Ten Healthy Food Trends I Will Not Be Adopting

A new cafe, called Code Black, recently opened up in North Melbourne (sister to Code Black in Brunswick) and my partner and I naturally had to try out its brunch, multiple times. The brunch was good, not mind-blowing, but very tasty with a nice range of options. They even did a good chai latte and over cooked my eggs, as per my request.

Feeling confident with the menu after a couple of visits, I decided to branch out and have a smoothie with my breakfast. There were no flavours listed – just a daily special. Great, I thought, they must pick seasonal fruits for their smoothie, so maybe it will be a berry one, or even mango and banana (my favourite). Luckily I asked what the daily flavour was before ordering, because it turned out to be a goji berry and almond milk smoothie.

Sorry what? I mean, WTF? Does anyone actually want to drink a goji berry and almond milk smoothie?? Ever?

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Avocado, beetroot and seeds all in their proper place, not hiding in cakes.

Code Black is definitely not alone in their use of slightly oddly placed ‘super foods’ on their menu. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of plenty of healthy foods. I have fully embraced kale, I am pro-quinoa, I am a paid up member of the organic-vegetables-of-Australia party. However, there are some healthy food trends I just can’t wrap my head, or my tongue, around. My top (or bottom) ten healthy food trends that cafes should just stop trying to sell me are:

1. Avocado as butter or cream: I very much enjoy avocado, but please don’t sneak it into my banana cake, or even worse, try to sell me something called ‘avocado cheesecake’. I may consider taking a claim to the ACCC for false advertising if you do.
2. ‘Surprise’ ingredients in smoothies: see above, I don’t take kindly to weird ingredients in my smoothies, especially in the mornings and doubly if they’re lumpy.
3. Spirulina powder: the super green colour is pretty awesome looking, sadly the taste does not reflect this. It tastes and smells like a combination of industrial waste, sunscreen and seaweed.
4. Goji berries: see above, these things taste like sweaty arse. Sorry, but they do. Don’t bother coating them in yoghurt or chocolate either, then it’s just sweaty-arse-flavour-covered-in-chocolate. While that actually potentially sounds very ‘in’ and Fifty Shades of Grey-esque, it’s really not worth the calories.
5. Chia seeds in drinks: nothing against chia, but once you put those little seeds in liquid they puff up and get slimy and it’s like drinking frog spawn. Not that I have had frog spawn recently, but you get the idea. Shudder.
6. Seaweed: fine at a Japanese restaurant for dinner, definitely not fine sprinkled all over my avocado and toast in the morning. Seriously.
7. Oat milk: this is the loser of the milk family, even rice milk refuses to play with oat milk in the school yard. And I’m calling it – enough with the new ‘milks’ please! You can’t just soak anything in water, sieve it and call it a ‘milk’. What is next? Reclaimed floorboard milk? Handpicked dandelion milk? Recycled plastic bag milk? Gahhhh!
8. Quorn: if you’re not vegetarian you might not know this one, but it’s basically a healthy meat substitute. It’s made from a micro fungus or something like that…which says it all really. Avoid.
9. Beetroot chocolate cake: I like beetroot. I definitely like chocolate. But I cannot get behind this one, I’ve tried it so many times and every time I just think ‘oh great, now my perfectly nice chocolate cake has a weird aftertaste of dirt.’
10. Green tea flavour: green tea is not delicious, it tastes like grass clippings. Why would you want to impose this grass flavour on perfectly nice things like cupcakes, KitKats and ice-cream? Wheatgrass also falls into this category (the ‘I actually taste like your lawn’ category). So no, I do not want a wheatgrass shot with that, thank you!

PS – should dandelion milk take off as a ‘thing’, you heard it here first. Or Fifty Shades themed goji-berry treats…that one could actually be a winner.

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Actually delicious ‘super’ foods: fresh fruit and berries.

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The Commonwealth Games and Sushi Pandas

Sport. It’s a topic you’ll rarely read about on my blog. People who knew me at school would know I have about as much sporting talent as a sloth…in a straightjacket. And if you’ve stumbled on this blog via some search engine algorithm that looks at the first word in a blog, well, turn back now. Seriously, I don’t know my League from my Union. I don’t know who is at the top of the AFL ladder or the top seed in tennis. I’d only watch the Tour de France for the landscapes and men’s diving for the…ahem, pool vistas?

