Sunday, 28 February 2016

My Sunday Photo 28 February 2016

The Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial   

Our niece has just joined the RAAF, so we were down in Canberra for the big parade after her first bit of training.  It was a very moving and exciting experience.  We also visited The War Memorial for the Last Post ceremony and wreath laying ceremony. It is all very moving and hubby and I both had tears in our eyes. 

My granddad was at Gallipoli; he got blown up and was sent back to England for a year before going home to Australia.  Hubby's great-uncle was in the Light Horse in WWI so we both feel very emotional about these things.  So I suggest to you all if ever in Australia/Canberra - head here!


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Fruity Chocolate Mousse - with a Surprise Twist

Fruity?  Surprise twist?  Ah chocolate...That makes everything better, doesn't it? Friends were coming over to dinner on the weekend, and just a few days beforehand, I got a text saying they were on a health kick so no dairy or sugar, or desserts.  Eek!   What to make?  Main is easy, just baked fish and salad - phew!  And the rest?  Mmm...

I was flicking through Delicious magazine the other day and I saw a vegan recipe for chocolate mousse made on fruit.  Now, it calls for raw cacao powder and honestly I was going to use it BUT when I went to the local health food store, a packet was going to cost me a mortgage payment.  So normal Dutch cocoa powder it is.  

I have varied the recipe a wee bit, as the original recipe has no sweetener at all, but I really felt it needed something.  I also doubled the amount of coconut cream as it was very thick, and needed to be thinned out a bit.  As my sister said with a twinkle in her eye, this would be really great with a bit of sugar and a whorl of cream on top :=)

Serves 4


2 very ripe bananas, chopped

2 ripe avocadoes, chopped

2 tbs hazelnut butter (or nut butter of your choice)

1/2 cup (40g.) of cocoa/cacao powder, raw or otherwise

4 tbs coconut cream or milk (chilled)

2-3 tbs rice bran syrup or maple syrup

a pinch of sea salt flakes

1/4 cup (30g.) cacao nibs

250g. berries of your choice - I used raspberries


Everything bar the cacao nibs and berries goes into a blender and you whizz it till smooth

Pour into a serving dish or tea cups

Chill for a couple of hours

Throw on the nibs and berries


Add more syrup if you like it sweeter

And more coconut cream/milk if you think it is too thick

I am thinking you could even go ahead with just one banana not 2! And maybe try a bit of vanilla extract or cinnamon

I suggest using a bit less cocoa if you use Dutch cocoa rather than raw cacao powder as it is very dark and very strong - maybe 30g.

ingredients gathered 

getting ready to whizz  

nearly whizzed up!

pop in the fridge for a couple of hours    

decorate and eat  

carry to your hungry guests - hey my shirt matches the berries :=)   

my cocoa powder foodle 

Sunday, 21 February 2016

My Sunday Photo 21 February 2016

gorgeous photo of my MIL    

My hubby's mum is now in a nursing home, but in her younger days she was a very stylish young woman.  Here she is at the races at age 16!  She was soon to be a wife and mother, having 6 children being the good Catholic girl that she was...and is.  This lovely frame was a Christmas gift from the nurses, so we decided to find a lovely photo of her for it.  Wasn't she a sweetheart?



Thursday, 18 February 2016

A - Z Guidebook - Ipswich Queensland

stunning street art in Ipswich   

I love street art, and I love owls so this beautiful artwork on a traffic signal box in the historic town of Ipswich made me leap out of the car (we had stopped ha ha!) and take a few photos.  I love that you can see the traffic light hanging over the street, and the typical old houses of the area in the background.  

Ipswich is still full of historic homes on big blocks of land, but this is expected to change very rapidly.  Ipswich is a massive growth area, and the population is expected to double in the next 15 years. So get in while you can, and check out the buildings before they become townhouses.  And don't forget to head along to the Ipswich Art Gallery which has been refurbished recently.  It is a fabulous building from the 1860's, with beautiful windows and a lovely scissor beam roof.

Join in with Fiona from Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures for the monthly get-together where we showcase travel photos.  This month, the letter I is leading the race.

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Spicy Plum Sauce

spicy and gloopy and delish! 

Surprisingly I love spicy food, and I love chillies.  Surprising because one of my earliest memories of eating curry was a beef dish that my Dad made for us one night.  Mum worked part time at the local hospital, so Dad would take over the cooking duties.  This particular night, he used a heap of curry powder and he left the pot on the stove and forgot about it.  Oh boy, was it burnt! Completely black like lumps of charcoal.  We were not well off so there was no question of throwing it out.  Those poor blackened and blightened bits of beef had to be eaten regardless.  

