Friday, December 24, 2010

Gingerbread peeps!

A guest post over at Bright Yellow World (thanks to Abby)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moroccan Christmas Feast 2: Dessert

So given that Moroccan food isn't entirely traditional for Christmas I figured that cheesecake would be perfect for dessert. Logical, no?

Plus, one of my best friends absolutely loves cheesecake, and well, I absolutely love him, so there you go!

This is the best cheesecake I've ever tasted. It's adapted from a recipe from Good Taste Magazine.

What you need:

1 x 250g packet of sweet biscuits (I used Arnott's Nice biscuits but I think gingernuts would be divine too)
125g unsalted butter, melted
750g cream cheese at room temperature (3 blocks! Ok go for a run around the block then resume reading)
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Finely grated lemon, orange or lime rind (I used a microplane)
2 tablespoons of plain flour (if you forget to add this, your cheesecake will still be delicious, I promise)
4 eggs
300ml of sour cream
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, or strawberries, or bluebies... mangoes... peach slices

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 160°C.
Line the base of a 23cm springform pan with non-stick baking paper.

Place the biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and mix.

Transfer to the lined pan. Use a straight-sided glass to spread and press the biscuit mixture firmly over the base and up the sides of pan, leaving 1cm bare at the top of the pan. Cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Meanwhile, use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and citrus rind in a large bowl until just combined. Beat in the flour. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until combined. Stir in the sour cream until just combined.

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the base. Place the pan on a baking tray and bake for 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours or so. Don't worry if it's still looking a bit shaky in the middle when you turn the oven off - a moist cheesecake is much better than a dry one! Turn oven off. Leave the cheesecake in oven, with the door ajar, for 2 hours or until cooled completely (this is supposed to prevent your cheesecake from cracking; in my experience, it will crack if it wants to crack. So don't worry!) Place in the fridge for 4 hours to chill.

Top the cheesecake with the raspberries, or you could use blueberries, strawberries, mixed berries... you get the idea. Most delicious!

Grace in small things #4

1. It's Christmas time
2. I have a WHOLE WEEK OFF from midnight tonight!!!
3. Champagne
4. Gingerbread and rocky road... just to make sure I can't fit into my bikini
5. Sufjan Stevens' Christmas carols. I love you Sufjan

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cake school

Seven hours of cake decorating... this was my tax return present to myself this year.

I got up at the crack of dawn, not a small feat as I've had the man flu this week (like the normal flu but so, so much worse... you know how much sicker men get when they get colds, right? That was me). Anyway, I took my cold and flu tablets, jumped in Wendy, drove to Sydney and spent seven long hours slicing, brushing with syrup, ganaching, reganaching, and ganaching once again. Then chiselling my cake into a perfect three layer cylinder. Then a bit more ganache. Then the icing! Then applying the icing and smoothing and polishing! Then colouring! Then applying the decorations! And icing the board! But it was just so much fun. And lo! The exploding stars cake!

We hosted the last station of a moveable tapas party on the same night, so it was perfect! Lots of people, lots of music, lots of dancing, and serious chocolate cake...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Grace in small things #3

1. Family!
2. Old and wonderful friends!
3. Sunshine!
4. Weddings!
5. My night shifts are finally over!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The young ones

Had a wonderful weekend of family and joy! Went back to my hometown, met my newest neice, and went to the wedding of my cousin, whom I've known all my life. Saw family I haven't seen (and have sorely missed) for 5 years!

1/ Dinner and precious catch-ups with one of my dearest friends
2/ Lunch with my Dad
3/ Meeting little tiny Ayva, 15 days old (I know! Why the 'Y'? Seriously!)
4/ Seeing my cousin's bride step out of her stretch Hummer (Seriously!)
5/ Watching my Uncle Sam play guitar and sing their bridal waltz, 'The Young Ones', by Cliff Richard. Never thought that Cliff could make me cry! Pure family magic. Wonderful moments.
6/ Time with my Mum!
7/ My wonderful partner sharing it all.


And, to top it all off... my run of nights has ended! I am no longer a creature of the darkness! Bring on the sunshine!

And, the Christmas tree... this week we're going to find one, our very first Christmas tree! That will hopefully make the whole house smell like pine needles and delight.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Grace in small things #2

1. Christmas shopping
2. Sunshine
3. Menus to plan
4. Strawberries to plant
5. Making lists, checking them twice!
6. The new Sharon Jones album

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

After the rain

Strolling with my wonderful old buddy this past weekend in rainy Melbourne, we came upon a gorgeous rose-strewn garden:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Grace in small things #1

1. Chicago in February!
2. Christmas is coming! let the festivities begin
3. My best friend is coming to visit this weekend
4. Cups of tea on a cold wet day
5. My fabulous new cook book, Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion

Friday, November 19, 2010

New day

It's raining outside but it's going to be a great day. I'm so grateful for such a satisfying job... even though there's a lot of paperwork and a fair amount of hassle getting things done... and an absolutely INORDINATE amount of faxing! Who knew?!

I was sick yesterday and spent the afternoon on the couch, alternately sleeping and eating chicken soup, and watching Grey's Anatomy. Sick is so much better with good soup and bad TV. But today I am great!

It's going to be a good day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We moved in! Amid 31 degree heat, lots of dust, sore backs... and now here we are living together in our beautiful little cubby house in the sky! So far, so good. I know my lover was nervous, and to be honest I was too. It really is a big step! I think we were ready to make it though.

Anyway yesterday was a wonderful day. I'm working in toxicology, drug and alcohol, and general medicine this week, and these three hats are keeping me very very busy! Toxicology is fascinating though. I have to say that it's apparent that there are lots of people in pain right now. I'm sure it's probably always been true; maybe I'm only just now paying attention. My patients at the moment include a single mother who ate three handfuls of herbicide pellets, a 21 year old who took an overdose of his antipsychotic and washed it down with a bottle of Scotch, and a 26 year old divorced mum whose new partner recently cheated on her took two packets of cold and flu tablets.

I know this sounds tragic, and it is. We see a lot of suffering. But what is really wonderful about this work is that we can do things to help these people. All of the people I mentioned above are doing very well, and here they can access psychiatric help and community support too. In my very small way, I really feel as though I can be part of the solution in this job. Maybe a very small part. But it's good work and I'm so very lucky to do it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I ended up going with the chili plant for my friend's birthday, not that it was even one of the options... There's no time these days to construct the perfect gift, to put the amount of thought into things that I'd like. I'm getting used to the idea that rather than organic homemade muesli bars, like the ones I'd imagined, I'll be throwing together packet cakes for my family, if I even have time to have a family.

How on earth do you reconcile the desire to excel in your work, to be a wonderful partner, a best friend, a lover, a daughter, sister, citizen, musician, baker, person who spreads happiness? Who can tell a joke, bring a smile to a room, heal the sick, or at least not make them worse?

I'm a long way from any of those things.

Today I made a medication error. Actually, the error was made yesterday, but I found it today. I accidentally gave a patient a drug that they did not need, that could have harmed them. All drugs have side effects. I accidentally gave a small dose of mirtazapine, a commonly used antidepressant.

It happened like this. The nurse looking after these two patients was pushy and persistent. I had stated in the morning meeting that we would start a low dose antidepressant at night for our psychotic and demented 75 year old patient. She had been keeping the whole ward up on a nightly basis and was requiring sedation and mechanical restraints in the form of a Posey jacket to keep her from wandering the ward and disturbing the other patients.

Anyway, the nurse was chasing me to chart the medication. I said that I would do it when I recharted all that patient's medications; I didn't want to make a mistake. Later that day she came up to me and put the medications chart under my nose and said 'Can you please do it now!'

This is in no way the fault of the nurse - she was pushy, sure, but lots of people are. She was just doing her job, and being herself. The issue of nurse and doctor dynamics is neither here nor there, although I'll address it at some stage.

The point is that I wrote the prescription in the chart, and gave it back to the nurse. Today I was reviewing the medications, and saw that the wrong patient had received mirtazapine.

I felt hot and cold. Sure, the patient is fine, absolutely fine. As medical errors go, this one is minor and almost consequence-free. But it's a mistake, it shouldn't happen, and it must never happen again.

As my consultant said - this is something to learn from. At least it won't ever happen again.

Friday, November 5, 2010

It works!

I really do think that you can plan to be happy. For me that means a certain level of organisation, a feeling that I am making progress, and a sense of achievement. Yesterday I ticked several things off the long list I have accrued since arriving back in town. Most of the items are bills to pay and research to progress.

Anyway, things did go well with the boy - his mood was different yesterday after spending the previous night in doing his administrivia. It is really astounding how much of a difference that makes!
So the upshot of all the angst is that he does want to move in, he's just a bit nervous. Understandable, no?

I, being the understanding nurturing type, do get that. So anyway we are on! In t-8 days! We will be cohabiting. I will have a 'de facto'. Eek. That is a bit full-on!

Bring it on! I like to make a decision, then dive right on in. It is hard to understand how others struggle with that - I've always found it difficult to empathise with. What was I saying about being understanding again?

I have to get a birthday present for a dear friend this afternoon.
1/ Tomato seedlings inside a colourful watering can
2/ Cook book
3/ Beautiful bottle of wine
4/ Gorgeous handmade pottery tea cups

Off to work!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Ways in which to be happy on Thursday, 4th November, 2011

1/ Be grateful for great friends
2/ Have a really, really good latte from the guy at the coffee cart
3/ Enjoy the patients - this is the best work in the world
4/ Pay some bills! you'll feel better!
5/ Do some research
6/ Be committed
7/ Wear a dress with spots
8/ Smile at everyone
9/ Laugh!
10/ Look forward to the weekend!
11/ Have a glass of champagne with friends finishing med school tonight!
12/ Celebrate


Life goes on... the boy and I are happy, ish... Well, he may be chronically dysthymic and we both might be hyper-analytical. But he loves me and I love him and we are moving in together in 10 days!

If that sounds confusing, well, it is.

Anyway I am also:
1/ Running every afternoon in preparation for the big 10K on Sunday
2/ Drinking a glass of merlot at 11.50pm - unwise?
3/ Nesting like a mofo
4/ PMSing
5/ Watching Gray's Anatomy
6/ Digesting a delicious meal had tonight with friends.

So it's all good really.

Monday, August 30, 2010


So we had a big conversation last night, and I'm not sure what to make of it. Something along the lines of 'I'm happy but could I be happier?' seemed to be the message from my lover. He can see us happy in future but doesn't know if we could be happier still if we weren't together. I don't know. I'm actually really not that happy these days. I could probably be happier without him. Certainly without all this uncertainty.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


So these days I'm living in a small country town, about 10 000 people -is that small? Feels like it to me. Working as a junior doctor in a surgical rotation, which means lots of theatre time and lots of great learning.

Also newly in possession of a slow cooker so lots of culinary adventures to come there too. Made rogan josh last week - not my best work but pretty good in terms of making the whole house smell like an Indian diner.

Living with my lover - for one whole week we've happily resided in a single room. I think it all fits, in every sense - our stuff, our personalities, our relationship. Although this morning we had a tiff over my raspberry and white chocolate muffins (his favourite) and his lack of communication skills. He raised his voice and I called him a jerk. Nice. Maybe we deserve one another.

I really hate losing my shit like that. I need to learn how to be less moody and sweeter. I really do try but at times, I just do not succeed. Besides, I secretly feel that hardly anyone has ever called my lover on when he's been a jerk. Which to be fair, is really very infrequent and it's also not his intention. It just comes across that way sometimes to a sensitive type like me.

Maybe this is still the learning phase. Is this how we learn about each other? When we're not making the other person happy? and I learn that I'm too reactive, and he's not the greatest communicator but I don't need to react to that? I think I need to give him more space to be his grumpy self, if that's what he needs.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Greenest Leaves

A new blog!

Celebrating the greenest of the green, the most beautiful colour of all, and hopefully the colour of most of my garden.