Cook this: quick & healthy – Greek lamb meatball salad

Finally, the warmer weather of summer is coming to Melbourne… a little inconsistently, but it is coming! At the change of seasons, I like flicking through my More Please cookbook by Delicious Magazine’s Valli Little. Mum gave me this book years ago, and because it’s handily divided up by seasonal recipes, it’s one of those books I always go back to. As with most cookbooks I own, I don’t usually follow any of the recipes all the way through, but it’s great for a bit of inspiration. I based this recipe on one I saw in there for a Greek lamb meatball salad, trying to keep it quick, simple, FODMAP friendly and healthy – perfect for a mid-week summer dinner and left overs for lunch  : )

You’ll need (for 2 serves):

For the meatballs
– 250g lamb mince
– 1 tbsp sweet paprika
– 1 tbsp cumin powder
– 2 tsp dried oregano
– 1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil OR regular olive oil + 1 minced clove of garlic
– salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients in a large bowl with your hands.
3. Shape into small meatballs.
4. Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat and cook the meatballs for a few minutes, until browned on the outside.
5. Transfer to the oven tray and finish cooking for around 10 – 15 minutes, until cooked through (this will depend on the size of the meatballs).


For the dressing
– ½ – ⅔ cup plain Greek yoghurt (depending on how much you want to smother your salad with) – you can also use lactose free yoghurt if need be
– juice of ½ a small lemon
– 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, roughly shredded

1. Stir it all together in a bowl and leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.


For the salad
– 1 – 2 cups cous cous, cooked according to packet instructions and cooled (depending on how hungry you are). You can also substitute this for quinoa if you need to be gluten free.
– ½ punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1 cup sliced cucumber
– ¼ cup sliced kalamata olives
– ½ cup grilled, sliced capsicum (you can buy this from most delis if you want to make life even easier for yourself)
– 2 heaped cups of iceberg or cos lettuce, roughly chopped
– a few thin slices of red onion (leave this out if you’re low FODMAPing)

1. Depending on your preference, you can either combine everything in a large bowl and serve, or layer your salad like I did (cous cous on the bottom, followed by the other salad ingredients, then the meatballs).
2. Finally, spoon the yoghurt dressing on top, and you’re good to go!

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
Corner Washington Ave & Prytania St, New Orleans

After yesterday’s New Orleans read, I thought I’d stick with this favourite city of mine for another day, with another cemetery photo tour…

In stark comparison to the clean lines of the mostly shiny white marble of the St Louis Cemetery No. 3 and a little closer to the beautifully dilapidated St Louis Cemetery No. 1, Lafayette No. 1 was surrounded by the most beautiful trees (as one might expect for a cemetery located in the middle of the Garden District),  most of which had shed their leaves in the winter month we visited onto the tombs below, which gave me the feeling that the elements of nature were somehow protecting their residents…

This cemetery is not only the oldest of the seven city-operated cemeteries in the city, but it’s also a non-denominational and non-segregated resting place for not only natives, but also immigrants from 25-odd other countries – over 7, 000 souls in total entombed in the cemetery.



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Read this: The Wind In The Reeds by Wendell Pierce

The Wind In The Reeds
by Wendell Pierce

“We make our stories. And our stories make us.” 

Spending the weekend at home looking after a sick little puppy meant I had plenty of time to read (yay), so I thought it’d be good to start the week with a new book to add to your reading lists… This book was a beautiful read, but I’m truly struggling to know how to define it…

Written by New Orleanian Wendell Pierce, an acclaimed actor who was part of arguably one of the best television dramas of all time (The Wire) and probably my favourite series of all time (Treme), this book explores:
– African American history in the south
– his family’s specific history
– the importance of religion and education in African American families
– his path to becoming not just an actor, but a true artist
– the people who influenced both his life and career
– his role in bringing his city back together after the horrors that came with Hurricane KatrinaIt’s not a strict autobiography, in that Pierce tells so many more stories than just his own, and gives such a touching insight into the lives and trials of his family and community.

