Happy Easter

04 April 2021


Hope you're having a lovely Easter! I love this four-day break so much, it always feels much-needed and the autumn weather is so lovely. One of the highlights of our Easter so far has been a trip to Bundanoon to visit and stay with Tony's parents. We did the quiz over hot cross buns, ate lamb and potatoes, and played tip with our nieces and nephew until I got a stitch.

Even though we're both out of the house a lot these days, for work, yoga and to see friends, it still feels extra special to be somewhere new. I loved an afternoon walk around the area (it's so green) and a Saturday morning drive to a nearby bookstore, with bonus stops for coffee and roadside flower stalls.

We're back home now and the weather has been perfect for bike rides and laksa by the lake. Another nice thing - we got to have brunch with a friend who we hadn't seen since before the pandemic. 

I finished reading Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous this week. It'd been recommended to me before but it wasn't until I listened to this conversation between the author and Bryan Washington that I knew I had to give it a go. The podcast is beautiful even if you don't read either book, the topic is 'All The Ways To Be' 💛

I also have a copy of Julia Turshen's latest cookbook on order. I haven't seen it in store anywhere yet but I was convinced I needed it after listening to this episode of her podcast all about diet culture and intuitive eating. I have the best memories of cooking Julia's food. Last year during the nationwide lockdown, I'd saved my tins of tomatoes and froze some leftover basil so that we could have her lasagne for Easter dinner.

Hope you have a lovely long weekend. I have the simplest plans for the rest of the break - I'm making some red pesto spaghetti for dinner tonight, maybe a loaf of bread tomorrow and am going to drop off some Easter eggs to my niece and nephew after yoga tonight.

X

Autumn things

22 March 2021


Autumn is my favourite season in Canberra. The mornings are darker, the air is cooler, and the apple orchards are open again. I've been buying hot cross buns from different bakeries whenever I can, and at the end of busy weeks we've been wandering up to a Japanese cafe near us that's started a ramen and donburi night. 

I went back to work the other week for the first time in over a year and am now working one day in the office each week. I've really enjoyed WFH but this year it's definitely felt harder as construction has ramped up in my area. I really love being back in the office and find it really peaceful. Running into people and chatting is also the nicest way to break up the work day and gain a little perspective - at home, it's just non-stop work and my own thoughts.

Some nice things to share: 

Emiko Davies' Italian kitchen renovation 😍

How to pick the perfect avocado (this has been game-changing for me!). 

Hetty McKinnon's quick and creamy ravioli. It's just the kind of dish you want to make and eat when you don't feel like cooking.

I love a chocolate lava cake and these ones by Eric Kim are super easy and can be made just for two! It's also quick, so you can make it on a whim. 

And two very different podcast recommendations... I've been listening to the odd episode of The Dave Chang Show after finishing his memoir and really enjoyed this interview with his executive coach. And Anna Sale, host of Death, Sex & Money, is a guest of this podcast episode that's all about misunderstandings in parenting. She joins two other mothers (both writers) and one of the things that makes it great is they're all at different stages of the parenting journey from toddlers all the way through to adult children with kids of their own. 

P.S It's been the roughest news cycle so hope you've been able to take breaks and tune out when you need to. 

X

Good stuff

08 March 2021

Hello from autumn! We're at the tail end of a long weekend here in Canberra, and it's been perfect weather for bike riding, shower-time candles and eggplant parm

The last few weeks have felt almost normal. I went back to a yoga studio for the first time in more than a year and it was so nice to not be practicing in my lounge room. I appreciated every little detail - from the music I didn't have to choose to the nice soft lighting.

Tony and I also ventured out to the movies to watch Minari on the big screen. I'd forgotten what it was like to watch a film with strangers, hearing someone really enjoy a funny line or someone else crying in a dramatic scene. I thought the film was excellent and still find it so moving to see a mostly Asian cast (the film centers around a Korean American family who tries to set up a farm with zero experience). If you're curious, this podcast profile of the lead actor Steven Yeun (based on a NY Times article that was doing the rounds a few months ago), is a good taster.

We squeezed in one last beach trip before summer ended. It was on our wish-list and luckily for us, our friends Angie and Dave had a spare room in a cottage they'd rented in Milton. It wasn't great weather for swimming so we spent most of our time going for walks and eating :) I especially loved the lobster rolls at Small Town, an epic salad sandwich from a newish bakery in Burrill Lake and the honeycomb gelato from a chocolate shop in Milton (I regret not buying any chocolate - the choc honeycomb Angie bought was insane!). But mostly I loved the low-key moments - eating bacon and eggs in the yard, hanging out after dinner in our pjs and a super long beach walk in the sun.

