Life lately

18 November 2018

Hello! I'm gearing up for my final trip to Sydney for the year, and then the countdown til the end of the year begins. We have a week in Melbourne in early December, followed by Tony's birthday, and then it'll be Christmas, so this week's trip really feels like the last big thing before things start to wind down. But I'm getting ahead of myself, here are a few notes from the past month, from a stand out book to getting a start on Christmas baking...

Eating and cooking:
Lots of berries, eggs and veggies lately, because I've been shopping at the farmers markets again, now that it's spring. My favourite market is on Sunday morning - it's an outdoor market held at a high school, and it has such a lovely vibe (and a weekly Scottie dog meet-up!). After trying out a bunch of different stalls over the last year or so, I've finally worked out which are the best, and especially love the ones that specialise in just one thing, whether it's apples, asparagus or mushrooms.

I borrowed a copy of The Zero Fucks Cookbook by Yumi Stynes from the library, and am really enjoying it. I'm making the spiced cauliflower tonight and want to try the carrot cake with cream cheese icing too. Here are a couple of recipes from the book if you're curious, everything's super quick and doable, and I'm thinking of asking Tony for her summer cookbook for Christmas. 

I'm still testing about a recipe a week for work, and it's something I really enjoy. On Friday night we had chicken burritos with kale and corn slaw, which we bundled up in foil so we could eat them on the balcony and it was such a nice way to end the week. They became a TV dinner for the next night.

Commissioning and testing recipes has taught me so much about cooking, especially the way that flavours and textures go together, as well as how to put a meal or simple menu together. In the next few weeks I'll be testing a raspberry pavlova roll that's been described as marshmallowy in texture (can't wait!) and a roast cherry dessert with Anzac crumble.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am into the most basic of things at the moment, like dry roasted nuts, toasted pepitas, bread from this Canberra bakery (the rye and seeded loaves especially), and super crunchy peanut butter. 

For our Melbourne trip in early December! I have a huge list of recommendations from my workmates based there, which cover everything from brunch to gelato and the best sourdough. Tony will be at a conference most of the time, and I'm looking forward to food shopping and cooking in our Airbnb, inspired by Julia. As soon as we'd booked our flights, I made a dinner reservation at Tip00, because pasta is our favourite food, and I'm also planning to do a candle lit Yin class at this beautiful yoga studio.

I've also been doing a tiny bit of planning for Christmas. I ordered a ham this week from the local smokehouse, which I'm super excited about. I'm trying to track down the recipe Tony used years ago when he glazed a ham for the two of us! I have a feeling it could be this Donna Hay one with whiskey and marmalade, but also think it may have had earl grey in there too. 

I've also made three Christmas cakes, which are wrapped in foil and waiting for December. There's one for my family and Tony's, and a third that I'll split between friends. I used a recipe from The Cook and Baker (based on the fact that their hot cross bun recipe is top-notch) but we won't know if it's worked until... it's too late. Side note: I bought my first mince tarts this weekend just past - I really love this time of year.

Every now and then I remember that I'm happiest when I have a book on the go. It keeps me off my phone and out of my head. After whizzing through a bunch of novels, I took a little break, read bits of a few things but nothing that really captivated me until I picked up To Obama With Love, Joy, Hate and Despair by Jeanne Marie Laskas.

It grew out of a feature that I loved last year from The NY Times, which told the story of the Obama administration's mail room, the people who worked there and the thousands of letters they received every day. The book contains letters grouped in two or three year blocks that tell the story of different periods of the presidency, as well as interviews with people who wrote to the president and received a reply. It's a fascinating look at America during the Obama years, and one of my favourite books of the year.

Speaking of, I can't decide whether to read Michelle Obama's book or listen to it as an audiobook (she reads it herself!). I'm leaning towards the latter. In the meantime, I loved Oprah's interview with Michelle Obama about the book (via Cup of Jo).

This lovely last month of spring, where the weather is sunny but still mild, and everything still feels chill (and not Christmas-crazy). It's such a lovely time for cycling, sitting on the balcony for meals and drinks outside. Our favourite summer bar has just reopened - they do the cutest snacks - making their own sausage rolls one week, pizza pockets the next.

I'm also enjoying any time off I get - weekends, and long weekends. I made the small mistake of taking all of my leave in December and January, which has made parts of this year seem quite long. Next year, I'll be spacing it out a whole lot more! In the meantime, the odd self-made long weekend does wonders.

I've also been making the most of downtime in Sydney, when I'm there for work. I visited at the end of October, and tried out the Paramount Recreation Club for morning yoga (I loved it - the classes are small and the instructors are great). It's such a beautiful space, it's a rooftop gym with the cutest kiosk and really beautiful showers! The Paramount Coffee Project is also downstairs, so on one of the mornings, instead of rushing back through the city to my hotel, I ordered a raspberry porridge and sat in the front window to people watch and catch up on blogs

Food-wise, I made it to Gogyo in Surry Hills for a ramen dinner with friends and can't wait to go back. The ramen was one of the best I've ever had, and we also feasted on king prawn guacamole, and a buckwheat ice cream for dessert, which tasted like a lighter version of black sesame.

Two of my workmates also made the trek from the office to Sando Bar, for chicken katsu sandwiches. It was an intense sandwich, with pickles, mayo and hot, crunchy chicken. I'm so glad I got to try it out, and it kept me going til I landed home later that night.

Monthly recaps inspired by Heidi and Pip :) 

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