Tag Archives: photography

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

Beautiful hotel restaurant interiors

Qt Hotel, Surfers paradise nondescript facade makes what is inside all the more exciting. I was pleasantly surprised stepping into the vibrant entrance lobby, an exciting welcome to the Gold Coasts newest hotel culture. I was so inspired by the beautiful interiors and quirky pop fun style evident.

I soaked up the peaceful mid afternoon atmosphere at FIXX cafe adjacent to the lobby. A shiny Red velvet cupcake adorned in icing was so good my daughter gobbled it all and I had to order a second one to go with my coffee.

Tourism is apparently down in Queensland so it was extra quiet and we enjoyed the cafe all to ourselves.

The QT hotel also has an incredible restaurant concept in dining upstairs at BAZAAR. I had a look around during the early afternoon chef prep session. The interior reflects a cool seaside feeling with washed oak tables, greens, glass and warm timber. I found it  utterly captivating and beautiful. I would love to know who was engaged for the interior design. If I ever owned a restaurant this would be my dream.

I love the mix of materials. I am a major fan of bookshelves which make it feel very homely yet sophisticated.

If I was not in tow of a three-year old I would have been heading down in my LBD & heels after dark to sip a cocktail at STINGRAY BAR, also at QT Hotel.

If you were still hungry you could dine at Yamagen japanese restaurant and I would imagine you may need to laze it away after that at the Lawn bar.

I spotted some guests sunning Hollywood-esque style next to the pool which was as gorgeous. I am already planning my next trip back to the Gold Coast and will be booking straight in at http://www.qtgoldcoast.com.au/

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Filed under cafes, food, photography, travel

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

The city girl moves to the country

I adored living here for 7 years, I have my parents to thank for providing this very special family home as it was in this nurtured environment I discovered my passion for food and cooking amongst other things. Terrace Cottage of Woodside Road is situated in the picturesque foothills of Oxford, North Canterbury, New Zealand on a quaint 3 acres. Originally the school masters house circa 1870’s, Terrace Cottage had an extensive renovation and addition in the 1980’s to a 300 sqm floor plan. We had a constant stream of friends and family as our guests visiting from around Auckland and overseas. There were gatherings and parties with delicious feasts prepared , this was a big, happy social home and never was there a shortage of great home cooked food and full baking tins.

  Being in my informative teenage year of 13 and moving from Auckland city (population 1,000,000) to rural Oxford (population 3,000) to say it was a shock was an understatement, I cried for a year. However what a great move my parents made. The only excuse for getting bored in Oxford was a lack of imagination. I creatively flourished, writing plays and short scripts, cooking, dancing, performing, acting, photography, art, exploring, river parties, bonfires,  friday youth group nights & river swimming with all my Oxford best friends.

You could easily spot the newly arrived townies, like me; walk up to electric fence hold on with both hands! argh. I learnt quickly.

There was a joke in Oxford that a few of my best girlfriends and I shared, let’s get t-shirts printed `I married someone who lived at the end of Tram RD” eg:Christchurch. We all joked (and secretly feared) we would end up marrying a farmer and never get out! eg:leave Oxford.

You can take the girl out of the city, but you cant take the city out of the girl!

Oxford, North Canterbury now can boast of its most famous resident,  New Zealand’s famous cook and food writer Jo Seager’s cook school, cafe and shop. http://joseagar.com

To find out more about Oxford   http://www.oxfordnewzealand.co.nz/

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Food diary

There is an abundance of overladen lemon trees on the hill at the moment, with a lot of people out of their homes due to the earthquake. I have been lucky enough to receive a few bags of these juicy, unwaxed lemons. I recently bought myself a tart tin, so was really excited to make some sweet short crust pastry and have a go at making a Lemon Tart.

I have been really enjoying cooking from an old Rachel Allen cook book Food for Living http://www.rachelallen.co.uk/book4.html

I have made the Fillet steak with mushroom brandy sauce and a tomato fondue twice now. My guests have all said it was better than a restaurant. Here is a hungry man-sized serving!.

My husband then found one of those marinara frozen seafood mixes at the supermarket that I would usually turn my nose up at. It was hugely economical $6.90 for the tray of mixed sea foods. I then made a basic chowder soup base and created a really tasty home-made seafood chowder for a lazy sunday night dinner.

I need to also rave about a cook book I have been enjoying Yottam Ottolenghi from London.

http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/

I made two amazing dishes. This mango coleslaw with an asian lemongrass and sugared hazelnuts. It had the whole sweet & sour flavours going on. I served it with a very moist perfectly roast free range chicken. I wanted the coleslaw to be the star so also made a big rice cinnamon, turmeric pilaf to feed the crowd who came to dinner to enjoy this special meal. Being a food blogger I am learning how sometimes photos really do not do the meals complete justice.

