Monday, 16 December 2013

LOVE in a jar.

I LOVE giving preserves as Xmas presents.
Or birthday presents or really for no reason at all.
Most people REALLY love to get a hand made gift.

And as we limp towards the finish line of the year I am hearing & reading SO much stress online about getting there.
Too many of them are related to buying things.
Not having done the shopping, worrying about the menu etc.

Why not turn this around and not worry about buying things and instead maybe try making some little things to give to your loved ones.

Or give a hug. It's free and heart filling.

Or give LOVE in a jar.

While you stir the jam pot you can think about how lucky you are to have good friends to share with and how ace it will be to eat toast together and sip a hot cuppa and laugh.

Really that is what matters.


People are what matter.

Not stuff.

Spiced Seville Orange Marmalade.
We did our final Farmers Market shop before Christmas day o Saturday.
The weather was perfect & I got to hug all my fave farmers and thank them for providing me with amazing produce this year.

Just as we were leaving the market I spied some Seville Oranges and picked up a few to make Marmalade.
There is something about spiced Oranges that makes me think of Christmas!
Here is the recipe I came up with. It made 2 large jars (or 1 litre of marmalade) - but would easily make about 6-8 little ones (jars are now easy to find in those cheap as chips shops)

  • 5 whole seville oranges (seeds to be kept)
  • 1 apricot stone (if you have one- don't worry if  you don't)
  • 1 kilo raw sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 1/2 litres of water

Slice the oranges in half and juice well.
Keep the seeds & set aside (they will be integral in getting the marmalade to set).
Now slice into quarters and slice into very thin slivers. Don't worry about the pith it will kind of disappear as you cook the marmalade.

In a very large pot add the sugar, water, orange juice, orange rind and the cinnamon stick. Place the seeds of the orange, the cloves,  the star anise & the apricot stone if you have it into a tied Muslin cloth (or I used a large single tea sieve- the stainless steel ones you find to make a single cup of tea with leaves- I popped all the seeds into this and had it dangling in the pan)  

Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to low and stir occasionally, skimming the scum from the surface.
It is ready when there are very small bubbles appearing on the surface- this will take about an hour.  

You can check if it is set by placing a small amount onto a dish and place in the freezer for 5 minutes.  It is set if there is a skin when you push against it with your finger.

Remove muslin (or tea strainer) and pour into warmed sterile jars.

LOVE in a jar.

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Very Last Day of Kinder EVER

Today is a big one in our house.

The very last day of Kinder ever.

I have been a stay at home mum for nearly sixteen years.

It has without a doubt been the very best part of my life so far.

In amongst the hard, the sleepless, the mundane, the downright messy & horrid there has been revelations, joy, wonder, excitement, pride, and fulfilment.

Today marks the start of a new adventure.

For me & for my children.

All five of them will be at school.

And I am starting my own business, with cooking classes, writing my first book and hopefully lots & lots of other ace stuff.

For me, being a stay at home mum was the thing I always wanted to do and to be.  I was so lucky to get the opportunity to do it and am so very grateful.

Now it is time for me to rediscover myself and show my children how important it is for me to be me as well as being a mum.  Although I like to think I was always me, just a bit hidden behind my busyness in being a mum.

So while we say goodbye to a very very special part of all of our lives I am so looking forward to the part that is ahead of us.

I'm sure there will be wonky bits where I trip up and get it a bit wrong but that will all be part of getting it right.

I am really really excited but a little bit teary & wistful at the same time.

A big big day.

All of us are heading out into the big wide world.

I hope the grass isn't too long, the way not too foggy & the path not too rocky.

And I hope we all find what we are looking for.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Fill your own Advent Calendar

This year I ditched the cheesy and cheap advent Calendars & opted for a more permanent solution.

Here he is.

Rocking the stripey tights & clogs I might add!

The cutest 3 foot Saint Nicholas- from my favourite Swedish boutique.

Perfect for my family.

A little empty box big enough for me to stow 5 little treats of my choice each day.

Each box pulls out like a little drawer and you fill it yourself.

A surprise a day till the Night before Christmas.

I have filled it with a mix of little goodies, crafty bits n pieces and some sweet treats in a few.




Only 13 more sleeps peeps!

DO you remember Advent calendars and the joy of the Christmas countdown?

Thursday, 5 December 2013

How to make Kimchi

The mere idea of cabbage- let alone cabbage fermented with lots of garlic is enough to send lot of people running.

Me, however...well Cabbage & Garlic are two of my absolute favourite ingredients.

Kimchi is a fermented dish from Korea.  It was invented, as many pickles were, to preserve the vitamins & minerals of vegetables over the long winter months.

It has been known to have been in production since the 7th century and only in the last few hundred to have had chilli added.

It uses a Korean chilli- a mild chilli so it is not too hot for the more gentle palate.

Most of us know only the Kimchi made with cabbage but anyone who eats at a Korean restaurant knows that Cabbage Kimchi is but a small part of the amazingly diverse repertoire of pickled vegetables in the Korean cuisine.

In my house it is a fight between me & my 13yo for the Kimchi jar.  And only very recently did I begin to make my own.  I love it with eggs, on burgers, stirred through soba noodles or most often just straight from the jar like a naughty child stealing the last hidden chocolates!

