Friday, December 30, 2011

Peppermint Tea Granita

I'd never gotten a granita to work properly before ...
till I realised you have to load it with sugar.

And as long as you're ok with that, I've got the recipe for you. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cookie Swap 2011 - The Delinquent

Well. Here I am - the delinquent.  This year's cookie swap (that I pestered inspired everyone into doing, but forgot to register us, so we ended up doing it on our own) is done. The swapped cookies from Yasmeen, Sherilyn, and Steph are all happily devoured, and my shortbreads were the last to be swapped, with (according to Steph) only 20% breakage.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Brown Sugar Cookies with Chia Seeds and Orange Zest

This is how bad she wants Santa to come ... she'll hold a plateful of cookies while Mummy takes a photo or three ...

Poor kid. Except that she's eaten about half a dozen of them already (not counting the dough ... ) and now she's watching kiddie tv programs at 2 in the afternoon while I sit out here on the computer. Hmmm ... I know. But I have earned good-mummy credits. 

We made cut-out cookies together today. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Have You Heard of Kickstarter?

Well, if you haven't ... today's your day! Kickstarter is an *awesome* idea, about awesome ideas.

People with innovative new business plans post them on the site, and all of us out there in the world can become 'backers' - giving anywhere between a few $$ and mega-$$, depending on our interest and what we want in return. Typically you get the product itself, plus any number of added extras.

I love this site - because it's full of energy and novelty and incredible gift ideas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Revised Beetroot (Beet) Smoothie with Cocoa

I originally wrote this recipe using beet juice. Recently though, I haven't been juicing so much ... I think it's the mortal fear of having to wash the various implements involved. But I do love the idea of integrating more beetroot (aka beet, for you North Americans) into my diet and my family's.

Which is a challenge, because Robbie detests it. Almost as much as blue cheese.

But beetroot has this amazing synergy when it's mixed with chocolate, or cocoa powder ... making something utterly, indescribably good. Hence, this smoothie was born.

This is the new, revised, juicing-free version.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Market - Dec 10 - Buy Handmade!

So, here's a little more about what's been keeping me so busy these last few weeks ... besides the normal stuff, that is ...

It's pretty exciting - I'm selling my very own products at the BrisStyle Christmas markets! (yay!)

the red arrow shows you where St Augustine's is ... you can see Brett's wharf at the bottom in blue

Before I show you my stuff, let me tell you why these markets are so awesome.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Where to Start

I know you're out there. You browse the photos, the recipe names, and the little stories ... but you don't make any of the recipes. You want to (you really do!), but you find you don't have the time or the energy, and organic stuff is just too expensive.


You *can* do this. If you want to change the way you - and your family - eat, it's not that hard ... but it does help to know where to start.

Here are some of my favourite recipes that are easy on time, energy and budgets!

1. Make your own toasted muesli. You can cook up a batch on the weekend, and have it all week long. Homemade toasted muesli/granola is fresher, you can add whatever you like best, and it's probably got a lot less fat than the store-bought stuff.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Ginger Cocktail

Set the table, folks - it's Thanksgiving time! Yes, yes, I live in Australia now ... where we don't have the Best Holiday Ever ... but that doesn't mean I can't be thankful, right? And make some comfort food, and hang out with family and friends, right?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Where Oh Where Have I Been??

Sadly, I haven't just jetted back from France/Poland/Singapore/anywhere exciting really.

Where have I been?
I've been digging around in the dirt ... a lot.

a corner of my townhouse garden

I've made bread that looked like this -

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Creamy Pepita and Parmesan Pasta

I sit here in Spring Hill, waiting for a good friend and eating a yogurt I bought instead of a coffee (feeling virtuous), thinking about all the things I have to do at home (feeling delinquent). Half-unpacked suitcases, overflowing recycling bins, and a garage that would give small children nightmares. (It gives me nightmares!) I've got writing to do, and preparations for my first-ever market stall. Ideas crowd my brain, begging for time and money to become - like Pinocchio - real.

But you know what?

This is real.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Simple Veggie and Hummus Platters

Fresh, crisp veggies and cool, creamy hummus. A combo to rival bacon and eggs. Peanut butter and jelly. Fish and chips.
(well, in my world anyway)

And the key to it all?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

10 Layer Sweet Potato and Zucchini Lasagne

This is a simple, filling, meat-and-pasta-free version of my favourite of favourite Italian dishes. Lasagne. And why on earth would anyone ever choose not to use pasta? Lotsa reasons. Maybe even 'cos you forgot to buy lasagne sheets, flour and polenta.

