Thursday, 31 July 2014

Love and gratefulness.

It's windy outside.
Flurries of air throwing itself in unexpected gusts.
I feel overwhelmed.

The internet is feeling too much for me.
I don't know what to write. I don't know what to read.
So I just don't.
I feel like I don't know what to share & what not to.
Where do I start?  Where do I stop?

I'm afraid of not knowing important things but so much of what I see is so big and so heavy that I feel as if I can't process it.
So much information so much of the time. Do I really need to know all this stuff?
How do I sift the stuff that really is good for me to know?

I've stopped looking at Facebook and stopped looking at twitter.  I have even stopped looking at Instagram.

So much bad news.  So much stuff. Stuff I just don't feel I could get my head around.
Sometimes it all gets too much.  I feel as if the struggle to keep up with everything becomes this cloud growing like a mushroom over my head.
Yet at the same time I am sucked down a rabbit hole clawing at the falling.
I want to look. I don't want to look.

It's hard right to find the balance between keeping informed and being overwhelmed? How do we pare down the info we look at to just the stuff that is important? How do we find the sensible, clever writing in amongst the sensationalist non-news stories?
I don't know the answer to that.

I started to think about it and I didn't like how I felt.  More questions than answers. Just this overwhelming spinning feeling.

My friend Kate wrote this yesterday & just felt like I was nodding along the whole way.
Her words spilling on the screen as if they had spilt out of me.
It was more like a little shake up/wake up.

Times when things are so overwhelming is the exact most important time to step right back into our inner most selves and find the only things that matter.  But the ones that in times of cloudy busyness get lost first.

I kept looking at what I do thinking "I need to be a better me, I need to be a better blogger, I need to be doing better at the work I do, I need to be a better mother, a better wife, a better daughter, a better sibling, a better friend".
I am doing so many things, not feeling like I am doing anything very well at all.
Really I need to just learn & trust (again) that I am ok.  And OK is good enough.

And then today I wake up and it's the baby that I borne yesterday's SIXTEENTH birthday. How am I even the mother of someone so grown up & so magnificent?
I look at him and feel such pride at what an ace human he is.
So full of optimism, complexity, intellect, humour, thoughtfulness, sensitivity and just so so nice to be around.
I'm so so grateful. My family make everything make sense.

So many things don't make sense.
But I need to remember that making sense of stuff doesn't always amount to anything of importance.
What does make sense is that all that matters is love. And gratefulness.
So today I will focus on these two very important things.

Grateful for all I have.  Grateful that my life is filled with love.
And that in itself is more than enough.

Slow Cooked Spiced Pork Belly with Peanut Chilli Sambal:
This is what my kid has requested for his birthday dinner.

I have published it before here.

For the Sambal:

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 lime- zest & juice
  • 3 red chillies, chopped super fine (de-seed if you are not keen on firey chilli!)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts , chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons Palm Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Fish sauce
  • 2 eschalots
  • the roots of 5-6 fresh coriander plants chopped super fine
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • water if necessary
For the Pork Belly:
  • 1.5kg Organic pork belly (have your butcher score the belly well)
  • 2 tablespoons of Salt & Pepper spice mix (recipe here
  • extra salt


Preheat oven to 120C.

Boil a full kettle of water.

Place belly on a rack in the sink and pour entire contents of kettle over the belly & let drain away.

Dry with paper towel and place rack onto baking tray.

Rub well with Salt & Pepper spice mix & extra salt (not more than a tablespoon) to coat skin well.

Add about 2 cups of water to the baking tray and pop in oven, skin facing UP.

Roast for 8 hours.

You can make the Sambal while the pork belly cooks slowly.

Heat canola oil in a saucepan to medium heat and add the eschalots and garlic.

Cook till soft & fragrant and add the chilli & palm sugar, stirring well till the sugar melts.

Add the coriander roots & peanuts, stir to coat.
Now add the fish sauce & lime juice- adjust if necessary to taste.

Add water if necessary & simmer for 5 minutes.

Set aside to serve with cooked Pork (can be reheated if desired).

Once Pork has been cooking for 8 hours turn up the temp to 220C.

Roast for a further 20 minutes or until crackling is crisp.

Remove and serve with steamed rice, Asian greens & Chilli Peanut Sambal.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Slow Roasted Ham Hocks (and Citrus & Mustard Ham Hock Hash)

Ham Hocks are one of the ultimate comfort foods.
Most people use them in soups.
This is a way to cook them that you may not know of.
There will be no turning back!

Slow roasting them with lots of aromatics leaves you with the richest, most unctuous meat that can be used in all sorts of things- shredded and put into fritters, popped into a salad of Roasted Winter veg, shredded & used in the ultimate Quiche Lorraine, shredded and served alongside eggs, the possibilities are endless.
The aromatics I choose leave the meat perfumed with a sweet citrus loveliness. Just perfect for winter.

I like to make a kind of Hash with the meat.
It requires a bit of forethought but boy oh boy the result is worth it.

I roasted the hock the day before and then whipped up the hash the following day for breakfast.
Oh my, the JOY!

Maybe you could do this over the weekend?
Delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
So simple, so DELICIOUS.
Slow food at it's very best.



  • 1 ham hock
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 bunch thyme
  • 1 whole orange, remove the rind in large sections & reserve the juice
  • 10 whole allspice
  • 2 large red chillies
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 150C.

Place the ham hock in an ovenproof roasting dish. make a couple of incisions across the hock.

Place all ingredients into the dish.

Cover well with tin foil and place into the oven for 4 hours.

Check after 2 hours and add a little water if looking too dry

Remove, allow to cool and shred meat, discarding bones.



  • shredded meat of one slow roasted ham hock
  • 3 large potatoes, cut into 2cm dice.
  • 1/4 cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • juice of an orange
  • 1 large tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • olive oil
In a non stick pan, heat a tablespoon olive oil and add diced potatoes.
Pan fry till crisp on the outside and cooked through- about 10-15 mins.

Add garlic & mustard and fry for a minute or so.
Add shredded cabbage and cook while stirring for 2 minutes.
Now add the ham hock and the orange juice and stir through.
Finally add the parsley, stir through and serve.

Great live improv duet by two of my absolute fave musical fellas- M.Ward & Howe Gelb.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

How to cook Stinging Nettle

I have vivid memories from my childhood of the stinging nettle patch.

It was right behind the chook shed.  Under the grapevines.

It was lush and green but had that hint of danger. The sting of nettles is biting & leaves welts not unlike mosquito bites. It's sting is not enduring, not unlike the burn of wax- fleeting yet felt!

I also have fond memories of the soups that the leaves of the collected nettles made.

It is one of the plants that is seeing a bit of a renaissance in the food world alongside other 'weeds'. One of the reasons perhaps is the knowledge of how incredibly nutrient dense they are.

I bought some at the Farmers Markets on Saturday (it seems kind of strange to be buying them rather than foraging them but when I saw them I just had to have them).

I thought you may be interested in knowing how to cook them.  Perhaps you didn't even know you can cook or eat Stinging Nettles.

For me there is some sort of extra pleasure in cooking something that is a little wild, a little uncommon and a little hard to handle.

For a plant with a bite when it is alive; when it is cooked it is delicate, fragrant and gentle. And yields the most glorious vivid green imaginable.


Nettles are easy enough to prepare- especially if you wear kitchen gloves.

They are a great substitute for Basil in Pesto (some blanch it first before processing, others don't) and can be used as a substitute for Spinach in Saag dishes too.

If you do blanch be sure to ice immediately to help retain that amazing green


  • 1 large bunch Stinging Nettle
  • 1/2 bunch Italian Parsley
  • 6 large potatoes, washed & diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1/2 litres chicken (or veg) stock
  • S & P
  • knob of butter


Using gloves, strip leaves of the woody part of the stem and pull the tops off- stem and all. Rinse nettles well and dry off in a salad spinner or in a teatowel.

In a pan melt the butter and add the clove of garlic.

Fry till fragrant and add potatoes & parsley.

Add chicken stock  & bring to boil.

Cook for 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Add nettles, bring back to boil.

Reduce to simmer and cook for further 5 minutes before blitzing.

Season and serve.

I served ours with Goats cheese on Sourdough toast. DELICIOUS.
I was listening to this on Saturday as I cooked. An old fave from an old fave band.