Thursday, 31 March 2011

I Need a holiday!

If you are a regular reader you will know that our family is soon to head off on our Tasmanian adventure.

In the lead up to this trip we have had one child with pneumonia, one with bronchitis, a small scare with another (turned out to be nothing....PHEW!) and now I have been hit by the same bug that gave one of my children pneumonia....guess it was only a matter of time.

Despite pretty strong antibiotics I am struggling to kick the bronchitis mixed in with a little sinusitis for good measure.

It has left me sleepless with coughing most nights, sent hubby looking for other beds in the night because he can't sleep from my coughing either and then leaving us both tired and sleep deprived the following days.

What F U N....not.

And did I say that cooking SUCKS when you don't have a sense of smell or taste??!!

Luckily for the family I have managed to still serve up edible fare this last week......or perhaps they have just been uber polite!

Preparing for holidays for a family of 7 at any time is pretty hard work and requires super organisation.

Generally I am on top of this & manage just fine.

This time.......well this time I am not doing so well and I am so tired that I am struggling to think straight about what we need, let alone find the energy to do anything about it on top of all the other day to day jobs.

We made the major change from this being a fabulous camping adventure to swinging totally the other way and swapping the camping trailer for divine beachside accommodation in several AMAZOID locations in Tasmania
I am pretty sure this will be where I recover.....looks terrible doesn't it!
The idea of camping in the rain & cold was not causing too much excitement for me with our family's level of illness.

And now we are taking an empty trailer to fill with all the stuff that we have to buy in tasmania because I will have forgotten to pack it!
As long as I remember to pack all the kids!

Jeez.......I need to be on my game to make this family work & sometimes,  just sometimes I let it all go.

Thank buddha for that cause I certainly am not a subscriber of the 'being perfect all the time' model of mumma.  'Much less than perfect' is my model & I am happy with it and happy to take it on the holiday I am taking to recover from the preparation!


This is a recipe request that one of my followers asked for on my Facebook page (please feel free to make requests- I can't promise I can do them all but I LOVE to try!).
You can click here to go to my Facebook page & click 'like' to get GG posts in your facebook feed. 

7 eggs (free range Organic)
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/ cup goats cheese (cut into 2cm cubes)
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 butternut pumpkin (cut into 3cm cubes)
white pepper
1/4 cup of cream
finely shaved parmigiano for top of frittata

Cut pumpkin & drizzle with EVOO, salt and thyme. Roast at 170C in a 20cm square ovewn dish for 40 minutes or until brown.

Whisk eggs, cream & grated parmigiano till combined.

Remove cooked pumpkin from oven and let cool in dish.

To the same dish scatter the spinach & goats cheese.

Now pour the egg mixture over the top. Feel free to use your hands to ensure the ingredients are even.

Now shave extra parmigiano over the top and place back in oven for 35 minutes or until brown.

Remove and let cool slightly before serving.

This frittata is also GORGEOUS served cold- fabulous for a picnic basket!

My listening pleasure today is all about not being perfect! The clip is DIVINE. Enjoy and see you all on the flipside of my holiday! MWAH!

Monday, 28 March 2011


This week I am preparing for our impending trip to Tasmania.

We are going for a family holiday.

It started when friends invited us down to make Tomato Sauce with them on Bruny Island just off the mainland of Tasmania.  

Well as if I would/could refuse!!  Just NOT possible!!

It gave us the perfect excuse for a much needed get away AND  to do something that we  think is the funnest & bestest of things to do...........spending time with beautiful people & a bit of feasting thrown in!

We aren't making passata but good ol' 'Dead Horse' as us Aussies say....a good quality Tomato Sauce free of artificial colours & artificial flavours.  Just good honest real food.

I think often about the various European (amongst others) culture's tradition of community and in particular it's sense of community when it comes to the preparation of food for the year ahead.

Historically it occurred as a means to preserve & prepare food to last the year without refrigeration.  A means of preserving the best produce at it's best.

Over centuries these methods have been employed. It kept communities involved with one another.  The small village's population would come together & use their various skills together and then celebrate their hard work with a feast at the end of the day.  MAGNIFICENT huh!

