My name is Shal, and I live in Canberra, Australia. Some of you may be wondering where Canberra is, or what it is! Canberra is the capital city of Australia, it is the administrative centre of the country, and is located 3.5 hours drive south of Sydney.

Before I lived in Canberra, I lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where my deep and abiding love of food began. Going back to Malaysia for me is an opportunity to visit family and to taste all those wonderful iconic Malaysian dishes on my list, and then to go back again for quality control. Like any true ex-Malaysian, I plan my days around food, which baffles my husband to no end. By day 7, he is begging me to stop the endless train of food eating, and can we please just have some toast?

I left Malaysia in February 2008. I remember my first day in Canberra, I was shocked by what a small town it was, after having come from a bustling city like Kuala Lumpur. I lived on campus at the Australian National University (ANU), Bruce Hall was a catered student accommodation facility. Within the first 24 hours, I had determined that the food provided was really bad. Unfortunately, I had come from a home where my only job was to be a good student, and get good grades, I had no idea how to cook, or wash my clothes!

I put up with horrible catered food for 3 years. Once I had moved into a small studio apartment within Bruce Hall, that’s when I discovered the joy of cooking. A close family friend once said, if you can read, you can cook. I have to say, she was absolutely right.  I learned how to cook by reading, getting inspiration from the internet, and trial and error. The first dish I mastered was my favourite chicken curry.

Now I am a prolific and instinctive home cook, and I absolutely love being in the kitchen. I have always believed that the kitchen should be the biggest room in a house, and that is what I looked for when my husband and I were house-hunting. I plan and host a lot of dinner parties to try out new recipes, it brings me a great deal of joy to watch others enjoy my food.

I love dogs, particularly miniature Dachshunds! Ben (the hubby) and I recently welcomed Princess Lola (a black and tan mini-daxie) into our family and she is an absolute delight….sometimes. Other times, I call her the Devil Spawn. Lola loves perfectly good socks, ugg boots, her molding lamb leg bone, and our toes, arms and noses. I also love board games, which go quite nicely with those dinner parties I mentioned – Settlers of Catan, Terra Mystica and Agricola are a few favourites.

These days, despite my two degrees in Law and Science (Psychology), I am a public servant. I have started this blog because I really need a creative outlet for my cooking, as I really like having money, and I just cannot conceive leaving my nice secure public service job to start up a business that might well go belly up in 12 months. I just want to cook food that I love for people that I love, and hope they enjoy what I put on the table for them. That’s all.

So, within this blog, you will find the following:

  1. I very rarely measure ingredients. Quantities for me are more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule – this means you shouldn’t be afraid to vary the recipes you find here, just do what feels right to you 🙂
  2. Recipes for dishes that I have tried, tested and perfected over many years
  3. Recipes that I have found on the internet or books that I have tweaked to improve
  4. New recipes that I have been itching to try, including achievable-by-home-cooks Masterchef Pressure Test Recipes!
  5. Reviews of restaurants that I visit
  6. Pictures of Lola – this blog is named after all “The Sausage Dog”.

I hope that these recipes that bring me and mine so much joy make it into your homes and hearts.