Comfort Food, ch. 1: Bolognese for Days

Comfort eating – my favourite sport. I have a few meals in my rotation for when times get tough, or when I just need that ultimate food hug. Yes, it’s unhealthy to use food as a coping mechanism. But we aren’t here to discuss my unhealthy coping mechanisms – that’s another post all together. We’re here to talk about the food that takes you to a safe space. The meals that give you an island in a sea of bullshit.

My most craved meals are almost all from childhood, and they’re almost all amazingly unhealthy – chicken enchiladas, biscuits ‘n gravy, bbq chicken with yellow rice, brisket sandwiches, french toast, I could go on in a gravy coated, cheese topped dream.

Today, though, I’m all about bolognese. Full disclosure: I love my mom’s spaghetti sauce. It’s pretty damn good and my #1 meal of all time is her baked chilli spaghetti (coming soon!) But this sauce isn’t my mom’s recipe. I happened upon this deliciousness when I was older and living out of state on my own for the first time.

My sister’s God-brother’s wife, Mandy (yes) posted this recipe she got from her friend, and claimed it was life changing. I was an Extra Super Cooking Novice (I have since become a Kinda OK Cooking Novice) and had always thought bolognese was intimidating and too advanced for me. But Mandy made it look easy. I book marked the recipe until the one random night that I was gutsy enough to try it.

Sheeeeeew – it was incredible then, and it’s incredible now. It’s even good when I forget/swapped some ingredients (read: forgot to buy the right ones). It was the first real “adult” or “more than 3 ingredients” meal I attempted, and it was a raving success. And now, it holds a special place in my rapidly clogging arteries. Joel thinks we should have it once a week.

So, here’s the low down, complete with inevitable Audrey Mayhem (see above about forgetting/swapping ingredients) –

The ingredients:

*aud note: I forgot to add 1/2 cup parsley. I have only ever remembered to buy it the first time I made this recipe. (Way to go, Audrey). Don’t worry, it’s not crucial.




cube that shit up – don’t skip the pancetta. It’s next level.
*aud note: once I was out of milk, so I used 1/2 cup of heavy cream with a spoon full of water to thin it out. It was really good
*aud note: I’ve used $30 wine and I’ve used $5 wine to make this – and it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to my gutter pallet.
*aud note: this is a picture of pork/veal mince because it was on special for $5 and I was all “SOLD.” But let’s pretend it’s beef mince, because beef is fattier and doesn’t have that same “I killed a baby cow” taste. Also there’s no need for additional pork, because you have pancetta. Do as I say, not as I post.


Step 1: find some good trash TV to cook to. You’ve got some chopping to do.

Judge awaaaay

Step 2: cook the onions in some olive oil for 2 minutes.

*aud note: It’s easiest to make this in a deep sauce pan, like a dutch oven. But I’ve been making this meal for 5 years and I still don’t own a good sauce pot. I most often make it in our wok. Just make sure the pan/pot is deep, because you have a lot of ingredients to add.
For example, you might start browning the onions in your frying pan before you forget that you won’t be able to stir it all up without spilling out the sides so you switch to the wok.

Step 3: Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes


Step 4: Pour yourself a glass of the $5 wine. Hold out hope that this is the one $5 bottle of wine that defies the odds and doesn’t taste like room-temperature, freshman year of college bad decisions.

*aud note: it will taste like room temperature, freshman year of college bad decisions.

Step 5. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes

This is the best step. If only this was smell-0-vision.

Step 6: Add the beef and cook until brown


Step 7: Add the remaining ingredients


Joel gets really uncomfortable that there’s milk involved. To be honest, I was too the first time around. But once you go milk, you won’t go… bilk? Yeah.
Yum, slop!
Give it a big, big, stir, and watch the magic happen.

Step 8: THE HARDEST PART – let it simmer for at least 45 mins.

The longest 45 mins ever. I’ve eaten it after 20 mins or so, but it’s better the longer it sits. In fact, it’s even better the next day.
1 hour later… yessssss

Step 9: NOSH



We’ve tried it with a variety of pasta, and anything you want is good. I like fusilli, Joel likes linguini – you can see who won this round. We’ve also served it without pasta, open face on toasted garlic bread – choice.

This recipe makes between 5-8 servings, depending on how big your servings are. It’s wonderful, complex, creamy and savoury, and I suggest you try it tonight. Because I’m off the store for more pancetta…

Best Bolognese Ever
From M Cubed

Makes 5-8 servings

– olive oil
– 1 large yellow onion, diced
– 3 stalks celery, diced
– 1 carrot, diced
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– ¼ pound pancetta, chopped
– 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
– 1 cup dry white wine
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
– 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
– ¼ teaspoon red pepper
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
– ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
– 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
– ¼ teaspoon black pepper
– ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
– ¼ cup grated Parmesan (plus more for sprinklage)

1. In a Dutch oven (sigh. Or deep sauce pan, or wok, or something stove-top oriented that’s deep), over medium heat, heat the oil.
2. Cook the onion in heated oil for 2 minutes.
3. Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes
5. Add the beef and cook until brown
6. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes or until sauce is thick.
7. Serve with fave type of pasta and top with shredded parmesan cheese.
8. For garlic bread with an extra kick – melt butter with some garlic powder and a pinch of paprika. Dip the surface of the bread in the melted butter mix, lay on a pan and toast until the edges are brown. Delish.
*I’ve been told that this sauce freezes and re-heats very well, for all you make a head types.





The Mayonnaise Days

So, not only is it September, it’s almost half way through September. I mean, I know time flies once you get older and you’re too busy focusing on how broke you are or how many over time hours you’re working or how many hangovers you get, but this year really has completed at break-neck speed. Not once, even in the worst moments, have I felt any day just draaaag, not once have I looked at the calendar and think “but whhhhy isn’t this month over yet?” I mean, seriously.

