Hello weekend

15 February 2019

This week ebbed and flowed. Some days I felt flat for no reason, other days were extremely busy with work. On not-so-flash days it helped to make some plans for the weekend. On the agenda, making a belated birthday present and road tripping to a nearby farm for some fresh produce. It's starting to cool down so I'm thinking about quiches and curries. To share:

For a good dose of joy and wisdom, I cannot recommend this episode of Death, Sex & Money enough - an interview with poet Nikki Giovanni.

My favourite part of Michelle Obama's Grammy appearance.

Clicked on a house tour, got way more than I bargained for. The story of this family with teens cheered up a stressful afternoon. (Doughnut holes helped too).

Been eating lots of red onion lately, which is how I discovered watermelon mints! Sounds a little strange but I promise they're good.

And the very best tomato pasta recipe that I've been dying to share! I tested it for work a couple of weeks ago, and had it again this week. I love that it's a delicious weeknight dinner and worthy of a special occasion too. I roast the tomatoes on the weekend and chuck them in the fridge so I can make this on a weeknight in 15 minutes flat.

I am convinced the linguini would pair well with these mini chocolate fondants. Maybe I still have Valentine's Day on the brain :)

Catch you next week.


Morning muesli with seeds, nuts and fruit

10 February 2019

I am someone who needs to snack often, usually in hour-and-a-half intervals. Often I know what time it is, simply because I'm hungry... again. But the other week, I made some muesli on a whim and it kept me full right through til lunchtime. A mini miracle!

Here's a rough recipe if you'd like to make your own. When it comes to the nuts, spices and seeds, you experiment with what you already have at home. I made the first batch with dried apricots (my favourite), chopped almonds and toasted coconut flakes that were leftover from a giant lamington cake. I added pretty much every seed I could find in the cupboard (thank you pantry clean up!) and I think they helped keep me full.

It's especially great topped with yoghurt and summer fruits, like mango, white peaches and blueberries. I like it with a generous splash of milk too.

Morning muesli with seeds, nuts and fruit
Makes a large jar, usually enough to feed 2 for a week

You'll need:

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut flakes
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp pepitas
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/3 hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup sultanas
1/3 cup dried apples, diced

Here's how: 

Add the oats to a large mixing bowl, and then add the coconut flakes, seeds and cinnamon. Stir to combine, and add any extra toppings or oats depending on your preference. Then add the hazelnuts and dried fruits, stirring again to mix well. Store in an airtight jar or container. Serve with yoghurt, fresh fruit and milk.

Hello weekend

07 February 2019

Hands up if you're ready for the weekend? I'm especially excited because Tony's coming home on Saturday after a week away, and we'll have a family yum cha to mark Chinese New Year and my niece's first week of school. I'm also planning to make a peach pie (the weather forecast says it'll be a sweet 24 degrees on Saturday) and watch Black Panther before the Oscars. Some fun things to share:

Alone, A Love Story is back for a third season!! Thanks to Sarah for the heads up.

I've also been listening to a lot of Salt & Spine this week, it's a podcast about cookbooks and their authors. I especially enjoyed the episodes with Yotam Ottolenghi and Julia Turshen.

Speaking of Julia Turshen, I made her confetti meatloaf on Sunday night and it was so good!

To go with it, I made this chopped Caesar salad with jalapenos (and no bacon).

Also, peach salad.

Meanwhile, imagine if this was your home at 21! A peek inside Kylie Jenner's home.

I also started reading Sally Rooney's Normal People this week and am really enjoying it. If you have a Kindle, it's only $10!

Chat next week.


Weekly meal prep with two new things

03 February 2019

I made a few kickass salad dressings over summer and they made eating greens with most meals so much easier. So I'm adding at least one bulk dressing to my Sunday food prep, along with roasting some nuts to chop up and sprinkle on top. I also prefer to snack on roasted nuts compared to raw ones, so I roast extra for the week.