NB: Korean chilli pepper can be found at Asian grocery stores (sometimes known as Aleppo pepper). It is mild and soft in texture and has an almost sweet aftertaste.
What you will need:

  • 1 Wombok cabbage.
  • 3 carrots, finely julienned.
  • 1 large bunch coriander
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt flakes
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • half a head of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped finely
  • 3cm piece of ginger, chopped finely
  • 3 teaspoon Korean chilli pepper flakes
Cut the Wombok cabbage in half and then again so it is in quarter wedges.
Now cut across the wedges into 3cm pieces.

Put into a large bowl with the finely julienned carrot and salt flakes and sugar.

Toss well, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from fridge & rinse very well to remove salt.  Drain liquid from bowl.

Dry excess moisture (I used a salad spinner).

Place back in bowl with garlic, ginger, chopped fresh coriander, chilli powder, fish and soy sauces. 

Mix well and place into a sterile airtight jar.

Refrigerate and wait a couple of days before using.

Will keep for 2 weeks.

Not a new track but on high rotation in my kitchen this week. Sharon Van Etten is a treasure. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Just play around like there is nothing to lose

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to listen to Rene Redzepi talk.

He talked of the pressure of being crowned the Best restaurant in the World in 2010 (and for three years running after that).

And how ultimately it felt as if this crowning- the ultimate in success- had killed his creativity.

What he could he aim for now?

It was so beautiful listening to him speak eloquently of how it affected him & how it was the driving force behind beginning a journal.  It was his way of rediscovering his creativity- his 'fearlessness'.

He described this point in his life as a breakdown.  A confusion of feelings of failure & exhaustion all the while mixed together with public adulation & apparent success.

He read directly from his journal and added more descriptions and pictures.

He has recently published this journal- a 3 book collection called 'A Work in Progress'.

This talk affected me deeply.

He talked about vulnerabilty, his fear of failure, his love of the creative process.  About how success is crippling to the creative process in that it stifles the ability to take risks.

For him this manifested as feeling the need to keep giving the same things that led to the success in the first place & that this stopped him trying out new things.

He came very very close to shutting the restaurant right at the time of it's highest success.  It all became too much.

I went home & could not sleep.

I read and read and read and read some more.

It was reading his words about creativity & the fear of failure (amongst others) that has led me to take the giant leap.


"Just play around like there is nothing to lose".


Monday, 2 December 2013

What does happiness look like?

Yesterday my 10yo drew this poster about what he loves most.

HAPPINESS is what he loves most.
Included in this picture are ~ ties, bowties, hats & waistcoats, drawing,  Radiohead (the band) , First Aid kit (the band), colour, Piano, friends, Star Wars, Pokemon.

I love so very much how happiness looks like to him.

I think about happiness a lot.

I worry about it too.

What I worry about is that the happiness most people may be looking for is indeed a new invention.

The invention that happiness comes from things and not from more simple everyday events.

It has become yet another thing we must strive towards without really knowing what it even is or how we 'get' it.

Maybe happiness is a shiny new car.

Or maybe it is owning a home of our own.

Is it a new pair of shoes?

These types of things maybe make us feel good for a bit but I don't think they are happiness.

I think Happiness is something that comes from intangible things.

The feeling of the hot sand scalding our feet just before we get to run into the ocean on a hot day.

The feeling we get when we laugh so hard there is no more sound & our belly hurts.

The pride we feel when we gain the courage to do something hard.

The feeling we get when we see the sun rise and hear the first birds call.

The sound of children laughing.

Biting into the very first Peach of the season.

Listening to a song that stops us in our tracks.

If we concentrate really hard on slowing down enough to notice these essential and SMALL things in our lives, I think we will also notice that these are the things that truly give us pleasure.

By noticing them more I think we would all have a great chance of finding real happiness.

My 10yo's poster was such a great reminder that children really know what things count.

Children TEACH us every single day.

I LOVE so very much that he wrote these things down.

If you wrote a poster about what you love & about happiness- what would it look like?

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Being grateful for food

Every morning I cook eggs for breakfast.

Without fail, every time I crack the egg I am astonished.

Astonished by nature's clever tricks & beauty.

An egg.

So perfect in Form & Function.

The best of all fast foods.

Today as I cracked the egg I was thinking about how grateful I am to be able to eat such glorious perfect nutritious food.

More than anything it is the thing I try to teach my children in relation to food.

To be grateful.

We are so lucky in Australia to have access to amazing quality produce.

It can be easy to take it for granted.

To forget how it came to be on our table.

To close our eyes to the many many things that enabled it to be there on our plate.

It is really important to me that I have this conversation about food provenance with my children and often.

I encourage you to do the same.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Stephanie Alexander's Cooks Companion app

Last week was pretty monumental.

Lots of really fabulous things were going on in my world.

One of them was an email from STEPHANIE! *faints*

YES i know!

Addressed to me!

Oh Em Gee.

For realz!

*faints again*

All this year she has been working hard on turning her Kitchen Bible (AKA The Cooks Companion)  - that SO many, if not ALL Australian kitchens own, into an app for all you peeps who like to have your iPad propped up on your bench.

For so many people this is going to be a game changer- just like the bible was when it was first published all those years ago.

We received our copy soon after it was first published as a wedding present from my brother- a chef trained by her close friend Maggie Beer. Such a perfect gift.

Our copy has moved to other countries and back with us and been cooked from in the many homes we have lived in since that time.  It is the book that most of us turn to when we are stuck for ideas or need to refer to it for some expert advice.
It's pages are sploshed with the stains of me cooking from it time and time again. The marks of a loved cookbook.  Just like I hope my very own will be one day.

Stephanie is also running a little Instagram game with prompts to play along- cooking through the alphabet day by day.
How fun!

A is for : Are you going to join in?