It's possible.

Monday, October 24, 2011

5 Easy Ways to Increase Your Productivity

I recently wrote an article on my science blog, Inside Our Lab, that talked about being productive. And you know what? I thought you might be interested, too. It was originally written for science-types - who do a lot of writing and typically don't give themselves enough time to just think. But you can translate these words into whatever applies to your own job or blog or whatever. Here you go.

Life is short, and there's no need to waste it on junk mail, or by staring at blank computer screens, or by accompanying office mates to coffee not once but three times daily. Here are some tips for making your work more productive.

No matter how tough the terrain ... you can do it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Easy Peasy Popovers

Somewhere between a pancake and a muffin ... is a popover.


And somewhere between Brisbane and Sydney ... is this.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ode to a Very, Very Good Day

I think friendship can be defined as this:
"a person with whom you are willing to halve what possibly might be the best lemon tart in the universe"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

5 Qualities I Look for In a Cookbook

*I was going to call this post 'My Inability to Walk Past Clearance Cookbooks,' but then I thought you might prefer something more useful.

What is it about a cookbook that makes me covet it? Fixate on it? Feel incomplete without it? If there are two cookbooks on the clearance table - both marked down to $3.99 - why do I buy one and not the other? What on earth would compel me to buy a cookbook at full price?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

French-Press Coffee with Cacao

This is antioxidant bliss. Truly.

Fresh organic coffee beans - decaf, in my case. With cacao nibs - little chunks of unadulterated cacao (or cocoa) beans. Ground together in my trusty hand grinder, in a proportion of 5:1 coffee beans to cacao nibs.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Easy Peasy Food Rules

Cookie firmly in hand,  I've been observing the grain-free/low-carb/gluten-free/paleo/vegan/raw diets out there. With significant curiosity. I am a scientist, after all. So I'm curious. But skeptical.

Yes, maybe gluten interferes with the thyroid. And maybe grains cause inflammation and immune responses in the body. Or maybe they don't. Maybe they do in some people, and not in others. Maybe cooking food ruins all the enzymes my body needs. I'm still not sure. I'm not going to judge people who've overhauled their diets for just these reasons or for health or just to lose those few extra kilos, because you know what? I have no idea what the right thing to do is.

But I'll tell you what I have learned.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Postcards from Sedona

Hi from Sedona, Arizona!

Home of jaw-dropping red rocks, beautifully-crafted microbrews, and (apparently) spots of intense vortex energy. Maybe it was the energy that woke me at 5 each morning, with no hope of going back to sleep ... or maybe it was that nagging feeling of forgetting something ...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Spaghetti (Squash) with Quinoa Tomato Sauce


My daughter (and husband, for that matter) could live on pasta. I'd swear they're Italian somewhere in the family tree ... were it not for the fact they share dozens of Irish freckles as well as a very Scottish name.

(Though hubbie does speak a wee bit of Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Dutch ... all with an Australian accent and an Italian inflection. A bit suspect, right?)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Postcards from Phoenix - Part 2

Hi from Phoenix, Arizona,
(Yes, we're still here). 

Last night we got rained on at dinner, which was (apparently) a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience for this part of the world. We saved our beautiful peach ales from catastrophic dilution by drinking them.

Today we wandered around the postcard-and-turquoise laden streets of Scottsdale, thinking about the amazing green salsa we had at lunch and wondering just how many Goodwill thriftstores there are in this glorious city.

(But that's an addiction a story for another day ... )

More soon,
Amanda xx

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Postcards from Phoenix

Sun-bleached and sandy. I love this place.
Amanda xx

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fig + Blue Cheese + Mixed Greens + Toasted Pepitas = Perfect

I was always one of those girls who was nerdily good at math, but never *really* enjoyed it. I mean, geometry was - tearfully - the one 'B' I got in high school (outside of phys-ed of course), and I tell myself it's 'cause I just didn't care. (Because I'll have you know I went on to university and got an A in calculus. Ahem.)

Anyway, math. I think it's all the rules I don't like ... the this + this = that, and don't you even think about trying to add in the other. I like rules, as a foundation, but I also like to have the freedom to play, to adapt, to try new things.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Hands-On Approach to Eating Broccoli

I'm a firm advocate of enjoying food. Of focusing attention on one thing at a time. Of getting my hands doughy, buttery, or salty.