I'm thrilled that we are looking back to these traditions again.  It makes me happy to see people reviving the sense of community.

Have we lost our sense of community?

The optimist in me says- 'I don't think so'........ & I certainly hope not but I do think alot of us have forgotten to give it the time it deserves.  And I do believe that alot of us are now craving a sense of belonging.

We have built higher & higher fences and spend less and less time outside as we justify the fortresses we have built with the work that has given us the money to build them but taken away all our spare time.

We built a new fence at our place because I was nervous about the children going onto the road but I was adamant that it be at 'elbow leaning' height so I could stop and chat with the people walking by & so I could see the passers by.

Against tradition we spend lots & lots of time in our front yard- we have an outside dining area in our front yard.   Most post-school afternoon teas are spent out there.

We regularly have fires in our front yard ...

 & toast you do.

At first you could see that people were uncomfortable with it.  We live in a generation that thinks that people who smile & say hello are 'crazy folk'! 

People would walk past trying very very hard not to look... but as the years have passed (we have been here 3 years) people not only look but stop and chat leaning their elbow on the fence!

Now.....they know my children's names,

 they know our names, 

they know our dog's name,

& they know stuff about us.   

Several have even commented on how they love to see us enjoying the front yard- an outside space that in Australia we don't tend to use. 

We don't have to be best friends! There is no presciptive to invite them in for dinner....although over the years this has happened and we have made fabulous friends like this!

I love that sense of community....LOVE IT!!!!

So when we go to Tassie this week I am loving that we will be rewinding the clock a  little and doing our little bit to help keep alive traditions that I think help bring people together in the bestest of ways.

In a similar vein .......over the last few weeks I have been given figs from local friends who don't like them & don't use them.  They offered them to me- and I LOVE FIGS so was happy to oblige!  How community minded of them- fantastic!

As the saying goes 'Someone's trash is someone else's treasure'.....

 I made a tart with the first batch.....I'm not generally a sweets cook but I was thrilled with how this turned out.  It was the first time I have made pastry from scratch...


For the Pistachio Frangipane:
  • 1/2 cup pistachio shelled pistachio nuts
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 75g butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 large egg
 For the pastry:
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 2-3tblspns caster sugar
  • 100g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
6-7 ripe figs (sliced into 2cm slices)
extra caster sugar


For the pastry:
In a food processor mix flour & sugar.  Add butter and vanilla bean and mix till it resembles breadcrumbs.
Remove from food processor and knead on a floured surface quickly to amalgamate.

Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes while you make the pistachio frangipane.

 For the pistachio frangipane:
In the food prcoessor blitz pistachios till fine.  Add sugar, butter and egg yolk and mix till all ingredients are combined well.


On a floured surface roll out pastry till it is about 1 1/2 cms thick(I made my tart free-form so it didn't matter too much how it was rolled out).

Using a spatula spread the pistachio frangipane across the surface of the pastry (I had some left over).

Now lay the figs across the pastry slightly overlapping.

Dust with caster sugar. Fold in the edges of pastry and baste with egg wash.  

Bake at 180C for  30 minutes.

Serve with good quality vanilla ice cream.

Todays listening pleasure comes from the very talented Australian songwriter Paddy Mann AKA Grand Salvo.....a beguilingly beautiful track. Hope you enjoy. xx

Friday, 25 March 2011

Lucky lucky me

It's ridiculously hard managing my family at the best of times but when one of them is sick it is  overwhelming.

Luckily I can totally rely on my hubby to be there for me when I really need him.  He knows I only ever ask when I rooly trooly mean I NEED him.  And he knows me pretty well- we've been hanging out together for 23 years.....more than half of my life!

This week was one of those times.  And like always- he dropped his work and was home as fast as possible.  What a good friend & a fabulous papa bear he is!

Thanks for hanging out with me for the last 23 years. x
  We are on the upside of the illness now but it had really started to get me down.

And just when I was feeling the flattest I received an email from the Sydney Writer's Centre informing me that my blog had been nominated for 'Best Australian Blog 2011'.

W O W.

It blew me away.......

It came as a total surprise.

You know I love to cry and this gave the bestest excuse to let it go!

Tears of joy, shock, amazement, happiness.

It made me think about my blog & what it has come to mean to me.

It reminded me that I am coming up to my 1 year milestone.  I have had that date in my head a date to reflect upon what writing my blog gives me.

I started it after encouragement from a very special friend who has been trying to get me to do something with my cooking for years.  She suggested a blog.

At the time I laughed it off but over the next few weeks I began to look around at a few and really loved what I saw.

I loved Blog world!

I loved that each and every one was unique.

I thought it would be something I could achieve.

Somehow I thought I could squeeze writing a blog into my days of being a stay at home mum to millions.....WTF!

It must have been a day of delirious tiredness that made me think I could achieve it....but you know what.........I CAN & I DO!

Don't ask me how.....but I do.

My blog is still a work in progress and I guess that is how I like it.  I like that it evolves & unfolds.
Much like my life....twists, turns, curveballs- some good, some bad.

Primarily I write about me & for me.   There are 3 things I like to do each post though- I like to write a little, I like to share a recipe & I like to share a listening pleasure.

Since writing academic essays at Uni (which is a whole nother sort of writing) I really haven't done ANY writing.  And I don't suppose I have really ever done this kind of writing.  So I had NO IDEA what I was in for and what other people would think.

It constantly surprises me- not only that people read my blog- but that so many people seem to enjoy it.

I love to read peoples comments and thoughts on what I write - although at the end of the day if no-one reads it, it doesn't matter as I write it for me.

Being a stay at home mum is what I always envisaged for myself, what I always looked forward to being..... and I LOVE it with all my heart & consider myself VERY VERY LUCKY to be able to do it.....but along with that comes an element of isolation and a removal from individual pursuits.

What it can mean for many stay at home mums is forgetting about 'me'.

Who is the 'me' that came before being the 'mum of 5 boys'?  I'm still the same....

BUT....... writing has made this 'Mother of 5 boys' slowly re-learn to give a little bit more time back to that old 'me'.  If that is all writing the blog gives then that ain't half bad!

So as my beginner year of blogging is nearly up I want to thankyou all for dropping by & for taking the time to comment & for joining me on my journey- I hope it's a long one!


This is a super easy, super quick & best of all SUPER DELISH recipe that someone super lovely taught my 12 yo when she stayed with us last year.  He has been cooking it since. I have added a few little extra goodies....

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 kipfler potatoes (or other varieties)
  • a little sage (Italian parsley is also delicious)
  • 1 spanish onion cut into wedges
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
Whisk the eggs in a bowl.  Slice the potatoes lengthwise.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion. Cook till translucent.

 Add the potatoes. Cook till soft. Add garlic & sage.  

Now add the eggs and cover for a few minutes.
 Lay a plate (big enough to cover the entire pan) over the pan and flip onto plate. 

Slide back into pan so the other side cooks-a couple of minutes will do.

Turn it out onto a serving plate and sprinkle with roughly chopped parsley.

Until you have eaten this you cannot believe how tasty such a simple dish is.

It is lovely served alongside a crunchy green salad. ENJOY!

 Todays listening pleasure is a song that makes me cry EVERY SINGLE time....

Friday, 18 March 2011

Beach perfection

Last week our family took an extra long weekend and flew back to Adelaide to catch up with family.

My parents live in the most perfect of locations for our family to visit.

The house that they have transformed from a "Demolition delight" to a true beach house is just the most gorgeous of places.

The house is located directly on the beachfront- no road....just dunes and beach.

D I V I N E.

Nestled very closely alongside are dozens and dozens of concrete bunkers next to their little old beauty.

But what makes their place sooooo special is them.

They have created a home that welcomes everyone.   We all sit out the front of the house and take in the amazing environment while their neighbours sit inside their homes and miss out on the lovely interactions with strangers ambling by. 

It's sense of vibrancy is immediately apparent by the colour splashed around and the many & varied artworks collected and displayed.

It shows their travels and joys.  It shows their love of life but mostly it shows how they love people and love to welcome them.

Whenever we go and sit out the front the passers by comment on what a magnificent place it is- lots of people say it's their favourite.  I can see why......

