Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Looking For Space John Denver

A hundred years ago, when I was young, this song reassured me that I wasn't the only lost soul in the world.

When I heard that John Denver had been killed in a plane crash I cried.
It is 14 years ago today, and I still cry.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Braised Oxtail in Ginger and Mirin

1.5kg oxtail
1/2 cup fresh ginger - cut into matchstick lengths
1/2 gluten-free Tamari (or light soy sauce)
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
1 cup gluten-free beef stock (I use the Massel brand)

Fry the oxtail in a little oil to brown.
Transfer the meat to a slow cooker.
Fry the ginger until fragrant.
Add the ginger to the slow cooker along with the soy, sake, mirin and stock.
Cook until the oxtail is meltingly tender - how long this takes will depend on if you use the High or Low setting on your slow cooker. Check it every now and then - you want there to be plenty of sauce, so you may need to add more stock.
 You can cook this dish very, very gently in a covered casserole - you will need to use about 3 cups of stock. Don't try to cook the oxtail quickly - they just get tough and that's not nice.

Miami Spice Chicken

Miami Spice Chicken

Chicken breasts
gluten-free flour - to dust
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp diced chilli
1/4 cup coconut cream
3 tbsp coriander - chopped
coriander leaves and orange zest - to serve

Lightly coat Chicken pieces in flour.
Heat oil in a heavy frying pan, add chicken pieces and saute until golden.
Add the orange juice and chilli and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook about 5 minutes, until almost cooked.
Pour coconut cream into the pan and add the chopped coriander, simmer about a minute.
Remove the chicken and boil the sauce for a minute until the sauce is reduced slightly.
Spoon sauce over the chicken
Sprinkle with extra coriander and grated orange zest.

Braised beef - Greek Style

Braised Beef - Greek Style

350g pickling onions or large shallots - peeled
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 kg beef  - cheeks or brisket - cut into 5cm pieces
20ml red wine vinegar
150ml red wine
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp finely grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp finely ground cloves
1/2 tsp finely ground cumin
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic - peeled and sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
400g tinned tomatoes in their own juice - chopped
800ml water - to cover
1 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 130c
Put onions into a roasting tray with 1 tbsp oil and roast for 20 - 25 minutes until golden, but not cooked through.
Put a heavy-based casserole on a medium heat, add 1 tbsp oil and when hot, add beef - in batches and sear to brown all sides.
Add red wine vinegar and red wine to casserole and bring to the boil to burn the alcohol off.
Add cinnamon, cloves, nutmegs, cumin, bay leaf, garlic, tomato paste and tomatoes to casserole and stir to combine.
Add water, to just cover - sugar and salt and pepper.
Bring back to the boil, cover the mixture with baking paper, then put the lid on the casserole.
Put casserole into the pre-heated oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from the oven, stir and add the part-cooke onions.
Return the casserole to the oven and cook a further 1 to 1 1/2 hours or till the meat is very tender.
Season to taste.
Serves 4

Thursday, June 2, 2011

First things first...

Blogger is not letting me make comments to anyone else who is on blogger. I'm grumpy about that. I don't want to lose touch with anyone and I know what a thrill it is when I get a comment, and I'm assuming it's the same for you?? And, I have OPINIONS - and no-one at home listens to me... so you are important! :-)
Sleeping Horse has offered to loan me her son (his techy expertise ladies! - control those grubby minds!) - he is to help me shift everything to Wordpress... cos I sure as heck can't do it myself - what do you think? - is it a good idea??

Diet up-date.... sigh

No weight loss ... no gain either, so I guess it's not all bad...
I still feel very much better overall - this is in spite of being glutened at dinner in Wellington over the weekend. I'm still not fully recovered from that, but if you discount the explosive gut issues (tmi? - lol) I feel great. No brain fog, no mid-afternoon fatigue, I'm sleeping really well... and the food is great!
I'm not going to lie - I do wish I had lost some weight and I guess it would be easy to say this isn't working, let's try something else... but I've done everything else, and that didn't work either. At least this way I don't feel deprived and cranky - and feeling good is not to be sneezed at!

