Birthdays have always been a bit of a thing in my family. I don’t know about anyone else but there is nothing better than putting in considerable effort to arrange a present or a surprise and seeing the happiness that brings to a loved one. The best present ever was that ridiculous dog my husband got me on my first birthday after we’d met. Yoghurt. She’s moved on but we’re still together and this year he made a pretty good effort, too. A big deal considering a birthday appears even less important than a non-birthday on his side of the family. 6 years in and I’m still waiting for that illusive celebratory call from my in-laws. Nothing personal – as my husband would say ‘we just don’t do that’.
Waking me up at some ungodly hour on a Saturday after a week of late nights (circa 6.30am), I prettied myself up unsure of where we were going but knowing it was a birthday surprise. It was the first leg of three looong, loooong walks. 90 minutes out to St Kilda. I was still fuming from a frustrating work encounter the night before when Steve indicated that after the relaxing day ahead of me, it would be the furtherest thing from my mind.
Mere minutes after that discussion, we arrived at a park bench where Steve sat me down. I commented on the delightful smell of seaweed that was fumigating my nostrils and how should he ever choose to propose again (it was equally awkward) then this is the place he should do it. From his bag he produced an envelope. Still semi-convinced there could be a kitten waiting patiently for its new mummy to collect it, I opened the envelope looking for its registration papers… Instead I found a certificate to plummet to my death – another rouse concocted by my the Doctor to get one step closer to my life insurance. The kitten still seemed like the better option.
I could spend quite some time talking about the jump but lets be honest here, it wasn’t that great jumping out of a plane. I lost the goggles moments after exiting the door which meant that I couldn’t open my eyes. If I was self conscious before about getting older, feeling my turkey neck flapping around behind my ears wasn’t going to help. My stomach (which was deciding how funny it would be to puke in mid air and blow back in my own face) also agreed that humans weren’t meant to descend rapidly from unnatural heights to the solid earth below. Thankfully it was merciful and kept its contents where they belonged. What I will say is that the plane ride was spectacular and I impressed myself that aside from the physiological reactions, my nerves held strong and at no point did I get that hesitant, butterflies in the belly feeling you might expect.
This is something I’ve always wanted to do and true to form, my fantastic other half made it happen. It may not have made me freak out with excitement, be exhilarated or walk away on a massive high but I can cross it off the bucket list. Next stop – bungee jumping! But first… the mister had also pre-planned for us to have lunch post-jump at Baby pizzeria at Richmond. Yes, another 60 minute walk. We arrived at 11:30 and were told that lunch didn’t start until 12. I’d like to point out that breakfast stopped being served at 11:30. For those balancing in the middle half an hour, I’m not sure what you do for food. We opted to sneak in and get a panini while we waited for the lunch menu to be served. It was yumdiddlyumptious as were the calzone and pear, caramel and ice cream pizza that followed. I’m going to put it out there and say it wouldn’t be worth the walk to go back but I can acknowledge it was nice and see why others liked it. What let the team down was the calzone which was layered in such a way that you would only get a mouthful of one ingredient at a time (cheese, spinach, ham) and it also lacked the offsetting flavour of perhaps a sun dried tomato or at least a tomato based sauce. Steve was also not impressed by the $10 beer that can in a fancy can about half the size of a real can of beer.
Another hours walk later we were peacefully resting in the apartment. Given my mid-section was just a little uncomfortable after taking on the challenge of impersonating the pot belly pig, I thought I did well only taking 1 break on a park bench on the way home. Of course, the rest time on the couch at home was short lived, just a few hours later us heading out again to cap off my faux birthday with a serve of dumplings, fried rice and more dumplings at a local restaurant we had just noticed (Red Cliffe). Their friendly service was a refreshing slap in the face compared to the usual ‘I hate my life’ attitude you get in our usual chinese dinner time digs. We’ll definitely be back.
And that closed out our day. There was no kitten. Of course my birthday wasn’t until Wednesday so more to come but in honour of our yummy dinner, here is another Asian recipe we’ve made recently which has beat all other recipes we’ve tried for this take-away favourite…
Recipe by Ching-he huang
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced (we omitted)
- 1-2 tsp turmeric
- 175g prawns shelled and deveined (we used frozen)
- 100g diced bacon
- 1 red capsicum sliced
- 1 handful of julienne carrot strips (we used a carrot, cut up whatever way we felt like cutting, still tasted good)
- 1 handful of bean sprouts
- 100g chicken breast, cooked
- 250g dried vermicelli rice noodles, pre-soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
- 1 tsp dried chillies (omitted)
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp clear rice vinegar or cider vinegar
- 1 egg, beaten
- A dash of toasted sesame oil (we used sesame oil… un-toasted)
- 2 spring onions, sliced lengthways
- Heat the oil in a wok and stir-fry the infer, chilli, mushrooms and turmeric for a few seconds
- Add the prawns and stir-fry for 1 minute until they start to turn pink then add the bacon and cook for less than 1 minute. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for 1 minute, then add the cooked chicken and stir well to combine.
- Add the noodles and stir fry for 2 minutes, then season with the chillies, soy sauce, oyster sauce and vinegar. Stir to combine.
- Add the beaten egg, stir gently until the egg is cooked through (less than 1 minute) and then season with sesame oil. Sprinkle with the spring onions and serve immediately.