Sarah Cooks 2013 Roundup

1/06/2014 10:51:00 PM

Happy New Year! Let's start the new year by looking back over 2013! It's been a good year for me - new job, a bit of travel, lots of gym, socialising and general fun times. Yay! I really enjoyed maintaining my little blog last year, even if it was a little less frequently than the year before. (That's 89 posts for 2013, compared to a whopping 131 in 2012, for those counting along at home).

The biggest change this year was the long overdue new layout, with new and improved ease of navigation and funky new artwork by Zhen. It's been going for four months now and I'm still loving it!

Artwork by Zhen for Sarah Cooks


I was lucky to travel a bit this year - visiting Germany again for three weeks, with a little weekend trip to London and 3 Days in Paris in the middle.

Sadaharu Aoki Patisserie

In London, I loved Dinner by Heston, Nopi, Afternoon Tea at the Wolseley, and the gorgeous Ottolenghi Cafe in Notting Hill!

Ottolenghi Notting Hill

My Germany posts were all very home-focused: Supermarkets and Snack Foods; BBQs and Parties; Bread, Bakeries, Breakfasts and Bacony Goods; and Snapshots.

German Brot

Closer to home, I also blogged about a weekend we spent in Sydney! Not yet blogged are a weekend trip to Tasmania and the Mornington Peninsula - hopefully soon.


In my last post, I mentioned that I'm a bit over the standard Melbourne brunch scene (poached eggs and smashed avocados for $15 - yawn), but looking back, I did blog quite a few cafes this year. I think the cafes in the list below offer something a little different and unusual, which is why I was keen to visit them in the first place, and why I felt compelled to tell you about them!

Cappuccino at Grain Store

Although I haven't blogged it again in 2013, my favourite cafe is still Beatrix in North Melbourne. I think we've visited about ten times this year, not counting the times my parents have gone and surprised me with a little takeaway box of Nat's fabulous cakes!

Cakes from Beatrix

My favourite new cafes in 2013 were Grain Store (bacon steak!) and Bowery to Williamsburg for their fab bagels and cheese blintzes. Other cafes I blogged and enjoyed were Candied BakeryGrace CafeMiss FrankBread and Jam for FrancesCollective Espresso; and Top PaddockSpring Street Grocery; and Pallet Espresso.

Bacon steak at Grain Store


Restaurants weren't quite as well represented as cafes - I enjoyed ShimbashiThe Mess HallDainty SichuanAcland Street CantinaSpice Temple; and Touché Hombre; but we were rather disappointed with the much-more-lauded Royal Mail Hotel.



I only blogged a couple of events and restaurant invitations this year - general busyness meant I was declining a lot of invitations, and only attending things that I was super excited about, and that wouldn't interfere with work, family time or (don't laugh) the gym. (Priorities!) I loved lunch at the Melbourne Festival Foxtel Hub, and seeing Elvis Costello perform live at A Day on the Green in the Yarra Valley.

Elvis Costello

A bloggers' dinner at Captain Melville was both fun and delicious, and I was totally blown away by the fish-fragrant eggplant at Sichuan House Seafood.

Fish Fragrant Eggplant at Sichuan House Seafood


We didn't entertain a lot this year, especially not in the first half of the year, and when we did, we seemed to prefer smaller, intimate gatherings rather than gigantic parties. There was a Chinese Meal for Four; the Lobster Roll PartyChinese New Year; a Sunday Lunch for FourFather's Day Dinner; the Vegetarian Italian Feast; the Latke PartyChristmas; and the Lobster Pie Party! And of course the Miranda Party where a group of us dug into a communal pavlova!



An area in which I really prolifically blogged this year was recipes. Yay! As all those annoying self-help articles in the lifestyle section of the paper will tell you - to make a resolution stick, you've really got to turn it into a habit, and it seems that I've made creating and blogging recipes into a very happy habit. In fact, I find recipe posts to be the quickest and easiest to write. This year I did 30 recipes compared to last year's 29, which translates into a 14% increase in the proportion of recipe posts year on year. (Maths).

As far as savouries go, I did a lot more Chinese and Asian cooking this year than previously (that would be the Fuchsia Dunlop effect): bang bang chicken and beanshootsfan wu caiTaiwanese meat sauce on ricetuna sashimi with silken tofu and soba noodlesduck and beanshoot stir fry with duck cracklingchilli beef on rice; and matcha and sesame-crusted tuna with soy butter potatoes.

Taiwanese Meat Sauce on Rice with rice-cooked eggplant, Chinese broccoli and a soy egg

Not Asian but also delicious were my lamb on rocket with potato croutonsgarlic and saffron prawnseggplant and zucchini parmigianacorn fritters and tuna fishcakes.

Garlic and saffron prawns

Regarding sweet recipes, I think 2013 was the year of the peanut! I always loved peanut butter, but grew obsessed with it in 2013, eating it from the jar by the spoonful. I blogged four peanut recipes this year: salted peanut and milk chocolate blondies; Chinese New Year peanut cookies; Reese's Peanut Butter Cup brownies and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and white chocolate blondies.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and White Chocolate Blondies

I blogged two apple pie recipes: fine apple tart and my ultimate apple pie; and a whole lotta yummy sweet recipes: fig and yogurt pancakes; chocolate nut mini-loaf cakes; fig, almond and pine-nut tart; raspberry and white chocolate muffinsmagic custard pudding cake; date scones; salted caramel date flapjacks; chocolate cheesecake brownies; maple-walnut cupcakes with maple buttercream and financiers.


I also stretched out of my comfort zone with a couple of "healthy" sweet baking recipes: coconut flour banana bread with Chobani coconut fudge frosting and a luscious vegan chocolate avocado cake with avocado chocolate frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting

This year I also did a couple of random fun posts - sharing my Instagrammed breakfasts and even created a little tutorial on How to Slice an Avocado! I also kept up my monthly Unblogged Files series, rounding up all the fun eats I've had in a month that don't warrant a full blog post. These seem to get more epic each month, so don't forget to look those up for lots of delicious tidbits.

So, what's coming up for 2014? Well, in the start of the year, I'm trying to step up my gym routine and eat a little less extravagantly than I did over Christmas, so you will be seeing more healthy baking and breakfast recipes here. (I thought I might just try baking less, but that's boring - I'd much rather flex my culinary creativity coming up with fun and healthy treats to bake!) Fear not though, I still have a few decadent cake and biscuit recipes, as well as some restaurant visits and events still to blog, so you'll be seeing those soon too! I'm also lucky to have a few holidays planned, including the Gold Coast and Malaysia later in the year. Can't wait!

All the best for a fun and delicious 2014 ahead! xxx

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  1. What a great year of blogging!

    I've really enjoyed your Chinese-style recipes this year. Although I'm obviously Chinese in background, I've always personally cooked more Western style food. I really want to try cooking more Chinese food, and your recipes definitely provide a spark of inspiration.

  2. What a great year of blogging!

    I've really enjoyed your Chinese-style recipes this year. Although I'm obviously Chinese in background, I've always personally cooked more Western style food. I really want to try cooking more Chinese food, and your recipes definitely provide a spark of inspiration.

  3. You've done so much cooking and baking last year :) I'm so grateful to have tried a few things the sausages and the MATCHA CROISSANTS!
    I've been nice and polite and haven't bugged you yet hehe but please please please blog it soon xx



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.