Sunday, June 28, 2015


These two clowns are bffs.  They've known one another since they were in Prep together, aged 4 years old and over the years they have hung together, despite CJ changing schools during primary school. now they are back together again at senior school and they spend a lot of time together.

It helps that their parents are bffs of ours too - funny that!.

Remember Miss Mary?  Yep - CJ's mother!

CJ is hanging with us during the winter break - and we celebrated his 15th birthday yesterday while his wayward parents carried on celebrating her birthday ... in Turkey ... lucky ducks.

CJ is my other son from another mother and father - and pretty much is our first born as Moo came later. (Sorry Moo - but it is what it is)!!!

We went over to Bendooley Estate for lunch yesterday to celebrate Js big day and then later that afternoon they set up their cave in the snug, ready for their marathon watching of House of Thrones.

They are still in there now - it's been a v quiet day here for me today - I've been baking and gardening and am about to get some writing done for a client.

I was looking through pics and found these of the two besties - they have had some fun together over the years.

Happy birthday CJ - can't wait to see what else you do with your life.

ANZAC Day 2013- themed cake baking which took years off my life watching them create it
- but man they did a fantastic job of this beauty!

Wood whittling April 2011 - no idea what they ended up doing with their tools but they had a ball dong this.
Shame about my kitchen knives!

Easter Show 2011 - Mary and I found the champagne and prawn bar and
were beaming happy like these two!!!!  I even bagged the prawn scraps so I could make stock later -
poor chap thought I was a breath of fresh air (OK) deluded!

Pearl Beach just after Easter 2010.  A week of hilarity complete with daily surfing up at Avoca.

While they surfed what were we to do but have a smart lunch, each and every day we were there?!
Would have been terribly rude not to.  April 2010 - fun times!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Winter in Paradise

This time last year we were over in the US spending time with friends in Chicago, The Hamptons, NYC, Cleveland and Laguna Beach.  What a fantastic holiday that was.

This year?  Exeter - and I couldn't be happier.  I love being down here anytime of the year but for some reason this late autumn/winter is even more special - the weather has been stunning so far.

Long days of winter sun and as much time as we like to potter in the garden - getting jobs down ready for spring madness.

Moo has been helping on the big jobs too, which makes it far more enjoyable when pottering about.

We spent half a day clearing a mass of weeds that had morphed out of control in the south garden nearest the gate. There is no doubt about it - there is nothing more satisfying than pulling weeds as you see all your hard work coming to fruition so quickly.  As soon as we had cleared the area Moo got to work lugging bark chips over and spreading them throughout the existing lavender, buddleias, hydrangeas and snow flakes.

Haha - one pic of me doing the last load as Moo collapsed in a heap off camera in exhaustion - he had worked hard!  The whole garden looks so much better now - tidy and happy nestled in the bark chips.

Now I am off down to the bottom meadow to lift a whole bunch of violets that are growing wildly all about the meadow as they'll be so much happier nestled up here.
I wonder if I can convince Moo to help?!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Festival of Mary

Happy birthday to one of our most gorgeous girlfriends.  (The Festival of Mary has been underway for a couple of weeks or so now - it was her husband Doug's who we celebrated with in Chicago this time last year.)

A year forward and it's Mary's turn!

We started the long weekend with an Indian inspired dinner - warming butter chicken, riata, spicy dahl and spicy basmati rice was the order of the night. We finished it all off with a frozen lemon cake - an old recipe of B's mums that has always been a favourite - and was perfect after the spice of the curry etc.

B then became the DJ and we had a dance-athon that cleared the room of the two 14 year olds.  We didn't even need to put on Rick Astley - clearly enduring their parents dancing was enough for them to call it a night!

Moo and CJ went out into the garden earlier that day to forage and came back to
create this stunning setting.

The next day saw the preparations of the long lunch unfolding. Again the boys went foraging for foliage and then crafted up this stunning setting.  We had 11 for lunch - so the table was laden.  It was such a beautiful  afternoon celebrating with new and old friends. We started out by wandering the garden drinking bubbles then after more drinks and yummy cheeses we came in and sat down to a divine lunch of very slow cooked balsamic lamb/mammoth shanks (they were massive and i cooked then for two days!), mushroom bourguignon, gratin of potato, Gruyere and thyme, winter salad of spinach, home grown peppery rocket, orange, fennel and the best Turkish feta. Desserts were by Ohn Nom Nom (vegan, raw spiced fig cheese cake and passionfruit bites) plus divine poached quinces brought by a guest and a basil, milk and lemon sorbet made by Moo.  

Delicious and divine - it was such a gorgeous way to celebrate a very special bestie's birthday.  Yes we all tumbled into bed super early on Sunday night!  

Long lunch table setting - these lads could go intro business down here!

Sadly her gorgeous daughter couldn't join us as she was busy in the city - but she crafted up this amazing raw vegan, gf, super yummy cake - which was divine.  She has started a cake business with her bestie - and their cakes and bliss balls are beyond delish.  The boys took the cake out into the garden for some arty shots - I love this one with the wheelbarrow in the background!

