Bircher Muesli with Hazelnut Crumble

26 November 2017

After a brief obsession with overnight oats, I've returned to an old faithful - bircher muesli. With fresh berries or banana on top, it's cool and filling. With crunchy hazelnut crumble, it's even better. I make a bircher to go a few times a week, for the days that Tony and I go to yoga before work. It's a little reward for getting up early for class, and gives us some extra time to get a coffee too.

The bircher recipe comes from my friend Vanessa. I've added a few extra things, like chia seeds and bee pollen. You can experiment and add whatever you like! There's a bircher stand at our local farmers markets that uses sunflower seeds in the dry mix, and apple and ginger juice in place of almond milk and apple. The hazelnut and ginger crumble is inspired by the same stand. Their crumble is a bit more cookie-like, and I look forward to having it every Sunday. I've toned mine down for weekday eating :)

Bircher Muesli 

Serves 2

I split the ingredients into two containers as I'm making it, for breakfast on the run. If you'll be having it at home, just make it in the bowls you'll be eating from - it's less washing up!

You'll need:

1 cup of oats
1 green apple, grated
1 cup almond milk (you could use regular milk, apple juice or water)
4 tablespoons of yoghurt


A pinch of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of chia seeds
1 teaspoon of bee pollen
Small handful of sultanas

Here's how:

Place all of your dry ingredients in a bowl (or divide equally between two bowls or containers) and mix to combine. Then add your yoghurt, milk and apple (make sure you add the juice too!) and mix again. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight. Bircher keeps pretty well, so you could always make a double batch for the week.

Hazelnut and Ginger Crumble

This is the best bit. Makes enough for 4 bircher bowls

You'll need:

2 handfuls of hazelnuts
4 heaped tablespoons plain flour (I've used wholewheat before and that works too)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Tiny pinch of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons of coconut oil

Here's how:

Set the oven to 160°C and roast your nuts while you prepare your crumble. Place them in a small ovenproof dish and roast for about 10-15 minutes, this will make them extra crunchy. You can smell when they're done! If they're blanched hazelnuts, set them aside to cool. If they still have a dark brown skin, gently squeeze the nuts when cool to remove it. I prefer hazelnuts without their skin, as it's less bitter.

To make the crumble, combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and lightly whisk to combine. Then add your coconut oil, and pinch the ingredients between your fingers gently, until the mixture has an even crumb-like texture.

Place the mixture in a lined baking dish and bake for 15 minutes, stirring gently at the halfway mark. Set aside to cool and crisp up. Later, gently stir in the hazelnuts and transfer to a jar until you're ready to serve.

To serve, top your bircher with fresh berries, a few scoops of hazelnut crumble, a dollop of yoghurt if you're extra hungry, and a dash of maple syrup to taste. When we're taking ours to go, I keep the berries and the crumble separate so nothing goes soggy. Enjoy with a hot cup of something and have a lovely day :)

Weekend links

24 November 2017

This week was a bit of a funny one. There are some big changes happening at work, and my anxiety got the better of me. But there were lots of things that perked me up - riding to work, chats with friends, big chats with Tony, and early morning yoga. We're home this weekend and I'm excited to try out this pork and pineapple adobo while it's rainy, and make some cookies from my new cookbook (I caved and bought this). Here are a few things for your weekend - sure hope it's a good one!

A very beautiful Instagram account from Melbourne, with especially lovely writing.

This special kid's episode of The Daily is very cute, while delving into gender and identity. Plus, they remade the theme song just for the show!

Another podcast recommendation - I really enjoyed this episode from Here's The Thing, featuring former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown.

A day in the life of Esther Perel. Her office is in the Flatiron building!

I hope to be this passionate about my work when I'm ready to retire - Margie Rowe looks back on her career in law. She's my friend's mum :)

And if you get the chance, check out the Pipilotti Rist show at the MCA in Sydney. Take a friend and give yourself a couple of hours. It's a really fun show that's surprisingly relaxing too - there are comfy cushions and even beds to lie on while you take in the zany video and sound installations.

My Christmas wish list: 2017

21 November 2017

At the moment, my notebook is filled with present ideas for friends and family. I love choosing gifts and am crossing a few names off my list each week. After a big year of travel, we'll be spending the holiday in Canberra - sleeping in, riding our bikes, and cooking up some delicious food. Here are six things I have my eye on, starting with some delicious coffee for my new machine.

Perfect for summer - a soft shoe that's part ballet flat, part sneaker. I like this silver pair too, to wear with summer dresses, and chuck in my bag for weekends away. For northern hemisphere friends - check out these fleece-lined booties!

I just found out that my favourite Canberra ice cream shop sells gift vouchers. A summer of free ice cream would be a dream come true!

