Best recipes: 2017

31 January 2018

I tried a bunch of new recipes last year. Some failed terribly but there were plenty of keepers too! Here are my favourite 20 recipes of 2017 :)


Morning smoothie with a kick, which is extra nice in summer.
Bircher muesli with hazelnut crumble. The crumble is key - don't skip it!
Cheese and pickle scrolls, which make great hiking snacks too.
The best cinnamon buns. These can be made ahead and frozen, perfect for cold Sunday mornings or an easy breakfast with friends.

Make-it-quick dinners

Pasta with creme fraiche, lemon and rocket, my number one recipe of the year! It's a favourite Sunday night dinner and it would be easy to make on holidays too.
Portobello mushroom burgers with coriander pesto with sweet potato fries. Don't forget the aioli!
The easiest, cheesiest dinner with veg - orange-roasted asparagus with haloumi and mint.
Curried lentils with coconut milk, my go-to quick dinner that doubles as my haven't-been-shopping meal.
Parmesan soup with kale and beans, or cheese soup :)
One-pot pasta with lemon, asparagus and peas.
Yakisoba noodles that taste just like the real thing.

Worth the effort 

Better-than-takeaway stir-fried udon, which my sister's kids love too!
Sarah and Mark's trusty spinach and feta pie (I make two medium-sized pies from this recipe and stash one in the freezer).
My favourite fried rice with Kewpie mayo and Sriracha.
Lasagne with surprise sausage meatballs, which would be Tony's pick of the year!
Thai beef bowls with fresh veggies and chilli.

Baking and sweet treats

Molly Yeh's coconut mud cake, excellent with fresh berries.
Dark chocolate olive oil cake - it's simple, quick and satisfying.
Whole lemon bars from Smitten Kitchen's first book.
Spelt dark chocolate chunk cookies, because I'm always on the look out for a twist on the classic.
Magic dark chocolate and salted caramel brownies.

Enjoy! I'll keep sharing great recipes as I find them. Two favourites so far - artichoke pizza and a chickpea and parmesan salad, which you probably have the ingredients for right now. One thing I'm really curious to try is the Feel Good Food Plan from Healthyish. I loved following people doing it in real time (the first two weeks of January) but might have a go when the recipes better suit our climate - ie. in winter!

P.S - On the other end of the spectrum, these salted butter and chocolate chunk cookies are meant to be insane.

Weekend links

26 January 2018

Hello! Here are a few things that happened this week: I played snap with my niece and nephew (so cute!), managed a new pose in yoga, and started chilling my favourite herbal tea to take to work. It's been a fast and productive week... and now we're on holidays again. We'll head to the coast in a few days, where we have a surfing lesson booked (!!) and I plan to make prawn rolls :)

Before then, we'll see some friends for a pizza dinner and celebrate my sister and brother-in-law's birthday (they share the same day!). I'll be making Amy's famous Malteaser cake. I hope you have a wonderful long weekend. Here are my picks for the week:

A week in New Zealand - a living guide.

Five things male allies can do to sponsor women and underrepresented people at work.

I have three podcast recommendations this week. First up, I'm really enjoying the Slow Burn podcast. It's about the untold or smaller stories around Watergate. It sounds nerdy but it's compelling storytelling and funny in parts too!

On the other end of the spectrum, I sampled the Layers podcast after seeing it on Jessica's Instagram stories. It's a British style podcast that's thoughtful and surprising, with excellent theme music too. Start with Encounters.

I texted Tony and a close friend about Hurry Slowly, which is about pacing yourself in life, at work and in creative pursuits. Tony loved the empathy episode, my bud sampled the episode on walking and I started with this one. I have a lot more control over my work days this year, so am listening extra keenly.

Some lovely things for soon-to-be parents - six months with Marigold (I loved this!), plus pregnancy-life-savers.

For those of us waiting to celebrate with them - things to make and do for new parents. My favourite suggestion is a loaf of homemade bread with fancy butter :)

Plum cake + an exciting new podcast

21 January 2018

I've been thinking about family rituals this week, since my sister moved to Canberra. Maybe we'll have a standing Friday night dinner somewhere local, like the family in The Squid and the Whale. We've already promised my niece a girls' day out, including "a meal at a restaurant" at her request (four year olds!).

I have the best memories of going to my grandparent's house for dinner as a kid. They used to own a Chinese restaurant in Sydney and had a servery built into their home - a little hatch that connected the kitchen to the dining room. With dinner covered, my parents, aunts and uncle took turns bringing dessert.