All seven of us are happily fitted into their little house as cosily as if we are always there.  It is not a big house but it's big on love.

We had cousin catch-ups, sibling catch-ups, friend catch-ups, feasting, swimming, relaxing & general merriment- and for the whole 5 days I DID NOT COOK ONCE!!!!

That has NEVER before happened.  Everyone in my family love to cook and are all great at it.  It kind of goes without saying with my family that catching up means a nosh-up. Soooo much fun! 

I hope one day when I am a grandparent that I can share my home so openly with my children & grandchildren.

I'm sending a very big & very squeezy hug to my lovely parents for being the lovely loving people you are

how lucky I am to have you. 



5 lemons (unwaxed) cut into quarters
125g coarse salt
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
extra lemon juice

 In a large bowl mix salt, lemons, spices and extra lemon juice and massage well.
Place a teaspoon of salt into bottom of a sterilised jar. 
Place lemon mix into jar carefully. Press hard down on fruit to release as much juice as possible.
Scrape any salt mix from bowl into jar.
Turn the jar every day or so to mix.
Let mature for at least a month in a cool spot.

When using in cooking be sure to REMOVE all the pulp.  It is the rind that you use.

Todays listening pleasure is a tribute to Joe Morello one of the greatest drummers of all time who died last week. I have been listening to this song all my life and still love it:

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Mum & the Chef- PLUMS

This month's Mum & the Chef ingredient is PLUMS- chosen by Mish.

For those who don't know about it:  'The chef & the mum' was started by Katrina Higham (the Chef) and Mish Lilley (the Mum) who take turns in choosing the core ingredient & anyone is welcome to join in (click on Katrina's blog if you want to join in!).  A great way to share expertise & recipes.
 There are links for you to check out the other recipes at the end of my post- so be sure to check out what everyone else made!.

Yumolicious.....we are at the end of the season now but my kids have certainly devoured a small village in Plums since Summer began.

We have planted quite a few stone fruit trees but I can see now that I really need a small orchard to keep up with how much fruit my kids eat!  They go through 8kg of apples alone EVERY week!

I am not a huge sweets person so I was looking to use the plums in savoury dishes.  I immediately thought of an old favourite.

Years ago when we lived in Sydney we used to meet a couple (some of our favourite peeps in the whole wide world!) at Martin Boetz's Longrain. It was 'their' restaurant and we were more than happy to eat with them there!  The restaurant is Martin's (a German lad) take on Asian food and it is oh so good!

Especially delicious washed down with their signature cocktail- beautiful lime Caipiroska.

After a few visits I bought the cookbook and a few dishes have become real favourites & I usually recreate a Longrain meal for my Sydney friends when they visit me.

One of our friends absolute faves is the Longrain Spiced Barossa Chicken with Plum sauce.

 Although the recipe is extremely labour intensive (I cook it over 2 days as it requires poaching the chook and then letting it cool before frying it) and not for beginners- the sauce is really simple and sooooo good.  I served it with fluffy white rice and a salad of mesclun lettuce, lots of herbs, finely sliced red chilli & heaps of bean sprouts with a dressing of equal parts lime juice, fish sauce & sugar.  The freshness & crunch of the salad works beautifully with the fragrantly spiced chicken.

I slow cooked some duck maryland in the sauce the following day with a star anise, garlic & ginger- SCRUMPTIOUS!

This time it was cooked for some other very special people in our lives who were visiting from NZ and were looking forward to some GourmetGirlfriend cooking. xxx


  • 500g palm sugar (substitute with brown if you don't have Palm)
  • 100ml water
  • 100ml fish sauce
  • 100ml tamarind (tamarind gives a lovely sourness to balance out the rich sweetness of the sugar & plum)
  • 10 blood plums (other varieties are fine)
  • 100ml Hoisin sauce
Melt the sugar in a heavy pan with the sugar. Let sugar caramelise slightly, then add fish sauce & tamarind.
Add the plums and Hoisin  and cook until plums release their juices.
Cook unitl you have a honey like consistency.  the mix should taste sweet, slightly sour and salty.
Pass through a strainer.
When re-heating add a few sliced plums to the sauce if desired.

