with an emphasis on seasonal, organic produce  It is a new raw food philosophy, based on the idea that raw food cuisine should ideally be created using lovingly grown, minimally processed and exquisitely presented ingredients’’.

While there is a place for creating ‘copies’ of cooked food favorites, Omid believes there is so much more to raw cuisine and hopes botanical cuisine can help people explore the boundaries.

http://botanicalcuisine.com/

[The Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series - Just be]

*Disclaimer: All photographs in bLANk’s ‘Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series’ are taken by bLANk and rightly owned by bLANk

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[Volume 1, Edition 2 - Changing Tides - The Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series]

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“The ocean surface is in continual motion. Waves are the result of disturbance of the water surface; waves themselves represent a restoring force to calm the surface. The standard example is the rock-in-the-pond scenario. The rock provides the disturbing force, and generates waves that radiate outward, eventually losing their momentum and dissipating their energy so that the pond returns to calm.”

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bLANk’s Meatless Chilli Infused Mushroom and Roast Pumpkin, Coloured Quinoa and Rocket Salad – Makes – Approximately 25 minutes

Rocket and Spinach Leaves – 1.5 cups Red and White Quinoa – 3 cups Diced/Chopped Button Mushrooms – 1/2 tbsp Chilli (Dried or Fresh) – 1/2 a Red Capsicum – 1/3 cup Red Onion – 10cm Cubed Cucumber – 1.5 cups Cubed Pumpkin – 1/2 cup Halved Cherry Tomatoes – Lime Juice – Cracked Pepper – Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1/2 tbsp Cumin Seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Dice the pumpkin, mushrooms, cut the cherry tomatoes, onion, capsicum and cucumber. On baking paper place the pumpkin on the tray and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle the cumin seeds over them and make sure they are coated and tossed well. Allow to cook until soft and crunchy.

2. In a pot, add 3 cups of boiling water from the kettle (To speed up the process) and tip in the white and red quinoa. Allow to cook between 9 – 14 minutes.

3. Grab a saucepan and hit the heat up high for the mushrooms so that you don’t stew them. Let the saucepan heat up first and then add the mushrooms with the chilli. Sauté and cook until soft.

4. In a bowl, tupperware container or what have you and toss together the rocket and spinach, capsicum, red onion, cucumber, tomato, lime juice, cooked quinoa, roast pumpkin, chilli mushrooms and cracked pepper. Serve warm or cold!

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Abbies Quick Chunky Hummus – Makes 1 Cup – Approximately 4 minutes

1 can drained Chickpeas – The Juice of 1 Lemon – 1 tbsp of Tahini – ‘Sprinkling’ of Chia Seed – Pepper – ‘Dash’ of Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1 Clove of Garlic – Fresh Mint

1. Mash the chickpeas with the olive oil and lemon juice with a fork.

2. Mix the crushed chickpeas with the tahini, chia, pepper and crushed garlic until combined.

3. Garnish with extra sesame seeds and some fresh mint and serve with some freshly cut vegetables!

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I believe we change for two reasons, either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to. Simply put, one of the hardest lessons in life is letting go – change. Weather its guilt, anger, love, loss; change is never easy because we fight to hold on and we fight to let go.

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[Sliced red capsicum, cherry tomatoes and carrots with my dad's Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race 'scroggin'!]

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Abbies ‘Everything Red’ Power Salad – Makes 5 Cups – Approximately 15 minutes

3 Fresh Beetroot, boiled or roasted – 2 tbsp of Dried Cranberries – 1 cup of Cooked Red or Mixed Grain Quinoa – 1 cup of Cherry Tomatoes, halved – 1/2 cup of Fresh Mint, torn – 1/2 cup of Fresh Coriander, torn – 1 tbsp of Chia Seed – Pepper – Dash of Extra Virgin Olive Ol and Balsamic to dress

1. Boil or roast the beetroot until tender and cook the quinoa.

2. In a bowl toss together the halved tomatoes, torn mint and coriander, dried cranberries, beetroot, chia seed and quinoa.

3. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic over it and season with some cracked pepper!

Abbie said “it might be best served as a side dish as it is quite sweet and rich in flavour, but in saying that the two of us polished off meal size portions so go wild if it takes your fancy!” 

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[Mango for dessert and Santa Vittoria Azzurra for thirst]

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“Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better” – King Whitney Jr.

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Three months ago, I made a decision, a conscious choice to transform every part of my life, not particularly because I wanted to but rather because I needed to. I knew if I didn’t do it now, I wouldn’t get to where I wanted to be or feel what I wanted to feel.

I felt my mind had out grown the life I was living. What I was practicing mentally, and teaching my mind didn’t fit in with the way my reality was shaped.

