Thursday, February 28, 2013


Looking at the photos from the start of this process, you can see clearly why the end product is such a deliciously golden hue.  All the sunshine ended up in the bottle and the zest in the muslin above shows that every last bit of lemony goodness was leached out entirely.  The body left felt a little like bonito flakes, once squeezed of all liquid quite dry and likely to take up with the first breeze.

At the start of the new year I added the sugar syrup before leaving for another 6 weeks.  I  mentioned then that I was a little afraid of the strength of the potion, forget putting hairs on your chest, it was strong enough to burn them off!

Today we strained three times through fine sieves and then coffee filters and then I added perhaps another 250mls of cooled boiled water and it's still strong, warming all the way down, but not scarily so.  Once I source another bottle we'll have three bottles, over 1litre in total.

 Chilled in the freezer, a little nip at a time, it should last for .... a while.  It's good.  Well worth the effort.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Ella used to have an imaginary friend called Caspar.  There was only ever one friend and he was around from about ages 3-6.  He came occasionally and played with her, he was a sweet friend!

Leila has never had an imaginary friend, but she does have alter egos.  I think it started about a year ago with Sarah.  We have a friend called Sarah and she's quite fond of her and we wonder if it started there, although she was never really the "real" Sarah.  She was married, for a time, to Dick (our friend's real life husband), but he turned out to be no good so she kicked him out....!  Sarah then took up with Bob, who is very strong and feeds the children very healthy food and gives them lollies only on their birthday. She was always pregnant and had "a hundred" children.  Most often she would come to our place for dinner on a Wednesday after swimming.  Poor Sarah was always tired, because she was always pregnant, but also due to her full time job, her volunteering and all the work she had to do for the babies.

One of Sarah's oldest children is Alexa, who has also been a regular visitor.  Another is Alexia's cousin, DD (Dear Diary) who visits very occasionally.

Alexa is now 28 and has just had her 5th baby. She doesn't mention her husband, but she talks a lot about her house which has a "Juliet balcony covered in passionfruit".  Today Alexa was heavily pregnant when she arrived for lunch, only to leave briefly before coming back with her new baby Chloe.

The stories she can tell.  My oh my.  The thing is though, they don't sound like stories.  They just flow from her tongue and there is no pause or hesitation "You'll never believe what happened next...", "I tell you Victoria, I just didn't know what to say!".  She can talk for a very long time and sometimes I sit and my mind wanders wondering about this little love of ours, her journey, her amazing imagination.  Both our girls have such story telling gifts, but both completely different styles.  Leila will be an amazing white liar, whereas Ella can't lie to save herself "I don't think ......".

Susan manages to record the things her children say so sweetly, but I can't keep up with my little one to record them verbatim.  I did capture her in character today, I wonder if you can see any of Alexa in these snaps of her with her new babe....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


There seem to be two types of people, cinnamon lovers and cinnamon haters.  In my experience you either love it are dislike it, although you may come along and contradict me.  Perhaps I'm yet again speaking in the experience of "my house".  We have two lovers and two haters.  I'm a lover.  That statement makes me giggle, as a couple of weeks ago, walking at night with a friend we were discussing whether we'd stay single forever if we lost our partners, or date again.  I definitely felt that I fell into the stay home, sew, bake and dedicate myself to the children camp.  My friend corrected me by saying "No way, you're a lover, you would HAVE to date again".  I nearly wet myself with giggles at the absurdity of the conversation, but also at the fact she actually considers me a lover!

Going back to the cinnamon, today's slightly cooler weather meant baking day in this house.  It seemed like a good idea when the weather was cool this morning after 12 hours of torrential rain.  Of course by the time the biscuits were cooking, the humidity had kicked in along with the sunshine.

The first biscuit I made today is for the lovers in this house, Snickerdoodles.  The name is so delicious and the biscuits equally so.  If you have a penchant, as do I, for a White Wings style cinnamon tea cake, brushed with melted butter and dusted with a caster sugar and cinnamon mix, then these are the biscuits for you.  Crunchy edges with a slightly chewy centre, not super sweet.  Delicious.

The second biscuit is a Pecan Sandie, although in my case a slightly adjusted recipe, becoming Hazelnut & Pecan Sandies.  A much drier, more crumbly biscuit, perfect with an afternoon espresso.

Adapted from Cookiepedia
I halved this recipe and again, ended up with a good 2 dozen biscuits, making them slightly smaller than the recipe calls for.

1 1/3 cups of plain flour
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tbs sugar
2 tbs brown sugar
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla

For Rolling  1/4 cup caster sugar, 4 teaspoons cinnamon

1.  Line 2 trays with baking paper and preheat oven to 180C.
2.  Cream butter and two sugars until light and fluffy.  Add beaten egg and vanilla.  Mix to combine.
3.  Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in two batches, mixing thoroughly after each one.  Top when second batch combined.
4.  Combine cinnamon and caster sugar in a separate bowl.  Make small 1 inch balls of dough (it's quite soft) and roll them in the cinnamon sugar until completely covered.  Place on the baking sheets 2 inches apart.  Flatten slightly with the flats of your fingers.
5.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Cool in wire racks and when cool store in an airtight container.

