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 😂 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.