You can download the app by clicking here.

Happy Cooking!

Please note: I received no incentives, money or otherwise, to share this information. I
 just love Stephanie and am happy to share her awesomeness with you because I think you will enjoy it. xxx

Herbie Hancock's Canteloupe Island is as much a classic as Stepanie's bible I reckon ~

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The blog post where I tell you my dream of publishing a book.

In late September I took some time away from the blog to concentrate on my family.

We have had a very busy year (I know right- when is it NOT busy at my place? But this was a SUPER DOOPER busy one with some extra tricky stuff thrown in the mix) and I needed to put my family first.

The time away from the blog allowed me to think about some goals for 'me', it allowed me the time to think about what this space is and what I want it to become.

As you know I have five young children. Next year all five of them will be at school.  I have always intended to become my own boss at this time.  To start my own business.

I have been working behind the scenes to turn what I do here into a business for myself for some time. I think I have grown something of value out of this space & it feels like the right time to make it into something that can contribute in a monetary way to our family.
It means that some things about my blog will evolve as my business does.

One of the MOST exciting things that happened during my bloggy break was that I let my head listen to my heart about my dream of getting a book published.

So I have started.  My defining moment was when the magnificent and long-time inspiration to me - Stephanie Alexander followed me and commented on my Instagram saying that 'my food looked delicious' & reposted one of my pictures. I decided it was time to take myself more seriously and truly consider getting started on a book- a defining moment. If you ever read this Stephanie, I can never really tell you in words how much that meant to me, just know it means the world. 

Sometime next year I hope to be able to offer you all the opportunity to buy my very first book. I am so super excited about this.
It will be a cookbook, family-life type book with what I hope contains lots of inspiration for you & foodie loveliness- all done by ME! 

I am so happy about making a start on it.  And thank YOU to the many readers who have encouraged me to do so.
Your encouragement, kind words & consistent readership is a constant joy to me. Thank you so much for coming here, and to my Instagram and to my Facebook page and being part of Gourmet Girlfriend.

My blog will change a little, but the essence remains the same. It is fundamentally about the importance I place on cooking real food for your family & how the value of that goes so much further than nourishing your bodies- it is about nourishing your souls as well. The importance of the Family Table is something I feel passionate about and I want others to include it in their lives too.

I will be taking on sponsors & advertisements that I feel are in keeping with this space and of value to my readership. I will retain control over what advertising goes on my space. 

I will continue my recipe writing for other people & I am intending to start my own cooking classes too- I want to share my knowledge with others and help people feel confident enough to cook real food in their homes too.  

A lot of you may not be aware of how much time goes into just one of my posts.  It takes many hours of work to cook & photograph the food & then to write the recipe. I have always tended to write a piece and then go on to the recipe as well. This is a LOT of work and limits how often I can post.
In the past I may have found little snippets of something great, been thinking about something important or have found a source of inspiration somewhere but I felt so compelled to add all the other components to my posts & so didn't publish anything at all.  

I really hope changing the way I post allows more great stuff to come your way! WIN!

I am going to mix things up a little.  There will be some posts that don't have recipes but are just snippets of my thoughts, or inspiration that I think you will enjoy. There will still be plenty of recipes but I will be saving some just for my book!

Did you read those words?


Oh Em Gee!!!!

Soooooo exciting.

I want to thank you all for sticking with me & I hope you enjoy the changes you see here. And I am totally aware that not all of you will like the changes- and that is ok.  This is about what is best for me & my family.  This is a further development to all the hard work I have already done in taking back me. It is super important for me to teach my children HOW important doing what is good for you (however that manifests) is.

It is NERVE wracking pressing publish on this post but here I go.........

2014 is all about being vulnerable and yet being the most courageous I can be.

It is all about being me, wonky bits and all.

(If you are a business that would like me to consider you for advertising on this space or to have me write recipes for you please email me at gourmetgirlfriend (at) me (dot) com )

"Everything is going to fine, expect to see me anytime....I'm coming home."

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

I'm taking a Bloggy Break

It's been a while since I posted......sorry guys!

Life at Chez GG is always very very busy but things are unusually busy at the moment and will be for a few more weeks.

Until things settle down I will be taking a Bloggy break so I can give my family the time it needs.

You will still find me posting occasionally on my Facebook Page & over on Instagram too.
I can be contacted at gourmetgirlfriend (at) me (dot) com.

In the meantime ~ Live Well, Cook for fun, Hug the ones you love squeezy style & turn up the stereo and Dance like a crazy.
See you soon!

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Family Table. Part 10. Ciara Brehony from Milkmoon

A couple of years ago when I first started writing this blog I thought about what it was that I wanted to share.

It started as a way of me sharing my food knowledge and my passion for preparing real food for our families.

More importantly though I like to think that I give people the confidence to appreciate that the magic that is the Family dining experience is NOT just about the food.

While the food is what draws us to the table it should be considered but ONE of many things that are shared and indeed NOT the most important one.

LOVE to me should always be the single most important ingredient that is shared at our family table. Without LOVE the food and the entire dining experience is just another meal. But with it our souls as well as our tummies are nourished.

It is with this in mind that on Fridays I will be sharing with you my new series- The Family Table- where super special guests share their family dining experiences with us. It is a way of appreciating that there are infinite ways of dining together.
My wish is that every single one of my readers makes The Family Table part of their own family life.

I am so excited about this series and have some of my very favourite family sorts lined up to share with us their Family Table experiences over the coming weeks.

Today I am sharing with you a very special human being from all the way across many seas.

We are heading over to the green grasses of Ireland, to the home of the kind,  gentle, clever, creative, fellow mumma of many; Ciara Brehony- artist, music lover, good food eater & all round ace human being and blogger at Milkmoon.
Ciara and I have been chatting online for a few years now and one day we both dream of both of our families sharing the table in real life.

You can find her beautiful blog (one of the very first I ever read) over here.
And more recently you will find her endeavours into clean eating, information on food, diet & food intolerances at her Milkmoon Kitchen Facebook page here.

I am SOOOOOO thrilled that she is sharing her busy family table with us today!

Over to Ciara ~

1.) Can you please share a little about how your family shares food?
The Family Table just about says it all! In this house, we try and have most meals at the family table, albeit during the day it may be varying combinations of us, and there are often snacks on the couch, but the evening meal is all six of us sitting together around the table, myself and Jay, our three sons, Ru (17), Ed (9) and Billy (6), and one daughter, Finn (15). It’s my one rule. It’s how I grew up, and to this day my parents, myself, and my siblings (plus our multiplying additions now) still gather together regularly, which is something I cherish.
However, we do love a movie, and homemade pizza on the couch on a friday evening!
And one of our favourite things is to have other families around to share food with. I can’t think of anything lovelier. 
Some dear friends of ours, who were living out in the sticks too, up to recently, have moved in, with their two little girls, around the corner from us. We are all very excited to have lots more meals together, from now on. I can't tell you how great it is to be able to walk(!) to people's houses for dinner, these days. Something we are taking full advantage of. So naturally we were thrilled for them when they arrived on our doorstep yesterday evening, on foot. 
Happy days! 

2.) Do you have hard & fast eating rules?
Aside from eating at the table, and no arguing while doing so, that’s about it. And no tv. Or phones. Conversation is what we are after!
Like any family, there is quite the variety of tastes and preferences. We have two children who eat everything, one who doesn’t yet, and one who now does, simply because he is hungry! We are vegetarian, though the children do eat fish occasionally, and when out with his friends the eldest lad does eat meat. I’m also gluten, sugar, and dairy free. To some this might seem like a serious challenge, but anything can become the norm, as I’ve discovered! I know lots of parents who refuse to do the two or three different dinners every night to cater for fussy eaters, but I often find I have to do a couple of variations of a dish, though that’s usually to accommodate me! 
Myself and Jay have recently become involved in setting up a wholefood co-op in our town, something we are very excited about. It’s early days yet, but the commitment and passion of the lovely people involved is very inspiring, and the sense of sharing and community is just wonderful. Here food, and sharing food, are the mainstay, and it’s incredible how, when the focus is on something wholesome and good, it changes how people interact with one another. I love the idea that my children are experiencing a different way of doing things. That it doesn’t have to be all about money. 

3.) Can you share with us where your cooking influences/inspiration are from?
In the last few years my intolerance to certain foods has sent me off down an exciting new road of food and nutrition. It’s become one of my passions. I am mostly raw, mostly vegan in my own eating, and while I don’t enforce that on the rest of the family, it means that for the most part they are eating a certain amount that is. That’s not to say I don’t resort to frozen food, or convenience meals, on occasion. I’m by no means a purist! However, I find their palettes are changing, and their capacity for junk is swiftly diminishing. Resources like Pinterest have been fantastic for recipes and info about eating this way.

4.) Do you have a favourite cuisine?
We all love Indian and Japanese. Jay is a master chef when it comes to Indian, his dal is famous in these here parts. I am so very grateful to have married a man who can cook. He does most of the cooking at the weekends, which suits me just fine!

5.) Can you recall a super special meal or eating experience that has stayed with you forever?
With food, and sharing food, being such a part of my growing up, it’s hard to specifically pin down one meal in particular. As I’ve written whole blog posts about before, any family occasion in my parents house is a meal to remember, with all of us mucking in, and turning out a meal fit for kings. 
Funny, the one meal that does stand out for me, was not actually one I even remember eating myself. Twenty years ago, travelling around India with Jay for four months, he was on a mission, the whole time, to find the perfect thali. He did eventually find it, up a tiny backstreet in Varanasi, and he still grows misty eyed at the thoughts of it. 

6.) Would you please share the recipe of your favourite family meal with us?
It’s always tricky to find something that they all love. We eat a lot of wraps, we put everything in wraps, and it’s an easy way to let people take what they want from the table. We also eat a lot of pulses. But what I’m going to share with you here is my failsafe, my go-to recipe if I’m tight for time, or there’s a crowd to feed. The one that no one ever turns there nose up at. Homemade pesto. As simple as that. I always make more than I need, and it’s never enough. It gets put on everything. Pasta, sandwiches, and of course, wraps. This version is quite garlicky and lemony, so reduce the measurements for those if it’s too much for you.

Milkmoon Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil, packed
4 cloves garlic
1 cup cashews (or slivered almonds or walnuts - we prefer these to the classic pine nuts)
4 tbs fresh lemon
1/2 cup parmesan, or 3-4tbs nutritional yeast for a vegan version
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. Combine the first five ingredients in a blender/processor.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil.
  3. Blend until desired consistency. We like our with a bit of bite to it, with little chunks of nuts.

Stir through pasta of your choice and serve with crusty bread to mop up your bowls after. 
That’s it! Couldn’t be simpler, or more delicious.