Speaking of time flying, I’m currently sitting outside in shorts and a t-shirt. Which means we’ve made it through yet another season.


I love these trans-seasonal days. I like waking up and it’s cold enough to wear a jacket, and by lunch time it’s warm enough to sit outside and eat lunch – but not come back a sweaty mess, and when the sun goes down, it’s back to jacket weather. It’s spring time, and has been since September 1, and that means before I know it I’ll be waking up in the jungle heat, taking two showers a day, and checking for Huntsmen before I put my shoes on or use the toilet. #australia

And the low to zero humidity renews all sense of hope and purpose in life and makes me think anything is possible – like, I’M GOING TO START WALKING TO WORK EVERY DAY! I’M GOING TO THE BEACH EVERY WEEKEND! I’M GOING TO GROW A GARDEN! WE WILL EAT OUTSIDE ALL THE TIME! HAPPY HOUR IN THE SUN! And then the real summer weather kicks in and I’m all “yeah I’ll be in front of the fan covered in frozen wash clothes and hoping for swift death.”

But for now, it’s nice.

It’s great to feel a rush of inspiration, as it’s been a bit meh around here for the past few weeks. There have been long days/nights at work and cleaning house and making dinner and making pies and going to the pub and shopping for groceries and watching Breaking Bad at the end of the day and trying to get back on track with life.

I mean, these days aren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. There’s just not a lot of breaking news. These days are like mayonnaise. Not exciting, but not awful. The mayonnaise days. And while there’s little things here and there I wanted to mention in a blog, nothing seemed to materialise, because the mayonnaise days also mean I have the physical endurance of a jar of mayo. But in retrospect, it’s been nice to have some days without a lot of noise – emotional or otherwise.

I’ve started seeing a new counsellor who seems to be a better fit and is more affordable. I’m not in a particularly bad way anymore, but I want to keep up the maintenance, as it were. Joel’s working hard and making plans for his business, and in the mean time is taking some amazing photos. Our biological clocks are barking – we need a dog friend, and soon. I’m planning to revamp our “study” area so it’s better organised and has more storage space. This includes a trip to Ikea, which we all know gives me all the excitement. The sunsets are amazing. And I’m thinking about making my Goals for Summer List, but I’m also thinking about not making a Goals for Summer List, because lately whenever I make a list of things to do, it ends up being a list of shit that never gets done. We’ll see.

Let’s check out some pics!


Plannnnnns. Redecorating and re-organising gets me really excited. It’s weird.
My new favourite comfort food – shredded lettuce topped with basmati rice and corn, refried black beans, avocado, salsa and sour cream. How did I grow up in the south and NOT know that refried black beans exist?
Hello, Darling.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Dream Pie with cookie pie crust and home made whipped cream. My own recipe and yep – life changing. Will post the recipe soon. 
Doodling with the awesome Copic markers Joel gave me. Copic markers – amazeballs.
Deep Fried Oreos – oh yes. I’ll have to share this recipe, they taste just like a county fair treat. 
Came home at 9:30PM after a double shift to home made curry and fried roti bread – Joel is a keeper.
I was obsessing over spice racks, so our friend Hugh gave us one of his. Hooray! No more clunky Ikea spice drawer for us. Plus Hugh is a chef so I like to think that this spice rack has quite a history. Like, this spice rack has probably seen a lot of shit. Inherited furniture is the best. Next step – new/matching spice jars.


Made some brownies. Through the magic of Imperial to Metric conversions, or a faulty scale, I added to much butter and they came out super greasy and spongey. After several hours, they solidified to something resembling brownies, and they still tasted like brownies – just not as textured as I like them to be. I call them Greasies.
But damn, if Joel didn’t make them look like a splendid and tasty treat. I call this “Fantastic Photos of Bad Food.”
We decided to get a new, more breathable doona cover, and better cotton sheets for summer. I finally found one that fit Joel’s need of “something that feels like sheets” and my need for “colour” while at the same time satisfying Joel’s need for “nothing busy.” It took 4.5 hours of back and forth between 5 different stores on 3 different levels, muttering about “printed sheets or solid doona or printed doona and solid sheets.” Nothing exactly fit or blew my skirt up, except for this blanket. After emergency lunch (I nearly had a hangry meltdown when I couldn’t find my phone – in my back pocket), I threw my hands up and said “Fuck it” and bought this quilt cover that stole my heart, and white sheets as a compromise even though I really wanted the printed sheets that compliment the blanket, 98% sure Joel would hate it. But, the bedding Gods smiled upon me, and he was stoked for the new stuff. I agonise about my bed’s clothes as much as I do my own. Add shopping for bedding for two opinionated people who don’t have the same taste in bedding is simultaneously the most fun and the worst thing ever. Longest caption ever.
However, bed is now super awesome. And it’s 300% harder to leave it and be a real person.
I finally got around to re-hanging our string of Instax pics. Don’t even get me started on that eyesore phone. I’m going to take it down and hang a framed pic over the phone jack.
Good bye, winter friend.

Cheers, everyone – to the start of a new season.

And to hopefully getting my shit together before January. And hopefully January doesn’t show up, like tomorrow.

Good Gravy, episode 1

I love my parents – they’re hilarious and adorable and they’re best friends and huge nerds, and they compliment each other in a million different ways. But my favourite yin/yang quality of theirs has to do with my favourite breakfast: biscuits* and gravy.

