Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: GOOD/BAD

Tea time + generic end-of-year post.

Kind of an anti-climax after 2010. But still good.

1. Not failing any uni subjects/ doing reasonably okay.
2. Trips to Melbourne and Vietnam.
3. Getting my hands on a decent camera and learning (still learning) how to use it properly.
4. Starting this blog.
5. Assisting Katie with her cookbook. Very big highlight actually.
6. Learning much more about all things design than I thought was possible in a year.
7. Learning a lot more about the blogosphere (did I really just use 'blogosphere'?) and finding a lot of inspiration that I didn't know existed. (However this could also be seen as a lowlight- so many hours spent procrastinating).
8. Getting into cycling in Australia. My main mode of transport has saved me a lot of road range behind the motor wheel.

1. No major overseas trips this year. Didn't go away as much as I would have liked to.
2. My head being back in Germany half the time. Living in the past, always thinking the grass is greener on the other side/ Europe.
3. Uni being much harder/ time-consuming/ competitive than expected. The ridiculously hectic busyness during the semester, then too much free time than I know what to do with during the breaks.
4. Being hit by a taxi while on my bike. Scared the living daylights out of me + wrecked my (old) favourite bike beyond repair. RIP.
5. Realising that some friends just drift apart after a while.

There are probably heaps other good (and bad) things that don't come to mind right now. But hey, I've got more highlights so that must mean it's been a good year! Hope tonight's festivities live up to everyone's expectations and that 2012 will be your best year yet. Thanks so much for reading this year and all your comments. They make my heart happy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


A few months ago, we used to joke that if you were seen eating a banana you were part of the richest 1% since they were so expensive for a while as a result of the Queensland floods (that is, if you live in Australia). Now they're back to normal prices, the rest of us 99% can enjoy them, especially in classic favourite recipes such as banana bread (who are we kidding, really it's cake). Not exaggerating, this is one of my favourite foods.


3 large ripe bananas, mashed
500ml plain flour
250ml sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter
2 eggs
60ml water
1tsp (heaped) baking powder
1tsp bicarb soda
pinch salt

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy
Stir the mashed banana in and beat for a few seconds
Add the eggs one by one and beat until thoroughly mixed
Stir into the mixture the flour, cinnamon and salt
Dissolve the bicarb soda in the water and stir into the mix, then add the baking powder and mix
Pour the batter into a well-greased loaf bread pan and bake for about 45 mins in oven at 180C
Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes before taking out

Sunday, December 25, 2011


We sit by the hotel dining room table, still full from lunch, and are informed that one of the dishes we'll be having for dinner is dog, a delicacy in area that we're currently staying in. Mmmm. Undecided whether I'll taste it or not, they bring it out and as I see it I feel slightly sick. We had this yesterday, and ate a lot of it, believing it to be beef.
The joys of language barriers, eh.
Apart from this incident, I can only say good things about Vietnamese cuisine. Delicious, fresh and varied, we were permanently full on the trip. The food must also be very healthy because I was convinced I would've gained at least 4 kilos over the 9 days and so was pleasantly surprised when I weighed myself at home & it wasn't the case.
I quickly realised that my dreams of 'authentic street/hawker food' (mainly thanks to Luke Nguyen) wasn't going to become an immediate reality. You only had to be in one of the markets for a couple of minutes to realise that refrigeration (particularly of meat) was largely non-existent and while the Vietnamese stomach might be more tolerant, we'd be more likely to get sick from food sitting in the sun all day (as delicious as some of it looked).
Amazing breads and pastries from the French influence in Vietnam. Each morning we had the choice of traditional breakfast or 'Western-style', and while I loved their Pho, I prefer sweet things for breakfast and so loved this sweet bread we'd get every morning. And yes, I ate one of those whole loaves for breakfast.
The fruit. Oh my goodness the fruit. The tiniest, tastiest mandarins you'll ever come across. Durians that smell awful but taste delicious. Fresh pineapple, mangoes, bananas and pomelos were often served as dessert which is probably why the Vietnamese stay so small compared to us with our rich & heavy Western desserts. I write this while devouring a huge bowl of leftover Christmas trifle.

Last Vietnam post, promise.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Wishing you a non-tacky, un-cliched Christmas free from flashing LED earrings and reindeer cars. I'm working Christmas eve (yay hospitality) and Christmas day I'm in charge of lunch which will consist of a huge antipasto platter, roast duck, salads and a huge English trifle- my absolute favourite.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Standard touristy photos of the trip. Have a mother of a food-related post coming!
2nd: One of the schools in the very misty highlands where we handed presents out.
5th: Saigon in 35°C humidity. I was convinced you could actually see the heat.
6th: Hanoi station at 5am after an interesting overnight train from Lao Cai
7th: Ho Chi Minh's tomb
8th: illin' in front of the Chinese border

Monday, December 19, 2011


People shout, curse, barter, laugh, whine, edging words into the traffic, hustling for money. The buildings press narrow, ten feet wide, and stretch thrice as long, every other one a storefront, open for business, sellling, selling, selling anything, everything.
It isn't just something you see. It's what you feel, an echo in the blood that courses through you. It's a collage, a vanishing flavour, a poison, a metallic tinge, a barbarous joy, strange impressions unconvictable in the usual conventions.

Photos of Hanoi and surrounds, 2nd photo of the Hmong people of northern Vietnam at their tribal markets. More photos coming.

Text taken from Catfish and Mandala: A Two Wheeled Voyage Through the Landcape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew X. Pham- an excellent book that I'd highly recommend.

Friday, December 16, 2011



Oh hey, I'm back! Thanks for all your trip well-wishings, it was an indescribably amazing experience. I took 1300+ photos (would have taken more but was doing some severe battery-rationing since I forgot my battery charger, derp) so they will be what you'll be seeing on here for the next while, as well as some stories sneaking in. Also have a mildly funny (I hope) Vietnamese food-related post planned. All I can say for now in my tired & jet lagged daze is that Vietnam is a beautiful country with wonderful people but also with a lot of areas of poverty and need.

Monday, December 5, 2011

9.5 DAYS


This time tomorrow I will have landed in Hanoi, Vietnam. This is just a quick post to say that I'll be gone till the 17th December, but will be back with some (hopefully) nice photos. I'm going with a charity called Samaritan's Purse and will be observing some of their work and the operations they run to hopefully get a better perspective of how we can help less privileged people over there.
Enjoy preparing for Christmas but try not get too carried away! This year I'm trying to do away with useless gifts (we all have enough soaps and candles) and try to get people something a bit more meaningful like a 'gift' through Oxfam or Compassion.
See you in 9.5 days!



I had this pasta for the first time whilst travelling in Sardinia last year. Sardinia is a fairly large island off the coast of Italy which often gets overshadowed its slightly-more-famous sibling island, Sicily. This sauce is delicious and very quick to make.

Mediterranean Pesto:
(serves one)
100g spaghetti
50g sun dried tomatoes
50g pitted marinated olives
handful grated parmesan
small handful basil leaves
olive oil
lemon juice

Cook spaghetti until al dente (12ish minutes)
Pop sun dried tomatoes, olives (make sure they're all pitted), basil leaves, dash olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds (but not too long) until ingredients are finely chopped.
Stir pesto mixture and parmesan through warm pasta & serve.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


First of all, I just want to apologise for the horrible post title. I couldn't resist.
Secondly, welcome to summer! (if you live in the Southern Hemisphere at least). This is my grandma's recipe for lemon cordial, which when mixed with soda water makes an excellent, all natural, super refreshing lemonade. If you're going to try any recipe I've posted on this blog so far, try this one. It might seem like a bit of work to juice 7 lemons, but the end result is totally worth it, plus it makes a huge amount (considering you mix it with 5 parts water), so it will definitely last you for the whole summer, depending on how many lemonade stands you want to set up outside your house!

Lemon Cordial for Lemonade


zest of 5 lemons

juice of 7 lemons (around 500ml)

2 cups sugar

2 cups water


Cook sugar and water in a pot until sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil and cook until a thin syrup forms (around 15 mins)

Remove from heat, add lemon juice and zest, and leave to stand for 5+ hours

Strain the cordial and pour into sterilised bottles. Mix 1 part cordial to 5 parts water/ soda water and serve over ice and mint leaves for ultimate Summer refreshment.

Note: Unless the bottles are completely sealed & airtight, I find it is best to keep it in the fridge. Alternatively, you can add half a teaspoon of citric acid when adding the lemon zest but I find that this changes the flavour slightly & makes it not completely ‘all natural’- but it does mean you don’t have to store it in the fridge.