Hello weekend

12 September 2019

Hello from the Gold Coast! I'm in town for the Women in Media conference and feel very lucky to be here. I've been on the move this week and got to visit my brother Zachary in Sydney and tour the Google office where he works. It was fun to catch up over dinner and a few games of ping pong, plus the office itself was mind-boggling. I also made sure to stop at Rivareno gelato on my way back to the hotel and it was well worth the detour. I hope you have a lovely weekend ahead, here are a few things to make it extra nice:

I've just discovered the Highly Enthused podcast and am an instant fan. By the end of the first episode, I'd booked a restaurant for my next Sydney stay and found an engagement gift after months of searching/stressing. It's a fun Australian podcast that recommends great things to eat, listen, read, watch and buy. It started last year and I'm currently averaging an episode each day :) Two highlights - the episode dedicated to toast toppings and the Sydney guide for a perfect weekend in the city.

A romantic (and inexpensive) anniversary gift.

'What being a godmother taught me about love'. A beautiful essay that came recommended by Grace.

Dreamy scrambled eggs for dinner over rice.

I've just reserved this book from the library - love that it's described as a Bridget Jones's Diary from a woman of colour. And because it's been awhile since I've read a graphic novel, I'm also excited to try Bloom as recommended by my friend Kristy.

This baked fish taco recipe from Heidi Sze for ABC Life is fast, festive and healthy. If you're a vegetarian, I've also made it with sweet potato, using the same spice mixture but skipping the marinating time. Depending on the size of your sweet potato pieces, the baking time is around 15-20 minutes.

Finally, if you have the oven on this weekend I've been making maple roasted walnuts, inspired by a porridge I had in Canberra. Just mix raw walnuts in a few tablespoons of maple syrup until they're coated nicely, add some sea salt and roast for 10-15 minutes at about 180 until they're browned. Eat them by the handful or over porridge or bircher. So simple, so good.


A holiday at home

08 September 2019

Tony and I recently took a week off... and spent it hanging out at home. Canberra is lovely in spring and a week with no real plans was more relaxing and fun than we expected. We slept in, read books in bed, went for long walks to nowhere in particular (one had a brewery pit stop!), and saw plenty of movies too. There were so many favourite things:

We made a point of doing things we normally don't get around to when we're working - like visiting cafes that are only open on weekdays. Tony took me to Fekerte's Ethiopian for lunch - it's a tiny pop-up canteen in New Acton that serves curries, veggie sides (I had buttery potatoes, carrots and beans) and the most amazing sour bread. We also spent a morning visiting friends' cafes and had porridge and toast at The Goods before moving onto Marvie & Wolfe for more coffee and a blondie. We'll definitely be back for their sandwiches.

One of my favourite things to do on holidays is cook. I made strawberry shortcakes (a recipe test for work), and when they were finished, they reminded me of the cake in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Side note: I made so many mistakes making them but it didn't matter in the end. I also tested a spring lasagne and Tony volunteered to make the lasagne sheets from scratch.

On the second day of the holidays, I'd cleaned the oven, made a batch of one-pan tomato farro, eaten a strawberry shortcake and roasted some spices and veggies all before 9am. I also started doing my tax return and tackled something I've been meaning to do for ages... setting up a password manager for my laptop and phone (a workmate recommended Last Pass so I went with that).

We talked about driving to a national park to go for a hike but then I realised... I just wanted to eat outside! So while it was sunny, we went for a sushi picnic instead. Afterwards, Tony had a few hours of work so I rode my bike home and made a big batch of sweet potato and spinach dahl for work lunches and the freezer. It's my friend Klarisa's recipe and it's spicy, loaded with veggies, and super delicious.

While we were chilling at home, I finished Mark Scott's On Us and read two Pound Project essays that were a thoughtful birthday present from my friend Sarah. They were High Low themed - Hopeless Romantic by Dolly Alderton and the Authentic Lie by Pandora Sykes. Both were excellent in their very own ways.

A highlight was going to an author talk with Joanne Ramos, the NY writer behind The Farm. I asked a question and loved hearing her talk about the nuances of being a woman of colour who is also privileged - she was thoughtful and inclusive.

We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary at the end of the week and loved having the day off together. We went to a morning session of The Farewell and then out for pizza and cake. In the afternoon we exchanged gifts (we went with the traditional wood theme - I gave Tony a bottle of whiskey and he bought me a beautiful chopping board) and then spent some time making food for friends who recently welcomed a second baby into their family. I made a banana bread from Kate Berry's new book and Tony made his go-to pesto.

Ages ago, when we road tripped around South Australia, we bought a special bottle of wine for our fifth wedding anniversary. So, instead of going out for dinner, we stayed in and made spaghetti (Tony) and meatballs (me). It was the perfect weather for it - the temperature suddenly dropped and it was drizzly. If you love meatballs too, I can highly recommend Emiko Davies recipe. It's not too fussy (minimal ingredients, only 40 minutes of simmer time) and the best I've ever made. It makes heaps too - enough for meatball subs and dinner for at least another two nights.

