Tag Archives: motherhood

The fragrance of home

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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.

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October 12, 2013 · 7:31 PM

All about a kiwi cook

Imageers

Five things Bonnie Brown loves

Eating gelato next to the ocean/kisses from her two pretty daughters/planning & dreaming about cooking  the next meal/chocolate desert & treats/real food that makes you feel virtuous

Want to know more…

I am a romantic gourmand and am pining to experience food in Europe. Until then I have my cook books and am a very enthusiastic cook and an even more enthusiastic eater. Cooking and sharing vibrant, fresh food makes me feel vital and happy.  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.

What I am cooking with at the moment, almost all is locally produced. Through taste experience I know that locally grown food that has not travelled by aeroplane or boat tastes so much more juicier, tastier and is always more satisfying.

Seasonal produce from my local Christchurch, New Zealand Farmers markets. We are heading into a bright and beautiful autumn. I am enjoying the new season squash and pumpkins, bio dynamically grown snow peas, leeks, fennel bulb, radish, French green beans, locally smoked chicken, olives, Italian quality De Cecco dried pasta, shiny green puy style  lentils, fresh herbs, ground spices, nuts,  free range chicken, New Zealand lamb, free range pork, dry cured bacon, smoked fish.  Farro, red rice, brown lentils, chickpeas, brown rice, oats, stone ground local fresh flours- oat, spelt/dinkel, spelt, rye, buckwheat, vanilla pods and essence, 72% dark chocolate, ground almonds, organic clotted cream, whole milk, Italian parmesan cheese, Clearwater full fat yoghurt http://www.clearwaterorganic.co.nz/ organic butter, coconut oil,  Also love artisan bread, agria and new potatoes, orange and red kumara, vine and cherry locally grown sweet tasting tomatoes, creamy organic avocado, onion, local plump juicy garlic, ginger, celery, cauliflower, baby spinach, rocket, soft lettuces, carrots,  pumpkin, courgettes,  portobello mushrooms, apples, bananas, oranges, raspberries, blueberries.

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 or how much protein or meats we are eating. 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, 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, Harry Eastwood, Nigel Slater, 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-cook-next-list

 

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!.

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French Kitchen

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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.Image

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 !
Bonnie x

To view or book see link
http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/properties/11854.asp

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Filed under cooking, food, home cooking, Interior design, Interiors, travel

Banana & Almond muffins

Banana & Almond muffins

I am immensely proud of these little beauties. This is the kind of mid afternoon pick me up I crave with a cup of tea. They are a little sweet, moistly dense (think brownie), and crunchy on the top. Yes these hit the spot nicely…very easy to go back for a second or third.

Ingredients

60 g plain yoghurt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
60 g butter melted and cooled a little
3 medium overripe bananas
1 cup soft brown sugar
2 eggs
80 grams ground almonds
1 1/4 cup plain white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon golden syrup
pinch of sea salt

25 grams sliced almonds for sprinkling over the top prior to cooking

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, mash the bananas with the oil, yoghurt, butter and oil. Add the vanilla extract and the sugar. Beat together to combine.
Now beat in the eggs.

Sift the flour with ground almonds, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt. Fold these dry indredients into the wet mixture unitl no flour is left visibly white. Be careful not to overbeat this mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins, sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until cooked when a skewer comes out with hardly any crumb. Leave to cool five minutes in the tin then place on a cooling rack. Serve warm.

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March 6, 2013 · 3:19 PM

Joyful eating from 2012

When caught out hungry I can be a right grouch. My husband jokes we need to keep a mini snack box in the car just for me, his favourite line is ‘are you hungry again we just ate 3 hours ago’ I say ‘yes that was breakfast’. Call it low blood sugar levels but I really do need to eat quite regularly so am always planning out what I am going to eat next!.  Cooking is a passion, but more thrilling is the joy of eating what I cook. The icing on the cake is serving that food up to my hungry, appreciative guests. When greedy silence descends on the table you know you have nailed it.

