Thursday, 5 May 2016

In My Kitchen May 2016

Hey guess what?  It rained yesterday.  It has been so hot and so dry and so ridiculously long winded this summer - aaarrgghh.  So a bit of rain was wonderful.  But it brings out the toads which is not good for your pets.  Toad poison can even kill humans apparently. We were puppy sitting so had to do toad patrol before letting her out for her goodnight pee.  Toads were on the rampage so Mr P. killed a few with his handy bottle of Dettol.  Oh the fun:=)

Well, that's not what this post is about.  Though you may get to see a photo of the wee pup as she was definitely in the yard if not the kitchen.  I thought I had very little to show for the past month, but as usual it turns out I was up to more than I first thought.  So here we have:

In my kitchen:

overnight bread once again   

Mr P. loves his bread so I made him some sundried tomato overnight bread again. Soooo easy even if I did burn the top a wee bit. 

oil from our recent Stanthorpe trip  

The olives were about to be harvested so this is obviously last year's crop.  I can't wait till the new harvest of oils is available from the various growers around the country.

now that's a whopper of a herby bagful 

I bought this at a Greek deli recently.  I couldn't find it on the shelves so the owner asked the young helper to get it for me.  I don't know what he said to him but the boy went leaping up the stairs grumbling away and came back with this almighty bush of oregano!

another cute spotty dotty enamel jug    

I bought this cute jug in Tenterfield NSW on our recent trip to celebrate Mr P.'s birthday. I found it in an old-fashioned haberdashery store filled to the brim with wonderful stuff, like Aladdin's cave.  I adore dots, my friends!

local honey from down the road - literally!   

This is truly local honey from about 1 kilometre away.  Friends of ours have neighbours with a hive, and we were lucky enough to be given a jar.  So amazing when it is this fresh and untreated. Incredible that you can have your own honey in the 'burbs.

no, don't go!  

This is Scout, red staffie extraordinaire.  Only 10 weeks old but so smart already.  And you can see the muscles under her puppy fat. She is going to be a big, strong girl.

an octopus tumbler/tealight holder    

and a seahorse one   

flowers from Scout's family for puppy sitting       

noooo, I didn't chew that rubber mat naah not me  

That is cobwebs all over her face.  She went for a sniff around the place and found some old cobwebs to dress herself in.

yerba mate tea cup made from a gourd   

This tea cup is from Peru, brought back by a friend who has just spent 2 months travelling in South America.  It is carved from a gourd, with leather on the outside and has a metal base and straw.  I think this one is decorative rather than practical. 

new olive oil! 

Speaking of latest harvest olive oil, this just came in the post today! Better hurry if you want some - only 2000 odd bottles left in stock according to the website.

can you guess?  yes macadamias  

Not far from our house is a nook of wild macadamias.  The trees are full of nuts that are about to get ripe and fall off, so I will be checking regularly for the bounty.  They can be made into milk, or whatever takes my fancy.  Next month hopefully I will have a nice amount to show you.

Scout again  

Well, I had to end with another photo of Scout naturally.  Here she is chewing on a stick in the sunshine.  That tongue is just delightfully pink!

Join lots of happy global bloggers displaying their latest creations and acquisitions with Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Nigella's Cauliflower And Cashew Nut Curry

I am on a Nigella roll at the moment (is that like a Spring Roll?) as you may have noticed while I go through her latest book.  This one is very different from her previous tomes.  She is clearly swimming in the zeitgeist pool here, using all the trendy stuff like chia seeds, extra virgin coconut oil, buckwheat flour, lots of veggies, chickpeas, heaps of lime and chilli and ginger - well, you get the picture.  Just as well I love all that stuff, well maybe not so much with the chia seeds and buckwheat flour.