And this is how I believe broccoli should be eaten:

Doused in olive oil and grilled; sprinkled with salt; and eaten (like miniature trees) with your hands.

In fact, if I had a restaurant, I'd serve broccoli this way all the time. Maybe I'd even plan menus so you got to play marauding giant for the whole meal ... How fun would that be?

In the meantime, try one of these recipes, courtesy of other Food Network Summer Fest contributers:
and eat with your hands.

Amanda xx

Monday, September 12, 2011

How to Make a Ballerina Cake

This week, she's four.


How did this happen? How did she get to be so big? And eloquent? And obsessed with all things pink and frilly and winged and sparkly?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Super-Dooper Homemade Muesli Bars


A good muesli bar is a girl's best friend. Well, if that girl has a toddler. And a coffee-induced glucose imbalance. And a grumbly tummy.

But have you looked at the ingredients in your off-the-shelf muesli bars? (You should, you know. Look at ingredients lists on things. But that's another story.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Scalloped Everything

This one's for all of you back home in Australia ... where it's currently the tail end of winter, and where you may be inclined to bake things in the oven. Comfort foods, involving root vegetables. 'Cause I sure ain't making this here in Phoenix ... where the daytime temperatures are hovering around 45C (115F) and the nighttimes are dipping down into the (brrrr) 30C's (90F's). 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why Purple Carrots Are Awesome

The fact that I can buy purple carrots for the same price as orange carrots is a marvel to me. Why?

1. Because purple carrots have a gazillion times more antioxidants than orange carrots. 
Well, 2x more beta carotene and 28x more anthocyanins, anyway. They're not only good for your eyes, but your liver, your heart, and your glucose; they can help reduce inflammation in the body, and mop up free radicals. And there's scientific evidence to say so.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Letter to the Person Who Donated a Pot with a Hole in the Bottom

Dear Sir or Madam,

Firstly, let me commend you on your donation to charity. Giving away things you no longer use, or which have cluttered your side table for too long, or which you bought because - well, they seemed perfect at the time - is not only good for charity, but good for you and good for the environment, too.

(And you thought you were just helping out an organisation with a good heart.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Porridge for Bedtime

Nelle and I had brunch the other day, which was sunny and lovely and included deliciously-runny poached eggs ... But, I have to say, it completely messed up our eating schedules. Brunch at 11, lunch/dinner at 3 ... it left us hungry for something before bedtime.

Hungry for something to fill our bellies, but not too much. For something sleep-inducing; nourishing, but slightly-sweet; something that wouldn't involve too much effort, or time .. (because we were snuggled up on the couch reading stories, after all).

Something like porridge.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tangy Tamarillo and Tomato Sauce

I'm such a sucker for new little edibles. That wacky fruit that smells kinda rotten when it's perfectly ready to eat? Yep. I'll take one, please. Those carrots in an astounding shade of purple? Into my basket they go. Heart-shaped, two-toned tomatoes? Definitely.

So when Food Connect offered up tamarillos in their 'extras' - how could I resist?

 But, uh, what are tamarillos? And what on earth will I make with them?

Monday, August 15, 2011

How I'm Going to Lose 10 Pounds By Using a Bigger Fork

I really dislike* dieting. The whole concept of it - the idea of restricting food intake; choosing stuff at the supermarket labelled lo-cal or non-fat or diet; the commercials on tv (in the US anyway) that tell me my body is not even close to perfect, but hey - there's a pill for that!; the self-loathing that comes with continually assessing ones' own weight.

*and by dislike, I mean hate. But since I'm teaching my daughter not to use that word, I thought I shouldn't either. Damn you, consistency in parenting!

Me, I prefer exercise. Running, walking up rather large hills with a 4 year old on my back, a nifty little iPhone app called Nike Training Club - and another one called Boot Camp; Bikram yoga (when I can afford it); my own version of Bikram yoga (when I can't); rowing machines; weights; and so on. I figure that getting strong is more important than some number on a little machine that may or may not be accurate and certainly doesn't define me as a healthy (beautiful) individual.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gardens Make Me Happy

Actually, as I'm sure you guessed, a lot about the Pyrenees made me happy. But the gardens. They floored me.

Flowers. Veggies. Juicy little currants. Winding pathways and the fresh smell of turned earth. The buzz of bees. The smell of parsley after the rain.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Green-Tinged Zucchini Pikelets

It happens. Not in my garden, mind you ... but elsewhere in the world/country/city.

