Wednesday, April 28, 2010


A photo of mother and child.

Breadmaking is definitely something I'm more enthusiastic about when the weather cools - it's just more pleasurable, if not easier, when you're not resenting every minute the oven is turned on.

Most of the recipes I've been using for the last while have come from here. On the weekend though I stumbled across this book, which I have borrowed from the library ahead of buying. It's more of a reference book, a lot of theory, but as I'm interested in achieving a more artisan texture to my sourdough and using more leavens, perhaps it's the go.


The days are passing so quickly right now. Not just the days beginning at 6am seeming to take only 8 hours to again reach 6pm, but the accumulation of days, weeks and months.

Admittedly I am moving a little slower right now due to a not quite full blown but enough to be really annoying head cold. Almost May though, one more month and we'll be halfway through. The young have so many things on their side, why is it that time also has to mover slower for them, considering they have so much more of it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


You may well not believe me, and I can't say I'd blame you, given that this gift is near to being 3 months overdue. You know it's not because I haven't been thinking of you, because that's never the case. However, I have been tardy, BUT the parcel is now on it's way to you.

I hope you like it Lena. xx

Monday, April 26, 2010


There will be pasta for dinner tonight.

Ella did almost all the cranking of the machine and fed a lot through herself. It really is so easy and yet it's been years since I made some. I checked the box and I received my machine as a gift for my 21st, all those years ago.


A glorious morning - autumnal, cool but sunny blue skies and air that smelt washed and fresh.

Rock throwing into the lake, sneaky illegal feeding of the ducks, dizzie wizzies, flying foxes, lots of chuckles. I really do have a gorgeous family and a pretty damn fine life, I'm lucky.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


There are many things I wish I were better at, skills I wish could be improved upon. Most of them are on my "get to that one day" list, but one that causes me regular frustration is photography. It's not that the principles are difficult, that I don't understand them even, but sometimes time is against you and there is something you see which is so gorgeous, so breathtaking, that you need to get it right in that single moment, when there is no second chance.

Tonight I was hanging out our swimming clothes and the clouds were passing across a rapidly fading but still blue, blue sky with the moon twinkling in the bottom corner. There was no time to grab the ladder and climb up it to really clear the pergola and trees. There was not really time to fiddle with settings so it was just right. There was only time to try and grab the image, with skills that just weren't up to the task. So, you'll have to take my word for it, that the sky tonight was just perfect.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I finally got around to using the rest of a voucher I received for my birthday last year. I couldn't find one big thing I wanted, so instead plumped for a few smaller items.

My mum asked "do you need another cup?". I do like cups. Yes, I felt I needed this one. It's a Marimekko. I was blissfully unaware they designed ceramics. Now I know, well, let's just say that there could be more cups.

Monday, April 19, 2010


There's a reason that bakers start work in the middle of the night, it take a *** of a long time to make "real" bread.

Now that the weather has cooled down (in theory at least as it's very summery today), it's time to start bread making with a leaven/mother. There are no gloriously golden crusted loaves to share with you, just this slow developer. It's now just after 5pm and I started this baby off just before 8am this morning. I would say we have at least another 2 hours before I can bake them.

Reading through it suggests that you do the final 4 hour rise overnight in the fridge (so it becomes 8), but then you need another 2 hours in the morning to bring it up to temperature before baking. I'll try that next I think, because the satisfaction is not the same when it comes out of the oven at 8:30 PM! Anyone with any tips on doing it this way, I'd love to hear.

PS The loaves came out of the oven at 8:30. They are delicious. A 12 hour loaf sure, but absolutely worth it. Dense bouncy crumb, real crunchy in a real sourdough way crust. Really wonderful.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


On my bedside table right now. After my recent reading blitz I seem to be taking a breather for a moment, although am a little spoiled for choice. I don't read more than one book at a time, I know some do, but I just don't find it appealing.

And this is the mess on my bed. I used to think that I just disliked ironing, but as I only ever resort to ironing things I'd be ashamed to wear wrinkled, I've come to realise that I just don't like putting laundry away either. I view it a little like filing and only do it when it's completely out of control, which is now.


Yesterday my inlaws celebrated their 5oth wedding anniversary with immediate family and their closest friends. We had a sit down lunch for 30 at my brother in laws house and the children and inlaw children all contributed to make it a special day for them. This time we had the lunch catered, it's just so much work when we are all working during the week. So I was on flower duty. I was really pleased with how they turned out, but with a very small window to get them ready in the morning I have a new appreciation of just how labour intensive floristry is, even if also so very rewarding.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Leila and I don't have enough weekday adventures. We cook, we draw, we do a lot of home based activities, but in comparison to how much Ella and I got out and about at the same age, we don't do much at all.

I've been reading this book which was gifted to me some months ago by a dear reader (thank you Helen), and I'm finally reading it thoroughly rather than just skimming. Not all of it applies to Leila, but a lot does and I need to take on board a lot of the suggestions in making life less complicated for our little one.