Do I look odd to you, folks?  I think I must have been a strange kid. I always ate my vegetables, including cauliflower quite happily.  In fact it came as a surprise to me later in life to hear people talking about how hard it is to get kids to eat their veggies.  They were never an optional extra back in my childhood days.  You sat at the dining table till everything was eaten, even if you sat there till bedtime.  And then you might get it for breakfast in the morning. Nothing like cold spaghetti with a bit of milk and sugar to get you through a day at school.

delish cauli curry

Here we have a cauliflower recipe, loaded with Miss N.'s flavours du jour - lime, chilli and ginger.  Oh, except I forgot to buy a lime so had to make do with a lemon.  I don't think she would object as she has always been a fan of thrift and common sense.  

I think she has gone slightly mad in the pages of this book though. She uses items like raw liquorice powder without telling you how you can find it.  She has coconut butter in one recipe; no mention of what, where, how to find this.  For this curry recipe, she says to use coconut oil without giving any alternative.  Now I find coconut oil the devil's work, and refuse to have it in my pantry so have used olive oil as I do for everything.  It worked out fine!

Serves 2:


1 medium size cauliflower (about 600g. before cleaning)

2-3 teaspoons sea salt flakes

2-3 bay leaves

75g. cashew nuts

1 tbs olive oil or oil of your choice (she uses 15ml spoons)

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 tsp ginger, finely chopped or grated

3 cardamom pods

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbs coriander stalks, finely chopped

1/4 cup (60 mls) Thai red curry paste

1 x 400 mls can of coconut milk

1 lime, juiced

coriander leaves to serve

naan bread to serve (optional)


Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil

Chop the cauli into large bite-sized pieces

Throw 2 tsp of the salt, and the bay leaves into the boiling water

Tip in the cauli and boil for 4-5 minutes till just tender, then drain

Place the cashews in a small pan without oil and toss for a few minutes till lightly roasted

Heat the oil in a wok or pan 

In go the spring onions, ginger, cardamom (lightly bashed first to release the seeds) and cumin seeds - give it a stir

Next you add the coriander stalks and stir it for a minute

Stir in the curry paste and let it cook down for a couple of minutes

Pour in the coconut milk, stir and bring to a bubble

Now add the cauli pieces and the extra salt if you wish - I ended up putting an extra half a teaspoon of salt at this point so 2.5 spoons all up

Cover with a lid and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes

Now stir in half the cashews, and the lime juice

Check for seasoning; top with coriander leaves and the rest of the cashews

Serve with heated naan bread

ingredients gathered  

chuck the cauli into the boiling water 

toss the nuts in the pan till golden   

stir the aromates in the hot oil    

stir in the coconut milk 

cauli goes in next   

squeeze in the lime juice and throw on the nuts after simmering for a few minutes  

garnish with coriander leaves  

I served this with the warmed naan bread, and I threw some roast chicken breast into the curry too.  It is a very tasty dish, and Mr P. thoroughly approved.  I think if I keep on with the recipes from this book, I will end up feeling very virtuous indeed.

my whacko, hybrid cauli doodle

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Spoons Glorious Spoons - What Is There More Handsome? and so on...

Yep I couldn't resist a wee tribute to Oliver The Musical there.  As some fellow bloggers would know - yes I'm looking at you Tiffin Fiona - I adore wooden spoons in all their glorious forms.  When you come into my kitchen and pantry, you will be able to divine this very readily.  Long, short, round, oval, thin and fat, I have them all.  So here is a brief introduction to my collection:

glorious spoons!

On the left is my fragrant Huon pine ladle all the way from gorgeous Tasmania.  I adore Huon pine, so sweet smelling, so smooth to the touch, so ancient.  Next comes my spurtle; some of you may have seen it on an IMK post.  I think it is pine but not Huon. Perfect for porridge and sauces, and getting into the nooks and crannies of your saucepans.

In pride of place is my beautiful, handcrafted walnut spoon/ladle all the way from Colorado, USA.  The very talented Robert from KitchenCarvings hand carves all his spoons and kitchen utensils from trees that have either blown down or had to be felled due to old age.   