And while we're talking about diet food - have you seen this?
Available at a supermarket near you! Inside are two little pottles of guacamole - avocado in perfect condition in your fridge any time you want it! - and it's gluten free too! Yay! (I use far too many exclamation points - if you could see me in person, you would know that I wave my hands when I talk... if you tied my hands behind my back I would be unable to speak )

Enough about me and my diet. Happy Birthday to Her Majesty and thank you ma'am for the holiday, which we will spend tidying the garden and cleaning leaves out of the guttering... and packing our bags for Rarotonga (

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Duck Fat

I went to Moore Wilson's in Wellington at the weekend. Moore Wilson's is a deli/grocery/bakery/green-grocer/butcher/fish-monger/dry-goods and kitchen equipment store... and I think I probably have left something out.
Moore Wilson's is one of the reasons I love Wellington.
I bought several things, but the only one I have used so far is....

Duck Fat - OhMyGod!

I wrapped some chicken thighs in bacon, and peeled and sliced some pumpkin.

 I put them all in my large cast-iron pan, dotted everything with some duck fat and baked it in the oven until everything was cooked.
You haven't lived until you've eaten potatoes cooked in duck fat, but pumpkin is pretty damn good too.... and this is DIET food people :-)

We had it with a green salad.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


There is a saying that is world famous in New Zealand... "You can't beat Wellington on a good day."
It's true! We went to Wellington on Saturday for the Wine and Food Show, which was ok, but I don't know that we'd go again.
Wellington however, is probably my favourite place in the world. It's a compact, friendly place. And it's beautiful. This is the view from our hotel window. The tinted glass makes it look a little dark. Actually it was the most glorious autumn day - the breeze a little cool - but otherwise PERFECT

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tagged - gaaarrrgh!

Michele the Bodacious Boomer tagged me!  Eeeek! Now I have to answer some questions and tag eight (8)! new people, who have not already been tagged... I'm not sure I know 8... eek, the pressure...sigh...

Ok, so...
1. Do you think you are hot?
Not unless you count the hot flushes. (Too much information? - well too bad - I didn't start this!)

2. Upload a photo that you are using right now.
Ahem, using for what exactly? There is the one I am using as a 'before' to spur on my new way of eating... and I'm showing no-one that! - no matter how much you tickle me. I've tried taking self-portraits to use as a profile shot, but I always look like an ax-murderer (don't ask me how I know what an ax-murderer looks like), so this is the photo I like most right now...
3. When was the last time you ate chicken?
Tuesday... chicken thighs wrapped in bacon... I am loving this caveman diet. For more information see It sounds crazy, but is really working :-)

4. What song/songs have you listened to lately?
Abba, greatest hits - as I exercised on my rebounder (rebounders (mini-trampolines) are perfect for me, as I have arthritis in my knee and hip since breaking my ankle in a nasty, twisty two breaks kind of way a few years ago)

5. What were you thinking while doing this?
I hate exercise, I hate exercise, I hate exercise....

6. Do you have any nicknames
I was (nick)named after a race-horse which had a name similar to mine.... and, of course, we looked alike - tall, long skinny legs, flowing auburn hair (NOT! - I've never been tall, long legged or skinny in my life!) ... but she ran like me... slowly... so we had ONE thing in common. That nickname is my password on lots of stuff - so I can't tell you.
Rick sometimes calls me Petal - but only when he can't remember my real name...

7. Tag eight blogger friends

Well I can't tag Michele... OR Susan...

Ina at
Sleeping Horse at
Emm at
Kim at
Michelle at
Jenny at
Tara at
Tom at

Ok, so I cheated... some of these are people I stalk - they don't know me hardly AT ALL, but... I was struggling... really, really struggling

Who is listed at number 1?
Ina - is my much sweeter twin sister. We have the same cat, the same pots and pans... Ina lives in British Colombia, does yoga and blogs about recipes and life. She really is a MUCH nicer person that me, but I love her anyway...

Say something about #5
I don't really 'know' Michelle. She is a young New Zealander who has lost a ton of weight following a pimal/paleo diet - now she is encouraging other people to do the same thing. Check out her latest blog entry which has before and after photos of her friend's weightloss success... that will be ME soon. But without the photos... :-) Inspiring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How did you get to know #3?
Reading a magazine in my doctor's waiting room, I came to an article about Emm. Emm is a young NZ mum, now living in Perth, Australia (but we won't hold that against her). Emm writes a beautiful blog about food and life.

How about 4?
I can't remember how I found Kim. I think she probably made a comment to someone and I stalked her back to her place. We connect because we are both cat ladies. Kim has her own cats, but she still makes the effort to rescue waifs and strays. The world needs more people with Kim's kindness.

Leave a message for #6
Jenny is a rock star in the blogging world. I'm too in awe of her, to talk to her - though I have (once or twice).  If anyone leaves me a comment I am so thrilled. Sometimes I even get two comments!!! Happy Dance... Jenny gets HUNDREDS of comments... on EACH post! She is awesome, and FUNNY! ... and she will never see this :-)

Have a lovey-dovey message for #2
SH you are a brave girl, sharing your journey as you cope with coeliac disease with such honesty. It isn't easy. But your learning helps me learn. You have no idea how much I look forward to your posts (and I really hope you don't stop blogging after the first year!)

Do 7 and 8 have similarities?
Both Tea and Tom are American. Both are sweethearts... both tell great stories and take great photos of their lives and surroundings...
Actually they are completely different. :-)

TAG! Your turn xxx

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Found it!

Do you remember how he lost the mouse?.... well I found it....  gaaarrgh! Peg on nose stuff. I guess this would count as Primal?? - NOT that it will be eaten!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Urk.

Autumn Garden

Rocket (argula) nearest the camera, and Coriander (Cilantro) and parsley, on a table under the kitchen window. Coriander/parsley have survived having Percy nest his large rear-end on them...

The mint has recovered from a drastic pruning at beginning of Autumn.

They say rosemary grows really well in a place where a woman is in charge.... don't tell Rick!

We're hoping for carrots - cats and drainage issues permitting...

NZ native spinach, which has appeared by magic. You pinch out the growing tips and steam it - delicious - with none of the furry teeth feeling that you get with regular spinach.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Repeat after me

awwww - look at that face..... (say it in a silly, besotted, catmother voice...)

Fish with butter sauce

The only way this could get better would be to have it with bacon...

Beurre Blanc
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
1/4 cup (60ml) white wine vinegar
1/2 a small onion - thinly sliced
4 tsp lemon juice
200g butter - chopped and chilled

Put the wine and vinegar into a small pot and bring to the boil.
Add the onion, season and reduce the heat to low.
Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated - you need to leave about 1 - 2 tbsp.
Add 2 tsp lemon juice then strain - keep the liquid.
Return the liquid to a clean pot and bring back to hot.
Turn the heat down again and whisk in the butter piece by piece - wait until each piece is melted before you add the next - keep whisking.
Add the remaining 2 tsp lemon juice, season to taste and keep warm.

Pan fry your fish in butter.
Serve fish with sauce spooned over. We had ours with zuchinni, Rick had potatoes too.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Progress Report

I've been hesitating to write about it - just in case I jinx myself...
I've lost 1 inch off my waist and 2kg so far.
I feel great. I'm not the smallest bit hungry, I'm sleeping really well generally (unless the students over the back start shouting at 2am - as they did last night!) and my tummy no longer looks 'pregnant'.
And as an extra bonus - my elbow and shoulder no longer hurt :-) .  I ripped all the muscles in my left arm a couple of years ago when I shifted furniture in order to paint walls. I had physio, but it never really came right - until now. You don't realise how pain affects you, until it stops - I know, slow learner!! :-)
The weightloss has been completely painless, and my Mum is interested in giving it a go, so all is good.
I'm taking photos, but doubt they will ever be published! They are a HUGE incentive though :-)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My job is simple

Answer the knock at the window...

Grilled Beef Patties Vietnamese Style

3 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
500g lean minced beef
1 garlic clove - finely chopped
1/2 a small onion - finely chopped (or 4 spring onions)
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp coconut cream
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp caster sugar
pinch of salt

Stir sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat for a minute, then add the cumin and stir until fragrant.
Put all the other ingredients into a bowl, add the sesame seeds and squoosh well together.
Divide the mix into about 16 portions and form into patties.
Put them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Cook them for about 3 minutes each side.
Serve with dipping sauce, or just do what we did and pour some sauce over.

Nuoc Cham dipping sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
3 tbsp water
a garlic clove - finely chopped
1 small red chilli - finely chopped (take the seeds out first)
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp fish sauce
Put the vinegar, sugar and water into a small pot. Bring to the boil, turn it down to a simmer and stir till the sugar dissolves. Let it cool, then add the other ingredients.
Be careful, this stuff is addictive.

Have left-overs for breakfast :-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Have you tried this yet?