We had a wonderful few hours at Heide. We ran down hills, smelt almost all the deliciously fragrant old fashioned roses, hid in bushes, looked through the Sunday's Kitchen exhibition and ate macaroons at Cafe Vue.

I always feel revitalised, inspired and renewed when we do something out of the routine and I think she does too. We will have more adventures, my little one and I, we'll make a point of it.

Monday, April 12, 2010


We love chicken and corn soup in this house, or more accurately I should say that we love my chicken and corn soup, which was in fact my mums. Like so many good things it really is that simple to make and a really inexpensive meal too.

In the cooler weather I could eat soup a lot of the time, Geoff not as much or the girls either, aside from my chicken and corn soup. It doesn't have the gluey texture of a Chinese restaurant soup, but that could be achieved with the addition of a little water and cornflour and even stiring through some egg at the last moment. If, however, the look of this bowl tickles your fancy, here's how it goes.

For this serving, which probably yields around 4 "I love this and can't get enough" sized bowls, or 6-8 "normal" serves. It's not a precise recipe, but a method, so if you need more, up the quantities.

Take 2 chicken marylands. Remove the skin, trim any extra bits of fat and I scoop out the goopy giblets as they tend to really muck up the stock. Put in a saucepan and just cover with cold water, gently bring to a simmer and hold there to a light (but not rolling) boil. Skim the stock as it cooks and continue for about 5 minutes or until cooked.

Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to cool to a temperature you can handle.

Strip all the meat from the marylands, again removing any sinewy parts and shredding into decent sized (but not mammoth) pieces.

At this point I pour the stock into a bowl, give the saucepan a good clean as the impurities tend to adhere to the sides and return it to the clean pan. You now have a very mild chicken stock.

Return the shredded chicken to the stock and then add the corn. For this serving I added 2 425g cans of creamed corn and an additional 425g can of corn kernels. I prefer a stronger chicken flavour so also added one chicken stockcube (I prefer Starr brand).

Bring the soup up to a simmer, season if you feel required, although I generally don't est voila! It's that simple.
I have jazzed up with ginger in the stock, sprinkling finely sliced coriander and spring onions over at the end, but honestly, it's perfect just as it is.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


We've made a few changes to our diet of late. We have never eaten a lot of red meat, perhaps we have it once a week. We have at least 2 vegetarian evening meals each week and one fish and I include meat in smaller portions and include such things as proscuitto as a meat component.

Geoff and I don't usually eat until around 8:30, borne of habit but also Geoff's long working hours mean we honestly couldn't do it much earlier. So we are eating much smaller portions and although I didn't think we had huge portions to begin with, it's amazing how quickly you can train your body to need and then want much much less. Geoff also had a high cholestorel count at a recent checkup so we're tinkering again, not so much cutting things out, but getting more things in.

Last night we had "Geoff's chicken", which is actually Thomas Keller's chicken. I've been roasting chooks for many a year, but have honestly never had a juicier more delcious bird than this - you must try it, Ella begs for it! So Geoff made, his chicken and I made some vegie side dishes, one of which was from Moro The Cookbook - a favourite from our London years visiting the restaurant. I did copy out this recipe, but in tinkering with the html coding to TRY and get paragraph breaks in the right place, stuffed it up completely. So being lazy I've found another link to it online - Cauliflower with saffron, pinenuts and raisins.

I used brown over purple onions as I prefer the golden caramelised colour to the grey colour the Spanish ones take on. I also used currants instead of raisins as that's what I had.

Delicious, so good in fact that we're having it again tonight!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I am a darned reading machine at the moment - you'd rightly wonder how I am managing two small children on holidays while doing so. The answer would be reading while cooking, while children are bathing, staying up late to do so.

Just finished this book and enjoyed it as much, although in a different way to The Road.

The characters again drew me in, most particularly John Grady. No description in terms of physical attributes, his age, but nothing more aside from the affects of the circumstances he finds himself in - weathered, beaten, dirty etc. I have a very vivid image of him in my mind's eye, a youth in terms of age, but so manly, so mature.

The Spanish/Mexican is a challenge for me with very basic knowledge, but somehow it wasn't offputting at all.

I liked it a lot, so am going for a Cormac trifecta next!

Monday, April 05, 2010


We had a wonderful Easter break, I hope you did too.

I feel truly relaxed and so very enthusiastic about having another break, and soon, down in this part of the Mornington Peninsula.

We stayed in St Andrews, which is well away from the rush, very quiet and true beach town sleepy. I liked it so much I've come back and seen what's for sale down there. Although there are many old style holidays houses, they're not the ones for sale! We'll continue to rent I'm afraid.

Working from top to bottom. Nan, Pa and the girls on Rye back beach wetting their toes; Geoff and I one self timer after hiking down to Bushrangers Bay which was so gorgeous; the view on the hike down; Ella and Leila clowing around on St Andrew's beach; a young goat at Main Ridge Dairy; transporter ride back down from Point Nepean; a view at the beach in Point Nepean NP on the hike up.
Geoff and I also managed dinner at The Long Table, which was great fun. There was a lunch at Foxey's Hangout - but my golly gee, the crowds were a little offputting. Beer at the Red Hill Brewery, ummmm, is that enough?? No, there's plenty left for the next visit!


