Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Cucumber And Yoghurt Soup - Perfect For A Hot And Steamy Night

Who can believe that we are now in the thick of 2018?  And here is my first recipe blog post for the year - a cold, smooth soup that is just right for the very steamy nights we are having here in sunny Brisbane.  Ironically, Mr P. and I went down to (usually) cool, grey Melbourne to visit family and friends and boiled in the 41C heat!  (105F for you folk of North American climes.)

Years ago when I lived in share houses with lots of crazy people, my housemate and I used to make a version of this soup with loads of garlic.  We didn't have a food processor so I guess we had to grate and chop everything by hand.  Eek!  Must have taken us ages.  Worth it though:=)  We all went around the next day with garlic burn - hmm, I mean breath.  

dive in to some icy cool soup 

Recipe from the brain of Sherry's Pickings:

Serves 4 as an entrée, generously:


1.5 long thin cucumbers, roughly peeled and chopped into large chunks = approx. 470g. (1 lb.)

3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

a (very) large handful of walnuts - about 80g.

1 large, ripe avocado - peeled and chopped into large chunks

zest and juice of 1 large lime (or 2 small)

sea salt to taste - maybe 1/4-1/2 tsp

ground black pepper to taste 

200 mLs iced water - add more if you like it thinner

a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)

5-6 ice cubes, plus extra for serving

1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

500g. plain thick yoghurt

a large handful of green herbs, torn roughly or chopped - I used chives and parsley but use your fave - plus extra for serving


Pretty much, you are just going to blitz everything in your food processor

Start off with the chunks of cucumber and whizz

Then add the garlic cloves; and whizz some more

Throw in the walnuts and yep - blitz 'em

Add the rest of the ingredients except the yoghurt and herbs and blitz away till smooth and lush

Now chuck in the yoghurt and herbs and whizz again

Serve with the extra herbs, and throw in an ice cube or 2 to each bowl if desired

Nice with a brown rice cracker or 2


Use whatever kind of cucumber you prefer; it will all taste good

Dill and mint are also good in this soup but we like parsley and chives more:=)

Experiment with the amounts and herbs; have it how you like it

Make sure you have a large food processor, or make it in batches

I only added half the yoghurt into the processor, then whisked in the rest later

Sparkling water gives it a nice zing

gather your ingredients

zap those cukes

more zapping (I used sparkling water)

lots of blitzing later...

pour into a large bowl and whisk in the ice cubes 

sprinkle on some extra herbs

This soup will leave you feeling very virtuous and refreshed.  All that delicious and tasty, nutty. garlicky fun.  Just make sure your loved one eats it too.

my cucumber doodle

Monday, 1 January 2018

In My Kitchen - January 2018

I gulped when I wrote that title!  But I'm really looking forward to a new year, as this one wasn't the best year in the Pickings' household chronicles.  A death, lots of illness, misunderstandings and general all-round funky vibes, as in the smelly and musty sense. 

As I promised/warned in my last post, this is IMK Lite this month.  Just a quick hellooo before the New Year arrives.  I hope you have all had a wonderful, fulfilling holiday break.  We had a very quiet Christmas on our own mostly, but with a brief lunch foray to some friends down the road.  Air con essential in this hot and humid Summer we are having. 

Just in case you've forgotten how after your Christmas stupor (kidding) :=)

Here are the options again to add your post:

1. Adding via the link button at the bottom of this post.  Instructions can be found on the sidebar of this page, under Add your IMK link
2. Comment on this post, providing a link to your post so I can add it to the linky list below
3. Email me: sherrym1au@gmail.com, with your link or any queries about the link process

So, in my hot summery kitchen:

cute leafy tumblers

Yep you guessed it; these are from our friend Brooke at Red Door Studio.  I do like a good, solid tumbler to drink water from.  And this is good - and solid.

more oil and garlic

I always order a box of biodynamic garlic every Christmas from Elmswood Farm.  I was worried I might run out (eek! garlic panic), so I bought an extra box this year plus more olive oil.  The cloves with skin on, go into the freezer in plastic bags and last us all year.

Discworld tea towel 

Do you know the Discworld?  Have you read Terry Pratchett?  I am a big fan of his literary creations, and I love Gimlet's Deli which sells only the best rat pie surprise.  Free range rats of course.