My second daughter Evie Rosa was born on 19th September 2012. A second peaceful birth at home meant that I could get in the kitchen and cook some nourishing post birth meals. 2012 was a huge cooking year for me pregnant and with a new-born baby and I never got around to posting the photos and recipes I made. So here is a quick 2012 photo diary of some of the everyday meals that came out of my kitchen and were very joyfully received by my family and friends that never made it on to my blog.

Crumbed, golden and glorious! chicken, fish, haloumi cheese, there are so many options. I can never decide whats best fresh breadcrumbs, or ground macadamia, almond nuts, parmesan cheese, panko crumbs. Crumbed foods shallow fried in butter and olive oil, or the fat of your choice, find me someone who can resist this. Forever the reason my home has been affectionately nicknamed ‘fat camp’ from my friends and family.

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Cake and baking became my friends in 2012. As Nigella Lawson says if you can measure and follow a recipe then you can bake!. It’s not that hard I have firmly discovered. I thoroughly enjoyed baking some of Diana Henrys lovely recipes from her book http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Cook-Simple-Diana-Henry/9781845335748?redirected=true&gclid=CPK1y7n3_7QCFQRKpgodXVcAUA

This recipe came from this book. A very easy chocolate cake that takes minutes to mix the batter. The almonds look so stunning contrasting against the glossy chocolate icing.

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I am also in love with Nigellas new Nigellisima cook book. This is her italian apple pie cake I made. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Nigellissima-Nigella-Lawson/9780701187330

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I ate my fair share of rice and potatoes last year. Fish kedgeree stared a few times. certainly a dish which is more than its sum of parts. Breakfast, lunch or dinner – the perfect meal for anytime of the day. Nelson New Zealand Mapua smokehouse produces outstanding moist, sweet, oily smoked fish. It is swooningly delicious and never dry.

LATEST OCT 12 004I discovered Dulche De Leche. Why it has taken me this long to taste something this decadent from a jar. For once I praise industrial food. Thank you Argentina for Dulche De Leche. Right now you will fall into two camps.

1: you are nodding your head knowingly as you read this and have a secret stash of Dulche De Leche in your cupboard which you sneak spoonfuls straight from the jar when you need to mainline some pure sugar!. Oh its good.

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2: If you have no idea what I am going on about. Please go to a specialty food imports store or online and buy some asap. There are so many ways to have your dulche de leche – milk caramel sauce. I made a chilled vanilla rice pudding, I then mixed dulche de leche with some cream to thin it down and drizzled it all over the rice pudding. The only problem here is stopping at one bowl. We also enjoyed a banoffee style american pancake stash with bananas, softly whipped cream and dulche de leche drizzled. delicioso.

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With all this cake eating going on in 2012 I have been thinking my pantry needs a health overhaul and it is time to get my kitchen whizzing up split green pea soups, quinoa salads, farro oyster mushroom rissottos, buckwheat pancakes with blackberries and bowls of steel cut oats. I cant wait to get cooking.

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February 11, 2013 · 5:38 AM

Making food with children

”I want to make something with you Mummy!”, my daughter has been asking me this every day this week.

I knew that Lucia would naturally be interested in food and cooking as that is a big focus in the environment she is growing up in. She enjoys visiting the Farmers markets with me each weekend, the local butchers know her by name and she knows her fresh herbs in the garden. It delights me that I am creating this positive food culture at home where I hope that by the time she is a teenager and grows in to a young woman I would have helped impart a natural knowledge of what to eat and how to cook it. It is empowering to have the knowledge on one of the most fundamental basics which is to be able to look after your health and fuel your body for living. Knowing what is good to eat; preferably local seasonal produce; organically grown fruit and vegetables if possible.  Free range eggs and meats, sustainable fresh fish,  whole foods, or more simply foods that are in their natural state – certainly not in cleverly marketed boxes and packages with lists of numbers to explain what is really inside them.    It depresses me to see queues of cars lined up outside the McDonald’s drive thru when I drive past, laziness and ignorance. By ensuring we eat home-made food, having control about what ingredients we use means Lucia is involved from very young, eating good food starting at home is my small way to counter the culture.

