Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Where am I...?

I don't really know what to say. It has been so long since I have posted. I have been reading so many amazing blogs this last year and every time I come back to this space I end up wondering what I really have to offer this space, my readers, that someone isn't already offering somewhere else.....and lets face it, probably better than what I have been doing here too. I'm not feeling down about it all, I want to blog, I even miss it. however 2 kiddies, keep me so busy it is difficult to invest into this space to a level I feel it deserves. I'd rather just not waste my time....or anybody else's. 
That said, Instagram is proving to be a great mini-blog forum for this busy mum. So please hunt me down there. I hope that one day soon I will find the time for this again. It's good for me to do it. And I hope one day it will be good for you to read it.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Christmas and Beyond

I was going to write a beautiful post here about how lovely it was to get away for Christmas this year, but quite frankly, the way things are going, it would take till March for me to finish it. The truth is we ate toast a lot, we took a lot of naps and we drank too much sugar based drinks. All in all, it was a good Christmas. Hope you all had a beautiful Chrissy too xoxo

Monday, 17 November 2014

I’m here again, and so soon! Please don’t get used to it. But I figured you guys deserved an actual recipe from me, it really has been a while.

My main aim in the kitchen these days is to start putting together a store of recipes that I can fall back on. Simple recipes, recipes that require as little time as possible in the kitchen. I have always approached the kitchen with a desire to stretch myself as a cook, to challenge myself and grow my understanding of food and flavors. My work at the E.C.M. Kitchen has really kept me quite driven in that quest. Out of that work, a growing passion for food has also encouraged me forward. On the upside, in the past, I always had the time to explore, test and experiment in the kitchen. I am a great dawdler in the kitchen, not that I don’t get the job done, but I like to take my time, I like to enjoy the process, to savor watching (and smelling) the dish come together.

This is a luxury I no longer have. Dawdling that is. And with a the added pressure of ongoing morning sickness I feel a need to start adjusting how I cook for our family now, before there is a second baby and the time limit is even smaller. I almost feel an urgency about it.

You see, with all this pushing forward on the quest, I’ve discovered a big gaping hole in my repertoire. Simple recipes that taste good. This is strange because I love simple food. I adore avocado on toast. I think a poached egg is heaven. And don’t even get me started on pesto pasta. But quite honestly, that’s it, those three things are about as big as my simple food recipe pile stands.

There is another side to this. I can’t stand mac and cheese. There are few things on this earth I could pair with the word ‘hate’, but that would be on the top of my list. Most of the simple meals for families being batted around out there just aren’t to a standard of flavor that I am used too now. I can’t do mac and cheese. In fact I am not even a big fan of pasta bake full stop. Or casseroles. Has anyone else noticed that when you make a stew everything tastes the same? The carrots, the meat, the potatoes, they all take on one the flavor and there is no….oomph. Oh help, I just sound like a whiny child now. I just want layers or flavor. Even if it’s just like the slight tart change you get between the flesh of an apple and its skin. Tell me please that someone understands this.

I want simple dishes that still rock in flavor. 

A new quest has begun. 

And with all that out of my system, I give you recipe number one. A twist on Maggie Beer's Pumpkin Bruschetta. 
A very dear friend sent me one of Maggie's books a while ago, signed and addressed appropriately by the dear Maggie herself, but it has since been sitting on the shelf due to my lack of time to give it a proper introduction to the kitchen. Pouring over her starters this week, I pulled out this recipe as it appealed to another problem I have in the kitchen right now. Not being able to cook. Or at least, not being able to stand over cooking food. I can cut pumpkin and bung it in the oven and walk away from it. That, I can still do well. I can see this dish becoming a great fall back dinner for us in the future, and it was actually very good too. Simple of course, but good. And for myself, not being able to eat the goat’s cheese whilst pregnant, the roasted pumpkin smashed onto the toasted ciabatta by itself, was still totally lip smacking. 

Roast Pumpkin on toast
(slightly tweaked from Maggie Beers Roast Pumpkin Bruschetta recipe)

  • Butternut pumpkin (as much as you like)
  • onion (optional) 
  • good quality olive oil
  • fresh rosemary
  • sea salt
  • cracked pepper
  • Verjuice 
  • about 3 garlic cloves (more if you are making a big batch of pumpkin)
  • a loaf of ciabatta bread
  • soft goats cheese
  • a lemon

preheat oven to about 240C

Cut pumpkin into small 1cm-2cm pieces and place on baking tray, throw on some smashed garlic cloves (hold one garlic clove back for the bread), thinly sliced onion, and the fresh rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil and season well. Bake till the tips of the pumpkin start to caramelize. 

Take tray out and drizzle over verjuice. Maggie recommends a 1/4 of a cup for only 200g, so I think you can be quite generous with your drizzle :)

Place it back in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. 