7.) What song would be playing at the dinner table?
That’s the tricky one! Music is one thing there is never a shortage of in this house, and while there is a wide range of what we each like to listen to, there is nothing that someone else likes, that any of us really object to. But for all the obscure music I like, and the way-out-there music Jay likes, and everything in between that the children like, the one thing we will all, wholeheartedly agree on, is The Beatles. And while the others might choose a different song, I’m going to choose one of my personal favourites, if for no other reason than the lyrics seem so fitting. 

Thankyou so much Ciara for sharing your Family Table with us.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Old into New

I have always loved Op Shopping.

 I was brought up in Op shops.

Next to me my mum is the best bargain hunter out.

I travel around and stop whenever I see an opportunity for a vintage goodie!

Sometimes I will go to dozens and dozens of shops and not find anything and then I will have days where the gods are smiling and I find treasure.

I love that before me these objects lived a life elsewhere.

Were loved by someone else.

Or maybe they weren't loved at all and that is why they found their way there.

It is the mystery of guessing that gives these objects charm.

It reduces waste.

Yet gives pleasure.

I have been doing the same with our renovation.

Using old and turning it into new.

Weaving an old life into the new one.

Not pretending that the new is the same as the old yet delicately connecting the two.

It is one of the things I have loved doing with the renovation.

Finding ways of celebrating the new building yet tying it in with the old.

Seeing it come together is super exciting.

And I have been finding some second hand treasure that instantly transports me back to happy childhood memories that will be included in the new part of the house too.

This week I found some Vintage Arabia Finel enamelware that did exactly that.

Do you love Op shopping & love the mystery of the stories gone by?

GLAMORGAN SAUSAGES ~ (Welsh Vegetarian Sausages):
I'm married to a Welshman. The food of Wales brings to mind Leeks and cheese for many.  This recipe celebrates both.
Glamorgan sausages are a food from the South of Wales. They are basically a crumbed meat free roll made with cheese & leeks.
It traditionally used Glamorgan cheese but now mostly uses Caerphilly cheese- a Welsh hard cows milk cheese- which is extended in this recipe using lots of breadcrumbs.
I used mostly Ricotta and left out the most of the breadcrumb from the mix.
I have also modified this recipe to incorporate my fave Green veg- Kale, and added lots of fresh herbs & horseradish to pack a punch. You could adjust the ingredients with whatever veg you like that are in season.
Soooo great.
I see a Fathers day breakfast ahead!


  • 100g Ricotta
  • 80g Vintage Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 3 spring onions, chopped finely
  • 1/2 bunch kale, trimmed off stem and sliced
  • 5 tablespoons Italian Parsley, chopped coarsely
  • 2 teaspoons horseradish
  • a little SR flour
  • 2 eggs
  • butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • s & p
  • panko crumbs 
  • sourdough breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Melt some butter in a pan and add leeks, and kale and fry gently till wilted.

Take off heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.

In a large bowl add the Ricotta, Cheddar, eggs, parsley, horseradish, spring onion and wilted Leek & Kale.  Add some salt & a generous grind of Black Pepper.

Mix well with your hands till all ingredients are amalgamated.

Mix through a little SR flour if necessary to thicken mix- it should be a thick enough paste to shape into sausages without being too sticky.

Use your hands to shape into 10cm long sausages.

Put beaten egg into a bowl & Panko crumbs in another.

Dip sausage into egg & then Panko crumb.

Pan fry in a little butter till lightly brown on all sides and then place on baking paper lined tray and pop into preheated oven for 5 minutes.

I served mine with creamed Mushrooms on toast & home made Tomato sauce for breakfast- super delish!.

The latest album from my ol' fave Patrick Watson has got me through what was a pretty tough week for me..... Music is so good for helping find words that are swimming in a dizzy of unspoken emotion aren't they?

"It's easy when I am holding your hand........
Started as lovers don't know where it's gonna end".

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Turning a new page

It is super busy at Chez GG.

In between the usual incredibly busyness of raising my five boys, I am also doing all the final finishing touches to the GG Renovation.

The upstairs bath went in yesterday and despite no electricity up there, a mirror still to be fitted on the wall and a few other bits n pieces,  I lit candles and soaked in there.

Oh yes I did.

I have also been making time to read again.  I sat out in the winter sun and finished a book recommended to me - AM Homes 'May We Be Forgiven'. I could not put it down.
Have you read it?  I highly recommend it.  Dark & funny and confronting yet uplifting and wonderful at the same time. I found it compelling reading.

Last year when I started my health kick, turning a new page on my life, I also promised myself I would not only be focusing on the physical parts of my health but the soul health parts too.  They go together don't you think?

For me reading is one of my greatest pleasures.   I feel so pleased that it seems that I have passed on this love to my children too.  They all crave reading time and get so sad if I withdraw it from them as punishment.
When I am not in a reading books kind of groove I know that my balance is out of whack.

I asked a few people the other day for a book recommendation and was thrilled to see how many people responded- and with such a variety of books.

This week I also loved reading about this new project that my friend Michelle is part of- go over here to have a look.

And I looked at this recipe and really wanted to make it immediately!

I hope your week is going great guns.

Do share what you have been up to.

Do you love reading?

What is your fave this year?


Working at home has lots of benefits.  One of the best ones is being able to make nice lunches.
This was one I made this week to cheer myself up. It worked.

I bought the crabmeat fresh from my fishmonger.

  • 150g crabmeat
  • 2 fresh corn cobs
  • 1/2 bunch of finely chopped fresh coriander, rinsed WELL.
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 red chilli (optional- remove seeds if you don't want it super hot)
  • 1/4 cup SR flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
  • juice of a lime
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • S & P
  • rice bran oil


Peel the husks off of the corn cobs and using tongs hold it directly over the gas flame till lightly charred all over.  Now cut kernels of the husk and divide into 2 equal portions.

Blitz the coriander (roots and all!) with one half of the corn kernels and the garlic and chilli until a rough paste.

In a large bowl add the blitzed mixture in with the other half of the kernels, the crabmeat, the egg & the flour. Mix well and season.

In a small bowl mix together the sweet chilli sauce, fish sauce and lime juice & set aside.

Heat some rice bran oil in a non-stick pan till medium/high and add large tablespoons of the corn and crab batter. I did about 4 at a time.
Fry for 3-4 mins each side and set aside on paper towel.

Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

Jane Tyrrell's voice is mind blowingly divine. She stopped me in my tracks last week when I heard her sing live. This is her singing on Urthboy's track- Shruggin':

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Family Table. Part 9. Paulette Whitney from Provenance Growers

A couple of years ago when I first started writing this blog I thought about what it was that I wanted to share.

It started as a way of me sharing my food knowledge and my passion for preparing real food for our families.

More importantly though I like to think that I give people the confidence to appreciate that the magic that is the Family dining experience is NOT just about the food.

While the food is what draws us to the table it should be considered but ONE of many things that are shared and indeed NOT the most important one.

LOVE to me should always be the single most important ingredient that is shared at our family table. Without LOVE the food and the entire dining experience is just another meal. But with it our souls as well as our tummies are nourished.

It is with this in mind that on Fridays I will be sharing with you my new series- The Family Table- where super special guests share their family dining experiences with us. It is a way of appreciating that there are infinite ways of dining together.
My wish is that every single one of my readers makes The Family Table part of their own family life.

I am so excited about this series and have some of my very favourite family sorts lined up to share with us their Family Table experiences over the coming weeks.

This week I am sharing with you a lady who I truly admire.  She is a mother, a wife, a Horticulturist, a Real Food crusader and a general lady of awesome.  She has the most amazing knowledge of plants of anyone I have ever known.  She supplies several of the restaurants in Hobart with her incredible organic produce that she grows just outside of Hobart, many of which most of us have never come across.  It is her incredible and relentless drive to grow and keep alive rare & unusual heirloom variety edible plants that is nothing short of inspirational.
I feel so so grateful that there are people like Paulette in our world.

You can read her blog here.
You can find her on Facebook here.
Or on Twitter here.

Over to Paulette ~

1. Can you please share a little about how your family shares food? 

We eat together every night. Matt was a chef until six months ago when he quit his job to be full time in the garden with me, and this year we are relishing the fact that we have every evening together as a family. Most nights we like to sit around the table, but on Sundays, after the farmer's market we have movie night and enjoy a simple dinner of tasty market booty while sitting on the couch. Dinner usually begins in the garden, Heidi our youngest loves gardening and chooses her favourite kale, carrots or whatever she fancies, and helps to harvest and prepare them.

2. Do you have hard & fast eating rules?

We don't have any rules, but I encourage my girls to taste everything at least once. We also can't bear to waste food here since we've raised so much of what we eat the thought of throwing it in the bin seems obscene! I think eating real food is of the utmost importance, we only have one body and we should look after it as well as we can. We also only have one planet and should treat that accordingly, so my food 'rules' would be to eat with the greatest respect for your health and the health of our planet. And when you choose to take care of one the other follows. Real food comes without packaging, is local, fresh, chemical free and minimally processed and ultimately more delicious than it's industrial counterpart. But rules are also made to be broken, we do love pink marshmallows toasted on the fire, chocolate, chips and lollies sometimes!

3. Can you share with us where your cooking influences/inspiration are from?

Like everyone, my mum was my first influence. We always ate at the table, she was constantly collecting recipes and experimenting and including us in the process, from selecting produce to cooking and washing up. We also spent a lot of time camping and in the company of fishing/hunting types so there were often whole deer or massive bluefin tuna being butchered on our kitchen bench. I am so grateful to her for having raised us with an open mind when it comes to food. When I started seeing Matt his cookbook collection became an obsession to me. I read Larousse cover to cover and I adored Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion for the way it gave me technique and a licence to invent dishes with what was to hand. Now I am influenced by friends who are wonderful cooks, customers at our market stall who share recipes, by what we grow in the garden, and by the insanely talented, beautiful, generous and inspiring chefs we are lucky enough to work with down here.

4. Do you have a favourite cuisine?

We don't have a particular cuisine that we favour, rather we are led by ingredients. We had a wonderful crop of tomatillos this summer, so Mexican was often on the menu, I also seem to have a penchant for Japanese vegetables and herbs, right now it's a kale fest, and we have just butchered our two pigs, so I imagine it will be the festival of pork for quite some time after.....

5. Can you recall a super special meal or eating experience that has stayed with you forever?

Two meals spring to mind. The first is my mum bringing silverbeet rolls stuffed with mince and rice and baked in a tomato sauce to the hospital for me after the birth of my first daughter. It was the most nourished I have ever felt in my life! The other is a lunch I worked on with a local chef where the entire meal was made with food we gathered from land and sea on a sheep property on Bruny Island. It was a truly amazing experience watching the chef coax so much flavour from what we had to hand, cooking with fire and seasoning only with seawater, smoke and kelp.

6. Would you please share the recipe of your favourite family meal with us?

Our menu is bonkers in this house! It is thrown together with what is to hand, we rarely plan a meal then go shopping, rather an ingredient is handed to us by a fellow stallholder at the farmer's market or we have a glut of a particular vegetable, kill a rooster, or, in the case of tonight's meal, something turns up on our doorstep!