My mom is the cook in the family. She reads cookbooks for fun, re-creates recipes after eating a dish at a restaurant, and has a vault of self-learnt recipes that impossibly blends complete trash food and gourmet dining. With the exception of something we now call “Corn Loaf”, a corn and cheese side dish that was supposed to be a fluffy Mexican corn dish that somehow went wrong and solidified mass of corn and goo that we could almost cut in slices, I can’t remember a single dish my mom has made that I haven’t liked. No one makes a grilled cheese sandwich or a plate of scrambled eggs like my mom. And I’ve tried for years to replicate my all time famous dish of hers, Baked Chili Spaghetti, to no avail. I’ve been asking for about ever for her to write these recipes for me, but I always get the same answer – “I’m not sure – I just make it. Just take X and X and X and go with it!” She’s a jerk.

My dad, on the other hand, passed his cooking skills down to me. We both need detailed instructions and tools. But we both looooove to eat. So it all balances out.

One of the biggest things I miss about living with my parents is the food. Particularly the big Sunday or holiday breakfasts. “Breakfast Skillets,” which are individual skillets layered with a fried egg, hash browns, sausage gravy, and topped with cheese and crumbled bacon. French toast fried perfectly with crispy edges and a soft center and topped with maple syrup and powdered sugar; Bacon and egg fried rice; but the best of it all is biscuits and sausage gravy.

Mom makes a helluva good gravy. I’ve never actually seen her make it – it just always appeared at the same time as the scrambled eggs did – both hot and ready to eat, with only one pan being used. It’s a mystery to me. For all the cooking talent my mom has, she can’t form a biscuit to save her life. They come out lumpy, malformed, a bit like a gargoyle fist – if that gargoyle fist was slammed in a door a few times. They break when you touch them and they’re pretty dense.

That’s where my dad comes in – his gravy may taste floury or be too watery, but his biscuits are always geometrically perfect with flat golden tops, and have the most perfect smooth and fluffy texture. I remember watching him make the dough, flouring the counter top, rolling the dough with a rolling pin, and using the same cup he always used to stamp out the biscuits. It’s the only cooking ritual I remember my dad having in the kitchen – besides the giant bowl he used to eat cereal.

With my parent’s powers combined, they make one awesome sauce breakfast. And it’s just one of those little anecdotes about their relationship that I think is too adorable.


I was looking through our fridge this morning and noticed our bacon was about to go off, and I immediately thought about making gravy with it. Even though I never made bacon before. So I called the Breakfast Masters for a crash course in Gravy 101 – what kind of spices to use, what kind of utensils, and basically the most important aspect of gravy – which is continuous whisking.

Now, this is for bacon gravy, which isn’t as good as sausage gravy – (which I’m attempting next week), so this is an abbreviated method (mostly so I won’t forget when I try again next week)

Step 1: Fry lots of bacon. Sing the bacon some sweet songs to encourage all the grease to collect in the pan (you only have to do this in Australia, where the bacon isn’t NEARLY as greasy as it is the US)

Step 2: Once bacon is at desired doneness (extra crispy for me, please – I want that shit to shatter in melty bacony goodness), remove from pan and wrap in aluminium foil to keep warm.

Step 3: On medium heat, melt some butter (see above note about Bacon not being greasy enough)

Step 4: Sprinkle a couple table spoons of flour over the butter and whisk that up with either a whisk, a wooden spoon, or the bottom of a flat rubber spatula – whatever won’t scratch up the pan

Step 5: Whisking constantly, cook the flour and butter for a few minutes until it’s really clumpy. If you don’t cook it long enough the flour will taste raw.

Step 6: Add milk – I eyeballed it by adding 1/2 cup at at time. And whisk whisk whisk.

Step 7: Season with salt, pepper, whatever else you’d like. I threw in some cajun seasoning.

You can add more milk if it’s too thick, more flour if it’s too watery

I served mine over toast with the fried bacon. And it tasted just as good as my mom’s, which made me feel like a double champ – 1) because I tried something new and it wasn’t a disaster, and 2) because it was delish. It felt like a taste from home.

But I also feel like a world of heart clogging, thigh jiggling, gravy topped food opportunities have opened up for me – and that’s hella exciting.

Tune in next week for episode 2! We’ll see if my biscuit game is on point.


*I should clarify for my non-Americans that I mean scones – biscuits in the States are the equivalent of scones in Australia. The first time I mentioned biscuits and gravy at work I was met with some grossed out and confused looks.

“Like… biscuits? Covered in gravy?”
“Yeah, it’s SO good.”
“um, ok.”


April Thus Far

So who is waiting to wrap a big fat DONE ribbon around April, quietly put it on the shelf and just pretend it didn’t happen? *raises hand*

I can’t remember a month where I’ve felt more – fragile – I guess is the best word. Hence the sporadic appearances here and everywhere else in the social spectrum. It’s been a tough few weeks. I’ve been on the receiving end of more pep talks than I have in years. But I’m happy to say that being more proactive and attentive to what I need has been helping immensely, so I’m just taking it day by day.

BUT – April hasn’t been all bad! For one thing, we watched so many episodes of My 600lb Life that I think I’m *thiiiiiis* close to cutting out all processed foods from my life. Joel has become Head Chef around here and we’ve never eaten better. I’ve been able to skype/Facetime/phone date with many of my nearest and dearest. And my most favourite person had a birthday. We celebrated with a doughnut cake, Game of Thrones, and a night with friends… and a resulting Friday night of pizza and sweatpants recovery.

Annnnd we just had an awesome three day weekend of good food, good movies (ok, and some terrible movies), and relax times (and let’s face it, obsessive cleaning and rearranging #stressed) in honour of ANZAC Day.


So here’s to the last few days of April – fingers crossed that it all starts to shape up.


Thanksgiving – already?