I'm doing a lot more yoga these days, it makes me feel strong and relaxed. This is something that's practical but very necessary - a yoga top that ties up on one side. Also, these yoga tights are the best.

MUJI has the cutest mini lamps that double as essential oil diffusers - I spied one in Ebony's Nagano flat. I'd use peppermint oil with mine (when I'm not sprinkling it into the shower or bath). Fingers crossed MUJI comes to Canberra one day.

And it's not Christmas without a new cookbook :) Like the magazine and the podcastCherry Bombe: The Cookbook celebrates women in food. I hear it's dedicated to the likes of Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl and Martha Stewart - women who continue to lead the way.

Weekend links

17 November 2017

I did something scary today - I pitched a podcast! I almost chickened out but I've been mulling over an idea for weeks and just needed a bit of courage to get it down on paper. What's on for you this weekend? One of my nephews is turning three, and we're going to a friend's exhibition opening. For your weekend:

Are you a Kevin Kwan fan? My brother-in-law put me onto a great talk he gave at Google that touches on everything from writing a novel (he had a completely different career beforehand) to the lack of cultural diversity in Hollywood.

This is so cool - more inclusive ways to talk about gender. "Instead of ladies and gentlemen, try distinguished guests."

I loved this profile of Tina Roth-Eisenberg, who writes the Swissmiss blog (among many other things). Her approach to parenting is especially admirable. Whenever she has creative friends round for dinner, she helps her kids look up their work beforehand so they can ask questions! She says, "all I want to do is help my kids realise that there's so many different ways to make a living."

Ta-Nehisi Coates nailing why the n-word isn't for everyone.

So proud to live in the city with the highest Yes vote - check out the celebrations :)

Traybake dinners ftw! Many more here, including the anatomy of a traybake so you can invent your own.

And I really, really want to make a pecan pie. I blame all of the Thanksgiving photos on Instagram.

P.S We saw this cute street library in Sydney. We passed another that had two copies of Cormac McCarthy's The Road.


15 November 2017

Did you watch the announcement today? I was so nervous - and then excited and relieved. Watching the coverage has been emotional (this photo!), and I hope that it's not too long before same-sex marriage is legal in Australia. I've already volunteered to make a wedding cake :) Let's continue to look after our LGBTIQ family and friends because it's not over yet, and we can help keep the good vibes going and look out for one another too. Some other good things:

My copy of A Modern Cook's Year by British cook Anna Jones arrived last week and it's easily my favourite cookbook of 2017.  So far I've made the ricotta gnocchi with a quick cherry tomato sauce (so good!), and her latest one-pot pasta with asparagus, lemon and peas, which came highly recommended from a friend.

I'm also keen to try the rhubarb and rose ice cream and this smoky mushroom and roast kale lasagna. There are eight recipes from the book here (god bless the Guardian), including two desserts and a bunch of hearty mains.

I am holiday ready! I bought this cute cotton nightie to pack for beach holidays and lazy summer mornings. This one is pretty too. I've also rediscovered the secret to a good night's sleep - exercise that gets the heart thumping at some point in the day.

I finally had the chance to watch a few episodes of Humans of New York: The Series. I love that the city is such a big part of the show (maybe even a character in its own right), and that each episode is based on a big theme, like independence, purpose, parenting and imagination.

And two things you can do to make the days feel longer -  one, make a simple dinner. This one's from Sydney nutritionist Kate Levins. She's also written about a healthy eating day, and it's changed how I eat fruit. Secondly - I've turned off all of the notifications on my phone, from Facebook Messenger to my podcast app. Things have been peaceful. 

Weekend links

10 November 2017

Hey there, how was your week? Tony and I managed two yoga/breakfast dates and a midweek dinner with friends, so I'm feeling good. We're getting ready to celebrate my brother's 21st birthday this weekend. He'll be making burgers for everyone and I'm in charge of the cake. I might also get a start on my Christmas shopping :) Have a great weekend!

It's rhubarb season! Here's what we can make.

Eco gifts for practical folks. I love the candle holder.

A spring dinner we tried this week - spiced lentil bowls with your favourite veg.

Can't wait to see this film!

What do you wear to work? Six women share their go-to outfits.

A book for kids about change (and a video that moved me).

My new nighttime tea, a lovely gift from friends.

And I just started listening to Never Before with Janet Mock. I can recommend two episodes - an interview with Tina Knowles-Lawson (if you're a fan of Solange's A Seat at the Table, you'll recognise her voice!). I also got a lot out of this chat with Tarell Alvin McCraney, whose play went onto become the film Moonlight.  

Real Girl Wardrobes: Sophie Kesteven

08 November 2017

Sophie Kesteven is a journalist from Far North Queensland who has spent the last little while living in Canberra, where we met at work. I loved seeing her outfits each day, they were always eclectic and fun. Sophie's just moved to Sydney but before she left, she came round for some cake and shared her bowerbird approach to shopping, a favourite dress that once belonged to her grandma, and how she manages super bright lipsticks. Let's get into it:

How would you describe your everyday style?

I would say I'm a chameleon. I remember when I was working up north, I could have my hair down and wear a certain style one day, and the next have my hair tied completely back and look almost like a different person. Being a bit of a chameleon can have its advantages because you can really mix up your look - it's mysterious in a way!

I really love how you put outfits together - where do you think that comes from?

I think a bit of that comes from my mum. She's not afraid to wear colourful clothes and I definitely get a bit of that from her - be proud, embrace all of the different colours, and I think that's a Far North Queensland thing too. I like to inject a bit of colour into my surroundings and patterns as well.

I'm in no way a person who will go out and buy expensive, designer gear. If I stumble across some nice designer stuff at an op shop, I'll buy it. But I think it goes to show that you don't have to buy the most expensive thing on the rack to put a nice outfit together.

Where do you take inspiration from? 

I would say as well as a chameleon, I'm a bit of bowerbird. If I see something vibrant, I'm there! It's nice to wear bright clothes because it's reflective of your mood and maybe makes you a bit more approachable to other people. Some people like to wear neutral colours and they do it really, really well and some people like to be a bit daring - maybe it doesn't always work but sometimes you've got to take that risk!

I’ve seen you in a few amazing pieces that used to belong to your grandma or aunt - how did they find their way to you?

Up in Ainslie, there's the old family house and they're starting to look into selling it or renovating it, so they're starting to clear out a lot of things in the house. I've had the opportunity to go through a lot of the old wardrobes in the last six months.

It's amazing coming across all of these different things because my grandparents and my aunts and my dad grew up in Italy and Rome for a lot of their childhood. You see a little bit of influence in some of the fashion there.

If you've got good quality clothing, hold onto it because it’s so easy to let something go and be like, ‘Oh, I'll never wear this again’. But you never know, in another 30, 40, 50 years time it does come back around and I've seen that in the wardrobes of my aunt and my mum.

How do you shop for clothes?

I can go to the shops and try on about six different outfits and I'm just not happy! When I was in my teens I would be like - yep, I like this - but now that I'm in my late twenties, I'm getting a little bit more fussy about things. I think it's important to know your body shape and know what outfits work well on it.

Are there any particular shops or labels that you love?

I like going into little boutique places because I think you can find some good quality clothes. When I was in Townsville, I'd go into a lot of the boutique shops there. There was a lovely Italian lady there, Enza, who came to know me quite well!

And when I was out at Charters Towers, in a little country town for my first newspaper gig, there was a boutique down the road. It had just as nice things in it as some of the places in the surrounding towns and I became really good friends with the shop lady there too.

I don't mind Zara because they do have a lot of colourful things but I don't know if we'll have it in 40 years time - is it still going to be as good quality?

Do you ever shop online?

I have shopped online in the past but I find for myself it can be a struggle because I might like the look of something and it arrives and it's more like on a top on me than a dress because I have a long body. I'm 5'11" so I have to keep that in mind as well. I would love - if I had the time - to get my own label off the ground and cater to taller girls.

What's your approach to accessories? Do you carry a handbag? 

My mum and dad get out to Italy probably once every three years. My mum is really good to me, she comes back with a nice Italian leather handbag, which I will wear the hell out of for the next three years.

But I think one of my favourites is a leather handbag that has this rainbow crochet bit on the top of it. I got it from the Witches markets when I was in Bolivia. It was really functional, it had some nice inner zips. It was this nice tough, dark leather but it softened over the years.

What about hair and make-up?

I go through phases. I used to straighten my hair all the time in my teens and early twenties, now I'm starting to embrace my own look a little bit more. I think it's nice to go with the natural look sometimes because it doesn't look as forced.

With make-up, I like bright lipsticks but then I also like matte lipsticks, particularly if you've got a super bright outfit on - it's not too crazy. I probably have at least 15-20 different shades. If you choose to wear a really bright bold colour, sometimes it's better wearing it just out for drinks. Whereas if you're having a big meal it can get on your chin!

Something I would like to get a better at is eyeshadow and the eyes. I've only recently started to teach myself how to use eyeliner properly.

Do you have any go-to outfits?

There's a dress which I call the handbag dress, which was my grandma's dress. If she went out to work, it was a dress she could put in her handbag if  all of a sudden her husband said - we're going out for dinner or drinks with friends. It didn't crease or anything like that. It goes quite well with some fun shoes. If I was to do my own label, I would design a handbag dress for all the women out there!