Here are a couple of things I've been enjoying lately:

Tony gave me a copy of David Chang's memoir Eat a Peach for Valentine's Day and I loved it. It might be my favourite book of the year so far. It was funny in ways I didn't expect and even thought I've followed his career for years, there was plenty in there that surprised me.

I always turn to recipes by Heidi Sze after weekends away, or anytime I've eaten out more than usual. In this past week I've made her couscous salad with corn, snowpeas and halloumi and her one-pan quinoa with sweet potato and beans

For anyone who occasionally bakes sourdough at home - this book from Pigeon Whole Bakers in Hobart has my favourite recipe so far. It makes one loaf at a time, doesn't take up your whole day and has a high success rate too! I almost gave up on making bread at home but this recipe has changed my mind.

I adored this episode from the Still Processing archive, all about Whitney Houston. I am slowly taking up running (it forces me out of the house while I'm still WFH) which has also meant more podcast time :) 

Finally, on my to-bake list, this apple and blackberry pie

P.S I finally got to see Skywhale today and the new hot air balloon Skywhale Papa! 

Christmas in February (!) and other fun things

20 February 2021

We had a Gee family reunion last weekend, to coincide with Chinese New Year and because the Sydney and ACT border was open once more! Lockdowns happen so quickly these days that I didn't feel sure it would happen until everyone was on their way.

We went to yum cha, exchanged Christmas presents (!) that'd been held onto from our postponed December gathering, and just enjoyed being in each other's company for two jam-packed days. I sent my brothers home with granola for the week ahead - it still feels weird that everyone comes to us. It used to be Tony and I jumping in the car for Sydney family celebrations, and I really appreciate being able to play host.

On New Year's Day I took my first ever cultural day of leave at work - something I only learned about this year. It meant I could spend the day with my parents. I can't remember the last time I was with family for the New Year, especially after we left Sydney, and think it may have been around 10 years ago! We had lunch, went the the art gallery and just hung around at my house. It was lovely.


In other news, Tony made a label for a local winery. It's a pet nat that's just gone on sale and we've been having fun spotting it in wine shops around the city.

We also might be moving. We learnt this week that our apartment is for sale, which could mean staying on depending on who buys it. Every other time we've moved in the last 10 years, we've had just 2-3 days to find a place and do a frantic search and see what we get offered. But this time we might have a couple of months to look and find a place, which is kind of exciting. I'm hoping to find somewhere we'll really love rather than a place that'll do the job. And having been home and working from home for so long now, I'm thinking a change could be a very good thing.

Finally, some fun (and bleak) stuff to share: 

I laughed a lot while listening to Louis Theroux interview his cousin Justin Theroux on his podcast Grounded. My friend Farz recommended this ep - I didn't know much about Justin Theroux and wouldn't have listened otherwise but it made my Thursday. 

Remember the Reply All Test Kitchen series I recommended a few weeks ago? Turns out the company that made it is just as toxic as the one they were reporting on 😑 While it's not totally surprising, it is very disappointing and confusing.

My friend Sean's father was on Conversations, telling the story his time as a teacher of a one-room school. It's an incredible story and I've just reserved his book from the library. 

I watched the final instalment of To All The Boys I Ever Loved Before: Always and Forever on Netflix last weekend and loved it. I only got into the movies after a cousin recommended them and I'm so glad I did. There's something very powerful about watching a teen rom-com with an Asian girl as the lead.

And I'm really enjoying Under the Influence with Jo Piazza, a podcast series about the rise of mum influencers on the internet and Instagram.

Hope you're well!

X

Pasta, pickles and podcasts

06 February 2021


We passed this cute flower stand in Exeter last weekend, during a visit to the Southern Highlands. It was such a lovely trip, we had lunch at Moonacres in Robertson, visited the big potato (!) and stopped into Pecora Dairy to buy some cheese. Tony's mum made the nicest buttermilk chicken and cous cous for dinner and I also visited my uncle's place and admired all his fruit trees. It's super rainy in Canberra this weekend, so I'm going to make poke bowls and watch The White Tiger on Netflix. I am keeping everything crossed for next weekend, when my Sydney fam is coming to visit for Chinese New Year. So looking forward to it - I still have some Christmas pressies to give!