However, I do love the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. I’m really not sure why. I’m not particularly patriotic. I haven’t even heard of most of the Aussies representing us. But I absolutely love watching the Games. When the Olympics was on I made my partner and me subscribe to Foxtel so I could have nine simultaneous channels of Olympics coverage. At the moment, with the Commonwealth Games on, I find myself up at midnight on a work night, watching something stupid like clay pigeon shooting and literally bawling when an Aussie wins, or even just does well. What the? My only explanation is that I do tend to have a bit of an obsessive personality.

And here’s where I get back to food (and those errant sports readers should click away now). Because my short lived but obsessive love for the Commonwealth Games is well and truly surpassed by my many brief but intense foodie fads. There are plenty of foods that are perennial favourites which I love to eat, always have loved and could eat every day if I allowed myself to, things like: chocolate brownies, gnocchi Napoli, almond croissants, cheese and bikkies, stewed rhubarb, pad thai, fresh mangoes, buttery mashed potato, slow cooked eggplants or apple pie. And then there are the short lived foodie infatuations, some of which I’m a little embarrassed to admit. The stupid, the silly, the over-the-top and the too trendy. They are the late night Pinterest finds, the Masterchef finale dessert challenges, the Kmart kitchen demonstrators’ dreams.

Not a passing fad: I love slow cooked eggplant, especially these heirloom ones grown by my mum.

Not a passing fad: I love slow cooked eggplant, especially these heirloom ones grown by my mum.

My top ten food obsessions which lasted about as long as a Commonwealth Games tournament are:

Truffle oil – I went nuts for this for a while and it’s an expensive habit. I still think truffle oil is great. But on a pizza or mashed potato only, maybe a soup. Not on every single savoury dish. Otherwise everything just ends up tasting the same, and oily.

Square plates – A few years ago I bought two sets of 8 square plates – 8 mains and 8 side plates. At the time, again, I thought they were the sexiest thing ever. Now they just look so 2005. On the upside they do stack very neatly in the dishwasher.

Sushi Pandas – for the uninitiated, this is a ball of sushi rice decorated with black seaweed so that the balls look like baby pandas. No, I’m not kidding. Google ‘panda sushi’ and see for yourself, seriously. I’m not sure I’m entirely over this one, they are just so ridiculously cute!

Making my own fettuccini – it’s super silky but there’s way too much kneading involved, not to mention the rolling through the machine. They never show quite how painstaking it is on Masterchef, especially when it’s for a big group of people. I’m not quite sure why I bothered when I live so close to fresh pasta on Lygon Street and at the Queen Vic markets.

Tempeh – vegetarian restaurant Shakahari does it really well, I do not. I kept buying it and trying to do it well because I’m a vegetarian, which means I should be good at tempeh right? Right? *Cricket sounds and tumbleweed*

Miniature…everything! – It started with miniature cupcakes. Then I decided all desserts should be miniature. That was stupid. No self respecting sugar addict like me should want to downsize her dessert.

Stacking food – I blame earlier series of Masterchef for this. I bought a quite extensive and heavy set of metal food stacking rings a few years ago which I carted home with me from the UK. Now it’s all about the sauce smear and plates that look like gardens and my food stacking rings sit gathering dust in my parent’s kitchen.

Savoury scones – Scones are just better with jam and cream. I got into herb scones. Miniature herb scones with beetroot jam, probably served on a square plate.

Food in jars – I may not quite be over this obessession either, but the love of hipster style food in jars is fading. I’ve done trifle in jars, cheesecake in jars, chocolate mousse in jars, breakfast in a jar…you get the idea.

Rose flavouring – There are limited things that should be flavoured like a rose. I found some beautiful French natural rose flavouring in a fairly big bottle and I purchased it. It got to the point where all my dessert started tasting like grandma deodorant. I think this obsession died when I attempted to make my own Turkish delight (which actually should be rose flavoured) and my mum said it reminded her of playdough.

The Flour Market

At 7:30am this morning I was awake and out of bed. On a Saturday. There could only be one reason for this very uncharacteristic behaviour: the pursuit of pastry!

