Christmas in July event by EatReadLove

Last Saturday was a very fine day as it was the Christmas in July pop-up event organised by Natalie from EatReadLove. I’ve been following her on Instagram for a while as she also hosts beautiful kinfolk gatherings but somehow always missed out.

This time Corina and I got in quick and signed up for the Noel en Juillet gathering at the Royalla Farmstay in the Southern Highlands. We left very early morning and off we went to Robertson.

It was a gorgeous sunrise and when we arrived at the Royalla farm we were greeted by the gorgeous team who had put this incredible event together: Natalie Haylar from EatReadLove, Natalie’s assistant Jess Kneebone, Jaclyn from BlogSociety, Stylist Lisa Madigan, Photographer Luisa Brimble and our chef for the day Mario from Marios Kitchen.

For breakfast/morning tea we had warming tea and coffee and delicious toasted muesli and tea cake.

Lunch was served on a buffet and we had beautifully tender lamb shanks, preserved lemons and braised onion salad, pumpkin feta salad. Ah, let’s not forget the dessert. Poached pears with ganache and vanilla ice-cream, yummo!

The menu was printed on a beautiful card but also written on the window behind the buffet. Every one of us had their name written on the wine glass in gorgeous handwriting. There was so much attention to detail which in parts I only noticed afterwards when I looked through all my photos.

Lisa had brought the inside in for the wintery table setting and Mario our chef created a hearty meal of Middle Eastern flavours. It was delicious. It was so nice too to meet like-minded people and connect with some that I already “knew” through Instagram but now was actually meeting them, which is really thrilling.

After lunch we had a little walk around the beautiful farmstay and surrounding and more time for chatting and photographing. Luisa Brimble followed us with her camera and also filmed a beautiful video which is shown at the end.

When we came back we indulged on berry scones and home made chai tea while Natalie and Mario where already busy getting the bonfire underway to roast our marshmallows from Black Pantry.

Below the photos is a video that brings it all together, beautifully captured by Luisa Brimble.

I also created a little cinemagraph of the bonfire which can be found on Tumblr.

.Beautiful setting for yummy breakfast

Beautiful setting for yummy breakfast

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Noel en Juillet | Christmas in July Workshop Hosted by Natalie Hayllar of Eat Read Love from Luisa Brimble on Vimeo.

Bondi, my love

If there is anything I regret about moving to Sydney, it’s that we didn’t move right to Bondi Beach! I just love it! But then, at least I live in this very beautiful city  and the beaches are just one of the many cool things that Sydney has to offer.

Beginning of Winter I was following my friend around with my camera in hand on her morning surf (before going to work) and it was magnificent. The morning started not very promising actually.

It was grey and foggy when we got to the beach, and still very dark. But we got lucky, my friend took to the waves and I waited for the sun, and she came.

Gloomy Bondi
Paddle boarding and surfing in Bondi
Paddle boarding and surfing in Bondi
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Riding the waves
Riding the waves
Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
Surfer are happy people
Happy surfer

Zucchini cardamom cake with lemon cream cheese filling and pistachio

Zucchini Cardamom Cake for Queen’s Birthday

Zucchini cake for Queen's birthday

Yipeeh, a toast to the Queen and her birthday celebration which brings us a public holiday on Monday. I love the fact that since we moved to Australia, no public holiday is lost. If a public holiday falls on a weekend, the following Monday is free nevertheless.

Perfect for holding a high tea ceremony or less formal just to invite friends over to a Kaffeeklatsch (coffee and gossip). This cake recipe uses grated zucchini which may sound a bit unusual but it will keep the cake moist for days. The pistachios add a delicious crunch and the cardamom and lemon aromatic flavour.

I guess this is not your ordinary cake for high tea but very yummy indeed. It will go well with black tea and coffee but also chai tea is great served with this cake. The Finns mix cardamom also into their ground coffee, which is nice as well.

