Monthly Archives: August 2015

Learning to Love Laksa!

Super-easy, super-good Laksa by Emma Dowling

Malaysian combination laksa

Malaysian combination laksa

Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup and a combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine. It’s basically rice noodles or rice vermicelli with chicken, seafood, pork, vegetables, tofu, or a combination of the lot! It gets its spicy taste from either a rich curry, or sour asam. I have to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of laksa. I usually find it too filling, too hot, or often too hard to actually eat without making a total mess! But in our travels around Asia, laksa is served everywhere in a gazillion (yes that is a word) different ways. So after trying a couple of different laksa dishes, while I wouldn’t say I was complete convert, I was prepared to give a little and try out a few recipes at home.

Seafood laksa

Seafood laksa with scallops, prawns and tofu with extras served separately

What we came up with was a super-easy cheat laksa which is gluten-free (rice noodles), low fat (lite coconut milk) no added sugar, and not too filling. One thing we did cheat with (yes we admit it) was to use a jar of laksa paste—much easier than measuring and grinding your own, and we chose Ayam paste as it’s readily available.

You can make a basic laksa base and ring the changes by adding whatever you like. We started out with the basic ingredients and made a chicken and mushroom laksa, a seafood (white fish, prawns and scallops), and a vegetable laksa—all of which were totally delish!

And, one thing we’ve really learnt to love about laksa is the way the colours, as well as the ingredients, come together. The green onion and coriander, the red chilli, the white sprouts, and the limes are a really lovely colour fusion. So check out our super-easy recipe and a few mouth-watering photos—and give it a go!

Chicken and mushroom laksa

Chicken and mushroom laksa

Basic chicken and mushroom laksa

What you need (serves 2)

120g rice noodles

2 teaspoons extra virgin or coconut oil

2 shallots (spring onion), sliced (separate white and green parts)

180g jar Ayam laksa paste

500ml chicken or fish stock (use All Natural/no salt, or make your own)

270ml can Lite coconut milk

250g skinless chicken breast fillets, finely sliced

4 medium button mushrooms, sliced

1 small red capsicum, finely sliced

1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed

½ bunch coriander sprigs, roughly chopped

Few fresh mint leaves

1 small chilli, finely chopped

1 lime—halved to serve

What you do

Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak until tender—check after 15 minutes. While the noodles are softening heat oil in a wok over a high heat and stir-fry in the white part of the shallot for about 30 seconds. Add the laksa paste and stir well. Add the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the sliced chicken and mushrooms and simmer for 3-4 minutes until tender and cooked through. Add the capsicum and chilli and simmer for 1 minute, then stir through the green part of the shallot, bean sprouts, and herbs.

Drain the soft noodles and divide between two bowls, cover the noodles with the laksa, and add a squeeze of lime to each bowl. Serve immediately.

If you are serving four or six people just increase the ingredients accordingly. A nice way to present this if you’re serving a group, is to omit the final five ingredients (chilli, green shallot, bean sprouts, herbs, and lime) and serve them separately in small bowls as a table centrepiece so guests can help themselves. This way they can make it as hot (with the chilli) and as colourful as they like.

Grated onion,  fresh chilli, bean sprouts,  bok choy leaves and limes

Grated onion, fresh chilli, bean sprouts, bok choy leaves, baby spinach, and limes served as a centrepiece

Ring the changes

You can make a simple seafood laksa by substituting the chicken and mushroom for 200g boneless white fish fillets—flaked into pieces, about 4-5 prawns and 3 scallops per person, and use fish stock instead of chicken.

If you are making a vegetarian laksa it’s a good idea to pre-cook any root vegetables first as they take a while to soften up. Cauliflower, broccolini, mushrooms, bok choy, and most Asian vegetables are perfect; together with bean sprouts, and red and green capsicum.

Yummy vegetarian laksa

Yummy vegetarian laksa

It’s in the Bag!

… with Kerri-Anne Anderson—by Aine Dowling

Kerri anne banner jpgThe Three Sixty Fashion Market is an explosion of treasure—it’s like the genie popped out of the bottle and showered the building with a blaze of colour and design—from op-shop to vintage and exclusive designer fashion right through to gorgeous delicate jewellery and accessories. At their last market we caught up with the lovely Kerri-Anne Anderson who makes a gorgeous range of bags, totes, purses, clutches and wallets—sustainable, ethical, and what’s more, all made and designed in Canberra.

Kerri-Anne totes will fit your tablet, iPad or Kindle with room to spare

Kerri-Anne totes will fit your tablet, iPad or Kindle with room to spare

The bags are made from scraps and off-cuts that Kerri-Anne has collected over the years, though some new material does appear from time-to-time. The quality of the bags is amazing and all the bags are unique—one of a kind, so you’re getting something really individual. So what does it take to make these lovely items?

Kerry-Anne shoulder/crossbody bags

Kerri-Anne shoulder/crossbody bags

“The average bag takes about five or six hours to cut,” says Kerri-Anne, “plus about another 15 to 20 hours on top of that as the bags are made as a single design from three different colours. I also make bags to order as well as fulfilling requests for different straps or extra pockets. My bags are one of a kind so no two are the same.