Holidaying at home was lovely and we'll do it again - maybe every autumn and spring just to recharge. It was nice to enjoy some of the best bits of a holiday (eating out, reading books, sleeping in), without some of the more stressful parts that come with travel like keeping an eye on a budget or feeling the pressure to make the most of your time in a new city. There are things we didn't get around to - like a day trip to Braidwood or a hotdog from a favourite brewery - but we'll add them to our weekend to-do list.


Hello weekend

05 September 2019

Did you have a good first week of spring? I love all of the little things that come with this change of season - being able to leave the windows open at home, admiring the cherry blossom trees in bloom, and the start of picnic season. I am also glad that summer in the northern hemisphere is over because it means all of my favourite blogs and podcasts are back from holiday break :) I hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend ahead. Here are some cheery things to share:

One of the nicest discoveries of my week was this Month of Sundays newsletter via Sophie. You can read it as a blog but I love the idea of receiving a month's worth of Sunday doings and musings. I've signed up... and read through much of the archive too!

The same newsletter referenced this strawberry cake from Smitten Kitchen, and it's not the first time I've seen it recommended online. I'm keen to try it soon.

Something funny - small therapies/mood enhancers. The helicopter one is my fave πŸ˜‚

We watched the Aretha Franklin film Amazing Grace last weekend and it was soulful and moving. Afterwards, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos, and loved this Vox video about of her musical genius, along with this live performance that made Obama cry.

Karamo from Queer Eye used to be a social worker, which probably explains why this latest season has been so moving. The Kenny episode  is my current fave.

Call Your Girlfriend's Aminatou Sow was excellent on the Unstyled podcast. This was a revelation for me too: "I'm allowed to not feel great about everything... that's been a huge revelation for me."

Also from Unstyled, I enjoyed this interview with The Real Housewives of NYC star Dorinda Medley. I've never watched the show but found her to be refreshing, funny and wise. Maybe I'm just up for advice atm, but she had a great quote about living in the present and embracing the season that you're in.

And finally, I'm curious about zucchini choc chip muffins (even if they're meant for kids).


Life lately

30 August 2019

By the end of today I'll be on holidays, just in time for the first week of spring :) Tony's off too and I'm excited about sleeping in, going out for breakfast, and working my way through an ever-growing list of recipes to try. We'll also be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary at the end of the week - time flies! Here are a few notes rom the last month or so, which has been packed with birthday celebrations, trips to Sydney and some new challenges too.

Cooking, eating & pot luck:
This last month of winter has been dominated by roast chicken and soups. I made an anchovy butter roast chook with chunky croutons and a herby chicken with ginger,lemon and thyme. I now understand that roast chicken and buttery baguettes go together very well. Also on high rotation - porridge with golden syrup.

We hosted our very first pot luck dinner recently. I am so used to planning entire meals when friends come round, so it was a bit of an experiment to have everyone contribute a dish. Tony made his specialty - pesto spaghetti from scratch. Our friend Rinaldo brought his best dish, a buttery and oniony Chinese-Indonesian chicken stir fry that was both sweet and salty. It was excellent over rice. I tried a friend's recipe for a Swedish apple pie and will share the recipe here soon - it's super fast and comforting. Even though our dishes were very different, as a meal they magically worked. It also shaped the vibe of the night, with everyone contributing in their own way and no one single person feeling like the host.

Birthday fun (and the greatest cake):
It's normal for me to freak out a little before my birthday, fussing over how I could or should be celebrating it - almost like it's a personal New Year's Eve. But for some reason, this year that just didn't happen. My birthday crept up on me in the best possible way. We spent the weekend beforehand on a special cabin trip and I had a day off, and saw my sister who gave me a present on behalf of all of my siblings. They'd organised it across three cities, which made it extra special :)

I was in Sydney the week after my birthday and used it as an excuse to go to Sean's Panorama for another celebratory dinner with friends. We ate mussels, oysters and pasta by the sea and ordered all of the desserts, including the creamiest cardamom and passionfruit curd ice cream that came with pistachio shortbread.

Sticking with the belated theme, I made a birthday cake the following weekend. It was a recipe test for a go-to celebration cake I commissioned for work to coincide with the project's first birthday. I am so excited to share the recipe.  It's a one-bowl vanilla cake (with a hint of cardamom) with the greatest and fluffiest choc-hazelnut icing. It happened to pop into my inbox on my birthday too!

Novels & non-fiction: 
It's been an excellent month for novels. I sped through The Farm by Joanne Ramos and Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner - they only lasted a week each. Every night I was busting to head home and read a little more. Of the two, I enjoyed Fleishman is in Trouble the most. It was slightly stressful in parts but also comedic and enlightening too - and reminded me of another book I loved, Less by Andrew Sean Greer.

