Friday, 31 December 2010

Bring on 2011

My last post for 2010.

What a year.

Saying I'm glad it's over would be the biggest understatement EVER!

Mixed in amongst the horrible there were some lovely things....and it is nice ( & in my nature) to reflect on the positive.

So here is some of what made this year a little better for me......

It has turned out to be so much more than I ever imagined.  For years I have had friends asking me (begging me) to do something with my cooking. The name GourmetGirlfriend came from one of those friends.  She used to email me with questions & advice about cooking.  I don't pretend to be any kind of guru- I just love food & cooking and this blog is intended to be a look at that journey as I try to manage the wrangling of five young boys. It has helped me to stop and spend more time reflecting.  For giving myself that in my very busy life I am very thankful. It has been the biggest bonus of all that my audience seem to really enjoy it too! So thankyou a million times over to all of you who have taken the time to read & to those of you who have commented.  I REALLY appreciate it!

To those of you who know me this paragraph kind of goes without saying! I used to make cd compilations for friends as a means of sharing my musical loves & new finds.  That was before the wonders of iTunes & youtube! Now I put a youtube link at the end of EVERY post to let you peek into the window of my listening pleasures. As usual music has been my saviour- to help me with my sorrow felt at losing a very precious loved one in horrific circumstances to helping me celebrate the good times with my beautiful friends & family.   Music helps me feel, it helps me breathe, it helps me through each &  EVERY day.

My extended family & our friends have experienced a significant & tragic loss this year.  It has been the most difficult of times for us all.  But through this we have strengthened our love of each other, and made & developed new friendships & reconnected with some old friends too.  I look forward very much to the continuation of those friendships I have made.  And thankyou to all those very special people who have supported me so wholeheartedly when I needed you most.   You know who you are!

Always...... always I come back to my divine, fabtastical, magnificent, cherished, fun, crazy, wondrous, mental, awesome lunatic family! You are what make me whole. You are also what drive me crazy with frustration & rage and what make me fly into fits of panic at the uncontrollable nature of a family of SEVEN!!!!!  But essentially you all make my heart hurt with LOVE &  I wouldn't have it ANY OTHER WAY. Thankyou for being you- all of you..... & thankyou for loving me- all of me! xxxx

 I look forward to next year like I have NEVER looked forward to a new year before &  I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you.

I am not normally a resolution type but when I saw this the other day I had to will remain on my blog as a reminder to us all.......

and to finish I must post a song........a new track from one of my fave artists ...I too am looking for some magic in 2011!


Not missing you already.........

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas Fabulousness

Christmas day has come and gone.


I love the browsing of catalogues by the kids in the weeks before Christmas as they wish for things that Santa might deliver.

I love that we make time to catch up with people that we may not have found enough time for during the year.

I love the chatter about what might be on the menu.

I love the decorating of the tree- this year it is what I needed to get me into the spirit after the most challenging of years .........

I love the writing of notes to Santa & his team of fluffy four-toed friends & the careful choosing of food & drink to sustain him on his 24hr ride.

I love the checking on the road out the front of our house on Christmas morning to check for evidence of the reindeers!

I love the wonder & excitement of the kids as they discover their bounty from Santa under the tree.

I love the mess on the floor after the whirlwind of present opening & then the way the day slowly goes on as the kids continue to visit their little bits & pieces of treasure that Santa has so dutifully and silently delivered in the quiet of their sleep!

But most of all what I love is that it brings people that love each other together.

Often it involves a shared meal.  Sitting at a table that is festively decorated, wearing paper hats & telling bad jokes from the bon-bons!

I am always a little sad to close my eyes at the end of the MOST magical day of the year.

This year it was no less fabulous.

Watching our five littl'uns opening their bounty was just utterly joyous.

And at the table was something I have been planning on for a while as I thought it looked so delicious, simple & festive!  Perfect for the Christmas table.

It was my take on a Karen Martini recipe she calls Moroccan Mess.  It is her take on the classic English dessert called Eton Mess.

I am going to share mine below.  If you want to check out hers click here.

There are a few ingredients in this recipe that require a shopping trip to your local Middle Eastern grocer.  I am lucky enough to live near Oasis bakery in the  Melbourne suburb of Murrumbeena. It is a favourite haunt of our family.  One of my children makes it his task to find an ingredient he has never heard of before every time we go & then he buys it and uses it!  It is a fun job!  If you don't have a middle eastern grocer nearby you can easily omit the ingredients sourced from here and it will still be delicious- just play with ingredients!

