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Newsletter 80 – Here I go again

‘Never say never’ one is advised. Wise advice. I find myself writing again. This time it will be a book of family-friendly recipes inspired by what the students in the kitchen garden programs across the country have been preparing and enjoying. I am making adjustments so each recipe will make a family-sized portion rather than tastes for twenty. I have been having fun cooking and sharing some of the test dishes with neighbours. Six of us had a most enjoyable curry night. Today I made little meringues and quince jelly and perfected Anzacs. My nearest neighbours are foodies and when there is just a little to share, I send my sample or taste via a scarlet string bag lowered over the balcony…

Newsletter 79 – Creeping out of the Covid shell

Although my latest book ‘Home’ was published in October, almost every event to promote it was cancelled. So it has been fun to catch up with friends and events recently.  It is always a pleasure to chat with my clever friend and colleague Annie Smithers.  Even though she lives a long way away I am in touch weekly via her sessions on Blueprint for Living on Radio National with the urbane and curious Jonathan Green.  It was a special treat to have not one but two sessions with Annie. One at Castlemaine in the beautifully-restored Goods Shed, moderated by my friend and former publisher Julie Gibbs (who also hosted a very special luncheon at Bar Midland) and a few days later at the RACV Club in the CBD. We know there are always topics to explore and we could continue for hours. We are never bored and have to hope that our audience feels the same way…

Newsletter 78 – One Plus One

What a pleasure it was to spend several hours with Rosie Batty chatting about my life and the work I am currently doing. We could have gone on for hours. A lot of ground was covered from my earliest years in London in the Swinging Sixties, to the start of my various restaurants, the challenges of managing marriage, hospitality and young children, and then onto more recent times with the new challenges of founding a Not-for-profit Foundation determined to promote pleasurable food education. The program will be shown on the ABC on Thursday March 10 at 9.30pm.


Newsletter 77 – Belated Happy New Year (where did January go?)

The New Year is already well-established and we are told that we must live with Covid. I find it difficult to credit that my granddaughter is now six and is an enthusiastic school student with her Prep year completed mostly in front of a screen. Hasn’t seemed to bother her although she did tell me that she had had ‘two birthdays in lockdown’.  

Our family Christmas is now just a memory but it was most enjoyable with lots of unwrapping of excellent and thoughtful presents followed later by a beautiful shared meal. Crab cakes and jerk patties, roast stuffed goose, puffed sweetcorn pudding, an enormous pudding and a trifle as well…


Newsletter 76-Bounceback

Our bounceback has coincided with the arrival of spring. A loud chorus of birds wakes me each morning. They swoop and chatter again at sundown. There are birds nesting in one of my crepe myrtle trees, at every turn there is rapid growth of new leaves, the smoke bush is absolutely glorious, and the weather is that springtime mix of sunshine and heavy rain. I confess I found it startling for the first few days to see groups of happy people congregating in cafes and restaurants and strolling without masks. Startling but also heartening after these months of lockdown…

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Newsletter 75 – Special Moments

I have now caressed my new book “Home” and can report that it is all that I had hoped for. The design by Michelle Mackintosh is wonderful and the photography by Armelle Habib absolutely splendid. The publicity is a mix of phone and Zoom. Event after event has had to be cancelled or postponed. I did receive a very special endorsement from Nigella Lawson to whom I sent a copy. Nigella has been generous before with her comments on my work but this paragraph is exceptional…


Newsletter 74 – Waiting for my new book

I am proud to announce the imminent publication of what I think is my nineteenth book. ‘Home’ will be published on September 28.  

This book has been a joy to write and I have revisited many happy moments. I have indulged myself, spending happy hours in my own library; I have triaged boxes of notebooks and piles of clippings and discovered much treasure. I have had great conversations with like-minded food writers and good home cooks. I was encouraged by my publishers to be reflective, no doubt a kind way of reminding me of my age and my long culinary journey to this point. The suggestion to include a suite of essays was accepted with enthusiasm and has given me an opportunity to reflect on my life and the world as I see it now. Inevitably after a long lifetime fascinated by how and what people eat, it is unsurprising that I have been influenced and delighted by a wide range of people, places and experiences…