Zucchini cardamom cake with lemon cream cheese filling and pistachio

Recipe for Zucchini cardamom cake with lemon cream cheese frosting

Ingredients
185ml vegetable oil
220g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75g unsalted pistachios, finely chopped, plus 35g unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped, to decorate
60g almond meal
2 cups grated zucchini (about 3-4)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225g self-raising flour
75g plain flour

Lemon frosting
180g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
250g cream cheese, softened
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, plus extra lemon zest, to decorate

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 22cm springform pan and line base and sides with baking paper.
Using an electric kitchen mixer, whisk the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick. Stir in chopped nuts, almond meal, zucchini and spices. Sift over soda and flours, and stir to combine. Pour into pan and bake for 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.
For the lemon frosting, use electric beaters to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With motor running, gradually add cheese, beating well between additions. Add zest and juice and beat until smooth.
Using a bread knife, slice the cake into two rounds and set top aside. Spread a third of the frosting over the bottom half, then replace top and spread cake with remaining frosting. Decorate with chopped pistachios and lemon zest.

Uimi Knitwear - Melbourne

Uimi Knitwear — Melbourne

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Meet uimi knitwear … we think just in time to get ready for the cooler days and cold nights. Winter is approaching fast!

uimi is a small Melbourne based lifestyle brand, specialising in eco-friendly knitwear, producing wonderful throws, blankets, womens & kids wear, cushions and much much more… made exclusively from natural fibres, including extra fine merino wool and certified organic cotton.

And most importantly – all designed and produced locally in Melbourne!

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Uimi - Knitwear
(image source uimi)

Bondi Icebergs

Sydney’s rock pools

Sydney is such a beautiful city known for its beaches but I am not sure if many people know about the wonderful rock pools which adorn many beaches here in Sydney. The most famous surely is the Bondi Icebergs Rock Pool but there are so many more.

This video was filmed by cinematographer Jason Wingrove at the Curl Curl rock pool which is part of the Northern beaches. Love the song too. Wonderful.

Atelier Make - s'more

Atelier Make – Montreal

Atelier Make - s'more

Atelier Make is a Montreal based ceramic design and production studio of artists Maya Ersan & Jamie Robson. Their design aesthetic ranges from minimal to whimsical, bringing beauty and fine craft into daily life. Maya and Jaimie reinterpret traditional ceramic forms with a contemporary twist.

We love their minimalist yet still playful and functional approach to creating beautiful everyday objects.

Atelier Make - s'more

Atelier Make - s'more

Atelier Make - s'more

Atelier Make - s'more

Atelier Make - s'more

Image source Atelier Make (via)

Seriously funny – SRSLY

SRSLY is Alexandra Fiber and Danielle Gibson: Two NY-based actors, writers, producers, and full-time BFFs, who met during their senior year at drama school. They started their blog and videos SRSLY in 2011 to show their own acting and writing skills, and to support fellow talents in the NYC comedy and filmmaking communities. They say on their own website that is was their goal ‘to create videos that are fresh, female-focused, and above all: funny’ and I think they’ve absolutely done that.

Since their launch they have created numerous videos, here are three of my favourites:

The Most Powerful Arm - s'more

The Most Powerful Arm for a Good Cause

My husband Tim has worked on this campaign to raise awareness and funds to fight Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This disease affects mainly boys and they suffer from progressive deterioration of their muscles. The kids lose the ability to use their arms and for example sign their name very early in their life. This is why The Most Powerful Arm, a bionic arm was created. With this robotic arm you can help them by signing a petition to the Australian government, asking them to start important research on the crippling disease. Please add your signature at TheMostPowerfulArm.com

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The arm is publicly installed in Sydney’s Customs House and takes your signature via the Facebook login. It then signs the petition for you, using the original handwriting of one of the children affected, Jacob Lancaster (who you also see in the video). A photo camera will take a picture of each signature and post it to the respective signer’s Facebook wall.

(via Adverblog)

Laneway Learning - s'more

Laneway Learning, Melbourne

Everyone loves learning, but most evening classes seem like such a commitment. Laneway Learning is different; we host cheap, informal classes in anything that takes our fancy.

Have you heard about Laneway Learning in Melbourne? Laneway Learning was brought to life by a group of friends (Mark Gergory, Kim Hay, Lucie Bradley and Tom Ding) with a passion for learning.

It is a ragtag series of evening classes held in a (laneway) cafe in Melbourne. The classes are very reasonable priced at generally $12, informal and taught by ordinary people from the local community.

So if you are interested in learning things like Collaborative Art, Creative Expression, A Very Crafty Way to Calm, Typography: Building an Alphabet or Neuroplasticity: Brains on the Starting Block, Bookbinding and many other very interesting and inspiring topics, then check out their website and book yourself a spot.

