Currently Reading | January

New year, new books! That’s how it goes, right? Either way, I’ve registered for a new Goodreads yearly reading challenge and, with a slew of recommendations under my belt, I’m ready to take on the new year!

Because I’m lazy and again forgot to log a ‘currently reading’ for December this list condenses my January reading and the few spatterings that survived my December laziness.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Look, maybe I’m just finally emerging from my white-female-celebrity-in-the-comedy-scene-biography fog but Kendrick’s book, unfortunately, didn’t offer me a lot. It was funny and an easy read but I suppose I was hoping for something a little more punchy. Maybe, it’s me, not you.

Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford

‘Challenging’ seems to be the word of choice for Ford’s debut work, amongst professional and amateur reviewers alike, and I would be wrong to disagree. While the first half of the book meandered and didn’t quite hit home for me, the second half was a confronting, insightful and powerful look at the female condition, particularly pertinent to Australia. In Fight Like a Girl, Ford is strongest, boldest and clearest when she tackles real-life instances of sexism head-on and without apology. Big or ‘small’ instances of discrimination, harassment or worse, Ford’s unapologetic and confronting style benefits most from her scathing and unflinching unpackings of contemporary womanhood.

All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks

I’ll be the first to admit that I may have had the wrong idea heading into Hook’s All About Love. What I expected was something scathing and politically biting; what I got was soft, patient and, at times, a little overindulgent. That’s not to say there’s not a lot of value in Hooks’ views on love. Her chapter on the family unit and parental love was confronting but encouraged me to view parent-child love in a slightly different light, while several other chapters undoubtedly opened my eyes to issues of race and gender that I wish Hooks would have spent more time exploring. Not to mention, as a book published 16 years ago, its message has aged exceptionally well.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Wow, I have not read a book as culturally and politically dense as The Sellout since my first year of university. I feel like I would need a lifetime or, at the very least, a second reading to fully unpack everything that is going on in any given sentence in Beatty’s work. Not only is it incredibly intelligent but it’s achingly funny, effortlessly weaving slap-stick humour with scathing satire.

Talking to My Country by Stan Grant

I’ve been meaning to read Stan Grant’s book since its releasing and it was, ultimately, just as confronting as I had expected, however; I also found it disappointingly circular. It’s a difficult subject to tackle and, I imagine, a painful one for Grant but I found myself at times wishing he would expand on certain subjects in place of reiterating. Unfortunately, this circular motion took some power out of what was otherwise an extremely powerful memoir.

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New Year’s Resolution | Cooking

It’s no secret around my house and throughout my family that, despite my affinity for food, I’m a terrible cook. In 23 years I’ve managed to amass the skills to make myself an omelette in the morning, prep some overnight oats and that’s about it.

So, for my New Years resolution, I’ve decided to develop that practical skill that is sorely lacking in my life. I’m much too dependant on my boyfriend who does all of our home-made cooking but not anymore! I’ve gathered a wish list of cookbooks that I hope will boost be along my journey to culinary independence.

Community: Salad Recipies from Arthur Street Kitchen by Hetty McKinnon

My new repertoire of delicious food will obviously have to include a fair spread of hearty salads. Community collects recipes from McKinnon’s cult  Arthur Street Cafe that, from my quick flick through, from my quick flick through seem relatively simple and do-able. I mean, how hard can a salad be right? This is no 63-degree egg.

The Broadsheet Sydney Cookbook by Broadsheet

I will never be able to make anything from this book. I knew this. You know this. And Broadsheet probably know this. However, as a collection of recipes for some of the best dishes in Sydney’s eclectic and upmarket dining scene it will, at the very least, serve as some intense and aesthetically-pleasing inspiration.

Alimentari by Linda Malcolm

Alimentari compiles “attainable” Italian-Middle Eastern inspired dishes from the menus ofMalcolm’s two Melbourne cafes by the same name. We’re talking salads, soups and sandwiches. Some must-have stuff.

Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Vegetarian dishes! What cooking skill set is complete without an offering of vegetarian dishes? For no explicable reason, and without ever being or considering being vegetarian, Plenty More has been on my wishlist for a long time as a must-have introduction to hearty, filling and delicious vegetarian meals.

Nopi: The Cookbook by Ramael Scully and Yotam Ottolenghi

Again, I will never develop the skills to actually produce anything from this book but it’s inspiring and nice to look at. Written in collaboration with Nopi head chef Ramael Scully, this intimidating guide to the recipes of the Soho restaurant, covers everything from starters and sides, fish, meat and vegetable mains, puddings, brunch, condiments and even cocktails.

Secret Recipes by Dominique Ansel

Like vegetarian meals, pastries are a must in covering all of my fictive culinary bases and what better way to learn than from Ansel, the Paris-rained pastry chef credited with the creation of the cult/fad dessert-hybrid, the Cronut. I’m being unrealistically ambitious. I know I’m being unrealistically ambitious.

Tokyo Cult Recipies by Maori Murota

My boyfriend and I are both nuts for Japanese food and this pocket encyclopaedia contains recipes for everything from miso, sushi, soba noodles, bentos, sushi, fried rice, Japanese tapas, desserts, cakes and sweets, plus  the key basic cooking techniques and step-by-step guides for making rice, dashi, miso and sushi.

Image via The Food Dept. 

Currently reading | November

My reading habits in November have been noticeably dismal. Having pushed through the final crush of university exams, I’ve languished a little too much in all the time I have for straight-up laziness now. I’m also fully prepared to blame my laziness on my new found, and fully-fledged, addiction to HBO’s Westworld.

I did manage to push my way through one (and a half) books, which I’ve listed below:

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

I was disappointed with this The Heart Goes Last but, to be honest, it may be my own fault. Reading Marget Atwood’s latest work directly after her most iconic (The Handmaid’s Tale) was probably not the wisest of ideas but this wasn’t just a case of The Heart Goes Last not living up to Handmaid’s reputation. Regardless of its predecessor, it felt messy: at times funny, often bizarre, but almost always to the detriment of what had the potential to be a scathing and poignant commentary on the cyclical prison system. The Heart Goes Last feels like a book that’s somewhat lost, torn between too many tones and too many objectives almost all of which it loses along the way.

All This Has Nothing to Do with Me by Monica Sabolo

I’m currently halfway through this one, which, as it’s only 100 pages, is pretty indicative of my November reading habits. The book is broken into several parts and follows a sort of case-file structure collecting spatterings of narrative and visual evidence of a relationship as it progresses and falls apart. Part one is made up of short snippets of narrative, intercepted by emails, letters and photographs and this constant intercutting makes it a little difficult to follow how the narrative is actually progressing, if at all, in terms of time and MS and XX’s relationship. I am only half way through the book though so I’m yet to see if this sporadic structure serves a larger purpose or if it’s simply an aesthetic choice that I don’t really gel with. With that said, parts two and four break into a much fuller narrative and this is where Sabolo is strongest, crafting elegant and poetic prose.

I’ve also finally linked my Goodreads account to the sidebar on my blog’s homepage! So, even when my reading habits are horrid it’s easy to keep track of what I’m planning on reading when I do, finally, make it off the couch.

Currently Reading | October

Another month, another currently-reading list. This month I found myself slipping between contemporary fiction and leaning back on my classic fiction habits like a worn-out crutch.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

What a quietly extraordinary book this is. I have been wanting to read The Bell Jar for as long as I remember so when I found myself with a particularly long wait time between my order date and delivery date for Human Acts, it found its way off my shelf and onto my bedside table. It was superb; gentle but fierce and so agonisingly far ahead of its own time.

