Sweet & Sour Brisket (SK#27) // My Sister Visits Australia


In April, my sister flew all the way to Australia for the first time.  Fun fact: Kyra is the first person to visit me in Melbourne since I moved here almost four years ago. Her trip down under was less than two weeks. There was so much that I wanted to show her!

On her first morning, after a big night’s rest, Brent and I took Kyra to one of our favourite breakfast spots in our neighbourhood – The Birdcage. There, Kyra got to experience her first taste of Melbourne coffee! She ordered a flat white (how Australian) whereas I ordered my standard cappuccino. My sister and I ordered the same breakfast (much to her dismay): apple crumble pancakes!

We took Kyra to our old neck of the woods (where Brent’s parents live) and she got to meet his family. It’s pretty crazy to think that in the almost-ten years that Brent and I have been dating, our families haven’t really met! On our way up, we stopped at Woodlands Historic Park where we saw some wallabies and kangaroo!

One of the highlights in Kyra’s trip here (for her and for us) was getting to spend a couple of days on the Great Ocean Road. Even though I have gotten to drive alone the coastal highway a handful of times, I always love getting to go back. We stopped at almost every view point on the way to Apollo Bay (where we stayed the night). We took Kyra to the ever-lovely Twelve Apostles. We got very lucky with weather during this trip – the sun was shining almost the entire time.


Before we drove back home, we stopped for fish and chips in Port Campbell, where Kyra got to experience this very Aussie tradition!

The very next day, Brent had to go in to work while Kyra and I took another drive over to Phillip Island. We stopped and spent a few hours at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park where you get to feed kangaroo, wallabies, wombats, and emu. Kyra loved the massive kangaroo (who were a bit too big and aggressive for food for my liking). We drove into town for lunch and ate at one of the two restaurants that were still serving food at 4pm. Then we saw Phillip Island’s famous penguin parade! I’ve only ever been to see the penguins one other time. I have to admit – this time around was a bit disappointing. The penguins were especially shy and we waited for about 45 minutes until a few small groups popped up and out of the water. Still, of course, worth it.


Toward the end of Kyra’s trip was our three day trip to New Zealand (which I will save for another post). We got back to Australia two nights before she had to fly back home. On Kyra’s final day in Melbourne, we all decided to get tattoos. Kyra and I got matching ankle tattoos of the Tree of Gondor (since our family has a tradition of watching all three extended LOTR movies on Christmas Eve in a row – nerds!). We went to a local tattoo parlour and they were fantastic (shout out to Westona Tattoo)!


Saying goodbye to my little sister was as hard as ever but I’m so glad that she got to visit us! I can’t wait for her next trip down under (when she can meet her doggy niece)!



Maya’s Sweet and Sour Holiday Brisket and Roasted Potatoes and Carrot Coins (and Brussels Sprout!)
Serves 10 to 12 (so.much.leftovers)


  • 4 to 5 pound piece beef brisket (I used two pieces of brisket from our local supermarket which totaled in about 2 kilograms)
  • 1.5 tsp table salt, plus more for seasoning meat
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (235 ml) beef stock
  • 3 tbsp (50 grams) tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp (15 grams) onion powder



  1. Season the meat generously on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Whisk all of the remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  3. Place meat in slow-cooker, pour sauce over it, and set it to cook at low setting for 10 hours.
  4. After the 10 hours, transfer the brisket and all of its sauce to a baking dish.
  5. Rest brisket! Chill the entire dish in the fridge. SK says that you can chill for a few hours and up to one day and that the longer you rest, the more it’ll enhance the flavour and texture of the meat. We ended up resting ours overnight.
  6. An hour before you are ready to serve, preheat your oven to 150C/300F and then remove dish from the fridge. For a less oily final dish, we removed all of the solidified fat with a spoon.
  7. Carefully remove meat from sauce and place on a large cutting board. Cut the brisket into thin (1/4 to 1/2 inch) slices and carefully place sliced meat back into the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the meat.
  8. You’re supposed to replace lid and reheat in the oven until bubbling at the edge… but we misread this. We heated the dish before cutting it… and then ended up spooning the sauce over our plated meat and eating. Still delish!

For the potatoes and carrots:

  • 900g potatoes, sliced thin (recipe calls for fingerling potatoes but they don’t sell those at our local supermarket – normal potatoes seemed to do)
  • 900g large carrots (about 4 to 5), sliced thin into coins
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Generously coat two baking sheets with olive oil. Spread veggies out on prepared sheets and drizzle with any remaining olive oil before seasoning them with sal and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes before using a large spatula to flip the vegetables.
  3. Resume roasting for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are brown and crisp at edges. The potatoes should be soft and tender inside, the carrots soft but not mushy.
  4. Remove from the oven. Season with additional salt and pepper. SK recommends sprinkling them with fresh dill or any other herb of your choice but we didn’t have anything!

Darcy’s notes:

I would like to try this recipe again, this time actually following the instructions at the end! Regardless, the meat and the veggies turned out lovely. I love eating roast vegetables cooked in this method. I also made brussels sprout by following this Smitten Kitchen recipe which I would definitely recommend if you like dijon mustard!


The Top 8 Things I Did In 2014

Okay, guilty. It has been far too long since I last updated this blog and I would like to apologize! I started this blog in the hopes of showing my American family and friends my assumedly different life in Australia but the truth is that, after a few months after moving across the world, life kind of just feels … the same. Just as you would expect, I got used to the day-to-day life here and now, honestly, I consider Australia just another home of mine.

Anyway, in 2015 I have made a resolution to update this blog once a month. I thought that a great way to begin the year would be to recap 2014!

Without further ado, here are the top eight things I did in 2014 (in no particular order):

2. Australian Open

1. I went to the Australian Open with Brent. We saw two matches in the evening in the Hisense Area. We watched Mens Singles (Tommy Robredo v Richard Gasquet) and Mens Doubles (the Bryan brothers v Paul Hanley and Jonathan Marray). During one of the last sets of the singles match, it began to pour rain so we even got to see the stadium’s roof close! All in all, it was a very fun evening of tennis watching.


2. I got my first job in Australia and outside of college. Granted, the job was in the hospitality sector, not within the field that I studied in university. For six months, I was a front of house manager at a brand new restaurant. I learned a lot about the industry as well as the responsibilities that come with being in charge of 15 staff and a restaurant. I had a great time working there and look back on the job highly!

4. Seahawks Winning Superbowl

3. I watched the Seahawks win their first Superbowl! Brent and I got up super early (because of the time change) and went to the grocery store in search for some American food. We watched the game while eating hot dogs and Skittles and sipping on some Budweiser. So excellent.

5. Getting A Bike

4. I purchased my very first road bike. Brent and I began cycling weekly on a trail near where we live and I have fallen in love with the sport.

9.3 Lakes Entrance

5. I went to Lakes Entrance twice! Lakes Entrance is a beach town on the coast of Victoria, it’s about a five hour drive away from Melbourne. Brent, his best friend Matt, and I first went to Lakes on the second day of the New Year and again in early December.

9.1 Lakes Entrance

We played two games of mini golf, spent every day at the beach, drank a lot of beer, and cooked a lot of meat on the barbie.
9.2 Lakes Entrance

One of the coolest things we did while in the area was check out the Buchan Caves. About an hour away from Lakes Entrance, the Buchan Caves are a popular tourist attraction (and rightfully so)! We toured the Fairy Cave with a dozen other people, a lovely park ranger telling us all about the cave and its’ history. It was definitely an experience to remember!

9.4 Lakes Entrance

8. Great Ocean Road6. In September, Brent and I went on a short road trip to the Great Ocean Road. This is the second time that we have driven along the beautiful and winding road. On our first night, we stayed in Port Campbell. We ate dinner at a small Italian restaurant and finished the evening by eating a pint of (very expensive) Ben & Jerry’s!

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On our second day, we drove down the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. Along the way, we stopped at a dozen of the lookout locations and took a lot of photos.

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When we made it to Apollo Bay, we hiked up to an awesome lookout of the small beach town.

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It rained almost the entire time we were in Apollo Bay but with views like this, we forgave the weather gods.

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We ate dinner at a posh restaurant that had a Sangria happy hour. When we got back to our hotel room after dinner, we shared a six pack of local beer and had an early night.


The next day, we drove back home. On our way, we decided to make a quick stop to see one of my favorite things: a waterfall. After descending down a couple hundred stairs, we were at the bottom of Erskine Falls. You could explore the area around the waterfall which was probably my favorite part of the experience. It was such an awesome way to end our little getaway together.


7. For seven years now, I have participated in NaNoWriMo. For those of you who do not know, NaNoWriMo stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month.’ The challenge: for the entire month of November, you must attempt to write an entire novel (they mark that as 50,000 words). Though I have participated for so many years, this is the first year I have ever won NaNoWriMo!

In other nerdy news, I also participated in my own challenge of reading every day for 100 days in a row. Doing this rekindled my love for reading and created a valuable habit for the future.


8. In late July, I was able to travel to Hawaii in order to see my family. Seeing my family for those two weeks was just what I needed to combat the homesickness that I had. Unfortunately, Brent was not able to come with me.


We ate lots of delicious foods, visited a handful of beaches, and went hiking. The above photo is from Salt Pond beach where we went during sunset.


This photo is from one of our hikes along the Waimea Canyon. Picture: me, my dad, and my sister.



All in all, 2014 was a pleasant year for me. And I’m especially looking forward to what 2015 has in store for me.

Until next time!