 

 

 

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Filed under cooking, earthquake, fish, food, home cooking, meat, organic, photography, potatoes, recipes, soup, travel

Beautiful creative people

My Mum is one of these people, she has always expressed herself beautifully by being a very generous woman who has given  through cooking, baking, home making, collecting, sewing, crafting, mothering, being a faithful and loving wife, and more recently a successful creative business owner of Truly Scrumptious on Victoria St, Christchurch, NZ. (Which she lost during Feb 22nd 2011 Earthquake). I am so proud of my Mum, look what she achieved in her shop, her shop  is really an overflow of the creativity she expresses in her home.

Mum also had a cafe selling delicious chocolates, friands, muffins, dainty club sandwiches, scones, pretty iced cupcakes, coffee La Farre espresso and high teas served all with fine antique bone china.

These special little dense fruit cakes were available in different icing styles and Mum even had one called the “boyfriend cake’, It was iced with masculine style icing.  A perfect gift. Here is a pretty iced cake which sold for around $20.00 each.

Mum’s nickname is Fou, because she loves, laces, fou fou and anything that is insanely beautiful, feminine and pretty. She has had a few stares at the supermarket dressed in vintage 1950’s petticoats and that’s all on!. She alway says she would be much more comfortable living in the 18th century wearing Victorian clothes. She really is a soul borne in the wrong era, she would agree.

When at home Mum loves to entertain and she is fabulous at creating an atmosphere for elegant dinners and creating a lovely table setting. I love her dining table which is an antique french farm table with the original chairs.

Mothers influence daughters and even though I always joke I don’t like too much pink, lace and antiques (after being surrounded growing up with it) I really am my Mothers daughter and have been blessed to inherit her love of all things beautiful and carry on a legacy to the beautiful creative people.

Mum is also a fabulous cook and baker, this is her soft as angels wings Pavlova cream filled sponge cake.

Truly Scrumptious Shop is hugely missed by all my Mums loyal customers in Christchurch, it was seen as an escape from the ordinariness of life to a beautiful dream world of sensory experience. I know Mum will find another outlet for her creativity in the near future – it is natural as breathing.  Being beautiful, creative people you can not help but express yourself in whatever you do. I love my Mum.

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Filed under cafes, cake, cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, photography, recipes, travel

Turkish Lamb Manti

I am sure I must have long forgotten ancestors from the old worlde of Eastern Europe in the Southern Caucasus  – Armenia, Turkey, Iran. I feel intuitively drawn to theses flavours, the textures and style of these similar cuisines.

This simple recipe of ground lamb, soft cheese, lemon zest, garlic, paprika, mint & spices combined to make a tasty filling encased in thin pastry to resemble a ravioli. Well loved and commonly known in this region as manti which is simply prepared by baking, frying or steaming.

When Mum and Dad have been travelling they always gets asked where they are from especially from turkish people. They even got invited to a turkish wedding recently. So with jewish roots maybe I really do have it in my blood, I certainly enjoy cooking this style of food.

Mum and Dad

Baked Turkish Lamb Manti with minted Yoghurt Sauce  – Recipe courtesy of DISH magazine Issue 31

Ingredients

  • 24 thin paper thin wonton wrappers
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock

Filling

  • 200 grams of full fat lamb mince (if it is low-fat mince it will be too dry)
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese  (or substitute goats cheese or feta cheese)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To assemble

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water

Yoghurt sauce

  • 1 cup thick  plain yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon

Paprika butter

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • mint for garnish

Pre heat the oven to 180°C

Yoghurt Sauce: Whisk the ingredients in a bowl and season

Filling: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well and season.

To assemble; Lay out 6 wonton wrappers at a time and place a tablespoon of filling in the centre of each. Brush the edges with the egg wash and cover with another wrapper, pressing out any air and firmly sealing the edges. Trim the edges if necessary. Place on a lined baking tray. repeat with the remaining wontons and filling. Brush with olive oil and bake for 5-6 minutes until golden and crisp.

Transfer the manti to a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. The edges can slightly overlap. Pour the hot chicken stock around the manti and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Paprika butter; Heat the butter, garlic and paprika in a  small saucepan until sizzling.

To serve: Transfer the manti to shallow serving bowls and spoon over the chicken stock. There wont be a lot of stock.

Top with the yoghurt sauce then drizzle with the paprika butter. Garnish with mint and serve immediately with a green salad.

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Filed under cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, lamb, meat, pasta, photography, recipes, travel