Friday, 26 November 2010


This week as my eldest prepares for his final primary years exhibition I have been thinking about how quickly the years have gone by since he was born 12 years ago.

We were living in London then in a great flat on the river in Putney.  Right at the very spot where the famous Oxbridge Head of the River rowing race takes place.  The rowing houses where right next door to us.  It seems like an eon ago yet only yesterday at the same time.

Since then we have moved countries & cities so many times and it seems in every city we have added another little lovely into our life.

We are in Melbourne now and loving it with our 5 boys.

Moving is so stressful and not something I actively look forward to anymore in the way I used to- new city, new adventures and all it that I am getting old?

Whatever it is I am just very very thankful for our 5 little lads and my life just as it is- chaos and all!

Yesterday in amongst my  thoughts I had a hankering for a terrine. 

I love terrines.

Sooooo i got to work and made one.

I didn't have a recipe but the principle is pretty simple.

I had some lovely fresh in season asparagus bought from the market and that was the inspiration.

You can play as much or as little with terrine as you like.  Some of the loveliest ones I have eaten are vegetarian but yesterday I wanted a Pork & Veal number.  I also LOVE pork!


you will need:
900g pork & veal mince
700g streaky bacon 
5 eggs (one raw the others I hard boiled and popped in the centre of the terrine)
2 or 3 cloves garlic
good bunch of fresh sage
3-4 juniper berries
fennel seeds
4-5 asparagus stems
good handful of shelled pistachio nuts


  •  in a mortar and pestle add fennel seeds, garlic, salt, juniper berries and sage and pound to a paste.
  • add this paste to the mince with the raw egg  & pistachios and squeeze thru your hands to incorporate the mix well.  (tip: any leftover mix can be wrapped into puff pastry to make the most delish sausage rolls EVER!)
  • then line the terrine dish with the bacon strips as in pic below so the strips hang over the edge- these get tucked over the top later ( a loaf tin will work just as well)

  • now add some of the mince mix- press it down well and then add the asparagus stems.  I added my boiled eggs lined across the terrine here too- skip this if you don't want eggs in it.  I just thought they would look pretty!
  • keep adding mince, asparagus till terrine full. press down firmly.
  • then place rashers across the top to seal in mince- like this

  • now pop terrine lid on (or foil if using a loaf tin) and put the terrine in a deep roasting dish.  Pour water it into the roasting dish so it comes half way up the terrine .  Place in the oven at 180c for about an hour.
  • take it out of the oven and let it cool down.
  • now place weights onto the terrine and place in fridge for 2 hours or so to cool and set.
  • take out of fridge and upturn onto a plate. it should look something like this

Now you can slice it and enjoy!

I served mine with an orange, fennel & cucumber salad 

......and some apple & rhubarb relish on the side.
It looked beautiful on the plate & was devoured very quickly! 

And we were listening to the MAGNIFICENTLY TALENTED Mr. Andrew Bird accompanied by Martin Dosh on Drums.....

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Today I cleaned out the fridge.

It's been a LONG time coming.

My fridge hasn't had this much space in it for a VERY long time indeed!

There is something very cathartic about a fridge cull -mais non?!

You renew old friendships with long lost loves.

Remind yourself of opportunities wasted.

Reacquaint yourself with old friends.

And lastly a reminder to try out some new friendships.

Bit like real life really............

While I purged & pondered-  I listened to a wonderful ol' friend:

Friday, 12 November 2010

Music, love & food.

Most people understand & appreciate the marriage of food & love.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Food cooked with love DEFINITELY tastes better.

But I propose that MUSIC also makes food taste better.

In fact I can't cook without listening to music.   Well actually I can't seem to breathe properly without music!

My passion for music is well known.  I spend hours & hours every week reading about & listening to music- new & old.  I like a wide range of genres from Opera & Classical right through to some pretty hard rock'n'roll and lots in between.  I get lost in my music.  Hours & hours pass......

Our house is rarely without music playing.