A couple of weeks ago we had our first paddock kill of our two pigs. The butcher who came to do the job is a kind hearted soul, and seeing our attitude to using every part of our pigs he rocked up a couple of days ago with some very fresh (read: still warm!) calves offal. Tonight we braised the cheeks of those calves. So here is a vague recipe: (Recipes are a foreign concept to me, I read them, then shut the book and cook, or, more often I don't look at them at all!)

Braised veal cheeks with wasabi 'green sauce':

Veal cheeks

4 veal cheeks, around 800g (brisket or shin would do)
lardo, diced, or pork back fat, substitute bacon grease, olive oil....
2 medium brown onions
a head of garlic
2 big carrots and a handful of small ones
small bunch of thyme
a couple of bay leaves
a good lug of sherry
a bunch of parsley
couple of cups of chicken stock
salt & pepper

Render the lardo (cured & spiced pork back fat, we only use this because we have it from our pigs)
Season the veal cheeks and brown in the rendered fat. Remove and pop into heavy casserole pot and deglaze the pan with sherry. Wipe out the pan, render a little more lardo and soften the onions, adding the garlic, crushed bay leaves and thyme to cook for a few moments, then deglaze again and add to the casserole. Top up the pot with chicken stock, the chopped large carrots and the stems from the parsley. Bring slowly to the boil then put on low heat or a slow oven for at least 4 hours, adding the small carrots for the last 30 minutes. Skim the fat from the top and keep for next time.

Wasabi green sauce
This is another concoction from what was to hand. Today I propagated wasabi and had to cut the plants back. Thinking I'd usually serve a rich beef dish with gremolata or horseradish, I hoped to make something between the two. I chopped and chopped about ten wasabi leaves and stems with a small clove of garlic, some parsley leaves and the zest of a small lemon. I added a couple of little, salted capers, a little olive oil, salt and lemon juice and it was delicious, but not as pungent as we'd imagined. You could substitute parsley with a little grated horseradish or, if you have a horseradish plant, the young leaves are lovely used like this.

We served all of this with Heidi's massaged kale salad (sounds odd, I know, but it works!) and potato mash loaded with butter and the cream skimmed from the top of our raw milk.

7.)  What song would be playing at the dinner table?

For us the food we choose is as much about being part of a community and creating our own culture as it is about fuelling our bodies. Our friend down the road nourishes our ears and souls by hosting travelling musicians in his paddock. Recently we were treated to this wonderful woman, Liz Stringer, accompanied by Van Walker and Jeff Lang singing in the forest, in the rain. This is Elsie's favourite track. 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Do you mind if you and I share the sky?

On Friday night Mr Girlfriend and I took our eldest two lads to the Recital Centre to hear Paul Kelly.

He has been a huge part of our family's musical history.

Mr Girlfriend and I fell in love to his music over 25 years ago & our boys have grown up listening to his words & songs & now play his music on their various instruments.

Their tickets were birthday presents.

It was a special night.

A bit of mine & Mr Girlfriend's history shared with our big two.

Sharing our sky with them.


Lots of people find fish super tricky.
Tricky enough to put them off cooking it.

I think we just need to find simple ways to take away the trickiness.
Buying fillets can help a lot if you are a beginner.
This is a super easy way to dish up a delicious fish dinner.  A fifteen minute fish dish! WIN!
I had leftovers of the crumb mix which is what inspired my Chorizo & Pork sausage rolls.
  • 3 slices stale sourdough, crusts removed and cut into large chunks
  • 2 chorizo sausage, skin peeled off and cut into chunks
  • rind of half a lemon
  • a good handful of Italian parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika (regular sweet will work if you don't have the Spanish variety)
  • 1 large red chilli, seeds removed
  • 4 x 150g firm fish fillets (I used Blue-Eye but ask your fishmonger for the best available)
Blitz sourdough, chorizo, lemon rind, garlic, smoked paprika, parsley& chilli.

Place crumb on to individual fillets pressing firmly and pop into fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C.

Place fillets into an ovenproof dish and bake for 12 minutes.

I served mine with my Ancient Grain salad.

I cried when Paul Kelly sang this.
Mr Girlfriend sings it to me......His fave line...."you walked into the ball dressed by St.Vincent de Paul...."

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Countdown is on

We started in mid-March and now here we are in August just about to complete our renovation.

On the weekend I  lay some tiles on the bathroom floor to see how they would look.

The painter is now painting & the tiler will lay those tiles next week.

Luckily the 10yo was there inspecting in his matching beanie.

I can not tell you how exciting it is to be so close the the finish line.

Our large family has been cocooned into a very very small house for 6 years.

One bathroom & one toilet IN that bathroom. A challenge to say the least.....

And really up until 18mths ago this was ok- but then the big kids got really big.

Adult size.

Now it is not so easy.

We are all super excited to think that soon we may have trouble finding each other and that we will actually have private spaces- not only that but a CHOICE of spaces.


It has been worth the wait to see this house that I designed just about finished.