Too many zucchinis.

Long ones, short ones, round ones, ones with flowers still attached. In a number that defies use in cake or lasagne.

One way to go is

Friday, July 29, 2011

The More You Drink, The More Fun It Gets

Say - purely hypothetically - that you're in the mountains for two weeks. With an almost-five year old, an almost-four year old, and a just-two year old. No tv, save the well-worn Maisy dvd that appears some afternoons when mummy has remembered to charge the laptop. And rain. Unseasonably profuse rain.

I'm not saying this scenario should lead a woman to wine ... but, if it happens to ...

make the most of it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Postcards from the Pyrenees: The Universal Language of Markets

boites de carrotes, pomme de terres, and cerises. the exchange of coins/bills/smiles. my bag heavy with tomates et aubergines et courgettes et myrtilles sauvages, I squeeze through the crowds of people. 


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Postcards from the Pyrenees

Sometimes you find yourself in a place that just fits. You step out your door and look around you and feel this incredible belonging. In the southern mountains of France, in a countryside speckled with villages and farms and fromageries, I've found my heart.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What to Get Friends Who Tell You Not to Get Anything


Well, if they love salt like my friends do. Then, you can get 6 different varieties - like Himalayan salt; Celtic sea salt; Smoked sea salt; Portuguese sea salt; Queensland macrobiotic salt; and Murray River salt. You can decant them into lovely little tins, label each, and box them up with a big bow on top.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sustainability is Really Just Sharing

My little non-vegetarian loves seafood. She would happily eat it every day ... and here along the west coast of Scotland it's not hard to imagine. Fresh ocean and loch-caught fish. Mussels, scallops, prawns, langostines, crabs, clams, oysters, and a host of creatures I've never even heard of - fresh and local. She's loving it.

"I want to catch all the fish in the ocean and eat them up," she states, hungrily.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Scottish Ale Bread

This is the kind of bread you make when you're traveling ... 

The 3-ingredient kind. The kind that makes delicious use of local Scottish ales. The kind that provides you with a satisfying medium for the tangy marmalade you picked up at that farmer's market (where was that?), or the fresh raspberry jam from the back-of-the-church charity shop in Inverary. 

The no yeast kind.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beau-Tea for Travellers - III. Coffee

Sure. It's obvious.

Coffee is like that. It's the Ferrari of caffeine transmission. And when you fly from Brisbane to LA as often as we do - crossing the date line and finding you land 6 hours before you took off - coffee is a good great idea for keeping awake till dark.

But what else can this magic potion do for us? There are certain lines of thinking that regular ingestion of coffee via - well, other parts of your body - can be quite detoxifying. But I'm not here to tell you about that.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Almond Travel Cookies

Sometimes I end up with too many yolks. It's not a common infliction, I know, but a serious one. It usually hits me after making meringue ... and my natural inclination is to pop the unused yolks into a jar to be stored on an obscure shelf in my fridge ... where I can forget about it for a month or so ...

Until my lovely golden yolks are revolting and I have to tip them out.
What a waste.

So, this time I made cookies out of my yolks.
What a genius.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beau-Tea for Travellers - II. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile can be a traveller's best friend. It doesn't have caffeine - meaning you can drink it to your heart's content. Your child can drink it to her heart's content.  And more than that ... it's soporific. Sleep-inducing. Relaxing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Potatoes for Picnics

We had a picnic - yes, indeed - but it wasn't your average blanket-on-the-lawn affair ... No, ours was in a queue for a musical rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, which we ultimately failed to see because we got cold and tired and sold our tickets and happily took a taxi all the way back to our warm little beds ...

But not before we devoured our homemade potato salad. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Beau-Tea for Travellers - I. Green Tea

Economy is just not what it used to be. I mean, when I was a kid I loved flying ... the special seats, the tray-bound meals, the excitement of new books and toys. That cool little pin that said - hey, I might just be a pilot, too! The anticipation of new places and the potential for presents from little-seen relatives.

But flights to New Jersey didn't take 14 hours.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Love Meringue.

There's something about meringues that gets me. Maybe it's how they come together like that chemistry experiment I wish I'd learned in high school. (We made soap instead. Ick.) Or how their flavour perfectly suits tangy passionfruit and creamy Greek yogurt. Or how you bite into them like air ... only to find a satisfying chewiness in the centre.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm ....