Hey Pesto!

There are currently four things growing in my back garden: an abundance of nondescript weeds, a deranged passion-fruit vine, a pretty hardy rosemary bush and more oregano than a small Mediterranean nation could eat in a year.

I am an atrocious gardener, but this is not for lack of trying. I frequently plant all kinds of interesting and edible things, only to watch them wilt and die before my very eyes. I have absolutely no idea why these four plants manage to thrive where all else fails.

So what do you do when you’ve a garden full of oregano and you don’t fancy eating roast lamb non-stop for the next year? You make pesto, yummo!

I love love LOVE pesto, although this love is not shared my all members of my family. I think it can be used to dress up absolutely anything from pasta to sandwiches to veggies to dressings; it’s pretty much an all-round genius sauce, and oregano pesto is no exception.

Pesto purists beware; for this recipe I totally parted with tradition and just used what I had to hand: oregano from the garden (obviously), Pecorino I found on special in Harris Farm Markets and macadamia nuts (to make it a bit more ‘Stralian!). And I was more than happy with the delicious results.

Oregano, Pecorino and macadamia nut pesto

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Birthday banana and buttermilk pancakes with raspberries and honey

Question: should pancakes be fat or thin?

In my world, pancakes are large, round and oh-so-very thin. The best ones are eaten with a just sprinkling of caster sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice; or maybe a bucketful of Nutella; depending on your mood. My basic rule is that you shouldn’t need a knife and fork to eat them, just roll and go.

The Fella however has different views. Being Australian (and despite being the product of two Irish emigrants), he thinks pancakes should be small and thick. This means we have had a few, rather heated, pancake-related debates in our house.

I guess there are just Old World pancakes (thin) and New World pancakes (fat); which is the best compromise The Fella and I can come to. It was his birthday this weekend, so just to be nice (yes, I can be nice), I surprised him with a big batch of banana and buttermilk pancakes for breakfast. And I have to admit, they may have been fat and I did need a knife and fork to eat them, but they weren’t half bad at all.

Maybe living in the New World is starting to get to me…

Birthday banana and buttermilk pancakes with raspberries and honey

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Soda bread cures all ills, it’s a fact

I’m a scientist, and am therefore totally and officially qualified to make broad, sweeping statements such as above.

This week two major things happened here in Chez Yumbolicious. Firstly, I was awarded Australian permanent residency; and secondly, I got the worst dose of homesickness since I landed here nearly two years ago.

OK, so I know it’s not Kerrygold, but I’ve got to admit, those Kiwis seem to know their stuff!

Funny how things work out isn’t it? I’m finally allowed to officially call Australia my home FOREVER and all I want to do is go back to the not-so-tropical island of Ireland. I must need a brain transplant. There just must be something about constant doom, gloom and recession that gets to me. Perhaps, unbeknownst to myself, I’m actually some sort of economic masochist? I must Google that, try and find a support group or something.

So what to do when you’re 16,000 km from home and wishing you were on Bettystown beach instead of Bondi? Answer: make soda bread, it solves everything. Fact.

For all non-Irish readers, soda bread is a traditional bread, made with soda and buttermilk instead of yeast. It’s absolutely delicious and is immensely popular. Not only will you find it in supermarkets and corner shops across Ireland; almost every family has a recipe for it too. In fact, I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like it.

I know this sounds utterly stupid, but until I moved to Sydney, I never realised exactly how traditional and parochial soda bread really is. I did half expect to find it here. Not so my friends; in Sydney sourdough is king. After a few months of searching I found a great bloke called Paddy the Baker who makes (and delivers!) soda bread, along with some other delish Irish treats. But for the past few months now I’ve actually been making my own and it couldn’t be easier.

Yesterday I decided I needed an extra special soda-bread treat so I got me some smoked salmon, capers and lemon. And my-oh-my did it hit the spot!

Beginner’s brown soda bread

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