Friday, October 24, 2014

One of my favourite columnists with a beautiful article :) 
"The sun is uncurling, a spring is in the step: bring on summer, baby

IT’S Labour Day weekend in four states and territories of this contrary country that hugs close its singular holidays, and the swimming season officially begins.
The sun is uncurling in a blare of seasonal change and bring it on, bring it on as we walk a little taller, lighter, as the air loosens and a spring is in the step. Spines are unfolded, backs are unhunched. The summer-trumpeting jasmine has been and gone but the mulberry trees are unfurling into plump-fruited life; kids are salivating, climbing, squealing. There’s the promise of gardenias and frangipanis — stop, soon, smell deep. Flannelette sheets have been replaced with cotton, heaters have been tucked away, electric blankets stripped off. The Nippers gear is got; the new boardies and rashies and bikinis for little bodies ready to be honeyed up — or not. And now the long slip and slide into the lazy days of heat, cricket on the box, singlets and shorts.
Ahead, the gallop into Christmas. Summer parties, linened legs, strawberries when they should be, ditto mangoes and nectarines and plums, all tasting of summer, of full-throttled light. From now on, inching into the shock of cold water, sucking in your belly; then what the heck, the sudden, audacious plunge. Sausages spitting on their barbies then wrapped in a lick of white bread, the briny swirl of the sea in the oyster shell, ice-trays empty too much, a cold tinny, a crisp white.
Why does it take so long now, years, endless years, to get a child swimming; why the endless cautiousness and focus on technique? In our day you were thrown into the deep end with a bark to sink or swim — and swim we did, fast. Oh the sparkle on the water! The roar of cicada and surf. Bluebottle stings: where’s the vinegar? Shark sirens. A radio’s summer songs. Air laden with salt; sunned-up tiredness; languid long nights and fat sleeps with just a sheet.
Summers of old: the Mr Whippy vans playing Greensleeves. Cartwheeling umbrellas along sand — watch the spike! Slip slap slop, shark teeth on leather, Hawaiian shorts and sarongs; lost talk like far out and dead set. Baby oil slathers, skin flakes peeling off. The ouch of the shower’s hot water on the burn, the necessary ouch, then Oil of Ulan, days and days of it. The innards of tractor tyres spinning in pools, the backyard thwack of totem tennis. Lunchtimes against hot brick walls with legs long and straight to the light, tan marks with ankle socks, a slash of zinc.
Panel vans with dubious spray paintings, furry dice. Sand in the battered savs. In the Devon and tomato sauce sangers. In cossies and your hair and the sheets. My brother, inexplicably blond, sucking hair gone chlorine-green and now my own inexplicably blonde scamp sucking salt from her own locks. Sheets of sunlight and fresh air, breathing them in deep. Running squealing through tent tunnels on the Hills Hoist; sprinklers under the trampoline, dishwashing liquid on top; drinking summer up. The wince-dance on asphalt. Bindis sneaky in grass. Flies lazy in eyes, the march of ant lines in cupboards, seagulls at the chips. The whine of the blasted mossie — Slap!Bare feet and burying dad in the sand, skin sticking to car seats.
The wonder of rock pools, their miraculous stillness, the gifts that keep on giving. Anemones and pipis, Neptune’s Necklace and crabs. In a seashell’s curl, the mystery roar of other worlds. Greedy waves tumbling us again and again, mouthfuls of spitty sand and surf. Learning to tame the ocean with sturdy backs against the water’s great wall of bash; bobbing blissfully in the swell; zooming to land triumphant on the boogie board. Then the day turns in and the light softens and soon, soon, the plump sleep of happy exhaustion; bodies, despite best efforts, browned up. Summer’s promise is unfurling us all on this lazy weekend, giggling us loose. Bring it on, bring it on …"

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chunky Chocolate Granola

Granola and other cereal-based breakfast foods would have to be my most favourite thing to eat. That is, alongside grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate, salmon sashimi, earl grey chiffon cake, double chocolate ice cream, raw chocolate milkshakes, camembert cheese with crackers accompanied with red wine, caramelised onions, and... yeah. A lot of other things. Point is, granola is one of my many favourite foods.  

