5 things – Monday 26 October 2020

How was your weekend? It’s getting warmer here and we’ve had a weekend with storms rolling around so storm season must have arrived.

In other news, I’m almost back to full mileage on my calf muscle and clocked up 80,000 steps last week. While I still need to build back up to my longer walks in the afternoon, I’m definitely getting there.

Okay, without further ado, on with the five:


It’s my husband’s birthday today so we went out for lunch yesterday and I’m cooking one of his favourites – Balinese roast pork belly with sambal – for dinner tonight. I might even make him a birthday cake – although I haven’t decided that just yet. 

Below are some of the foodie pics from our lunch – Sarah’s cocktail, my tuna tartare, my char-grilled Moreton Bay Bugs, Sarah’s mango dessert:

We’re off to Cairns for a mini-break later this week and I can’t wait.

2. Titting About and other bits and pieces

Now Mum, before you begin to say something like “Joanne, I’m sure you can come up with a better word than that,” let me say that this is the title of a new podcast by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French where they are, pretty much, titting about. 

Anyways, it’s really worth a listen. It’s free on Audible but you do need to be a member to listen.

I also liked this meme.

The democracy sausage…

Our state election is happening on the 31st so we voted early – and made sure we grabbed our democracy sausage. For anyone reading this from outside Australia, voting is compulsory here and local community groups run sausage sizzles at voting places with the proceeds going to community causes.

3. Novel Planning

Riba Kai – my novel planning office last Friday

I’m well into planning mode for the novel I’ll be beginning in November. In case you haven’t heard of it, November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It’s not really national though, as hundreds of thousands of people around the world participate. Nor is it necessarily about writing a novel. It is, however, about writing 50,000 words – which is a great start.

I like to use it to take new ideas for a test flight and this November I’ll be heading back to Queenstown (virtually speaking) and writing the sequel to Wish You Were Here. The storyline centres around three women: Milly Fletcher, her daughter Jess, and Maxine Henderson. Some of the characters from Happy Ever After will also be featured. The whole family is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Max’s child, but an unexpected visitor disrupts everything.

I’ll be tracking my word count daily on my author Facebook page, my Instagram page and updating progress weekly on my author blog.

And, because I’m back in New Zealand, I’ll also be researching (and cooking) some Kiwi baking classics over the next few months, so keep an eye out for that.

4. Jacaranda season

It’s jacaranda time, and I’m loving the purple flowers everywhere – and the carpets of them following rain. When she was little Sarah used to call them fairy flowers and it’s still how I think of them.

The flame trees are also beginning to bloom, so while we mightn’t get spring blossoms and bulb flowers up here, there’s still plenty of colour to be excited about.

5. Kitchen bits and pieces

Nigella’s new cookbook is almost ready to land and I have it at the top of my list for Santa. The Times and The Guardian are already publishing recipes which I’m looking forward to trying. You can find the articles here and here.

Grand final day lunch platter

In my kitchen it was Destination India in Saturday Kitchen. I cooked a spiced roast lamb from Rick Stein’s “India”. Marinated in spiced yoghurt and then slow roasted, this was worth the prep effort.

I served it with chaat masala potatoes with coriander chutney and tamarind drizzle from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Flavour”. This is the first recipe I’ve cooked from this book – but I have marked many many more. The recipe is here. It mightn’t look great in the pic but there was so much flavour in this dish.

Dessert was mango fool with cardamom shortbread – also from Rick Stein’s book.

My recipe of the week, though, is much simpler. It’s a pea pesto pasta – made with frozen peas and ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. With smoked salmon it’s a winner winner pasta dinner, and without it’s great as well – or double the quantities and serve it as a salad side at your next barbeque.

Pea Pesto Pasta with smoked salmon (serves 2 hungry people with leftovers)

  • 250g spiral or farfalle pasta
  • 150g hot-smoked salmon, chopped or flaked into little pieces

For the pesto:

  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • A good handful of basil leaves (plus extra to serve if you want it to look pretty)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • ¼ cup pine nuts or roughly chopped roasted whole blanched almonds
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice ½ lemon (add half of this to start and more if you need it)

What you do with it

  • Cook your pasta in the usual way, but before draining it, save about ¼ cup of the cooking water.
  • While your pasta is cooking pop all the pesto ingredients into a processor – I use one of those mini processors, but a nutribullet or one of those hand-held whooshers would do the job too.
  • Once the pasta is drained and the pesto is blitzed, tip the pesto into the pasta, add the smoked salmon and the reserved pasta water and toss well to combine.
  • Serve with extra basil and a drizzle of olive oil.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

29 thoughts

  1. Hi Jo, I enjoy watching your Spring roll in as our Autumn leaves continue to Fall. A great reminder about the diversity in our planet. Is tuna tartare considered different from calling it sushi? All look amazing. Lots of local voting around here this weekend. Yet, no sausage? Possibly something to think about around here. Exceptionally gorgeous jacaranda photo! Interesting and it looks like doable Pesto recipe. I made note.😊

  2. As usual everything looks delish, especially your food, it always looks restaurant quality! I didn’t know Nigella has a new book coming out, I wonder if it will be healthy like her recent ones or comforting like the ones of yesteryear. I for one am looking forward to catching up with the Wish You Were Here characters – how exciting! And great news re your steps – you’re totally back on track!

    1. Judging by the recipes I’ve seen, it’s back on comfort food. She has an entire chapter devoted to brown food.

  3. HI Jo – I’m loving all the jacaranda pics popping up all over the place – they really are pretty trees. The ones in our neighbourhood took a beating from a HUGE Winter storm that basically stripped every tree in the area and they’re struggling to come back – so it’s been a lean year for us as far as purple blossom carpets go.
    Good luck with your November writing challenge – you’ll have banged out the book before you know it. In the meantime I’ll do my best to bang out four blog posts (we all have to work with our strengths!!) xx

  4. The food looks amazing as always! I’m jealous of the warm weather as it’s been so cold here the last couple of days! Trip to Cairns sounds exciting! Love Jacaranda season. Yet to get good photos though!

  5. Loved all of this Jo, especially the Halloween meme, it’s so true :). Glad you are getting back into the steps and jacarandas are just amazing. Happy birthday to your Grant.

  6. Happy birthday to your hubby! Here’s to your mini-vacation. So glad you can get out and about. Our voting is November 3 here in the states. I can’t wait for the election to be over. Voting should be compulsory here too. Maybe if they gave out sausage sandwiches at the voting polls, we would have a higher turnout! 🙂

  7. That birthday lunch looks scrumptious! I hope you have a great time on your mini break. That Halloween meme made me laugh; I hadn’t thought of it that way but it’s totally true!

  8. Another busy week Jo. I loved reading about what you’ve been up to. Your Pesto Pasta really appeals to me. I love the Jacaranda trees. They are always a highlight when I go north. Love the Meme #lifethisweek

  9. I love all your foodie pics! Good luck this year with NaNoWriMo. Your jacaranda looks beautiful. I can see one in full bloom in the distance through my window but ours has only a few flowers. It will get there eventually I’m sure.

  10. I love the idea of voting being compulsory (I think… do you find that people take their time to educate themselves about the issues?), and would definitely enjoy a democracy sausage once completed. Fingers are crossed for our election on November 3.

    I envy your jacaranda trees! Ours bloom in April/May and they really are spectacular. They are my favorite harbinger of spring.

    1. The answer to that is yes and no – some people do take the time, others don’t, some vote on their preferred party lines. It does mean that there is no need to spend advertising dollars or energy encouraging people to vote nor is voter turnout influenced by the weather. Our election is always held on a Saturday for the same reason – although lately pre-polling has been more widespread.

  11. Jo, Amazing food photos, beautiful jacaranda and flame flowers, exciting novel planning …You rock! Happy birthday to Grant, and have a wonderful trip to Cairns. #lifethisweek

  12. Good grief, I must be hungry because I am absolutely salivating (slobbering) over here as I read through your post and enjoyed your photos. When does YOUR cookbook come out? For heaven sake, your food is always so beautiful. And often something I am not familiar with. Delicious post.

  13. The vibrant blossoms are just stunning, Jo. And the food, of course, looks delicious. Thanks for sharing. I hope you are having a lovely day.

  14. Hello Jo. Visiting from Denyse Blogs. This is a lovely chatty post – the sort I really enjoy.
    Our local council elections were just held – with postal voting for all seats. I’m mourning the one thing I look forward to on any Election Day, yes the sausage sizzle outside the school. But then again Bunnings have just reopened so maybe I’ll pop down on Saturday and sneak one in the car park
    Take care

    1. Hey there and thanks for dropping around. Enjoy your Bunnings reopening – it really is the little things we take for granted, isn’t it?

  15. What a fab food post too, Jo. So glad to read about the leg behaving. Congrats on new book research too. I have subscribed to the podcast with Jennifer and Dawn but am yet to listen. I am actually engrossed in a fiction audiobook right now : The Godmothers. It’s my ‘in the car’ listening time.

    Saw loads of Jacarandas driving through Northmead on my way to Westmead on Monday but alas, the wet weather meant no good for photos!

    Thank you for linking up this week. I do hope to see you link up next week too of course. The optional prompt is44/51 Outside 2.11.2020. Wow: November is here! Denyse.

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