Click on the ever growing links below to see what others came up with & if you want to join in email Katrina (link on her blog):

Today's listening pleasure is the wonderful Martha Wainwright- i had the pleasure of seeing her live last week....AMAZEBALLS!:

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Beautiful friends

On the weekend we FINALLY got away camping.

Our family all LOVE it.

It was as magnificent as we had hoped and more....

We shared it with one of our fave families of all time.

I realise more & more just how precious & rare a good family friendship is.

It is one thing for the kids to enjoy each other but even more rare for the parents to enjoy each other too.

And what is even MORE rare is that you can manage to get along as families in a common environment away from home.

Sometimes it is a NIGHTMARE.....bedtime routines that don't match, food needs that don't match, rules that don't match, no rules, too many rules, etc, etc.

If you have ever been in that most uncomfortable of scenarios you will understand EXACTLY what I mean.

Anyway.....last weekend was a lovely reminder of how special one of the families in our life are to us all.

We share a common "joie de vive".

It makes for good company & easy enjoyable times.

We also share a love of sharing good food alongside our good times (and we may or may not enjoy a few wines along with that!).

We have tested the theory many many times just to be sure!

When we are together we share the care of 9 children.

EVERY single one of them gets along. It is quite something to watch. Not ONCE has there ever been CLOSE to a disgreement.

This weekend the kids spent the ENTIRE time busy in the bush creating a bush cubby- over the two days we were camping the kids kept themselves busy all day 'decorating' & 'improving'.

At night they played charades & chatted & then went to bed tired with the heaviness of a physically active day sliding gently into sleep comforted by the chatter of the parents close by.

We didn't pack ONE SINGLE TOY. Not ONCE did they ask for one either.

We camped in the most beautiful beachside bush campsite.

We were not the morning we were visited by a little furry friend who was in the tree above our camping trailer. HOW AMAZOID!

I like to think we have come home with one of those weekends that the kids will NEVER forget.  Me either.

Special people those friends of ours......

It is REMARKABLE and for that this week I am THANKFUL.


Today I wanted to blog a recipe for home made Char Siu (Chinese BBQ pork). I made some last week and promised one of my lovely followers I would blog the recipe!
I have to say that I would normally buy it from my local Yum Cha but it is not alway possible and this is a pretty fine substitute!
And I use a very good jar- YES IT IS A CHEAT & YES EVEN I USE JARS! I am just fussy about which ones!


  • 1 jar of Lee Kum Kee Char siu marinade (you will find this in your local asian grocer)
  • 1 700g organic pork shoulder (or pork fillet)
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Dry off the pork using paper towel. Pour enough marinade onto pork to completely cover the meat.
Refrigerate OVERNIGHT. (the jar will say 2 hours but overnight is better)

Bake on rack at 180C for half an hour.
Turn and bake for another 20 minutes.
Remove from oven & baste with honey.
Return to oven for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for half an hour.

Char siu is gorgeous just served with fluffy rice & greens.

I sliced mine and made rice paper rolls. My kids LOVE them- they love the fresh crunchy vegies & they love being able to make their own.



  • 1 pack of rice paper (from most supermarkets or asian grocer)
  • a bowl large enough to hold a sheet of rice paper filled with warm water
  • hoi sin sauce
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • fresh bean shoots
  • carrots (julienned very fine)
  • cucumber (sliced into long thin pieces)
  • char siu
  • fresh herbs, i.e: coriander, mint, vietnamese mint)
  • (add any other variation of goodies you like!)
  • vietnamese dipping sauce-NUOC HERE for recipe

I find it easiest to have everything cut rady to assemble and make as the kids eat. Or they make their own- they LOVE to....another asian variation on a taco meal!

Place a piece of rice paper into water bath until translucent. Don't leave it in water too long or it will go soggy & be very hard to work with without breaking.
Remove and place onto a plate.
Use the back of a spoon to spread a good amount of hoi sin onto it.

Now place whichever ingredients on the paper.....
......and fold in one end then the sides and then roll over until it is done!

Dip in Nuoc Cham and ENJOY!

Todays listening pleasure is from Sarah Blasko...a beautiful clip too: