An Exciting New Phase For Our Family !!

Wow, Izzy, what an amazing couple of weeks! Dad accepted a new job, and suddenly, after more than a decade in North America, we will be heading back to Australia! It is hard to imagine that we’ll now be just a short domestic flight away from you, rather than two LONG international ones. What a difference that will make! We are so incredibly excited to soon be closer together again.

Claudia and I were in Los Angeles last week-end when the news broke in the press, and poor Dad was in freezing Geneva. You waiting anxiously in Melbourne. In different parts of the world, we were all trying to take stock of  this new phase and how it was about to have such a profound effect on our family. Apart from you and the Brands, and all the friends we care so much about in Australia, we will be that much closer to Nana and Papa in KL too. What a wonderful thing.

If I wasn’t hyperventilating over this news, I was eating very well while catching up with friends in Los Angeles. One lunch with girlfriends was at SugarFish on Second Street in Santa Monica which Debbie Thawley recommended. Excellent sushi, even Keiko approved. We all ordered the ‘Trust Me’  which really was us putting ourselves in the expert hands of the chef to serve whatever he thought was best.  We were not disappointed! Then catching up with Tim and David over dinner up near Mullholland, we ate at Shu, just the most amazing fusion of Japanese and Italian. Sounds weird, but they do it so successfully. No celebs spotted this week-end, as I’m sure you wouldn’t count Lou Adler, being a Brentwood School dad. He was at Blue Plate where Claude and Grace and I caught up . Everyone we saw was well, and of course asked after you, and sent their love.

Flew home on Sunday night to frigid weather, and in the very early hours of Monday morning came the much anticipated phone call from Paul: Jennifer was in labour! I was SO glad she had been the obliging friend and crossed her legs till I got home, to have that baby ( I would have been crushed to miss the event, you know! ).  Adrian Emmanuel Barrs was born at 8.30 am that morning, February 13. You shared our excitement long distance as I messaged updates. Such a perfect little baby and such proud and excited big brothers! Claudia and I were privileged to meet the new baby that day, and share in that family’s joy.

On the home front, it feels so good to have dad home.  His last two weeks away felt like a lifetime, especially with so much up in the air.  Now he is here with all the details, the move to Australia feels real. Its been cold, but hardly any snow has fallen. Stony grey and overcast, the weather has called for endless cups of tea, and comfort food like minestrone and bolognese.

This week-end, Chris and Steph were in town from Harvard for a conference on Australian Studies, and came to  dinner with their friend Lydia. They brought some excellent champagne to celebrate our recent news.  Dad cooked an awesome beef short rib served with giant rigatoni. More soul warming comfort food. It was great to catch up with all the Melbourne news, and hear their impressions of Sydney.

A couple of nights ago, I made a quick pad thai and was reminded that I should get back to posting some recipes for you. Noodles are easy, and instantly satisfying. In keeping with the gluten free phase we are experimenting with, the rice stick noodles were perfect to cook with.

Thanks so much for sending me all the pictures of the meals you are cooking. Dad and I are SO glad you are at Grouse, which allows you to shop and cook, and eat such a nice variety of healthy meals, have friends over to share them, and be creative in the kitchen. Isn’t it such a pleasure??

Vegetarian Pad Thai

  • 1 packet fresh bean sprouts
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 a large onion, sliced fine
  • 1 fresh red chili, sliced fine
  • 1 red capsicum/bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 small packet hard tofu, sliced
  • 5 to 6 stalks green spring onion cut into 2 inch segments
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup peanuts, roughly crushed
  • 1 packet rice sticks
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes, optional
  • a few sprigs of cilantro/fresh coriander to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh lime to flavour

If you cannot find a jar of Pad Thai sauce at the supermarket, here’s how you make it yourself very easily:

  • 1 fresh lime, squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon brown or palm sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons tamarind sauce
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chilli sauce
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
Mix the above ingredients well together. Taste and season accordingly. Set aside.
  1. Heat a large pot of water, and when it comes to a rolling boil, drop the rice sticks in the water, and turn off the heat. Leave the noodles to soften, stirring regularly to separate the sticks. Check after five minutes, and drain when al dente, and then reserve the noodles in a bowl of cold water.
  2. Next, heat a little oil in a large wok, and cook the garlic and onion, sliced chilli, and sliced tofu. 
  3. Add the very well drained noodles and the capsicum slices, add the sauce, stirring constantly to coat the noodles thoroughly.
  4. Add the beaten egg to the noodles, and at this point, put a lid on the wok and leave the egg to cook over the noodles.
  5. After about five minutes, remove the lid and stir well, distributing the cooked egg through the noodles.
  6. Now add the pepper, salt and some lime juice if desired. 
  7. Toss in the bean sprouts, and spring onions, stir well until wilted. 
  8. Sprinkle with chilli flakes and serve hot with a wedge of lime, crushed peanuts, and cilantro/fresh coriander to garnish.