He wrote a lot about his family, and the enormous debt of gratitude he owed to his parents. He spoke of how hard they worked in a time where they were so oppressed, when segregation was as horrible as you could imagine, and he write with such dignity that you can’t help but feel so much towards their struggles. Reading about how his father worked two jobs so that Pierce and his brothers could have the education their parents both firmly believed they were entitled to was heart breaking and inspiring at the same time; Pierce also write about his father’s most prized possession, a letter framed and hung on the wall declaring his final mortgage payment and that he was in fact the sole owner of his own home. Something that I’ve never thought twice about, the ability to apply for a mortgage to own my own home – that was a battle for his parents.

He writes about his time spent filming both The Wire and Treme, and if you haven’t seen them, I’d recommend making that a priority. Both are the creations of producer David Simon, and Pierce write about how they were created not just as stories or entertainment, but as true documentaries of life on the streets of Baltimore and post-Katrina New Orleans, respectively. Pierce’s work on both shows was incredible, and reading about his experiences at the times he was filming gave a lot more insight.

Those passages really struck me for another reason; I like to think of my blog as my time capsule, my running documentary of what my life is right now. Pierce writes about the fact that with something like Treme, future generations will be able to watch it with their grandparents and understand that that was really what they lived through, without all of the Hollywood dramatisation. That’s truly a precious gift to pass on.

While I’m not a religious person myself, my parents are, and I could relate to a lot of what he wrote on this topic as well. While not a strict Sunday church-goer, his faith and love for God came because he so loved and respected his mother and father, and they in turn loved God. His faith, in a way, was through and in his parents; that made sense to me. While the majority of his family were very religious, there were a few who shunned it completely. His mother said that men are fallible, but that’s no reason to turn your back on your faith. He and his brothers were encouraged to question the views that the church presented – perhaps if I’d had that encouragement rather than strict instructions to follow blindly and dumbly, I’d still have a little faith.

The importance of family also shone through very strongly – how having someone to lean on when times are tough is a necessity, and how you are never truly alone. And it wasn’t just his immediate family; it was extended family and the community. When one struggled, the others picked up the slack. He took that concept all the way back to a traditional New Orleanian tradition of second lines and Mardi Gras crews, group and clubs. Learning more about the traditions of New Orleans from someone who lived there was fantastic, too, and what held my interest the most.

So as you can see, it’s a bit of a mish mash, but at the end of the day, it’s about empowerment and overcoming. It’s a truly beautiful read; grab a copy here  : )


“Hope is a memory that desires. If we can remember who we were and what we had, and can act in concert to reenact the rituals that defined us, we might find in that the hope to go on, despite the indifference of others to our fate.”

How my dog saved my life… Cook this: coconut matcha porridge

Summer might almost be here, but we’re still getting some cooler mornings in Melbourne, which means there are still a few chances left for warm breakfasts. But to get to that, let me first rewind a moment…

This weekend hasn’t been amazing. We were meant to stay in Geelong last night and take part in Run Geelong this morning, a 6km fun run husband and I entered together. It was not to be.

After 48 hours of vomiting, I took my fur baby to the vet on Friday morning. There had been a big fat storm the night before which meant the little guy didn’t sleep, I’d only had 3 hours myself, and was exhausted… I expected (hoped for) a check up and maybe some antibiotics for a tummy bug; he ended up staying overnight. After a physical examination found him to be in a fair bit of tummy pain, the vet said it could be anything from having eaten something he shouldn’t have (being part beagle, this was highly likely) to something more serious.

She couldn’t have been more kind and understanding as she gently explained that he would be sedated for his ultrasound, a drip inserted into his little paw to keep his fluids up, and through-the-night monitoring. I cried. Bless her, she gave me a box of tissues, a pat on the arm and the assurance he’d be ok. I just cried harder as she led him out of the consulting room with his tail between his legs, leaving me there with a hand full of tissues and a face full of snot and tears. I proceeded to bawl my eyes out for the next four hours until I had nothing left.