I've started a new non-fiction book this morning, Bee Wilson's The way we eat now: strategies for eating in a world of change. I'm thinking of adding a memoir, for the times I feel like something a bit more escapist. A Half Baked Idea by Olivia Potts is on the top of my list. It's about a British woman's transition from law into food.

Other stuff:
I challenged myself to apply for a more senior role last month and interviewed for it recently. Going for a job definitely changed the pace of my weeks and gave me something extra to work on after hours. Plenty of good people were willing to share their advice, not just for getting the job but how to challenge myself at work regardless of the outcome. It's been a lot to take in - the application process, feeling extra self-conscious after the interview, the goodwill and support. It threw up some big questions about work and life too. I've learnt a lot from the process and now that it's behind me, I'm excited to get out of my head think about things other than work.


Life lately posts are inspired by Heidi's Happenings.

Hello weekend

24 August 2019

I'm coming to you a little later this week because I've just come back from a trip to Sydney. My days and nights were very full, so I treasured little pockets of quiet where I could find them. A solo breakfast at a favourite cafe, a morning walk through my old neighbourhood listening to a playlist my brother made me (he has a music podcast too!), an early yin class. I've had the nicest start to the weekend - the Canberra writers festival is on and I'm just about to take an apple pie to a friends place for dinner. As always, here are some good things to share:

Grace Bonney on how to know when it's time to move on (and how it feels).

I am counting down the days til Kate Berry's cookbook comes out (this coming Tuesday!) and found this lovely interview from a few years ago about the five things that inspire her.

I'm going through an eggplant phase and this black pepper eggplant is high on my to-make list.

A beautiful essay about the joy of solitude and what happens when it turns into loneliness, told through food. I love this recipe column so much.

And the latest quick and tasty dinner from Julia Busuttil Nishimura for ABC Life - a Japanese chicken and egg bowl with rice and edamame. We're already big fans.

Catch you next week!


Eco hut adventure

17 August 2019

We stayed in an eco hut in Gundagai last weekend - an early birthday treat. It was our second off-the-grid trip (we stayed in a tiny cabin last year) and I loved how the absence of electricity set the pace for our visit. We stayed busy keeping the fire going, read books while it was still light, and found creative ways to cook with a handful of supplies. It was also a lovely excuse to pack my camera and take a few snaps. Here are a few faves:

The hut was on top of a hill and we arrived just before it started raining for the night. The trip coincided with the polar low (it snowed in Canberra the morning we left!), so we stayed close to the fire and tried not to venture outside unless we really had to. That meant boiling water on top of the wood heater, which probably took two hours. We were super excited by the time we could make and drink tea.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Fleishman is in Trouble from the library and it's easily one of the best books I've read all year. There is so much action (and lots of sex 😳). It's such a clever (and scary) reflection on how we live today.

We talked about making Lotus burgers on the BBQ for dinner but decided to wing it instead. I'm glad we did because it was not the greatest weather for cooking outside. Instead, we stopped by our favourite cafe in Jugiong for lunch and picked up some supplies. There was delicious pasta from Griffith NSW, plus smoked trout dip, crackers and cake.

I raided the breakfast supplies as soon as we arrived, and made a pasta sauce using the bacon, roasted cherry tomatoes and baby spinach we found in the esky. Tony managed to cook the pasta on top of the wood heater and grilled some greens there too (broccoli, brussel sprouts and sugar snap peas!). He'd made some chipotle salt and a lime vinaigrette before we left home and our dinner was a triumph.

Later that night we ate chocolate and marmalade cake, tucked into some red wine and played chess (I lost, as usual). Then it was time for bed. I am super glad we had a roof over our heads because it was a windy and wet night. We were both a little relieved when it was light again and the rain eased off. Tony got the fire going again and we were grateful for hot showers with fancy soap, and steaming hot drinks in bed.

Before it was time to go, I ventured outside to make eggs and heat up baked beans that'd been left in our esky, along with the leftover greens. I love cooking on a camp stove and the surrounding paddocks seemed extra green after a night of heavy rain. And then it was time to drive back down the mountain, in search of coffee and the road back home.


Hello weekend

16 August 2019

I turned 35 on Tuesday and feel very celebrated. There has been plenty of cake (chocolate, carrot, banoffee pie!), hangouts with friends, and some fun gifts - including a wheel of camembert! This also might explain why this week's offering is a little scant. Nevertheless, for your weekend:

I started listening to the Book Larder podcast this week and am so impressed by the quality of the interviews. Book Larder is a specialty cookbook store in Seattle. I started with the Ruth Reichl episode about her latest memoir.

