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!


Hello long weekend

06 June 2019

This week I ended up taking a day trip to Brisbane. It was a big day but there was also seafood, sunshine and filming right by the sea. I also got to record some audio after a year-long break (I'm mainly office based these days!). We're off to Sydney this long weekend for an engagement party and to catch up with family too. It's been awhile since we've been on a holiday, and there are plans for yum cha and gallery hopping. I'm so looking forward to hanging out with friends and am also hoping we'll make it to a favourite cafe for breakfast.  I hope your weekend is lovely, whatever you're up to. Here are a few things to share:

Esther Perel on Death, Sex and Money reflecting on her twenties, thirties and the beauty of intergenerational friendships. This podcast episode lifted my week. Fun fact: The guest interviewer is the actress who played Maeby in Arrested Development!

A wintry lunch for friends (with soup and an upside down cake for dessert!).

I watched Ali Wong's Netflix movie Always Be My Maybe last weekend. It blows my mind that there are American-Asian romantic comedies these days!

Loved this essay on finding happiness, written by an almost 90 year old. A favourite quote included in the piece, from philosopher George Santayana, "To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring." Via Erin.

I also enjoyed this interview with blogger Erin Boyle, of Reading My Tea Leaves, on the Hey, Girl podcast. I especially liked her thoughts on opting out when it comes to possessions, expectations and even social media.

Another podcast recommendation that had me thinking about work, serendipity and having the courage to speak your mind.

And a three-cheese pasta bake from Hetty McKinnon, which she describes as a deconstructed spinach and ricotta cannelloni. Yum.

P.S I'll be travelling for work next week and will catch you when I'm back in Canberra!

Dinner plans

One Friday night, after an exceptionally busy week, I was lying on the floor of our spare room mindlessly scrolling through Instagram when I remembered some advice from a friend. At the time I was hungry, a little delirious and trying to decide whether it quicker to get takeaway or make gozleme as planned at home.

I chose the latter and instead of texting Tony to see when he might be home, I took my friend Marina's relationship advice and called to say 'help!' instead. Her advice is good - it's about not expecting your partner to read your mind.

Tony was back within half an hour and we started making gozleme together and catching up on our days. It was a good reminder to cook together more often, instead of divvying it up during the week.

We made Hetty McKinnon's kale, mint and haloumi gozleme, which looked like giant dumplings! They brown slowly on the stove, which meant that by the time dinner was ready, the washing up was already done too :)

Hello weekend

31 May 2019

This week I embraced all of the winter things, from rugging up and going on bracing walks, to making apple sauce (with cinnamon and brown sugar) to stir into porridge, and squeezing in plenty of couch time. I also blitzed through Educated, after finding a second hand copy for $3. It's such a riveting memoir and quite disturbing in parts.

I'm heading to sunny Brisbane for work next week but before then, we're planning to ride our bikes to a first birthday party (at a brewery!), and tuck into lots of homemade comfort food like curry, pasta soup and chocolate cake. To share:

Lots of TV because it's been cold. I'd heard a lot about Fleabag from friends, blogs and podcasts. I watched the first episode this week (on iView). Tony and I both really liked it and we'll keep watching :)

I've also been dipping into Dead to Me on Netflix after hearing about it on The High Low. It feels a little trashy but it's also addictive and fun.

I found another dream holiday destination. A cabin in the woods just outside of Melbourne with all of the nice things. Obsessed.

This week's work-lunch lifesaver was pesto made with leftover rocket via Lee Tran Lam. We put it on toast, in sambos, and mixed it through salads. Eggs would work too!

There are few things more comforting than a mac and cheese. I have a favourite recipe, but this Nigella version with sweet potato came highly recommended this week.

Finally, two pieces of wisdom that have greatly improved my week, both from Cup of Jo. Last weekend, when I was feeling a bit anxious about some upcoming travel (three trips in two weeks!), I read a comment quoting Gretchen Rubin. "She said, 'Have trouble deciding whether or not to choose a course of action? Like - whether or not to get a dog? Try this: Choose the bigger life.'" So powerful.

