23.5.13

farewell

Georgia & Kristian
The last few months have been the busiest, happiest and saddest of my life. When I wrote the last post at Christmas I don't think I quite knew what 2013 had in store for me but I could never have anticipated just how it would go.

Kristian and I bought a house in March, then on the rainiest day in April we got married in a pub with our nearest and dearest. At the beginning of May, just a few short weeks after the wedding, my beautiful darling Dad passed away at home, with Mum and I holding his hands to the last. It has been the richest, most indescribable time and I haven't been able to share it with you because I just didn't know how. 

For a good long while I was tempted, amidst all this change, to just fade out, to leave this space quietly, slipping away without a proper goodbye. But then I have come to realise that goodbyes are tremendously important. Whole oceans of time and love can pass through the space of a few minutes. I know this now.

So goodbye dear friends and readers. I have loved this space but I have struggled with it too and I feel ultimately that my heart just isn't in it any more. Thank you for reading, for all your thoughtful comments and for sharing in the journey that has been Bakery Bookery.

All the best,
Georgia x
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[Photo of Kristian and I by Nioclas Porter]
[Photo of Dad and I by Mum]

21.12.12

solstice


Time is a slippery beast. As we approach the longest day of the year here (but the shortest in the northern hemisphere), I've had some long days indeed. Days when I have stayed up late making gingerbread, days when 4am has been a restless time of reading when sleep won't come, days when news about my Dad's worsening health and the realisation of the time he has left pierces through the fabric of reality and stretches time out to eternal lengths. Time is a friend and a foe - something to be courted and avoided, both ignored and held tightly.

As Christmas creeps up I am grabbing little moments of time and holding them close. There is beauty and peace in the early morning, there is an hour in holding someone's hand. There is something meditative and calming in rolling out dough, in finding a tree in bloom. There are moments that encompass whole worlds of time and others in which time flits past like a small child - busy, busy, busy.

I hope time is kind with you over the next couple of weeks and you return the favour. Hold your loved ones close, savour your meals, enjoy the wrapping of presents and the writing of cards, make time for rest and moments of ease if you can, curl up with books. Today may be a long day of sunlight but it will go quickly too.

Wishing you all a peaceful festive season.

x

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9.12.12

peace and quiet




Each year when the holiday season rolls around, I tend to bob about between two quite different feelings: excitement for the festivity of the season and the time spent with family and friends; and the tight, anxious feeling that comes with the intensity of consumerism and forced busyness. 

This year has been quite stressful all told and so I'd love for these holidays to be about having the space to be quiet, relax, cook, play, think, sleep, read books, make things and hang out in nature.

So I made a start on the weekend and sat down in the living room with a cup of coffee and made a garland from paper cranes. I also had a crack at making some beaded necklaces and bracelets for my niece for Christmas and it was so much fun. I'd forgotten how nice it is to get out of your head for a while and make something with your hands.

Screw shopping and tinsel. I think this year it's going to be something of a handmade holiday.

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29.11.12

mulberry

A friend left these on my desk at work a little while back.

I didn't know it but there was a mulberry tree just across the road. I ran outside to get more. There was something totally magical about plucking those ripe berries from the tree, having the vivid, juice run down my arms. I was back in childhood land, to red-stained faces and keeping silkworms.

I've been trying to feel more connected to nature in recent months. There is something about bare feet on grass, touching the leaves on my little rescued crab-apple tree, watering a gifted money plant.

Not many berries on the tree now, they've all fallen off, but the memories remain.

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19.11.12

off to market


The London trip seems a million miles away these days but every now and then I get a little pop of memory and something I ate or saw from our travels leaps into mind.

In particular one day keeps coming back.  It was a Saturday when I went to the Borough Market and then met up with a new friend Gigi at the Bermondsey street fair in South London. It was just an all round brilliant day. The sun was shining, the markets were booming and bustling, tables piled high with loaves of bread and wheels of cheese. Brownies, cakes and turkish delight were in bacchanalian abundance, as well as tables of heirloom tomatoes and other wonderful produce.