A summer plum cake is becoming a new family ritual. I made one last year, using fruit that a friend brought into the office to share. My extended family divvied it up on a balmy afternoon, after my grandfather's wake. When the plums appeared in the office again this week I realised we were nearing the anniversary of his death.

I baked this dimply plum cake (it's jewel-toned and jammy) to share with my family who are in town to help with my sister's move. We managed to demolish the whole thing on an equally hot day, this time in my sister's new lounge room. It's a simple tradition that makes me think of my grandfather, and our ever-growing family.

On a very different note, I am so excited about the Making Obama podcast, which comes out next month. Making Oprah was such a joyous and fascinating podcast series, and I am sure this next series will be just as good. I heard the reporter, Jenn White, speak at a podcast conference in Sydney last year and was blown away by her ideas and humanity (I even plucked up the courage to ask a question). You can listen to a preview of the new series here :)

Weekend links

19 January 2018

Hello, I hope you had a good week! I've been enjoying the pastel skies, hazelnut gelato, and this salad that's equal parts cabbage and cheese. The biggest highlight of my week was  welcoming my niece and nephew to Canberra, and watching them play with the Christmas presents I've been saving. My parents and brother will arrive on the weekend to help my sister unpack. We'll be floating around to help and go out for meals :) Briefly to share:

A sweet recipe zine I ordered earlier this week.

The cutest swimmers via Nirrimi.

A relaxing after work album.

The perfect heatwave meal - sushi bowls.

Followed by a heatwave-friendly dessert - almond butter cups. It'll be my third Pinch of Yum recipe this week!

I've started listening to podcasts again and am enjoying Reveal, an investigative journalism podcast. The topics are so varied, I started with this missing persons story and followed it up with an episode on contraceptive rights in America.

"We get into tricky territory when we try and see the spaces that we live in as a reflection of ourselves." Loved these thoughts on making a home as a renter.

I'm excited to work my way through this brand new video series. I am endlessly curious about how or when you make the decision to have kids. Meanwhile, I love how New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been talking about her pregnancy news.

And here's a podcast series about consent from last year that's worth revisiting. Especially this week.

An easy peasy breakfast with friends

17 January 2018

I made my very first batch of cinnamon scrolls in 2017. They were on my list of tiny fun things to try, plus they seemed to be popping up everywhere - in this little book of hygge, on Instagram and in recipe books I bought and borrowed. I tried a recipe from Violet Bakery. It's so good that I now feel like I have a cinnamon-scroll-making superpower :) 

Here's what makes the recipe so great: it's unfussy because it doesn't use yeast, and you can make them ahead of time and store them in the freezer until you're ready to bake (and eat) them.

On the last weekend of the year, we invited some friends round for breakfast. We kept things simple and served cinnamon scrolls, mangoes and coffee. I made the buns the night before, so all we had to do in the morning was prep the mango cheeks (Tony's specialty), make a pot of coffee, and pop the buns in the oven (which also made the house smell delicious).

Easiest breakfast party ever!

Weekend links

12 January 2018

What did you get up to this week? I went back to work and it was fine! It was nice to see everyone, I also packed plenty of snacks and went for walks on my lunch breaks. It was also my very first  short week :)

We're heading to Thirroul today to meet up with some friends who live in Iceland (one was a groomsman at our wedding).  Best of all, we're going to meet their baby girl. We're hoping go to the beach a lot, visit this bagel cafe, and chill out at our Airbnb, talking, eating and playing with the baby. Here are a few good things I discovered during the week:

Delicious lunch box ideas - I'm especially keen on the Italian chicken schnitzel roll.

Kate Berry's cute new photography project.

Salmon patties are on the menu for next week.

I'm also busting to make a peach pie.

Two slightly bigger things:

Right before Christmas, I found out that an old friend from uni had died. It's been on my mind a lot. We didn't stay in touch but the time we did spend together was formative and memorable. So when I read this story last week, it made me curious about The Bright Hour. I read it over the heatwave weekend, and it's very much a story about living. I especially enjoyed her descriptions of being in nature and mothering two thoughtful and funny boys.

And I'm trying out a new podcast and loved a thought that came up - it doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and can easily ruin my own fun or fritter it away with worries. Sarah Wilson also writes about 'Perfect Moment Syndrome' in her book about anxiety. It's about having fewer expectations, instead of thinking that weekends are always relaxing, and birthdays are always 100% happy. I think of it when I'm tempted to save something (a podcast episode, a new top, a phone call) for a more perfect time.