Some things to share: 

I'm listening to The Test Kitchen, a Reply All series about Bon Appetit and systemic racism. 

Hetty McKinnon made a cheese and Vegemite scroll recipe for ABC Everyday and it's super fun!

Highly recommend making Zuni-style pickles. They're super zingy ands so good for pickle and cheddar melts. 

My latest WFH afternoon pick-me-up is Heidi's chocolate oat milk.

I'm really enjoying Lisa Marigliano's new podcast Tough Love, which drops every fortnight. It's about this weird slow-motion pandemic time and also about the big things you think about in your mid thirties - work, family, and having kids.

I made fusilli alla Vodka this week and it was so good. 

And finally, I really liked this interview with chef Roy Choi. He has such an interesting and open outlook on life. I've mostly seen him in Chef show, and have started watching his LA show Broken Bread and am definitely going to hunt down more episodes. 

P.S My tomatoes are ripening! Every morning I go out and see what's ready for picking. It's daggy and nice.




Summer days

23 January 2021


I took an early break yesterday and rode up the street for library books, ice cream and banh mi. It's nice to be back in the habit of riding. Mostly I like feeling the air in my lungs and the sun on my skin, especially while I'm still working from home and in the apartment a lot.

I've started making Sunday a phone-free day, mainly to take a break from Instagram, Whatsapp and the news. So far, it's meant that I end up finishing a book on Sunday morning - Where the Crawdads Sing last weekend and Leave the World Behind the weekend before that.  Two thrillers in a row, a total accident. 


I've been fully embracing made up meals, partly inspired by some enormous homegrown squash and zucchini that were given to us but also because I've been a bit lax around restocking the pantry. Last Sunday I made a dutch baby pancake, which is super fast if you're serving it with fresh peaches rather than roasted fruit. 

I've also been filming food videos for work again, which left us with a raspberry and vanilla ice cream cake to get through, along with a container of leftover plain semifreddo that tastes just like ice cream. I made the NY Times Cooking version of ice magic for it one night, and it was so great! It's essentially a handful of chocolate melted over a double boiler, with half a teaspoon of coconut oil mixed through at the end to help it set, which takes about five minutes and makes more than enough for two.


A handful of other things to share:  

Molly Wizenberg's Granola No. 5. Unfussy but somehow very tasty, over ice cream but mostly with yoghurt and mango for breakfast.

My love for ice cream during the pandemic is clearly still going strong. I want to make these super cute ice cream hedgehogs

Zoe Foster Blake's list of Melbourne recommendations makes me want to think about interstate travel again. (I still feel funny about flying!) 

Ann Patchett's essay These Precious Days is beautiful. It's long but worth making time to read. 

And we're watching and enjoying Pretend it's a City on Netflix. 

Hope you have a lovely weekend. It's going to be so hot in Canberra!

X

Cocoon

09 January 2021


This last week of holidays has been the quietest and the best. It's also been a week where we felt motivated to spring clean. We got rid of the broken bookshelf that's been sitting in the background of Zoom calls for most of last year. I donated books, went to the tip - I even sponged down my front door. Over the phone, my grandmother told me that cleaning at the start of a new year is just what Chinese people do. And it felt nice, like we were starting afresh but also caring for a home that had sheltered us in a very weird year. When it was all done I baked bread, Nigella's old fashioned sandwich loaf, which came out of the oven looking just like the picture. 


New Year's was low key and lovely. We spent the afternoon at my sister's place for a BBQ lunch. My brother-in-law bought a smoker so we had smoked pork and beef ribs, rolls, salads and another pavlova. Then frozen dumplings and sparkling at home for dinner, which felt both lazy and festive. 

In a small way, I've spent some of this week prepping for a future lockdown. Putting meat in the freezer, reorganising the pantry to see what we have and need, buying an extra bag of toilet paper in our storage locker. And making the home extra nice should we be working here for awhile yet. I didn't feel panicked about it but now know that things can change pretty quickly and it's nice to feel ready just in case.


Some random things to share: 

This supermarket sunscreen is really great! Not too thick, smells nice and is SPF 50+. 

After trying a bunch of different yoga videos, I've started doing a Yoga by Adriene series, the 30-day home one that came recommended by a friend. Such a start-of-the-year thing to do but lovely all the same. 

One of my fave and most decadent roast chicken recipes is Alison Roman's version with anchovy-butter and chicken fat croutons