I bought this beautiful mimosa and mandarin soy fragrant candle today. It got me thinking about the little things that make my home special; fragrance, food, wine friends and music. I know I gain a renewed sense of wellbeing when I throw open the windows and let fresh air in. Clean laundered crisp, cotton white sheets blown through with the wind and sunshine. Fresh from the oven baking, cooling on the bench until its time for friendship & afternoon tea. Slow, slow cooking on the stove with the assuring smell of comfort that dinner is under control. Light, open the curtains, I am blessed my little kitchen is positioned to soak up the last of the days rays. Views, if you aren’t ready to invest in art - buy flowers. Vitality in a jug, what a visual feast and pleasure they are, the star of the show in even the dullest of space. And if you missed the florist, cheat like me and spray some lavender water or diluted essential oils around. It instantly erases yesterday and create a clean and fresh smelling room. Music, sing, dance, tv -no way, no ads, no radio, yes to jazz, world music, nostalgic old school music – I love this. I love creating an atmosphere of relaxation and pleasure. Good food, call up some friends, what its Monday? excellent. Have a dinner party, don’t save anything for a special occasion, open that special bottle of wine today, celebrate, what’s the occasion?. Its Monday, Monday is the occasion, Dress up! dress for life. Put on some bright lipstick, a sequins dress and heels. The silver, the crystal, the fine china (who has fine china these days?). Open all the windows, air the house, light a candle, arrange some flowers, prepare something delicious to eat, open the wine, invite some friends, dress up – be special. Turn the tv off, play the guitar/ukulele/piano/bongo drum. Ok you don’t know how, invite someone who does? I am sure my friend Jill will come and play the ukulele for you. Breathe in the good fragrance of home…a holiday…exotic destination?. No. home is wonderful. Play, eat, drink, dance, sing until you fall into those fresh sheets. Home is very satisfying.
A good balanced lunch always sets me up for the afternoon and helps avoid a four pm energy dip. I have recently discovered this lovely brand of Italian organic whole meal dried only takes 7 minutes to cook. It makes a good base to add pesto, seeds, nuts, cheeses, perhaps a poached egg for protein and vegetables too. Whatever is in your fridge. The whole meal pasta has a nutty flavour. I always feel good adding more fibre to my diet.
Ingredients serves 1 person
75 grams Pumpkin chopped into 1cm cubes or smaller
35 grams feta cheese
X1 Tablespoon basil pesto
Large handful baby rocket chopped
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil
1:bring a pot of well salted water to the boil, cook pumpkin with pasta until al dente, drain (retain a few tablespoons of the water) and return to the pot with the few tablespoons of water.
2: add the rest of the ingredients and toss with extra virgin olive oil and cracked pepper.
3: serve. This would be good at room temperature also.
Fresh shellfish, salmon and fish from my local fish market is such a lovely treat.
I have been cooking from a new cookbook la cigale, which is a collection of French classic recipes from owner Elizabeth Lind who pioneered the French market and bistro in Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand. The recipe for a French style seafood cream bound chowder caught my eye. It is French style with the mussels initially cooked in apple cider. This forms the basis for the stock which you add to the celery, shallot, carrot roux. My four hungry Man guests were silent as they started the meal. I accept this as a nod of approval when there is silence. Tonight I have the seven hour lamb leg due to be ready any minute, again from the same book. I have been re-enthused for some decadent French cooking. Pork terrine is next on my wish list.
I saw today I have 324 followers for New Zealand Home cook. I love subscribing to others blogs and reading their about pages and food ethos. I thought I would update my about me page. I also wanted to share this picture of a lovely fresh fig, goat cheese salad I made recently. I am sure all you lovely readers will appreciate this. It was as divine as it looks. Figs are an aphrodisiac and the are infamous for looking similar to a woman’s divine centre. Now you are all blushing…
I hope you enjoy finding out a bit more about me, and if you enjoy my posts please leave a comment. It is very encouraging. Bonnie x
Five minutes with Bonnie Brown
It’s a standing joke; “come to fat camp” you will always be voluptuously well fed if you come for dinner at Bonnies home, and she always insists everyone have second helpings. The 32 year old loves to play at being the ultimate Stepford wife, and adores her two pretty daughters. Cooking and reading cookbooks is a daily occurrence. When she is not cooking, writing, and spoiling her family she enjoys success at her sales career in the fast paced world of residential real estate.