This month I am joining in with a monthly cooking get-together called The Mum & The Chef where several bloggers cook with an ingredient chosen monthly.  To read more about it click here. It was started by Katrina Higham (the Chef) and Mish Lilley (the Mum). They take turns in choosing the core ingredient & anyone is welcome to join in.  A great way to share expertise & recipes.

I will provide links to all other participants blogs at the end of my recipe for you to look around & see what everyone else made!

This month's ingredient is STRAWBERRIES!


What you will need:

STRAWBERRIES - 2 large punnets
Shelled pistachios (200g). I bought slivered ones from a middle eastern grocer but whole ones will do just as nicely: just lightly chop them to expose their gorgeous green insides!
Meringue (to help with the easy peasy-ness I bought ready made meringue- 2 small boxes). You will find these at most supermarkets now.
300ml cream.
1 tblspn Pomegranate molasses. Also from my local Middle Eastern grocer but you could also use rose syrup - or neither!
60g pure icing sugar.
seeds of a Pomegranate
Pashmak (Persian fairy floss) 

  • Add cream, molasses & icing sugar and whip till cream holds stiff peaks.  
  • Slice strawberries.
Now for the fun bit!
  • Find a large platter and crush some of the meringue onto it.
  • Then blob some of the whipped cream mix.
  • Scatter some strawberries and some pomegranate seeds.
  • Continue until you have achieved a little mound of loveliness.
Finish with the Pashmak and then scatter the pistachios.

 et Voila!


And you can see here that it was well received by the crowds!

Check out these links to see what everyone else did!

And we were groovin' to this on Christmas day- it's not Carols but it's oh so magnifique! :

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Simple & Beautiful

As the end of the year beckons my family are flat out attending graduation ceremonies, end of year concerts & work parties.

Things can easily get overwhelming.

Times like this we serve a whole lot of weetbix in our house!

See my previous post about that here!

It's a good time to KISS (Keep It Simple Sam).

I'm not so keen on weetbix so I like to have something else.

Take last night- Hubby and I were having such a lovely time sitting outside with our bottle of wine and some catch up conversation while we listened to music.

We had both had a busy day racing around to concerts & end of year feasts & just wanted to sit down for a bit.

It was 9.30 before we realised that a bottle of wine for dinner probably wasn't a good idea!

Anyway we both ended up with a good ol' Bacon Sarnie.   Such simple goodness.  Bacon frying is one of life's special smells!

It was especially good accompanied by a glass of V.S.O.P. Cognac!

I was taking some advice from a VERY special person in my life who suggested I needed some Cognac for medicinal purposes!  I was just following orders you understand!

Yesterday as I wandered around the garden I discovered something that excited me sooooooo much.

Two years ago we planted a Pomegranate tree.  My Mr.10 & I share a passion for pomegranates.

They are so wondrously secretive in their beauty.  The tree is covered in sharp spines hidden between delicate pretty pink tinged leaves.

The fruit itself is something to behold- 100's of red ruby like jewels wrapped tightly in their red leather jacket.  But the flower too is just beautiful.

They ripen in Autumn but as with most things now we are able to buy them most of the year.

I'm so glad I took a walk in the garden and found it.  I could have so easily missed out on it in the busy-ness of this time of year.  A perfect reminder to keep it slow or we miss out on some of the simple treasures to behold.

Typically Pomegranates are used in Middle Eastern cooking.

I love using them in all manner of ways.  A couple of years ago I  used Pomegranate Molasses for the first time.  Now I am a devotee! An ingredient that can be used sparingly but it exudes it's unique flavour very well!

Seeing the very first flower on my tree yesterday has me wanting some pomegranate today!

I was looking through a favourite cookbook of mine- "Moro- the cookbook" (published by Random House 2001) for a sauce that uses Pomegranate to share with you.  It takes about 5 minutes and involves NO COOKING!

It is so fabulous & so simple.

It is delicious on lamb, chicken, duck, fish. I sometimes use it served on top of chargrilled vegies - like Eggplant or zucchini.

Or as a salad dressing. Are you seeing how versatile it is?!

Tonight I think I will serve a big dollop of it on top of a piece of fish served on peas that have been blitzed with a bit of mint.  This dinner takes about as long as it takes to serve a bowl of weetbix- and it's soooo much yummier & it looks outrageously beautiful.



150g Greek Yoghurt 
1/4 garlic clove (i go with a full one as I am a believer in "you can never have too much garlic!". Crush this in a mortar and pestle with a good pinch of salt.
seeds of 2 pomegranates.
small bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (mint works REALLY well too!)
S & P.