And this made me laugh at the end of a long day (which included a 12 hour long headache πŸ˜‘): "In the words of Lemony Snicket, 'Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like.' But sometimes you do like them." One of my colleagues is always coming up with detailed metaphors for things that happen in life and at work, so this made me laugh and think of her. The whole post, about life and all of its surprises is delightful.


Two interesting takes on #MeToo (from men)

27 May 2019

A couple of weekends ago, I tuned into two stories about the #MeToo movement that had me nodding yes. They were both stories about apologies, one real and one fictional, that get to the heart of what this moment could mean for men and women.

The first was part of a This American Life episode called Get a Spine! In it, there's a long clip of an apology, delivered on a podcast, which is detailed and awkward in parts. It's from a TV writer, who created the show Community, and addresses another TV writer, a younger woman who was his employee at the time. The episode includes an interview with the woman who accepted the apology but also takes a close look at exactly how it came about (with plenty of prompting), and the impact its had on her life.

Then later that night, when we needed a break from watching the election results come in, Tony put on an episode of Easy, a Netflix show that's loosely about sex, relationships and technology. It was an episode with Marc Maron, and Tony said it stood out as being one of the first times he'd seen #MeToo acknowledged and unpacked on screen. There were some serious parallels between the story from This American Life and it was equal parts cringeworthy and funny too. If you're curious, it's an episode from season three called Blank Pages.

Hello weekend

23 May 2019

Hello! We're getting ready for another long weekend here in Canberra and I am ready. It's been a bit of a crazy week 😜 To unwind I'll be making chocolate cookies, watching Beyonce's Homecoming, and making some french toast on Sunday which is forecast to be rainy. Thank you for being here - a couple of things to share:

How good does this bowl of udon with chicken and garlicky peanut sauce look?? Definitely going on my to-make list.

Loved this - what makes you come alive?

I also enjoyed Louis Theroux's Desert Island Discs interview, where he touches on how he got his start in TV and developed his approach to documentary making (via The High Low).

I used to work with Alex and when I heard that he was quitting his job to travel and write, I was surprised and a little envious! On Instagram it can look like plenty of crosswords, cups of tea, and playing in the snow but he shares what it's been like in the low points too.

Confession: I have never made a skillet brownie. But I do have very good memories of eating one (in a tiny skillet-for-one) as a kid at Tony Roma's ribs in the America! Love to make one for my next dinner party.

And a silky pasta and bean soup from Julia (Ostro). I loved this soup so much and am planning to make it again soon! Fun fact: It makes your house smell like rosemary.


Life lately

19 May 2019

We've been hanging art these last few weekends, which has made our apartment feel like home - just in time for winter. So far the cooler days have been exciting - an excuse to enjoy heartier dinners and hot cocoa. They've also been a good reminder to spend time outside when the sun is out. Election day was especially lovely, it was sunny and warm, and we took our time at the sausage sizzle and cake stalls, just taking it all in. It's been a lazy weekend and I wanted to share a couple of notes from the last month or so:

We didn't really hang much art in our last place, mainly because the walls were brick and difficult to screw into. Since then, the rules have changed for tenants in Canberra, and you can put up as many 3M sticky-hooks as you'd like without asking for permission. We're onto our fourth packet but we're also taking our time, hanging two or three pieces each week and just seeing how we go.

On our walls are some of Tony's paintings (the one above the sofa was a gift from my birthday last year), plus pieces we've bought or been gifted. The blue and white one is by Canberra artist Emma Beer. When my niece visited over Easter, she was excited to ride the lift and said that she'd been "to a hotel home" like this before. Adding art has definitely taken added colour to our place, and taken the anonymous edge off too!

It's also been cold enough for a few morning fogs, which can be surreal because our apartment in quite high, with a view of the mountains. When it's foggy, I wander out of bed to put the coffee on and it feels like our apartment is in the middle of a cloud.

Cooking and eating: 
I'm into fun soups at the moment, which is new for me! I tend to be more excited about pasta for dinner than soup, but then I made a soup with pasta and beans and changed my mind (recipe coming soon!). I'm planning try two new ones soon, a sunshine-y lemon soup and a black bean tortilla soup from Hetty McKinnon's latest cookbook. I've started doing my market shop on a Friday afternoon, after work. It's something I really look forward to, and the shops are pretty quiet. I take my time buying food for the week, which also means my entire weekend is errand free.

We've also been spending time with heaps of friends and family lately, which has helped me see that comfort food is made even better when enjoyed with comfort people :) We've shared everything from cheesy moussaka to hot chunks of freshly baked banana cake, silky quiches and doughnuts of late.

And nothing tells you that the seasons are changing quite like your favourite apple stand shutting for another year. Most weekends, I've been driving to a nearby orchard to buy freshly picked pink lady and granny smith apples. It's one of my favourite rituals of the week, and one I was excited to share with my parents when they were recently in town. The owners say they'll be back in early Feb, 2020. I may have bought 3.5 kilos of apples on their last weekend.

Maybe it's the season but I'm easing off on a few things and trying to slow down and enjoy myself where I can. I'm still doing a few yoga classes a week but have added some slower, stretchier ones in and am leaving more days between classes.

I am also three-quarters of the way through this planner. Tracking my goals, priorities, schedule and feelings over the last two months has helped me see that my best days are the one where I leave room for changes and surprises. On work days and weekends.

I have also been hugely inspired by my recent Ruth Reichl deep dive! I read three of her memoirs in a row - Garlic and Sapphires, Save Me The Plums, and My Kitchen Year. The last book was a cookbook she wrote, almost like a diary, as she processed losing her job and the team she'd built. She approaches food with such curiosity, gusto and intuition. I am making one of her pastas for dinner tonight.

Fun stuff:
I'm listening to four podcasts religiously at the moment. The Death, Sex & Money maternity leave line up is a knock out. I've linked to a couple of episodes before, but I really liked Somebody Needs Me with GQ editor Will Welch and musician Jason Isbell in conversation. There's something special about two people who know each other talking about some pretty deep stuff while being recorded. Also regularly tuning into two Gimlet podcasts, The Motherhood Sessions (don't be put off by its title!), and Without Fail. Plus, Unstyled is back after a little hiatus.

Finally, cos we've been around a lot more, we've been enjoying all of the warming food Canberra cafes have been offering. I am all about soba noodles, ramen and toasties right now.


Life lately posts inspired by Heidi.

Hello weekend

16 May 2019

We have zero plans this weekend, I don't even have a recipe to test. So, aside from casting our votes (at the school with the best fete!), we'll be seeing where the days take us. I'd love to go for an afternoon walk, start reading a new book (I just picked up a copy of Boy Swallows Universe from the library and have heard great things), and maybe go out for dumplings. For your weekend:

Zucchini pasta has been on my mind lately - I love this version from the River Cafe with creme fraiche and lemon but am also intrigued by this one too, which features zucchini and zucchini flowers.

Love this thoughtful response to the question - 'Can I love my baby AND my work?'

If you feel like baking, ABC Life has a white chocolate and raspberry muffin that's surprisingly light. I served these over Easter and they were as popular (if not more so) than my hot cross buns!

And this sounds delicious - an extra lemony bundt cake with buttermilk. You brush sugar and citrus syrup over the cake when it's fresh out of the oven, which reminds me of a orange cake my mum used to bake.

Can you research becoming a parent? (Or did you?)

15 May 2019

Confession: for the longest time (and especially after I turned 30), I've paid special attention to books, podcasts, blog posts... anything really that touched on what it's like being a parent - a mother in especially. I've read birth stories from blogs, was obsessed with a podcast where a couple tries to work it out for themselves, and consumed countless novels and non-fiction books on the topic.

Initially it was out of curiosity but as I edged into my early-to-mid thirties, part of my interest was genuine problem-solving. Could I do the work and discover whether or not I am meant to be a parent (or would like to see if it's a possibility)?

In 2018, I was especially focussed in my research, so much so that a co-worker with a similar approach gently suggested I take a break. I ignored her advice until I read this essay by Sloane Crosley called The Doctor Is a Woman last December. For a story about fertility in your thirties it's surprisingly funny. This line stood out: "... as a literate female, it's difficult to control the flow of stories debating the merits of motherhood..."

There was something about that particular essay that made me stop seeking out more material to consume. It also freed up a chunk of brain space that had been freaking out about making a call either way. While I still think about whether or not Tony and I will have kids (it's something we talk about often), it's no longer an anxiety or a problem that needs to be solved. At least for now.

The only thing on the topic of parenting (or not-parenting) I've tuned into recently is Motherhood Sessions, a podcast that I knew of but wasn't sure was for me until Erin described it as a show that explores the "psychological big-bang" of motherhood.

I've listened to two episodes so far and they remind me of Death, Sex & Money and Esther Perel's Where Should We Begin? combined. A reproductive psychiatrist hosts the show and sometimes I let my brain drift back into research-mode but most of the time they're just fascinating stories. This episode about rethinking your cultural identity and roots after motherhood is especially good.

Sunday morning

11 May 2019

Ever since the Easter long weekend, I've been rethinking Sundays. Now that it's cooler, it makes less sense to jump out of bed and head to yoga or do a market run. Instead I want to sleep in, drink cups of tea, and eat breakfast in my jammies.

The other night, I was having dinner with some workmates and the conversation turned to the weekend and what we typically get up to. I loved hearing about how different our days were, and especially loved learning about weekly family rituals.

As a kid, Sunday morning meant croissants. Sometimes they came from the freezer, out of Sara Lee cardboard boxes, the foil trays slipped into the oven to warm while my dad made orange juice. When we were a little older, they were bought freshly made, with one or two kids joining my dad for an excursion to a nearby bakery. They sold croissants the size of plates - more crab-like in shape than crescent. Going to a bakery meant other pastries and desserts were on offer. My littlest brother would almost always get an apricot or apple danish, and I'd go between individual custard tarts and apple pies dusted in sugar.

Right now, I'm settling into Sundays being the only day of the week without an alarm. It's been pretty easy :) We take turns making coffee and breakfast, but usually start the day lazing around with tea and books in bed. I'm keeping my plans for the day simple too, which means more time for sitting on the couch and zoning out.

Hello weekend

09 May 2019

The temperature has suddenly dropped in Canberra and I've been settling into some cold weather routines - making stock at night, and stopping for a hot cocoa and a chapter of my book on my way to work.

All week, my head has been buried in Ruth Reichl's memoir. It's prompted me to think quite deeply about food and recipes and the role they play in my life and at work, which has been exciting. To that end, I have only a handful of internet-y things to share:

Ruth related - if you're also a fan, her interview on the Salt and Spine podcast is lovely, whether you're reading her memoir or not.

I'm also planning to make her spicy sausage spaghetti sometime soon, it's dead easy and the nicest way to spend an afternoon.

Speaking of comfort food, I loved Heidi's take on cottage pie for ABC Life. The pomegranate molasses is a small but genius addition. I had the best time making the pie last Sunday night - even the process is comforting.

A sweet piece on loving the home you're in with all of its quirks.

Finally, have you ever had a Swedish apple pie? A friend served one the other night and said it was her go-to last minute dessert. Instead of making pastry, the apples cook under a quick dough that tastes just like pie crust. It tasted insane, and I can't wait to try it.

P.S Does your family celebrate Mother's Day? My parents are visiting from Sydney this weekend and I've gone with a simple seasonal gift of my favourite oats, some hand cream, and a bag of locally grown apples.


Hello weekend

03 May 2019

Happy May! Isn't it crazy to think we're in the last month of autumn? I'll be taking an early mark from work this afternoon and getting the food shop done, so I have fewer reasons to get out of bed in the mornings and more time to cook, potter and read over the weekend.

All week I've been looking forward to making zuppa inglese, which is like a trifle and a tiramisu combined (I bought my ingredients on Tuesday!). We'll be taking some over to a friend's place on Saturday night and cuddling their baby Summer. I'm also taking Tony out to dinner tonight! To share this week:

Christina Tosi has a mug cake recipe.

"It wasn't a sheet mask or a manicure or a bubble bath". How one woman found self care in a pair of discounted pyjama pants via Erin.

Sweet instructions for a really nice day. Nutella is involved.

Have you watched Street Food on Netflix? It's a new series from the creators of Chef's Table and it's been recommended to me a couple of times this week.

Planning to make Nigella's eggs in purgatory soon, for a quick mid-week meal.

Looking forward to digging into this NY Times special that has a lot of people talking: How to shop, cook and eat in a warming world.

And the ABC Life recipe for this week is a pumpkin soup with a kick. It comes from Hetty McKinnon, who has added Thai red curry spices and crunchy coconut cashews (which my friends ate by the handful when they tried the soup). I also loved editing Hetty's story about how she went from being a carnivorous kid to a vegetarian food writer.

Have a happy weekend.


Two fun things to listen to in the kitchen (or anywhere)

28 April 2019

I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen these past few days. There was a double batch of mac and cheese with gruyere and caramelised onions - one for our freezer and another for friends. I also made a whole lemon lemonade with rosemary, more Anzac bikkies, and tortellini from scratch that had us dining at 10.30pm (!). Keeping me in the company in the kitchen...

The TASTE podcast, which I stumbled across while Googling podcast episodes with Ruth Reichl. It's an interview podcast which features some of my favourite cooks, from Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman to Christina Tosi, Alison Roman and Dorie Greenspan. I've loved hearing about their perspectives on food and cooking. It's not a new podcast - it's been running for about a year - but at the moment, it's my favourite thing to listen to while making a meal. I'm super keen to sample their daily podcast during the week.

And because sometimes it's nice to just zone out and listen to music, I've also had Anderson .Paak's new album Ventura on repeat. It's kind of old school and new at the same time and very sunny. My brother Derrick messaged me months ago to say I'd like his music - and this is my fave album of his so far.

Have a lovely week ahead. I am a tiny bit nervous about heading back to work after so many days off. I'll miss messing around the kitchen, going out for coffee, and crisp Autumn walks. All things that can be done during the working week, just not all on the same day :)

Hello weekend

26 April 2019

And just like that it's the weekend again :) On Saturday we'll be having Emiko Davies's tortellini with meat sauce for dinner. It's a two-day project that involves making the sauce and leaving it to rest so the flavours can develop. Tomorrow I'll make some fresh pasta and the tortellini filling. We'll also be celebrating my nephew's third birthday with cake (and a toy dinosaur), and meeting a friend's new puppy.

Four quick things to share this week, because the Internet's been down at our place and it's only just been fixed. Fun fact: It was my fault.

A five-minute chocolate pudding that makes me think of Yogo (but is probably healthier).

How beautiful does this mentorship between two bakers sound? It's also a lovely reminder of all the different ways we can check in with the people we love.

I had no idea that Jonathan Van Ness was learning to figure skate but loved the sentiment of this article about why it's so great to watch him learn a new skill, falls and all.

And I made these spiced potato wedges last night and served them with some pan-fried white fish and plenty of lemon. It was so very comforting.


Autumn notes

23 April 2019

Long weekends are lovely but having four-days off in a row is especially magical. There's time for everything, from sleep-ins and catch ups with friends, to tackling the last of the unpacking. I went back to work today and already miss lazy pyjama mornings and grazing on Easter eggs throughout the day. To keep the holiday vibes going, I wanted to share a few things I've been enjoying lately, from a classic podcast to surprise dates.

