5 things – Monday, February 8, 2021

somewhere in the Mary Valley

Is that the weekend gone already???? Is it just me or do those couple of days off fly by way too quickly. I have a big week in the day job ahead, so without further ado, let’s jump into the five:


The Mary Valley Rattler. I’ll tell you more about this on Thursday, but the Mary Valley Rattler is a steam train that runs from Gympie (about an hour north of us) into Amamoor in the Mary Valley.

We packed a picnic and had a lovely day out.

me after the drinks trolley had been through

2. Pinning

Once you get past the “influencers” living “aspirational” lives, there’s so much to inspire in your Instagram feed. These were my faves this week:

This zucchini cake by Tom Kerridge. It inspired me to make one of my own.

This series of black and white pics by photographer John Carey of chefs in locked down restaurants in the UK. I think the black and white makes them all the more haunting.

This one taken in Mount Macedon, Victoria by Tiffany Warner. The light is incredible.

This book. The cover is fabulous.

These pictures taken in the snow.

This artist. She’s a Hervey Bay local and I’d love one of her paintings.

3. Listening

I just started listening to Barack Obama’s book. This one, at 30 hours long, will be a commitment indeed. That’s a lot of walking.

4. Writing and Blogging

I didn’t write anything new this week – I now have a deadline of March to get my current novel in decent shape for my editor to have her first look at it, so am concentrating on that.

In terms of blogging, in case you missed it:

  • Cookbook Corner: A review of Alice Zaslavsky’s In Praise of Veg – and a recipe for her zucchini slice. This is my cookbook of the month.
  • On my author page, I posted something about the setting of Escape To Curlew Cottage. You’ll find Welcome To Brookford here.
  • As I bake my way through some Kiwi classics that will be appearing in my next novel I posted a recipe for this slice on the Brookford Kitchen Diaries page. Whether you call it tan slice or tan squares or even caramel crumble, it’s a yummy one – and perfect with a cup of tea.

5. Cooking

Aside from the afore-mentioned tan slice, on the menu this week was also a new recipe for Massaman curry meatballs from Life’s Good Curry Pastes. We buy their pastes from our local markets and I know I’ve said it before, but they are the best pre-made curry pastes I’ve ever had. Sam’s photo (below) is much better than mine – on account that I cooked at night and the light was dreadful. It was, however, a super quick, super yum dinner.

Inspired by Tom Kerridge’s courgette cake (see the pic above) I made my own – courgettes (zucchini), cardamom and lime. Just how pretty does it look? I’ll post the recipe next weekend.

Finally, I made this easy oven baked fish dish for dinner last night. We used barramundi instead of cod and served it with green beans. It’s quick, easy and healthy.

Cod with chorizo and tomatoes 


  • Olive oil
  • 2 thick cod fillets, about 180g each
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 75g chorizo sausage, diced finely
  • Splash of dry sherry
  • clove of garlic, grated
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • Lemon, to serve


  • Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Drizzle some olive oil in an ovenproof pan. Add the fish, then tuck the tomatoes and chorizo around it.
  • Pour in the sherry (or dry white wine), top each piece of fish with 2 basil leaves, season well and drizzle with a little more oil.
  • Put the lid on and cook in the oven for about 15 min or until the fish is just flaking. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and serve with the juices.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

40 thoughts

  1. I never knew about that train ride but wow it looks fabulous so it’s been added to my ‘must do’ list! You always share the most amazing recipes and food photos. Thank you and I look forward to what you plan to share later in the week! Have a good week – don’t work too hard!

  2. Train travel is wonderful. You look very happy and stylish on the train. Your food photos are amazing as usual. Are you enjoying A Promised Land? I think B. Obama has a good voice. I quite enjoyed his book when I read it last month. Thank you for linking with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

  3. I have always been hesitant to get on Instagram. That zucchini cake alone is enough of a reason to change my mind. Thanks for the cod recipe. I am going to save this one for future use!

    1. Instagram is my preferred platform – I’m quite visual. I tend to follow photographers or foodies or other writers. I think you can get into strife if you buy into the curated lifestyle of some of the influencers.

  4. I’ll be looking out for your post about the train. I’m sure I’d love it. That zucchini cake looks great and the perfect way to use up all those zucchini’s in the vegie garden.

    1. Your grandkids would probably enjoy it too. The zucchini cake was a real surprise – hubby wanted so much NOT to like it…

  5. A great wrap up of your week, Jo and I would love to visit the Mary Valley. You’ve also inspired me to make the Tan Slice for an upcoming afternoon tea that I’m hosting. The photos from Instagram are beautiful and my favourite is the one of Oxford and the one from Abbey House gardens. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely week. #lifethisweek

  6. We did the train ride through the Blue Mountains and really enjoyed it – nice for a once off but wouldn’t want it to be my usual mode of transport! Lots of great food again that I’ll admire the pictures of and then scroll onwards as I’ll never make any of it (sad but true) though that condensed milk slice looks nice and who doesn’t love licking out the condensed milk tin afterwards?

    1. There’s usually an argument for the condensed milk tin in our house – husband and daughter – but neither were home when I made the slice so it got rinsed out. Oh the sacrilege (too sweet for me!)

  7. The train trip looked good and it’s so green given that rain has been sporadic.

    And I love Jacinta’s art. She’s my hairdresser, as I think you know and I had no idea she was an artist as well!

    1. The Mary Valley looks lovely at the moment – although some dams still not full. Jacinta’s art is fabulous.

  8. That is a pretty zucchini cake. I try to ignore the influencers on my feed and instead stop to admire food and recipe posts. Most of my bookmarks on Instagram are foods I would like to make one of these days.

  9. Great insta shares Jo, and I agree black and white photos always have an added atmosphere especially these ones! What a delicious week you’ve had, and the train trip looks like a great adventure. #lifethisweek

  10. Can’t wait to hear about the Rattler- it looked good from what you’ve shared so far. I miss the UK – I never really got to explore as much as I wanted any time I lived there (very long story) and I kinda just want to go there and wander some old streets and country villages. I guess that won’t be happening for a number of years now.

  11. Jo, it looks like you checked most of your boxes this week. That’s always a good thing. I look forward to more about the train ride. I love the b/w of the Chefs. Those images speak volumes. You are so right about Instagram – inspiration is there, you just have to choose wisely.

    1. It was a good box ticking week & yes re the ‘gram. It really is about choosing wisely and unfollowing in need.

  12. NOT the best time to read your post as am fasting prior to a procedure later today. Year ago I made a chocolate cake with zucchini as an ingredient and you would never have known.

    I too am a visual person and get some much from what I see and what I notice…for example a pattern in nature. It really is a good thing for keeping me concentratiing on one thing at a time.

    I have been keen to do the Central Coast to Hornsby train ride for a while but, ahem, not quite as keen when I know some people on that same train are not well. It’s as truth for sure but I also choose not to put myself in that situation.

    As a child and teen I loved doing the train trip to Wollongong and Dapto to see my grandparents. Old style locomotives too.

    Thank you for linking up your blog post today. Next week’s optional prompt is 7/51 Self Care Stories #1. 15 Feb. In this one, I am using the new category in my blog called Ageing Stories because it was a good fit. Look forward to seeing you there too. Denyse.

  13. A wonderful week, Jo. I just finished reading your fun and vibrant steam train post. I have not had zucchini cake in awhile. A favourite around here. Exceptional photo taken by Tiffany Warner. Your photos also wonderful. Drooling…..as always.

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