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Sometimes it takes the worst pain to bring out the best change. I was hurt, I was hurting, and I couldn’t remember what inner peace and contentment felt like.

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“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hand on a minute longer, never give up, then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

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Over time, I realised that I had compromised myself and my primary morals due to the people around me – it was in this understanding, I knew something needed to be done. We realise that some people just aren’t worth the pain anymore, when we are no longer able to change the situation we are in; we are then challenged to change ourselves. I was challenged to do just that.

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“Life can either be accepted or changed. If it is not accepted, it must be changed. If it cannot be changed, then it must be accepted. We can not change our past, nor can we change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”

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I found that if one changes internally, one should not continue to live with the same objects. What we surround ourselves with, reflect ones mind and psyche of yesterday. Throw away what has no dynamic living use so I did, I cleared everything to begin my personal ‘bLANk’ canvas all over again, not from scratch but rather a new enlightened perspective. I let go of fear and simply embraced my life’s reincarnation.

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Everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, and things go wrong so that you can appreciate them when they go right. Sometimes we just outgrow things, don’t try to fix it, or repair it, just let it be.

Maybe none of us have that much control. If we stay, it was the right thing to do and if we go, that, too, was the right thing to do. Or either way, we’ll probably never know. But this, for me,  this change in my life was right on par.

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I stepped out and trusted my instinct and allowed a new path to emerge. Change starts within, we must learn to trust our intuition, and once we do, change then transpires around us. It’s not about perfect; it’s about the effort, the energy and strength that we put into our personal renovation or revolution every single day because change is built into the nature of things, nothing is inherently fixed, not even our own identity. No matter how bad the situation, anything is possible. We can do whatever we want to do, create whatever world we want to live in, and become whatever we want to be.

Life is too short, grudges are a waste of perfect happiness, it’s all to easy to hold them but it takes strength to let them go, laugh when you can, apologise when you should and let go of what you can’t change.

Find the fire inside you, accept all that you are, all that you have struggled and achieved, accept that no day is ever going to be the same and that change is a necessary nutrient to life.

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Not all change has to be useful. You don’t repaint a house just to protect the wood, you do it because you want a new colour. It is enough that some change is just fun!

Start where you are, with what you have, just do what you can. Don’t let the past and useless details choke your existence. Don’t let toxic people or memories rent space in your head, raise the rent and kick then out!

Learn to give time, time…

[The Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series - Just be]

*Disclaimer: All photographs in bLANk’s ‘Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series’ are taken by bLANk and rightly owned by bLANk

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[Volume 1, Edition 1 - A Garden's Word - The Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series]

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“Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don’t just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings.”

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bLANk’s Ruby Red Fruit Fizz Punch - Makes 2 – Approximately 4 Minutes

1 Peach – Half a Punnet of Strawberries – 1 cup of Pineapple – Handful of Garden Picked Mint – Lemon Zest of 1 Lemon – 1/2 the seeds of a Pomegranate – 1 cup Raspberries – Soda Water – Ice

1. In a bowl add the diced peach, pineapple. halved strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, peeled lemon zest and gently toss together.

2. Pour in the soda water and ice and rip some mint into the bowl. Let this infuse for a little while to enhance the overall flavour.

3. In a glass of your choice spoon some of the mixture into it and then pour the liquid.

4. To finish add some more mint and serve cool with extra ice.

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bLANk’s Vegetarian Pureed Beetroot and Roasted Cauliflower Garden Salad with Apple Cider Dressing – Makes 1 Large Platter – 30 Minutes

2 Red Onion – 1/2 cup Walnuts – 2 Bunches of Asparagus – A bag of Green Beans – 3 Medium Sized Beetroots – 2 Spring Onions  - 2 cups Cauliflower – 1 Lime – 1 Lemon – 3 tbsp Organic Apple Cider Vinegar – Alfalfa – Basil – Coriander – Chilli (Dried or fresh) – 1/4 cup Currants – 1 Bag of Mixed Lettuce – 1 tbsp Coconut Oil – Garlic

1. Preheat the oven to 180c. In a large bowl, chuck in the washed mixed bag of lettuce.

2. Cut off the cauliflower florets into small pieces and add to a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper. Drizzle a tbsp of softened coconut oil over the cauliflower. Cut the red onions into lots of little wedges and add to the tray and toss with the coconut oil. Add the chilli across the vegetables whether it be fresh or dried and add some garlic for an extra kick! Put in the oven until golden and roasted – approximately 25 minutes.

3. In the large bowl of lettuce, add some smashed walnuts (Simply use a rolling pin and put the walnuts in a plastic bag and crush), the spring onions, currants, ripped coriander and basil. Set it aside.