This morning I went to the Flour Market, a pop up bakery market in Fitzroy. There was one held late last year which I missed, so I was determined to get in early and go into a cake-induced coma at this one. There were about 12-15 stalls at the indoor market, which was hosted by The Baron Said in Fitzroy, just near the corners of Johnston and Brunswick Streets. All the stallholders were artisan bakers of some description, plus there was a coffee stand and milkshake stand to help wash it all down.

I arrived about 8:40am to a line maybe 80 people deep. The crowd was mostly young locals, foodies, plus quite a few parents with (surprisingly well behaved) kids. Doors opened at 9am, except for people with early bird entry tickets. Given how crowded and crazy the place got, next time I’ll definitely be trying to get my hands on an early entry ticket. I think one issue was that there was no crowd control, so when the doors opened at 9am, everyone poured in rather than say letting 50 people in at a time. The crowd was great though, everyone was polite and really happy to be there. We formed relatively orderly queues at our chosen stands, accidentally elbowed each other and greedily eyed each other’s choice of treats. Traffic flow and direction was a bit of an issue though, with half the crowd going left upon entry and half going right and everyone smooshing together at the central stands!

Anyway, enough about crowd control, on to the important stuff, like salted caramel donuts. So there were so beautiful looking goods at the stalls, I didn’t really know where to start. There were gorgeous solid looking savoury pies by Pure Pie, big stacks of waffles at Waffle Jolie, fresh artisanal breads, vegan cheesecake, homemade donuts of several shapes, sizes and flavours, glossy bagels, homemade oreos at Bakewell & Co, pecan pies and lemon tarts.

flour carry bags

crumpets

I started off by perusing all the stalls and buying a couple of bags of Dr Marty’s Crumpets, as I’d heard of them before but had never tried them. They are currently sitting in my fridge, ready to be toasted and covered in honey and butter, as they conveniently last a couple of days in the fridge. Then I joined the bagel line for 5 & Dime, which was epic! I think it must be the current obsession with American diner style food in Melbourne at the moment, but everyone wanted a bagel. I grabbed myself a plain and a sesame seed bagel. I was tempted by the more unusual sounding white chocolate raspberry bagel, but resisted as there were a lot of sweet options on offer at the Flour Market that I needed to get through. I’ve just had one of the bagels for lunch with a big smear of cream cheese and spinach dip from the Queen Vic markets. Oh baby. There was a reason for the line. Melbournians know their food. 5 & Dime don’t have a store sadly, but do sell at farmer’s markets. They also supply to some very cool cafes across Melbourne, include Pope Joan and Bowery to Williamsburg (which I recently visited, a CBD brunch gem!). The bagels are super soft and just a little yeasty on the inside and have a chewiness on the outside which comes from the traditional boil then bake method. My only criticism was an aesthetic one – the bagels are so generous and puffy that they basically have no hole in the middle, so when you cut them in half, they don’t really look like a bagel to me.

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bagel stand

Then it was on to the sweet stuff, starting with a milkshake at MilkBar. I went with the ‘Choc Haze’ milkshake, essentially a nutella flavoured milkshake. The ingredients were delicious but the texture wasn’t brilliant, it lacked bubbles and volume because they were using dinky little blenders with hardly any power. But I do love a good milkshake and expect a lot from them, so perhaps I’m being too tough.

I think the highlight of the morning was the salted caramel donut from Cobb Lane Bakery. It was just unreasonably soft and delicious. So light and doughy and then the salted caramel filling was very salty, very sweet and very smooth. It wasn’t the easiest thing to eat out of a paper bag, but hey, it was worth getting powdered sugar on my nose for! Cobb Lane Bakery is based out in Yarraville, but Twenty & Six Espresso on Queensberry Street stock their donuts, so they could become a regular and extremely dangerous habit of mine.

