Book Review for ‘The Secret Recipe for Second Chances’ by J.D. Barrett

The Secret Recipe for Second Chances / JD Barrett / 2016 / Hachette Australia / ISBN 9780733634772 / 325 Pages / Fiction

Lucy Muir is leaving her husband. It’s complicated. They’re joint owners and chefs at one of the best restaurants in town, so making a clean break is tough. But, let’s face it, a woman can only take so much cheating, recipe stealing and lack of good grace. Despondently driving around the back streets of Wolloomooloo, Lucy happens upon an old, empty terrace that was once the city’s hottest restaurant: Fortune. One minute she’s peering through grimy windows into an abandoned space, the next she’s planning a pop-up bistro. When Lucy fires up Fortune’s old kitchen she discovers a little red recipe book that belonged to the former chef, the infamous Frankie Summer. As she cries over the ingredients for Frankie’s French Onion Soup, she imagines what Fortune was like in its heyday. It’s strange, Lucy can sense Frankie beside her, almost see him there…This fiery chef, who lived with a passion for food and women in almost equal measure, just might help Lucy cook herself up a better life. But is she brave enough to believe?


Review –

Who doesn’t like a book about food and romance? I mean this book has both of those elements on a whole new level. And I really mean that. This book is about a women, Lucy, whose seemingly simple life is turned upside down when she divorces her cheating husband. All hell breaks loose when two chefs go head to head in a culinary cook off, one with an established restaurant and the other with a brand new restaurant with a ghost haunting it. Frankie, the ghost stuck in Lucy’s new restaurant, needs help and needs to work out who killed him, almost 30 years ago.

When I picked up the book and read the blurb on the back I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I love food and restaurant themed books, but then I started to read it. And it was more than about a women who likes to cook. It is about a women, Lucy, starting over again when she catches her husband sleeping with one of their workers who is also her friend. About Lucy looking for what she can do next and move on from her husband and the pain he caused her.

With great Australian colloquial language and awesome scenes described throughout the book that bring you right into the heart of the flourishing city of Sydney, this book is a great. With recipes of what Lucy is cooking and while her dead, ghost of a friend who is occupying her restaurant is waiting to find out who killed him, it makes you want to go out and try and cook some of the great recipes mentioned and written.

Food, romance, new beginnings and even the idea of a ghost falling in love, this book is filled to the brim and a must read for anyone who is a fan of Aussie writing, Aussie language and the idea that even the dead can fall in love.

I give this book 4.3 out of 5 booky stars!

You can buy a copy of this book from:


Angus & Robertson Book World

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Book Review – Humble Pie by Gordon Ramsey

Humble Pie / Gordon Ramsey / 2006 / HarperCollins / ISBN 9780007229673 / 284 Pages / Memoir / Cooking Biography


Everyone thinks they know Gordon Ramsey: rude, loud, pathologically driven, and stubborn as hell. But this is his real story.

Review –

I am a huge fan of autobiographies and have recently found a few good cooking biographies, and that it great because it combines my love of food with words. I have always been a fan of Gordon Ramsey, I mean who isn’t really? I have also wanted to know about him and his life because he really doesn’t share a lot. So when I found this book at the LifeLine Book Sale I went to I knew I had to get it and read it.

Gordon Ramsey is a great writer, I really mean it. If you have ever seen him on television, than you should know this, he writes just like he talks and it’s pretty cool how fluently and well he does that. This book Humble Pie is a great book for two reasons, you get to know Gordon Ramsey for more than he is on television, and you also get to read about him and learn about his life before and during his cooking career.

There are many things to consider when you read this book and the main one is that you can’t be offended every time you read the word F**# in the book. The book isn’t chronologically written either, so you might get confused as to when which restaurant opened when and what in his personal life happened when. I think because Ramsey wrote the book in predetermined sections/chapters, the book couldn’t really flow on chronologically. Ramseys passion for food shines through when he talks about it. There isn’t a lot about it written throughout the book and that’s a shame, but it is well done when it is done.

If you like cooking shows or cooks or even Gordon Ramsey and want to know the man behind the façade, than you need to read this book.

I give this book 4.0 out of 5 booky stars!

