Elizabeth MarsMy 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.


  1. You have a wonderful blog, so I nominated you for a Liebster Award!

  2. lizzygoodthings says:

    Hi Elizabeth, lovely to meet you! I like the sound of your recipes…. and love the title of your blog. I hope we can visit each other more often! : )

  3. I just read a comment you made on Post Punk Kitchen and followed you back here to see what your chilli was about. Have to say I LOVE this blog and it’s Aussie too? Win-win :). I just crammed you into my overstuffed RSS Feed Reader. Wouldn’t want to miss a single post. Hi from Tassie 🙂

  4. Came here completely by accident, I gotta say, love the blog and the name? PURE AWESOMENESS!
    Seriously, The Backyard Lemon Tree, can’t get over it!
    : )

  5. Hello fellow Inner Westie. I have recently planted my Lemon/Lime tree to hopefully have just that, an abundance of the fruit. Found your page by chance and its great.

  6. Hi Elizabeth, you have a lovely blog here and I’m excited to have found it. Your recipes and photos look so inspiring, but above all I like your idea of being a food ethnographer – it resonates so much with me that I wish I had said it myself! All the very best, Chez

  7. Hi Elizabeth, great blog you got there! If you like Middle Eastern Vegetarian food, you may want to check out our blog, http://www.beyondzucchini.com. I do the cooking and my sister, who also lives in Sydney, does some nutritional assessment on some very traditional Mediterranean dishes in the blog too 🙂

  8. Brianna Byrne says:

    Hi Elizabeth one of my new year resolutions, 1 among many is that I would become a vegetarian. I would like to become a vegan for ethical reason but still feel I the protein in fish can you be a seafood eating vegan? That will come but veganism will have to come latter! Brianna Byrne

  9. Brianna Byrne says:

    Hi I amsorry about that idiotic comment about fish eating and vegan-ism . I do know that creatures of the sea are animals, so for the time being I am not a vegetarian

  10. Elsbeth Mars says:

    I just saw a reply by you on another blog, and I was pleasantly surprised to see I have an (almost) namesake in Sydney! Hello from Haarlem, the Netherlands 🙂

  11. Jane Usher says:

    Hello Elizabeth,
    I’ve inly just realised that this is your blog – after reading the one about creamed spinach and latkes I figured it had to be you!
    What a great – generous endeavour !
    My son is vegetarian and I am becoming soley vegetarian too after eating meat occasionally – and always loved your cooking so am thrilled to find this.
    Hope you are well.
    Jane U.

    • Thanks Jane, I just realised I haven’t updated this page for years. My son is now thirteen. I remember when we used to make Japanese spinach (gomae) when we lived together and we’d use about a bunch of spinach per person. It was so good we couldn’t stop eating it.

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