We left around 10am and things were already starting to sell out, including Cobb Lane’s donuts. I noticed La Belle Miette’s macaroons weren’t selling as quickly though, suggesting to me that the Melbourne love affair with macaroons is well and truly over. They are still very beautiful though, and great if you’re wanting gluten free. If you haven’t been, their shop in Hardware Lane is super cute and their pastel coloured gift boxes elevate their macaroons into a very stylish little gift I think!

pecan pie from Bakewell & Co

pecan pie from Bakewell & Co

It was great to be reminded of what a wonderful foodie city Melbourne is with such passionate producers and purveyors. And the best part? I was back on my couch, bagel at the ready and air conditioning on by 12 o’clock today, the time when I’m normally just emerging from the doona covers!

Cobb Lane on Urbanspoon

La Belle Miette on Urbanspoon

Eco baking?

My parents are ex-hippies. I consider myself a fairly environmentally friendly kind of girl, for someone living in a first world country like Australia. I turn off lights and taps, I don’t own a car (primarily because I don’t drive…), I buy environmentally friendly cleaning products and I care about the whales. But as I was walking home yesterday, sweltering in the ridiculous summer heat and pondering climate change, it occurred to me, how eco friendly is baking? Is my passion having a positive, negative or neutral impact on the environment and is there anything I can (or will) do to change this?

So first, the positives. While I haven’t got studies to prove it, it seems like common sense that cooking a meal at home is going to be more environmentally friendly than eating at a restaurant or buying takeaway. You reuse dishes rather than having to produce and then throw away takeaway containers. Home cooking is likely to be more simple and use less resources than a restaurant meal – no tablecloths to wash, you drink tap water not bottled and fewer ingredients in meals means less food miles, less water and fertiliser and land used. Also, eating at home means you don’t use your car or other transport to go out. And it’s not that I’m against eating out, I absolutely love it, but I’m trying to get an overall picture of the good, bad and the ugly of my baking and cooking habits.

Also in the positives is that I shop locally and buy a lot of Victorian produce at the Queen Vic Markets. This reduces my ‘food miles’, the carbon emissions needed to transport food from the farm to me. I do think about seasonal availability when planning meals. Just yesterday I made a cheesecake, choosing to make it a strawberry one since those berries are at their best (and cheapest) in summer. In addition, being vegetarian and cooking only veggie meals and baked goods does reduce your carbon footprint quite significantly, since meat production is resource heavy and animals like cows and sheep produce large amounts of methane. Methane is many many times more powerful than carbon dioxide when we’re talking about global warming. In fact, it’s so significant that there’s actually a National Livestock Methane Program in Australia aimed at reducing methane emissions on farms!

One of my eco friendly vegan salads using home-grown basil and market produce

One of my eco friendly vegan salads using home-grown basil and market produce

On to the negatives now. I might not be eating meat but my baking does use a hell of a lot of butter, cream, milk and eggs – all produced by lovely yet methane emitting animals. Plus most of the baking ingredients I buy come in packaging, much of which is not recyclable. Then there’s my love of kitchen appliances. Chief among these is of course my Mixmaster, but there’s also a blender, juicer, rice cooker, sandwich press, toaster, kettle, ice-cream maker and vegetable dicer thingie. The ABS has actually done studies showing the trend for household appliance ownership is steeply upwards as we become more affluent and appliances become more affordable (apparently!). All those appliances I have use energy. On the other hand, they only use it for short periods of time, unlike, for example, a second television, my Mixmaster isn’t plugged in at all times. However, I would never plug them in if I didn’t own them because I didn’t do any cooking or baking.

My (climate busting?)baking: caramel popcorn and marshmallow brownies

My (climate busting?) baking: caramel popcorn and marshmallow brownies

Sigh! Pondering this is now starting to give me a headache. Maybe it’s a sugar cravings headache from lack of baked goods…I certainly don’t have the answers and I’m not about to stop baking and become a raw food fruitarian. But there are sites where you can buy eco baking supplies (think unbleached baking parchment and mixing bowls made from recycled plastic or bamboo), so it’s clear others have pondered this issue too, even made successful businesses out of it. There’s also plenty of blogs out there with enviro-friendly tips for the kitchen. I’m a big believer in there always being room for improvement, so it’s something I’m going to look into. It’s definitely worth contemplating…while enjoying a slice of my strawberry cheesecake!