 I keep reading about how fabulous Coconut Oil is, so I bought some... And it is! Such a subtle flavour. Some bloggers have mentioned eating it by the spoonful - I'm not up for that - yet - but I did lick my finger and it is really good stuff. It melts in your mouth like the best Belgian chocolate and doesn't taste at all oily. I expected it to be a bit like lard, but it isn't at all.
 I cooked last week's liver and bacon in it, and I made a date and chocolate and almond and coconut oil thing yesterday (I know I'm dieting, but it was one of those days). I'll do the recipe tomorrow - Yoshi has helped me eat some steak and is now asleep on my lap. It's kinda hard to blog around a cat.
This picture was taken in summer, but the effect is the same

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cauliflower Rice with Prawns

I thought I would miss rice.
You're not supposed to eat grains on this Primal/Paleo thing, and rice is a grain...
I'd seen cauliflower rice on several other blogs I look at, and thought it might work...
I put some chicken stock in a pot and boiled it to reduce it right down, then I added some finely sliced leek and reduced it until there was only a few tablespoons left.
I munched about half a cauliflower in the food processor - using the 'large grate' blade.
I put a knob of butter into the reduced stock.
Then I added the cauliflower, grated zucchini (that I had frozen earlier - thanks for the idea Ina x), prawns and grated parmesan.
It steamed for 3 - 4 minutes.
Then we ate it.

I'm still not sure that Rick realises it was not rice.
It was really tasty and the meal didn't leave me sleepy - the way eating risotto used to do.
On the subject of sleep - since starting this way of eating... I hesitate to say 'diet', because that is a four-letter-word that means 'failure' in my personal dictionary.... I have slept like a rock.
The only thing that wakes me is a cat on my chest... and he's only on my chest, because he hasn't been able to wake me any other way!
It's now 11:10am - I haven't yet had breakfast... because I simply haven't been hungry... I still feel really good :-)

I think I need to get out more

Look what I found at the supermarket ... Gluten Free Oyster Sauce! I'm so excited :-)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Slow-cooker Smokey Beef

Rick's cousin has a bit of land on the outskirts of the city. They grow some beefs and some sheeps. We bought a quarter of a beef beastie from him. Nigel and Andrea delivered it on the Saturday night.
That critter was HUGE.
We now have no space in our freezer, the beer-fridge freezer part is full - and we've taken some to store in Mum and Dad's freezer...
We will be eating a lot of beef in the next few months. :-)
I'm cooking a topside roast in the slow-cooker for dinner tonight and it's smelling really good.
I made a rub based on the one here I don't have ground chipotle - so I just used chilli seasoning (which will probably make it not quite as spicy - a good thing because I made a pork curry on the weekend that blew the top of Rick's head off... I need to be on my best behaviour!), and I also didn't have any garlic powder... so I left it out :-)
The roast seems to have cooked down quite a bit, but I think there will be some left over for me for breakfast and for Rick for lunch.
I love that it is ok to eat left-over roast meat for breakfast!!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Herb Gravy

Blogger is back! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Being unable to use blogger has been like having an arm cut off... now they just have to make the comments bit work again... or is that just me?

I made roast pork for dinner last night, with pumpkin, kumara (sweet potato) and parsnip.
There is no recipe - you just put everything in the oven and wait for it to cook.
With a roast dinner, you need gravy - you just DO!
I found this one:
It is easy and really, really good.

The trouble with following food blogs is that you keep finding lovely recipes that you want to try, and my usual technique of putting a post-it-note on it - doesn't work well with a computer...
AND it also means the recipes (ninehundredandseventytwelve of them!) I have already put post-its on, is as large as it ever was :-)

On the diet side - I dished up our meal last night (Rick usually does this). I dished my meal up so small that Rick was worried 'Is that all you're going to eat?'
I ate half and was full.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Steak and Kidney Stew