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Happy Easter - s'more

Happy Easter

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We wish you all a very Happy Easter! Enjoy the long weekend, no matter what the weather will bring!

And here is a little crafty idea which doesn’t cost much time but is very cute. Select egg cartons and remove all the stickers and labels. Get some acrylic paint and paint the cartons. Let dry. With another colour, paint dots all over the cartons. Once dried, use as gift boxes or for your kids to store the eggs in from the Easter egg hunt.

Greek Easter Biscuits - s'more

Greek Easter Biscuits

A while ago, we visited Martha from Crave Good Food  and we asked her for her favourite recipe. Having a Greek background she sent us the recipe for these beautiful Greek Easter biscuits – perfect for afternoon tea.

The dough is easy to make and fun for the kids too. The traditional shape is a plaid or little rounds, sprinkled with sesame seeds for a nice crunch.

These biscuits, Koulourakia in Greek, are an authentic treat on Easter sunday.

Here is Martha’s recipe for traditional Greek Easter Biscuits:

This is a family recipe that never fails.   Even though these biscuits are traditionally reserved for Easter, it is not uncommon for my mother  to whip up this recipe during school holidays as an opportunity to get the grandkids baking along side her. Makes approx. 45 biscuits.

Ingredients
250 g unsalted butter
50 ml olive or vegetable oil
2 cups caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup full cream milk, lukewarm
1 kg self-raising flour
sesame seeds (optional)

Glaze
1 egg, lightly beaten
50 ml olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water              

Method
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Melt the butter. Stir together butter and oil and add the sugar. Add the eggs and milk and whisk to combine. Sift the flour and baking powder and slowly add to the wet mix. Beat until the dough is well combined.
Set aside and rest for approx. 10 mins.  Stir together the glaze and set aside. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 15 cm long rope then fold over and twist to get a plaid-like shape. Brush plaids with the glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).
Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden. Put on a wire rack to cool.

Tufts - Daisy Tealights - s'more

Tufts – Daisy

Tufts - Daisy Egg Cups

How pretty is Daisy and so in the spirit of a big Easter Sunday brunch … or really any other Sunday brunch gathering for that matter.

I have just come across Tufts and the beautiful Daisy tableware, handmade in Melbourne by Ingrid Tufts. Tufts is a small studio producing handmade ceramic tableware and creator of bespoke cafe ware.

Tufts - Daisy Tealights

Tufts - Daisy Bowls

Blood Orange Tarts - s'more

Blood Orange Tarts with Candied Orange

This year seems to already be flying away and we here in Sydney have welcomed autumn. Funny thing for an European to think of Easter in autumn. So, when the two of us think of Easter, spring still comes to mind, blooming flowers everywhere in beautiful vibrant colours. We love poppies, so wonderfully delicate yet vibrant and poppy seeds are much loved for baking in Europe. Eggs are obviously a staple for baking especially around Easter and Corina also remembers blood oranges from her time in Texas.

There you are, our ingredients of choice for these delicious tarts. If you can’t get blood oranges, use normal ones but omit the lemon juice.

There’s certainly something opulent and mysterious about this kind of fruit and it was once reserved only for royalty and the very privileged.

The flesh develops its characteristic maroon colour when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night. Sometimes there is dark colouring on the outside rind as well, depending on the variety.
Blood oranges are usually sweeter than the normal orange and therefore I added a bit of lemon juice to my tart filling. The distinctive dark flesh colour is caused by the anthocyanins, a family of antioxidants. It also contains a rich blend of vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, vitamin A and fibre. Quite a superfood!

Blood orange tarts with candied orange

Filling
3/4 cup thickened cream
4 eggs
½ cup caster sugar
3 teaspoons finely grated blood orange rind
2/3 cup blood orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornflour

Pastry
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
125g butter, chilled, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon water, chilled

Candied orange slices
1 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup fresh blood orange juice
1/3 cup water
1 blood orange, thinly sliced

Method
For the pastry, put flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg, poppy seeds and water. Process until dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until just smooth. Shape into a disc. Cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Grease 8 little fluted, loose-based tartlets (ø 12cm) tins. Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper to form a large circle. Line base and sides of prepared tins with pastry. Trim excess. Re-roll pastry scraps and line remaining tins. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Place tins on a baking tray. Line pastry with baking paper. Fill with ceramic pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove weights or rice and paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden. Cool.
Reduce oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced. Whisk cream, eggs, sugar, blood orange rind, blood orange juice, lemon juice and cornflour in a bowl until smooth. Pour into pastry case. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until just set. Cool for 20 minutes. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, to make the orange syrup, stir sugar, orange juice and water in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add orange slices. Increase heat and simmer, without stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Serve with tarts.

