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.