This week I finally became an official Graduate! On Tuesday night I had the graduation ceremony in town. I can’t believe its finally happened and I’m not a student anymore. I thought I would feel different, but I think I still haven’t come to terms with it yet. The whole experience was amazing. I kind of knew what to expect, after going to Marco’s a few years ago. Mine was a little different though. There were only smaller number of people graduating and Griffith has really polished up a lot as a university in selling itself. It does feel different when its your graduation though and definitely is worth all the fuss.
My mother, her partner Ted, Marco and his mother, Sally, all came to my graduation. I also found that my friend who use to be my International mentee a couple of years ago was graduating. So it was nice to see someone I knew there. The vice chancellor began the ceremony with a very political, yet inspiring speech about how important investing into education is for our country. Then after receiving our awards we had another couple of speeches from these two amazing girls who have achieved so much in their fields, that are typically male dominated areas (computer engineering, bio- engineering). I noticed that a lot of the graduates were female, particularly the students that weren’t international.
Even though we had a short rehearsal before the ceremony, most people didn’t accept their awards in the official way. When I accepted my award I got stage fright and forgot to do the nod at the right moment. I just walked straight to the Chancellor and then panicked when I realized what I did and tried to do my nod again. He laughed at me and told me it was ok. It probably didn’t help that I had sculled a glass of sweet sparkling wine just before the ceremony on an empty stomach. After the ceremony, after taking a few more photos, we all went out for Thai.
So now its over not sure what I am going to do with myself. Maybe I will go do Honors in a year or maybe keep working in government. Not sure I can do the same thing forever. I am already itching to learn. I have been studying Atlantis every spare moment I have at work or in transit. In case you didn’t know I am also an Ancient Alien fanatic. So perhaps one day I’ll be uncovering some long kept truth.
But for today I am curled up on the couch under a blanket. I was meant to go work today for some special corporate event, but the directors decided that us temps shouldn’t be there since we aren’t on the books yet. I’m pretty happy to get a long weekend. I wasn’t looking forward to getting up at 5.30 today dressed as a super hero.
For lunch I just made a delicious ‘Chicken’ Burger with fresh bread, coleslaw mix, red onion and lots of avjar and Fry’s Chicken-style Burgers. This is the first time I tried this Fry’s product and it didn’t disappoint. It taste just as good as the real thing.
For dinner last night I made something I have been wanting to try for a while, Baked Tofu. Believe or not I have never made or eaten it before. I made a marinate with tahini, honey, sunflower oil, paprika, cumin and sea salt. Normally I would use agave, but when I added a tablespoon of tahini I realized it was mixed with honey. It’s Marco’s mothers latest obsession at the moment. I introduced tahini to her a few weeks back when she wanted to learn to make hummus and she feel in love. But of course she needed to sweeten it. Marco got his sweet tooth from both of his parents. As for the Tofu it was delicious! I really like it baked. The marinate cooked onto the tofu well. It was as nice was a good protein alternative, in terms of flavor and texture.
I also made a Moroccan inspired dish of eggplant, carrots in a spiced tomato sauce. I had a lot of passata sauce leftover and a new box of organic whole wheat couscous to try. I actually really like the couscous. It didn’t taste that different to the regular white one. So no reason to go back to the regular one now. The vegetables were really flavorsome and rich.
For acidity I made a cashew yogurt. It wasn’t meant to be like a yogurt, but that’s what we ended up thinking it tasted like. I added fresh mint, garlic, lemon juice and salt to cashew cream. We really liked the flavor and I will definitely be using this as alternative to yogurt for savory dishes. Best part is that its not processed and soy free !
Sweet Spiced Baked Tofu, Cashew Mint ‘Yoghurt’ and Eggplant and Carrot in a Rich Tomato Sauce with Whole wheat Couscous
Sweet Spiced Baked Tofu (vegan, gluten free, nut free)
175 g firm tofu
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 tablespoon tahini
1/2 tablespoon agave (or honey)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika
sea salt to taste
1. First preheat the oven to 180 degrees and press the tofu for 15 mins. I just covered it in paper towels and put something heavy on it to get the water out of it.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients into a bowl and whisk with a fork till combined.
3. Slice the tofu into 4 slices, then dip them in the marinate, coating on all sides, then place on baking tray with baking paper. Top with a little more marinate.
4. Bake for 20 mins. While its baking turn tofu after 10 mins and brush with more marinate if you want.
*Serves 2, double to amounts for 4.
Cashew Mint ‘Yoghurt’ (vegan, gluten free, soy free)
1/2 cup cashews (pre-soaked/raw)
1/2 cup filtered water
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons mint leaves
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt to taste
1. If you haven’t soaked the cashews then boil them for 10 mins.
2. In a Vitamix or high speed blender the cashews. Break them down, then slowly add 1/2 a cup of water. Blend till it becomes creamy.
3. Add garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and blend. If you need add more water to break down into a cream, but not too much, it should be thick.
*Makes 1/2 cup
Eggplant and Carrot in a Rich Tomato Sauce with Whole wheat Couscous (gluten free option, soy free, nut free)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
3 cgarlic cloves, diced
1 small red capsicum, chopped
1 small-medium eggplant, salted
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
350ml passata sauce
1 cup water
1 teaspoon raw sugar
2 teaspoon sea salt (more to taste)
1 cup whole wheat couscous (of gluten free couscous)
1. Slice the eggplant, then salt it and leave it to sit for at least 10 mins to sweat out the bitterness. After wipe the salt off the eggplant and chop into cubes.
2. In a large heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then add onion, garlic and capsicum. Cook for 7 mins or until caramelized.
3. Add eggplant, carrot, cumin, paprika, coriander and cinnamon. Add more oil if the eggplant is too dry.
4. Add the passata sauce, 1 cup of water, raw sugar and sea salt. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 30-40 mins. If it drys out add more water.
5. Before serving prepare the couscous according to pack directions.