Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Enjoying the light

I love daylight savings. Never mind that at the moment I can't get to sleep at night or up in the morning, it's worth it for those precious hours of warm, dewy, after work light.

This year, I'm determined to make the very most of it. This is my to do list:
  • Drink sangria and eat burgers at Rooftop Bar
  • Welcome the season with a weeknight laksa feast (done!)
  • Take long strolls Carlton Gardens with my lover
  • Eat in the courtyard by paper-bag lantern light, listening to Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons
  • Host grand night picnics with crotcheted blankets, gourmet cheese platters and citronella candles.
  • After-work gardening (one of my favourite kinds).
  • Window shopping on Gertrude Street
  • Moonlight Cinema at the Botanic Gardens.
  • Find the taco truck.
It's going to be a long, gorgeous* summer.

*I say this now, but you can bet that the moment the mercury reaches 30 degrees, I'll be grumpy, wilted and dreaming of the the comforts of winter.


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Back in the game

Phot taken on my superheadz camera in Stanley last Easter

I've decided to start blogging again.

It's hard to know where to begin. Much has changed since my last post almost a year and a half ago. I live in Melbourne now, I work full time, I've lost my creative writer's voice to the world of statistics, qualitative analysis and policy recommendations. There is a double space after every full stop. I can't find my camera cord.

But much has stayed the same. I still live with a beautiful man. I still garden and bake and craft, and go on weekend adventures. I also occasionally eat at hip Melbourne restaurants, discover hidden shops, and walk through beautiful Victorian-era parks. Camera cord discovery pending, I think I have some valuable things to share. And to maintain my resolve, I've even planned some of my future posts. They may include:
  • home-made flavoured teas
  • a guide to my favourite farmers markets
  • fabric dyeing
  • bushwalking in the Dandenongs
  • my summer vegetable garden plans
  • a gastronomical guide to full-time work
  • my all time favourite cookbooks
I'm really hoping that re-opening this space to document my creative adventures might lead to a few more finished projects, a broadening of my experience of this fine city, wilder experimentation in the kitchen. More photographs taken, a life better documented. It's easy to let work (both vocational and domestic) get in the way of life, and I hope that this blog gives me a chance to slow down, to create rather than consume, and spread a little virtual rose scent through the interwebs.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

2 Ingredients


Since I've been a little lapse on the recipe front lately/always, I thought I would share some of the easiest 'recipes', or more appropriately, assemblages of all time. You know how those ladies wrote that 4 Ingredients book to massive critical acclaim and uber-wealth? Well imagine the monies that will come from my 2 Ingredients book. My 2 Ingredients book that doesn't even cheat by not including cooking oil, salt or pepper in the ingredients count. Amateurs.

In truth, I'm not one for overly wacky flavour combinations. I never quite caught onto the whole New York sweet bacon fad, nor have I been overly impressed by my boyfriend's suggestion of the partnering of avocado and Vegemite or tapenade and butter. However, the following still hinge (at least at the top of the list) on basic good taste whilst providing a surprising complexity of flavour. Which is what I, good friends, am all about. In fact, I hope it is what will be said of me at my funeral: hinged on good taste whilst providing a suprising complexity of flavour.

But please, if you do like yourself some wacky combinations, feel free to share them in the comments.

Classy through to trashy:

Dark chocolate + Cointreau

Papaya + Lime

Parmesan + Apple

Eggplant + miso

Lemongrass + roasted capsicum

Avocado + Japanese soy sauce

Chocolate + Brioche

Cheese + Fig jam

Tomato + Kaffir lime leaves

Natural yogurt + Honey

Carrots + Butter

Avocado + Maple syrup

Tomato + Nam pla (fish sauce. Yes ma'am)

Cold boiled potatoes + Dijionaise

Watermelon + Salt

Vegemite + Cheese

Arrowroot biscuit + Nutella

Danish feta + Dorito

Ice cream + jelly crystals (preferably raspberry: a Fadden Primary School classic)

Processed cheese spread + cheetos (with thanks to Matt Preston)

Plain potato chip + jelly snake

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Pieces of a long weekend

Perfect, yet completely un-tended roses from our garden

If there's one benefit to full time work, it is surely that it forces you to fully contemplate the beauty, wonder and majesty of long weekends. This last one was pretty quiet for me, lunch and afternoon tea with a few friends, a bit of housework, some flower picking, snuggling away from the cold, lots of 30 Rock and Mad Men and the completion of a rather wonderful DIY project which I'll tell you all about as soon as I take a decent picture. Also:

My jonquil bulbs made a very unexpected appearance.

I baked Molly's famous lemon yoghurt love cake, and was rather delighted with the result.