I feel like it isn’t November yet. In fact, I’m still thinking it’s early October and I’m confidently telling Joel I want to plan a big Thanksgiving party this year, knowing I have 8 weeks to get my shit together.

Well, well, Thanksgiving is actually this week, and I didn’t realize it until yesterday morning. I did what I always did and filed “Big T-Day Party” away in the “this will sort itself out” pile and went about my business.

Party or no party – I am bound and determined to have a better holiday this year. Last year, I spent the first three weeks of November fruitlessly going to job interviews and fretting every day about my shrinking savings account, and I finally scored a job in the week before Thanksgiving. Needless to say, planning a big dinner was the furthest thing from my mind. I was also deeply homesick, a bit hungover, Joel was working late and drained from it, and I had no idea where to buy stuff or what to cook. So I settled on a rotisserie chicken, frozen veg, mashed potatoes, packaged gravy and a subpar box of brownies with ice cream. And tap water. Joel got home around 8 and we watched American tv on my laptop because our TV was broken. He was super cheerful and the spirit of Thanksgiving was there, but the food wasn’t.

photo(3) 2
Chicken mash 4eva

This year, though. This year will be different. I’m a bit more savvy in the kitchen, and a bit more savvy about where to shop. I’m still not at the “make an entire Thanksgiving meal by myself” stage, but yesterday morning we thought up an awesome meal that I’m pretty excited about:

  • lemon herb roasted chicken (our oven is way too small for a turkey)
  • spinach salad with feta cheese and roast pumpkin and macadamia nuts
  • my famous green bean casserole
  • sliced & baked potatoes (my own experiment – I’m pretty excited)
  • Garlic Turkish bread with herbed butter (I thought about pull apart rolls with honey butter, but the salad is sweet and garlic Turkish bread is so good)
  • pumpkin pie for dessert

Since it’s not a holiday here, I don’t get a day off, so we’re having Thanksgiving on Friday, so I have more time to cook and hang out. A late dinner on Friday, with wine and cheese and cracker appetizers while the chicken roasts and the other dishes bake. I’m also drawing up a time line of shopping and when to bake what and fantasizing about setting the table. I’m really excited!

Last year, I just let the holidays happen to me. It was my first year doing both Thanksgiving and Christmas without my family (i.e. I didn’t have someone making my plans for me), so between work and finances they both just kinda slipped on by. This year, we’re looking forward to making them count. I love Thanksgiving, and I’m bound and determined to make this an awesome day for us.

ALL THE FINGERS CROSSED that I can stick to this plan, and we don’t end up eating KFC.


A tale of two porks

The pork tenderloin variety, not of the paid adult programming variety.

When it comes to cooking, I have a tendency to run before I can crawl, which is probably a response to years and years of being too scared to make anything more challenging than a grilled cheese. But, I’ve been pushing myself in the kitchen this year, and more often than not, the results are delicious, and my kitchen hasn’t been lit on fire. Even if I did leave the oven on all night that one time*.

So one day at work, I found a recipe for Crispy Roast Pork amidst some content work for one of our websites. And I remembered how delicious pork crackling was that time Joel’s dad made it.

Salt roasted pork is basically a heart attack. The fatty top slab of the pork is rubbed with coarse salt, and then blasted with high heat to crisp the fatty skin, and then roasted for about an hour to make the bottom juicy while the top gets crispier. The desired effect is a top fatty crust that sounds like it “crackles” and shatters as you bite into it. Hence, pork “crackle.” It’s typically served with a pork belly, but I can’t handle the squishy texture of the belly meat. But, the salty crackle combined with juicy pork meat is to die for. What I researched told me that a pork shoulder is better to use if you can’t use belly, but I’ve never cooked a pork shoulder without a slow-cooker. But I’ve made roast tenderloin before and it was amazing. So I went with what I knew.

I rushed to Google, who confirmed kinda weakly that tenderloin skin can crisp up with the best of them, if that’s all you’ve got. And all it took to make the dish was salt, a roasting pan, and an oven capable of reaching 240*C.


So, riding this wave of kitchen successes, I Googled some more until I found a credible recipe that didn’t involve bean curd marinade, and I set off to the butcher. One of the great things about living here is that I’m never too far away from an independent butcher or an self-stocked local farmer fruit stand. In face, I pass by both when I’m going by either the grocery store near work, or the grocery store near home. The reason I don’t stop there is pure laziness. Neither place takes debit cards, and most days I’ll be damned if I have to make one more stop than I have to, so I’ll go where I can get everything all at once. It’s a shitty habit, I know, especially considering the food quality is so much better at the independent stands.

But, I digress.

The butcher, near my office is an older guy named Bill, dressed in a white chef’s shirt and who talks like butchers from the b&w era. He was incredibly friendly and informative, and told me to come back after work because he was waiting for a “pork delivery.” When I came back, he had cut and scored a piece of tenderloin specifically for my needs. He even gave me tips on how to cook it, and threw in some scrap pieces on the house. As I was paying for it, he insisted I come back on Monday to tell him how it went. I was a little overwhelmed by his friendliness, and for a moment he made me think I was living down south in the mountains again, where friendliness with strangers is a daily occurrence. But I walked away thinking, if that’s how nice grocery shopping can be, then I’ll definitely be coming back. Maybe he can make me some American-style cuts of bacon…

Oh my god. I’m going back tomorrow.


So I bring the pork home, and it’s beautiful. And there’s no weird pork smell that I’ve noticed with grocery store pork. I rubbed it dry, massaged it with a bit of olive oil and salt, sang to it, had a photo shoot with it, rubbed it some more, and then put it to bed in the fridge so the fat rind could soak up all the salt.

hello, lovely!
hello, lovely!
I wore my good sweats for this shoot. #fridaynight
I wore my good sweats for this shoot. #fridaynight

The next night, I took it out of the fridge and rubbed it again, coaxed it again, and salted it again. Joel cut up onions and apples, and we layered them in the bottom of the pan before putting the roasting rack with ol’Salty on top.