4. Whether you want to use raw or cooked beetroot is your choice but in this case I used cooked beetroot and simply just pureed it and left it at that. Set aside.

5. Blanch the asparagus and steam the green beans.

6. Once the garlic and chilli cauliflower and onion has become soft and aromatic, toss it with the existing salad as well as the green beans (Chopped into smaller bite size pieces). Drizzle some apple cider vinegar through it and break in some basil! Give it a good mix with your hands.

7. To serve, get a big serving platter and place it on there with the asparagus on top and extra alfalfa, coriander and basil on top to serve and why not add some extra spring onion! Get a spoon and just put dollops of the beetroot puree on and around it. If you feel like adding some extra colour you can get some edible or just normal flowers for the ‘wow’ factor!

Tip: My beautiful Nanna said that adding blue cheese or feta would seal the deal but no dairy for me!  Add what you will! 

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Nature, the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations.

[The power of a single word]

5 words, 365 days, 2013 – a year or the year?

NATURAL. PRO-ACTIVE. SUSTAINABLE. RE-THINK. COLOUR.

Words have always empowered me, whether they are read or written.  Their ability to influence and shape, invent and destroy, educate and indoctrinate – words simply hold power.

Invisible and innocent, neutral and precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning this and saying that, words trigger concepts, ideas, situations, circumstances, actions, they spark memories, thoughts and feelings, they can delight you or they can devastate.

So when you take a second to stop and value the capability of any, all or one word, you’ll learn that underneath the general surface communication of a word, you can adjust and influence, encourage and teach if you decide to believe in the value of a word.

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“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more” – Confucius

Connecting with a specific word mentally can have a profound impact on the human psyche. It bounds you to something that carries strength and bears significance; it awakens a purpose.  These five words will shape my actions this year – not just every now and then but consistently every day. They will motivate, remind and push.

1. SUSTAINABLE: Support, maintain and endure through avoiding the depletion of natural resources, relieving our green fatigue – reduce, reuse, recycle.

2. COLOUR: Symbolic and therapeutic, colour changes the way we perceive the circle we exist in.

3. RE-THINK: By responding to our emotions and thoughts as they are, we are better able to respond to life’s many situations in a intuitively healthy way.

4. PRO ACTIVE: The main difference between people is energy not ability.

5. NATURAL: A word that captivates beauty, simplicity and freedom, an advised state of being that enforces us to reveal our pure and raw identities.

If one word can empower…you do the math.

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The minds ability to instantly stand quiet once one physically enters the realms of nature proves to express an external spaces influence. The word nature brings peace and quiet to an active mind; it encourages gratitude and offers serenity, physically or mentally the word nature can change a state of being.

Every time we go out into the world we can choose to be alert, to see what we’ve not seen before. A trip to the corner store can contain a multitude of universes. It only requires a conscious decision to ‘tune in’ and activate all the senses, to be open to what we don’t know yet.

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Trust that with instinct and curiosity you’ll unearth things that the ordinary eye won’t ever expose. Be inquisitive, stay fascinated, and exist consciously.

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Mango and Coconut Yoghurt Cups – Makes 2 – 2 Minutes

1 Fresh Mango – 1 Strawberry Chobani Yoghurt (Choice of flavour) – 1/4 cup Desiccated Coconut

1. Peel the mango and cut into small chunks ensuring you retain all the juices.

2. In two cups halve the strawberry yoghurt and add half the mango to each with the remaining juice.

3. Top with the desiccated coconut and serve.

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Disconnect from the ever-present technological distractions of email, RSS feeds, internet, text messages and constant news updates and get out of the concrete jungle – revive your body and soul by heading back into the greeneries and just try to simply be.

“A hundred years ago people certainly had a connection to nature. They were aware of the seasons and aware of what they were doing to the land and animals around them.” – Sir David Attenborough

[The Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series - Just be]

*Disclaimer: All photographs in a bLANk’s ‘Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series’ are taken by bLANk and rightly owned by bLANk

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FK & P 1

[Plate above: Baby avocado, mixed lettuce, pomegranate seeds, asparagus, grated cucumber and carrot, sautéed zucchini, tumeric infused chicken, spring onion and lime juice to dress]

[The Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series]

FK & P 2

[Plate above: Fresh deli chicken breast, Nanna's blanched asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, beetroot, cos lettuce, red onion, grated carrot and baby cornichons]

Three hundred and twenty one days ago style revealed itself and it approached me from a bookshelf. An extensive collection of a strangers keen interests and thirst for a particular knowledge opened the box of understanding my own realistic visual perspective. Their style was stacked in books, worn on their back, spoken through their words and I came to realise my style was stuck in my head – no one could see it, no one could relate to it, no one could enjoy it. It felt like a jig saw puzzle. I had hundreds of pieces there waiting to go but I couldn’t find the ones that fitted together.