The ciabatta loaf can be sliced and toasted, grilled or fried in a little oil (as I did), if you grill or toast you can drizzle with a little oil, but when cooked, rub with the set aside garlic clove (cut in half first to get max flavor of garlic on the bread) 

Then place goats cheese onto toast, and serve the hot silky pumpkin on top. I added some more sea salt and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice to really help make the dish pop.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A journey of motherhood through photographs

I am far from the worlds greatest photographer, I'm not even sure you could call me a 'good' photographer, but I can say that in photography I have found a sort of solace. That is probably not the right word when I think about it, but may be it is. May be acceptance would be a better word. Acceptance of where I am, acceptance of motherhood, acceptance of the fact that I don't have to get it all perfect. 

Some how, when you cut out all the details and focus on homemade cookies, you remember that she talked about cookies for the next week non-stop. She played 'making cookies', she feed me fake cookies, she squealed when cookies came on the TV. It's not that I want to create these perfect memories and forget that actually making these cookies with a 2 year old was a messy and frustrating experience, no, not at all. She has far too many emotions and far too little patience for that to be an overly joyful experience. No. But you do remember that you made an effort to invest into her childhood, to make it something special, something that can stimulate her, grow her (grow us both) and you invested in that bond between mother and child. 

It has also kept me accountable. 

If I haven't taken photos for a while, it means there was nothing worth photographing. It reminds me to get her outside, to take her to new places and do knew things and it probably means she has been watching too much TV again. 

It reminds me to say, 'yes' to meeting a friend at the beach, even though it would be easier to say 'no'. It reminds me that most of the time, those magical moments don't just happen, you have be intentional about them, that you can't just sit around and wait, you have to choose to invest. 

I can say that being creative, taking photos, no matter how bad the photograph is, if I look back on them and feel joy, it makes it easier to learn how to love the journey. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


I recently read this post by Mama Watters and thought I might take a little inspiration for my husband’s birthday this year. My daughter is pretty focused when it comes to cake, it’s her favorite food item and she talks about it A LOT. So I thought giving her a chance to decorate a cake for daddy’s birthday might be just the sort of activity she would enjoy. 

We made a ‘daddy’ garland together earlier in the week which turned out to be a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon together. But Sunday morning, I guess we just caught her on the wrong day. 

Her first word of the morning was; ‘cake’. I tried to cover her relentless asking by telling my hubby she just wanted pancakes and convinced him to stay in bed. Did I mention it was meant to be a surprise? She yelled ‘CAKE!’ all the way down stairs getting more and more excited the closer we got to the kitchen.  I spent a few minutes convincing her she needed breakfast first, set her up in the high chair, then set out our cake decorating station and hung the bunting.  

Come time to decorate the cake the poor girl just about had a melt down when I placed the store bought sponge cake in front of her and she realized she wasn't just allowed to just dig in. Second meltdown attempt happened as I was desperately trying to smear icing on the top as quickly as I could; she asked if the cake was hers and her fool of a mother said, ‘no honey, this is Daddy’s cake’. Fool. Another meltdown.

The decorating itself was almost fun. She took to it like a pro, although she did take a bite out of several lollies before adorning the cake with the half eaten goodies. We had another melt down when we were finished and I took the cake off her. And another on the stair well when we tried to go up to wake daddy- which meant walking in the opposite direction to the cake. Sigh. You made it look so easy Mama Watters. 

All that aside, daddy loved his cake and afterward we all hopped in the car and headed off to the beach for a coffee and to run off the morning’s sugar. Sadly we had a few more mini melt downs at the beach; the seagull was too close, she didn't want her hat on, she wanted her hat on, mummy forgot her shoes, mummy forgot to order her a baby chino (although daddy forgot to order mummy something to eat and mummy felt like having a bit of a meltdown herself- so I can understand that one) and we decided to call it quits early and head home. Not surprisingly the wee one fell asleep early AND slept long (which was perhaps the best present of the day). Not surprisingly mummy will probably attempt to do it all over again next year. Because she is a little bit foolish like that. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

New Zealand

As some of you may know we recently took a trip across to New Zealand. It was a long overdue trip to see the in-laws and introduce our wee little princess (who is about to turn 2!) to all the family who hadn't met her yet. 
Coincidentally, we also landed in the middle of Aucklands restaurant fest! One thing I was really looking forward to doing on this trip was to sample the local produce and food industry in NZ, long admiring it from afar it was going to be a real highlight for me. Alas, we hit a rather significant snag before we even set off. I was starting to feel a bit ill, in a strange kind of, “I can’t even look at chicken”, sort of way. And after heading off to bed one night because I couldn’t take the smell of dinner I decided it was time to confirm what becoming increasingly obvious. 
Yep, Pregnant. 
Although we are actually quite excited, it comes with a little apprehension towards the actual pregnancy itself. My last pregnancy had me vomiting for the full 9 months, a trip to the ER, lots of bed rest and lots and lots of very expensive anti-nausea tablets. I came out of that pregnancy shattered (both physically and emotionally). So the thought of heading back into that zone, only now with a toddler to take care of, I won’t lie, it’s a little scary. How am I supposed to take care of a 2 year old when I can’t even take care of myself? I will admit; knowing what I was getting myself into this time has helped. I told people straight away knowing I would need both prayer and support to get through this, I booked myself into the doctor to get on the Zofran, I started drinking copious amounts of water, knowing I had to keep as hydrated as possible for as long as possible and stocked the cupboards with  A LOT of snacks. The rest would have to be just ‘figure it out as you go’. Consequently though, our NZ trip was a lot less food focused and moved a much slower pace. The whole trip slowed right down and became less about traveling and experiencing NZ for itself and more about family time. Which quite honestly, is not at all a bad thing.