I grew up with a Mother who is a very good cook and baker, through Mums cooking I learnt to LOVE eating food. However she was very tidy and I do not have any memories of being involved with her cooking. Kids cooking is sometimes very messy I am the first to admit, I remember my Mum not being always keen on me cooking when I was younger for this very reason.  I am overlooking the spilt flour over the floor and little dirty finger-marked cupboards and embracing a fun and positive cooking culture.

Some favourite foodies things Lucia and I have been doing together

  1.  Cupcakes or muffins then ice and decorate them. Lucia had a ball making these chocolate and almond nut butter cupcakes yesterday. I think she was so busy decorating one marshmallow for the cupcake and one for her mouth that she hardly had room to eat an actual cupcake once baked.

2.        Dumplings or pot stickers. I have been gritting my teeth and letting Lucia use a fairly blunt knife to chop herbs and vegetable.   She has been doing very well. I was watching a documentary set in a remote South american village and I was cringing watching this toddler with a big knife chopping away. surprisingly he looked perfectly capable. Using small wonton pastry rounds I got Lucia to fill and squeeze the pastry over in half and then brush water with the pastry brush to seal the wontons. Filling, Squeezing and painting – a 3 year olds dream activity.

3.  Farmers Market pretend play. Lucia has a new game, she sets up her market stall with the fruit bowl and we come to her market stall and pretend to buy fruit from her – She loves it. Lucia the market gardener.

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Filed under babies, cake, cooking, food, home cooking

The Beaut patch

We have recently got back from a few days lazing at our bach named after the Isle of Beaut, Scotland (my husband ancestors hail from there). It is inland 170km from Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand, well basically let me tell you it is in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by high mountain ranges (winter ski field is ten minutes up the road), a river, sheep, Llamas, cattle, willow and native trees, it is a restoring backwater.

With no power and bathing choices being; tank water, an outside fire bath or a bucket of river water it is perfect for exploring my off grid side. Admittingly I don’t rough it entirely as well as I like to imagine, usually I am hankering for makeup, a fresh blow dry and high heels after three or four days.  It all makes up for it to see LB running barefoot with honey bees and enjoying nature, eating popcorn and hanging out with her friend from Nelson Luca.

Food however makes the whole experience much more pleasurable. Reading, cooking, eating, drinking, sleeping…..then repeat is generally the daily rhythm of the Beaut Patch breaks. We are lucky to have a tiny gas fridge and a gas cooker.

I try to plan meals that are simple enough to make in my Bach kitchen but never plain.

Our first night I cooked a spicy beef and red kidney bean chilli con carne and filled a soft burritos.

RECIPE

Beaut patch Burritos

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • Small Green pepper chopped
  • One onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 250 grams beef mince
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Pinch of chilli flakes (to taste)
  • Tomato paste
  • 400 grams tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 400 grams chilli red kidney beans (rinsed if in brine)
  • Two cups of water while it simmers over the fire
  • 6 Soft burritos
  • Iceberg lettuce sliced
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Grated cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Optional spring onions, advocado

To make

  1.  Chop onion and green bell pepper, chop carrot finely, finely chop the garlic.
  2.  Heat olive oil over medium heat and add the carrot and onions, cook until softened, this may take 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic and beef mince, fry until browned. Add the cumin and chilli flakes, season a little with salt as you go.
  3. Add the tomato paste and cook off for a minute. Add the tin of kidney beans  and the tomatoes, add a cup of water. Bring to the boil, lower heat to a simmer. Leave to cook for 30-50 minutes. The flavours will mingle and develop. Add more water if it gets to dry.
  4.   Serve with burritos, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and cheese.

Sometime you need to go far away to appreciate simple honest food. I tastes so much better cooked over the fire, or maybe it fills me with thanks to be eating anything at all so far away from civilisation.

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Filed under cooking, food, meat, photography, recipes, travel