Pecan Sandies
From Cookiepedia
I again halved this recipe and still come out with about 30 biscuits.  I also used a half and half measure of hazelnuts and pecans, as that's what I had to hand.

1 1/2 cups pecans, dry roasted in a pan
1/3 cup icing sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups of plain flour plus extra for dusting
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs cold unsalted butter, butter into small cubes
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
@30 pecan halves
Icing sugar to dust

1.  In a food processor, finely grind the pecans with the sugars.
2.  Add the flour, salt and buzz again until combined.   Add the butter and process until it looks a little like coarse crumbs.  Add the egg and vanilla process until the dough comes together.
3.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for an hour. 
4.  Dust your work surface with flour and take the chilled dough, roll to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut the cookies from the dough and space about an inch apart on paper lined baking trays.
4.  Place one of the pecan halves on and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the sheets half way through.
5.  Allow to cool on a rack before dusting with icing sugar.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Happy Monday.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


A very thoughtful gift from one of the girls 16 year old cousins.  Dan recently went on a basketball trip to the US with his school.  The only presents he brought back were for these two. xx


Ella   She was five when she first learned to do a hair towel herself.
Leila  Pottering in the garden she likes privacy "you can go inside now mum".


 More nighties in the softest and most transparent of cottons.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Hot weather means a clean nighty every few days, which means mummy has been sewing up some new ones.


Eggplants are very happy in our garden.  I know many who struggle but ours are very generous and provide us with lots of lovely fruit.  Today three beauties have been cut with gloved hands, as these are sure prickly buggers, for mine and Geoff's dinner.

Last night saw the start of Ottolenghi's "Jerusalem on a Plate" the tv version of one of my wonderful Christmas gifts.  We're very fond of Middle Eastern flavours in this house, the earthy spiciness and wonderful freshness of the herbs.  I found a copy of the recipe online and this is what we'll be eating from these lovelies tonight.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Lime Sables (Sah-blays).  Light biscuits that dissolve on the tongue.  From this wonderful cookie/biscuit book.

Sables with Lime Zest
Adapted from Cookiepedia
I made a half quantity of this recipe, purely because we prefer to try a different biscuit a couple of times a week, and I ended up with a good 24+ as I cut mine a little thinner.

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of lime zest (I used a microplane)
2 egg yolks
2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup of demerera sugar for rolling

1.    Beat the butter until smooth and creamy.  Add the sugar, salt and lime zest and mix until combined.  Add the egg yolks and mix again.
2.    Gradually add the flour and beat until the dough is moist and fully combined.  Divide the dough in half and using a long peach of cling film or baking paper, make a long round sausage to the size of the biscuit you prefer.  Chill in the fridge until firmed, or even overnight.
3.   When ready, grease biscuit trays or line with baking paper.  Pour the demerera sugar onto a sheet of baking paper as long as the biscuit roll.  Firmly roll the log into the sugar until it is pressed in on all sides.
4.    Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 5mm slices and place on trays leaving 2cm between each.
5.   Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 15 minutes until the cookies are browned around the edges and slightly golden in the centre.
6.   Take your good book to the table, with a cup of tea or coffee and eat!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


There is a lot of food in my life, in my family's life.

I don't eat much, purely because I don't have a great appetite, but I spend most of my days thinking about food or making it.  Baking, cooking, it's a recreation for me.  A girlfriend asked me how I didn't put on weight with all the cakes I make. The simple answer, I make them but I don't necessarily eat them.

When I make something new I share it with my family and my parents.  I will make some for my mum and dad to try and they do the same in return.  Mum and dad are amazing Indian cooks - creating delicious curries from scratch, roasting spices individually, crushing by hand and the results are amazing.  I, however, don't cook Indian, I mean why do I need to when I have delicious curries delivered to my door each time the  fancy takes my parents?

My lunch today was a delicious Middle Eastern flat pie from this book/blog.  Mum delivered my a little pile for the freezer and they are an amazing lunch ready in as along as they take to defrost in the microwave and slightly crisp in the oven.  I topped with salad and felt warm and cared for while eating it.

Food has always been an expression of love and caring for me, even if it's something as simple as making my husband's vegie toast just right.  I don't eat Vegemite and many years back had to be instructed in the special need to kind of scratch up the bread in the middle with not too much salty spread.  I do it for him because he's special to me.

