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A menu of vanilla slice , sustainable eyeballs, sporting history, mindful moments & grafting 101.

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

In the blink of an eye the second month of the year has arrived. How on earth did January disappear so quickly? Two months of summer have passed and I still haven’t dipped my toes into the ocean. You would never have guessed that I am a Piscean! I’m putting a trip to the beach on my to-do list for the coming weekend. It will be refreshing and invigorating, and I could certainly do with a little burst of both of these. Let’s do this!

On Sunday, I hosted my family for lunch to celebrate my son’s birthday. My son is an Australia Day baby, however, as there always seems to be so much happening on this day, we decided to reschedule the celebrations to a day when we could all be together. We toyed with the idea of going to a restaurant or out for a picnic, however, I enjoy cooking, and being of Italian heritage cooking for others is a way of showing my love for them. The food always tastes better when it is ‘made with love’ and I hoped my son and my family would appreciate my efforts. I prepared a simple meal comprising a salad of freshly assembled, in season yellow nectarines and vine ripened tomatoes, threaded with freshly torn basil and vibrant green leaves of cos lettuce. The salad was complemented with a perky homemade dressing containing six tablespoons of olive oil, four tablespoons of white wine vinegar, one clove of crushed garlic and one tablespoon of Malfroy’s Gold Wild Honey. It looked and tasted delicious. The salad was served alongside carved slices of Bangalow Pork fillet, seasoned and wrapped in prosciutto, and SBS food’s Pea, Mint and Feta Crustless Quiche, which has become a bit of a summer favourite. The real piece de résistance was the divine vanilla slice I made for dessert, comprising a lovely butter filled flaky puff pastry with the lushest silky smooth custard trapped inside. The oozy custard squished out the sides as my guests savoured every mouthful and they commented that it was ever so decadent and delicious. At the end of the meal I felt the love coming back to me in spades with lots of snuggles on the lounge with my son and heartfelt appreciation for my efforts.

In the evening our hearts and tummies were full as we sat down to watch the men’s final of the Australian Open tennis being contested by the quirky and clever twenty five year old Russian, Daniil Medvedev, who curiously guzzled pickle juice to stave off cramps, and the more accomplished and older Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, or Rafa as he is more affectionately known by his millions of admirers throughout the world. Rafa sweats as profusely as a pig, and has to tape up the blisters on his hands before every match. Sitting on the edge of our seats we witnessed history being made as Rafa, in the wee hours of the morning, became the first man to win twenty one grand slams in the Open era. His win was made even more incredible when he not only came back from two sets down to win the match in just under five and a half hours playing against one of the toughest competitors, he achieved this amazing feat after first recovering from a chronic foot problem that took him out of the game for many months after it was operated on, and had the potential to end his tennis career, and secondly after having suffered from a very energy zapping bout of Covid-19 that he had experienced just before travelling down under. In a tiring battle of the two tennis titans, Rafa taught us all a lesson in what it means to persevere, work hard, have a strong mind, inexhaustible endurance, and to never give up on your dreams. He achieved this with the utmost grace and humility and I could not have been more happy with the outcome as his smile beamed across the screens as he looked up with elation and gratitude into the crowds at Rod Laver arena. What a night, and what a moment in history to have witnessed, just as we had witnessed the incredible accomplishment of our first home grown champion in forty four years, Ash Barty, winning the women’s singles final the previous evening. Another humble and talented champion that plays a fine game of tennis without any theatrics.

Australian Open 2022, Men’s Singles Champion, Rafael Nadal

The first day of the Lunar New Year seemed like an appropriate day to honour a ‘good start’ and add some versatility into my life. Whilst also known to celebrate the beginning of Spring and the sowing of new crops I chose the first day of the Chinese New Year to try my hand at propagating some hydrangeas, or to put it in lay man’s terms, to grow a new plant from a cutting. As I have never attempted to do this before I consulted the interweb and found a video produced by Charlie Albone from Better Homes and Gardens. It didn’t look too difficult, prepare the soil, cut the stem below a node and above another node, dip the stem into some plant growth rooting powder (I used Yates Plant Cutting Powder from Bunnings), and then push the stem into the soil around the edge of a pot. The radiant heat from the side of the pot will help the cutting to propagate. And there you have it. For a more concise description you can find a video demonstration here. Stand by for updates on how successful I have been with my propagating, and a sensationally spectacular hydrangea display arriving next summer.

Propagating Hydrangeas

Would you eat fish eyeballs? If you are anything like me, the thought of this would be enough to turn you into a vegetarian! I could not think of anything worse. What if the components of the fish’s eyeballs were broken down into the sum of its parts and it was manipulated into something that resembled a crunchy prawn cracker? Yum! Well this is exactly what chef Josh Niland has set out to do at his Fish Butchery opening in Waterloo this week. His motto is to transform the way we look at eating fish and how the scale to tail eating of fish can be less wasteful and more sustainable for our dwindling fish stocks. He sets out to use every component of one fish in some form or another, whether that be to make fish crackers from the eyeballs, fish mince from the more sinewy cuts closer to the tail or the head of the fish to make tacos, or making prosciutto from the meat from behind a tunas head, these are just a few ways he approaches using as close to one hundred percent of every ‘one fish’. You can learn more about Josh’s approach to sustainability in his new book Take One Fish, and hopefully next time you go out to buy a fish, you will be inspired to purchase a whole fish rather than a fillet. Josh shares his recipe for Whole Snapper Baked in Salt Pastry on the ABC Nightlife website here, and you can also listen to his interview with Indira Naidoo on the Nightlife podcast here.

If Mary Oliver were to ask What is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life how would you respond? To answer, I would simply say be kind, always. This came to mind during the week when I heard about an installation that was part of an exhibition at the new interactive Science Gallery at Melbourne University. If the past two years have taught us anything it is that connection matters, relationships matter, and without them people's mental health suffers. This has formed the basis of the inaugural exhibition Mental: Health Inside by an inspiring group of young curators. One installation named Kind Words is a game about spreading kind words and positive connections over the internet. It’s a game about writing nice letters to real people and using kind words to uplift others and be uplifted. In the interactive game some players anonymously write out their concerns and sorrows, whilst others respond with kindness when it is needed most. It teaches us that sometimes all you need are a few kind words. You can learn more about this exhibition here at

As we lean into a new year one of the things we can all learn to do a little better is to be present. What does it mean to be present? My understanding is that it means to slow down and connect with our senses.

Each day we can stop to ask ourselves-

What good things have I tasted today, what good things have I seen today, what good things have I smelt today, what good things have I felt today, and what good things have I heard today? When did you last notice how good it feels to have sunlight on your skin, to witness a grand feathered kookaburra sitting on the fence, the sound of planes soaring overhead that reminds you that travel will soon be back on our agendas, the taste of butter on corn, or the smell of freshly cut grass? In his new book The Dreaming Path, Indigenous Thinking to Change Our Life Aboriginal author Dr Paul Callahan has developed a ten minute routine to help us slow down, reduce tension and be more present. Called the TENSE routine, an acronym for Tongue, Eyes, Nose, Skin and Ears, prompts you to connect with your senses and get into the habit of being more present and when practiced for ten minutes at the end of each day will help you to reduce tension. In conversation with his uncle Paul Gordon, he shares stories about the power of Aboriginal spirituality on our contentment and well-being and the importance of slowing down to savour the things around us and to create stories. You can learn more about how to resist the temptation to rush, in an edited extract of Dr Callaghan’s book The Dreaming Path here.

TENSE routine (extract from The Dreaming Path)

Some Recipes I have saved from the Interweb this Week

Summer Tomato Slice @aliceframes

Indian Spiced Shepherd's Pie @kitchen_to_table

Baked Salmon with Greek avocado salsa @ketofood.recipe

Avocado Chicken Salad @healthyfood.addiction

Spicy Lamb Koftas @leesupercharged

Potato and Ricotta Pancakes @gayanefood

Chukauni, Nepali salad of potato and peas @sbsfood

Salad with lentils and anchovies @juliaostro

I have finished watching Dopesick on Disney Plus. After watching this you will never trust big pharma again! And Big Sky, also on Disney Plus, an American crime drama thriller series that follows the path of two detectives as they search for two girls kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana. This fast paced twisty thriller is quite compelling.

Infinite Splendours by Sofie Laguna captures the voice of a young boy who has been sexually abused by his damaged uncle and is longing to feel whole again. Whilst I couldn’t really say this was a book I enjoyed, it was both a gripping, yet heartbreaking read.

Until next time, may your days be both serendipitous and enjoyable.


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