Even so, it did not diminish my love of spices.  And unlike my dad, I am very keen on chillies and garlic, and spectacular herbs like basil and coriander.  You get my drift - I love food that is full of flavour.  So we come to this recipe.  I had plums, I had spices, I had a desire to combine them into a spicy sauce.  And here it is.


600g. plums, roughly chopped - (don't bother to skin or de-seed)

250 mls. cider vinegar

250 mls. water

175g. brown sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground ginger

2 cm. piece of ginger root, grated

1/2 tsp allspice

3 cloves or 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick

2 small red chillies, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


Place the plums (still with skin and seeds) into a large, wide-bottomed pan

Add the vinegar and water

Bring to a boil and simmer rapidly for 10 minutes

Cool for a few minutes

Press the mixture firmly with a wooden spoon through a fine sieve into a bowl or Pyrex jug

Discard the seeds and skins

Place the plummy liquid back into the pan

Now stir the sugar and all the spices into the pan

Simmer for 20-25 minutes till it thickens

Remember to take out the cinnamon stick and the 3 cloves!

Cool for a few minutes then pour into 2 small jars which have been washed in hot, soapy water then baked in a 130C oven for 20 minutes

This sauce can be used straightaway though it will taste even better in a couple of weeks

Serve as a dipping sauce with spring rolls, or anywhere you would want a spicy relish or sauce


Make sure the jars are still hot when you pour in the sauce

Test the readiness of the sauce by putting a saucer into the freezer, leaving for 10 minutes, then spooning on a blob of the mixture - if you can run a spoon through it and it stays separated, you know it is done!

You will need a jar or bottle or 2 - enough to hold about 350 mls.

ingredients gathered  

plums, vinegar and water into the pot ready for simmering  

squishing the cooked pulpy mix thru a sieve into a 1 litre Pyrex jug  

this is what you are left with after lots of squishing down  :=)   (throw it away) 

the strained liquid goes in the pan with all the sugar and spices for 20-25 mins. simmering  

all done - 2 small jars of tangy sauce for your delectation   

ready for eating in a couple of weeks or now if you can't wait :=)  

Over Christmas, I had been reading the lovely book A Table in the Orchard by Tassie blogger Michelle Crawford.  She has a recipe for hawthorn berry sauce, but sadly haw berries are not to be found in my patch of Queensland.  I also came across a similar recipe from Karon of the blog Larder Love who suggests using plums instead. Both these ladies mention that the original recipe came from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall - you know the curly-mopped, bespectacled, whole food, organic fella.  Haw berries nil, plums the go for my hybrid, spicy version of this sauce.  Mr P. couldn't wait and had some on his Chinese leftovers. He said it was great!

my vinegar foodle   

Friday, 12 February 2016

Targa Café/Restaurant - Review

You don't need to hear again about how much we love northern New South Wales - but:=)  Mr P. and I tootled off to Byron Bay while we were down there for our anniversary, on the hunt for a decent lunch.  A lot of cafés are shut on Mondays, but this being a tourist town, there were luckily plenty of places open.  On a drive through the Byron streets, we came upon Targa in the quieter end of town.

File:Classic Moto Show 2014 (115).JPG
 no not the car, silly!  (author Dawid783)    

We were expecting the usual dismissive, hipster, oh you want service? kind of attitude that is all too common these days but we were very happily surprised to be wrong.  We were served by a friendly waitress who helped us out with the tricky new parking meters (she said they never work properly).  

Smoothies were the order of the day, and yes I had a banana one again!  Has the world gone mad?  Me the banana hater?  Yep I too think I have been taken over by an alien colonist.  Mr P. had a mixed berry one.  Smoothie that is, not an alien colonist.

banana smoothie $7.50   

This was nicely cold and frothy, and not too banana-y.  Made with yoghurt and a hint of cinnamon which gave it a subtle and spicy oomph.  

yes this was a very pink mixed berry smoothie  $7.50

Cold and frothy, just the way he likes it.  He hoovered that up very quickly.

We both had salads; chicken for me and asparagus for him.  Oh, and the obligatory bowl of chips with aioli.  Oh come on, I bet you do too:=).  You can also get burgers, steak, pasta, fish and even a twice-baked souffle if you so desire.

warm chicken salad  $18   

I really loved the freshness of this dish.  Fresh diced mango, and local macadamias, with warm poached chicken and lemon olive oil made me a happy gal.  The chicken was moist and flavoursome; I love the use of thighs here as I think it is the tastier part of the bird.

bowl of fries with aioli $9  

The fries were fine; crispy on the outside, very moreish with the aioli.  Whatever happened to good old tomato sauce?  Not that I miss it, but I just wonder if others crave it with their chips?

grilled haloumi and asparagus salad $18     

Haloumi is Mr P.'s fave cheese and as he usually orders vego when we are out, this was perfect for him.  He said the asparagus was cooked just right, and the haloumi went down very well too.  And even better, this is locally made haloumi.  He loved the tangy dressing too.  The greens are organic (and local I think), so you don't have to feel guilty about food miles or killing off the bees.  

this is the ceiling showing off a Targa car - I love it!    

love their sign too!   

We had a really enjoyable and peaceful lunch away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets.  The meals were fresh and tasty, service pleasant and helpful.  The locals are lucky to have this establishment which serves as a cafe cum restaurant and bar. They do breakfast, lunch, dinner and bar snacks.  And coffee daily from 7 am.  

(My only quibble is the 70 cents surcharge we had to pay for using a debit mastercard. We queried it as we have never had to pay this fee anywhere else in any State!  She said that's what they do.  I told you these New South Welshmen are a bit odd.)  

Targa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Passionfruit Cream

my passionfruit doodle 

Remember when we were kids?  We grew up in the country and everyone had a huge patch of mint growing wild around the al fresco toilet, and a passionfruit vine growing over the roof.  I don't know if I have mentioned the adventures we had with the outside loo?  Our neighbour was a felon, constantly in and out of jail.  He kept crazy, insane chooks (chickens for you non-Aussies), which would fly in when you were ensconced on the throne and attack you with claws outstretched. A sibling with a big broom was a huge help.    

Anyway, his son was my first boyfriend (we were 8 years old).  I used to stand outside his house, and yell out for him to come and play.  Sometimes he did, and sometimes he didn't.  One day I ran all the way down to the railway bridge to check if he was there; but he wasn't.  Oh you little heartbreaker Ronnie!

(Photo of Puffing Billy, the restored steam locomotive which runs along the Trestle Bridge where I tried to find Ronnie. - photo author Gwernol).

Here is a recipe from an old magazine, lurking in my folder of old recipes:=)  Strangely, seeing how prolifically passionfruit appear on the vine, they tend to be outrageous in price.  I read that passionfruit growing requires a great deal of manual labour (even in this modern, technological age), so perhaps that's why.    

Serves 6 - 8 


250g. little white marshmallows

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup passionfruit pulp -  about 7-8 passionfruit

2 egg whites

2 tbs caster sugar

250g. tub of sour cream

extra passionfruit pulp and whipped cream to decorate


Place the marshmallows and water into a small saucepan

Stir over a low heat till the marshmallows have melted

Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the pulp

Sit the saucepan in a bowl of icy water to cool down

Beat the egg whites till you have stiff peaks

Now pour in the caster sugar and beat into the stiff whites

Leave the fruity, marshmallow-y mix to cool and start to set

Fold the egg whites into the marshmallow mix

And now fold in the sour cream

Spoon into serving glasses and place them in the fridge for at least an hour

Decorate with the extra pulp and cream


If you can't buy those teeny marshmallows, you can use the normal size and snip into quarters with scissors dipped in cold water

If you are a bit worried about not having enough pulp ('cos who knows how much each little baby holds?), grab yourself a tin of pulp and top up with that - I had to!


melted marshmallows and pulp stirred together    

ready to eat (sorry about the fuzzy photo)    

Yep I know, it looks really pink.  I confess I could only buy a mixed pack of pink and white.  This is a very sweet and very marshmallow-y dessert.  Perhaps more for children than adults? But it is also surprisingly light and airy, so I think I will be able to manage a small(ish) bowl for dinner.

my passionfruit doodle again :) 

Monday, 8 February 2016

In My Kitchen February 2016

What's new in my kitchen at the moment?  Not much folks, to be honest.  It has been a bit of a quiet one here on the home range, though we have been out and about a fair bit.  We were down in Ballina last week for our wedding anniversary, and I picked up a couple of nice things.  But the best thing of all was this gorgeous ring from hubby.  Not strictly in my kitchen but it will be whenever I am there :=) 

my lovely anniversary gift     

Strangely it didn't quite fit my finger when hubby gave it to me, but the next day and ever since, it has been a perfect fit.

odd little biscuits

These are apparently based on an original French recipe, and are meant to be drunk with champagne.  Honestly, they were a bit weird - neither one thing nor the other.  Not a biscuit, not a macaron, not a cake.  It must be a French thing. 

here's the French champagne to go with...  