The kids already have pretty a pretty strong sense of music and what they like already.  The big three have all created their own playlists-which  make for good listening.  Mr.4 demands 'Vicious" by Lou Reed every time we get in the car- he knows all the lyrics and sings along at full volume! And the bubba loves to bust out his moves to his favourite tracks too.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a household filled with music too.  Our parents loved music too.  Mum was and still is a passionate jazz lover so we grew up to the sounds of Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald and more.  Dad loved classical music but also loved Bluegrass, Johnny Cash, Leadbelly and Flamenco music.   He was famous for busting out his German Dance Hall music at the end of dinner parties which seemed to bring the parties to an abrupt halt!

Alongside all that music us kids were playing (and playing very loud most of the time)  David Bowie, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, The Specials, British Beat, Iggy Pop, P.I.L, Velvet Underground, Television, Modern Lovers, The Clash, Stray Cats, The Sunnyboys, The Saints to name a few......there were many many more.  All five of us liked the same kind of music- which was lucky.  Mum & Dad were pretty tolerant really......

I was reminded on another blog I love about another band of this era (late 70's early 80's) from Glasgow called  Orange Juice that I haven't listened to in ages but was also on the list of stuff we all loved. You can skip over here to read it. Caroline & Charlie are parents to six kids and live in Scotland and like Hubby & I they also have a passion for music and cool stuff.  It's definitely worth a scroll through.

Our big three (sounds like a band name really!) are all playing instruments (Mr.12 drums, Mr.10 guitar & Mr.7 piano) and have had some 'jam' sessions together.  I am so happy we have passed on our love of music to them.

Music can help us in so many ways and in so many situations.

Recently it was International teachers day & Mr.12 compiled a music CD for his teacher as his way of saying thankyou.  I thought that was great.  A momento that says so much about him. 

It helps soothe, it helps inspire, it helps you smile, it reminds us of important times in our lives, it helps you work and I believe it helps you cook super delicious food!

Depending on what  I am cooking and what mood I am in the choice of music is very different- as is the volume.  But mostly I like it LOUD!

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that there is ALWAYS a song at the end of my post.  I love to share music. 

Do you listen to music when you cook?

I'd love to hear what you listen to.......

Today I am listening to Iron & Wine and wishing I had booked those Flamenco lessons.......

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Being thankful

What a week!

If you read my last couple of posts you would have realised that Hubby flew to NY for the week for busy-ness.

He doesn't travel a lot and usually just within Australia.  The trip to NY is an annual event and held at the same time of year.

He has made the trip many times without any hitches.

Not this time!  He was away when the Qantas shit hit the fan- well actually the engine exploded......leading to the grounding of the fleet of A380's.  The type of aircraft  that would normally bring him home.

It set off a trip home not to forget.....although we would all rather forget it to be honest.

I don't really want to write about that my effort to try and forget it!  Let's just say it was really truly ruly SHIT!

Being me I like to look at the positive here goes.....

It made me think of all the things I can be thankful for.

At the moment I am feeling more aware than usual at how lovely it is to be home with the last two of my five lads beofre they go off to school.  Mr.4 & Mr just turned 2.

Mr 4 has been a challenge to say the least!  A previous post explains more about how I have effectively been home-bound by his challenging behaviour.  You can click here to read that post.
Some days I feel better than others about being homebound.  At the moment I am thankful that I am able to be around.

This week while Hubby was away I needed to try & help myself out a bit by simplifying life.  So our dinners were things like: toasted sandwiches, bacon & egg sandwiches &  good ol' weetbix!

Click here for a post ALL about the benefits of Weetbix dinners!

But the other dinner that I HAD to have for reasons of spiritual well-being (read- I CAN'T GO ONE WEEK WITHOUT A HIT) was.......


You all know by now I am an addict.

"My name is Gourmet Girlfriend and I am addicted to Dumplings".

A few weeks ago on my Amazon buying bender you may remember I purchased an Asian dumpling cookbook.

So it was time to put it to the test.