Side note: I've recently switched from Apple podcasts to Spotify for podcast listening. I am a nerd and was following the acquisition of Gimlet Media by Spotify and was wondering how it'd impact the discoverability of podcasts - something that can be really clunky. So I checked it out. It's much easier to scroll through the archives of podcasts and I've found it to be a better user experience. Nerd alert over.

Two recipes I'm keen to try - Anja Dunk's speedy apple cake via Sophie. And this one-pan Thai curry via Leslie.

And a recipe I can vouch for - green baked eggs from ABC Life. I made this twice in two weeks, that's how delicious the test version came out. I find it hard to eat my five serves of veggies per day  and this recipe definitely helps. Plus it's dinner and brunch friendly!


Hello weekend

08 August 2019

Hi there! I'm writing to you on a rainy morning with a milky tea and honey on toast for company. I am looking forward to having lasagna for dinner (I bought one from a pasta stall at the markets, and am so excited to try it) and have a long weekend of my own making ahead! We're going away for the weekend, for an early birthday celebration and then I have an extra day at home to get ready for the week and maybe bake a birthday cake. Some nice things to share:

Super wise words from actor Beanie Feldstein (she's in Booksmart and Ladybird). Especially this on missing out: "Now every time I go into an audition, I think - this is either going to be me or some other girl. And if it's the other girl, it's going to be the best day of her life... I love my work very hard. I'm deliberate and committed. So if something is meant to be, I know it's meant to be. And if it's not, that opportunity belongs to someone else."

I am soo late to this party but I started listening to 2 Dope Queens last weekend and am an instant fan. The advice episode with Tig Notaro was so funny it interrupted my cooking :) Also, Michelle Obama. Their Spotify playlist for Women's History Month is also super fun.

So keen to try this popular Smitten Kitchen recipe - one-pan farro with tomatoes. I have cooked with farro once before and it was a disaster but I feel like Deb would never let me down.

And a funny cartoon about doing your best.

Catch you next week!


Tiny joyful things

07 August 2019

Because it's Wednesday, I wanted to share a few things I look forward to every single week. They're tiny joyful things that are part of my routine and help to punctuate the week. Let me know if you have any too! I'm always looking to add lovely things to my day-to-day.

On Monday mornings, I read Sophie's newsletter before breakfast, usually while stirring some porridge. It's a gentle way into the week and it's usually filled with recipe and podcast suggestions, bright pictures and reflections on the season. Monday is also the day a new Unstyled podcast episode drops, and I'll save the episode for a bus ride home later if the week (if I can manage it).

Midway through the week, a favourite blog column comes out. It's called The List and it's written by Leslie of Cupcakes and Cashmere. I have her author page bookmarked on my phone, and it can be the nicest way to unwind after getting home from work.

Round about the same time, a new episode of The High Low comes out too, just as I'm craving something funny/cheery to listen to before and after work.

Anywhere between Thursday and Saturday, I get excited about doing the market shop. It's when I gather ingredients for new recipes I want to try (for work or just for fun). Most weeks I stop at a farm shop in my lunch break or on my way home, and get to the markets every now and then. Or I convince Tony to make a date out of it, and we drive to a favourite produce stand in a nearby town and stock up on veggies after brunch or coffee out. There is something about the colours of the produce and maybe the possibility too that makes me feel so happy and creative.

On Saturday, kind of like how the weekend paper used to be a morning ritual for me, I read Cup of Jo's list of links from the week and always find something to read or enjoy. Erin posts a lovely end-of-week wrap too, and the stories she links to are always surprising and broad-ranging.

And something that happens throughout the week - coffee after my yoga class. The teacher normally brews the coffee, and it's always a lucky-dip to see who sticks around to hang out. Last week, after class coffee came with bonus homegrown lemons.


Hello weekend

02 August 2019

Happy August! I am so excited for the weekend. I had a bit of a teary start to the week (for no apparent reason), which prompted me to make more joyful choices for the remainder of it. You have to make things easy for yourself sometimes! We had the nicest a mid-week dinner out (katsu curry, dumplings and honey ice cream did the trick) and I squeezed in chapters of my book before bed. I have lots of little plans for the weekend ahead - a trip to the farmers markets (I tend to chicken out in winter cos the mornings can be so icy), making a batch of bolognese and watching Booksmart at the movies. Hopefully after eating this burger :) Here are a handful of good things to share:

On our drive down to Sydney last weekend, we listened to a couple of episodes of Heavyweight, including Alex and Rachael. I hadn't listened to this show since it came out a few years ago, and it was just the thing for the drive - funny, surprising and entertaining. A new season starts soon.

If you're a fan of The High Low, I really enjoyed this How To Fail episode with one of its hosts Pandora Sykes. I tuned in while mixing up a lemon syrup cake one weeknight which felt perfect. I listened to the Samin Nosrat episode just yesterday - and especially loved her final failure.

I am daydreaming here, but how nice does this NY yoga studio look? Via Passersby.

