A Backlog of Books, Podcasts, TV, Movies, and Food

Well, the year is half over and I’ve set myself a new financial year resolution (though not related to finance) to keep on top of Very Good Things. Here are a few highlights since my last, long ago post in March:

BOOKS
Conversations with Friends
by Sally Rooney – her second book, Normal People, swept me away so I had to read her first book. I didn’t want it to end.
Becoming by Michelle Obama – this was a book club pick and wasn’t on my personal list to read but I loved it and became quite teary by the end to think who has taken their place in the White House.
Can’t wait to read Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, available in July in Australia.

PODCASTS
Clementine Ford on Wilosophy – she’s warm, open and intelligent and he really struggles with this interview but credit to him, he openly admits it.
Fresh Air with Terry Gross – the queen of interviews talks with Phoebe Waller-Bridge (13 May) and Christina Applegate (5 June).

TV
Chernobyl
– HBO’s five-part series is chilling.
The Letdown season 2 – the Barossa episode is hilarious.
Fleabag season 2 – just when I thought nothing could top the first season, along comes a second and it’s perfect. Waller-Bridge is also a writer on the brilliant Killing Eve.
Easy season 3 – I particularly loved the episodes about the couple who are navigating an open marriage.
I’m currently watching the second season of Big Little Lies and could possibly be enjoying it more than the first.

MOVIES
Free Solo – a documentary that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor.
Always Be My Maybe – after Chernobyl, light comedy was in order and this was funny, sweet and easy viewing. Worth watching just for Keanu.

FOOD
Everything on Fad Free Kitchen – a shameless plug for a site I do with my dietitian friend that’s all about quick and healthy food using versatile, everyday ingredients, but honestly, I rarely cook from anywhere else.
Kindred restaurant in Darlington – order the cabbage with pine nuts, currant, pecorino and buttermilk dressing to go with your pick of their excellent pastas.

Post-Holiday Wrap-Up of Books, TV, Movies, Podcasts and Other Very Good Things

It’s February so there’s no denying the holidays are well and truly over. If you need a little distraction in your day, here are the best books, TV, movies, podcasts and other stuff I got stuck into over summer:

BOOKS
Normal People by Sally Rooney has been dubbed ‘a future classic’
Tin Man by Sarah Winman is about love, loss and loneliness
The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love
Putney by Sofka Zinovieff is confronting, timely and beautifully written
Yuval Noah Harari has a knack for making sense of complex issues in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is not new but swept me away. Now an HBO show

TV
The Cry on ABC iView has tension to the max
Sex Education on Netflix will have you in stitches
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime is sweet and easy watching
Abducted in Plain Sight on Netflix is wild an almost unbelievable

MOVIES
The Wife on iTunes really should get Glenn Close her first Oscar
Private Life on Netflix is a raw and honest look at infertility struggles
First Man is the best kind of blockbuster
What We Did on Our Holiday on Netflix is seriously funny and the kids steal the show

PODCASTS
Believed covers how Larry Nassar got away with so much for so long. Beyond shocking.
The Daily is a news podcast powered by New York Times journalism. Stand out episodes are 16, 19 November and 4, 5, 10, 11 December

OTHER STUFF
I can’t shut up about how spectacular Lord Howe Island is
Peanut Butter Oat bars are simple, healthy and make the best snack
I loved reading this recent travel article on my hometown of Newcastle – get there now

Ottolenghi’s Cauliflower ‘Tabbouleh’ – The Salad That Keeps On Giving

This cauliflower ‘tabbouleh’ salad from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook ‘SIMPLE’ is extraordinarily good. So good, in fact, that I’ve made it twice in the past week and passed on the recipe to those who ate it with me.

I have to say I was dubious when I read the list of ingredients. 800g of raw cauliflower?! Surely this was taking the cauliflower trend too far. How wrong I was. Left to marinate in the lemon juice and combined with all the other fresh ingredients, it transforms into something spectacular.

Ottolenghi suggests you serve this simple salad immediately but I made it a few hours in advance as I didn’t want to be in the kitchen when friends arrived. It still tasted incredible, as did the leftovers the following day.

View the full recipe here.

Buy the SIMPLE cookbook.

Fad Free Kitchen – Quick, Healthy Recipes, No Overhyped “Superfoods”

If you want quick, healthy recipes without the fuss of using overhyped, expensive superfoods and spending ages in the kitchen, check out Fad Free Kitchen.

Fad Free Kitchen is a collaboration between a dietitian and a writer who are time poor but love to eat healthy food. They refuse to use to overhyped and expensive “superfoods” in their recipes (because there is no such thing as a superfood) and will never ask you to ferment anything.