Want to know more…
I am a romantic gourmand and long to make my travels to Europe. I am inspired by the timeless dishes of Mediterranean Europe and their food simplicity. I adore the flavours and home style dishes of Greece and Islands, Italy and France. Eastern European and Italian peasant food is continuously a revelation in its basic simplicity and frugalness. North African and Middle Eastern food is fascinating and exciting to cook. Occasionally when I feel palate fatigue I will make Asian stir fries, though these never seem to satisfy my culinary desire. My own Kiwi, Irish and English food heritage has been influenced by its own historical roots of climate, class and comfort home cooking.
What I am cooking with at the moment…olives, Italian quality De Cecco dried pasta, shiny green puy lentils, fresh herbs, ground spices, nuts, free range chicken, New Zealand lamb, (non crate) pork, dry cured bacon, fresh seafood – monkfish, tarakihi, gurnard, mussels, akaroa salmon, prawns. Black beans, red lentils, chickpeas, split peas, Fair trade jasmine white and brown rice & couscous http://www.tradeaid.org.nz/index.php/page/shop/pi_categoryid/43 . Black and red rice, oats, stone ground local fresh flours, vanilla, 72% dark chocolate, ground almonds, cream, milk, parmesan cheese, Clearwater yoghurt http://www.clearwaterorganic.co.nz/ . Good butter, bread, potatoes, kumara, tomatoes, avocado, onion, garlic, ginger, celery, cauliflower, spinach, soft lettuces, carrots, pumpkin, courgettes, oyster, shitake, button, Portobello mushrooms, apples, bananas, oranges.
I love to shop and it is a lovely pleasure to buy food for your family to cook. I usually shop at the Farmers market once a week for my fresh produce and sometimes supplement that with greens from Liberty organics. I purchase meats every day or every third day depending how organised I am. I do like to make a plan for the week as to what and how I will go about you my produce and leftovers. I buy these magnetic meal planners from Kikki K shop. I buy fish from the fish market fresh on the day I plan to use it. I try to avoid buying any seafood on a Sunday as it can be a bit old which is usually what happens if you purchase from the supermarket. I like to keep a really well stocked store cupboard with spices, canned beans, long life flatbreads, rice, pasta, nuts, oils, vinegars.
Best store cupboard meal, what would you make?
Risotto; rice, good stock, best cheese, seasonal vegetable…think smoked goats Gouda and green cauliflower with sourdough and thyme croutons. I love its oozing, soothing ability to calm; each mouthful is like eating relaxation.
What don’t people know about you that you wish they did?
I wanted to be an actress when I was growing up. My Uncle Dave worked in television as a camera man and I would ring him after school and ask him if he could get me an agent. I would sign my autograph at the end of each school year and give it to my teacher and tell them to hold onto it as I would be famous one day and they could say they taught me. Susan Boyle was only discovered at 47, so I guess I still have time…
How did you learn to cook?
I was influenced with good food through my family, my Mum and Aunties who are great bakers and cooks. In my twenties I took great pleasure learning all I could from hundreds of cookbooks loaned from the local library. I self taught with my willing husband who has been happy to eat and critique
As a self-taught cook, who would you say have been your biggest influences?
I had if you like an epiphany, I could loan these books from the library and be imparted cooking wisdom and knowledge from the most inspiring talented, creative cooks. I especially love these food writers; Diana Henry, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Nigella Lawson, Rachel Allen, Tessa Kiros, Annabel Langbein, Bill Granger, Elizabeth David and Lindsey Bareham to name some of my favourites. I also soaked up each issue of my subscription to DISH magazine, a New Zealand food magazine. Online food blogs and BBC food TV website was a continual source of inspiration.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure when no-one else is around?
My favourite late night dessert indulgence is homemade hot chocolate fudge sauce, vanilla ice-cream and toasted nuts, especially during my two pregnancies.
Tell me three things on your must-do-next-list
Travel to North America and Europe, write and publish a (food related) book, have a third baby.
What was your worst cooking disaster?