In a bowl mix the garlic paste with the yoghurt.
Stir in pomegranate and roughyl chopped parsley.
Taste for seasoning.

I hope it becomes one of your favourite simple & beautiful things to use in the kitchen too!

This week I have been listening to this ALOT & LOUD!
Play it loud now won't ya- it is soooo good!
It helps you cook- I promise!......

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The silly season

Until last week I have been in denial of Christmas.

This year has been indescribably hard for all of my family and lots of our friends.  We said farewell to a loved one - a cherished bubba- way way too soon.

I'm not able to talk about it here yet- maybe some day but not yet.

We are all kind of waiting for next year to begin and shut the door on 2010.  It's just been too sad for words.

Celebrating anything has just seemed too hard.  Too many reminders.

I normally LOVE Christmas but have really really struggled to get in the spirit this year.

But then last weekend Hubby disappeared into the shed and came into the lounge room where all our five children were with a big long box.

In that dusty box was our Xmas tree and all the decorations.

There were squeals of delight and chatter about whose turn it was to put the star on the top.

All he did was open the box and the kids took care of the rest.  It was beautiful.   Mr.7 put on the daggiest Christmas Carols record he could find and they were away! I had to take a daggy portrait in front of the tree!

A reminder of what Christmas is.



So since then the kids have been busy perusing the catalogues dreaming of all manner of goodies....hoping Santa will indulge them with all the things that us parents won't!

And taking down the decorations off the tree to play make believe games........

"Hi Santa my name is Santa"
And outside the lights are up too- to let everyone know....we are in the spirit!

Now for the menu.........

What do you love to eat for Christmas?

Our family has always been very spontaneous with our menu- when I was growing up the rule was always to choose something you love to eat and love to prepare- we were all responsible for bringing a dish to the table to share.  Not a bad rule me thinks!

The kitchen was full to overflowing with all of us cooking up delicious goodies.   There would be curries, beautiful mayonnaises, pates, ham, and seafood.  I remember my sister once making a killer home made Baileys too- YUM!!!!!

One of the things I remember always being on the table though was- Gravad lax-  a Swedish staple.  Our family learnt to love it from the days we spent living in Sweden.  My dad made it - now most of us do the same.

A simple but DELICIOUS dish.

Click here for a link that gives you simple instructions with step by step pictures- and a link to make the accompanying Mustard sauce too.  You need to prepare it 2 days ahead but it is VERY SIMPLE and soooo worth it!

I would love to  hear what you love to eat for Christmas.

This week I have been listening to ......

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Are we there yet?

For the last week & a half my kids have been sick.  Not just a little bit sick but a BIG bit sick! Hospital sick.....

Having a big family is fabulous- we LOVE it!!. But in amongst the good is a whole of lot of HARD!

Ever amplified when the bugs roll in......

So over this time while I was disguised as Florence Nightingale I was loving reading about another big family who live in the States- designers Bob & Cortney Novogratz ( of SIXX DESIGN ) and their 7 kids.

Here's their kitchen. There is evidence that someone ACTUALLY lives in the house- see there are UTENSILS on the bench & even a teatowel-  quelle horreur!!

image via

They design fabulous spaces- filled with the style I love the most.  A mix of beautiful modern design pieces interwoven with quirky old pieces they find at markets & vintage stores around the globe.  Each home they have built tells you about the people who live in it- tells you about their interests & personalities.  This is just what I believe the spaces we inhabit should be like.  I like to think that my home is like that too- I like people to be able to learn a bit more about me by looking at my art & between the mess!  Our home is to be lived in & loved - NOT just looked at.

Anyway the one section that really resonated with me this week was Cortney's favourite recipe.

Allow me to share- I know you too will LOVE it!

(with thanks to Cortney Novogratz via her book : DOWNTOWN CHIC published by RIZOLLI NY)

Serves: 4 to 6
Time: 35-40 minutes depending on how long it takes you to flip through the phone book.


  • telephone
  • phone book (i'll add here- access to Google!)
  • cash/credit card
  • favourite cocktail
Flip through phone book.  
Find number of your favourite restaurant that delivers.  
Place phone in hand and dial the number.
Order 4 to 6 of their tastiest dishes.
Add 2 to 3 desserts to your order (optional) .
Pour your favourite cocktail, lounge back with your feet up and wait 30-40 minutes.
Dish is done when your doorbell rings.
Leftovers can be held in the fridge for 2-3 days.