I've made plenty of dumplings in my time and have made my own wrappers before but have to admit that most of the time I buy store bought ones just for ease.

I am always keen to test out recipes so I headed to the dumpling wrapper dough recipe.

I was pretty much as I have made it before.  That is adding boiling water to flour and making a dough- I'll get to the recipe later.  I have to say I didn't really learn anything new form this one but I am REALLY looking forward to making the green wrappers that have blitzed spinach mind whizzed with ideas of other options and blends!  Will experiment and post later......

I like to use 00 Flour as I think it it gives a better result.

This time I enlisted the help of Mr.4 & Mr.2.  They LOVED it!

It is pretty much like playing with playdough.  What's not to love?!!

So here is the basic dough formula:

2 cups 00 flour
1 cup boiling water.

I blitz mine in the blender initially to get it amalgamated and then turn it out onto a board to knead lightly- don't overwork it here!

Get the kids to do this step- the dough is lovely and warm- not too hot for kids to handle.  It feels lovely.
Roll it into a ball.

 Then place in a plastic airtight bag and extract as much air as you can.  I find those ziplock bags are perfect for this.  Let it sit for an hour.  It will get all sweaty- this is fine.

While you rest the dough you can get the filling ready.

I don't really measure out my ingredients but this is my usual list :

2-3 spring onions
good handful of fresh coriander (rinse the roosts well as you should add these- the bulk of flavour is found in them!)
a goo knob of ginger
2 cloves garlic
a splosh of Shao Xing wine (pic at end of ingredients list below- this adds a magical flavour- you will find it easily in most Asian food stores- it is easily identifiable by its pale blue& red label- it seems all different brands use the same colour scheme!)
a good splosh of Sesame oil- be generous!
a generous pinch of salt
1/3 cup chicken stock.
about 500g minced pork


Blitz the spring onions, garlic, ginger coriander & salt.

Remove from food processor and add wet ingredients & meat.  
Stir through- the mix should be quite sloppy.
This is desirable or your dumplings will be too dry.

After an hour remove the dough form the bag and roll out into a sausage.

Cut into inch long sections- as below.

In my dumpling book they use a dedicated dumpling wrapper roller- we improvised and used a pastry brush handle to roll out the segments into their circular shapes.  Mr 4 did all of them.  And he did a MAGNIFICENT JOB!

Here's Mr. 4's wrappers ready to stuff- don't they look amazing!

 Now you place about a teaspoon of mix into the centre of your dumpling as below.

Then fold it over and seal the seam- I must say I find this super easy with home made dough.  it is more tricky with bought wrappers as they are more tough. I use a bit of water on bought wrappers to help seal them.  I don't fond this necessary with home made dough.  Ours came out looking like this.

I place them in a non-stick frypan something like this.

 Add cold oil (about 5 tblspns) and about 1/2 cup of water.  Then put the pan on a medium high flame.

I leave a lid on for about 8 minutes or so and then remove it to let the water evaporate off.  The dumplings then fry in the remaining oil for about another 5 minutes or so.

Once you can see a lovely brown tinge at the base of the dumplings take the pan off the heat.  Carefully drain off the oil.

Find a plate that covers the frypan and carefully turn the pan onto the plate.  The dumplings fall out of the pan onto the plate in this beautiful design.  The dumplings just lift away from each other as you eat. Are you drooling yet????  I am....I need a fix!

I can tell you these didn't last long at all!

I like to eat mine with a dipping sauce made of chiu chow chilli oil, soy & chinese black vinegar.  

I recently tried another variation on the stuffing mix with beef mince and orange zest- that was really good- you can play around as much or as little as you like.  I am looking forward to playing with the wrappers next!

 I think making the dough from scratch makes them sooooo much yummier.  But store bought wrappers will give you a very good substitute if you want to save some time.

OK cooking dumplings by this method may be tedious for some but I find it VERY therapeutic.   I get totally lost in the moment.  It is one of those old fashioned methods of cooking that has the kids really involved.  It's what I imagine it would be like to be hanging out with Nonna in the kitchen making pasta- not that I'm Italian or have a Nonna but you get my drift.