Well it was the first time I made carrot cake. I got through making the cake perfectly, iced it with thick cream cheese icing and decorated it beautifully with walnuts. It was looking divine and I could not wait to try it. It was loaded into the back seat of my car to take to a friend’s house. We had arrived, as we were standing outside the car greeting our friends; when to shock horror (it was like in life in pictures slow motion) a friends dog jumped into the car, we yelped, the dog freaked and leaped into the back seat, paws straight into the cake and then sat on it!.
In times past I admit I could cook an impressive dinner main, however, I feared and was at a loss how to cook cafe style scrambled eggs. My home attempts at scrambling eggs looked like a curdled plate of milk with soggy toast. My scrambled egg confidence has now peaked and I almost resent having to pay for this simple meal from cafe. Especially when it is so darn easy and usually much nicer at home, creamed scrambled eggs poured hot from the pan onto your waiting toast.
For one person.
x2 free range eggs
big pinch of salt
10 grams butter
Optional: bacon, roasted tomaotes.
1: Crack eggs into a bowl, add cream and salt. Beat lightly till just combined.
2: Cut toast and get toasting.
3: I like to use a small non stick wok or small frypan. I put the heat onto medium to high, add the butter, pour the eggs into the pan and using a spatula start to turn bits of egg from around the pan on top of each other. Wait a few seconds in between stirs. The idea is you want nice big bits of cooked egg and more runnier bits throughout. Try not to stir too much as you dont want it to separate out too much. This should take about 20 seconds or so. Turn the heat off before the eggs are all cooked as they will continue to cook in the heat. Pop your toast on the plate and slide the eggs on top of the toast. Do not worry about buttering the toast as the eggs are creamy enough with the cream and butter in the recipe.
I have just returned from a relaxing weekend visit to Akaroa, New Zealand. Akaroa is a picturesque seaside, historic French/British settlement; set in an ancient volcanic area 75km from Christchurch, New Zealand. I was so looking forward to staying at Fleur cottage on Rue Jolie, it did not disappoint. This historic 1870′s two storey cottage has been romantically restored. The owner Valerie has a wonderfully creative eye and the overall sensitive renovation has managed to retain a nonchalance which is in keeping with the relaxed spirit of Akaroa. The cottage is very chic, very frenchy!; for two days I was able to dream I was really in Provence. I love garden design and interiors magazines and this was like stepping inside one.
The garden was lush, green and a bit bohemian, a canopy of six trees covered the outdoor table for intimate outdoor dining. Apparently the owners of Fleur cottage had hung bags of bricks on the branches as they grew to weigh the branches down so they grew outwards. The garden had a magical sense, it could easily be a set for A Midsummers night dream.
I adore the old worlde sage green that Fleurs kitchen is painted. I loved looking in the cupboards and discovering treasures; a groovy vintage Kenwood stand mixer and eclectic china. This is one of those little kitchens that is soooo inviting; Tiny & cosy with a real big Baltic pine turned leg dining table. We hung out round the table, drinking and eating, writing and reading, talking and laughing. The chairs were painted a delicious sorbet lemon colour. This overall interior effect was good enough to eat.
Once we ate
(seafood pie bound in white wine cream sauce) and drunk too much <em >(Syrah and Chardonay) we retired to the lounge and sunk into one of the comfortable, french linen, shabby chic couches, dimmed the lights and enjoyed the wonderful home that is Fleurs cottage.
Ces’t la vie !
To view or book see link
Sunday lunch sounds so romantic and plain pleasurable. It excites me with nostalgia to lay my vintage embroidered table cloth, cut the loaf, set the cheese and toss salad for my family to help themselves too. A ”just baked this morning loaf” of Maori flax seed bread, locally smoked Gouda goats cheese, a tin of the best quality marinated mackerel, and a salad of rocket, avocado and sweet cherry tomatoes, lightly dressed in vinaigrette. My best childhood memories are of buying a hot cheese loaf of bread at the bakery after church on Sunday. Mum would nearly always invite a family back for lunch and the table would be lay-ed. I loved all the different dishes to choose from and construct my sandwich, listening and participating in the good conversation and laughter around the table. Lets bring back the unhurried sunday lunch, I love creating this family culture for my daughters. It is the antithesis of our fast eating world.