For summer, I highly recommend Julia Turshen's shallot vinaigrette. It might be my favourite salad dressing of all time, and it's super simple to make. I also made a jar of Alison Roman's lemony tahini dressing, originally to go with some leftover Christmas turkey. We also ended up eating it with salads and falafel bowls. Molly Yeh has a slightly thicker tahini dressing with sumac, which I love.

Currently, Sunday meal prep is mainly about getting lunches ready for the week - making quinoa, roasting veggies and now nuts, washing greens and making a dressing. Thankfully over the holidays I made and froze a big batch of Heidi's baked falafel, which I'll definitely do again for weekend and work lunches.

I feel like the relationship between food and health has only really clicked for me in the last 6 months or so, and it's mainly come from commissioning and editing stories for work. Specifically Dr Sandro Demaio, whose advice on what to eat is logical and easy to remember (and reminds of me of Michael Pollan). I've also picked up so many practical tips from how to meal prep, snack and cook from nutritionist Heidi Sze. She also sneaks nutritional facts into her recipes, which has made me more aware of good fats.

Finally, after reading a NY Times Cooking story about how to stock a modern pantry, I was inspired to tidy my own and get rid of anything I hadn't used in a year. One thing I noticed... I often buy faddish ingredients like almond milk or alternative flours. I don't have any food allergies so it was a good reminder to stick to the foods I actually like to eat.

Hello weekend

31 January 2019

What are you up to this weekend? We're going to try for a bike ride and taco date on Saturday night because Tony's on the early train to Sydney on Sunday. It's been a long time since I've been home alone (I'm usually the one that leaves!) but I'm planning to keep busy.  On my list of fun things to do - a yin yoga class, breakfast at the markets, mint choc chip ice cream, Free Solo and this yoghurt and onion pasta. Not sure if I can fit it all in around work but I'm going to give it a shot :) To share:

From the NY Times, how to build a modern pantry. Mine is somewhere between an expanded and expert pantry!

Loved this perspective on work from communications strategist Natalie Guevara: "The time spent in the office fretting about something fairly minuscule is better spent out in the world, meeting people, and having real-life conversations. There were so many nights I wasted obsessing over every email left in my inbox, or drafting and redrafting a press release. I could have been meeting with journalists, business contacts, mentors, or people doing things I want to learn more about."

Been eating this lemony porridge with peanut butter for breakfast all week.

I am super late to the party but I started listening to Sooo Many White Guys this week and the theme song alone was enough to crack me up. My fave was this episode with Constance Wu, who played Rachel in the Crazy Rich Asians film. Phoebe's interview with NPR host Terry Gross touches on so many interesting aspects of building a career and making a choice about having a family. I also loved the small acts of revolution at the end.

Speaking of Crazy Rich Asians, here's a look at how the costumes were chosen. Fascinating to know that the actors often had a big say.

Finally, it'll be Chinese New Year's Eve on Monday. I'm contemplating making steamed buns for the occasion, either traditional barbecue pork or carrot buns that looks a smidge easier. I also love the tradition of long life noodles (they used to be my favourite dish at wedding banquets), and Hetty McKinnon has a recipe for mushroom and sesame noodles that happen to be vegan.

Have a lovely weekend!

Life lately - summertime

28 January 2019

We've having a lazy long weekend at home and with the summer holidays almost behind us, it feels like the year is about to truly begin. I'm a tiny bit nervous about adjusting to full-time work again but I'm also feeling relaxed and ready. Here's a little look at the last few months, which has been filled with cold food, good books and a few short trips...

We had two much-needed road trips in January, after spending much of the Christmas and New Years break at home. First we headed to Sydney, to celebrate my grandmother's birthday with a family yum cha. Because we hadn't been away for awhile, I splurged on a night at the Paramount House Hotel in Surry Hills. It was beautiful and wonderfully cool - a nice change from the hot nights we'd been struggling with at home.

We spent Saturday checking out some exhibitions, Nick Cave's Until installation at Carriageworks and an exhibition of David Goldblatt's photography at the MCA. Both were excellent, and I feel lucky to have seen them.