This Primal eating thing is going really well... mostly.
I started out eating quite a lot. Now I find I'm not eating that much at all...
Because I have some weight to lose (and a holiday involving swimsuits coming up), I'm trying to keep the carbs to a bare minimum - which means I'm eating quite a lot (compared to before) of meat, fish, poultry and eggs.
I think it might be going easier for me because I was already gluten-free, and because I don't really eat a lot of grains at the moment at all.
I had a headache last week, so had a quiet day. The headache passed and apart from that, I have been feeling very much better.
I made steak and kidney stew in the slow-cooker.
I cut some beef (blade steak I think) into cubes, added some onion, garlic and tomato paste, added some gluten-free stock (home made) and cooked it all on slow for about 4 hours.
Then I chopped up some kidneys and put them in, stirred it all around and added some sliced leeks too.
I cooked that for another couple of hours.
I seasoned it with salt and pepper.
It is really good - I froze some and have eaten the rest over a few days.
I'd take a photo, but... it's ... brown.... I need to figure out how to make brown stew look as good as it tastes :-)

Last night we ate out. We were careful to make sure it was gluten-free.
I ate a small meal, but it did include sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots and peas.
I woke this morning with severe cramps and an upset gut.
I've been reading some of the primal people's blogs and they suggest that too many carbs can do that to a person. In my 'old' life I would regularly have eaten as  much (which is perhaps why I have weight to lose???) , but I have learned my lesson and won't do that again! LOL
It's all a learning curve - but I really am feeling good so far...
PS This blog started as a place to put all my many recipes, but has skewed off in a different direction... My Mum (who to the best of my knowledge has never seen any blog - let alone mine!) tells me that all bloggers are self-absorbed...  are we? ... and is that necessarily such a bad thing? What do you think?

Animals in Japan

My friend Kyoko sent me this email.
If you would like to, please add your 'signature' to the petition. The animals need all the help they can get. Thanks.

Hi Janet,

How are you? Has winter come to PN yet?
It's been 2 months since the catastrophe, and the nightmare still goes on in Fukushima where the nuclear plant has been in critical condition.
There are still a dozen of people who live within 20km from the plant, so called radioactive contaminated zone. They live there with their strong determination that they wouldn't leave their family or farm animals behind. But the government decided to make it a law for these people (without animals) to evacuate from the area within 20km from the plant. This law makes NO ONE can stay and go in the area except the workers in the plant. This means the animal owners have to leave their animals behind to death and no volunteers can go take care of or rescue the animals left their. There are hundred thousands of animals there! Now so many farm animals and pets have been dying of hunger, most of them stuck indoor. Many volunteer people (no government involved!) have headed to rescue as much as animals as possible so far and about 2 thousands pets have been rescued. But there are still more waiting. Could you please access the site below and sign for the petition to reach our voice to the cruel government and its leader, prime minister of Japan. They are trying to starve all the animals left to death in this area. There are so many volunteers willing to go rescue with lots of food and water and love! We can save these animals and they don't have to die, but the government won't let them go! These animals were not killed by the disaster or radiation but will be by the government. This is insane. This will be recorded as the cruelest animal massacre in our history.

I'd very very appreciate you if you could forward this to as many people as you know, if you agree to the petition.
love, kyoko

Friday, May 6, 2011


Since being diagnosed (sort-of) with celiac disease, I have been doing a LOT of reading.
Everything I thought I knew about nutrition has been turned on its head, and I'm simply not sure of anything anymore.
I have been reading a lot about the 'Caveman' diet. My GP recommends it. So, I'm trying it out.
A lot more protein, veggies, but not potatoes or beans or lentils. A little fruit - mostly berries. No grains - not even rice, which I will miss a lot.

As a bonus, I expect to lose some weight. I had BETTER lose some weight. (in a few weeks we will go to Rarotonga. To a small resort that lists 'hammocking' as its prime sporting activity). Pacific Islands mean swimsuits, and I can't tell you when I last wore a swimsuit in public :-) I've taken 'before' photos - which will NEVER be published :-), but are a huge (!) incentive!

Rick bought home some lamb's liver (we call it lamb's fry - have no idea why). I cooked it with onions and garlic and bacon. I rolled the liver in my gluten-free flour mix (I know that is grains, but surely a very little can't hurt?), then I browned it, put the onions and bacon back in the pan and poured over some stock... let it simmer a bit - just till it thickens.
We had it with gai larn (Chinese broccoli) - Rick had mashed potatoes too. It was tasty and very satisfying.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Things to do before summer is over.

In the middle of summer, when we have had our fill of tomatoes, it is hard to imagine that come winter time, when we think we will never see blue sky again (this is New Zealand, Aotearoa - the Land of the Long White Cloud... I live in Palmerston North, where cloud is common, and usually grey) that something as simple as this will make roasted, tinned tomatoes taste like heaven.
We are in the process of tucking our vegetable garden in for the winter, piling on grass clippings and leaves, golden and crunchy. In spring we will add truckloads of compost. Everything rots down to a lovely dark, wormy mass - perfect for planting next year's tomato plants.