(H)anna(h) Pavlova

First, apologies for the delay in posts. As some of you may know, my partner and I have just moved apartments. Don’t worry, while we officially live in West Melbourne rather than North Melbourne now, in reality we are literally three minutes’ walk from Errol Street. Di Bella is now in a direct line between me and my work, meaning I’m in there so often that several of the staff greet me by name. This is rather nice, but occasionally embarrassing.

My mango passionfruit pavlova ( a cheeky slice the day after...)

My mango passionfruit pavlova ( a cheeky slice the day after…)

Anyway, back to far more important things, namely pavlova. Pavlova is a crowd pleasing dessert. It’s nostalgic. It’s colourful and eye catching (depending on what it’s topped with). The flavours are familiar and popular. It involves copious amounts of whipped cream. It is named after a beautiful and talented Russian ballerina (Anna Pavlova). It’s even gluten free and vegetarian. Plus it seem light, meaning everyone feels able to fit in at least a little slither after dinner. To top it all off, I get to use my beloved Mixmaster to make it. My grandma makes a cracker of a pavlova, as do many other grannies nation-wide.

A few of you may have read one of my past blogs which mentioned my ‘pav-gate’ pavlova baking fail. The resulting light brown soggy mess was frankly devastating, particularly since I had previously considered pavlova a basic that was pretty foolproof. It took me a little while to regain my pav confidence. I convinced myself it had been the early morning bake time, but doubt still crept into my mind…

Happily, I can now say that I’m 100% back to my former levels of pav snobbishness. I can once again blithely whip these babies up for dinner party desserts and bring-a-plate BBQs. This weekend mangoes were down to $2 each at the Queen Vic Markets, so I snaffled up a couple and made a very nice little passionfruit and mango pavlova, even mixing a some passionfruit pulp into the whipped cream and decorating with a few well placed mint leaves. All the important elements for a super pav were there – crispy shell, marshmallow-like goodness in the middle, white glossy appearance, height, robust enough to hold lots of freshly whipped cream and topped with sexy looking seasonal fruit.

Below is my pav recipe. I certainly don’t think it’s the only good one out there, I highly doubt it’s the best one, but it’s simple, it works and it always wins me requests for seconds. It’s based on a combination of Donna Hay’s recipe, my grandma’s recipe and my own tinkering. Enjoy (preferably several slices)!

Ingredients
4 large eggwhites
250g pure icing sugar (or castor sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 normal/dessert spoons cornflour
2 teaspoons white vinegar

Equipment
Large flat oven tray
Baking parchment or greaseproof paper
Mixmaster or electric hand beater

Method
– Beat the eggwhites until they start to look white rather than clear (soft peaks starting).
Add in vanilla essence. Don’t freak out if the mixture goes slightly brown, as you keep beating it will return to white.
– Beat in icing sugar until eggwhites look very white, thick and glossy and hold their shape. I’d recommend turning off the Mixmaster to tip in the sugar, otherwise the powdered sugar flies everywhere!
Beat in the vinegar and cornflour. Note that I often use white wine vinegar if I have no normal white vinegar, it doesn’t seem to matter.
– Place a sheet of baking paper on an oven tray. If you have baking parchment, this is probably fine as is, if you have normal greaseproof paper, best to oil it slightly with a flavourless oil (e.g. vegetable or canola).
– Tip the thick eggwhite mixture onto the paper and, using a spatula or knife, shape the mixture into a circle. You could draw a circle on the paper if you wanted, but personally, I’m happy with an approximate circle.
– Shape the mixture so that rather than having a flat top there is a very slight depression in the middle of it (meaning extra room for cream and fruit!).
– Place in the oven for between an hour and an hour and 30 minutes. This will depend a bit on how thick/high you formed your pav and a bit on the oven, humidity etc. Just check it regularly after an hour. You’re looking for a shiny appearance without it turning brown. If you tap the side of it, it should feel hard and crispy and sound kind of hollow.
– Once cooked, turn off the oven and leave in the oven to cool, preferably for several hours.
– Whip thick cream with a little sugar and (optional) vanilla essence. Top the pav with cream.
– Then top with fruit of your choice. For summer I like mango and passionfruit or a mix of berries. For a more classic pav, go with kiwifruit, strawberries and passionfruit.

