Friday, 21 January 2011

Home improvements

This week we have had the daddy bear at home.

Its been fifty thousand shades of awesome.

We didn't go away on an expensive trip to anywhere.

We have stayed home all week.

Continuing our slow summer holiday.

While the weather has terrorised other parts of Australia we have been soooo lucky & enjoyed sunshine and not too hotness.

Me & hotness are NOT friends.  25 degrees is my ABSOLUTE limit.

So.....while we enjoyed the wether we started on a project we have been dreaming of well before we bought our house.


The daddy bear did a course last year taught by a fabulously eccentric Greek man with fabulous knowledge.

So this week we began our own.

What follows is the picture diary of this week.

I am sure you can see the sense of family that this project has given us.

We are building so much more than an oven......

We also managed to get a treehouse made this week too.  The big kids love it.  Its the old fashioned sort.  You know....the sort that is totally unsafe. 

No sides.....that sort of unsafe.  Just a wooden platform nailed to a tree.  Like most of us built when we were young.

That was before as a society we got so obsessed about what is 'right' and what is 'safe' that we have forgotten to let our children take risks and as parents we risk sending them out into the big wide world as people who have never experienced that feeling of pride that we felt at getting through something that felt tricky but we powered on to succeed. 

Imagine missing out on the experience of trying something scary and somehow gaining the courage within to give it a go only to discover we really had it in us all the time. 

Check out the pulley system they invented to get up......

We have somehow forgotten to acknowledge that children are sometimes better than us at knowing what they are capable of......... 

Foodwise this week has seen a bit of a curry fest......

Last night was another fave of mine & now the kids too. 


What you will need:

  • 1kg firm fleshed fish  (ask your fishmonger for the best variety)
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • lemon rind ( cut into large strips) 
  • about 20 fresh curry leaves (dried if not available)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 dried chilli (or more to taste)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • S & P
  • 1 can of coconut cream
NOTE: If you haven't used fresh curry leaves before I definitely suggest they are an ingredient worth sourcing.  They offer a beautiful fragrant addition to your curries and really are the magic ingredient along with the nuttiness of the fenugreek that create the MAGIC in this recipe.

Here's a pic of what curry leaves look like if you are unfamiliar:

In a dry pan roast the cumin, coriander and paprika and grind in a spice grinder. (You can skip this step by using pre-ground spices.)

Blitz the onion, garlic & ginger.

Fry in a couple of tablespoons of oil until brown and you can see the oil separate from the paste.

Add the fenugreek seeds, cloves, curry leaves, ground spices & lemon peel and cook through for a couple of minutes. Or until melt in your mouth fragrant!

Now add the coconut milk and cook through for about 20 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.

Add the fish about 10 minutes before you intend to serve.  This makes sure you do not overcook the fish.

Serve with fragrant jasmine rice & a good garnish of fresh coriander.  A squeeze of lemon juice is optional but always delish.

And I HAVE to serve loads of Lime Pickle on the side because I LOVE IT!!!!! 

My listening pleasure this week is the magnificent CAT POWER as I am ever so excited about going to see her live tonight! 


Thursday, 6 January 2011

Carpe Diem

As 2011 rolls in I am at home on Summer holidays with my brood.

Five little lovelies.

At the moment I am ever so aware of how quickly they grow.  My eldest will enter his teen years in the middle of the year & my youngest has just turned 2.  Both at opposite ends of the early years.  Both delightful & de-lovely.

So as I watch my eldest about to enter his early adult years I am watching & therefore reminded constantly of how true it is that they grow so fast.

I remember vividly when my eldest was just born & we ventured out to the British Museum for an outing (living in London then) & an older lady wandered past Hubby wearing our first proudly on his chest in a frontpack and she said to him wistfully "He'll be off to school with his bag before you know it!"

To us it seemed utterly ridiculous as he was probably only 2 weeks old at the time.  My parents were visiting at the time & were with us.  They smiled & nodded in agreement knowing all too well that she was ABSOLUTELY right.  We get it now......

I am watching my little one engage in all the same types of play that my eldest seemed to be doing only weeks ago.