Human Acts by Han Kang

After being so struck by the quiet beauty and force of The Vegetarian I felt I had to try another of Han Kang’s books so I found myself Human Acts. This book was a difficult read. I won’t lie. Human Acts tells the stories of a group of survivors and victims, related through the  1980 Gwangju uprising in South Korea. It’s beautiful, violent and confronting. There were several points where I had to put the book down because I simply couldn’t stomach that much sadness and slaughter in a single sitting. While this is not, personally, how I prefer my books it is, undoubtedly, a testament to the raw power of Kang’s work.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Wow, what a book! And what a tonal shift away from Human Acts. In case you couldn’t tell, I needed to shelter myself a little and this was, in a way, the perfect book.  This book has a small history in my family and not a happy one. My mother purchased it for my sisters, back in 2013 when it was first published, in yet another attempt to encourage her to take up reading. Having read it now, I realise it would have been the perfect book for her but after unwrapping it she never touched it again and its sat sadly on a shelf in our library until a week ago. Family history aside, this is an exceptional book: intelligent – sometimes too much so, teetering on the edge of celebrating its own cleverness and occasionally falling in – charming, funny and sad.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Virginia Wolf

Much like The Bell Jar this book needs little introduction and little explanation and has been sitting on my to-read list for years. I don’t know how I would even begin to review a book like this but I am 40 pages in and so far so good.

Food, craft and more food!

As the university holiday comes to an end, I’m feeling the usual weight of regret after I failed to complete the lengthy list of activities I’d planned for myself.

Among these activities was a library of books to read, a lengthy list of cafes to visit and a spattering of good, old-fashioned crafty things.

So, just for fun, I’ve narraowed that list down here to some adorable (and some a little outrageous) food-themed DIYs that never made it off my holiday to do list.

Now, I prefer my DIY  to be more the cool-uses-for-things-I-already-have-at-home variety and less the buy-a-million-miles-of-leather-from-Spotlight kind. Some of these are those and some of them are so complex I will probably never try them and they’ll simply gather dust in my bookmarks tab for the remainder of both of our lives.

In the same vain some of these are pretty practical and I really do hope to make them one rainy Sunday but some of them are so outrageous I may have to invent a use for them (though, if I can’t ever find a use for a child’s egg costume scaled up for adult sizing I may after to re-address the sum of my life choices).

Ice Cream Cone Wall Planter | Aww Sam

I love this one! It’s exactly as described: a little min-planter for an indoor plant that’s shaped just like an ice cream cone! In fact, I love it so much I’ve actually already done it. It’s super fun and just the right balance of simple and fiddly to make you feel like you’ve done something truly crafty and clever. This one’s staying on my crafty wish list because I would love t try it again with some paint in an authentic ice cream cone shade.

Sweet Treat Doormat | Frankie

What better way to welcome all those dinner guests I never have than with a doormat decorated like a Nice biscuit! Like the ice cream cones, this one actually seems super do-able, just grab yourself a plain matt and some spray paint and everything else should be of the lying-around-the-house variety.

Knitted Hot Cross Bun | My Poppet

Now this one, to me, seems tough! But that’s mostly because knitting, in general, seems difficult to me. While I’m more than happy to cross-stitch rude phrases and hang them in ornate, flowery frames, that feels a world away from knitting when I look at these instructions. Who knows, maybe this is a good place to start knitting or maybe just something for the experienced among us but, either way, they’re cute as hell.

Tiny Taco Headphone Holder | Frankie

This I can do. Felt, scissors, glue and just enough sewing to make you feel like maybe you could do that housewife thing later in life. It’s super simple, super cute and, I think, would make a perfect simple gift for someone you care about just enough to put that personal bit of effort in but who also loves the stupid shit you love.

Egg-cellent Fried Egg Costume | My Poppet

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: if in the remainder of my life I can’t find one single use for a fried egg costume that something has gone severely wrong. Surely, friends with milestone birthdays might throw dress-up parties where the theme is the letter ‘E’ or I’ll just find a way to express my passion for breakfast foods outside of the party space. Time will tell.

Best Biscuits Mobile | Frankie

This one, too, falls into the category of very, very cute things I will probably never get around to justifying. As much as I would love to have a mobile of pastel biscuits hanging above my study space, it’s a lot of effort for a little bit of creative return. I mean, who even really owns patterned scissors?

Image Credit: Frankie

Regional Flavours | South Bank

After falling in love with the event’s launch last Friday,  I decided to swallow my distaste for (see: deep-seeded hatred of) enormous crowds and tackle South Bank’s Regional Flavours festival!

My boyfriend played chaperone to make sure I made it out alive and didn’t eat myself stupid, and together we uncovered some pretty delicious local treats that almost made it worth braving the crush.

Next Door Kitchen and Bar

Next Door, the food truck baby sister of Little Stanely Street’s permanent resident of the same name, was the first food truck to take our eye. I went with the pulled beef brisket burger with slaw on a brioche bun and my boyfriend went with the hot wings with blue cheese sauce but both were incredible! Hindsight is a beautiful thing and, looking back, we shouldn’t have started with something so filling but it’s hard to regret it when the food is this good.

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Cucina by Toscani’s

With a little room left in our tummies (mostly just from sheer force of will) we descended upon Cucina, another food truck side product of a permanent Brisbane instalment. Cucina and Toscani’s cook up Italian fare and this time around we went with the mushroom arancini and the spiced lamb and halloumi skewers.

Neha’s Indian Inspired Ice Cream & Chutney

Full of savoury now but somehow with room to spare we were seeking out something sweet and watching Neha Sen’s beautiful toppings scattered over Sundaes of her Indan-inspired ice cream was more than enough to catch us. We went with a mix of Coconut Lemon Myrtle and Macadamia with Mango and Honey Lassi. The salty-sweet mix of ice cream and toppings (spiced granola, yum!) was exactly what we needed to finish our brave adventure .

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We finished off the day by taking home some fresh, homemade gnocchi to whip up for dinner and a Cabernet Merlo from Clovely Estate to match (I’d had my eye on the Clovely Estate range since tasting it at the launch of The Hunting Club and was thrilled to find they had  a stall).

The final verdict? Crowds are awful and I wish I’d planned better (and taken full advantage of the wine tasting!) but I saw some cute dogs and the great food might just have been worth it.

Regional Flavours launch 2016 | South Bank

Today, as a part of my internship, my editor and I slipped out of the office to rub shoulders and drink wine at midday for the launch of Regional Flavours in South Brisbane, held at the festival’s pop-up bistro The Hunting Club.

And, just quietly, I loved it for much more than the self-important feeling of drinking red wine in the middle of a work day.

The Hunting Club is the jewel in the Regional Flavours crown, mixing sophistication with Queensland’s rugged centre.

With minimalistic decor that draws its inspiration from the rustic Australian outback, the hybrid event and dining space juxtaposes unpolished concrete with faux fur and centrepieces sprouting natural fauna for a sophisticated but laid-back feel.

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As suggested, The Hunting Club covers all bases  as a bar and bistro, serving some of The Charming Squire’s signature fare with top notch locally brewed beers and wines to match.

Today’s sample treats included swordfish sliders, mini pumpkin and feta tarts, and The Charming Squire’s crowd favourite: mushroom and truffle arancini balls!

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The Hunting Ground will be serving up a full menu of farm fresh Queensland goodies throughout the weekend festival. You can check out the full menu here.

The launch event  also introduced the festival’s shameless array of sparkling foodie talent including the complete Masterchef trio, Adriano Zumbo, Luke Hines, Miguel Maestre, and Maggie Beer, who’ll be sharing their food secrets in demonstrations and events throughout the weekend festival.

I’ll be elbowing my way back into the bar when I visit the festival in full swing tomorrow night, and I am fully prepared to fight to the death for a faux fur covered seat.

Regional Flavours runs from July 15 – July 17. The Hunting Ground is open every night until late.