Weird week

28 June 2020

This week was rough. On Wednesday I found out the project I've been working on is coming to an end in its current form. I also learned I'm in a redundancy pool and may lose my job.

It feels very very big and while I won't write too much more about it here (it's a process and I am still processing), it's going to be a key part of my life for the next little while. Please send chocolate 😂

In the meantime I am loving this bunting my niece Maeve made for me. It's currently strung above my desk. I am also wonderfully supported by dear friends, family, and work mates. The texts, calls and emails this week have been overwhelming in the best possible way.

Our friends Angie and Dave were visiting this weekend from Sydney. They brought us so many treats, including doughnuts. Tony and I ate them in bed on Saturday morning after waking up way too early. I'll share some pics of our weekend with them soon - we had so much fun.

Other things to share:

The most recent episode of Reply All is totally wild. It's about BLM in the US and the very strange ways some people are showing their support.

I also loved Wesley and Jenna's special edition of Still Processing via Zoom. They called it 'So Y'all Finally Get It' 🙌

The nicest story about one dude, hundreds of cakes and lockdown in Japan.

And I've also been zoning out with Nadiya's Time To Eat on Netflix. I made butter after watching episode 2 (and it only took me 5 minutes!)


Hello weekend

19 June 2020

Hello and happy weekend! It's been the sunniest week in Canberra, which helps me forget it's winter :) I have mainly baking plans for the days ahead, testing a chocolate and tahini banana bread for work and trying to get back into sourdough again after a few dud loaves. And because restrictions continue to ease in Canberra... I have the house to myself tonight for the first time in ages. I'm going to rent a movie and eat cinnamon doughnut ice cream after a long week. Some things to share:

My sister-in-law recommended Breasts and Eggs, a novel by Mieko Kawakami and I finished it this week. If you're a fan of Haruki Murakami's work I think you'll love it too. It surprised me in so many ways and I'm looking forward to seeking out more of her work.

Loved this 30 minute mellow yoga class, which has plenty of time between poses while still being challenging.

A Reckoning at Bon Appetit is a jaw-dropping episode of The Sporkful podcast.

Also excellent, a special episode of The Daily with culture critic Wesley Morris (love him) and Patti LaBelle.

Thursday night is fast becoming soup and baguette night at our place. This week I made this tomato soup (NY Times), and it was nostalgic and delicious!

SBS OnDemand is screening Zach's Ceremony, a doco that follows Sydney teenager Zach Doomadgee as he prepares for his initiation ceremony, a key part of his Indigenous culture. Get in before it expires on June 28!

Check out Hetty McKinnon's spinach dumplings - the pot sticker element is my favourite. It means the dumplings are both crispy and steamed. It's such a fun cooking project and so yummy.

Highly recommend this essay by Carvell Wallace about parenting black teens through protest and pandemic (NY Times). It's beautiful. Via Jenny, whose blog has been keeping me sane in iso!

Slightly obsessed with Chin Chin's cooking videos.

And not so much a recommendation as an idea. I made my workmate a house-warming playlist this week and it was so much fun! It's also a nice way to get around the mail being slow and no less personal.


Family reunion

15 June 2020

There have been so many milestones as the pandemic restrictions start to ease. There was our overnight trip to Sydney to witness a small wedding, having our first guests round for dinner and being able to meet up with friends again. Last Saturday, it was my family's turn to be together for the first time since Christmas 2018. With my brother back from New York, my parents, youngest brother and his wife making the trip from Sydney, the 12 of us were able to gather in Canberra for lunch.

It was Tony and my first time hosting a big family event and I'm so glad we did it! Space-wise, with a little reconfiguring of our apartment it just worked. My brother brought a trestle table, we used every chair we owned (from dining chairs, IKEA stools, outdoor chairs and our sofa), along with every plate, fork, cup and glass. I was super proud that we could do it - especially without buying anything specific for it other than food and napkins (I almost panic-bought paper plates).

I was a little bit nervous about cooking for a crowd, mainly because we have so little bench space. In the end I made a double batch of Julia Turshen's lasagne (with beef) because I'd made it before and it's magically simple and delicious. I cooked the sauce during my lunch break on Friday, mixed and rolled the pasta on Saturday morning, bought pre-grated cheese to make assembly easier and had everything ready to bake by 11.30am.

My family brought drinks, fresh bread and a big salad, which helped so much. I've only just realised that it makes a lot of sense to choose a main and a dessert from the same cookbook. It was the best excuse to try Julia's 'Happy wife, happy life' chocolate cake, with raspberry jam and sour cream chocolate icing. Not wanting to stress, I baked it the weekend before and froze the cake layers, icing it the night before. After making a wedding cake, icing a two-layer cake that doesn't need to be transported anywhere is a breeze!

The house was so full of life that afternoon and I felt extremely proud that we were able to host. I'm happy to report that my tiny bag of toys is still going strong, with Frozen snap being one of the best $5 additions.