Geoff had said a few times that he thought I'd enjoy this book and he was right.

The language is quite minimal and apparently Cormac McCarthy is not known for his love of punctuation. It's one of the most evocative reads with the least amount of description in any book I've ever read.

A father and son (whose names we're never told) are surviving in what we assume is a post apocolyptic world. We don't hear what happened or how or why, we only see the after affects and hear of how those who are left are trying to survive.

It's terrifying and is the only book I can remember that I held my breath while reading. Nothing bad happens to this pair, but horror is all around and it plays with your mind, gets you thinking down certain paths - what would I do, what choice would I make.

It was a quick read and I was sorry when it ended.

We'll now see the movie. Vigo Mortensen plays the father and I think he's great, so I'm keen to see if it translates well.


I've been listing the books I'm reading for a while now, but I though I would start commenting on how I found each book as I finish it. It won't be a review as such, that's nowhere near a strength of mine, it will be purely my opinion. If you're like me, take it with a pinch of salt, for we all know that each one of us finds the exact same taste, place, experience, view and read completely different.

I had not heard of this book before buying it. I wandered into Dymocks one lunchtime and wandered through the shelves. The title pulled me in and I wanted to know if it was in fact about a hedgehog. The blurb read "Renee is the concierge of a Grand Parisian building on the Left Bank. To the residents she is honest, reliable and uncultivated - an ideal concierge. But Renee has a secret. Beneath this conventional facade she is passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her self-important employers.

Down in her lodge, Renee is resigned to living a lie; meanwhile several floors up, twelve year old Panoma Josee is determined to avoid a predictably bourgeouis future, and plans to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday.

But the death of one of their priviledged neighbours will bring dramatic change to number 7, Rue de Grenelle, altering the course of both their lives forever."

Now I confess that this didn't draw me in all that much, until I reached the reference to 7, Rue de Grenelle. When Geoff and I were married, we honeymooned in Europe for 6 months before settling in London. One of our first stops was Paris, where we stayed with a dear friend I'd met years earlier in the US. That is a wonderful story in itself, but the connection was in the fact that at that time Christelle lived at 23 Rue de Grenelle, which is in fact in the area of Paris were many of the embasssies are located, so indeed, quite lovely. I bought the book on this connection alone.

It is quite esoteric to begin with, in its subject matter. There are many philosophical references and the main character is discussing her impressions about phemonology, about which I know nothing and therefore found the discourse a little dull. The book is written in two voices, of Renelle and Paolma, and really got me in as it progressed. Neither is an average person, although who is us is?

It was a book full of passages I felt compelled top frustrate Geoff with by reading aloud, there were real connections in many of the thoughts characters discussed. General philosophical ramblings on love, life, ageing, friendship, many of which I've underlined in pencil. There were discussions in this book that have stayed with me for days, provoked much thought and thoughtfulness.

I'd recommend this one and I'll be searching out other works by Muriel Barbery.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Happy birthday our darling love.


We had more visitors from overseas last week. In town for the wedding of another friend, as a bridesmaid, Kate and her family were only with us for a day. She didn't look different, not really, still just the same, the boys bigger, Darren strangely more tanned than me ....?! It was nice to share family time and Darren's birthday together with us.

At the end of the night (why do we always leave it until the end) it was time for photos. Now I can take a good photo, it just doesn't happen very often. My dear husband took so many shots and he kept shaking his head and saying to me "what are you doing? Kate looks exactly the same in every shot, you're the problem"! So, it is with great embarassment that I share the best of a bad bunch, of me. I would defend myself saying I looked nice when the day started, but Kate now believes me (post a swimming session) that my hair does indeed go curly and crazy when left to its own devices!

Travel safe guys.

PS Kate, be sure that this is an indication of how much you mean to me that I would share a photo like this with the world!


For years I've stuck to my tried and true hot cross buns recipe, but this year decided I'd give something new a try. Apple and cinnamon buns from the current Gourmet Traveller. They are good. The recipe though, is stingy on fruit and spices, to my taste at least. I think if you cut into a hot cross bun and only find two sultanas, it's not enough. The addition of apple was particularly yummy in the glaze, which tasted like the apple jelly my mum made years ago. Next time I would put in more apple, cooked a little less so it didn't just disappear into the mix. Also, the recipe ran wet, so add your liquids gradually.

Excuse the photos, but I started late in the day so it was about 8pm when I took them from the oven. I do love them all baked together like that, so festive.


Hip, hip, horray - connected to the world again.

We love scones in this house, but hadn't had them in a while, so reading Molly's post we decided to veer from our standard plain scones to nan's recipe and tried hers. We used some sultanas as well in the mix, which is quite wet and I found needed a little less liquid, but quite, quite delicious - for a snack, afternoon tea and breakfast too!