This stir-fried lettuce bowl with ginger fried rice (and an egg!) takes me right back to my childhood, when we ate wok-fried lettuce covered in hoisin sauce. This recipe looks simple and delicious.

And if you've hit your pasta quota already this winter, try this warm kale salad instead. It was gobbled up in our house and I'll be making it again soon.

P.S If you're in Canberra on Saturday, Tony's having an open studio day.

Always do the nice thing

31 July 2019

A few weeks ago, I thought about making a cake for a friend who'd just made a big decision. She'd been talking about a citrus olive oil cake for some time and I had just the one in mind. But then... I chickened out. Because every now and then I get self-conscious about giving a gift and hesitate. Is the gesture a bit weird? I wonder. In this instance, I later shared what I'd been hoping to do and was told that it would've been lovely rather than strange.

So, this is a little note-to-self, a reminder to always do the nice thing. Whether it's asking someone if they want to join a coffee run, sending a card to say thank you (this one is finally on its way to a workmate in Brisbane), or giving a small gift for no particular reason, other than you saw it and thought it'd be perfect.

I've also been the recipient of some lovely mail lately - a package of homemade chocolates from my friend Haline. There were three types - freckles with popping candy, a block of white chocolate with pistachios, rose petals and Turkish delight, and a milk chocolate version with macadamias and white chocolate. I reckon she made them with her little ones! There was no note, just some beautifully packaged homemade treats that were so welcome on an icy Friday.

Nice things don't always have to be brand new either. When my friend Vanessa was visiting the other weekend, I gave her a bag of homemade cookies (these ones!), and passed on a book that I'd read that I thought she'd really enjoy too.


Hello weekend

25 July 2019

We're going on a road trip this weekend to meet a new baby. I've been looking forward to it all week and am feeling ready for a change of scenery. It'll be a quick trip with plans to see a friend's exhibition, go somewhere fun to eat, and hold our new tiny niece. Here are a few good things for your weekend - thanks as always for being here!

I listened to both Phoebe Waller-Bridge episodes on How To Fail with Elizabeth Day this week - one that was recorded before Fleabag blew up, the other a year later. I'm still yet to watch the second season but will soon. (via The High Low).

This series about pantry staples, the weekly shop and meal planning is right up my alley! I don't meal plan as much as I make a list of things I want to make each week. Currently, this cult chickpea stew (NY Times) and accompanying yoghurt flatbread are on the list.

Cookbook writer Emiko Davies is visiting Canberra and I've been so inspired by her pics of regular things, like her market haul and bakery treats. She's shared the recipe for her favourite pizza dough recently and I'm definitely going to try it.

I love that Leo season is a thing. I've been seeing it all over Insta this week! My favourite detail: "When Greta Gerwig, a Leo, directed the prom scene in Lady Bird, she wore a prom dress too. She didn't appear on camera - she didn't have to wear that dress. It wasn't a costume, but something else - a way to create a mood, a feeling, an environment of generosity and camaraderie."

And a vegetable soup with a hint of spring, just in case you need a break from pasta.


Birthday wish list

21 July 2019

I'm turning 35 super soon and I have the grey hairs and multifocals to prove it 😝I haven't always loved the idea of being in my mid-thirties but now I'm feeling ready - excited even. For my birthday this year, we're taking a road trip to Gundagai to stay in this fancy hut. I'm hoping to wake up to a foggy Sunday morning and stop at Jugiong on the way home for a much-loved caramelised onion, cheese and chive toastie. Stopping at Jugiong always reminds me of the long drives we used to do between Wagga Wagga and Sydney.

As is tradition on this blog, here's a just-for-fun wishlist of fun things I'd love to receive, starting with.. a weekend away. In the last year or so, I have gotten so much energy from short road trips. I love the change of scenery... and also the chance to cook in a different kitchen, preferably one with a view. I currently have my eye on this Airbnb just outside of Canberra that's part of a flower farm.

It's not a birthday wish list without a cookbook (or three). I'm a big fan of BonAppetit, especially their test kitchen YouTube videos, and am curious about the food director Carla Lalli Music's first book, Where Cooking Begins. I can cook my way through recipes confidently but would love to cook more intuitively now I know the basics.

I'm also very excited about Alison Roman's second cookbook Nothing Fancy that drops in October. In my 34th year I discovered that I'm actually not so introverted after all.  After work-filled weeks, it's so nice to share a meal and hang out with friends. It's also a great excuse to make a decadent dessert.

On a practical note, a backpack to fit my laptop with a separate compartment for snacks! Lately I've had a bit more brain space for things other than work or cooking and have been enjoying taking my laptop out to work on fun projects on weekends. I also like the idea of travelling light for weekends away. This pale blue one looks cute too!