Let's talk about salt, baby
Let’s talk about salt, baby

Then we shoved the roasting pan in the oven–literally, it almost didn’t fit and I would have cried–and proceeded to wait over an hour while it roasted.


Here’s where we didn’t plan. We were slugging about all day, and we had a big breakfast so we weren’t  particularly hungry for lunch, and therefore, lunch was skipped. And we weren’t hungry until the roast had 30 mins to go. And without knowing, we got hangry. And there were no snacks, at all. Except for a bag of candy that Joel found, which we inhaled. And then we inhaled the rest of the peanut better cookie bits. And then there was only 12 minutes left on the roast, and I wasn’t nearly as hungry. And I was all daaaaamn.


By the time we sat down to eat, I wasn’t hungry. I had filled up on last minute sugar impulse. I wasted $35 of pork for Starburst Jellies and week old peanut butter cookies.

et voila. Maybe next time I'll be hungry :(
et voila. Maybe next time I’ll be hungry 😦

That kinda coloured the rest of the meal. The pork was tender and tasted like a tenderloin, but the crackle was too much on chewy and too short on crackle. But, I blame myself. It probably would have been mind blowing if I had had an appetite.

you vile temptresses. Also, I ate 97% of these cookies over the week because Joel doesn't like peanut butter desserts. Sucks to be him!
you vile temptresses. Also, I ate 97% of these cookies over the week because Joel doesn’t like peanut butter desserts. Sucks to be him!

I felt really guilty and shitty about it, like I ruined the meal. Because I did. And it wasn’t the first time I’ve done it. One day. One day I’ll learn the valuable lesson of “no sweets before dinner.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 10.00.45 PM

The next day, I wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of the pork. Mom suggested simmering it in BBQ sauce and shredding it, and I was all “why didn’t I think of that!” I simmered it in a combo of BBQ suave and yellow mustard until the meat became tender. Because it was tenderloin, it didn’t shred very well, but I was able to cut it up pretty small, and I served it over mashed potatoes, and topped it all with roasted corn and tomato relish.

That corn reminds me of loose teeth. Or lotus pod skin. I can't stop staring at it. But it was good!
That corn reminds me of loose teeth. Or lotus pod skin. I can’t stop staring at it. But it was good!

It was BBQ mash just slopped into a bowl, it looked like hot sick, and honestly, it was so much better than the meal I was excited for a whole week to make. And it made Patton Oswalt proud. Go figure.

My take aways from my weekend in pork?

  • Always eat lunch or snack through out the day when you know dinner will take 1.5 hours to cook.
  • Don’t turn Hoover on sugar and chemicals when you’ve spent heaps on dinner.
  • Pork tastes better with a marinade. Or when roasted over a bed of onion, apple, and some chicken broth.
  • Aluminium foil lining the roasting tray didn’t make clean up a snap.
  • Butcher meat is the best meat.

Onward to the next meat adventure!

*jokes. One of us knocked the dial by accident and noticed a few minutes later. The oven wasn’t even warm.

Hello everyone!

So, here we are, closing in on the end of another month. It’s crazy how quick time is passing. In a few weeks, it’ll be the 6 month anniversary of me moving, and it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, they’re all over, but it really feels like I just stepped off the plane last week. Shit’s crazy.

It’s been a quiet, but productive month here in Sydney.

  • My contract at work was extended for 3 more months, which is FANTASTIC news, because I hate job hunting. Oh, and my job is pretty sweet. And, 37 hours of air conditioning a week is pretty cool, too.
  • Autumn is supposed to start soon! The official first day is March 1, so I’m expecting to wake up on that day and need to wear a sweater. DON’T DISAPPOINT ME, WEATHER.
  • Although, I shouldn’t complain too much about our beautiful sunny days. The east coast of the States is now suffocated with snow and ice, and the northern coast of Australia was pelted by cyclones and flooding this weekend. Things could always be worse. I just want to make a trip to the grocery store without having to change my shirt afterward. /sweaty
  • Our visa application is really coming along, which is also totes exciting. We should be able to submit next month. *fingers crossed*
  • We’ve been eating a lot of good meals made from scratch lately, which will be blogged about.
Lamb sausages with asparagus, garlic mash, and pepper gravy
Lamb sausages with asparagus, garlic mash, and pepper gravy
chili cheese chips (I can call fries chips now)
chili cheese chips (I can call fries chips now)
chicken-pancetta-avo-smash on grilled sea salt Turkish bread
chicken-pancetta-avo-smash on grilled sea salt Turkish bread
Banana, walnut, and Cadbury chocolate pancakes. Big Life Breakfast Club, guys
Banana, walnut, and Cadbury chocolate pancakes. Big Life Breakfast Club, guys
Kangaroo Steaks with roasted veggies. Kangaroos are cute, but they’re also a nuisance in some areas. It’s like eating deer in the US.
  • Interior Decorating update: We have the couch in survivable condition! After sewing in new patches, and reinforcing said patches with duct tape and covering it with a sheet, “new couch” discussions have started, which is exciting. Poor couch is about to have all the life lived out of it.
Hobo Couch, featuring Ham Bag pillow
Comfy Hobo Couch, featuring Ham Bag pillow, and Billy Ray Coon, scientist/pillow

I also suggested a new way to approach our gallery wall, which we both got excited about, so that might be happening soon. YAY!