My fave champers.  It helped wash down the weird French thingies. Our friend the potter came by to share a glass with us.  We added another of her works to our collection: a huge and colourful mug.  I think you could bath the baby in that one.

now that's a mug!     

another sweet little gift from Miss B potter extraordinaire  

hand-made Polish ceramic angel    

Some mates of ours run an art gallery cum gift shop in Bangalow, down in northern NSW.  This is such a cute little village (also where the Hollywood types hang out); you really must get yourselves down there one day folks!  One of their artists comes from a family in Poland who have been making these lovely ceramic angels for decades.  This one is my kitchen angel.  Clearly my cakes will always be perfect from now on. :=)

yes another wooden spoon  

This one is just to give Fiona from Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures a laugh.  She knows of my predilection for spoons. 

tea towel showing Harvest café's location  

How can I resist a tea towel?  I have a pile of them in my linen cupboard showing lots of places we have been.  I may be a mad collector but I do actually use them.  No sitting around doing nothing.  Dishes and hands WILL be dried on them :=)   

So that's it for another month everybody.  Join in the fun with our lovely host Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

My Sunday Photo 7 February 2016

hand-painted coconut shells   

Last weekend on our anniversary trip away, we went to a local craft market.  I saw a stall with these cute painted coconut shells.  The lady told me they were hand-painted and food safe.  Our potter friend later said they were most likely painted in China and not food safe at all.  What a cynic!  Anyway they were irresistible and headed home with us (along with a few other things of course).  I think they will make lovely gifts.


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Harvest Café Newrybar New South Wales - Review

a gorgeous if very hot day here in Newrybar     

Mr P. and I have eaten here half a dozen times at least over the last couple of years. We are regular visitors down this way, and like to stop off at Newrybar and check out the deli, and have a bite to eat in the café - which is really a restaurant to be honest.

Let's get this out of the way first.  Hospitality/service in the northern NSW region is erratic to say the least, and ego-destroying to say the worst.  We were lucky enough to have a marvellous and friendly waitress serving us on this day (a boiling hot Friday last week).  Sorry I didn't get your name, lovely lady.  

lovely waitress  

preservative-free ginger beer from Byron Bay $6   

a glass of  King Valley Prosecco $12  

Mr P. loved his ginger beer; it was refreshing and not too sweet. He said, and I quote: "it was the best ginger beer I have ever had." High praise indeed from the ginger beer afficionado.  Our charming waitress told us they take the syrup and put it through the soda fountain so it is delightfully sparkling.  I had the Prosecco, also refreshing and not too sweet. :=)

Hubby had a slice of woodfired sourdough bread ($2.50), with butter and smoked salt. The bread is made right here at Harvest in the 101 year old bakery behind the restaurant.  They must have been baking the day we were there as a lot of smoke was coming towards us on the verandah.  I thought this slice looked a bit like a map of Australia.  Mr P. adores bread and this one was a winner - flavoursome and really fresh.

sourdough w/- butter and smoked salt $2.50 per slice 

In the meantime, I ate some oysters.  With local finger limes, $4.50 each.  Served on pretty and shiny rocks, with a wedge of lime on the side.  I loved these; so fresh and zippy in the mouth due to the finger lime pearls, and the smooth creaminess of the molluscs.

creamy and tangy oysters  $4.50 each   

Next came my grilled octopus.  This was a tender chunk of octopus, with just the right amount of chew.  I think some diners might find its looks a bit startling, due to a prevalence of baby octopus not that many years ago.  I found it delicious; apparently there was also sobrassada on the plate (raw, cured sausage-I looked it up), but I can't say I noticed.  I just ate up all the delicious, chewy components on my plate very happily.

grilled octopus $20  

local roasted potatoes w/- thyme $9   

The potatoes were a tiny bit too soft for me; I tend to like them quite firm but they were very tasty.  Skin-on so you get the goodness and a bit of bite.  We polished them all off easily.

beetroot plum sorrel and hazelnut dressing  $8  

I would never have thought to put beetroot and plum together but it worked well. Somewhat sweet, earthy beetroot, sweet but tangy plums and crunchy nuts added up to an enjoyable mixture of textures and flavours.

cucumber fig yoghurt & fennel pollen $17    

This was a very refreshing cucumber broth, with figs and dried (?) yoghurt.  I know I keep on about the refreshing food, but it was just so darn hot that we really appreciated anything cool and tangy on the tongue that day.

violet crumble $16   

The waitress had me at "violet ice cream".  I have a thing about floral scented food.  I know lots of people hate it but I am not one of those nay-sayers.  I love them - lavender, rose and especially violet.  The chocolate mousse was light on the tongue, the honeycomb was crunchy and sweet.  Altogether, it was a wonder and I hoovered it down.  Sorry Mr P.

pretty little eggplants growing in the front garden     

Harvest grow their own herbs and veggies in both garden beds and on the farm, and they believe in using locally grown and sourced food.  All done in a casual but up to city standard atmosphere.  We will be back! as a certain Austrian used to say.  And don't forget to drop into the deli and bakery to grab some gourmet goodies.  Not cheap but worth it.  

the 101 year old bakery out the back      

18 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar NSW 2479
Ph 02 6687 2644

Harvest Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato