It’s so late and I can’t sleep, so here’s some quick thoughts on DnD

It’s 11:30pm and I am tired but not ready for bed. 

I blame Thursdays. Thursday is Dungeons and Dragons night, and tonight was a fairly epic battle. 

Stella Swiftblade, halfling rogue, has inspired a coup against and survived a duel with the leader of a bandit group…. And has acquired her own thieves guild. Or maybe she’ll make them a band of mercenaries. Stella isn’t sure yet. Stella also tends to refer to herself in the third person. Her companions had some epic battles too…. one having a silent wizard mind battle that ended with a huge thunderwave, and the other battled almost to death, with an injured man, against a series of Orcs and a Drow. We broke the cardinal rule of DnD: Don’t split the party. But we still survived (only just though). 

Stella has also acquired an awesome shortsword. It is invisible in darkness, and poisons opponents with a critical hit. Stella has named it Shadowfang. 

After all that awesome I need time to wind down before I sleep. 

Sometimes I wonder if I really want to keep playing DnD. I’ve done it for a while now. But every week when I do go it’s another outlet, a social event, and time to just cut loose with whatever I want. I enjoy role playing, probably for the same reason that I have devoured fantasy books from a young age – it’s escapism. Not that I have anything to hide from now, it’s just… everyone needs an outlet.

I have running which helps when I’m frustrated, but this is a collective creation of something that doesn’t exist at all. It’s the mutual imagining of epic adventures and deeds. It’s a story we control and a story we write as we go. 

DnD allows expression, teaches teamwork and strategy, develops imagination, and provides a purpose for people to set aside time for each other. It allows you exercise that inner child who is just busting to get out. Thats why I keep going, and thats why I love it. 

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Weekend update – Running, hockey and crafting

This weekend has been a rather good one for me. I’ve achieved a couple of things.

Saturday I got up at 7am as usual to take my sister Kate to work. She stays at my place Friday night and I drive her to work, otherwise mum would have to get up an hour earlier and drive her in (I’m a good sister!).

I love the morning drives at this time of the year, because its all foggy and sunrise-y and pretty.

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If I get myself organised next week I might even take my gear out and go for a run out there – it’s so pretty!

After that I went to yoga. I’m enjoying it a lot and its great that each class is a bit different, although there’s some things that we do every class like downwards dog and cobras. I’m glad I started going, and I’m using some of the poses for my post run stretching as well.

After yoga was some breakfast, and a bit of shopping. I have been looking for a long sleeve running top for winter. I have one, but I wanted a second one to be able to rotate through and make sure I always had a clean one to wear. I don’t like anything flapping about when I run, so I need a relatively fitted one, which doesn’t provide too much warmth. I get very warm when I run but I need to keep the cold air off my skin – this is one of the few times I get fussy about clothing.

I also don’t like clothing with huge logos or brand names on them, and also since pretty much all my running pants are black, I wanted colour. Colour would be safer for running at night anyway.

I found the perfect top in Lorna Jane, so yes it was a little pricy. But it’s a lovely colour.

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Next was watching my sisters play hockey. I’m pretty impressed with how they are – they have both picked up a lot of confidence and are getting into the game more.

After that was a run (with my new top). I set out planning to run 5 – 6 kms. As I headed out I decided to run to federation hill, climb the steep bit, run along the top track, and then back down.

Here’s an old picture of the view from federation hill:

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I like to think of this one as Mount Doom

So I did that, taking some walking breaks on the way up and the way down. Coming down is pretty steep as well so its hard to run full speed anyway and still be controlled.

Then something clicked and the rest of it was easy. I don’t know if it was doing all that hard work first, but I maintained a pretty steady pace for the last 4kms and didn’t need to stop at all. I ran to 6, and felt good so I kept going. I got to 7kms, and I thought to myself that I might as well do 8. When I got to 8 I felt like I could keep going – after all, it was only 2kms more to make 10 and I’d already made 8. But I decided to go home as it was getting a bit late and I was hungry. It took me almost exactly an hour. I was pretty proud of myself.

Some stretches and plenty of water later, I still felt awesome.

Sunday was hockey for me. I was put up on the forward line again and it paid off.

I scored our first goal. It was wonderfully easy too …. I ran up the wing, got myself away from my defender, our centre passed it across to me and I slapped it straight in. I was so happy with myself – I’ve been on the back line for the last 10 years or so (feels like it anyway) and then I get a goal!

Then one of my team mates got another one in, and we won! It was great. We don’t tend to get many wins, particularly in the first half of the season.

I’m loving the past couple of weeks, with me playing a forward because I’m running more and being a little more versatile. The instinct to drop back down the field and defend is still there, but I’m working on that.

After that I watched my brothers game (he is goalie for division 1). They won 7 – 3 so it was definitely a good game to watch.

Sunday night I made a plate of nachos (with vegan cheese) they were delicious, and I put quinoa in the bean mix for an extra nutrition boost. I’ve been using it a lot lately. Need to thicken a stew? Quinoa. Making a Mexican themed bean soup? Quinoa. Want to reward yourself with delicious plant based proteins after a great game of hockey? Quinoa. I love it.

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I also threw some guacamole and chopped coriander on top

Then, while we watched Community, I decided to start a new crochet project. I have this beautiful wool that has been sitting in my cupboard for a while and I didn’t know what to do with it. I’ve decided on a basic cowl, with a twist (so its a möbius). I was going to play around with some fancy stitches, but the colour in the yarn is going to look nice with just a few rows of straight double crochet, I think. I’m kind of just making this up as I go, and depending on how much yarn I have left I might make a set of matching basic gloves to go with it.

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I love the colours!

We also picked a ridiculous amount of pumpkins yesterday. I might make that a separate post though, and I’ll be looking for more pumpkin recipes to use them all up.

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these all came from a single vine!

All in all, it was a good weekend.

Obligatory Mother’s Day post

The title of this post is more a nod to the fact that I’ve already seen quite a few Mother’s Day posts and I’m jumping on the bandwagon, rather than the reluctance to post that it might imply.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in Australia. Or as my little brother put it in a text to mum, “mature aged lady with offspring day”.

We started with an outing to the Mother’s Day classic, a 5km run/walk around the lake at Sumsion Gardens in Wodonga. Kate, Gary and I ran. Mum and Lisa walked. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

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myself, mum, Lisa and Kate. We all got these shirts… Although mum had to do some convincing for my sisters to wear them

The course was pretty straight forward – around the lake with one extra bit on the first lap to make the distance. According to my Garmin the course was 4.6kms not 5kms but since its a fun run to raise funds for breast cancer research nobody really minded.

Gary raced with some kid and they two of them finished first. The kid was desperate to “win” (we were told in the run briefing that it was not a competition and Gary laughed) and he did cross the line first. I was finishing my first lap and as I went past I saw the kid on the ground and Gary looking like he was asking if he was ok. Gary runs pretty fast (he did it in about 18mins) so I applaud anyone who can keep up with him (or beat him).

I did the course in 28mins. I did walk a few sections as my stomach wasn’t feeling well, so I probably could have beaten my PR for a 5km if that hadn’t happened. I’m still happy with my time though. Even walking I was completing my kms at a normal pace for me, so I was obviously running faster than normal.

My calves were pretty tight afterwards though so I think I need to work more on stretching and strengthening them. I’ve also started yoga this week so hopefully that will help to get more flexibility and loosen off some of the muscles a bit more.

Then it was off to Spotlight, with mum having confirmed what presents she wanted. I got her some quilting templates. Then lunch, and I went over to mums house for a lovely BBQ, joined by Scott and Lotta.

The girls made dessert.

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these teddies are supposed to be racing. But since some of the card had cracks and there were a few broken limbs amongst the teddies, they arranged them as though they had a crash.

Mum took some more photos of us girls with our shirts.

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So, in closing, we had a great Mother’s Day, being active in the morning as a family and then spending time around he BBQ in the afternoon. I do appreciate my mum. She’s done a pretty good job with what she’s had to work with (all of us kids can be little shots sometimes) and she still has a great sense of humor.

Makes me appreciate it so much more too seeing mothers who won’t, or can’t be mothers through my work. There’s been plenty of women in my life who at one time or another have stood up to support me and care for me. Plenty of women who show me the strength that a mother can have. Im lucky enough to have a stepmother who has made the space for me in her life and cares about me.

One day I am sure I’ll have kidlets of my own (but don’t panic – I’m not having them yet. Gary hasn’t agreed to the name Optimus Danger so I’m not producing children until he does*) and I hope I can take the things I’ve learned from these people and put it into practice.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, surrogate or biological, soon to be or future mothers, the ones that aren’t mothers anymore, and the ones who can’t be mothers. Keep in mind though that although I’m probably a bit biased, my mum is the best there is. My shirt reads true. I do love my mum.

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P.S my sister Kate is ticklish.

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*I’m joking about this being a condition…… Or am I?

Homemade tofu mold

Tofu is healthy and also delicious, right? And easy to make at home. I made some last week and I wanted to make more today.

So I used the same recipe and made some, but since I ruined the takeaway containers last time and they weren’t really sturdy enough, I took an idea I saw somewhere (sorry but I can’t remember where!!).

So I got two loaf tins, nicely asked Gary to drill some holes in the bottom and along the base of the sides of one.

He then tidied it up for me so there was no rough bits to catch on the cheesecloth.

Then I lined it with cheesecloth and poured in the curds. I folded the cloth over to cover it and set the second (not holey) tin into it. I have weighed it down with jars of water.

If you don’t want to keep the whey you can do it straight into the sink. Since we are using it for the garden I have balanced my mold on 2 big cooking chopsticks over a bowl.

Can’t wait to eat this tomorrow in a nice fresh stir fry!!

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Also I am watching The Hobbit on my laptop while all this is going down. I love it.

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Quick stirfry with homemade tofu

Mmmmmmmm delicious.

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Remember that tofu I made yesterday?

Well today I pressed it a little more by putting it between two chopping boards with my big mortar and pestle on while I had a shower (so about 20mins).

Then I chopped it into cubes coated it with a dusting of corn flour and shallow fried it in some peanut oil so it was crispy. I put it aside on some paper towel while I whipped up a quick stir fry with onion, garlic, broccoli, baby corn and carrots. Throw in some honey soy sauce and cook some noodles, then chuck the crispy tofu. Dish it all up and nom away!

The tofu is fantastic.

Home made tofu

Today, as evidenced by my spoiler alert heading, I made tofu. I’m pretty proud of myself.

But first, Gary ran the Nail Can Hill run today. It’s a yearly event, and I planned to run it this year however I didn’t feel I could justify the day off hockey given we are going to New Zeland for a few weeks soon. I would have felt bad bowing out this week (even for a good reason) then disappearing again mid June.

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Gary heading off at the start

It’s just over 11kms, through the Nail Can Hill reserve, which according to all reports means there’s “a bitch of a hill” to climb and its along fire trails so its not exactly even, flat ground.

Gary made it in 51:00 ish. I was impressed.

Meanwhile I was playing hockey (so i wasn’t there to see him finish) and I felt like I had a great game. It was a 2 all draw with the Falcons. I was impressed with myself and my efforts.

Then I came home and I made tofu. It was easy, but a bit time consuming. I think that was mostly because I have never made it before.

I used this recipe to make my tofu. It’s pretty easy, but like I said I took a little longer to get the hang of things. I’m very much a free form cook, unless there’s something with a definite “must be exact” feel. Things like cakes and bread, which won’t rise without the correct portions, and this time. Having never played around with soymilk I wanted to pick one recipe and stick with it.