Shibori Workshop

Shibori – Japanese fabric dyeing technique

A week ago I participated in a Shibori fabric dyeing class at the Community College in Rose Bay. It was such a rainy day and I was happy to spent it inside and to learn something new. We used only natural dye such as indigo, turmeric and black tea.

Our teacher Zoe MacDonell guided us through the techniques for different shapes and patterns. Basically it’s trying to prevent the colour to reach certain areas of the fabric to penetrate. That can be done by folding, tieing, clamping or binding. Rubber bands, synthetic string, buttons or even marbles are great to use. My favourite technique was the diagonal constantine fold which I then wrapped around a metal pole, tied it up with string and rubberbands before I dipped it into the dye. You need to wear gloves otherwise your hands will be stained and indigo in particular is a very strong dye. In fact, the indigo on my fabric is still rubbing off so I am not sure what to use those for. Might just end up in my props cupboard ;-)

There are the so-called mordants, mineral salts which will either enhance, intensify or change the colour. It also helps to fix the dye colour.

We used only three different natural dye but Zoe told us we could also use ground coffee, henna, onion skin or different sorts of leaves. I know that onion skin works well as I use this for Easter eggs. However, you have to extract the colour by cooking the dye out before you can dip the fabric in.

Lightweight natural fabric such as silk, cotton or linen works best. Smaller pieces are easier to handle than bigger ones and, the dyeing process is quite a messy one as you will see from the photos I took.

From raw to colour

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Crave Good Food

s'more - Crave Good Food

Meet Martha Delfas, founder of Crave – Good Food in Sydney.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of personally meeting Martha and spent a morning with her chatting about and tasting beautiful artisan food and what inspired her to bring Crave to the table (literally).

Crave was born by her love for cooking and food made with passion and heart. Martha describes herself as someone who lives to eat and not eat to live. A passion that was passed to her early on by her mum.

Having extensive experience in retail, Martha saw a niche in bringing honest, simple and beautiful food to consumers who don’t live in urban neighbourhoods with a deli just around the corner. And ‘voila’, the Crave tasting box was born.

Whether it is locally and sustainably produced honey by urban beekeeper Elke, handcrafted peanut butter from a small manufacturer in Sydney or the award winning relishes by Atticus & Max, one thing is clear, Martha’s passion for great food and supporting small artisan producers catches you the minute you are in her presence and every tasting box sent out brings a little bit of that and her favourite food to your table.

The crave tasting boxes are available on a monthly subscription, as a one off sample tasting box or if you would like to surprise someone special also as a gift box. Soon there will be a gluten free option available to cater for all those with a passion for good food.

Culinary Misfists - Berlin

Culinary Misfits – Berlin

Recently we came across these remarkable two women who founded “Culinary Misfits – eat the whole crop!” in Berlin. A movement to save vegetables that is far from looking perfect (at least in the eyes of supermarkets) but still taste the same, if not even better as it has so much more character .

Approximately half of the daily crop on farms gets thrown out because of its look. The carrot may have three legs, or the potato has not the correct round shape. That’s were Lea and Tania from Culinary Misfits step in, they buy those vegetables and cook with it.  They now run a catering business under the same name and sometimes are seen at the local farmers market selling pickled culinary misfits.

Soon they will also open a permanent shop in Berlin. Check out their website  Culinary Misfits (you need to have a slight understanding of German though ;-) for more details.


Manly Map - The Common Store

Snap Up a Suburb

Reprinted in Sydney and delightfully affordable – a must have for all Sydney aficionados.

This first collection available at The Common Store is sourced from the City of Sydney Archives, who have diligently kept a thorough archive of Sydney’s short but vivid history. The collection comprises of lots of Sydney suburbs from circa 1896-1899.

Originally lithographed by the firm of Higinbotham & Robinson in the late nineteenth century, each map shows the boundaries of the municipality, with the main streets, railway lines, wharves, parks and reserves.

Some suburbs are already sold out but hopefully will be reprinted soon.