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Melbourne Larder

I’m lucky enough to live in the wonderful city of Melbourne in Australia. I grew up on a farm in country Victoria and moved to Melbourne when I was 17 to study journalism at university.

I worked as a journalist for 10 years, including at Australia’s largest metropolitan daily newspaper and at a legal journal, before I became an editor at one of Australia’s largest commercial law firms. I now manage the publications team there. Although I’m currently on family leave, I’ll return to work part-time later this year. I started my blog in 2007 while I was on family leave with my first child. I wanted to return to writing and decided to combine that with my love of food. I feature recipes on my blog, which are accompanied by a story explaining why I chose that recipe. I tend to focus on old-fashioned baking and celebrate the rural lifestyle that I grew up with. As well as recipes, I write café, product and cookbook reviews and celebrate the fabulous diverse eating scene in Melbourne on my blog.

In addition to my blog and my editing work, I write reviews for The Age Cheap Eats Guide (Melbourne’s premier guide to the excellent cheap dining spots around town) and for the Melbourne Coffee Guide.
I also have two beautiful children – three-year-old Daniel and six-month-old Emily – and a wonderful husband, Adam, who loves to be the recipient of all my cooking efforts!

How long have you been a Daring Baker/Daring Cook and what’s your favorite thing about being in the group(s) so far?

My first challenge was cinnamon and sticky buns in September 2007 and I’ll be making the inaugural Daring Cooks challenge in May. Even though the Daring Bakers/Cooks are spread around the world and it’s impossible to keep up with all the participating blogs, I enjoy the camaraderie that comes from a large group simultaneously sharing a fun experience. I enjoy anticipating each month’s chosen recipe and then seeing how creatively the DB and DC team interpret it. It’s a good way to learn from other cooks. My mental arithmetic skills are also getting very polished, given all the converting from imperial measurements to metric that I do!

Reading any good books lately? Which ones?!

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas and The Spare Room by Helen Garner are two excellent Australian novels released in the past few months that I really enjoyed. Both are set in Melbourne and I love reading stories set in my hometown, as I can envisage the places evoked in the books. The Slap, in particular, has a lot of interesting comments to say about modern Australian society and parenting and I found it relevant and interesting, as well as being a great read.

Are you known for making a certain dish or dessert? If so, what is it?

My friends can always rely on me to bring a cake for morning or afternoon tea, although they can never be sure exactly what that cake will be, as I’m always experimenting with new recipes! It’s usually something chocolate though. I’m also known for my desserts and these often have a chocolate theme as well.

Is there any recipe and/or technique that we haven’t covered yet that you’d really like to make/learn?

Proper croissants from scratch would be fun (and probably very time-consuming!)

Do you have a favorite movie? Actor? Actress? Genre of music?

I’m not much of a movie buff. I don’t mind going every now and then but it’s quite hard to organize with two children and I prefer to use my precious baby-sitting hours to go out for a nice dinner with my husband. My favourite movies are probably the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I enjoy listening to music but I’m not a mad music buff. I guess you could say my favourite genre is rock. Most of the bands that I loved are now defunct (Hunters & Collectors, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana) but I still enjoy their music. I play the piano, so I’m also a big fan of classical music – I find it relaxing and soothing.

You’ve had a rough week. We feel your pain. How do you relax after a rough week?

Often a big glass of red wine is a good relaxant! It really depends on what has caused the rough week. A massage, a soak in a hot bath, getting lost in the pages of a good book, a glass of wine or a nice dinner are all relaxing in their own way. I also find cooking and baking quite relaxing and therapeutic. If I’m feeling stressed out, I like to bake a cake or I find stirring a risotto very meditative.

What is the ultimate comfort food to you?

A big bowl of hot soup, a slow-cooked casserole, or a hot steamed pudding with custard. Anything related to winter food feels comforting to me.

Which season (Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall) is your favorite.. why?

Autumn (fall) is my favourite season. I love the cool, crisp mornings leading into warm, sunny days and the fact that my mind turns to soups, stews and warm puddings. Even though I love warm weather, I don’t find it inspiring for cooking, so autumn always encourages me to get back into the kitchen and enjoy the warmth of a busy stove.

Other than cooking and/or baking, what hobbies do you enjoy?

I love reading and will read everything in sight, although I prefer Australian and English literary fiction and some non-fiction (as well as the latest food magazines!) I also enjoy creative writing (particularly short stories), exercising (cycling, running, going to the gym), beading and making my own jewellery, going out for coffee, and spending time with my family and friends.

You can visit Melinda on her blog Melbourne Larder