So as I watch my eldest continue to develop into the wonderful young man he is becoming I am trying to make an effort to remember & embrace the wonder of the early years of all of my children.

Summer holidays is a perfect time.  Lots of home days playing ol' fashioned games, listening to music together, dancing in the kitchen, telling jokes & stories, cooking together, making lego creations, digging in the sandpit, climbing trees, dressing up & make believe.  Most of all laughing & loving.

I don't want to miss a moment....because if we do we miss magical moments like this one - My magnificent 4yo came out with his headband on ready to "do his exercise" ....Jump stars (as he calls them!  PURE GOLD.
Luckily i managed to capture it....he's doing it to some fave music- a track called "Wild Mountain Berries"by KORT (Kurt Wagner & Cortney Tidwell).

I am also reminded of how as Parents we don't ever really get off our Learner plates so to speak.....each and every stage of parenting whilst being exciting and fabulous is equal parts terrifying & nerve wracking.  I have put an L plate on my fridge to remind myself that I am still a beginner!

And we have been enjoying lots of favourite slow meals together.

Curries are a family fave.  Once you delve into the fabulous world of curries there is no turning back! And you will soon discover that there are literally 1,000's of different types to enjoy- you are sure to find at least a few that you love.  The local Indian restaurant will have only a small smattering of what is really out there in the big curry world.  And curries are not unique to India but are from many countries- each offering unique flavours from their regions.

My recipe for Rogan Josh is a great family friendly curry as it is not a hot curry (my recipe has no chili - to ease the kids in-but you are of course WELCOME to ad in however much you want) but is packed full of flavour.  My kids LOVE it.

You may find it a little fiddly but I promise you it is worth the effort!  And once you have done it a few times it won't seem so complicated after all.



  • a good 7cm chunk of ginger
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 3 onions
  • 2 tblsp canola oil
  • 1kg lamb ( i like to use organic lamb leg chops- meat cooked on the bone will give your dish SOOO much more flavour). Cut them into halves. I like big chunky pieces in my curries.
  • 10 whole green cardamom pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 15 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 200g organic plain greek style yoghurt 


Blitz the onions, garlic & ginger to a paste.

I dry roast & grind my spices.  You can skip this & use pre-ground spices but once you have done this once you will NEVER go back as the depth of flavour is second to none!  I bought an inexpensive coffee grinder 20 years ago that is still going strong for this very purpose. 

 If you are dry roasting for the first time, this is all you need to do:  Place all spices into a heavy base pan with NO OIL and heat to a slow heat.  Swish the spices occasionally.  When you smell the magnificent aroma waft from the pan they are done! Simple really. 

Then grind.  This is where we need the wonders of smell-o-web to really give you an idea of the heavenly magic of this step! The heady perfume is intoxicating.

Now in a heavy pan place the oil.

I cooked this dish in my new fave pot given to me by a very special friend for my bday- a beautiful hand made Colombian ceramic pot.  Check it out...isn't it STUNORAMA!   I love it's straight to the table elegance apart from the way it cooks beautifully and can go directly on top of stove or into the oven. Lucky gal! 

 But any HEAVY pot will do- Le Creuset are perfect.

Put your pot on the stove & put flame on medium.  Add oil & garlic, ginger & onion paste.  Now you want to cook this till the mix starts to go brown & the oil is clearly separating from the paste.  I learnt from reading Charmaine Solomon as a teenager that this is what she believes gives the curry it's richness and complexity.

Once your paste is at this stage (it could be up to 15 minutes) add the spice mix & stir through well. 

Cook this mix on low for about 3 minutes or so.

Now you are ready to add your lamb.   Stir through very well so that all pieces of meat are coated in the spice mix.

At this stage add yoghurt.  Do not add all at once but by large dollops and then mix through before adding next lot.  

Once all yoghurt is amalgamated it should look something like this.

Now cook gently on stove till the curry reaches simmering point.

I then moved my pot into the oven to cook gently at 170 degrees for an hour.

It is then deliciously red and rich & ready to serve!

I served mine with Basmati rice, pappadums &  a couple of veg curries that  are quick & easy.....I will post those recipes another time! 

This week I have been enjoying this.....seems to fit the pensive mood: