Spring long weekend plans

29 September 2019

It may still be Sunday afternoon but I'm already day dreaming about the long weekend that's right around the corner. My parents and brother will be in town to hang out and celebrate my niece's sixth birthday. We've talked about a fish and chip picnic by the lake, a trip to a late night Indonesian diner and we almost always end up at the local gelato shop - because my dad loves it.

My favourite thing to do on a long weekend (or any weekend really) is try a new and slightly more decadent recipe. Next weekend I'm planning to make braised beef short ribs and rice and serve an apple crisp with ice cream for dessert.

If you're planning an extra yummy meal too, I can highly recommend Ottolenghi's chicken marbella (roast chicken with dates, olives and capters) and baked saffron rice. I made both this weekend and we ate them in our friend's sunny backyard.

The best thing about this meal is that you can do most of the prep ahead of time - I marinated the chicken for the full two recommended days, turning it every now and then. The rice bakes in 25 minutes (and has onion, plenty of garlic and saffron) and stays warm, so you can easily bake it before the chicken and pack up both if you're heading to a picnic. It meant we could have a decent Sunday sleep in, blueberry bagels and coffee for brekkie before getting a start on the rice and then roasting the chicken. We were out of the house before 12!

Other plans for next weekend... getting stuck into Three Women (my library reserve finally came good) and a lakeside walk with friends from yoga (with a pit stop for homemade salted miso brownies). The only thing left to do is get through the working week ;) I'll be heading back to Sydney for a couple of days, which has been the best excuse to make a booking at Bella Brutta for pizza.

Have a lovely week!


Hello weekend

27 September 2019

After spending last weekend and much of this week recovering from a cold, I feel extra ready to soak up the sun, catch up with friends  and just be a bit more normal. On Sunday, we're making lunch with friends and planning the menu around Jewish new year. I'm making Chicken Marbella from Ottolenghi's book Simple, which my brother Derrick has made and loved. I'll be making a big pot of baked saffron rice too. Onto some good things to share:

A hand cream that smells of smoke and not flowers.

Current obsession: these strangely soothing Instagram dance videos.

Super excited to try Adam Liaw's five mushroom pasta next week, as recommended by Irini.

Lindsay Cameron Wilson's food writing always transports me to another place. I savoured her thoughts on marriage and coffee.

The behind the scenes of the Harvey Weinstein investigation episode of Fresh Air is fascinating, disturbing and well worth a listen. Via The High Low.

I'm reading A Half Baked Idea by Olivia Potts atm and every chapter ends with a recipe. A banana cake with Rolo cake sounds pretty genius to me.

Finally, an actually easy quiche from ABC Life with goats' cheese and asparagus. The filling is so wonderfully silky and I can see that this recipe is going to be so easy to adapt and play with.


Swedish apple pie

24 September 2019

My friend Andy introduced me to Swedish apple pie a few months ago and I've been hassling her for the recipe ever since. It's as comforting as a double crust apple pie (my favourite) but without the effort - it only takes 15 minutes to assemble. In my mind, that makes it a perfect weekday dessert and just the thing for this in between period as we transition from winter to spring (it snowed in Canberra just last week!). Here's a slightly tinkered version of Andy's recipe.

Swedish Apple Pie
Serves 4-6

You'll need:
4-6 Granny Smith apples, peel still on and cut into 3cm cubes
125g unsalted butter (half a block), cold and cut into cubes
125g caster sugar (1/2 cup)
125g plain flour (1 cup and 2 Tbsp)
Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Here's how:
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 24cm pie dish or baking dish with butter.

Wash and core your apples before chopping them into cubes that are around 3cm in size. Put these directly into your pie dish as you go - until it's almost full. You may only need 4-5 apples.

Make the pie crust by adding the sugar and flour to a medium sized bowl and lightly whisking to combine. Add the cubes of cold butter, pinching it into the flour mixture to incorporate. Once a dough starts to form, bring it together with your hands and lightly knead it. Roll it into a ball and then move it onto a floured surface. If you have time to rest it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, it might be sturdier to work with, and give you a smoother pie topping. I am never this patient.

Dust a rolling pin with flour and then carefully roll the dough until it's about 0.5-1cm thick and slightly bigger than your baking dish. It's a crumbly dough so you might have to stop midway to dust it with a bit more flour. When you're happy with the thickness, gently drape it over the apple mixture. If it breaks (mine always does), you can do it in pieces, tucking the apple in around the edges, and gently pressing the dough down to meld if it's become more of a patchwork crust.

At this point you could rest it in the fridge if you're making it in advance. You could also brush it with some egg wash and a sprinkling of raw sugar for extra crunch. It's also fine to go into the oven as is. Bake for 40-45 minutes on the middle shelf until it's golden brown and smelling great. Enjoy with ice cream!

Hello weekend

20 September 2019

I hope you've had a good week! The cold that's been sneaking up on me this past few days has finally hit, so I'm resting up and planning to make a favourite chicken noodle soup for dinner. It's a Nigel Slater recipe from his Kitchen Diaries cookbook with plenty of noodles, herbs and lemon. I am also craving... rocky road and chocolate-coated pretzels, which are my new favourite thing to buy from bulk foods stores :) For your weekend:

The latest season of Terrace House is here! The show is back in Tokyo. I'm four episodes in and am already hooked. It's moving much quicker than the previous series and some of the new housemates are great.

I'm loving this pretty Instagram account for food inspo and home styling ideas. Imogene's Sydney apartment is lovely too.

A new-to-me food site with super cute pantry tours!

Good statements for women to practice via Kellie.

And there's nothing like your fave diary coming online for 2020 to confirm that the year really is flying by. Thinking of choosing cornflower blue!

Have the best weekend X

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 😂

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).