You can get a copy of this book here:


Angus & Robertson Bookworld

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Tip Tuesday

For this weeks Tip Tuesday I am going to do something a little bit different. This isn’t a writing or reading tip, but instead a cooking tip. You all know how much I like to bake so I’m going to start sharing some of my baking tips with you all.

Cook Books don’t always have it right, they do have mistakes in it, so read the recipe over and over again, and if it doesn’t make sense, listen to your gut because you could be right and the recipe could be wrong.

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A Weekend of Firsts

Last weekend was a weekend of firsts for me. I had the opportunity to do a lot of new things that I have always wanted to do and now have finally had the chance to do them.

On the Saturday I went to my very first book event. I know you must be thinking ‘how is this possible’ but with university, family and life in general getting in the way, I haven’t been able to get to do a lot of things that I have known about and wanted to do. I went to Penguin Teen Australia’s #YaSquad2016 and it was just great. I had already purchased 2 books of the authors who were going to be there and had finished one book just the night before the event and was beyond excited to go. When I walked through the doors, I immediately brought the rest of the author’s books and found a great spot at the front so I could hear and see everything.

These are the books I had and brought (The Super-Proof was free)

The authors that were there were Will Kostakis (The First Third, and The Sidekicks), Megan Jacobson (Yellow), Shivaun Plozza (Frankie), and Kylie Fornasier (The Things I didn’t Say). All of them talked about their books, their publishing journeys, what and who inspires them, how they write and about the book industry itself. Then there was this little competitive trivia game, where I think Will and his teammate won. Then there was a question and answer section where the audience got to ask any random question they wanted answered and I even got to ask a question and got a great response. Because I asked a question I was called up to the front at the end of the event and got the chance to grab a few freebies (books of course).

2 Freebies I scored for asking a question!

The authors were inspiring I couldn’t wait to get home to write. The book signings took place at the end of the event. In line I stood waiting for all the authors to sign their books and I even got to have small conversations with them all as they signed my books. As I headed home after seeing them individually, I tweeted the author’s thanks and even got a few replies and follows.

I forgot to grab a picture of the authors as they spoke, but I did get this one before the event as Felicity spoke to the audience

So that was my first, first of the weekend.

Then on Sunday I went to my first Bridal Shower. One of my friends from high school is finally getting married to her boyfriend this year. Last year my friends and I attended the engagement party which I wrote about here if you want to know how that went down. This was my first Bridal Shower so I didn’t know what to expect from it or what was going to happen during it, and if you follow me on Twitter you will already know what happened and I’m not going to repeat it here, because I might get in trouble. Anyway, there was great food and drinks, I mean 6 different flavour juices to pick for our mimosas, little quiches, sausage rolls and even stacks of different sandwiches were on the tables to be eaten. And a pretty pink dessert bar too!

Food Spread
Dessert Bar!

There were even a few games that were played. We were all given rings on ribbon as we walked through the door and if you said the words ‘ring’, ‘wife’ or ‘wedding’ and someone realised, you had to give them your ring. The person with the most rings won a small prize. I was cheated out of winning literally minutes away from the end of the day. We threw balls into bras, wrote advice on cooking utensils, wrote memories of the girl who is getting married on paper and she had to pick whose memory it was. She didn’t get mine right, so I won some nail polish. Then the gifts were unwrapped, secrets were spilled and the day was over just in time for a drenching of cold water as it started to pour with rain.

There is something to be said about firsts I think. I mean if you do the same things over and over again, life becomes stale and boring. So mixing it up every once in a while is exciting. I will be going to another book event soon and will let you know about it. And the wedding is only next month so I will be writing one of these sooner rather than later. So stick around to hear more gossip.

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19 ways to have the literary wedding of your dreams

I have just found this link on my Facebook page and wanted to immediately share it with you all. I am perhaps hundreds of years off getting married so this doesn’t really mean anything to me as I can’t put them to any use, but I am sharing this great link from Buzzfeed with you all, my friends, my followers, my fellow book lovers to inspire you all.

Take a look at this beauty of a link. Not only would I do perhaps every single thing on this list. Yes, that includes the earring and the book invitations to even the decorations and lights.

This list is by far the best thing I have seen on the internet to day, and even though it comes to no use to me right now, I am placing it here on my blog, so that one day, one day in the future I can look back and do some of the things on this list, because lets face it – books are definitely going to be apart of my wedding and how cool does some of this stuff actually look.