It was a busy weekend - we had my brother Zac and his wife Hannah over for dinner on Thursday night, invited a friend round for coffee on Sunday and then we went out to dinner with my parents on the last night of their stay. Before lockdown, I preferred to do one social thing each weekend - two max. But I've noticed that I have a lot more energy and enthusiasm for any kind of hang out since I've been working at home. I think it's because I'm not tiring myself out commuting to work, packing my lunch, trying to get up early for yoga. It's made so much more brain space for the best stuff.

After everyone went home, we tidied up and ended up eating leftovers by candlelight and Ferrero Rochers on the couch - a gift from my sister. We just happened to have two slices of chocolate cake left over 😉 and I'm so looking forward to tucking into them tonight. This year has had so many emotional highs and lows, but this was one of the really good days.

Emoji pancakes, apple cake, day trip

14 June 2020

I treated myself to a NY Times Cooking subscription the other week (there's only so much screengrabbing you can do), which is how we ended up having buttermilk pancakes for brekkie last Saturday. I hadn't made them before and loved how fluffy they were, we served them emoji-style with a pat of salted butter and plenty of maple syrup.

It's been crazy nice to have two long weekends in a row - enough to make me want to work part-time! There's just enough time for everything from seeing family to sleeping in and trying new recipes.

On Sunday we drove to Bundanoon for the day to have lunch with Tony's family. We appreciate everything now, like a pretty sky on the drive out and the sheer novelty of seeing the horizon from a different perspective. It was a proper Sunday lunch with roast lamb followed by butterfly cakes lovingly made by my mother-in-law and niece.

We've been watching so much good telly lately. We both loved The Last Dance, a Netflix documentary series that follows the Chicago Bulls during Michael Jordan's last season. You don't have to be a basketball fan to really enjoy it, it's got so much in-built drama and characters to bring you into it. Plus the archive footage is amazing, I'd totally forgotten about players like Scotty Pippen!

We also watched mid90s, Jonah Hill's directorial debut. It's a skater movie and a coming-of-age story that's intense and great (and also on Netflix).

I'm starting to appreciate some of the nicer things the pandemic has brought us. I've been able to spend much more time with my family, online in the height of the lockdown and lately IRL. And I'm obsessed with doing yoga in my lounge room instead of a studio. I love doing online classes whenever suits instead of trying to arrange my work week and weekend around classes. It's one thing that's going to stay post-pandemic, which will keep saving me time and money :)

We also ordered make-at-home ramen last weekend which was so much fun!! I developed an obsession with ramen during our years in Wagga Wagga when it was hard to find. Ours was delivered on Saturday morning with super strict instructions for boiling the noodles and reheating the stock.

We are still picnicking in the sun whenever we can - even if it means packing puffer jackets. Last Monday it was salad wraps and apple cinnamon crumble cake, which is magically like apple cake, crumble and pie all in one. It's a new ABC Life recipe with one of the strangest techniques I've ever tried (you grate the butter straight into the tin like cheese) and it's seriously so good.

I'm a new fan of Maggie Beer's cooking demos on Instagram. I made her chicken and barley soup (using this whole poached chicken stock) and it was so full of flavour, especially for so few ingredients.

And I wanted to share a couple of Insta posts from the week, starting with black photographers talking to NPR about what it's been like to document the protests. This little dude and Bridget Brennan joining the panel of Insiders.



07 June 2020

A few Fridays ago I went for a chilly evening walk around the wetlands near our apartment. One of the walking tracks leads to a place called Dairy Road, so you often hear cows along the way and see them too. It makes me feel so far away from my computer and the city :)

I'm starting to feel a lot more confident about going out as more restrictions ease, which brings a certain lightness. Last Saturday we met up with friends in the park to celebrate a birthday. I made a batch of Odette William's vanilla cupcakes with mascarpone icing and packed some candles and matches. The morning fog lifted right after we sang happy birthday and it was so nice to be out in the sun with friends. Also, how sweet are birthdays with kids around? I love watching them delight in the novelty and deliciousness of it all.

That night we also saw my brother and sister-in-law for the first time in over a year. They've recently moved back to Australia from the US and I thought it might feel totally surreal to see them again given the circumstances. Mainly it just felt really nice, with so much to catch up on. Tony made fresh pasta with chilli, bacon and tomato sauce and it felt pretty crazy to be setting the table for guests after months of eating at home, just the two of us.

This week I've been glued to the news and social media once more, watching the Black Lives Matter protests unfold in the US and around the world. I've watched videos of police attacking protestors and the media and felt horrified.  I've also been moved by protestors singing 'Lean on Me' together in Washington and the story of Rahul Dubey, who sheltered protestors fleeing from police after curfew.

Earlier in the week the protests coincided with the end of Reconciliation Week. I was lucky enough to join an Indigenous language lesson at work and it reminded me that there are so many ways we can acknowledge the traditional owners of the land in our everyday lives, from knowing the land you're on (Ngunnawal for me) to learning more about Indigenous history and culture.

I wanted to share two films that I've been thinking about a lot this week. They're both available to rent from an indie Sydney cinema, with profits going to the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW. One is I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary about James Baldwin that helped deepen my understanding of racism in America and the Civil Rights movement. You can also rent The Namatjira Project, a documentary about Indigenous artist Albert Namatjira and his family's fight to reclaim the rights to his work, and the touring theatre show that tells his story.