My name is Elizabeth Mars and I live in Sydney’s inner west with my partner and ten-year-old son. After years of being mainly vegetarian, I have a pantry crammed with pulses, grains and other essentials of the vegetarian cook. So while my food philosophy is to keep it simple and not take on too many new ingredients, with the panoramic global reach of vegetarian food, that is sometimes easier said than done.
My biggest food influences come from India and the Middle East. My most battered cookbook bibles are The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos, Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian Cookbook, and absolutely anything by Madhur Jaffrey. Very few of the cookbooks I own are completely vegetarian – I think that’s because, although I love vegetarian food, I don’t like it to be too – well – vegetarian-y. While sometimes I might crave some retro vegetarian food like nut loaf with mushroom gravy or an old fashioned hippy veggie curry – and I can’t go past a good veggie burger – in general, I prefer food with its roots in traditional cuisines.
I try to take reasonably good photographs of my food but I’m not a food stylist and I don’t want my food to look too art directed or unachievable. I use a simple ‘shoot and point’ camera and I do the best I can within those limitations. My interest is in real food that I can cook, eat and serve to those I love with a minimum of fuss and bother. I wasn’t brought up as a vegetarian, so everything I’ve learned about vegetarian food has come from books and other vegetarian cooks. I make no claim to originality in the recipes I share, but I try to, and rewrite the recipe method in my own words with my own experience of making the dish. I consider myself more of a food ethnographer than a recipe developer – a collector of recipes, stories and the food memories that create meaning and connect us all.
I mainly started this blog because after decades of cooking and enjoying vegetarian food, I want to share just how diverse, adventurous and wonderful it can be.
The name of my blog – The Backyard Lemon Tree – refers to my ideal life where I would always have an abundantly, productive lemon tree in my backyard and I would never have to go the shops to buy a lemon EVER. Of course, in my real life I still buy most of my lemons at the shops.