Two new cookbooks:
I bought a copy Nigella Lawson's 1998 book How To Eat right before Easter, after listening to so many stories about its 20 year anniversary. It is as excellent as everyone says it is, though I'm glad I'm reading it now after I've built some confidence and skills in the kitchen. I also loved this conversation between Nigella and Samin Nosrat that covered everything from cooking for yourself to being a TV personality who isn't skinny.

I also ordered Simple Cake by Odette Williams, who is an Australian living in Brooklyn. It's the loveliest book of cake recipes, with 10 cakes and 15 toppings, and lots of suggestions for when to make, eat and gift cake. I got so hungry while flipping through the book one night that I had to go and defrost some cake from the freezer before I could continue.

New recipes to share: 
Speaking of frozen baked goods, my freezer is full of them at the moment, leftover from recipe tests for work. First there was a chocolate olive oil cake with a super glossy ganache. I decorated mine with cacao nibs for crunch and sea salt too.

I also commissioned a special Anzac biscuit. Part of the recipe involves browning butter, and when you mix in the honey it smells like honey joys. I can also recommend Anzac biscuit ice cream sandwiches, which we wrap in foil and leave in the freezer to soften. The best.

Homemade pasta has also made a reappearance at our house, partly because we're more settled but also because we're rewatching The Trip to Italy, the TV series this time instead of the movie. Over the long weekend, I also made Alison Roman's olive oil roasted tomato sauce for the freezer, so we can have this tomato and anchovy bucatini down the track.

Surprise dates:
Surprise dates are still going strong in our house :) They started about a year ago, inspired by a Japanese reality show. Basically one of us will invite the other out for a mystery outing, with the asker organising and shouting. In the beginning, the dates were quite fancy and involved dinners at favourite restaurants usually reserved for special occasions. 

Lately they've been a bit more low key. Last Sunday Tony took me to a ramen pop-up and then for hot cross bun gelato, which I loved. Next on my list... a lasagne and movie night at home, two of Tony's favourite things. I'm just waiting for the movie he missed at the cinema to come out on iTunes.

A favourite podcast: 
The first podcast I ever listened to was This American Life. My friend Vanessa told me about it, shortly after I moved from Sydney to Wagga Wagga. I spent a lot of time driving when I lived there, mainly to different country towns and back again, sometimes spending 5 hours on the road in a day. The TAL back catalogue kept me entertained on those long solo drives but I switched to shorter podcasts when I moved to Canberra, to match my new commute.

I've started listening again - this time during long stints in the kitchen, usually when Tony's at the studio painting. I've really missed this kind of surprising and emotional storytelling. Some episodes (old and new) that I've especially loved - No Fair!, Left Behind, Unconditional Love, Anything Can Be Anything.

Something nerdy - this is one of my favourite stories from This American Life. It's only five minutes but so very visual.  


Ready for Easter!

18 April 2019

I love spending Easter at home. By this time of year, I'm often ready for a break and a lazy one at that. This one also has more days off than usual, and I've taken the Friday off after Anzac Day to make two long weekends in a row :)

Over the extra long Easter weekend, we're planning to cycle round Lake Burley Griffin with a picnic (I'm making these pressed mozzarella sambos and will pack some lunch dessert too!), host an Easter egg hunt for my niece and nephew, and have some friends from Wagga Wagga around for soup. I also want to see the giant candle sculpture at the NGA - its head fell off the other day!

I'm also planning to spend a good chunk of time curled up on the couch, reading my fave magazine which arrived from America just in time! I'm also enjoying Ruth Reichl's memoir about her time as a NY Times food critic and Michel Lewis's podcast, Against The Rules, I've recommended the first episode to at least four separate people this week.

Two more things: this heartfelt ep of Death, Sex and Money (the maternity leave line up to fill in for Anna Sale is really lovely), and a creamy cauliflower pasta from Alison Roman.

Finally, a little tradition for Easters at home, I've just picked up a pretty bunch of Autumnal flowers for our place.

Have a lovely and relaxing Easter.