Fancy soap is almost always on my list because it's something I love but never buy for myself. I've tried this one and the matching lotion at an Airbnb, and my favourite Sydney yoga studio, and love how natural it smells.

Finally, a giant jar of chunky peanut butter because few things make me happier than a peanut butter and honey sandwich for breakfast.


Hello weekend

19 July 2019

Hey there! I saw this cartoon the other day and have decided to stop describing every other week as crazy busy ;) After a few quiet weekends at home - mooching around, making food, generally relaxing and recovering from colds - I am so ready to welcome some friends who are visiting! We're going out for Laos food on Saturday night and I'm hoping to bake a cake to share too. For your weekend (hope it's a good one):

I listened to my first-ever Australian Birth Stories podcast this week. Thank you to Sarah for recommending this episode with Heidi Sze. I've been reading Heidi's blog for some time and am lucky enough to work on recipes with her. Normally anything birth-related makes me nervous (I am very squeamish and have never been to hospital!) but Heidi's interview is so calming and informative.

Also lovely on the podcast front - Nigel Slater's interview on How to Fail. Tony and I both have favourite cookbooks of his (Kitchen Diaries for me, Eat for Tony), and he's thoughtful and honest in this conversation. Thanks to Sophie for the recommendation.

Aziz Ansari's special on Netflix is fun. And he opens and ends the show by addressing the sexual assault allegations that were raised last year.

On a very different note, Tony and I watched The Final Quarter doco last weekend, about AFL player Adam Goodes and the constant boo-ing he was subjected to for several years. It screened on TV this week, and you can watch it for free online. It's definitely an intense and confronting watch but I found it so illuminating. Hope you can watch it too.

Still on the granola train and really enjoyed this nut-heavy version with tahini, coconut and maple. I couldn't skip the oats, and went 2 cups nuts, 1 cup oats. It's so crunchy and easy to make. I mixed up a batch in my pajamas on Sunday morning :)

This episode of the Soul Music podcast took me back in time. It's all about Amy Winehouse's song Back To Black.

I have been watching a ton of BonAppetit YouTube videos of late. This week I sampled their Baking School, which is all about layer cakes. I learnt heaps - including things that normally put me off because they sound really sciencey (gluten development anyone?) - and it's the nicest way to unwind before bed.

Because winter really is the season to bake, the bread and butter pudding of my dreams made with brioche and marmalade. It has pockets of melted chocolate and is custardy in the best possible way.  I tested it a couple of times and wasn't sad about eating it for two weeks straight.

Also - I'm writing a winter food newsletter for ABC Life. If you'd like to read, you can sign up here. The baking edition goes out on Saturday morning. Next month I'll be sharing recipes that look forward to spring.


A favourite new food show

15 July 2019

I started watching The Chef Show the other day when I was at home with a cold and it is so. much. fun. The pairing is what makes it the most enjoyable for me - chef Roy Choi had previously trained writer, producer and actor Jon Favreau before he shot the film Chef and played one on screen.

In the Netflix show they reunite to cook together and with friends. Their exchanges are friendly and gentle, and they just seem like they're having fun making and eating a bunch of food together. It's a nice break from some of the more serious and macho food shows out there.

My two favourite episodes so far are the ones where they recreate meals from the movie, and the one that pays tribute to the late LA food critic Jonathan Gold. But most of all, I enjoy watching Jon have a go, occasionally freak out and Roy gently correct and encourage him. If you haven't watched the movie (I hadn't until last weekend) the series is still super fun.

Another lovely food thing while we're here, if you're a fan of Alison Roman too, I loved her interview on The Cut podcast.  Over the weekend I finally baked her famous cookie (they went viral last year). I am normally more of a chewy choc chip cookie type but boy these totally live up to the hype.

Hello weekend

11 July 2019

Are you doing anything to mark NAIDOC week? We're going to a screening of The Final Quarter this weekend, the documentary about Adam Goodes and his final seasons as an AFL player. I've heard it's intense and I'm looking forward to watching. Also, I made a donation to AIME, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, which pairs uni students with Indigenous high school students. I used to walk by their tutoring headquarters on my way to catch the train home from uni many years ago, and am proud to support them.

A few things for your weekend, I hope you have a lovely one:

Two songs I've had on repeat (hooray for a new Hot Chip album).

Excellent relationship advice.

Samin Nosrat is delightful on Radio Cherry Bombe, talking about how her Netflix show changed her life and what it's like to be a woman in working kitchens.

This Thai tomato salad looks amazing.

The sweetest tiny house in regional Victoria with an especially dreamy kitchen.

We watched 20th Century Women the other night and it was really fun. It was a little bit Wes Anderson and a little Woody Allen too, and it's on Netflix atm.

Christina Tosi has a weekly newsletter. Should be fun!

And an Insta vid that is so nice (via Ali Wong).