At night, we stuck close to the hotel to make the most of our stay. My friend Angie gave me a voucher for the Golden Age cinema, a retro theatre within the hotel complex. We saw The Big Lebowski (my first time!) and it was really fun to watch it in a crowd. In one scene, the girl sitting next to me accidentally shouted 'Ow!' when The Dude gets punched :) Each ticket also came with popcorn with special sriracha and lime salt. I'm normally more of a choc-top gal but am now a popcorn convert.

Before we left the next morning, we joined a yin class at the rooftop recreation club, which is my favourite spot to do yoga in Sydney. It looks like something straight out of a movie set, and always gets me out of my head. Then we were on our way to a family yum cha, where we squeezed 17 onto a table (!) and my dad took charge of the ordering.

I went back to work for a couple of weeks, which was easy because we had a beach trip coming up. This year we stayed in an Airbnb in Narrawalle, which is the next beach along from Mollymook and close enough to our favourite places in Ulladulla and Milton. We lucked out with the weather - it was warm and sunny every day except the morning we were heading home, when it started to rain.

Our holiday routine was especially lovely - a swim in the morning, breakfast at our apartment and then a trip to Maverick's Roastery for coffee and books. We'd often share a lunch out before it was time to swim again, and make something easy for dinner.

This time round we discovered the Bogey Hole in Mollymook, a tidal pool that's enclosed by rocks. And we kept up a new tradition, booking a dinner at St Isadore on our final night where we shared grilled octopus, charred cos lettuce and a warm chocolate tart.

The trip was so relaxing. A day in, I'd stopped worrying about all of the little things that come with travel - whether I'd packed everything, if the accommodation was going to be better or worse than the pictures, all the things I had to finish up at work before we went - and just relaxed. Also, this time last year I was holidaying and squeezing in some job interview prep, because I had one scheduled a few days after we returned. It made me appreciate just how much can shift in a year.

Eating and cooking:
A couple of things on repeat and most of it pretty simple, especially when it's too hot to cook. After yoga, I've been craving icy green or coffee smoothies and eating my weight in with avocado toast. On really hot nights, I've been making salads like this lentil, feta and pesto salad or this rainbow one with edamame, mango, red cabbage and peanut dressing. If I'm organised, I'll make a gravlax in preparation of a heatwave (we've had so many this summer, and Feb is still to come!), so we can just slice it and eat it with salad and bread.

About once every week or so we pack up a meal and eat it outside, somewhere shady and pretty. The other night, we were having salad and beers by the lake and witnessed a proposal. It was so exhilarating! First we saw a friend setting up tea lights in a heart shape by the lawn, and then the couple wandering by, the guy semi-casually pointing out something on the grass, before getting down on one knee.

Speaking of beer - I have finally found a drink that I like. My Sydney girlfriends put me onto sour beers, which don't feel too beer-y or too sweet either. My favourite is a raspberry one from Wayward Brewery - they have a passionfruit and yuzu variety out for summer too. I also really like Wildflower's Amber Ale and only wish they sold it in smaller bottles.

Sometimes, it feels like we're exclusively eating ABC Life food, which can seem a little nerdy but I really enjoy it. Aside from testing one or two recipes each week, a couple have become part of our regular rotation. I've made Hetty McKinnon's mango and haloumi tacos at least three times now, because they taste so summery and are super quick to assemble.

I discovered that you can freeze cakes with cream in them, which is how we enjoyed this lamington loaf for weeks on end. And soon I'll be able to share the recipe for a slow roasted tomato linguini from Heidi, which I can't wait to make and eat again. It's easy enough to make as a weeknight dinner (if you roast the tomatoes over the weekend) but also fancy enough to serve on a special occasion. I can see us enjoying this dish for years to come.

My favourite thing to watch is still Girl Meets Farm, Molly Yeh's cooking show. Season 2 is still airing in the US, so one pops up every week on YouTube and I grin at the TV like a lunatic when it's on. I've learnt a lot from watching it - mainly cooking techniques that are hard to explain in text - like how to shape balls of dough properly or how to fold a dumpling.

