Thursday, March 28, 2013

Roadtripping :: Brisbane to Sydney

Oh, I've got a feast for you friends ... but I left my baba ganoush recipe back in Brissie, so sadly you'll have to wait till after Easter. {Note: here it is!} In the meantime, a roadtrip. A long stretch between Brisbane and Sydney, with motel-room breakfasts and rest-stop picnics, music and audiobooks on the stereo.

Before we left, a dash to the supermarket, for roadtrip food:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

How We Self-Catered Our Wedding Reception

A year ago today, it was the day before our wedding. And we were making felafels. 

The rain had stopped, the sun poured in - and friends and family gathered around the kitchen bench in our hired house. Beers were opened, and everybody chipped in ... rolling balls of spiced chickpea flour, chopping potatoes for roasting, sliding squares of haloumi onto skewers. Skye set herself to work crafting lemon cupcakes, dusting them with chamomile flowers. My mom set out our thrifted glassware - all 100 pieces and $11 of it - while Nelle immersed herself in Tangled on DVD. Friends popped in to say hello and give us a hand as they arrived, from Brisbane or Sydney or Townsville or beyond, and the rain-chilled pool became noisy with children. Our wedding had started, a day early. 

Sean and Robbie :: photo by Rose xx

Tamsin appeared with the meat we'd ordered from Brisbane - tender, organic skewers and lamb cutlets to marinade with garlic and lemon, cumin and paprika - that Robbie's brother and friends would set themselves to grilling for us the next day. Suz and Jamie made souvlaki, and we tucked 16L of artisanal gelati into the freezer for safekeeping. Rose returned from the flower market, laden with great bunches of native blooms, boutonnieres and bouquets. We cooked and decorated and laughed and swam and nibbled.

And that night, Robbie and I sat side-by-side in our king-size bed and wrote our vows.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Sometimes, I find, the best time to do something is when you notice it. 
Meaning, NOW.

Maybe you walked into the kitchen this morning, your clothes in hand (because who doesn't get dressed in their kitchen?) and find that the white-tiled floor looks like a family of trolls - terribly messy trolls - have eaten off it all week.

Here are your choices:
You can ignore the stains and smudges and random bits of sticky tape and wilted fragments of lettuce and go about the morning routine - kettle on, beans on, toast in. Oh, and clothes on. You're still awesome - I mean, you're down here doing all this and everyone else is still in bed, right? At some stage later, when the timing's better, your eyes will surely snag on the dirt on the floor again and you'll have the time to clean it.

Or ... perhaps ... you could set your clothes on the counter, get the towel/swiffer/combo thing you alone in this world call a mop, splatter white vinegar and eucalyptus oil across the kitchen, and clean it right now.

In your bra and undies. And with the knowledge that - yes, this is perfectly normal. And you're awesome this way, too.
Amanda xx

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Paradise ...

It all started out great.

Friday was one of those truly wonderful days - Nelle and I walked the trail around Point Lookout Headland, a high, winding path that looks straight down the east side of Stradbroke Island. The water's so blue you wonder what the hell you're doing living in the city, when places like this exist. We could see forever, see the waves rushing to shore, see a pod of 50 or more dolphins surfing below us. 

On the beach, later, we'd play in the sand together - building castles and decorating them with shells Nelle collected, one of which distracted her so much she was toppled by a rogue wave. Feet-over-head she went - convinced she would have been pulled straight out to sea ... were it not for Mummy saving her. 

(Who am I to argue that?)
Nelle's rendition of the incident

Alas, by Saturday morning, I was Google-searching things like:
'food poisoning symptoms'
'restless legs' 
'stomach flu'

which led me to some really interesting websites, of course, but didn't make me feel much better. In fact, nothing really did except sleep and ibuprofen and a fan blowing the mosquitoes off me and periodic sips of ginger beer. And I don't know if it was is the flu or that disgustingly-spoiled chestnut jam I ate on my toast on Thursday or what, but I never wanted to leave paradise so badly - come back to my own bed in my own house and eat my own plain biscuits and jelly snakes. 

And now we're home. Hellooooo plain pasta. Miso soup. Fizzy water.

And I can't be bothered downloading the actual dolphin-in-paradise photos, so you get Instagram instead. The dolphins - and recipes - will have to wait.
Night night.
Amanda xx

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cacao Butter and Pear Pancakes

I started a new job, you may have heard. A new blog, too*. And as a result it's all about death around here. Visit my science blog and you can read a bit about my new research - but suffice it to say I've become even more obsessed with mortality than I was before.

Is that possible? Am I crazy? Shouldn't I be studying benign things - happy things - like daisy petals or dolphin smiles or that way even the smell of coffee gives you energy? I don't know about crazy, but if a chemical imbalance can drive masochistic behaviour, I reckon we're on to something.
I blame chemo.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not self-tattooing or putting on bandaids just to peel them off or anything. But I've been reading about death and dying in the scientific sense, and also the personal one. All this information's been making me feel intensely powerful - on the verge of something ... but also ... 

well ... unfortunately, confrontingly mortal. 

Reading papers about cancer, with that terrifying, skin-crawling feeling that
It. was. inside. me
Fuck. It makes my skin crawl just writing that.

So it's nothing like when I did my PhD and read about how temperature affects metabolism.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pear and Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing :: And Notebook-Losing

I lost my notebook this week. Canary yellow and full of notes to myself, random thoughts and lists and sketches, it was one in a series of Moleskines I carry with me everywhere. 

Because otherwise, I forget things. 
Like my notebook,
Who knows where. 

I don't even remember what I said in it, what recipes it held, or ideas. Maybe I'll start making up things, exciting new things ... and really they were there already, in that golden, sunshine-coloured book. But that's ok, they'll be different or the same, probably better, and I'll set them down carefully in my new, (persimmon-coloured) notebook, the one I'll carry with me everywhere. Once more, a paper-and-ink extension of my own cerebral cortex. 

Maybe I'll find my notebook again, and open it, and discover gems of wisdom inside, or maybe it'll be nowhere near as good or important or valuable as I imagine it. Or maybe it'll be gone forever, into the void where lost things go.

It was shit, losing my notebook. 
But I'm pretty sure I'll get over it.

Also this week, I made this salad about five million times. That's what it felt like, I just couldn't get enough. I probably wrote down how many times exactly in that yellow notebook I lost, so sorry I can't be any more specific than five million. 

Amanda xx

Pear and Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing
The best part about this salad? It's so easy. Oh, and the pears - beautiful in Queensland markets right now. Walnuts. And tahini dressing. All the protein makes it filling - I've been having this salad for lunch, all on its own. You could probably add some chopped (cooked) chicken breast or quorn if you want even more protein.

The ingredients + The process
I'll leave it up to you on the quantities - this salad isn't too fussy, so you can heave extra walnuts in if you want, or eat half the pear before it hits the salad (hypothetically). Just grab a handful or two of washed greens - chopped lettuce or baby spinach or rocket or a mix - and toss in half a pear, sliced thinly. Sprinkle with a handful of palm-crushed walnuts. Top with tahini dressing - I use equal quantities of tahini + extra virgin olive oil + white wine vinegar, with a pinch of flaky sea salt. But you can tinker with the proportions if you'd like, or use lemon, or whatever. Season to taste, with freshly-ground pepper.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Rainy Day Soundtrack

Play this album. Again, and again, and again.
And if your 5yo daughter won't dance to track 3 with you,
even though she's already in her ballet dress and shoes,
it's all okay. Dance anyway.

Open up a book of poems, like this one. Or short stories, like these.
Rain calls for beautiful writing to dip into, and out of. 

Read this blog post, and think about how sometimes
it takes finding out who you're not ... to find out who you are.

Doze, or gaze; ease; lose time.
Rain calls for words with soft 'z' sounds.

Make your all-time favourite cookies, something simple
but with lots of butter. Carry them up to bed with you,

Lace a hot bath with chamomile tea
and imagine you're a spoonful of honey sinking
meltingly in.

Open the windows and the doors,
embrace the fact you're going nowhere,
so you let the everywhere in.

Listen to yourself - and if there's melancholy,
or weariness or even the low electric buzz of anticipation,
draw it. Or write it. Or sleep it off.

It's raining anyway.