For me establishing bLANk was an outlet, a means of a professional vent.  bLANk has been the ultimate tool and an aid in guiding me to express my vision and offer acceptance of my personal style.

An understanding of my own identity and self-esteem comes from acknowledging my style roots. I have found if I can’t grasp or express the way I see my own world, I consciously know I cannot move forward.

My style is becoming a grounding, the bases at which I can find homage in my foundations – the reasoning that comes with ‘why’. It has taken me day in day out, a determined and open mind, extreme lows and mountainous highs to uncover my ‘style’. A style that I know recognises the beauty in simplicity, lets colour tell stories, appreciates the fine detail, a style that knows that mental struggle, perfectionism and a bay of emotions are all tied to my ‘flair’.

The relevance this has to my new ‘Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series’ is that I have finally uncovered a way of expressing my minds jigsaw puzzle. What I have found is that my style is primarily a matter of instinct. The way I express my concepts with my photography and words, a dip into my spirits yearnings, bares the mechanisms of my minds way of processing and envisioning the way life is to me by the force of second nature.

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So apparently The Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series has been a year in the making without me consciously or intentionally creating it – it has just become and this is the beauty of accepting my respective style.

I have been awakened to what it is that sanctions me to pass through a barrier between my mind living in the past and it predicting the future – it invents a place where my mind is decorously engaged by the just and pureness of simplistic detail with the enchanted combustion of natural ingredients. A series that brings instant happiness to my soul – to enrich others through the means of two interlaced lusts of natural design and wholesome food creations.

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[Plate above: Steamed asparagus, black pitted olives, red capsicum, grated carrot and cucumber, roma sliced tomatoes, avocado, pan toasted sunflower and pepita mix, red onion and spring onion]

The series offers to appreciate our sensory pentagon – taste, sight, sound, touch and smell. An environment that engages all sides of this polygon where one can feel solely in the present moment.

Where we can feel the chemical reaction of the food on our tongue, the smells deep through our body, the eruption of clean sound, eyes witnessing untainted beauty and a touch that finds our spirit through the expression of ambience, food, human interaction, design and the appreciation of small things. A place where we learn and can, just be.

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[Plate above: Homemade zucchini and coconut oil fritters, chickpeas, homemade dressing , baby rocket leaves, spanish red onion and small tomatoes]

The way in which my Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series will be is that it is a series of photo essays with words that I believe to compliment the experience or something I have learned. Whether the edition is planned or unplanned they all have one common dominator – it is all natural.

They will be compiled of my eye for design and personal style, an expression of my healthy lifestyle (Food featured will be coupled with it’s recipe), a journey through the use of photographs. The main focus of Volume 1 is appreciating the outdoors and the experience that it brings when food and company is involved.

The Natural FK & P Series is the successes and building of friendships and loved ones but it is a personal record for me to continue to grow and keep track of my journey through exhibiting my take on this bold and mystical world I am sharing.

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[Plate above: Homemade zucchini and organic turkey mince patties, sautéed button mushrooms, baby cornichons , grated cucumber and carrot, yellow and red capsicum, pomegranate seeds, rocket leaves and spring onion]

Honestly this Natural FK & P Series means the world to me – It is finally my true style beaming through, it is my escape and my moment, it is natural and it is just me. Finally, after tireless and joyous hours and months of searching for this style to appear, I now have something of such weight that articulates my own heart and soul’s inner illustration. This reflective creation [FK &P] for me as a ‘recovering perfectionist’ is giving me the ability to accept myself. Being able to embrace my flaws, my talents, love my failures and acknowledge my successes, having the respect for who I am and believing in what I am doing in accordance with what I am thinking and what I say.

I know that I was striving for something that didn’t exist for too long but I continued to seek it out. It ripped me down and tore my head apart. I was fighting a bad battle within myself and I was drowning in it, I was in a major rivalry with myself. But ambition, competition, in the end, nobody wins. We all just die. All that really matters, all there really is, is the moment. Feeling joy or something authentic in the moment. If you’re not feeling it, being in whatever job or chapter of your life, you must quit. Were here now. This is it. Find something that works.

This is my something that works and it has been a savior to me in a time where I needed to save myself the most.

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Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change. Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you or makes you happy.

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[Plate above: Smokey paprika chicken, fresh avocado, roasted raw peanuts, grated cucumber and carrot, yellow and red capsicum, pomegranate seeds, mixed lettuce leaves and toasted sesame seeds]

“…I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws gravity or momentum.

And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting and set out on a truth-seeking journey either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then, the truth will not be withheld from you.”

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Whatever I am looking for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to me, but only when I am ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart which I believe is now.

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