Slow Cooked Spiced Pork Belly with Peanut Chilli Sambal:
Who doesn't love a bit of Pork Belly?
It is a rich decadent special occasion type food but sheesh ......sooooo good!
This is really quite easy but requires a LONG time so may be a weekend dish for most.
The Peanut Chilli sambal is a perfect zesty, crunchy accompaniment to the unctuous melt in your mouth pork.
For the Sambal:

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 lime- zest & juice
  • 3 red chillies, chopped super fine (de-seed if you are not keen on firey chilli!)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts , chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons Palm Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Fish sauce
  • 2 eschalots
  • the roots of 5-6 fresh coriander plants chopped super fine
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • water if necessary
For the Pork Belly:
  • 1.5kg Organic pork belly (have your butcher score the belly well)
  • 2 tablespoons of Salt & Pepper spice mix (recipe here
  • extra salt


Preheat oven to 120C.

Boil a full kettle of water.

Place belly on a rack in the sink and pour entire contents of kettle over the belly & let drain away.

Dry with paper towel and place rack onto baking tray.

Rub well with Salt & Pepper spice mix & extra salt (not more than a tablespoon) to coat skin well.

Add about 2 cups of water to the baking tray and pop in oven, skin facing UP.

Roast for 8 hours.

You can make the Sambal while the pork belly cooks slowly.

Heat canola oil in a saucepan to medium heat and add the eschalots and garlic.

Cook till soft & fragrant and add the chilli & palm sugar, stirring well till the sugar melts.

Add the coriander roots & peanuts, stir to coat.

Now add the fish sauce & lime juice- adjust if necessary to taste.

Add water if necessary & simmer for 5 minutes.

Set aside to serve with cooked Pork (can be reheated if desired).

Once Pork has been cooking for 8 hours turn up the temp to 220C.

Roast for a further 20 minutes or until crackling is crisp.

Remove and serve with steamed rice, Asian greens & Chilli Peanut Sambal.

Pretty darn excited about seeing my eldest perform this piece as part of a band in a concert hall on Tuesday night.
He plays the drums in it.
It is the theme song from a great old Anime series called Cowboy BeBop.
We love Anime- are you a fan?

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Family Table. Part 8. Bianca Wordley from BigWords

A couple of years ago when I first started writing this blog I thought about what it was that I wanted to share.

It started as a way of me sharing my food knowledge and my passion for preparing real food for our families.

More importantly though I like to think that I give people the confidence to appreciate that the magic that is the Family dining experience is NOT just about the food.

While the food is what draws us to the table it should be considered but ONE of many things that are shared and indeed NOT the most important one.

LOVE to me should always be the single most important ingredient that is shared at our family table. Without LOVE the food and the entire dining experience is just another meal. But with it our souls as well as our tummies are nourished.

It is with this in mind that on Fridays I will be sharing with you my new series- The Family Table- where super special guests share their family dining experiences with us. It is a way of appreciating that there are infinite ways of dining together.
My wish is that every single one of my readers makes The Family Table part of their own family life.

I am so excited about this series and have some of my very favourite family sorts lined up to share with us their Family Table experiences over the coming weeks.

Today I am sharing with you another blogger and lady of lovely who lives in my home town of Adelaide. She has a talent with words amongst other things, I always love to read her take on things. She is super clever, savvy and super nice. She juggles her writing commitments with being a mum to three young girls.

We like to hang out at the back of blog conferences together like the naughty kids at the back of the bus.

You might know her blog Big Words- if not skip on over here to read it.
Recently Bianca and her family purchased a vintage Caravan named Audrey which she sometimes uses as an office. I want one too!

Over to Bianca ~
1).Can you please share a little about how your family shares food?
Our family is not a “sit down and eat together” type – we break all the parenting rules. Occasionally we give it a go – you know Sunday roast and all that, but with our kids so little still it generally ends up with someone shouting at someone else. At the moment, our only hard and fast rule is do what gets us through the night happy. Most nights we eat in front of the TV, sometimes our kids eat in their room, sometimes we go to the park with a big bag of chips and eat on the grass. Lately, we’ve been eating in the driveway. Yep, you heard right – our driveway. We recently got a retro caravan and when we are not traveling in it, we sit in it or by eat and eat meals. It makes us feel like we’re on holidays, when we’re not.

2).Do you have hard & fast eating rules?

Our kids have different tastes; two will eat anything, one will eat nothing. My husband and I tend to go from eating way too much junk to being super-healthy. We need to find a better balance. Food should be all about great flavours, fresh produce and, most importantly, have a sense of playfulness about it.

3).Can you share with us where your cooking influences/inspiration are from?

I am not the cook in the house. I do like baking cakes, biscuits and have tried my hand at bread, but I suppose you can say my biggest influence is my husband. He is amazing in the kitchen and a really patient teacher.

4).Do you have a favourite cuisine?

I find it hard to go past Indian, Italian and authentic Asian flavours, but if you put a schnitzel, mash and a slice of lemon in front of me I am at my happiest!

5).Can you recall a super special meal or eating experience that has stayed with you forever?
Fresh marina pasta in a little restaurant perched atop rocks, in a bay in the Cinque Terre. It was our honeymoon. I’ll never forget it.

6). Would you please share the recipe of your favourite family meal with us?

Pancakes would have to be one of our favourites, but we also love this little gem.

Roasted banana splits with chocolate:

(You can cook these in the oven, but we do them on the BBQ or campfire)

Cut your banana down the middle (not all the way through).

Sprinkle choc buds or chunks of dark chocolate down the centre.

Wrap in alfoil.

Bake until the bananas are soft and the chocolate has melted - the more gooey the better.

If you don’t like chocolate, you can cook the banana and then drizzle it with honey and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Serve hot with thickened cream or ice cream.
Simple, delicious and fun!

7). What song would be playing at the dinner table?
I Love It – Icona Pop

I am so grateful that you joined my Family Table, thankyou  Bianca. xxxx