Cooking with Spirit

Last year, for my twenty-first birthday, my beautiful future in-laws gifted IMG_1093me a voucher to the Spirit House Cooking School in Yandina. Today, I finally attended my ‘Wok Meals for Busy People’ class.

Having never been to a cooking school or anything of the like before, I was unsure what to expect. Alas, I was utterly blown away by the sheer beauty, class, and deliciousness of the place! Hidden amongst a forest of bamboo, peace, and tranquillity, lay the Spirit House Cooking School.

Inside the school, our chef, Kelly, gave us the rundown on what delicious Thai dishes we would be preparing for our lunch:

  • Steamed Salmon with Ginger and Black Bean Sauce
  • Crispy Sweet Potato Noodle Balls with Szechwan Pepper Glaze
  • Stir Fry Pork with Pineapple, Ginger and Yellow Bean Sauce
  • Chicken Curry with Water Spinach Kaffir Lime and Tamarind
  • Singapore Style Seafood Noodles

It was exciting to see the inside of a real industry kitchen for the first time!

The first step in the process was to prepare all the ingredients that we’d be using that day. We spent a good part of the morning chopping, slicing, and squeezing.

Next, we had to use a mortar and pestle to pound many of our chopped up ingredients in order to make a red curry paste.

The first dish we prepared was the Crispy Sweet Potato Noodle Balls, which we sat down and ate early as an appetiser:

After our noodle balls, it was time to start cooking the main meals. The first meal we cooked was the Steamed Salmon and Ginger and Black Bean Sauce (personally, this dish was my favourite):

Next we cooked the Stir Fry Pork Belly:

Then the Singapore Style Seafood Noodles were dished up. The seafood in this dish were prawns and cuttlefish!

Last but not least was the beautiful chicken curry:

All the dishes were laid out on our tables as a banquet and we ate until our heart’s content!

All in all I had an absolutely marvellous day! I had fun and learned an abundance of information, not only about preparing and cooking food (you should peel ginger with a SPOON so as not to waste any like when peeling with a knife!), but also Thailand itself (did you know putting a FORK in your mouth in Thailand is akin to licking food off your knife in a fancy restaurant?! Rude!). I am so, so thankful to the Rakovszky Family for gifting me this marvellous experience! I’m sorry it has taken me so long to use it. 10/10 would attend a Spirit House class again!

The Wonderful Life of the World’s Best Beagle

A year ago today my world fell apart. A year ago today my heart shattered into a million pieces that I still haven’t quite put back together yet. A year ago today I lost my darling dog, my best friend, and my brother.

I’ve come across a lot of people who haven’t understood the deep connection I shared with Max. When I told people that he had passed away they would say,
“That’s sad, but he was just a dog. You’ll get over it.”

But Max was never just a dog to me.

I think, as an eight-year-old only child, when this tiny puppy who was so full of joy and personality arrived into my life, he filled a gap in my life that I never knew existed. Max became my emotional support, my rock, my confidence, all the things that a human sibling would be. When nine-year-old me got in trouble from my parents for not doing my homework, I would tell Max about it. When twelve-year-old me was fighting with my best friend, I would tell Max about it. When fifteen-year-old me had a crush on a boy, I would tell Max about it. Admittedly, he never really gave me much advice – he wasn’t very talkative. However, he was there for me when I needed him.

Losing Max was like losing a true member of my family. He’s left a void in my life that I don’t think will ever truly be filled. I miss him every moment of every day, however I will always be forever grateful for the wonderful long life he had, despite some bumps in the road.

Let me share that life with you now:

2002 – Maxie Moo joins the family!

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Some of Max’s favourite past times included: being disobedient, pretending not to hear you, destroying everything he could get his teeth on, jumping on the trampoline, playing tug-o-war, and going for walks and runs on the beach with Dad.

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Maxie Moo and his extensive list of injuries and problems.

During his life, Max broke his tail, had a knee replacement, had multiple tumours removed, somehow managed to slice his stomach open at the dog park, and survived cancer. His heart once stopped during surgery and he had to be revived by the vets. Turns out he’d developed an allergic reaction to anaesthetic. But if that’s not enough, he was also allergic to grass, which meant his paws needed constant care to keep them from getting sore and swollen. Max had an under-active thyroid condition which he had to be medicated for, he also took glucosamine and fish oil tablets for his arthritis. On top of that, he had no tear ducts in one eye, so had to receive regular eye drops. During summer, not enough clean air could get into his ear canals due to his floppy ears, which meant fungal infections and therefore constant ear drops as well.

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Due to these injuries and not being able to use steps, sometimes alternative transport had to be arranged.

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Max enjoyed spending time with his friends.

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Sometimes those friends were mine.

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I will always admire Moo for his ability to put up with my nonsense.

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   I’m sure the endless selfies once I got a smartphone were a bit of a drag for Max too.

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There are honestly thousands more, but I figure you’ve probably had enough!

Now on to some fun facts!

Max was absolutely terrified of the pool up until the summer of 2012, when the heat simply became too much for Max to bear and he gave in to temptation.

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 He never got over his distaste for baths though.

“And here we see the helpless Beagle struggling for its life.”

IMG_3714IMG_3717IMG_3739IMG_3743Max spent most of his free time upside down.

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 Max also enjoyed spending time in cupboards and on his bean bag.

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Max had a fantastic life. He lived to be eleven – he died a month before his twelfth birthday.
He was happy, he was loved, and he will forever be missed. I love you, Moo.

Max Epi Ward
22 April 2002 – 06 March 2014

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