#10 A Simplicious Challenge: Getting out of my comfort zone

The Simplicious Challenge: I’m cooking all 306 recipes from Sarah Wilson’s book Simplicious, to see the impact it has on the way I buy, cook, consume and waste food. Read the first post here, if you missed it.

Doing this challenge makes it feel like time is flying past. I blink and another month is gone, and here I am again! Although I’m sure it’s not this challenge per se – this year does seem to be zooming past. As a completely random aside to this post, I did read an article recently which explained why it feels like times goes by quicker as we get older.

This past month has pushed me out of my comfort zone on two notable occasions, both within a week of each other (honestly, I was highly-strung all week!). They might seem mundane to others, but for me, they were distinctly nerve-wracking. The first was meeting Sarah Wilson. She visited Canberra in August to host a high tea session as part of the Canberra Writer’s Festival, and my Mum and I went. It was thrilling for us, not just because it was hosted by Sarah herself; but because we haven’t gone to a ‘proper’ high tea together since Mum was diagnosed with diabetes over two years ago. It was exciting to be able to enjoy the experience, without having to worry about over-indulging in sweet treats (the bacon cupcakes were divine! The recipe is also available here on the IQS website). But in addition to my excitement about the occasion, were my nerves at meeting the lady herself. And having to confess to her, which I did rather sheepishly when I approached her with my Simplicious cookbook, that “I’m the one who’s cooking my way through the book”. I’m not really sure why I was nervous. Probably because I hate to think that I could be a disappointment. But Sarah was very gracious and generous, and insisted we have a photo (you wouldn’t know I’m wearing my highest heels!). She also sent the people home with leftovers.

The second occasion was participating in a live radio panel for 666ABC, my local ABC station in Canberra (and happily, my favourite radio station anyway). They contacted me after coming across the blog, and asked if I could participate in a panel about sugar and salt, as a ‘real person’ who had given up sugar; alongside a dietitian and a chef. I angsted over it, and tried to think of legitimate reasons why I couldn’t possibly do it (because every time I thought about it I started shaking and wanted to nervously vomit); before realising that the only thing stopping me was my fear – of public speaking and looking like a fool – and so I pushed myself to do it. When I was younger, there were things I didn’t do out of fear; particularly fear of social situations. It always left me feeling regretful and disappointed with myself. So I went, and it was fine. I was, literally, shaking in my boots. But I also focused on relishing the experience in the moment (rather than just looking forward to it being over), and it was truly a privilege to see ‘behind the scenes’ of the program I listen to when I drive to work. The full radio interview is available online here. I was also very impressed with Simon Bryant (of The Cook and The Chef fame) who participated in the panel, for his views that restaurant food does not need added sugar and salt to taste good, if the natural flavours are well-balanced.

As someone who has struggled with anxiety over my life, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone and facing my fears.

And now I’ll be happy to have a month back inside my comfort zone! 🙂

The food:

I made 16 recipes during August:

  • Winter Chai Kombucha (p 345): I already knew I’d like this one – chai is always a winner with me!
  • Homemade Bacon (p 208): This was one of those recipes I was apprehensive about, but it was much easier than I thought it would be. Although it didn’t ‘look’ like regular bacon, it tasted great! I used it in a few dishes, and also sliced some up for the freezer. One of the dishes I used it for was:
  • Bacon ‘n’ Egg Porridge (p 66): A cosy way to start a wintery Canberra day, with added parsley, thyme and ‘turmeric dust’ (i.e. crumbled turmeric buttons).
Bacon 'n' Egg Porridge from Simplicious

Bacon ‘n’ Egg Porridge from Simplicious

  • Activated Nuts and Seeds (p 28): I used a mixture of almonds, cashews, pecans and pepitas, and loved the slightly toasty crunch. I used a portion of them to make:
  • Bacon Granola (p 108): WOW. I stupidly only made a half batch because I thought I wouldn’t be into it. Silly me! It’s the new king of the granolas, delicious on its own, as a soup topper (pumpkin soup!) and with yoghurt. I used my homemade bacon in it too.
  • Bloke’s Beef ‘n’ Beer with Mash (p 206): This was so delicious, and easy – a one-pot slow-cooked meal that includes mashed sweet potato. I completely smothered it in dijon mustard before cooking, and made a gravy from the juices.
  • Choc-Nut Spoon Pops (p 120): A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it recipe that the kids loved (“chocolate lollipops”), but which have no sweetener at all.
  • Monster Mash Roll-Ups (p 124): These were surprisingly filling – I went for the ‘extra nutritious’ option of adding fermented turmeric paste and I used cheddar instead of fetta.
  • ‘But the Kitchen Sink’ Kimchi (p 337): I made a giant batch of this slightly spicy kimchi, which took quite a while to ferment on my kitchen bench in the cold. I haven’t actually tried it yet as it’s only just finished fermenting – but it smells amazing!
  • Crunchy Chicken Satay in a Pan (p 232): My husband made this one spontaneously, which was a nice surprise. It was delicious – and the satay sauce is incredible. We served it with:
  • Thai Coconutty Cabbage (p 182): This was a really nice side dish to the satay chicken – highly recommended.
  • Swedish Meatballs (p 145): Dare I say, better than Ikea meatballs? We enjoyed this with the strawberry chia jam, and it was my first time using celeriac (yum!). I used half spaghetti and half celeriac to make a family-sized serve.
  • Steak and Kidney Stew: So my verdict on kidneys… is that I don’t like kidneys. :-/ I ate around them. I also think there may be an error in the dumpling recipe – I found I had to use 1/2 cup milk to keep it together, rather than the suggested 1 tbsp.
  • The Whole Brassicus Hummus (p 187): A chick-pea free hummus, which uses a combination of roasted cauliflower and broccoli. I was sceptical – it was delicious! It literally only lasted half an hour. I blame my husband.
  • Sour Kiwi Immunity Boosters (p 350): Ok, unfortunately I did not get along with these at all. Possibly I used too much gelatine?
  • Choc Ginger and Pear Muggin (p 288): Delicious! My favourite of the muggins so far (I only have the lemon one left to try). No sweetener was necessary, as the pear provides enough natural sweetness. I ate this more than once.
Choc Ginger and Pear Muggin from Simplicious

Choc Ginger and Pear Muggin from Simplicious

That’s 175 recipes down, and 129 to go. Wow! As Spring kicks off – which means it has been nearly a year since I started this challenge – I’m looking at some of the recipes to use my new batch of kimchi (kimcheese toastie, okonomiyaki, bibimbap and kimchi soup).

Read the previous post here – #9 A Simplicious Challenge: Decluttering my house (and my brain, a little).

Read the next post here – #11 A Simplicious Challenge: Four Muggin Variations.


  1. Mel says:

    You’ll enjoy the kimcheese toastie. I threw a version of this together one evening when I was late getting home and I needed a quick meal. I was floored that it was so good.

    • Erin says:

      I was just trying to work out why I had to ‘approve’ you… Of course, it’s your new blog! 😀 I know, scary isn’t it. It’s amazing we ever get anything done, given how fast time whizzes by!

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