Blue skies and burgers

23 January 2020

We had a full weekend of clear, clean air last week, the first in a month or so. It was more than a relief to see the sky again - it was exciting! We rejoiced at the sight of clouds, the sound and feel of the wind that you completely miss when your shut up indoors. Even hearing birds and passing cars was a novelty. And then we tried to pack all of the things we wanted to do over our Christmas break into two days. We went for walks, ate burgers outside at the brewery, made plans to ride to the movies. We finally watched Little Women, which I adored and might rewatch at the cinema. We fell asleep with the windows wide open (a little nervously at first).

The smoke hasn't returned but it has been a very eventful week of damaging hail storms and fires burning in Canberra. We've been lucky and safe but are feeling exhausted from all of the activity and updates. We have a couple of plans for the long weekend - a family lunch, a picnic brekkie with visiting friends and a birthday lunch for my sister and brother-in-law. It's also Chinese New Year's Eve on Friday night, so I'll be stocking up on red packets and filling them with money for our nieces and nephews. It's a favourite tradition from my childhood that is so exciting to share.

For your long weekend:

Podcast eps to enjoy

The Motherhood Sessions is back.

Behind the scenes with Little Women food stylist Christine Tobin.

I've been listening to so many Greta Gerwig interviews lately and while this one is from 2016, it has so plenty of gems from the writer, actor and director, like the idea of taking an unsteady step in the right direction.

Things to make and eat

How to make Nutella whipped cream. YUM.

Going to try sourdough hot cross buns this year - maybe even this weekend.

Hetty McKinnon's ultimate veggie burger is based on the Shake Shack 'Shroom burger and may be better than a cheeseburger. A roasted portobello mushroom is stuffed with cheese, then crumbed and fried. I also love the loaded mayo and smashed potatoes with seaweed salt in this recipe.

I made Smitten Kitchen's Everyday Chocolate Cake for a work gathering and it was as good as the picture suggests and made our apartment smell amazing.

From Heidi's book, the recipe for Joan's chocolate clair bars, which remind me of a caramel slice only they're much nuttier and better for you. I love them as a pre-yoga snack.

This roast chicken and mango salad looks delish.

And for anyone wanting to eat less meat this year, here's my wrap of ABC Life's best vegetarian dinners. I make the tomato linguini, the baked risotto and potato frittata often.

And a couple of long reads

I've written a little about my efforts to work out whether having kids are for me or not, and have edited a couple of stories about the topic in recent weeks. And so when I stumbled across a reference to Rebecca Solnit's essay The Mother of All Questions (what a great title) in Jia Tolentino's book Trick Mirror, I was super keen to read it. Leaving it here in case you'd like to read it too.

If you're a fan of The Daily, this piece about its rise and its host Michael Barbaro is fascinating.

Peach pie, 99c rentals and mini goals

14 January 2020

Mondays are much easier when you know there's a slice of pie in the fridge with your name on it (and ice cream in the freezer). I made a peach pie over the weekend using Sophie Hansen's recipe, which is right at the end of this post. Summer pies are simpler than winter ones, because the filling doesn't need to be cooked beforehand. I reckon I'll make one more before stone fruit season is out.

It is still smokey here in Canberra but we've had a couple of days where the air quality has been safe, which has made everyone feel a little lighter and free. We had a really fun weekend, cooking from The Silver Spoon Classic, a Christmas present from my youngest brother and his fiancee. We had friends round for pie, went back to yoga and watched Long Shot. I read that it was the best underrated rom com of 2019, it also happened to be a 99c rental on Apple. It stars Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron and was super fun - the soundtrack is great too.

I'm also making sourdough again. I made a starter over the holidays using a recipe from the Flour & Stone cookbook and am turning out my best loaves ever. It's so exciting, especially because I've given up in the past when it was time-consuming and unsuccessful. These latest loaves are crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and quite sour too. I'm using recipes from this American zine and have also made sourdough tortillas and crumpets. At the moment, I'm baking weekly and we're making a thing of eating it fresh. I made a batch of broccoli, lemon and Parmsean soup on Sunday night in preparation for our Monday loaf.

Finally, I'm setting three small goals for each week, something I learnt from doing a 12-week 'reset' journal last year. They're less outcome orientated and more about how I'd like to feel and what I'd like to do during the week. They're kind of like this - only without the daily tasks/reminders. I'm easing myself into the new year :)

Little moments of calm

07 January 2020

This morning the air was clear rather than smoky so I ate breakfast with the windows open, reading a few favourite blogs that have returned for 2020. Tony made me a coffee even though he was on his way out, and I munched on a thick slice of peanut butter toast. The previous night we'd stood at the balcony door, watching and listening to the short burst of rain.

Days before, Canberra had been blanketed in heavy smoke that had blown in from Saturday's catastrophic bushfires. The same fires that burned fiercely on New Year's Eve and that have been burning for months. On the high-alert days, we check the news and Twitter constantly, and hold our breath for the people, property and animals in its path and the firefighters on the front. We donate a bit more money to everyone who is helping (here's a handy list if you're keen).

And now, I take distractions wherever they come, whether it's reading a story about a penguin spotted in Tasmania before bed or hosting an impromptu afternoon tea for neighbours, also holed up in their apartments waiting for the bushfire smoke to pass (and trying not to panic). I wanted to share some of them here, be warned, it's a very eclectic mix:

The montage of Tom Hanks films played at the recent Golden Globes is fun and uplifting.

I watched this very funny interview with Alison Roman and became an instant fan of Samantha Irby, the writer from Chicago who interviewed her. Here's a hilarious excerpt from her book.

Rough Night is on Netflix and clever and funny.

And after seeing a million clips on Instagram, I'm planning to watch the Mary Berry baking special with the royals, cos why not.

Please keep safe and take care of those around you. And send me funny animal videos or other things that are making you smile.