Great things, inspiring things, silly things

06 July 2019

Hello from my favourite corner of the couch. Things have been busy round here - Tony's midway through a residency at Megalo print studio (his first prints are looking zany!) and work has been a little crazier than usual. I'm also adjusting to... multifocals, which make me feel about 100. They seem to have banished my days-long headaches, which makes life so much cheerier. I'm also wearing scrunchies again to balance things out :)

Here are a few lovely things to share and something silly too, because every now and then things don't quite go to plan:

I've been getting back into the Longform podcast after hearing about the Sloane Crosley episode on The High Low. Every episode features an in-depth conversation with a writer, and I also enjoyed the Wesley Morris interview (love how he talks and writes about race and culture - it's nuanced and thought-provoking) and the Michael Pollan episode was inspiring and had me in stitches.

While I don't write much for work these days (aside from short things like recipe wraps), I've thoroughly enjoyed the shift to editing stories and supervising videos. It's unusual work because it's invisible work, but there is something immensely satisfying about shifting words around on a page and making subtle (and sometimes big) tweaks to make a story the best it can be. Most recently, I felt privileged to edit this story by Ben, who had his prostate removed at 36 and is now trying to start a family after cancer.

And now for something silly. This puttanesca-inspired baked risotto might be my favourite Hetty McKinnon recipe ever. I first made it after a long weekend trip to Sydney when I was a little weary and craving a home cooked meal. It was fast and comforting and I loved the addition of lemon juice.

Then one Monday night I figured I'd make a double batch to share with a friend... which almost overflowed πŸ˜‚ Tony helped me save it, which involved transferring it to another slightly bigger but still too-small pan at the end and I am proud to say the giant batch of risotto survived and no one cried or yelled.


Hello weekend

28 June 2019

I hope you've had a good week. Mine went by in a flash, with yoga classes, work, lots of yummy things to eat (baked risotto, creamy soups!), tiny pockets for reading and voice memos exchanged with my brother. This weekend, I'll be roasting a chicken, testing a couple of recipes (making another bread and butter pudding, because every now and then I burn something) and hopefully watching a movie too. Some things to share:

Friends, family and workmates have recommended The Recording Studio and I finally watched an episode on Monday night. It's such a lovely concept and comes with all of the emotions that you get from watching Queer Eye.

Also entrancing (in a very different way) watching a pastry chef try and make a Twix from scratch. A Twix was bought and consumed in the days afterwards.

On my to-make list, this shell pasta bake with cauliflower, ricotta and spinach.

Two movies on my to-watch list, If Beale Street Could Talk. I missed this at the movies and it's based on a James Baldwin book and directed by Barry Jenkins (of Moonlight). Also Free Solo.

The High Low podcast has been especially great lately, and I loved this snap of hosts Pandora and Dolly recording their first episode.

Finally, a creamy one-pot pasta from Julia Ostro that is lemony and comforting, and super quick to make.

Have a lovely weekend!


Good habits

24 June 2019

When things get busy, most of my good habits start to slide. This happened recently and I found myself I dropping yoga classes in favour of sleep, forgetting to make plans with friends, and getting lazy with meal prep too. Suddenly, I was in the middle of a flat spell and wondering why. Thankfully a trip to Sydney and time with friends snapped me right out of it, and now I'm keen to make sure these five things are part of most weeks:

A good book and time to read

Reading gets my off my phone and out of my head too. Recently I read Educated by Tara Westover (it barely lasted a day!), Heartburn by Nora Ephron (wanted to love it more and was bothered by a coupled of lines), and then something super funny, Calypso by David Sedaris. Currently on reserve at the library, The Farm by Joanne Ramos, Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. I'd also love to read Sloane Crosley's first book of essays, I Was Told There'd Be Cake.

Good-for-me meals and snacks

When I'm not feeling my greatest, I'm often not eating well either. Sometimes it comes from travelling and eating out non-stop. When that happens, I try to make an extra effort to eat well. The cheat's version is a green smoothie, and then returning to good-for-me staples like oats, leafy greens, roasted veggies, avocado on toast, soups and veggie-filled dinners.

Weekend and after-work plans

I used to crave downtime at home, but lately nothing makes me cheerier than catch ups with friends. My introverted-self is shocked πŸ™ˆLately we've been going to friend's places for mid-week dinners, heading to more art openings, and I've been making an effort to book things ahead of time. Next month we have tickets to see the Adam Goodes doco The Final Quarter, as well a reservation for a cheese, potato salad and sorbet night (!).

Exercise and remembering to go outside

I've just gone back to morning yoga classes and have discovered that it's just the first 15 minutes of the day that are hard - in between the alarm going off and making it out the door. And someone recently joked that the first 15 minutes of any day are hard, no matter what time you get up. And something I can easily forget to do in winter... is to go outside. But lately I've been taking breaks to go for walks, or walking instead of driving whenever I can. The air is super fresh and our new neighbourhood is especially lovely for exploring.