I was a little overwhelmed by it all at first until I had an epiphany a few minutes in when I realised I didn't have to eat everything then and there, I could buy food to be enjoyed later. So I bought some brownies and cakes to take to Kristian and his mate Nick, who were working hard at the design fair in Earl's Court, and ate figs and cheese as I wandered round the stalls.

Luckily I didn't indulge too much at the market because Bermondsey Street was a whole other experience of Hog Roasts, country style fare and curiosities. Gigi and I met up with some of her friends, who had two of the cutest kids I've ever seen and proceeded to enjoy the most surreal few hours at the fair. There was a dog show, a kid show, a street performer dressed up in the manner of an extremely pregnant Victorian woman, who would periodically scream as if in labour and then launch at people to "give birth to them" through her dress. If that sounds weird, it's because it was. Luckily by this point Gigi and I had consumed a few beers so it was sort of bearable/ entertaining.

Quite a day indeed. The photos don't do it justice really but then again I think some of it is probably best left to the imagination.

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31.10.12

unexpected fluttering

We're big on notes in our family. Not so much of the 'thank you for the thoughtful gift' variety but more often than not our handwritten notes feature the details of a new favourite restaurant, important bus route numbers or, from when we've holidayed together, instructions as to our whereabouts - 'gone to the shop to get fish, bread, milk etc back soon.' 

I have always been a collector of words (I still have all my childhood and teenage journals, detailing fervent plans to have exciting haircuts and boyfriends and amazing clothes and I've kept just about every birthday card I've ever been given) so I find it hard to throw these notes away. I feel like there's something of the person preserved in the note. Sometimes when pulling a cookbook out from the shelf a note will come unexpectedly fluttering out from between the pages and I'll find myself tearing up at the sight of my Mum or Grandmother's handwriting. 

I came across one of these such recipes the other day, for Armenian Nutmeg Cake, and knew that I wanted to make it as part of this month's cooking club challenge (which incidentally is all about recipes handed down by voice, handwritten notes or memories). The funny thing is I can't remember for the life of me who usually made this cake, whether it was my Mum or my Dad, as they're both pretty good cooks. Dad was normally in charge of dessert when they were having guests over but the nuts and spices in it has all the hallmarks of a Mum-type cake, the kind that as a child I would probably not have been interested in picking at before the guests arrived.  

Regardless of who was the author of this cake, the minute I tasted it I was transported back to Sunday guest lunches in our old house in Pennant Hills. I think it somewhat miraculous that time can be preserved in a recipe like that. In sharing this recipe with you, hopefully you can make it and create your own new timeline.

Armenian Nutmeg Cake

2 cups brown sugar
2 cups wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125g butter
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon carbonate of soda
walnuts

Set your oven to moderate (180°C) and grease a 20cm cake tin.

Combine the brown sugar, sifted flour and baking powder; rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Place half of this mixture evenly over the base of your cake tin and press down lightly with a fork to form a base. 

Dissolve the carbonate of soda in the milk; add the beaten egg and nutmeg. Pour this on to the remaining crumb mixture in your bowl and mix well. Pour this onto the tin, sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Bake in a moderate oven for an hour. Check on the cake about halfway through the cooking time and if it's getting quite brown you can cover it with aluminium foil. Once cooked through, allow the cake to stand in the tin for five minutes before turning onto a rack to cool.

And there you have it. 

It's sort of halfway between a cake and a slice and is at once both chewy and slightly crunchy, caramelly and spicy. Not the most beautiful of cakes but a damn good afternoon cake or one for when friends drop by. One thing though, if you're prone to colourful dreaming perhaps avoid having it just before bed. I don't think the teaspoon of nutmeg is enough to bring on the screaming jeebies but just to be on the safe side...