  • Joel has been crazy productive, working and scheming in the studio with his friend Aaron, and going on photo adventures on his day off. I’m so proud of him. Check it out!
  • I’ve started a couple of projects this week. I’m looking forward to getting them off the ground in the next few months. I’ve also been checking out blogger networks and writing groups in Sydney. Time to get back in the saddle!
  • Valentine’s Day was lovely and low-key. It was a hot day, so we went out for a sushi lunch, a nap in the park, a viewing of Child’s Play 2, and a romantic meat pie dinner (not a euphemism). Neither of us really care about Valentine’s Day, and it’s not nearly as big a deal as it is in the States. We were just excited to finally spend it in the same geographical area, haha.
My favorite Valentine :)
My favorite Valentine 🙂
I found beautiful blood orange roses and splurged because, hey, Valentines Day. And I made Joel a card, because that's been my thing lately. Also, scotch. It's always time for scotch.
I found beautiful blood orange roses and splurged because, hey, Valentines Day. And I made Joel a card, because that’s been my thing lately. Also, scotch. It’s always time for scotch.
  • The grasshopper incident. I had a face off with a giant grasshopper. There’s a blog on that coming up. Brace yourselves for the mortification.
  • Friends on Netflix. I’ve been secretly binging on this when Joel’s not around. I’m just drowning in the 90’s, and I love it. Also, I’m getting more and more jealous of Monica’s kitchen with every episode.
I know that feel, Rachel.
I know that feel, Rachel.
  • Thanks to Amazon, I was reunited with my favorite cleaning products, ever:


It’s a great cleanser, is soft on hands, their Basil scent is the best scent ever, and it’s plant based and bio-degradable, so you can feel nice and smug and clean and smell good all at the same time. Also, I’m a sucker for throwback fonts and marketing. They also make candles and laundry soap/softeners, but I couldn’t import the candles and they don’t have laundry powder (which is all our machine uses. /womp womp

  • I’m in the process of getting real nerdy with how I deal with my clothes. Real nerdy. If it’s fruitful nerdity, I’ll share it here. I mean, until I get that clothes program from Clueless, I’ll have to deal somehow.

That about wraps it up for us! Stay tuned this week for meal posts, grass hopper posts, and maybe even OTHER POSTS!



I’m not sure how it started–maybe on a Christmas eve when my mom didn’t have time to shop for stocking stuffers and just grabbed things at random from the kitchen–but now it’s a tradition that the Turner Christmas stocking includes: duct tape, packets of brown gravy, a can of Easy Cheese, and a can of Spam. It’s essentially everything you would need to survive if the world ended, as duct tape fixes everything, and these food items never seem to expire. The gravy packets always ended up back in the kitchen, along with the Easy Cheese, but we never touched the Spam.

Spam has always been a joke food in my family. There’s something about canned meat that seems unholy and weird–last ditch food in a post-nuclear wasteland. I’ve always loved Spam as a novelty, the branding that never changed, the creepiness of canned mystery meat, the unapologetic honesty of its advertising: cheap meat, meat like flavor.

spam_spread_ad_19751Also, we’re all Monty Python fans, so there’s that.

So when Joel opened his stocking this year and held out the ubiquitous meat like product, I figured we’d just pop it on the window sill and use it for decoration, as I have before. But then we had a better idea: why don’t we try cooking with it?

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d tried Spam, and neither could Joel. I was pretty sure it’d taste like all mystery meat — vaguely like chicken-beef and with the texture of ham. Like a canned hot dog. Or it would just poison us, as I imagine all canned meat will do. Meat just isn’t supposed to sit on the counter. But, I remembered my Quest To Try All The Trashy Foods, and I agreed to try it. For science.

We scanned through recipes, and most of them sounded pretty good. Except for the Spam Musubi–even if our friend Barry is a fan. One recipe even claimed that Spam, once diced and fried, tastes a lot like bacon. And that Spam and Pineapple pizza is a delicacy in Hawaii. It came down to a recipe for Spam Fried Rice, and Spam Pineapple Pizza, but the pizza won over because we had a frozen pizza crust that needed to be eaten. /priorities

So we set out to make Fried Spam and Pineapple Pizza. what happens next will startle you.

onion choppin'
onion choppin’
Spam slicin'
Spam slicin’
Spam and onion fryin'
Spam and onion fryin’
Pile it on a crust that's spread with tomato paste
Pile it on a crust that’s spread with tomato paste
Add the pineapple. I loathe pineapple, so watching this made me gag.
Add the pineapple. I loathe pineapple, so watching this made me gag.
Top with BBQ sauce
Top with BBQ sauce
And green pepper
And green pepper
GRATE DAT CHEESE. Pro-tip: cheese is always better if you grate it yourself.
Top with spinach so you think you're eating healthy
Top with spinach so you think you’re eating healthy
and add more BBQ sauce to remind yourself you're not eating healthy
and add more BBQ sauce to remind yourself you’re not eating healthy
add cheese
add cheese
be careful when you're putting it into the oven. Or the crust might snap and you might loose 1/4 of your pizza...
be careful when you’re putting it into the oven. Or the crust might fold and you might loose 1/4 of your pizza.
Joel added some props for effect.
Joel added some props for effect.


aw ysssss
aw ysssss

The result: surprisingly delicious. I’m especially floored, considering this is a food whose two main ingredients are canned meat and pineapple i.e. the top two on my List of Shit I Won’t Eat, and all I’ve been able to think about this morning is putting the remaining slice in the oven and mowing it down. Even with the pineapple. The Spam was soft, but it had a buttery, bacon-y taste that defied all my expectations. And the pineapple and BBQ sauce set it off perfectly. Our crust was a little soft, but it didn’t matter. I could also see this as a wrap or a pita style sandwich.

