For Lean Timms, life is all about stopping to smell the roses. Even when she’s on the road for work, the in-demand Aussie photographer embraces a pared-back, slower approach. You can see the outlook in her stunning pics, which radiate peace, serenity and beauty (and explain her popularity with American mags like Kinfolk and Saveur). You can also hear it in her words, which she shares on lean + meadow, Lean’s self-described “tiny atlas of food, travel and lifestyle”. While a newbie to the blogging scene, Lean is already deeply immersed in the community; she frequently collaborates with fellow top bloggers Luisa Brimble and Local Milk’s Beth Kirby (they even host slow retreats together) and she’s picked up an international nomination for her real blog, too. Following a two-year stint in Jacksonville, Florida, Lean now resides on New South Wales’ South Coast, where she makes her own ricotta for a wholesome pear cake and begins wintery mornings with a warming bowl of rice pudding laden with persimmons and walnuts. Local produce is at the heart of Lean’s cooking, whether a soup of roasted chestnuts from her friends’ farm or a two-potato tart from spuds pulled hours before from the ground. Lean (you can follow her on Insta, FB and Twitter at @leanandmeadow), you’re a little ray of honest sunshine.
“We have passed the winter solstice and the days are drawing longer. But still, in the thick of it, winter lingers. These colder days call for slower moments enjoying one of winter’s best comforts – food.
“One of my greatest joys is having time – plenty of time – to cook. I love recipes that take a little extra effort, that encourage a longer handmade process, or give you the excuse to light a fire and cook on it. Even better if the ingredients to cook come covered in dirt, are still in their shell or from a farm just over the hill. If your house is anything like mine, you don’t mind an extra moment in front of the oven or open fire to warm up and enjoy the process of a slow-cooked meal – especially knowing that there’s comfort food at the end of it. It’s about soaking up the season, finding the excuse to slow down and enjoying the warmth that comes along with it.”
I started my blog to… Document our time living in the US and to have an excuse to practice my photography.
The must cook recipe on my website site is… Probably the Low Country Boil. More for the experience than the recipe (although the latter is also pretty good!). It’s so quintessentially Southern and probably what I miss most about living in the States – gathering around a pile of dripping-with-flavour food with good friends.
I can’t wait to go back to… Istanbul. That place is vibrant! And it was my first true taste of a city where European and Asian flavours aptly and effortlessly blended. The piled-high roadside pomegranate juice, the mastic-flavoured puddings for dessert, the spread of fresh cheese curd with tomatoes and olives for breakfast and the street food. We made an entire dinner of standing over a cart of midye dolma, rice stuffed mussels sopping with fresh lemon juice, shovelling them straight into our mouths. Oh, yes please. Take. Me. Back.
My current food obsession is… Homemade bircher muesli. Breakfast is the last thing I think of when I fall asleep and the first thing I think of when I wake up, so waking up knowing that a bowl of oats, milk and fresh orange juice has been soaking during the night while we’ve been sleeping makes the getting out of bed part much more exciting. We also found the most delicious unlabelled, local yoghurt at the farmers’ market – I have no idea what is in it to make it so creamy, but that paired with grated apple, blanched almonds, pumpkin seeds and a pot of orange pekoe tea makes for the most yummy start to the day.
Eating… Meat is a new thing for me. I’ve been vegetarian for the past 14 years.
Nugget of cooking wisdom… Fresh, seasonal ingredient first, recipe second.
I learnt to cook from… My inquisitive and experimental nature, and my taste buds.
When I go back to my home town… Nanango, in rural Queensland, the first thing I eat is (depending on the season) is passionfruit or mangoes from the backyard.
All-time favourite winter meal… Would have to be anything cooked on the camp oven. I have such fond, youthful memories sitting by a campfire in the backyard, watching and waiting as dad would throw chopped root veggies, stock and chunks of lamb into the pot, shovel hot coals over the top and open it back up hours later to reveal a steaming pot of stew. So warming. I’m looking forward to doing some camp oven cooking with a few friends next weekend on a pecan farm in the Dumaresq Valley.
Friends always ask me to cook my… Favourite vegetarian dish. These days, this is becoming tricky. I’m too busy dreaming about whole roasted trout or twice-baked duck instead…
The one thing I can’t cook is… Thai curry. I leave that to my husband.
If I ever met… My dad’s mum, Mary, I would ask her all her tips and tricks for feeding a family of seven during the Great Depression. I think women from that era had such incredible talent of foraging, eating via availability and seasonality, and cooking creatively. Not because it was hip, but because they had to. They simply had to make do.
I always have… Pearl sugar (from Sweden) in my pantry; milk for tea in my fridge; and emergency soup and last season’s foraged mushrooms in my freezer.
My favourite biscuit to dunk in my tea is… It’s a cliché, but it has to be a Tim Tam. The Tim Tam straw was the best party trick to show our friends in the States during those moments when we were feeling particularly Australian.
My most sauce splattered cookbook is… Well, I hate to play favourites – and to be fair, my cookbooks are on high rotation and mostly for inspired breakfast reading – but the pages of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty are the most sticky and glued together. And, more recently, for recipe development, The Flavour Thesaurus.
The most difficult food to shoot/style and make tasty is… Anything cooked without heart.
Beyond my own blog, some of my favourite reads are… There are so many!! To name but a few… For food and lifestyle, Manger, Kinfolk, My Blue and White Kitchen, Local Milk and a new fave, The Dailys. For photography, La Buena Vida and Olivia Rae James. I’m also obsessed with trawling through the Heritage Radio Network for podcasts to listen to while I am working. So many inspired food stories!
Top picks from lean + meadow
Blog Appétit Editor Yasmin Newman
Blog Appétit is our curated list of go-to food blogs we love, with a focus on high-quality photography, trusted recipes, strong editorial themes and a unique voice and personality. View previous Blog Appétit entries.