I got some Nigiri (magnesium flakes) at the health food shop yesterday. In essence the curdling and mold section of this process is the same way I made paneer a while ago, and a few recipies said i could use vinegar lemon juice as I did back then to curdle the milk. However a lot of recipes recommended using nigiri for authentic tofu so there it is.

Apparently you can also use Epsom salts, or food grade gypsum (I laugh because Gary adds gypsum to the ground when digging garden beds as a clay breaker).

So anyhow , the process is as follows:

Soak your beans overnight then blend the beans (and soaking liquid) in a blender or food processor till all smooshed up.

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before

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after

Then you boil some water in a LARGE pot. I used my big stock pot, normally reserved for making ridiculous amounts of tomato sauce or giant pots of soup.

Add the bean slurry to the pot of boiling water. It foams up. At one point it foamed up to about twice its original size. That’s where the big pot came in handy.

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Once it’s cooked, you strain it through a piece of cheesecloth to get the fibrous bits if the beans out.

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all the fiber-y bits once I took then out of the cloth. Apparently you can use this for quite a few recipes so I hope to post about that later

So what we have left is soymilk (yay! You could just stop here and have some delicious fresh soymilk.)

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Then it’s basically the same as for paneer, or basic cottage cheese. Being the milk back up to about 66 Celsius, take off the heat and stir in the coagulant (nigiri, in my case).

Let sit for about 15 minutes, until it looks like this:

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Strain through a (clean) cheese cloth again. Congrats! You now have separated your curds and whey. Miss Muffet would be proud.

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Next step is to press it, which can be done in the strainer for a round/irregular blob of tofu. I wanted a square block so I punched some holes in a takeaway container. I put the cloth with the tofu into it, folded the cloth over, and then used a second container on top with some jars full of water to press it.

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After 15 minutes or so, its come out like this (upside down)

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So there you go. Easy peasy fresh home made tofu with no preservatives.

I was wondering what to do with the whey, as I didn’t want to just wash it down the sink. So we will probably use it in our garden as a fertiliser to feed the next lot of veggies. Other options could be as a base for soup or in smoothies. I think the nigiri made it a little bitter though so I might have a play around with proportions or using different coagulants next time.

I also want an actual tofu press, to make it an even size each time.

Now I just have to decide how I’m eating it…..

Slow cooker soybeans, and more

I am the sort of person who prefers to cook from scratch as much as possible. I’ve never really used much of the dried bean selection from the shops because it seemed way too time consuming (even for me) to have beans ready to go.

But as I’m shying more and more away from processed food, its pretty clear that dried is healthier than canned – with all the salt and extra chemicals canned goods can have I’d rather go for the most natural product and add my own salt etc.

Eating plant based also requires us to branch out and eat a variety of protein sources. So I’ve been experimenting with a few beans lately. The other night I made a really delicious kind-of-Mexican soup, with a tomato base, black eyed beans and plenty of veggies and herbs.

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These beans don’t actually need to be soaked or cooked for a long time, and they were delicious.

As I said dried beans can be time consuming. An overnight (or full day) soak, then a long cook before even adding to your dish. So they require forward planning, including knowing what I want to cook in advance otherwise I end up using canned beans as a last minute decision on what to cook.

Last night I put some dried soybeans on to soak and this morning I threw them into the slow cooker.

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I’m hoping it can quietly simmer away with them all day so they are ready when I get home. I have planned to make a curry with lentils, soybeans and pumpkin, inspired by this recipe.
We have a pumpkin which is immature but was knocked off the vine by accident. I have no idea how, but it came off.

(Ok, I’ll confess. It was hanging on the fence and I poked it. It shifted a little, and I walked away. About 10minutes later we heard a thump and it had fallen)

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Gary and his pumpkin

Anyhow, I’m going to use some for curry and if its orange enough, some for soup. Otherwise I’ll maybe stirfry it for tomorrow nights dinner – we are having friends over for a meal so I want to think of an exciting vegan meal to share, since I’ve already made these friends my pumpkin sage risotto. Hmmm *ponders*…