For laughs, we're watching Conan Without Borders on Netflix. I hadn't watched any Conan O'Brien up until this point but really love this series, especially the Seoul and Italy episodes. And we've seen heaps of movies, in part because our apartment doesn't have air con but also because my uncle gave me a voucher for Christmas. Our favourites have been The Favourite and Roma (on Netflix). Neither of us liked Vice (so preachy) and we were split down the middle with Mary Queen of Scots (Tony really liked it, I found it a little slow but adore Saoirse).

I am still easing my way into podcasts for the year, and many are still on break. I am really enjoying Death, Sex & Money's new series Our Sex (Mis)Education. And my friend Sarah recommended this delightful episode of Dolly Alderton's podcast Love Stories, which features actor Stanley Tucci. Finally, this has been my fave song of the season.

Two super funny books that both happen to be about finding your feet as a twenty-something in New York, and bad break ups. I read Emily Gould's And The Heart Says Whatever on holidays and loved it - it came recommended by Jess. And I'm midway through Abbi Jacobson's I Might Regret This, just as the final season of Broad City is being released. It's also excellent.

Over summer, I edited a column about being single and owning it, which I really enjoyed. Even though I'm married, I'll often fret about large chunks of time spent alone and what I should fill them with (travelling for work has helped with this), and could relate to feeling extremely anxious about being single in my twenties, energy I wish I'd spent elsewhere.

Online, I've been rediscovering Leslie's columns for Cupcakes and Cashmere (her weekly link lists are my fave). She reminded me of this lovely series from The New York Times - Sunday Routine.

Summer things like yoga shorts because my studio has just started an advanced class, and I'm keen to challenge myself once a week. I had my first class today and was quietly very nervous about it but the teacher was kind and the vibe was fast-paced rather than competitive. Plus I didn't end up in emergency child's pose at any point :)

I also bought a few tops from the Bassike sale, because I realised in the middle of a heatwave that I only owned one singlet top.

Grateful for a super relaxing summer, with lots of catch ups with friends, my whole family visiting for Christmas, plenty of ice cream, and lots of time spent with Tony. I've finally started to listen to him when we go to the beach, and no longer get pummelled by waves.

I am also thrilled anytime the weather cools down for a few days - cool nights are the very best and it means I can turn the oven on again. It's a breezy 30 degrees today, so I'm making bagels and more slow roasted tomato pasta sauce.

And I'm feeling good about the work year that's ahead. I had the chance to fill in as editor over the summer break and really enjoyed myself. It gave me so much confidence in myself and my abilities (ordinarily I excel at second-guessing myself), not to mention the knowledge that I could do it! Seems like a good place to start the new year.

Thank you as always for reading. X

Life lately post inspired by Heidi and Pip.

Hello weekend

25 January 2019

We've just come back from a trip to the south coast, which was so refreshing. We stayed a few minutes walk from the beach (and a short drive from several others, including a tidal pool surrounded by rocks!), and spent our days swimming in the ocean, reading, drawing and eating. I am a Pure Pop convert (the chocolate malt milkshake one tastes just like Milo), and will have to hunt them down in Canberra. I'll share more photos soon, in the meantime:

Beautiful 'Change The Date' posters by LukeJohnMatthewArnold, available to download and share for free.

Famous chefs (hello Ottolenghi and Anna Jones) and their recipe testers.

We watched The Wife last weekend on iTunes and really enjoyed it. It's an adaption of a Meg Wolitzer book of the same name and we were chatting about it for days afterwards. So many great films with strong female leads lately, and I am loving it.

Expert wine recommendations from my friend Beck, just in time for the long weekend. I always need help choosing a delicious wine, it can be mind boggling.

How good does this crunch salad with peanut butter dressing look?

A couple gets married by the beach and the whole wedding ends up in in the water with them <3

A next level lamington cake, with jam and cream and raspberries. Here's how mine panned out.

And we've been listening to the Life Kit podcast from NPR, starting with the short series about eating well and followed by the series on saving and investment. It's so interesting to listen to the series as a couple - it also made us feel like we were doing some things right.