Do you guys like what’s on the list? Would you do anything that is on this list? Have you perhaps done something that is on the list or similar to something that is list? Let me know.

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Hacks + Buzzfeed

21 Simple Health Hacks You Can Use Everyday by Buzzfeed:

I found this link on my Facebook and thought I would share it. Some of these ‘hacks’ are simple and easy and I think some of them might take a bit more practice to get used to.

If you haven’t worked it out by now, I’m a fan of Buzzfeed and think that there articles are cool. I have posted a few others of them, here on my blog. You can find them under my ‘Tags’ on the right hand side of the screen under ‘Buzzfeed‘.

Check it out.

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Yes I know I read a lot of Buzzfeed articles, but I think that they are great and are written in a way that is so fresh, that makes it feel as though you aren’t even reading.

And I have found another great one – it’s about food and cooking this time and things to buy for your kitchen that will make your kitchen awesome.

Have a look –

I have some of these, and yes some of them are great, and there are some of them that I would love to have but can’t afford at the moment.

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Book Review #1 for 2016

Food Whore / Jessica Tom / William Marrow / ISBN 9780062387004 / 342 pages / Fiction – Foodie

food whore

I stumbled across Food Whore by Jessica Tom by complete accident. When I saw this book I couldn’t help but buy it. The title of the book is so different to anything I have seen so that I knew that it was going to be a good book, the picture of the half cut pomegranate also looked enticing. I had no idea until I read the book why it was called Food Whore as the blurb didn’t reveal too much.

Let me paint you a picture so set up this book – take a blank canvas, throw of some food, some fashion, some drama, family, friends and bit of self-discovery and what you end up with is Food Whore. A well-constructed book that is about a girl called Tia who is passionate about food, not about making and cooking food but reading and writing about food and her journey of learning about food and how the real world is different to school. I personally loved the concept of this book because of my love for food and writing and thought that the author of the book did an exceptional job of adding a layer of reality and honesty to the book that made it so real and believable.

Once I finished reading this book, I wondered whether calling it Food Whore was a bit too much. I understand what the author was trying to do, suck people in to get them to read the book under the presumption that something food like and sexual was going on, which isn’t really at all what happened, but once you read it and see what Tia has gone through, you don’t feel like calling her a whore, instead you feel sorry for her and the situation she was placed in. Perhaps another title with a less connotative word could have worked better.

The book, beside its slightly flawed title has great flow and character to it. The atmosphere that the author ties to create in every restaurant, shop, class and home comes across as realistic and the description of the food mentioned in the book is perhaps the best descriptiveness I have ever read. To take a food lover like myself and introduce me to new and better terminology within a book that is laced with food that oozes sex all at the same time, is amazing. The day to day struggles of keeping secrets for Tia gets a bit mundane and the name dropping and over use of words brings an exciting book to a halt.

If you like food or fashion even the two combined, I suggest picking up Food Whore by Jessica Tom for this is a book that will surely get your taste buds salivating.

I give it 3.8 out of 5 booky stars.

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Merry Christmas

Hello dear readers and followers. I hope you are all well. I hope that Santa has visited and has left presents rather than coal under your Christmas trees.


Just wanted to stop by to say Merry Christmas and I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with joy, laughter and good times to remember.

I hope food is plentiful and delicious and warming inside. That company is merry and having a good time. May drinks flow and carols bellow.



Love, Girlwithapen…

Mum’s Pancakes

So I have told you how great my mother’s pancakes are or if you don’t know check out my post Saturday Morning Pancakes, so I thought I would share with all of you her recipe. They are simple and easy and the batter can be made the night before so you just have to cook them the next morning. They taste nice if they have been sitting and relaxing overnight too. They taste great with any toppings sweet or savoury, so if you like bacon on your pancakes this recipe works well for that too. These pancakes can be made small or large. Medium size pancakes, I think, are the best.


  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 30 g melted butter
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1-2 cups milk
  • Pinch of salt



  • Melt butter in microwave for a few seconds
  • In a bowl mix self-rising flour, caster sugar and pinch of salt together
  • In a small bowl, crack your eggs in them and give them a quick whisk
  • In your dry mixture add your whisked eggs and butter and bring together
  • Once this is starting to come together start adding the milk, start with half a cup at a time and continue until the mixture is holding together and isn’t to think but not to runny
  • Heat a pan for your pancakes and either spray with canola oil or add a bit of butter to the pan to stop the pancakes from sticking
  • Using a ladle, pour in a ladle full of batter into the greased pan
  • Wait until bubble start to form on the top and sides of the pancake and then flip over
  • Another minute or 2 for the other side and then flip it out of the pan and onto a plate or wire rack to stop them from going soggy
  • Enjoy hot or cold


If you have any left after breakfast place in a container or on a plate with tight cling film and place in the fridge if it is hot or in your pantry.



Can be served with any topping; butter, lemon, cinnamon, Nutella, banana, strawberries, blueberries, bacon.

Also note that blueberries can be added to the batter before pouring into pan to cook.

I suggest using the caster sugar in the batter, but if you don’t want to use half a cup you can use less, or you can instead substitute in maple syrup, golden syrup, honey, vanilla extract, or cinnamon, just to give the pancakes a taste or they will be bland.

I hope you guys enjoy them as much as I do.

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Breakfast Banana Bread with Cardamom and Cocoa Nibs

Nigella Lawson has a new cooking book Simply Nigella out now, just in time for Christmas for anyone who loves to cook or bake. I grab a copy of it as soon as it hit the shelves, not wanting to wait another moment to start cooking her wonderful recipes. As I read through the book when I sat down at home, I noticed one thing – easy, simply, yummy looking recipes.

This particular recipe I have chosen to share with all of you is one of my favourites. I am a massive fan of banana bread so when I saw the recipe in the new book in her Beginnings/breakfast section I knew I had to make it.

I have now made this recipe 3 times and each time I have done it differently and the results have been different. But the end result from each time has been nothing but yummy. The mistakes were my own making, not the recipes, but because of these mistakes I thought I would share my tips and tricks in making this fantastic banana bread with a twist.

The full complete recipe can be found on page 356 in Simply Nigella.


  • 2 ripe bananas (250-275g total in skins)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200 ml plain (runny) yogurt or buttermilk
  • 125 ml light and mild olive oil
  • 325 g plain flour
  • 200 g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (or ground cinnamon)
  • 50 g cocoa nibs
  • 1 baking tin (either a bread tin or cake tin, depending on your preference)



  • Preheat your oven to 170 degrees or gas mark 3
  • Line your chosen baking tin with baking parchment on the bottom and sides or line the bottom of your tin and grease the sides with an odourless oil
  • Mash bananas in a free standing mixer or by hand and then place in mixer (electric hand mixer works well too)
  • Crack both eggs in a bowl, but add in 1 egg at a time to your mashed bananas in mixer
  • Add your yogurt/buttermilk (either one works, I have tried both and they both taste great) and oil (rice bran oil works fine too) to mixer and mix until combined
  • In a separate bowl measure your plain flour, light brown sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cardamom into the bowl and use a whisk to incorporate it all together
  • Turn down the mixer speed and slowly add your whisked dried ingredients to your now combined wet ingredients into the mixer, once all added turn up the speed a little and incorporate well for about a minute (look to make sure it is well mixed and use a spatula to push the mixture on the walls of the bowl to the centre and make sure there is no flour on the bottom of the bowl before taking it off the mixer)
  • Once completely mixed well together mix in cocoa nibs in by spatula (or add half to the mixture and sprinkle the remaining on top of poured mixture) and place your mixture into your baking tin
  • Place your bread into the oven for 1 hour, but check it regularly and at 45 minutes into the cook, use a skewer or knife to test the cake (if the tester comes out clean it is cooked and finished)
  • Sit your cooked bread tin onto a wire rack and let it cool
  • Once cooled down, flip your bread out of tin and remove baking parchment
  • Enjoy (hot or cold)


  • Store in an air tight container in a cool place for up to 1 week
  • It can be frozen for up to 3 months, wrap in 2 layers of Clingfilm and one layer of foil and pull out of freezer about 5 hours before wanting to eat it.


You’re not going to want to store it in the freezer because trust me you and your loved one will eat it all up at once.

This is a great recipe and simple if you follow the recipe. If you have any problems let me know. It tastes nice with ice-cream, cream, toasted with butter, breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a snack. Trust me it’s a winner.

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