Saturday, 29 June 2013


It's been really icy and rainy in Sydney... weather that makes you crave wintery and Christmas-y food (in a Northern hemisphere sense I guess. Christmas food here often means barbecue at the beach). I've also been trying to make lots of sweets and desserts myself, since I'm hoping to cut down store-bought food as much as I can, and really I can never get enough of baking anyway. It's so calming - your mind is not really thinking about much besides making sure you're getting the steps right, and it gives you this satisfying, pad-on-the-shoulder type feeling when you watch your ingredients change form, colour and volume, and come out of the oven as these perfect things that lift everyone's mood for the day.

So I reached out to one of my favourite any-day-of-the-week cake recipes again, from the Lottie + Doof blog that I so dearly admire. The orange and walnut mix takes me straight back to my childhood winters in Germany, and since I discovered baking with olive oil, it's become my preferred fat in cakes ("fat in cakes" sounds so classy by the way... not). It's a simple recipe yet delivers such a fulfilling product, and doesn't leave your kitchen as a bomb side after making it either. AND make sure you watch the egg and sugar mixture turn all creamy, almost custard-y; makes me all giddy thinking back. It's not the greatest looking fella but but no one will really think about it once they have their first bite.

So if you have a spare half hour with nothing to do one day, need an emergency cake that needs to impress (whenever that might be) or just simply want to warm your home and fill it with Christmas-y smells, please don't hesitate.

Orange walnut olive oil cake (slightly adapted from Lottie + Doof)

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (roughly 2 oranges)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange peel (roughly the peel of the two oranges used for the juice)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 180C. Butter a 9-inch springform pan (I use oil out of laziness) and line with baking paper.

Grind walnuts in food processor until roughly ground, resembling breadcrumbs. Combine ground walnuts, flour and baking powder, and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until frothy, around 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar, and beat until thick, creamy, pale yellow, around 4 minutes. Slowly add nut-flour mixture, then orange juice, peel and olive oil, mixing until just combined (if your bowl gets too full, use a spatula combine all in order to avoid splashes).

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Let cake cool in pan before transferring to a platter (it doesn't need to cool completely, but while warm it needs to be transferred carefully as it breaks more easily); dust with icing sugar before serving (optional), or just dig in straight away like myself.

Sunday, 23 June 2013


Some close a chapter of their lives as they have a new one lined up. Some close a chapter and are lost. Some enter their new chapter and then realise they're lost.

After finishing some sort of school,work or even a relationship, there are lots of questions to ask. What is it that I want to do? How do I want to lead my life? Am I gonna have/earn enough money? Is money actually what I need? Am I gonna have enough time to see my friends/family/go out drinking? And then you realise your ideal job at your favourite company isn't available just because you're available now. You know your family is always watching and you don't want to disappoint them. You don't get to see your friends often at all because everyone's busy with their own life, and when you do get to talk to them about your concerns, everyone starts to confuse you because they all have different ideas.

What is it that we really want? Often times we don't really know. We have an idea, but we don't know the particulars. Sometimes we need to pay bills/feel lonely so we just go with the best available for now; we tell ourselves we'll find the time to think about it later. Sometimes we don't want to be judged by others. Sometimes we feel too comfortable to give up all the conveniences and make an effort to do better - let everyone else have a piece too! And sometimes, it's simply too hard.

Surely every single one of us has come across this feeling - when you know you really, really like something, and you're so, so sure you want it. It could be a bag, an apartment, a person. It's that feeling of leaving and knowing you'd have to come back. Nothing will ever measure up to it. And surely at some stage in your life you've also felt that something doesn't feel quite right. Those stupid studs on the bag. The old bathroom. That weird laugh. How often though have you gone with it just because you thought you'll be able to live with it, it won't be too bad?

It won't be good enough. We all know it but we want to prove ourselves wrong, until we've had enough. It needs to be the first feeling. You need to be sure, no flaws, and if there are flaws, they need to be ones that you enjoy. Think of your values - what kind of person do you strive to be? Do you want to be fair, kind, honest, happy, loved? You don't want to be wasteful, disrespectful, depressed? You have to go with what fulfils those needs the most. They're gonna be long journeys, very difficult and draining ones too, but think about it - you'll be the happiest when you get there. Nothing will ever be able to measure up to it.

The way I have learned to do it is to listen to my heart first (what I have talked about above): am I absolutely sure about it? Am I in love? If I choose the other way, might I please someone else, but feel miserable myself? Afterwards, you have to establish in detail what it is that you want, and how you want it. I want love, and I want my partner to be this, this and this. I want a successful career, and I want to do this, that and the other. I want a healthy and happy life, which includes such and such. Make sure you tick all those boxes - you will need to keep listening to your heart. The journey might challenge you, you might have to do all sorts of things to keep yourself afloat in the meantime, but never take your eyes off what you want. Be honest with yourself, and commit to what truly makes you happy.

After closing my chapter of those beautiful college years, and waiting for my new visa, there was a lot of confusion going on. What is the career path I want to pursue? And why so? What job do I want to start out with, and for whom would I like to work? There's all sorts of pressures coming into it and it makes you wanna pack up and leave to somewhere far away. I had the same conversation with many friends... It wasn't until some good friends had recommended a few books they swear by and I read The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, that I realised I've done all this before (big thanks to Pia and Gery!). I knew I wanted to grow as an individual away from home, and managed to come to Sydney without my mum's full support in the beginning; I knew I wanted to be with my boyfriend because he represents everything I want in a partner, and we managed to work through our problems after a long, long time. Yes, I felt lost at times. I felt like I was breaking someone's heart, which broke mine. I felt like it was just too hard and nobody could ever make sense out of what I was going through. However, strangely, what you truly believe in deep down in your heart, that particular thing that pushed you onto that journey, never fools you. Now I lead the most fulfilling life in a breathtaking city, the most peaceful and gorgeous home, with the man I love, ready to take on the new challenge.

Don't give up. Second best will never do.

[image sourced from Tumblr]