I am ever so thankful to have the time to be with my kids to share these moments.

This week I have been LOVING listening to this:

Monday, 1 November 2010

Writing letters you know from my last post I turned 40 on Sunday.

My birthday was 40 shades of awesome!

It started with a bed full of our family- the bed was a bit squishy with all 7 of us in it but it was truly lovely.

Followed quickly with waving goodbye to hubby as he flew off to NY for busy-ness.

So I didn't feel too sorry for myself about hubby leaving me on my big day I had booked tickets for an event I have been coveting for a while- Women of Letters.  A writing event invented by the lovely Marieke Hardy & Michaela McGuire to bring back the dying art of letter writing.

Click here to check out what it is all about.

I went with one of my most cherished friends.  I am still weeping at how ridiculously MAGNIFICENT it was.

I may have just a had little time before the show to buy myself a little something or three from a lovely little shop near the theatre......

.....well really how could I leave them for someone else to buy?  It would have been remiss of me.  They had my name ALL over them!  I'll find them an appropriate spot ASAP. A lovely momento from a lovely day.

I wrote recently about making sure as parents we make a little time for ourselves.  It was a reminder to myself more than anything probably!  It is really healthy for our children to grow up seeing that we MAKE time for ourselves.   It's vital we bring them up with an understanding of how important & loved they are. is just as important not to lose sight of the soul inside that makes us who we are- aside from being a parent.  Doting on the children's needs is only part of the job description but in our busy days it is oh so easy to lose sight of the other parts that make us whole.

It is very difficult for many reasons for me to leave my children during the day- but yesterday as  a present to myself on my 40th birthday I had booked tickets to the inaugural Men of Letters event.  I am happy enough to do a fair bit of evening outings (usually to go and see live music) when the kinder types are in bed but leaving 5 children awake aged between 12 & 2 is hard for anyone!

It was extraordinary.  What a line-up of the fabulous male species we were treated to.  These men were asked to pen a letter "to the woman who changed their life".

The men read their letters out to us.  And thankfully Tim Rogers (You Am I) & Paul Kelly sang to us.  What a gift.  And Bob Ellis......wowness, wowness, wowness.

Click here to look at some fab photos of this extravaganza.  It gives you a good idea of the mood.

Why oh why did I not pack the tissue box?  Still at forty I am the biggest cry baby on the planet.    Music and words really just set me off........and there,  right there yesterday I was amidst some of the most heart- wrenchingly, courageously honest writing I had ever been lucky enough to hear.  What an awesome present to myself.

Today I feel emotionally wrung out and a bit high on it all still.  It was the absolute highlight of my day- shared with a beautiful old friend and also a lovely new one (a fellow blogger- we are like minded souls- skip over here to read her take on yesterday too!)

 How lucky am I?!!

And who knew that when I came home the children were all still fabulously happy and couldn't wait to hear all about my day but mostly wanting to know what was for dinner!

I have already booked next months Women of Letters event as part of the birthday treats for Hubby- can't wait!  Check out the line up here.

One of the lovely parts of the show is being provided with writing materials and stamps to write your own letter which is posted by the hosts- like FOR REAL!!!!  How fabulous is that!

It really is a dying art isn't it- the letter.  I remember as a child how amazingly exciting it was when a letter arrived in the post addressed to me.  I still get just as excited because lets face it the only correspondence I get is of the 'you owe me money' variety.  Boo hiss to those.

I thought yesterday as I sat there tears rolling how lovely it would be for me to write to my children.  I  guess we think we need to be away from them to write a letter.  But I thought I might just write to them all anyway- not for any particular reason except to say the kinds of things that I forget to say in the busy-ness of our days.  And believe me the days here are really truly busy- not just pretend busy.

So........excuse me while I pen a real life letter to one of my brood.

Here is an example of Paul Kelly's magnificent of my kids favourite tracks.  It makes me cry EVERY time....