For a lot more wonderfully inspired recipes and memories have a look and see what the other cooking club members got up to this month:

Lucent Imagery  (cooking club founder)


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25.10.12

street moments




Greetings again! It's quite surreal to realise I've been back now for almost a month! Coming back to Earth has been a bit tricky and I'm still wading through a heck lot of photos and trying to get my head into Sydney and this topsy turvy spring weather and work and things. Still, there is something lovely about extending the trip feeling for as long as possible....

I was a bit like Alice in Londonland during our trip. I couldn't see enough. Everything was fascinating and magical: from misspelt, ardent graffiti to abandoned street cakes to little folk, spotted at the vibrant and loud Columbia flower market. I loved hearing the flower sellers there yelling out prices to the passing crowd, or in one vendors case giving good weather advice: 'Don't be a wally, grab a brolly, two pounds a bargain!'


There's something to be said for really looking at a place and retaining that sense of childlike wonder about the little details. Looking up and down brings into view a whole new world. I'm hoping to keep my travel eyes in place a bit longer and re-discover some of the little wonders of Sydney too.

Next up the promised food and markets!

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11.10.12

unexpected and wonderful

Well hello!

It's hard to believe I've been to London and back since my last post. What a trip - surprising, inspiring, vibrant, overwhelming - London was unexpected and wonderful and almost impossible to reduce to any one experience or moment.  Here are a few of my first impressions:



















What an amazing city! London greeted us with blue skies and sunshine and so in the early few days we picnicked in parks and walked our legs off. We stayed in an apartment in Bethnal Green, which is near Shoreditch and Brick Lane in East London and was very vibrant and villagey. I loved that you could walk for fifteen minutes in any direction and encounter so many vastly different neighbourhoods, architectural styles, people, food....

One morning we walked for an hour or so from our apartment across town to Clerkenwell to find a shop, which sold nuts and bolts of all things, and accidentally stumbled across the best coffee in London from a tiny, little, Italian cafe in Hackney, and all because I needed to find a loo.

I think that is always my favourite way to explore a new city - no real agenda, no plans, just wander.
And what a city to wander in!

The above pics are from Bethnal Green, Brick Lane, Millenium Bridge, Carnaby Street, Shoreditch, Bloomsbury (British Museum), Hampstead and Bethnal Green again (where I had a 'how much is that doggie in the window?' moment).

Looking back over my photos from the trip I've realised I've got quite a few bakeries, shopfronts and markets to share with you too but for now it's good to be back home and also back here. I've missed this space while I've been away and missed you guys too. Hope all is well where you are.

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12.9.12

if you could time travel









I recently listened to a remarkable interview with the writer Ray Bradbury. When asked which moment of his life he would revisit if he could time travel, he answered: 'Every single moment.' Have a listen to the whole interview here. It's amazing.

With that in mind, here are a few moments above of late that I would be happy to revisit:
~ afternoon tea at a friend's new sun drenched flat (where she made fresh ground coffee, polenta cake and bruschetta);
~ a chat with my elderly Italian neighbour which concluded with her giving me some flowers from her garden;
~ a cheese-plate eaten with friends, as we shared hilarious flirtation and relationship anecdotes.

Not long now till our London trip. I'm really looking forward to it but trying to stretch out the delicious sense of anticipation too. Being in the moment is key.

If you are in London during 19-22 September, come along to 100% Design, Stand L318, in Earl's Court, where you will find Kristian showing his wonderful new range of products - very exciting!

Pub lunches, ciders and steaming mugs of tea ahoy!

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2.9.12

buds and biscuits



Observations from the first weekend of Spring:

~ It was surprisingly cool, as if nature was saying 'don't get too hasty throwing off that Winter garb'.
~ From our back yard I spotted birds flying in arrow formation for what felt like the first time and marvelled at how that was possible.
~ A smiley face appeared in the sky with a word after it - I thought it was going to be decide but it ended up being decorug (whatever that is?).
~ A friend dropped round on Saturday with pear tart, which was surprisingly good.
~ We had lunch at my parent's house for Father's Day and talked lots about our upcoming trip to London - did I mention that we were going to London in two weeks? I don't think I have... 
~ I sat in the garden with Kristian and my mum, soaking up the sun and checking out the new buds and shoots coming up.
~ I made some protein-rich gingerbread biscuits to fatten up my Dad (and ate a few of the misshapen ones myself).  

Gingerbread Biscuits
Adapted from Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, by Rose Carrarini

125g unsalted butter, softened
90g brown sugar
3 Tbsps molasses (or golden syrup works just as well)
1 egg, beaten
370g plain flour, sifted (I substituted 100g of flour for quinoa flakes, to up the protein)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice

Beat the butter, sugar and molasses/ golden syrup until pale and well combined. 
Add in the egg, then fold through the flour and other dry ingredients until the mixture forms a good dough. You might need to add a little extra flour or another egg if your dough is too wet or dry. 
Roll the dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F. Butter a baking tray.
Roll out your dough until it is about 5mm thick. I heartily recommend well flouring the rolling pin and surface you are rolling on, lest you have to shout expletives at the dough when it won't lift off your chopping board. 
Cut the dough into the shapes you want and put them on the baking tray.
Bake the biscuits for 10-15 minutes, or until firm and browned on top. 
Cool them on a rack and try not to eat too many before lunch.

I hope you had a wonderful Spring weekend! Here's to more clear skies and warmer weather ahead.

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31.8.12

magnolia jam



As you may have picked up from my recent posts, I've become rather enamoured of magnolias lately. I feel like I'm seeing them everywhere at the moment but especially in a few key locations where I often need a beautiful pick me up (on the way to work; on the way to the hospital). I feel like they're such a hopeful flower - blooming as they do at the end of Winter and early Spring on naked branches, gradually making way for green sprouting leaves.

If only I could cook up and bottle magnolias as jam, to savour them on toast in the morning, to literally consume the hopefulness they hold for me. Instead I thought perhaps homemade strawberry jam might be a fair substitute, especially as the strawberries seem to be exploding with brightness and flavour at the moment. There is something about the idea of ingesting bold colours that is appealing to me, something intrinsically nourishing and life affirming. And besides, I've never made strawberry jam before. In fact I never even used to like it. I don't know why, perhaps it was because growing up we were more of an apricot jam household. But the strawberries are demanding my attention at the moment and so to strawberry fields of jam we go.

Sally Wise, as usual, was my go to for this one and she makes it pretty simple and straightforward, which is always a nice way to go.

Strawberry Jam
Adapted from Sally Wise

500g strawberries, hulled
3/4 tsp tartaric acid
1/4 cup of water
500g sugar

Chop the strawberries roughly and place in a medium saucepan with the tartaric acid and water.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes.  Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Bring the jam to the boil and boil over medium heat for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it though. If you have a raging hot gas burner like I do, you may want to lower down the heat or take it off the stove a bit earlier. My jam ended up quite caramelised, which was good but might not be what you're going for.

Pour into sterilised bottles and seal immediately. Then enjoy on toast or stirred through yogurt or with fresh strawberries, gingerbread biscuits and mascarpone (as we did with my Mum on Tuesday night) or however you like it.

Just before we go, here a few interesting facts about magnolia which I discovered during my travels and which further reinforce my enjoyment of this rather amazing plant:
- Magnolia evolved before bees appeared
- the aromatic bark contains magnolol and honokiol, two polyphenolic compounds that may have demonstrated anti-anxiety properties
- in parts of Japan, the leaves of magnolia obovata are used for wrapping food and as cooking dishes.

So there you go: beautiful, hopeful and useful - qualities I think can safely apply to jam as well.

I wasn't the only one to make jam this month.
To see what all the lovely cooking club members made, do stop by their places below.

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