Have a lovely weekend. I'm super excited about next week - my sister moves to Canberra on Tuesday! It'll be just like this ;)

New Year goodness

09 January 2018

This time last year I made a list of fun things to try in 2017. They were small things I'd never done before, like order an affogato or go boogie boarding. Some things were ticked off right away, while others had to wait until the last few weeks of the year. It was really fun and I'm doing it again this year. I'm still building my list - so far making jam is the only thing on it!

The new year brings so much expectation and promise, and I'm trying to be extra kind to myself as I transition back to work. I've been leafing through Meredith Gaston's beautiful illustrated book The Art of Wellbeing for inspiration. It's full of recipes and meditations, and is about making our daily lives more joyful. I bought it as a New Year's gift to myself.

I didn't listen to many podcasts over the break but when I did, I picked an episode from this list of 2017 highlights. The hosts of Call Your Girlfriend recommended She's All Fat, "the podcast for body positivity, radical self-love and chill vibes only."

It's really good. I started with an episode about confidence, and immediately texted my sister about it. The theme song makes me smile and the show is super fun, inclusive and challenging. It also leaves you feeling good about yourself and your place in the world. My sister also recommends bodyposipanda on Instagram.

One other nice thing, Death, Sex and Money put out a mini-podcast in the first week of this month called Pull Quote. The episodes are super short, usually a couple of minutes max, and they're clips from memorable interviews. Each one offers something to ruminate on over the day and I hope the series continues in 2018!

My cousin Melissa shared this poem by Rupi Kaur on New Year's Day. I've been craving mint choc chip ice cream ever since. I've also been scrolling through excerpts from her latest book on Instagram, while I wait for my copy to come in from the library.

Libraries are great btw! Mine has so many new release cookbooks, which is going to save me a lot of money this year (fingers crossed). I request books all the time, and it's kind of nice not knowing what's going to come in when.

Here's what I'm waiting on: The Tivoli Road Baker by Michael James, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, The No Spend Year by Michelle McGagh, Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, and Bread is Gold by Massimo Bottura.

Summer 2017

04 January 2018

Hello again! It's nice to be back, I hope you had a relaxing summer break. On Monday I head back to work after three weeks off. It's been so good. We stayed in Canberra and our days were filled with summery things - books, movies, and plenty of delicious food. We had a handful of really hot days, but most mornings and nights have been lovely and cool. Here are a few photos, beginning on Christmas Day, which started with presents, panettone, mangoes and coffee:

I was chuffed to unwrap so many thoughtful gifts, especially two new cookbooks to inspire slow summer meals. I actually claimed all of the Christmas cooking this year, which is manageable if it's just for two. I baked sourdough for a lunchtime picnic by the lake and for dinner, I made jerk chicken that cooks sitting atop a half-empty beer can (nerve-wracking!), corn cobs with lime mayo, a peach and fennel salad, and my mother-in-law's cheesecake for dessert.

Because we were home for Christmas, we called our families and FaceTimed our niece and nephew before settling in with a bunch of DVDs - Le Week-End was especially good. We saw a few movies at the cinema too, and my favourite was easily Call Me By Your Name. Watch it on the big screen if you can, it's mesmerising.

It always takes me a good week to settle into holiday mode and somewhere between Christmas and New Years, I stopped waking up at six and thinking about errands and lay around reading instead.

I finished A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work in two days, and highly recommend it to any Helen Garner fan. Each chapter is dedicated to a book and period of her life, and draws from letters and journals from the time, as well as interviews with friends, publishers and Helen herself. I immediately followed it up with The Feel of Steel, and am listening to True Stories as an audiobook. It's especially enjoyable because Helen reads it!

I also read... a finance book. This one to be exact. It's a little cheesy in parts but it's straightforward and practical. I've been fudging it this far! Here's a cheat's guide from Monique Bowley.

Peak happiness hit when I could ride to the shops and buy a Calypso mango and a punnet of raspberries for five dollars. Being at home meant I could cook anytime I liked. Swedish crepes were a highlight, I'm planning to make them for my sister's family who are moving to Canberra in a few short weeks (!!!!). I reckon my niece and nephew will love filling them and rolling them up. Nutella and strawberry was my favourite combination :) I made currant buns from the same book, and we ate them warm for afternoon tea.

On New Year's Day, we took a homemade pizza and a bottle of wine down to the foreshore. Looking back on 2017, I'm reminded of the fact that we helped made marriage equality law, and that people finally started saying 'We believe the women'.

2018 is already looking different. I am so excited about living in the same city as my sister, brother-in-law and their two kids. I'm making spaghetti bolognese to help them get through the first busy week and will take over some local ice cream too. And when I get back to work, I'll be trying out a nine-day fortnight. I feel like a long weekend every other week will make way for more creativity and life :)