“I’ve always loved handbags and since learning to sew they’ve been my favourite item to make. I studied Fashion Design and Production in Melbourne and the course taught me all the skills I needed to take handbag from design to the finished product, but it’s difficult to get a job in the industry so I decided to make my own handbag label instead. I enjoy the challenge of mixing fashion, functionality, and useability.”

Kerri-Anne clutch bags

Kerri-Anne clutch bags

Kerri-Anne’s bags range from brightly coloured and pattern mixes, to very trendy (and corporate) monochrome, and serviceable denim, with a terrific men’s/unisex range. “I originally started out making bags that I would personally use, but have since branched out in both theme and colour palette. I guess my target market is anyone who enjoys stylish fashion and likes to match their bags, or even make a statement that allows them to stand out.”

You can find Kerri-Anne at the Three Sixty Fashion Market (next market is 22 November), and on Facebook, Etsy, and Instagram.

360FM Kerri-anne bags

They do say a handbag reflects your personality, so check out Kerri-Anne’s designs—you’ll find one just for you!

Crazy Dog Ladies @ BlogusDogus

If treating your dogs like family makes me a crazy dog lady then I guess I’m in …

In another life I work in dog rescue—I volunteer for ACT Rescue and Foster (ARF) by writing, editing, and organising the great little team who publish their quarterly digital magazine ChinWag. Plus helping on stalls, doing some committee and communication sub-committee work, and generally just enjoying the company of other crazy dog ladies—and men!

If you want to find out more about what we do, and join in with some crazy dog lady activities then check out this blog written by one of our volunteers and foster carers  Find out if you’re a crazy dog lady—and come and join us!

Tasha rescued by Big Dog Rescue with the help of ARF

Tasha rescued by Big Dog Rescue with the help of ARF

Elsie in ARF foster care - now adopted

Elsie in ARF foster care – now adopted

Laz (ARF rescue) dressed in his winter warmers

Laz (ARF rescue) dressed in his winter warmers

All photos from

Eat, Drink and Be Merry at Canberra’s Fireside Festival

The annual Fireside Festival kicks off this weekend (1 August) to warm the last of our winter weekends until end August. The Festival covers wineries, restaurants and events in Murrumbateman, Bungendore, Lake George, Gundaroo, and Hall. So warm your inside and outside with some of our region’s best food and wine! By Aine Dowling


Poachers Pantry is offering a ‘Poachers Fare’ five course degustation lunch with all local produce including terrine of wild rabbit, venison tenderloin, and lemon and myrtle sorbet. Match great food with fine Wily Trout wines. The Poachers Bounty degustation dinner is available each Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the Festival. Bookings are essential

grazingGrazing Restaurant at Gundaroo offers a one night only six course duck and wine degustation. This is an annual signature event at Grazing and is not to be missed! This one off event is only on 29 August and bookings are essential—so get in now!


Tallagandra Hill Winery at Gundaroo is offering the High Tea experience with sandwiches, petit fours, sweets and savouries, Devonshire teas, and lots of sparkly bubbles. Available 1 – 2 August, 22 – 23 August, and 29 – 30 August. Bookings essential at the winery

Summerside cheese and wineLerida Estate Wines at Lake George is offering a range of events including a Truffle Experience with locally grown truffles and dishes from truffle bread to truffle Crème Brulee included in their regular lunch menu during August. Match your truffle dish with one of Lerida’s great wines. If you’re not into truffles try their Duck and Pinot Master Class or Wine and Cheese Matching Class. Bookings essential for your lunch or master class – book at Lerida. Lerida also has regular lunchtime music in the Barrel Room with various local artists—music is free, lunch at regular menu prices.

Four Winds Vineyard, Murrumbateman are offering a Sangiovese dinner on 15 and 29 August with four Sangiovese wine and mouth-watering pizzas. Join the winemakers from four local wineries and learn all about the wine, and the pizza! Book herepizza healthy-1

Be Merry!

Bungendore Woodworks Gallery has a merry-making one night only event including fire twirling, live jazz, gluhwein, and a delicious three course dinner of baked lamb shanks with truffle mash, followed by fig and pecan pudding with butterscotch sauce. Vegetarian and special dietary requirements available—please advise when booking. One night only on 29 August—booking essential at the Gallery

Have fun and learn all about truffles on A Truffle Adventure at French Black Truffles, Majura. Start off with a truffle hunt (complete with dogs), then move across to the winery for a taste of truffle infused cheeses, followed by a three course lunch at Pod Food Pialligo to round off the experience. Available now to mid-August depending on the truffle season. For more information and availability contact Mount Majura Vineyard. Own transport is required.truffle brie

For something completely different try a two hour horse trail with Burnelee Excursions through some of Canberra’s great countryside complete with après ride of hot chocolate and marshmallows. Take a trip through 5,000 acres of beautiful grazing country and natural bushland. Winter trail rides are available on 1, 8, 15, and 29 August at 10am – 12pm and from 1 – 3pm. All levels of experience are catered for—state experience, height and weight when booking so you can be matched with your horse.

For a full list of events visit the Festival website or Facebook page