Ten baked goods I just don’t understand…

I love baked goods. When I travel, it basically ends up being a tour of all the best bakeries and cake stores in that country. I read guides and blogs on pastries. I make lists of cake shops to visit. I also love making baked goods myself. I bake pretty wicked double chocolate chip cookies (even if I do say so myself) and a growing repertoire of cupcake flavours on a regular basis. I’m also the keeper of the family’s secret passionfruit sponge recipe. However, there are some baked goods I just don’t get. I don’t like them. Never have and probably never will. Yet, they are very popular. Why? I don’t know, but here’s my top (or rather bottom) ten. Feel free to object – perhaps something you love is on my dis-list…

Mince pies – it’s less than 12 weeks until Christmas. Myer has their Christmas trim shop set up already. But there’s one part of the festive season I won’t be looking forward to, and that’s mince pies. I think it’s the mixed peel and dried fruit in them that I don’t like, because I also don’t like Christmas cake or pudding. My sister always disliked them too, until she went to the UK. Over there they eat mince pies (in the freezing cold weather) piping hot with thick cream. I’m unconvinced but she swears that the hot UK version completely turned her on mince pies.

Coconut ice – logically I should like this slice. It’s pink and white. It’s super sweet. I love coconut. But there’s something about the extreme sweetness I just don’t like. Plus it’s all so same-y. There’s just one texture, just one flavour, no levels or layers of interest. In addition, I think I feel misled by this slice. Half is pink and half is white, suggesting there’s two flavours there, but it all tastes the same!

Jaffa cake – chocolate and orange is a combination I really dislike. I don’t like my beautiful chocolate despoiled by orange’s bitter oily intenseness. Also in this category is any kind of chocolate/mint cake combination. Really, who likes toothpaste flavour with their chocolate cake?

Mega muffins – I love muffins, but I often find that the giant ones are really disappointing. Unless made somewhere reliably good, I won’t buy them. What tends to happen is that the baker puts three blueberries at the top of a huge muffin. Based on the appearance of the top of the muffin, you (rightfully) assume the muffin is choc full of juicy moist blueberries. In fact, there’s only those few on the top and the rest of the muffin is just stodgy plain cake flavour. It’s like somewhere in the past there was an official allocated number of berries/chocolate chips etc per muffin and that allocation has not been adjusted upwards to take into account the new jumbo sized trend in muffins.

Jelly slice – I know this is an Aussie favourite, but I don’t get why people go for this one. It’s wibbly, but not in a good way. It’s a weird texture combination. Plus, being a jelly top it’s typically not vegetarian friendly. I know, I know, you can kick me out of the country now…

A baked good I do get: melting moments!

A baked good I do get: melting moments!

Lemon slice – while we’re on slices, lemon slice is another popular item I have no love or time for. There are so many delicious slices out there people! Caramel slice, hedgehog slice, brownie slices, even those oatmeal Anzac type slices. Why go for the plain as plain lemon slice option? Plus they’re often quite dry on the bottom with sickly sweet icing on the top; an uninviting prospect.

Pumpkin scones – does anyone actually eat these? Besides your great aunt? What is the point in putting pumpkin in a scone, besides making the scone the colour of radioactive American cheese?

Pumpkin pie – I have nothing against pumpkins, but pumpkin pie is another item I can’t get into. I spent a Halloween and a Thanksgiving in Louisiana a few years ago, so believe me, I gave this American treat a go. I tried homemade ones, I tried slices from bakeries and I also tried two flavours of pumpkin pie made by Wholefoods. Nothing. It’s a pie crust with weird goopy (or in some cases jelly-like) custard the colour of baby spew.

Carrot cake – carrot is a vegetable. Don’t put it in a perfectly good cake. And don’t try to make the crappy vegetable cake better by wasting delicious cream-cheese icing on it. Plus, carrot cake sounds sort of healthy, but with the amount of sugar put in it to make it taste good, and all that cream cheese icing, it’s a really deceptive choice. Go home carrots, go back to where you belong!

Sticky buns or coffee scrolls – I’m talking about those big doughy wheels covered in icing, sometimes featuring sultanas. I don’t really understand why anyone likes these. It’s just bread that tastes mildly of cinnamon, covered in extremely average icing of the plain or instant coffee flavour variety. Lame.

