Silver Linings in a Bento Box

When you are sorely tempted to stay in for lunch on a work day because your supervisor or boss is breathing down your neck and has gotten in the bad habit of calling your personal cell phone number instead of the office phone, remember to take a moment out of your day to:

  1. Get something to eat.  I've had to remind people that I'm not a robot and don't run on just coffee/tea.
  2. Stop grinding your teeth.  You're the one that pays for your dental coverage not the manic master delegator that needs a boot up his or her backside.
  3. Breathe.  You've probably been biting your tongue for the last few hours trying to ignore the latest bit of rubbish to come out of your superior's mouth but failed because, well, someone had to be honest with them, right? 
Get into my belly bento box!

Get into my belly bento box!

I was having a particularly bad day at my day job earlier in the week and decided to visit my local Japanese place just across the road for my lunch break - perfect for people watching and practising my non-existent chopstick skills.   

No cheapy sushi rolls for me that day!  I went for a full bento box and it was stupendous.  Just what I needed to forget the hole that was work.  A lovely mix of tempura veggies, warm fluffy rice topped with some tender stir fried beef, a few pieces of sushi, and some teriyaki chicken.  Heaven.  The Japanese sure know how to do comfort food.

I had managed to find one of the only remaining seats in the restaurant and it was, unfortunately, right up against another table and partially blocked off an easy exit for anyone who happened to be sitting at the window seats.  I felt sorry for the lady that was currently sitting at the table but I made a point to move over as far as I could and apologised once she had indicated she needed to get out of there.

Just as I was tucking into a lovely bite of teriyaki chicken, I heard a tapping at the window in front of me and realised it was the same lady trying to get my attention.  She smiled gently and waved.  Surprised, and somewhat delighted, I waved back.  Not sure why she did that but it brightened up the rest of my day even though work itself didn't improve and my boss decided to lose all sense of reason and courtesy.

As I am somewhat of an introvert, I normally do find it difficult to strike up conversations with strangers and offer random smiles (unless you happen to be a child, a puppy, a kitten, or Hugh Jackman).  But I would like to offer a thank you to the kind lady that smiled at me for no real reason as I can now look back on that rather awful Monday and remember it wasn't so bad after all.

So I suppose the lesson is that a day job is simply what it is, and not your raison d'etre, and to offer a kindly smile to someone that may be needing it (makes me think I must have looked absolutely miserable and like death...hah!).

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A Winter Warmer - Delicious Lemon Slice

Now that it's citrus season, there are piles of lovely lemons, mandarins, and oranges available in stores and markets.  In my enthusiasm, I often fill my kitchen with the bright yellows and oranges of this winter bounty and end up wondering what to do with it all.

What's your favourite recipe using citrus fruit? 

I love to use lemons in baking, be it a lemon glazed pound cake flavoured with the juice and rind, a lemon meringue pie, or my favourite winter warmer - a simple and delicious lemon slice.


I have researched and tried different lemon slice recipes over the years but the following is my modified version using a portion of brown sugar which adds a lovely caramelised flavour from the molasses.

It's best cooled and eaten at room temperature, with a cup of tea or coffee, while the biscuit base is soft, light, and crumbly and the lemon topping is still wonderfully gooey.  If you prefer a crunchier base, add the optional dessicated coconut, otherwise it's perfectly fine without it.

I also prefer a lemon slice that does not have an overwhelming zing of lemon juice flavour upon first bite.  Of course you're welcome to ramp up the lemon flavour in the recipe below by doubling the lemon juice but I prefer a more nuanced balance between the lemon, caramelised sugars, and vanilla essence and I am sure some of you will feel the same.


Lemon Slice


  • 1 1/3 sticks or 150 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup caster/granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup plain or all purpose flour plus 1 tbsp corn or cake flour
  • 1/3 cup dessicated coconut (optional)
  • Rind of one lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Lemon topping

  • 4 eggs
  • Rind of one lemon
  • 1/3 cup plain or all purpose flour
  • 1 cup caster/granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 medium-sized lemons)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius/350 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celcius/320 degrees Fahrenheit if fan forced).

Lightly grease a deep square baking pan and line with baking paper.

Mix all of the base ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.  The dough will be soft and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Press and spread the dough evenly into the baking pan and bake for about 15-20 minutes until the edges are golden.

While the base is baking, use the same bowl as before and whisk all the topping ingredients, except the lemon juice, until combined.  Then stir in the lemon juice.

Pour topping mixture over the base and bake for about 15-20 minutes until set (there will be little or no wobble if you give the pan a gentle shake).

Serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.


Irresistible Dark Chocolate Fudgey Brownie Recipe

The month of May is especially busy in my family as there are several birthdays, anniversaries, and other events during this time of year.  Of course these celebrations often involve the baking, making, and partaking of sweets and desserts. 

One of my family favourites is the following fudgey brownie recipe I use time and again.  It's a one-bowl, super quick recipe and is wonderful just out of the oven with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice-cream.  I can usually have it ready to bake in less than 10 minutes and it's done baking in about 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy and let me know how it goes!

Dark Chocolate Fudgey Brownies

  • 1 stick (125 g) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plain/all purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius/350 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celcius/320 degrees Fahrenheit if fan forced).

Lightly grease a square metal baking pan.

Mix the butter, dark chocolate, cocoa, and sugars until well combined.  Add both eggs and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the vanilla extract and salt.  Fold in the flour until just combined.  The mixture will be quite thick.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes.  It is ready when an inserted skewer shows a few crumbs.  Don't bake it any longer so it retains its fudgey consistency.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.