May the Festival continue!  Happy birthday Miss mary - you are one in the kind for sure - so glad we met up when our boys were 4 at Prep - best 11 years of memories ever!  Here's to many more!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Meal of the Week - Organic Chicken, Sweet Potato, Red Onion, Pea and Lemon Risotto

The all-time-no-argument-ever-about-it-favourite-meal-at-Palazzo-Josamina-is ... risotto.

No matter what flavour combo I come up with - it's a winner with all of us hand's-down. Thank God rice is not laden with gluten - that would have been way to cruel to cope with when Monty and I finally had our coeliac diagnoses confirmed!)

As I have been away for almost two weeks, I knew it was just a matter of time before I needed to whip one up.  I managed to get to day two of my return to the kitchen before M begged for one for dinner.

This combo was a winner, if I do say so myself.

I pulled together left-over roasted organic chicken and sweet potato from dinner the night before, added in some home-grown organic Exeter Meyer lemon juice and zest*, home-made organic chicken broth and some baby peas.  (As a rule I ignore the memo from B that he is not a fan of peas - I figure if I just keep adding them into meals here and there, he'll be broken down eventually!)

Big call - but I believe peas add an extra flavoursome dimension to almost any dish - just as basil complements tomato with such finesse.  (Just saying so you know ... I would never partner up peas with mushrooms - ew - that would just not work!).

I love making risotto - it takes time, love and patience.  You need your stock to be bubbling away ready to add ladle by ladle to the bubbling risotto as you stir, stir, stir it in slowly.

Here's how I stirred this one to life ...

4 tablespoons coconut oil
3 organic chicken breast fillets, trimmed, cut into 2 cm pieces (I used the equivalent amount of shredded left-over roasted organic chicken)
1 large red onion, cut into thin slices
300 g sweet potato (kumara), cut into 1.5 cm cubes (I used the equivalent amount of left-over roasted organic kumara)
5 cups organic chicken stock
400g Arborio Risotto Rice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup fresh organic baby peas
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, warmed through
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup chopped fresh continental parsley
Salt & ground black pepper, to taste

Heat half the coconut oil in a large heavy based frying pan over a medium heat and cook the chicken, onion and sweet potato in 2 batches, turning occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until browned and just cooked. Remove and keep warm.  (If using leftovers, heat through gently and set aside.)
Bring the chicken stock just to the boil in a separate saucepan. Reduce heat and keep stock at a gentle simmer.
Add the remaining coconut oil, rice and garlic to the frying pan and stir over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until the rice is well coated with the oil and looks slightly glassy.
Add a ladleful (about 1/2 cup) of the simmering stock and stir over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed.

Continue to add simmering stock, a small ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and allowing stock to be absorbed before adding more. Start tasting after about 18 minutes - it will probably take about 20-25 minutes to cook. Cook until the rice is tender but firm to the bite and risotto is creamy

Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, Parmesan and half the parsley and then season with salt and pepper. Gently fold through the chicken, onion and sweet potato.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with remaining parsley.

Enjoy every last, delectable mouthful and start thinking about the next flavour combo you'll stir to perfection!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas

Another year is rapidly coming to a close and Christmas is upon us once again.

We had an early Christmas celebration with friends down in Exeter as we spent the actual day this year back up in Sydney with a group of friends, hosted by Georgina and Ben who treated us all to the most amazing day.

I may never eat again!

Down in E we cooked up a storm and enjoyed a gorgeous Christmas dinner - as it was too hot during the day to even think about eating.

Instead we set up the deck chairs, grabbed our books and read the afternoon away.

A perfect summer's day in Paradise.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Omori, Lake Taupo

How stunning is this view?  Lake Taupo from Omori - the opposite side to Taupo.

It's god's country in every sense of the description.

Very special friends of ours live here and we have stayed with them several times over the years - and each time it takes my breath away just how truly, madly, deeply I love this part of NZ.

We were over visiting them to celebrate Rat (Russell's) 70th birthday.  Can you believe this darling man is 70?  Doesn't look a day over 60.  What a party it was too - a gathering of special people to celebrate this very special man (Monty's fairy godfather) and his gorgeous wife Lizzie.

He is a gifted musician amongst other things and while we all enjoyed the most amazing dinner overlooking lake at Waihi, he joined the band and played the sax well into the evening.

Judging by his energy and form, 70 is the new 50!  Happy birthday Rat - we need to get back over and see you both again soon - you love in a special slice of heaven for sure!!!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Salad heaven

Doesn't this look divine?  The best salad combination, ever.

Big call but true.

This winner is a heavenly marriage of red capsicum, charred corn, asparagus, avocado and tuna.

Yum.  Incredibly delicious and so good for you.

Next time I think I'll add some black beans and lime juice.  How good would that be?!

Often the cleanest, simple ingredients make the most delicious meal and this salad did not let me down.  It's as un-fussy as a salad can get - but ohhh so moreish, healthy and crunchy - I could eat another bowl of it for dinner.  And, you know what, I just might!