Procrasticooking

I didn’t coin the word, sadly. But I love ‘procrasticooking’. I actually saw it as a status update on Facebook and thought, wow, yes that summarises several hours of my week in one nice little word. I’m thinking there are many others out there too, who make elaborate dinners from Gourmet Traveller rather than the vacuuming, attempt a MasterChef style croquembouche tower rather than study for an upcoming exam or turn into Jamie Oliver, pumping out masses of pucker tucker when what you should really be doing is making an appointment to see your dentist.

To get all technical on you for a moment, to procrastinate is to delay or postpone action, to put off doing something. For me procrastination has a sort of wilful-yet-hopeful attitude to it. So when I procrastinate I very earnestly and industriously do something else, all the while kind of hoping that while I watch Game of Thrones or go for a walk my assignment might just actually write itself.

Cooking and/or baking is definitely one of my favourite activities to avoid doing something else. Hence my joy at discovering this new term. I’ve since learned that Urban Dictionary actually has an entry for ‘Procrastibaking’, Procrasticooking’s sweeter doughier cousin. There’s also a blog called ‘Procrastibaking’ and a Facebook page dedicated to it. Obviously I haven’t been doing enough procrastinating to know this!

When I was at Uni I used to procrasticook during the SWOT VAC week. Thinking ahead I’d reason that, when in the midst of complex and intense study, I’d hardly be breaking to make myself dinner. Yet I still had to eat. My brain required better fuel than bananas and three packets of Tim Tams a day. So at the start of the study week I’d make all these dinners, eat some and freeze the rest. It worked pretty well, but I did lose a day of study to my procrasticooking…and I still ate the Tim Tams.

Procrasticooking can be a very creative activity. See, sometimes I’m desperate to avoid something so I go into the kitchen and think, ‘yes, I’ll make a cake, that will solve everything, right?’ However, making something on the spur of the moment probably means I haven’t got all the necessary ingredients. In the past this has led to me inventing alternatives. I’ve made custard when I had no milk (mixing cream with water by shaking it together in the tub works perfectly), cupcakes with no butter (use vegetable oil or sour cream) and a random salad of canned things (canned corn, canned beans, canned chickpeas, plus some garlic and herbs), which was surprisingly good.

Cooking and baking are certainly not the only things I do when procrastinating. I’m procrastiblogging right now, since I’m blogging from bed and avoiding getting out of it. I procrasticlean a lot. Never is my desk so tidy as when I’m under pressure at work. Sometimes I even procrastiexercise, despite my normal lazy attitude to going to the gym. Then there’s the whole going online and procrasti-planning-holidays-I-can’t-yet-afford thing. But procrasticooking perhaps has an edge on these other forms of procrastination in that at the end of your procrastination you have created something. Something solid, measurable and hopefully delicious. You can stand back and look at your giant stack of blueberry pancakes and think yes, it was worth losing that hour of time I should have spent sending emails to do this, because look what I made, look at its glorious pancake-iness, I am a goddess of the kitchen, hear me roar….Ah hem, anyway, you get the idea. You get a product at the end of your procrastination, something to hold on to while you pump out the last of your essay at 11:52pm before the midnight deadline.

So procrasticooking can be a good thing. But like any procrastination, it can be a bad thing if it gets to the stage that you actually fail to do the things you need to do. Delay is ok, complete failure might not be so healthy. In that vein, I’m now going to get out of bed, do my dishes and then get ready to get on a flight (to Sydney) for the weekend. I hope you all have many procrasticooking adventures this weekend!

PS – in a spate of procrastination a few nights ago I’ve redone the look of my blog. Hopefully it is easier to navigate and just, well, prettier. Love to hear what readers think!

PPS – I’ve also included pics of a few yummy things I’ve been eating in North Melbourne lately. These are partly for you and partly to motivate me to get out of bed and make breakfast! Or just go to Di Bella…

Semolina gnocchi at Stovetop in Carlton

Semolina gnocchi at Stovetop in Carlton


Signature muesli at Di Bella in North Melbourne

Signature muesli at Di Bella in North Melbourne

Can't go past a Di Bella chai latte

Can’t go past a Di Bella chai latte