This may seem like a bit of an overreaction to a sick dog, so let me explain. He’s not just a pet, he’s not just family. Depression entered my life in my late teens; by the time I moved out of home straight out of uni, I was in a pretty shitty state. Having never been allowed a dog growing up because my mum doesn’t like them, the first thing husband and I did when we got our own place was to go puppy shopping. Enter little tiny Marley…

He was the best thing possible for my depression; he dragged me out of my bad states because I had to look after him. I couldn’t just sit in a corner and cry, because this little fur blob needed me to look after him. He was totally dependent on me, and I, in turn, became totally dependent on him. He saved my life. When I’m at home, he’s never more than a few steps away from me. When I’m sitting down, he’s sitting on my lap. When I’m depressed or anxious, he senses it and sits with me silently. When I cry, he nuzzles my neck with his nose to wipe away my tears. When I get home from work, the yelping is deafening. He’s my best friend and my shadow and my constant, loyal companion in every sense of the word.

So having to bring him to the vet and leave him there and imagining him waking up from his anesthetic scared and alone was more than I could handle. So I reacted the same way any rational, fully grown woman after dropping her dog off at the vet for an ultrasound; I cried my eyes out. And texted my dad, who called me immediately, and cried to him even harder. It wasn’t pretty.

Anyway, back on the recipe track, we were told we could collect him yesterday morning. It was cooler than it had been in a while and I wanted comfort food for breakfast, which meant porridge. Checking the fridge to make sure there was enough almond milk left, I noticed the matcha jar I’d brought home from Tokyo and thought I’d give that a try…

To make one bowl of porridge:
– scant half cup of rolled oats
– 1 tbsp chia seeds
– 1-2 tbsp shredded coconut
– 1 scoop protein powder – I use Amazonia’s raw vanilla protein (optional)
– 1 tsp matcha powder (more if you prefer a stronger flavour)
– 1 cup milk – I prefer almond milk for this

1. Put all ingredients except the almond milk into a tub and shake to combine.

2. Pour the tub into a small saucepan over medium heat, along with the milk, and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to a simmer, and stir constantly until it thickens to a consistency you’re happy with (somewhere in the vicinity of 4 – 8 minutes).

4. Serve immediately – enjoy :)

After that warm bowl of love, we collected our fur baby (with a bag full of medication) and took him home to rest. As you can see, he got real comfy, real quick… :) here’s to a better week ahead for my poor little bug, and I hope everyone else has a great week, too! And if you need a warm, comforting breakfast at any stage, I hope this recipe helps! xo

Treat yoself: The birthday edition part 2, city to suburbs – Operator 25 | Queen Vic Market | Myer Christmas Windows | Mr Scruff’s

For someone who didn’t want to celebrate her birthday, it really ended up dragging out for a while! After waking up to the sun rising over Flinders Street Station on Sunday morning (because we’re lunatics who are completely incapable of sleeping past like 6.30, 7am), it was time to head out and enjoy the sunshine in my most favourite city in the world :) But first, breakfast (take notes, the weekend is here again and you deserve to treat yourself too, birthday or not!)…


Operator 25
25 Wills St, Melbourne CBD

This is one of those places I’d heard a lot about because every self-respecting Melbourne food blogger worth their weight in donuts has already been there and tried it. But not me; I spend all week working in the city so I’m not terribly inclined to get up early on the weekend to go back again! But finally the opportunity presented, and with my trip to Tokyo kicking my matcha obsession into high gear, there was only one thing I was interested in..

We arrived in perfect timing, right as the doors opened at 9am on Sunday morning; within 20 minutes, the place was packed. It’s a really beautiful space, with the dangling electrical cords and light fittings giving it a real industrial feel, and the prints on the wall giving it that nice Melbourne hipster kick that I love in my brunch spots so much. To start, tea and coffee for myself and husband respectively. Happy campers.