 I can't say when my granola fetish began but it probably started after Dad started getting into toasted muesli for breakfast. Our pantry must have housed well over thirty types of cereal/muesli/granola over the last five years. If it has ever been on a supermarket shelf and on sale, Mum has bought it. 

As with the other granola recipe I have posted, this is another creation from Sarah B from My New Roots. Being a chocolate nut, I prefer this chunky chocolate version to the more fruity, and I suppose what could be called traditional, granola. However now that I've made both a couple of times each, I am more likely to randomly combine cereals, nuts, and sweeteners to suit what I have on hand.  E.g. the first time I made this I used walnuts, but the granola in the photos contains almonds instead. As long as you have the buckwheat groats, oats, honey and cocoa, the final product will resemble the original!

And when you thought things couldn't get any better, eating this granola with milk will turn the white goodness of soy/almond/cow into chocolate milk. Just like Coco Pops! But oh so much more delicious. 

Chunky Chocolate Buckwheat Granola (from My New Roots)
Makes 8 cups


3 cups rolled oats
1 cup buckwheat
½ cups coconut flakes
1 cup hazelnuts and/or walnuts 
¼ cup chia seeds
½ tsp fine grain sea salt
¼ cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup cocoa powder 


1. Preheat oven to 175°C.

2. Combine oats, buckwheat, coconut flakes, chia seeds and coconut sugar in a large bowl. Roughly chop up the nuts and add them to the mix.

3. In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Add honey/maple syrup, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder. Whisk to combine until smooth.

4. Pour liquid ingredients over dry and fold coat.

5. Spread mixture out in an even layer on a lined baking sheet and press firmly with the back of a spatula to ensure that the mixture is compact. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, flip granola in large chunks, and place back in oven to bake for another 10 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes until toasted and fragrant. The dark colour of the granola makes it hard to tell whether or not the granola is toasted so be careful not to burn it! The nuts should taste pleasantly roasted. 

6. Serve with milk, yoghurt, fruit (sliced banana is our family's favourite cereal topping), or eat dry like trail mix. I'm not exactly sure how long this is supposed to last in an airtight container at room temperature since none of the batches have lasted longer than three days at our place. I'm guessing around two weeks?  

To quote Sarah B, "Whether you choose to eat this granola for breakfast or an afternoon snack doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you make chocolate granola a real priority in your life. Laundry can wait, emails can wait, and your hair looks just fine a little on the greasy side."

One last thing - if you see a similar chunky chocolate granola on the supermarket shelves by Carman's Kitchen, consider making this recipe first. And then try the bought product. There's no denying that Carman's Kitchen produces delicious products, especially considering it's widely available in mainstream supermarkets, but the ability to alter the sweetness etc to your own tastes in a homemade version is priceless. 

- Matilda

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pineapple Upside-Down Yoghurt Cake

When I was in my early teens, I was obsessed with a romantic comedy/crime book series by Janet Evanovich that focuses on an a female bounty hunter  called Stephanie Plum. Apart from the love triangle with two ridiculously attractive men, Stephanie was admittedly average: a white, 30-something American girl , obsessed with pop tarts and fried chicken.  However, if there was one thing that trumped even pop tarts or eating dry cereal with her hamster Rex, it was her mother’s pineapple upside-down cake.

Back in 2007, when I was first reading the books, I made a sugar- and butter-laden version that I guess would be similar to what Mrs Plum makes. This time around, I used a recipe from the one and only Green Kitchen Stories and replaced the rhubarb on the cake with pineapple for old times’ sake.

Now, as per usual, I didn’t read the recipe properly before beginning anddd didn’t have enough honey around.. So I ended up with a ginger-less and slightly-less-sweet version of this cake. But it was still beautiful. But I’ve put the original recipe below….. because I don’t really trust my impromptu version.



Rhubarb & Almond Upside-Down Yogurt Cake (from Green Kitchen Stories)
Serves 8


4-5 stalks (1 lb / 450 g) fresh thin rhubarb (or a can of pineapple slices)
4 tbsp honey
2/3 cup water
½ inch / 1 ½ cm knob fresh ginger, grated
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
2 cups / 500 ml / 200 g almond flour
½ cup / 125 ml / 75 g buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
100 g butter
1/2 cup / 125 ml honey or maple syrup
2 organic lemons, zest
3 eggs, separated
1 cup / 250 ml full-fat yoghurt (Greek or Turkish yoghurt)


Heat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Trim the rhubarbs and cut into 2 inch / 5 cm pieces on an angle. Combine rhubarb, honey, water, ginger and a scraped vanilla pod in a large pot over medium low heat. Cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is tender and slightly caramelized but still intact. Pick up the rhubarb pieces to cool off and save the syrup for later. If the syrup is too thin, you can let it reduce over heat for a few minutes more. If you want more syrup, you can add some extra water and honey and let it slowly cook for a few minutes more.

Combine almond flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, poppy seeds and sea salt in a small bowl and set aside. Place butter, honey and lemon zest in a medium size bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until creamy. Add egg yolks and continue to beat for another minute. Add the flour mixture and fold everything together.

Clean the whisking blades and beat egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. Slowly fold the egg whites and the yogurt into the cake mixture.

Put a baking sheet inside an 8 inch / 22 cm spring form cake pan. Arrange the rhubarb in a tight rose shaped pattern on the bottom of the pan. It will look extra beautiful if you place them in color order – with the dark red pieces furthest out and the light green ones towards the center. Carefully cover the rhubarb with cake batter. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until dark and golden on the top and baked all way through. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before turning it upside-down on a serving platter and removing the sides. Drizzle the rhubarb syrup on top before serving."

- Matilda

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Raw Buckwheat Porridge

My obsession with Scandinavian food blogs has introduced me to many new ingredients, but my favourite would have to be buckwheat. The nutty flavour of this cereal/seed took me by surprise the first time I tried it and I must admit that I wasn't too keen on it at first. All it took was three mouthfuls and I was hooked. Maybe if it wasn't sold as a "health" product and wasn't priced at aournd $15/kg, I would be afford to be able to incorporate it into my diet more often. But for now, I'll just have to bulk buy when it's on sale and wait patiently when it isn't. This tasty raw buckwheat porridge is one meal of which Pond definitely isn't getting a single bite.   

Raspberry Ripple Buckwheat Porridge(adapted from My New Roots)
Serves 3-4


1 cup buckwheat groats, soaked overnight
1 Tbsp acidic medium, e.g. lemon juice, apple cider vinegar
½ cup milk of choice (or water)
1 frozen banana
Juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp ground cardamom
3 tsp vanilla essence
Raspberry ripple: 3 cups raspberries + 1 Tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
Extra berries and cacao nibs, for garnish


1. Cover buckwheat with warm water and acidic medium, and let sit overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse the buckwheat very well.
2. In a food processor, blend the raspberries and honey until they become a liquid. Set aside 3-4 tablespoons of this puree.
3. Without removing the remaining raspberry puree from the food processor, add in the drained and rinsed buckwheat groats, and all the remaining ingredients. Blend until until th desired consistency is reached (I like to be able to chew mine but you might like it smooth). Add honey to taste.
4. Layer the porridge and raspberry puree in a bowl or glass, then drag a spoon up the side of the glass, to swirl the two shades of pink together (Sarah B from MNR does a far better job of this than me – go check out the original recipe!!). Garnish with berries and cacao nibs.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to two days.

I think next time I might  add in some grated apple at the end to create something similar to Green Kitchen Stories' version of this delicious breakfast, as well as have some fun with the toppings like they suggest!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

International Cricket + Picnic Food

Anyone who has met me before would probably be aware that I like cricket. The truth is however, that I just don't like it. I love it. 

My love affair with the gentle(wo)man's game began in the summer of 2003-04, when India was touring Australia. Dad sat me down in front of the TV one day that summer and told me to watch with him. To quote Hazel Grace from John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once." By the Ashes tour of England in 2005, I was a full-blown cricket tragic and even kept a journal just to document my emotions about the match in progress. I dug it out again towards the end of last year and couldn't help but giggle at the passion with which I filled though pages. Entries from the 2005 Ashes series was mainly full of despair, but there were also joy in those pages. Nowadays I keep an electronic record of cricket matches by way of a Tumblr blog (mentioned in this post) but I find it a shame that society as a whole has moved towards electronic documentation - there is something raw and exposed about the written hand, something that is missed when words are typed up into a blog post.    

My first experience watching a match live was in 2010, at a KFC T20 Big Bash match between the Queensland Bulls and Tassie Tigers. Since then I've been to quite a few T20, ODI, and of course Test matches at the Gabba. But the recent Australia A Quadrangular Series provided an opportunity to watch international cricket of a sort at the Allan Border Field. More intimate and far more aesthetically pleasing than the Gabba or the MCG, and even surpassing the picturesque Bellerive Oval in Hobart or the Adelaide Oval, the AB Field  would have to be my favourite cricket ground in Australia. I may be a bit biased as it's the official home of the Queensland Bulls, but you can't denying that the atmosphere created by its quaint grandstands and grass hill is anything but spectacular. It also comes with endless opportunities to meet the players one point we were sitting right behind the great man Ryan Harris himself! 

Usually, days at the cricket are filled with soft drink, beer, meat pies, hot chips, and ice cream. But there would be little point in attending a cricket match at a venue such as the AB Field if a picnic lunch was packed so as to be eaten while lolling around on the grass, or lounging in a deck chair in the sun. Being my usual disorganised self, I forgot to go shopping beforehand so I decided to see what I could do with what was in the fridge and pantry. The result was quite an impressive spread (if I do say so myself): sweet carrot slice, cottage cheese bacon and egg muffins, and two varieties of Betty Crocker muffins (ok, so I got a bit lazy). Mum also made a wild rice salad and a carrot salad, neither of them pictured, so it turned out to be quite a feast.

I've included some photos I took with my fancy pancy camera - which I am slowly learning how to use properly - down the bottom of this post so feel free to ignore them if you're not interested in cricket in the slightest. Recipes for the carrot slice and cottage cheese bacon and egg muffins are also below. 

Carrot slice (adapted from Taste)
Serves 12


½ cup raw sugar
175ml sunflower oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 large carrot (~140g), grated
100g raisins
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 28cm x 18cm slice pan.

2. Use a wooden spoon to mix the sugar, oil and egg in a large bowl, then stir in the carrot and raisins. Sift in flour, soda and spices. Stir to just combine.

3. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool slightly, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Pond approves :) 

Cottage Cheese and Egg Breakfast Muffins with Ham and Cheddar (adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)
Makes 8


2/3 cup cottage cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
3 Tbsp water
1/3 cup finely diced ham
½ cup sharp cheddar
3 Tbsp sliced green onions


1. Preheat oven to 200°C.

2. Combine cottage cheese, parmesan, flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt, eggs, and water in a large bowl. Mix until well combined, then gently stir in ham, sharp cheddar, and green onions.

3. Spray silicone muffin cups with non-stick spray or olive oil, or line with muffin cups. Divide the batter evenly between eight muffin cups and bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top and set.

4.  Eat straightaway, or pop them in the fridge after they have cooled. If heating them in the microwave, be careful not to leave them in too long as they become hard. Or take them to the cricket and enjoy in the sun!

Jimmy Faulkner has a bowl. 


Mozzie in the field.

Just one sec. 

White picket fence. 

Tea break naps. 

India A boys having a D&M during the tea break. 

Lyon has a chat to the groundsmen. 
Another of the gazillion panorama shots I attempted with my phone that day, looking out towards the grandstands. 

- Matilda