I am a Spam convert. I feel so dirty.

My trash palate has won again. +10 would eat again.

Fried Spam and Pineapple Pizza

1/2 can tomato paste
1 pizza crust
1 brown onion, diced
1 can Spam, diced
1 can diced pineapple (more or less, your discretion)
1/3 cup green pepper
2 large hand fulls of spinach leaves
2 cups mozzarella cheese (we used a mozz/cheddar blend)BBQ sauce
Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning (optional, but we use this on everything)
Olive oil

1. Pre-heat oven to 220*C/350*F
2. Spread a smidger of olive oil and as much tomato sauce as you need on the pizza crust
3. Dice onion and Spam
4. Brown onion over medium heat with olive oil, add Spam. Fry Spam with onion until the edges brown.
5. Add Spam and onions to pizza crust
6. Add Pineapple
7. Add BBQ sauce and a slight scattering of cheese
8. Add green pepper
9. Add seasoning
10. Add spinach
11. Add BBQ sauce
12. Add more seasoning
13. Add cheese
14. Bake in oven until cheese bubbles

Novice Kitchen: We have become… Banananimal

photoOver the weekend, I had an incredible craving for banana cream pudding. It’s possibly the best pudding ever in the world, especially when it’s homemade. What’s better than banana pudding tossed with ‘Nilla wafers and sliced banana, and topped with whipped cream? Hardly anything? That’s right.

This craving was troublesome, since pudding as I know it here is something completely different: it’s a cake.

a Christmas plum pudding. Note the not-pudding like texture. of the pudding. (source)

So, no aisles full of instant pudding boxes in the grocery store. Strike out. Resume desert-induced depression.

What in the name of Bill Cosby do I do?

But then, Cosby-devined intervention came through: “I could make some. Like home made banana pudding.” Granted, the closest I’ve ever come to home-made banana pudding is throwing 2 cups of milk into a bowl with Banana flavored Jell-o pudding, letting it chill, slicing bananas, dousing it with Reddi-Whip, and eating the entire bowl. I started looking up recipes for ‘from-scratch’ banana pudding, but they were super Southern and filled with scary terms like “corn starch” and “double boiling” and “separated egg whites.” To complicate matters further, I couldn’t find ‘Nilla wafers, or even plain vanilla cookies in our store. Double farts.

I decided not to let it get me down, though. The two cookbooks I have with me from the states didn’t have a recipe I could use, but the internet is dark and full of terrors a lovely treasure box of food noms. And lo and behold, I came across The Baker Chick’s recipe for Homemade Banana Pudding. It looked easy enough to follow, and I was pretty sure I could find all the ingredients, or their Australian equivalent. I wasn’t excited about the 10 minutes of constant whisking, but it sounded easier than double boiling (which I’ve only tried once and it ended terribly). I’ll admit, at first I read the recipe because I liked the look of her site, but, I was sold on how her banana pudding looked closest to mid-west Banana pudding I’m used to eating (did you know that Southern people eat it hot, right off the stove? ew.)

So, yesterday, on a cold, cloudy day, I got to makin’ puddin’.

All you need. I substituted short bread biscuits for my longingly absent 'Nilla wafers.
All you need. I substituted short bread biscuits for my longingly absent ‘Nilla wafers.
Cue me standing in the grocery aisle Googling "what other names does corn starch have?" "is icing sugar the same as powdered sugar?" living abroad, bitches.
Cue me standing in the grocery aisle Googling “what other names does corn starch have?” “is icing sugar the same as powdered sugar?” #livingabroad, bitches.
Um, I also haven't figured out the metric to imperial conversions. When an American recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of butter, and Australian butter is served in 50g units, how many grams do you need? Answer, 3 and a guess. Maybe. I hate math.
Um, I also haven’t figured out the metric to imperial conversions. When an American recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of butter, and Australian butter is served in 50g units, how many grams do you need? Answer, 3 and a guess. Maybe. I hate math.
So, mix all the solids and the milk and the vanilla and the egg yolks and the egg together and put over medium heat. Yum?
So, mix all the solids and the milk and the vanilla and the egg yolks and the egg together and put over medium heat. Yum?
And whisk. Forever.
And whisk. Forever.
You'll whisk better if you wear your most unflattering clothing and stare at the heating pudding with an expression of pained regret. Also, fun aprons make everything better. This one belonged to my great grandmother and could be equally at home on Madmen.
You’ll whisk better if you wear your most unflattering clothing and stare at the pudding with an expression of pained regret. Also, fun aprons make everything better. This one belonged to my great grandmother and could be equally at home on Madmen’s Megan Draper. Except Megan Draper couldn’t pull off this sexy ensemble.
"Hey! I love carpal tunnel!"
“Hey! I love carpal tunnel!”
14 minutes in, the pudding still wasn't thickening, so I let Joel have a turn. /strategy
14 minutes in, the pudding still wasn’t thickening, so I let Joel have a turn. /strategy
He must have had a magic touch, because it thickened immediately after he stopped whisking.
He must have had a magic touch, because it thickened immediately after he stopped whisking.
Add dat butter.
Once thick and bubbly, Paula Deen that shit.
Cool dat pudding. I left mine in the fridge for about 40 mins.
As soon as the butter melts, and the lumps are stirred out, cool it. I left mine in the fridge for about 40 mins.
Set up! Banana pudding is the best excuse to get rid of your old bananas.
Set up! Banana pudding is the best excuse to get rid of your old bananas.
I made a layer of short bread wafers, and then 2 sliced bananas.
I made a layer of short bread wafers, and then 2 sliced bananas.
next, a layer of pudding and more bananas
next, a layer of pudding and more bananas
And then a layer of crushed up shortbread cookies
And then a layer of crushed up shortbread cookies
Get inside of me.
Get inside of me.
Next, wait 5-6 painstaking hours for it to settle. I think the longer pudding sets in the fridge, the better it is.
Next, wait 5-6 painstaking hours for it to settle. I think the longer pudding sets in the fridge, the better it is.
I tried to make whipped cream, and I learned that thickened cream is not the same as whipping cream. This is after 8 minutes of whisking. I also learned that cream + sugar = delicious cream sugar soup. And my stomach hurt for about 2 hours because I have no self control.
I tried to make whipped cream, and I learned that thickened cream is not the same as whipping cream. This is after 8 minutes of whisking. I also learned that cream + sugar = delicious cream sugar soup. And my stomach hurt for about 2 hours because I have no self control. Spoon left for shame evidence.
5 hours later, we had pudding!
5 hours later, we had pudding! The lighting here makes this look like egg salad, but I assure you: this is not egg salad. It is the most perfect pudding I’ve ever made.
Pudding in tea cups, aw yiss.
Pudding in tea cups, aw yiss.
Joel's first American pudding experience. It was a grand success. This is the "stop taking my picture and let me eat this pudding" face.
A man with a mouth full of pudding: Joel’s first American pudding experience. This is the “stop taking my picture and let me eat this pudding” face.

This pudding was incredible, even without whipped topping. Homemade whipped cream would have been amazing, though. Ah, well. The search continues for whipping cream!

In the mean time, I have one of my most favorite comfort foods ever waiting for me in the fridge.


Time to eat!

Homemade Banana Pudding adapted from The Baker Chick.


  • 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3 cups whole milk (don’t substitute for anything else, or it won’t be as rich)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large (ripe) bananas, sliced thinly
  • 1 batch of homemade vanilla wafers* (or 10 oz. of store bought ones.) (or shortbread wafers.)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (not thickened cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar


    1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, combine the sugar, cornstarch, egg, egg yolk, whole milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk together until combined, then continue whisking constantly for about 10 minutes, until the pudding thickens and starts to bubble.
    2. Add in the butter, remove from the heat, and whisk until completely melted. If there are any lumps, pour the pudding through a mesh sieve into a separate bowl. Allow pudding to sit in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, until cool to the touch.
To assemble
  1. First, place a layer of bananas in the bottom of a round 9 inch bowl (or something of similar size), then a layer of vanilla wafers (it doesn’t have to be perfect, because when you scoop up the pudding to serve, everything gets served together), then a layer of pudding.
  2. Repeat this banana, wafer, pudding layering until the last layer is pudding. Place in the fridge for 5-6 hours, covered in tin foil or plastic wrap. (I chilled mine overnight and in the morning it tasted perfect!)
  3. When the pudding is ready, Put your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 5/10 minutes or until very cold. Then, whip together the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until peaks form, about 5 minutes at the most.
  4. Top the pudding with the whipped cream, then sprinkle some crushed wafers over the top of the pudding. Keeps well in the fridge for 3 days. Serves 8.

*fun fact – American style pudding is actually custard, which The New Food Lover’s Companion defines as a dessert made with a sweetened mixture of milk and eggs that can be either baked or stirred using gentle heat. I always thought custard was a gross kind of ice cream. And now I know better.

On the Subject of Meatloaf

Noooo, meatloaf. Not Meat Loaf.

The first meal I remember my mom teaching me how to cook is meatloaf. Somewhere in my storage boxes at home, I still have her recipe that she wrote out for me, on her stationary whose border had a mother rabbit in a dress, surrounded by [presumably] her baby rabbits in little clothing, saying “Motherhood is a hare raising experience.” I liked making meatloaf because it was my job to mash all the veggies and whatnot into the meat. It was gross. And awesome.

I remember eating meatloaf a lot as a kid, because my parents are mid-western and meatloaf is a mid-west staple. But I can’t remember the last time she made it. And as Joel and I were flipping through a cookbook my mom gave us, his eyes landed on a meatloaf recipe and he lit up. As I was about to find out, Joel is a meatloaf fiend. And since we had hamburger in the freezer, vegetables in the fridge, and up til then, no clue what to do for dinner, we decided on meatloaf.

Prepping it was gross and awesome like it when I was a kid–just mushing together a pile of cold hamburger and egg and cut vegetables, and topping it with tomato sauce. It looked like a pile of wet slop. But after two hours of baking, it was delicious.


I didn’t take more photos, because I didn’t think this meal was going to be a success. But, shit. Meatloaf might become a regular thing now. I paired it with golden potatoes that I mashed with thickened cream and real butter. And it was so good.

What I didn’t realize until I put all the ingredients together is that 2 lbs of meatloaf can feed like, 20 people. Whoops. But now I understand why it’s a family staple. It’s easy to prepare, uses up your old veggies (or frozen veggies, even easier), is child friendly, doesn’t need constant tending, and will feed you for days. Like tonight, when we had fried meat loaf sandwiches.


Meatloaf for days. Or as Joel put it, “Alright, second hand meat!”

Yeah… That quote is the only reason I wanted to post about this.


Hattie’s Meatloaf
From Talk About Good
by Hattie Mae Perry

2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs, well beaten
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper, more if desired
2 slices bacon (optional, I went without, because bacon is different here)
1 can tomato sauce
*I added carrot, celery, and corn, because vegetables are yum. I also added a healthy dose of Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning because yes. It goes on everything.

Mix meat, egg, onion, bell pepper, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl. When mixed, form into a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan.

Place the two slices of bacon over the meat loaf and cover with tomato sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, or 170*C for 2 hours.
Approximately 8-10,000 servings.