Then you can see my cute small-bowled spoon which came from the bloggers' conference in Canberra last October.  It comes from The Essential Ingredient, and is a handy little fella.  And on the end you can see an olive wood ladle from Israel.  Or maybe Greece.  I bought it in a deli cum kitchenware shop in Brisbane.

and more

The first 2 come from Stanthorpe, bought on one of our annual trips out there.  The first one is made from the mantelpiece of a historic home that was being demolished.  It is actually very long, perfect for stirring big pots of jam.  The second is from an old wine barrel. The black marks you can see along the handle are due to one of the local wineries having a fire.  The burnt barrels were made into spoons and other implements.   

Next we have another hand carved spoon by Robert, this time made from sugar maple. He carves them, and his wife sands and polishes them so it is a real family affair.  That is why it takes so long for them to turn up!  Then you can see a one-cup beech wood measuring spoon, which is from the Hairy Bikers' range.  Their stuff is big and robust, just like them.

lots of wee ones

I would be lying if I told you where these come from.  I haven't a clue!  They have been collected or given to me, over time.  They are all very small and just so cute.

this gives you a sense of the scale 

a rimu stirrer from New Zealand 

This is such a handy implement, made from native NZ rimu wood. We bought it on one of our trups there (that's a little joke for any non-Antipodeans reading, referring to the NZ love of mangling their vowels).  Sorry Kiwis!

another spurtle 

And last but not least is another long, heavy spoon - not sure of its provenance, and a spurtle given to me by a Scottish friend way back when.  Notice the traditional thistle on top.

Well folks, there you have a look into my crazy collection, and this is by no means all of them.  I have lots of others, made from various woods.  I forgot to show you my French beech spoon.  Ah well, another time...

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Nigella's Split Pea Soup With Chilli, Ginger And Lime

How would you best describe the recipes from Nigella's latest cookbook?  The words "virtuous" and "wholesome" spring to mind, a bit like a Swiss milkmaid.  Think rosy cheeks and shiny hair; think cowbells tinkling and shepherds yodelling down the valleys. No, hang on, that's Heidi I'm thinking of.  

So far the book is living up to its title - Simply Nigella.   The recipes (okay, I've only made 2 so far)  are simply made, and certainly have a different feel to her previous books.  She is obviously on a bit of a health kick at the moment, which is reflected in the recipes here.  I do love the way she doesn't throw it in your face that they are low-fat, vegan or whatever though.  In fact, she says she "hates the worthy association that comes with vegan cakes", for instance.  Me too!  

healthy, low-fat soup     


500g. yellow split peas

6 spring onions, thinly sliced

3 red chillies, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, grated or minced

2 litres water

2 teaspoons vegetable or chicken stock powder

5cm. piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

zest and juice of 2 limes

salt to taste

To serve - chopped coriander leaves, and/or chillies and spring onions


Place the split peas, spring onions, chillies, garlic and water into a large, heavy-based saucepan

Give it a good stir and bring it to the boil on a medium heat

Turn it down a bit once it has boiled and boil-gently not madly-for 40-60 minutes till the split peas are tender - remember to stir it every so often otherwise it may stick to the bottom of the pan

Add more water towards the end if it is too thick for your liking

Now add the stock powder, ginger, lime zest and juice, and salt

Stir it in and top with your choice of coriander leaves, spring onions and/or chillies


Nigella does not mention rinsing the split peas first; I didn't and was worried it was too cloudy but it turned out fine in the end so your choice to rinse or not to rinse

She also suggests adding the stock powder a bit at a time but I felt not only did it need all of the 2 teaspoonsful, I actually added another half spoon.  You may even want to add a bit more!

I used chicken stock powder though Miss N. suggests veggie

looking good and healthy   

into the pan -  looks like the Mexican flag :)     

grating the garlic straight into the pan  

yep looks kinda cloudy but it turns out fine       

nice and tender

grate in the zest   

toss on the coriander leaves   

my spring onion doodle

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Commercial Boutique Hotel Tenterfield NSW - Review

Mr P. and I usually head off to Stanthorpe each winter to enjoy some nice cold weather (and snow if we are really lucky).  And yes it has snowed - well, sleeted at least - while we were there.  This time we decided to head a wee bit further south over the border to Tenterfield.  I had been wanting to check out the accommodation in this boutique hotel for a while.

see those windows on the left?  that's our room   

Last winter, we had lunch there in front of the fireplace.  This time, we stayed a couple of nights in one of their charming art deco rooms.  The hotel had previously been sitting vacant for a decade, so it was a big job for this former Brisbane couple to bring it up to speed.  And what a ripper of a job they have done.  

the back entrance via the outdoor deck  

The hotel now consists of 8 rooms, a bar which serves lunch/dinner and tapas, and a restaurant serving dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.  Run by a French chef no less! The story is that the chef was moving up to Brisbane from Tamworth but his van broke down in Tenterfield and here he stayed.  Lucky for the hotel and lucky for the diners.

the bathtub in our huge bathroom   

Personally I would need a ladder to get into this tub, but I'm sure taller folks would love to climb in.  I loved the huge shower with rain shower head, and the lovely, sweet-scented and organic bath amenities (which you can purchase from the hotel if you really love them).  The basket weave tiles were a hit with both of us; Mr P. being a building designer found them particularly fascinating as we hadn't come across them before.  Oh did I mention the heated towel racks?  Fabulous on a cold morning.

yep that's me in the mirror   

Okay so I am not the tallest person in the world but I did feel this room was meant for taller folk than me.  I literally couldn't see myself in the mirror, and I would need a cherry picker to get me in the bath.  Even the wardrobe was a bit giant size and I could barely on my tippy-toes reach the hanger part inside.  I sometimes get the feeling that interior designers are 6 feet tall blokes who have no idea about the fairer sex needing a bit of leeway in the height department.:=)

that's BB my travelling bunny on the mantel  

We loved the decor, and the calm and relaxing atmosphere but there were a few quibbles.  Hubby and I both like lots of surfaces to put our stuff on when we are away. Fortunately there is a mantel which helps but we would have loved a small coffee table in front of the lounge and perhaps an arm chair.  Mr P. who is always working would love a work desk.  Free wi-fi was a real bonus though.  And please someone tell me why hotels almost never have reading lights over the bed?  Since a lot of travellers are business people, you would think a reading light was essential.   

looking out onto the balcony  

Even though the hotel is on the main highway, the rooms are very quiet as the windows are double glazed.  The curtains are thick and heavy so they shut out the light from the streetlamps and the morning sun.  Make sure you shut the bathroom door when you go to bed 'cos wow, when we opened the bathroom door in the morning, it was like a Hollywood set lit for the next scene.

how gorgeous are these railings!  Titanic here we come... 

salmon steak, polenta and a creamy dill sauce $30.50      

Here's my dinner on our first night in.  Mr P. had the chicken pot pie.  The bar has a mates' rates special for $19, which includes this one.

chicken pot pie $19   

The next night we stayed in again and had tapas at the bar.  I have a weakness for tapas, and these really fit the bill.  I could have tucked into a few more of those arancini to be honest.

arancini $12.50 

We got an extra 2 arancini which cost another $4.  They were creamy and had a lovely mushroom-y flavour.  Stuffed olives, polenta chips and scallops were followed by the special dessert of the night - French crepes.  Mine had banana and chocolate sauce while hubby had strawberry.  These were delicious!

stuffed olives $9.50   


polenta chips $11 

The polenta chips were fine but I guess I have been spoiled by the ones at Jamie Oliver's which are sprinkled with parmesan and so damn delicious.  These were a bit flat in comparison.

scallops $17.50    

I loved these!   So firm and tasty and full of flavour.  And luckily for me, hubby isn't fond of scallops so I got more.

French crepe $12

and another crepe $12  

side entrance 

One thing to remember is that they do have a ground floor room which is suitable for disabled guests, but the other rooms are upstairs without a lift.  The helpful owner carried our bags upstairs so don't let the lift-lessness put you off.  We had a fab weekend away and I would love to come back soon.

The Commercial Boutique Hotel
288 Rouse St., Tenterfield NSW
Ph: 02 6736 4870