One of our loved ones is facing a health battle and I want to play my part with food and all the love that I can muster into it.  When my brother was ill eating was such a challenge for him.  It wasn't just the pain but also the lack of appetite, all the time balanced against the need to keep up his strength, to have the energy to go on.  With another family member now facing an equally tough challenge, food is going to be even harder to manage.  I'm working on a list of protein rich foods/dishes that are very gentle to eat, tasty and probably most important of all, tempting.  I want to look into eastern dishes that may fit the bill, things I'm not too familiar with, dishes like congee and silken tofu.  I'd love to hear if you have any recipes or ideas you could share, or even a book you could recommend.

So I'll cook, I'll package up small portions of foods I hope will tempt him to eat. Rich beef broth from roasted bones long made into a stock, small portions of cauliflower cheese, homemade chicken noodle soup with super soft vermicelli noodles.  I'll make mini panacottas, baked custards and jelly with poached fruits and hope he has the courage to try and in turn, to hopefully enjoy and have a moment's pleasure in an otherwise challenging day.

Food is love, so I intend to cook, a lot.

Monday, February 18, 2013


An Australian summer.  Homemade rolls, an esky full of cold grapes and cordial, hiding under the sunshade, sand on toes, salty skin, icy poles on the way home.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013"

Leila    At the park
Ella      With a book


After three whole days in the sun.

Friday, February 15, 2013


After 7 hours in direct, hot sun.


 Hot days = lots of drying time = homegrown sun dried tomatoes = happy tummy = happy me.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


It may be commercialised, but you don't have to buy into that side of it.  What can be bad about a day celebrating love??  I hope your significant loves have remembered you.

T-B   Love notes with sweet treats; decorated dinner table; my homemade gift to G; one sister's secret card to the other and love for Uncle Mike; a card for Pa from L.


It's really hot in Melbourne right now.  Very humid and just yuck.  I am sure that many in cooler climes may think I'd kill for some sunshine, in which case these photos will have to act as a virtual postcard holiday for you!

I'm not a big ice cream girl, but the gelati from here is tooooo gooood!  Coffee is my flavour, it is delicious and I have been thinking about it a lot since our last visit, even a late night drive doesn't put me off.  It's on the other side of the CBD for us, a drive down the freeway and through, a good half hour away, so not a spur of the moment weeknight stop.  With another teacher's strike today (don't get me started on that!) and the temp rising, we took my parents for a late morning lick!

I had to giggle when I overheard Leila talking to my mum about what flavour she was going to have.  Very earnestly she said to mum "Nan, definitely don't have the coffee, definitely not, it makes mum go crazy."  Now my mum is a coffee lover and thought that meant it was too strong rather than the reality of me obsessing (going crazy) over it because it was soooo good.  She therefore chose pistachio which was good but ....

My parents are so close to our girls, so devoted and engaged with them.  My head spins hearing both girls talking about them both at the same time, so animated and so loud, but my parents rarely bat an eyelid, taking it all in and enjoying every moment.

The relationship they share with my parents adds so much to their lives, has helped form them and given them a greater sense of security than they would otherwise have had.  We're all very lucky to have them play such a large and involved role in our lives.


The garden really is doing well this year.  Two extra raised beds on our front lawn have made all the difference.  I'm getting a haul like this a few times a week.  Beans are wonderful, but you have to keep on top of them as one day they're too tiny and two days later, too big.  I have a mix of dwarf (seeds from a neighbour) and my parents beans.  I have no idea what the beans are, as they just give me some of last years seeds, but they are always especially good.

Tomatoes still going strong although the first plants (Principe Borghese, Berry Toms, Tommies, Green Zebra and Black Russian) are starting to die off so not as pretty anymore.  Mum's Amish Paste just starting to ripen and I'll try and freeze some of those, simply skinned and halved. There are a few self seeded plants, not sure what they are yet, but a smaller variety.

Eggplants just coming into their own, 6 plants this year so should be eating Middle Eastern style for a while.  Zuchs (Black Jack) not so generous this year (only 1 plant), but have two smaller European plants from my parents in pots, which are a month or more behind.

Chillies are doing well - have lots of cayenne; habanero and birds eye a little behind.

Cucumbers doing great, a few every couple of days and even a few late, small but super sweet strawberries.

A good summer.

PS Not forgetting the carrots which are still going great as well!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


A month or so ago Bettina contacted me asking if I would like to be featured on her blog, as an Australian blog to read.  It's a good thing I've never sought fame and fortune from this little space of mine, but I was pleased that she liked reading enough to ask.  She has a blog called littleoldsouls and I'm featured on there if you're interested in checking it out.  It's a nice way to find some new blogs that you may otherwise not have stumbled across.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I had to share this.  I've watched this three times today and it's so amazingly beautiful.  I wish I had a small babe to wash.  You are probably one the millions who have already viewed it, but if not, please do.


After quite a few weeks the first of our gorgeous sunflowers have dried out.  I love the dried heads with and without seeds.  A bit of a time consuming task but 5 heads yielded quite a few seeds and in turn we consumed quite a few.

I'll wait until the largest heads are dried as the seeds are larger, before I roast some with salt to remember some moments eating these during the time I lived in Canada.