Read the Fad Free Kitchen story.

Follow Fad Free Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

(Full disclosure: I am one half of the collaboration).

Very Good Things for a Rainy Long Weekend

How is it almost the middle of the year already? Here are my recent top picks for TV, books, podcasts and food. Very Good Things to get you through a rainy long weekend.

Watch
Killing Eve – when Phoebe Waller-Bridge is one of the writers, you have to watch it. View trailer, watch on ABC iView.
The Defiant Ones – history is made when two unexpected music moguls come together. A four-part documentary series about Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Watch it on Netflix.
Sour Grapes – a fascinating documentary about fine wine fraud on a grand scale. Watch it on Netflix.
Atlanta season 2 – that ‘Teddy Perkins’ episode. Whoa. Watch it on SBS On Demand.

Read
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie – an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide.
I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell – an astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined O’Farrell’s life.
The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn – a page-turning thriller, the movie is already in development. Great holiday read.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – traces the intertwined fates of a picture-perfect family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

Listen (I’ve been in a bit of a podcast slump recently but my friend just gave me a bunch to get over it so stay tuned):
Revisionist History Season 3 – Burden of Proof (episode 2).
This American Life – #339 act one (Break-up) and Five Women.

Eat Out
Two restaurants I’ve revisited recently after years and they are still excellent, particularly if you’re after a cosy winter vibe – Alpha (Greek) in Sydney CBD with a stunning bar upstairs and Sagra (Italian) in Darlinghurst for perfect pasta.

Eat In
Curried Fish Pie from River Cottage.
Jill Dupleix’s Salmon in a Light Fragrant Broth. I like to up the spinach and chilli for a green hot hit.

Zucchini and Caper Spaghettini Recipe – Fast, Fresh and Vegetarian

After too much fancy festive food the past couple of weeks, I’ve been craving simple pasta dishes, preferably vegetarian, and this Zucchini and Caper Spaghettini recipe from the Marie Claire Fresh + Fast cookbook hits the spot.

The following serves four and you will need:

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 medium zucchini (courgettes), grated
  • 300g spaghettini
  • 10 oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons small salted capers, rinsed
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 70g grated parmesan cheese

View the full recipe.

Pickles and Picnics at Annandale’s Cornersmith Cafe

In a leafy backstreet of Annandale is Cornersmith, a cafe I go out of my way for every week.

Recently crowned Time Out Sydney’s Best Cafe, it’s the sister cafe to the original in Marrickville but this one has the perk of a park across the road, in which you can enjoy one of their picnic boxes. Grab a rug and feast on a spread of delicious pickles, salad, cheese, fruit and bread.

Cornersmith pride themselves on using locally-sourced produce from small-scale growers and makers. In addition to eating in, you can buy groceries from Cornersmith suppliers, pickling equipment, and house-made products.  I highly recommend their pear, lemon and thyme chutney.

Cornersmith Annandale is located at 88 View Street, Annandale.

Image from broadsheet.com.au

Chilli Sin Carne – A Healthy and Fast One-Pot Vegetarian Recipe

This vegetarian one pot Chilli Sin Carne recipe from the Feel Good Food cookbook is fast, easy and healthy, making it the perfect midweek dinner. The majority of ingredients you can keep in the pantry so little planning ahead is needed.

It’s a cheap, low-fat, high-fibre and delicious dish. And it freezes well. The following serves four generously if you adhere to the suggested changes regarding the tomatoes and capsicum. It also works well without the guacamole if you’re wanting to keep it low fuss.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 red capsicum, seeds removed, finely chopped (we throw an extra green capsicum in to up the veg intake)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes (the original recipe calls for one can but we prefer two)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 400g can red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • 400g can lentils, rinsed, drained
  • Steamed brown rice, low fat thick Greek style yoghurt, guacamole and coriander leaves, to serve

View the full recipe.

Thanks to Paige for sharing this with me.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat – A New Cookbook by Samin Nosrat

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is a new cookbook by chef, writer and teacher, Samin Nosrat. Designed to be your compass in the kitchen, the cookbook demystifies the four elements of good cooking – salt, which enhances flavour; fat, which delivers flavour and generates texture; acid, which balances flavour; and heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food – and shows that if you can master these, anything you cook will be delicious.

I can cook but I’ve largely been a follow the recipe type person.  I have high hopes that this will be the book that transforms me into one of those people that say: “I’ve only got these three obscure ingredients at hand but I’m going to whip you up something sensational.”

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