Hello weekend

20 June 2019

Hello! What do you have planned for this weekend? I'm looking forward to lots of little things, like going for a mountain walk with friends, making a bread and butter pudding (with brioche and chocolate ), and visiting a ramen pop-up on Sunday night. I'm also starting the weekend a day early, to make up for some big weeks at work. So excited! Lots of things to share this week:

Times I think people are upset with me. Made me lol.

A gorgeous rental home in Portugal with a flower-filled garden and a tiny fridge. Bonus: reflections on life after an overseas move.

Why Hong Kong is still protesting - an excellent and fascinating explainer from The Daily.

Looks yum and easy - spaghetti with garlic, cheese and lots of kale.

And for after dinner, miniature chocolate pots that take five-minutes to make.

Loved Esther Perel's interview on Conversations. But really, I love anything she says/does.

We watched Juilet, Naked the other night and loved it as a Sunday night flick. It's based on a Nick Hornby book (think High Fidelity, About a Boy) and we watched it with Chinese takeaway and  Messina choc tops. It was so relaxing.

I've been getting back into granola for post-yoga breakfasts at work and can recommend this honey spice version and a comforting old favourite, peanut butter and honey granola.

A creamy sweet potato curry that I turn too when I've had too much pasta. It has lots of good-for-you ingredients, like spinach, chickpeas, ginger and garlic and I love the addition of lime. And at Heidi's recommendation, I've been eating it with noodles instead of rice. Game changer.

Also, Thalia Ho's dark chocolate crinkle cookies are chewy and brownie-like. And the recipe makes 30-plus cookies. Win.

Catch you next week.


Life lately

15 June 2019

This last fortnight has been filled with work trips, weekends away and time with friends. Much cake has been consumed and there's also been little pockets of downtime for peppermint tea and reading blogs before work. The busyness and travel helped me shake some early winter blues (phew!) and I'm feeling inspired and energised again. Here's a little recap...

Sydney long weekend:
Towards the end of 2014, when I was still living in Wagga Wagga, I moved in with my friend Angie and her partner Dave for four months, so I could backfill a job at RN in Sydney. I have the best memories of that time and knew I'd definitely want to be back in town for their engagement party. They're the best at celebrating other people, travelling to Wagga Wagga for my first birthday in a new place and returning for Tony's PhD exhibition, and I couldn't wait to return the favour.

We drove to Sydney on the Queen's Birthday long weekend for their engagement lunch, timing our trip so we could stop off for cake along the way in Collector. There was so much eating ahead! The party was a late lunch featuring big share plates of roast lamb, baked salmon and plenty of hot chips. My friend Irini also organised a giant ricotta cake for dessert.

Later that night we went round to Angie and Dave's place for a cosy track pants hang (the best). She served a herby pumpkin soup, warm baguettes, gooey cheeses, and smoked olives. We went home with a tub of the special olives and the soup recipe was sent via Whatsapp the next day. I can't wait to recreate the whole meal at home soon.

Perfect Sydney Sunday: 
We had a lazy Sunday filled with all of the good things - yum cha with Tony's family, a trip to the Art Gallery of NSW (I loved seeing Sally M. Nangala Mulda's work in The National), a browse at my favourite bookstore Kinokuniya, and then a fancyish dinner in Newtown.

I was about to buy a magazine from Kinokuniya out of habit, when I made a last minute decision to switch things up. It's how I ended up taking Ella Risbridger's book Midnight Chicken home. It could be the most delightful cookbook I've encountered in some time. I love Ella's writing style - her instructions are friendly and personal. The book is also very much about the meals she lives for that've helped her through overwhelming times. I cannot recommend it enough as a book to read that also makes you want to cook.

Trips for work:
This past fortnight has also been a busy one for work travel. I flew to Brisbane for a shoot that took us to a beautiful pier. One of the locations was conveniently a cafe, which meant we could stop for our lunch break and enjoy a little seafood.

Then it was back to Sydney for some training. The days were big, so I kept my nights pretty simple. It was all comfort activities - like an after work yin class, a donburi at a tiny Japanese restaurant, tea and TV in bed. For Christmas, my parents gave me a KOI dessert bar voucher (bless!), which happens to be right by the Sydney office. So one night there may have also been fancy cake in bed. And a favourite new tradition - on my last night I had dinner with two of my besties. We shared oysters, squid, ramen bolognese and ice cream sandwiches, and it was heart and tummy filling.

Home again: 
Coming home has been really nice. No mental reminders of where I need to be at a particular time, just my favourite things like yoga, market runs, toast and coffee :) I stocked up on specialty coffee and hot chocolate in Sydney, and am feeling ready for the next few weeks. Next up - a super low key movie date at home, with Messina choc tops and a comedy we missed at the cinema.

Hope you've been well and are keeping warm!