Too good to waste!

Basil Sherry

Fresh Basil - wash it if you need to, but make sure it is dry
Sherry - the liquor store we go to only has medium sherry, which seems to work just fine, but dry sherry is apparently better.

Pack a clean, dry jar with basil leaves - really cram them in.
Pour sherry carefully into the jar until the basil is covered - bump the jar to knock out any air bubbles.
Put a lid on it.
Leave it for 10 days.
Strain off the sherry, pour it over fresh basil and leave it for about 12 days.
Strain off the sherry again.
Sprinkle a spoonful or so over roasted, tinned tomatoes and taste summer.
Basil Sherry on the right... tarragon vinegar, left and middle

Monday, May 2, 2011

What I did.

We went to a Royal Wedding watching party. It was pot-luck, which means that everyone brought food for everyone else to share. I brought Lancashire Hot-Pot. If you have a Lancastrian heritage - look away now!
I'd recently had an uncomfortable experience having been invited to dinner at a friend's home.
As a result of that, I knew my friends don't 'get' the gluten-free thing. I have to look out for myself.
So - I made my Lancashire Hot-Pot into a one-pot meal. Something I knew would be completely 'safe'.
Traditional Lancashire Hot-Pot is very simple - Lamb, onions, potatoes layered in a casserole, pour stock over it and bake. Simple. Delicious.... (a little bit bland - if I have to be completely honest, but that might be my Yorkshire blood talking)
I used Mutton (elderly sheep), the meat has a stronger taste than lamb - but we are Kiwis - we can handle it.
I used onion, garlic, leeks, bacon, celery, carrots and potatoes. I used home-made stock. I used quite a lot of rosemary. And I used half a small jar of my home-made mint chutney.

There were left-overs (I made a HUGE crock-pot full)
We ate it all weekend.
We gave some to  my parents. My Dad made a special phone call (he HATES telephones) to tell me it was the best Lancashire Hot-pot he had ever eaten.
Our hostess - who had turned down our offer of some of the left-overs phoned to tell me she was an idiot to do that :-)
The wedding was fabulous.
Kate and her boy were GORGEOUS (as was David Beckham, by the way)
A good time was had by all.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Aila's Shortcake

Aila was my Mother-in-Law.
She was a bloody-minded, determined, stroppy old bag.
She was also an entertainer, a raconteur - with a huge fund of naughty stories. She preferred the company of men to that of women.
She called herself a good, plain cook and she made the best roast dinners ever.
She smoked like a chimney, drank whiskey and knew more rude words than I do - and she would use them at the most inappropriate times.
She was funny and often very kind. We got on very well because very early on in our relationship I decided I would never fight with an old lady. Also, because I always did exactly as I was told.
I miss her still.

Aila's Shortcake

125g butter - softened
125g sugar - I used sugar which had vanilla beans buried in it.
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
225g flour - I am using a blend of flours recommended by Karina at
I used a combination of sorghum flour, buckwheat flour and tapioca starch. Karina uses xanthan gum in her blend. I don't have any (and I think they sound a bit yucky - a technical term which means... ick)
so I didn't put any in my flours mix.

Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the egg - beat
Tip in the flour and baking powder and beat again - this is a very soft dough which can easily be made with a hand-held electric beater - which is good, because I don't have a stand mixer.
Tear off four even-sized pieces of baking paper - big enough to line a pie dish.
Carefully measure three-quarters of the mixture onto one piece of baking paper..... na, just kidding! There is no 'carefully' in this recipe - just roughly 3/4.
Put another piece of the baking paper on top of the dough, then press the dough till it fits the base and sides of your pie dish. Put the paper covered dough in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden up a little.
Do the same process again, pressing the dough out to cover the top of your pie, and refrigerate that too.
Don't be too precious about getting the measurements right.
This dough is very forgiving - gaps smoodge together beautifully.
Take the dough from the fridge.
Put the base circle into your pie dish and quickly remove the top layer of baking paper.
Fill the pie with whatever you want - I used a mixture of peaches and sliced apple.