I put roses in the bathroom. This is a habit I picked up from my mum, who incidentally isn't the world's most wonderful housekeeper, but clearly knows her flower placement. It makes the bathroom feel lovely and fresh. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

brownie, hazlenut gelato, honey

This was the dessert I whipped up for my beloved friend and former house-mate Katherine's last night in Australia. It followed a main course of painstakingly prepared, intensely rich moussaka and a fresh, zesty Greek salad. I wanted to fatten her up good and proper before sending her off for months and months of riotous living in central America, and decided that a fat moussaka followed by a fat brownie topped with more fat would be the perfect way of doing so, and might make her feel a little bit guilty for leaving such a fantastic friend in the proccess.

The brownie recipe is my all time favourite, perfect-every-time standby sweet thing to impress and comes from an old issue of Donna Hay Magazine. It has that perfect combination of gooey, fudgy, chewy and just a teeny bit cakey that drives pretty much everyone I've ever feed these too (which is a lot of people) wild with lust, gluttony and just a touch of envy. The hazelnut gelato was purchased from my local fancy supermarket, and the honey was a stroke of pure, impromptu genius. A pretty perfectly autumnal classic combination of flavours and textures, if I may say so.

The ultimate brownie recipe

From Donna Hay Magazine


200g unsalted butter
125 g superior dark chocolate - I tend to go for your regular, not super 85% dark.
1 cup plain flour
2 cups caster sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and prepare some kind of square or rectangular baking vessel or cake tin by lightly coating it in a little additional butter. Place the butter and chocolate in a large ceramic bowl which is able to comfortably sit in - but without actually touching the bottom of - a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with as much water as you can without it actually making contact with the bottom of your bowl. Bring the water to a hearty simmer, and allow the chocolate and butter to melt, stirring occasionally. This, my friends, is a proccess you may be familiar with called double boiling. Whence the chocolate and butter is melted and smooth and all stirred together, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder. Add the melted chocolatey buttery goodness along with all four eggs, and stir with a strong hand till thoroughly combined. Tip into your greased tin, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes depending on how molten you like your brownie. Do not overcook or it will not be dessert you end up with, but a disaster.*

If going fancy, allow your brownie to cool somewhat (although not completely), then cut into squares and top each with a large scoop of quality hazelnut gelato (or another flavour - try ginger, coffee, hokey pokey, or a berry sorbet if feeling fruity) and a generous drizzle of honey.

*Line stolen from Nigella Lawson. You should always err on the side of under cooking, rather than overcooking brownies, as they will firm up significantly as they cool.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Stars, regrets, chocolate dreams

Photograph by Hannah Davis, current fave

Chim Chimenees,

So I forgot to post my to-do list for April. But never fear, my April plans basically involve preparing myself for the onset of winter, which you can read about in scintillating detail on my other blog, here.

Also, stay tuned, because tomorrow I will be sharing a recipe for brownies that will fulfill all your chocolate dreams, and quite a number of your non-chocolate dreams too. You'll see.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Autumn Recipe Depository

Photograph by John Bergman

Since the falling of the leaves and the lowering of the temperatures (and the fog, if today is anything to go by), I've rediscovered my love of preparing food goods and hovering over a hot stove. Autumn is such a tangible, edible season. It's all pumpkins and cinnamon and apples and mushrooms, and reds, oranges and yellows. It's also my birthday season, our Easter season, and the season of beautiful, gleaming, golden evening light. Perfect light for quiet, meditative moments of simple, seasonal cooking.

Anyhoo, in the interest of autumnal celebration, and as per the request of my most loyal (and only?) reader, Nicola, I present to you a list of some of my favorite, most regularly prepared recipes from the interweb for these shortening, nostalgic days. I have made each one of these recipes this autumn, and for many an autumn in the past even committing some of them to memory, and thusly, am expertly placed to guarantee magnificence.

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini - Orangette

Tomato Soup with Red Onion and Coriander Stems
- Orangette

Chana Masala - Orangette

Boiled Kale with a Fried Egg On Toast - Orangette (Molly really gets Autumn. Obviously)

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas
- Fresh 365
Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup - 101 Cookbooks

Roast Pumkin Sage Brown Butter Fettuccine and Tomato, Puy Lentil and Spinach Penne- Number One Millionaire (AKA me!)

Tom's Sweet Potato Planks with Basil Aoli - Number One Millionaire

Chocolate Gingerbread - Number One Millionaire (me and Nigella)

And, as an added bonus, recipes I haven't made yet but feel, instinctively, will become firm favourites this year:

Romesco Potatoes
- Smitten Kitchen

Mushroom Bourguignon - Smitten Kitchen

Rustic Fig and Goats Cheese Pizza - Sprouted Kitchen

Roasted Parmesan Parsnips - Sprouted Kitchen

Moroccan Carrot Soup with Mussels - The Wednesday Chef

You're welcome. xx