How do you pick an outfit for work? 

Some days I feel like I'm just going to be in the office, so I'll wear some pants and a nice top. But I also like wearing dresses because I find dresses very comfortable! I think in the work environment, it's good to wear dresses that are knee length or a little bit longer.

And I really embraced boots since living in Canberra. I bought a nice pair in Kingston and they're Italian. Italian has always been my thing but they're just the most comfortable boots.

What do you wear if you're going for a drink with friends?

At night I like to wear dresses that showcase the waist a little bit. And things that fall nicely on you and your particular figure. And again, I love shades of blue, I love shades of green, yellows, the earthy colours as well.

And on a lazy Sunday? 

If I'm still going to go out and get a coffee, I'll wear some ripped jeans, probably a singlet and some sneakers to go along with it. If I was staying in the house, I'd probably be wearing a loose summery dress or some bamboo pants with a comfortable flowy top.

Lastly, what are you looking forward to wearing now that it's warming up?

I would like to wear my handbag dress a little bit more often. Also I've got a pink dress that I bought when I was in Mackay from a local designer there, Jason Chetcuti. I was covering a fashion show for work and this model came out wearing this beautiful pink maxi dress.

Pink isn't a colour that I've been drawn to in the past but I just thought - wow, it's such a statement piece, I've got to have this! So I bought it and the first occasion I ever wore it to was the Mackay beach races and it was perfect for that occasion.

I wore it in Canberra in my first couple months of being here. I went out for lunch with some family members and there was a couple sitting at the table next to me. And when they finished, they lady came up and she said - I just want to say that you look absolutely beautiful. And I was like - I need to wear this dress more often!

Thank you Sophie! And good luck in Sydney :)

Weekend links

03 November 2017

I took the day off work today, to catch up on errands, have lunch at one of my favourite restaurants but mainly because my sister and her family are arriving this afternoon! We'll be taking the kids out for an early spaghetti dinner and probably for ice cream too :)

This week has been super fun. We tried a new pizza joint in town, booked a beach house for summer, and grinned at photos of our niece and nephew in their Halloween costumes. I hope your week has been just as good. To share:

The cutest Halloween cake.

Downtime: Deliciousness at Home could be my all-time favourite cookbook title. It's not out in Australia yet but you can listen to this fun interview with author Nadine Levy Redzepi and I found six recipes from the book here. The Danish apple dessert looks great!

Cheering up my work lunches this week - toasted slices of this sundried tomato, feta and spinach loaf, along with fresh tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Are you a Rosie Waterland fan? A friend put me onto her podcast Mum Says My Memoir is a Lie - it made the drive home go by in a flash.

6 podcasts by women to try.

Also... what is my podcast habit doing to my brain?

'She wrote that book'.

This tea pot!

Also for mornings - Japanese breakfast bowls.

And this is not an easy read but it was easily the best thing I read (and watched) this week - The Lost Children of Tuam and the amateur historian who found them. "If you don't find something, you don't leave it. You ask why it's not there. You use 'why' a lot."

See you next week x

P.S - A porridge bowl at the markets is fast becoming a Sunday ritual. This one had the best hazelnut crumble on top. The week before, there was custard :)

Avocado Toast with Pesto and Hummus

01 November 2017

I made a great green sandwich the other day, by accident, while waiting for a cake to come out of the oven. It kept me full until my friend came round for cake and tea :)

Now that it's spring, I'm eating more open sandwiches and a lot more colours too! When it warms up a bit more, I'm going to start carrying my Turkish towel (the perfect picnic rug for one) for outdoor lunch breaks and lazy weekends of reading and eating by the lake.

Avocado Toast with Pesto and Hummus
Serves 1 as a hearty snack, double the recipe or add an extra piece of bread for a decent lunch

You'll need:

The biggest piece of bread you can find (think middle of the loaf!)*
Spinach or coriander pesto
1 tbsp hummus
Half an avocado, sliced
Parmesan cheese, grated
Chilli flakes
Pinch of sea salt, pepper
Two lemon wedges

* If you're Canberra-based, I'm a big fan of Three Mills Bakery bread. They sell extra large loaves of sourdough (pre-sliced!!) at Ainslie IGA.

Here's how: 

Toast your piece of bread and slice your avocado while you wait for it to pop.

When it's ready, spread a generous layer of pesto on your toast, followed by a thick layer of your favourite hummus. Lay your avocado slices on top, then garnish with sea salt, a few turns of pepper and a sprinkling of chilli flakes.

Grate some parmesan cheese on top (I use a microplane to keep it light) and then squeeze over some lemon juice. Enjoy in the sun :)