Take one piece of paper off your top piece of dough and plop it dough-side down on top of the filling.
Peel the last piece of paper off... I'm thinking as I write this, that I really don't need to be so pedantic about instructions because, frankly if you can't figure this out for yourself, you really need to be reading someone else's blog...
Skrunkle the edges over to fit the top, and don't worry about any holes that you rip in the pastry.

Sprinkle with sugar - I used sugar that I have stored in this lovely little container that we bought at a market in Vietnam. It's made of cinnamon bark and scents the sugar (the same way the vanilla beans

Bake the pie at about180c or until it is golden.

Serve to a happy husband for his birthday.
This is good hot, warm or at room temperature.
Aila would often make it with jam in the middle.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Note to self...

The Pomegranate Molasses marinade for salmon IS fabulous with pork slices.


I was watching a movie recently. (Am I the last person on earth to see The Time Traveller's Wife?)
Eric Bana - Oh My!

I heard a strange noise....snoring


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Simple things make me happy.

"To have her meals - her daily walk, and her fill of novels, and to be left alone, was all that she asked of the gods."  Anthony Trollope: The Eustace Diamonds
I would add - "cats" to that list, but otherwise this passage from The Eustace Diamonds pretty much sums me up.

I made roast lamb. Roast dinners need gravy. I needed a gravy that could be made ahead. This one is simple. I was happy.

Olive Oil Enriched Gravy

400ml stock - I used home-made vegetable stock
100ml dry white wine
25g sugar (2 1/2 tbsp)
Fresh herbs - I was making gravy for lamb, so I used rosemary - a BIG sprig
30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

Put the stock into a small pot. Bring to the boil over high heat and boil until reduced by half.
Into a second pot, put the wine, sugar and rosemary. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and reduce by half.
Pour the two together, add olive oil and bring to the boil.
Thicken if you want to - I did, I used a cornflour slurry
Season with salt and pepper and serve hot

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's soup weather.

Grey, wet and WINDY! - our first cold day.
I love Thai flavours and I love pumpkin soup - this soup is the perfect mix of both.

Thai Style Pumpkin Soup

2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic - peeled and chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp curry powder
4 spring onions - chopped
1 red chilli - de-seeded and chopped
1/4 cup pinenuts
400ml coconut milk
200ml water or stock
750g pumpkin - peeled, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper - to taste
coriander, basil or mint for garnish - roughly chopped (I put the coriander stalks into the soup)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute garlic, turmeric, paprika, curry powder, spring onions, chilli and pinenuts for 2 - 3 minutes.
Add coconut milk and water/stock to the saucepan.
Bring to the boil, add pumpkin and simmer, stirring gently from time to time until the pumpkin is tender.
Taste for seasoning, thin with water or stock if necessary.
Serve garnished with chopped herbs

Thick, Hot, Spicy

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What to do?

We went for dinner at a friend's home on Saturday.
They are fantastic cooks - the Masterchefs of our group.
They know I have celiac disease and what it means.
They told me to scrape the crumbs off the top, so that I could eat the fish.
I did.
The acid burn started within 10 minutes and the tummy grumbles within half an hour.
I took 3 losec when we got home, but still had a bad night.
Sunday spent close to the loo, and I was tired and VERY grumpy and depressed.
What would you do - in the same position?
I didn't want to hurt the feelings of these lovely people who had gone to so much trouble for all of us.
But, I don't want to be unwell either.

We have a party coming up on Friday - to celebrate the royal wedding.
We have a brunch today to decide Friday's menu - it will be a kind of pot-luck meal... Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Gravy... Trifle... probably nothing I can eat...
Would it be rude of me to bring a dish I can share... PLUS a picnic box for myself?
I don't want to call attention to myself - there will be heaps of people there - it's not a sit-down meal...

What do you think?
What should I do?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bitter and Sour... no - NOT me!

I've been craving sour and bitter flavours lately. Lots of lemon, rocket (arugula) salads, vinaigrette dressings etc. I don't know why, but I'm happy to go with the flow. This pomegranate molasses marinade is brilliant with salmon. It is sweet/sour/salty and cuts through the richness of the salmon beautifully. Pomegranate molasses is dark garnet in colour, thick and luscious with a sharp tangy sweetness. I get mine at the Indian Grocery around the corner from us. I'm going to ask the young couple who own it (Nasmeen and Im Patel) if I can take photos in there - the place is magic, I'd love to share it.

Pomegranate Marinade for Salmon

4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce

Stir it all up, put your skinned and boned salmon fillets in and turn over to coat in the marinade.
Cook the salmon in a very hot oven for 8 - 10 minutes.

I imagine this marinade would work really well with lamb, pork or chicken too.... mmmm

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I am so lucky

and this is why...

If I was a critter

I'd be a hedgehog.
Prickly on the outside... soft in the middle...

My Nana gave me this when I was 18. I suspect she'd be disappointed that I haven't changed...

What I do all day...

Feed the wild birds

The trees in our street are losing their leaves... the leaves blow down our driveway...

I swept them up and put them on the veggie garden...

I cleaned the windows... if you look carefully you can see the birds eating their seed....

I watched the birdies while I made fish pie...

Oh, yeah, I also did two loads of laundry, made a big pot of chicken stock, did the supermarket shopping, dead-headed the hydrangeas, checked up on an elderly neighbour, did 2 hours of typing for Rick and listened politely as an Insurance Broker told me - if anything happened to Rick, I  might have to get a job.
She put me down on a form as "A Professional Executive"... even though...of course... titter... you are not." I asked did they not have a title 'housewife' - her reply? "Well, yes they do, but it doesn't sound as good, does it?"

Sounds just fine to me....

I made her change the form.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beer Barrel

We met Michael and his son Tim for lunch yesterday.
We went to the Beer Barrel on Fitzherbert Avenue.
It is a sports bar.
They do food...
...sort of.
Not for food.
Pleasant staff... BIG tv screens...
Trust me...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Asian Chicken Parcels

This meal is so easy, and when you unwrap the parcels the smell is delicious.

Asian Chicken Parcels

Chicken pieces - skin removed, flesh slashed - I used thighs
1/3 cup gluten free soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves - thinly sliced
2 small red chillies - seeded and chopped finely
2cm piece fresh ginger - peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
4 star anise
green vegetable - I used peeled broad beans, but bok choy, brocolli, spinach, green beans
Put pieces of foil on a baking tray (you need to make the foil big enough to make into a parcel, line foil with a piece of baking paper the same size.
Put chicken pieces and green vegetable on top of the baking paper.
Scrunch the foil a bit to a cup shape, to hold the sauce.
Warm the soy sauce, honey, garlic, chilli, ginger and star anise together until the honey has melted.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken.

Fold the edges of the foil and paper together and seal to make parcels.

Bake at 180c for about half an hour.
Serve with rice.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


or should that be DISGUSTED!  An item on a New Zealand current affairs programme last night was about the practice of some butchers 'to the trade' (ie restaurants) of 'glueing' meat to make even portions. For example: the 'tail' end of a fillet of beef is glued to base of the tail to make an even width fillet (I'm not explaining this too well am I?)

Check this out!

The glue (actually a powder) contains transglutaminase (among other chemicals!), which I understand contains gluten!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When I don't feel like cooking...

this is what we do.

Carrot Cake

Ray McVinnie is a Chef - world famous in New Zealand :-) He is also a judge on New Zealand's version of Masterchef. I've met him and he's lovely, with a very dry sense of humour. This is his recipe as published in one of our weekend newspapers recently. The list of ingredients is quite long, but it is so easy to assemble - don't be daunted.
 I wish you could be in my kitchen now - the scent is lovely - all warm spicey.

Ray McVinnie's Carrot Cake
3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup cornflour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 cup walnut pieces - roughly chopped
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 large eggs - lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrot - about 2 medium sized carrots
3/4 cup crushed pineapple - well drained

Pre-heat the oven to 180c
Grease and line a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well
Add the wet ingredients and mix well
Pour into the tine and bake 45-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
Remove from oven and cool completely.
Cut the cake in half through the equator. Spread half the icing on the first layer, put the second layer on top and spread with the other half of the icing - I didn't do that - I just plopped the icing on top.

Ray suggests an icing of :
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
100g softened butter
zest and juice of 2 lemons.

But it's carrot cake! Carrot cakes must have cream-cheese
150g icing sugar
100g butter softened
beat together and add
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
100g cream cheese.
Ice the cake then dust thickly with icing sugar.

You know how gluten free cakes are dry, crumbly and altogether pretty ordinary? Well, not this one.
Even the next day it is moist and spicy. This recipe is a 'keeper'! I can't imagine anyone would guess it is gluten free. Thank you Ray McVinnie xxx