Husband didn’t want to risk food envy, so we both got the matcha crumpets ($18.00) – two bright green crumpets served with poached pears, berries, a seriously delicious creamy coconut kaya sauce, and mango and lychee pearls. Unfortunately for me, while they were nice and fluffy and thick all at the same time, the matcha flavour of the crumpets was fairly weak. But, the pearls, berries and kaya sauce combined to make a pretty spectacular breaky.

Super keen to get back and try some of the other breakfast options, and some of the desserts (Thai milk tea sago, I’m coming for you!) which looked pretty good, too.


Next up, because we were already in that area, was a visit to the good old
Queen Victoria Market
Cnr Victoria and Elizabeth Streets, Melbourne CBD

How can you not love this place?! It just screams Melbourne to me… I love spending a Sunday morning weaving in and out of the rows of market stalls, and usually enjoying something delicious to eat while doing it. Seeing as we’d just had breaky, we skipped the usual gozleme stop, and grabbed a jam doughnut each on the way out. Because as much as I love the fancy pants ones, there’s just not much better than a fresh jammy from the market :)


Next stop was one of the classics at this time of the year, and one I usually pass by quickly because I have absolutely no patience for crowds and long lines, but we were in no hurry last weekend, so we actually watched the full show that was the…
Myer Christmas Windows!
Myer Bourke St, Melbourne CBD

This year’s windows are both pretty cute and a little sad for dog lovers like me – poor Little Dog, the furry star of the show, manages to get himself lost at Christmas time, stuck in the Melbourne rain, and all alone! I, along with another particularly sensitive little girl, was a little distraught, but (SPOILER ALERT!) thankfully Little Dog makes it home in time for Christmas. They did an amazing job with all the Melbourne classics like the trams, Flinders St Station, and even the Hopetoun Tea Room!


After that, it was time to check out of our hotel and make our way home… but it wouldn’t be a proper celebratory weekend without a big fat burger, so husband decided to detour back via Collingwood (yay) and stop in at Mr Scruff’s for the big dirty birthday burger he knew I wanted. Good man…

Mr Scruff’s
60 Smith St, Collingwood

It’s a bar, it’s a burger house, it’s perfectly hipster and totally Melbourne. Choose from seating over multiple levels – out the front, in the beer garden out back, in a booth inside, wherever you’re feeling. Place your order at the bar, and get excited…

Ok, let’s talk chips. Being a Melbourne skeptic, I wasn’t sure $9 for chips with adobo saly and aioli was going to be particularly good value. Wrong. Best chips either of us have ever had to date, hands down. Every chip was golden and crunchy. The adobo salt was actually closer to fairy dust. We pretty much fought it out to the bottom of the basket of chips, and neither of us were even hungry. Holy crap.

And the headliner – the burger. We each got a beef burger ($10) with American cheese, cos lettuce, pickles, onion and special sauce. Plus bacon ($3), obviously. Bloody hell… I was apprehensive at first, because Easey’s burger came out looking sexy as hell and was a bit of a let down. This was pure magic. Everything about this burger was just so right. Bun was perfect. Chopped up cos lettuce was perfect – much better than giant leaves. Heaps of melted cheese and a half a pig worth of crispy bacon. Special sauce on point. And the patty – actually cooked properly – thick and juicy and still a little pink inside. All it needed was a squirt of ketchup and mustard, which were sitting on the table waiting for us, and that’s pretty close to a perfect burger…


WOW what a massive weekend! If you stuck it out with me over the last few days, I hope I’ve been able to give you some idea for the upcoming weekend, whether you want to treat yourself or enjoy some time with friends :) We’re so lucky to live in Melbourne (and if you’re visiting, you’re super lucky, too!) – there is SO much to see and do here, and spending my birthday exploring this amazing city I love so much was the perfect way to go! That said, as much as I love this city, I also love taking off again, too… so guess who booked flights to visit Vietnam again next year?!

Have a great weekend everyone, hang out with people you love and enjoy what your city has to offer, wherever that city may be!