Monday, 21 July 2014

For the love of a good description......

A Quote;

“It was a meal that we shall never forget; more accurately, it was several meals that we shall never forget, because it went beyond the gastronomic frontiers of anything we had ever experienced, both in quantity and length. It started with homemade pizza - not one, but three: anchovy, mushroom, and cheese, and it was obligatory to have a slice of each. Plates were then wiped with pieces torn from the two-foot loaves in the middle of the table, and the next course came out. There were pates of rabbit, boar, and thrush. There was a chunky, pork-based terrine laced with marc. There were saucissons spotted with peppercorns. There were tiny sweet onions marinated in a fresh tomato sauce. Plates were wiped once more and duck was brought in... We had entire breasts, entire legs, covered in a dark, savory gravy and surrounded by wild mushrooms.

We sat back, thankful that we had been able to finish, and watched with something close to panic as plates were wiped yet again and a huge, steaming casserole was placed on the table. This was the specialty of Madame our hostess - a rabbit civet of the richest, deepest brown - and our feeble requests for small portions were smilingly ignored. We ate it. We ate the green salad with knuckles of bread fried in garlic and olive oil, we ate the plump round crottins of goat's cheese, we ate the almond and cream gateau that the daughter of the house had prepared. That night, we ate for England.” 
Peter Mayle
, A Year in Provence

A Link;

Another Quote;

“To the cauliflower and onion, she suggests that you add a few sprigs of thyme and a few whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic, all of it slicked with some olive oil. Then you chuck it in a hot, hot oven, and after barely half an hour, the cauliflower winds up velvety, meaty, even rich, and the onions relax and soften into sweetness, and the garlic is tender enough to spread on toast, and a dark, savory, somewhat bewitching smell has filled your kitchen - or your entire house, if you’re me and your house is small and the exhaust fan doesn’t really work, even though it roars like the engine of a semi scaling a mountain pass. Then you grate some Parmesan over the whole pan, slide it back into the oven, and pull it out when the cheese has melted and crisped into crisp, lacy, frico-like webs and shards.”
Molly Wizenburg, Orangette, 21.3.14

 I will keep coming back to this book, I have to. It settled something in me. More than enjoying cooking, more than enjoying serving and eating, and yes more than the community that forms around a good solid meal. Because what makes A Year in Provence so special is the documentation of both a good meal and of the community around it. See a good meal ends, but a good writer or photographer can solidify the memory by making your saliva glands wet, you happy hormones pump, and your right-brain inspired to spur on to the next good meal.

I discovered a very small, seemingly insignificant fact this month. My favorite reads are all written by journalists. At first this was nothing more than a little, “Ha! Isn't that interesting”, moment, but after a few days though this little thought turned to something more, something I should have really, quite honestly, figured out a long time ago. Despite almost failing high school English, I really enjoy writing. Despite my fleeting photography attentions, I really enjoy taking photos. I really REALLY enjoy capturing a moment. Something special, be it a mood, a conversation, a group of people laughing, or just a really enjoyable meal. I think I should go back to school or something…..HA!

On that note; Broccoli. Broccoli Pesto to be specific. 
I have taken on a quest to work on my daughters appreciation for Broccoli. This involves having a little bit served to her on a regular basis, not so much as to completely put her off, but so she gets used to seeing it. I’m also serving it in different forms, such as pesto- which I must say she wolfed. 
I’m such a big fan of pesto. I’m not sure what it is about it that makes it so irresistible to me. And I can’t better it, I have to eat it tossed through hot pasta and adorned with fresh Parmesan so that it melts slightly into the green mess. EVERY time without fail I ponder tossing through chopped cherry tomatoes or some grilled zucchini and EVERY time without fail I shake my head and bury my fork, it’s always just perfect as it is.

Broccoli, Rocket and Green Pea Pesto.

1 head of Broccoli
1 cup of Rocket
½ cup of Peas
½ a Lemon
1 Garlic clove
¼ cup of Pine-nuts
a good amount of salt
oil (about a quarter to a third of a cup)
shaved Parmesan (third of a cup for the pesto and half a handful for on top of the pasta)
Cracked pepper

Wash and roughly chop broccoli head, place in food processor with rocket, peas, garlic, lemon juice, pine-nuts, salt and oil. Process till smooth paste. Toss through hot pasta and serve with Parmesan and cracked pepper.