I do have a few more things I could show you, but I will save them for the February IMK, when we are all back on board.  Happy New Year, folks!  It has been a big pleasure being your host this year.  See you next year.  Thanks heaps for joining in, especially to the stalwarts who manage it very often.  Much appreciated and enjoyed by us all.


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Sherrys Pickings

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Why French vanilla?  No idea, except that's the name in the recipe book.  I'm using my home-made vanilla extract based on vodka and a heap of vanilla beans.  Sooo - not French in fact.  This is another recipe from the book Dinner with Georgia O'Keeffe, by Robyn Lea.  The dishes are generally fairly simple ones, often based on the produce from her extensive vegetable garden.  She was undoubtedly a hippie before anyone else, eating a mostly vegetarian diet. 

Mr P. is a big fan of vanilla ice cream so this one is for him.  I, on the other hand have a sad tale to tell you.  For one, I was allergic to dairy my whole life but didn't know it till I was in my thirties.  As kids, we ate heaps of ice cream, and drank loads of milk, which led to years of stomach aches for me.  The smell of warm milk still makes me want to heave.  Yep, I know you really needed to hear that :=)  

our friend Gay holding her bowl of melty ice cream

Two, I had a pair of boots which I loved dearly.  They used to sit at night on the floor, near the head of my bed - like Linus and his blanket.  One day I had a virus thingy, so mum put me to bed, boots nearby.  And she gave me vanilla ice cream to soothe the savage beast.  Yep, you can guess what happened next.  I threw up, over the edge of the bed, and splat! right into my beautiful boots.  See, another reason not to be fond of the creamy, lactose-ridden substance.  I didn't eat it again for years, and am still wary of its hidden dangers.     

Makes just over 1 Litre:


2 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup of honey

1 cup (250 mLs) thickened cream

1 cup (250 mLs) condensed milk

2-4 tsp vanilla extract or paste

50g. roasted, chopped macadamias or your fave nut

fresh fruit to serve


Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thick and luscious

Gradually beat in the honey till even more thick, luscious and voluminous 

Now add the cream, condensed milk and vanilla to the bowl

Beat till just combined

Pour the mixture into a baking tray and place in the freezer till partially firm - this took about an hour

Put a large bowl in the freezer at the same time to chill 

After an hour or so, whip the egg whites in your supremely, superbly clean bowl (with ultra-clean beaters) till stiff peaks form

Now take out the tray and place the eggy, freezy mixture into the chilled bowl

Spoon in the egg whites, and give it all a good turn with a large, metal spoon

Then grab the electric beaters and give it a good whizz till combined - but go at it like a Buddhist monk, not a Sumo wrestler

Pour the shiny, smooth mixture into an ice cream container with a lid

Into the freezer it goes till nicely frozen

Serve with fresh fruit, and the roasted nuts scattered over the top 


You may not be as keen on vanilla as Mr P., so only use 2 or 3 tsp if you fear it will be too much for you

(Turns out French vanilla refers to an egg custard based method of making ice cream - you probably knew this already)

We found the amount of honey more than adequate, but the original recipe does call for half a cup!  Georgia decided to make it only a quarter cup, and you could possibly go for even less, depending on the type of honey you have

ingredients gathered

egg yolks and honey beaten together 

cream, condensed milk and vanilla added in 

pour the mixture into a tray and freeze for about an hour 

beat the egg whites till stiff (and sorry for themselves)

after an hour in the freezer (I feel like diving into the bowl)

add the egg whites to the mix (extra vanilla was added here)

ready for the freezer 

our Tassie mate Gay and Mr P. ready to indulge

They told me in no uncertain terms to "Hurry up! The ice cream is melting."  This really is a smooth, creamy, vanilla-enhanced dessert, just perfect with the addition of the beautiful Summer cherries, and a handful of freshly roasted and blitzed nuts.

another look at my macadamia doodle :)

So my friends, that's it for another year.  The Pickings' household is taking a Christmas break, and the blog will be back next year in January sometime.  Date to be decided :=)  Well, except for a brief IMK Lite on January 1!  So if you have any time and the inclination, hope to see you briefly here for In My Kitchen.

my beany doodle

Friday, 15 December 2017

A Cracked Rib, Christmas Cheer And A Weekend Away

What do you really need a month out from Christmas?  Yes indeed, to trip over and crack your rib, and render yourself useless in the Holiday rush.  Not happy Jan, as the ad used to say.  So Christmas will be a very minor bump in the road of a not so great 2017.

some candy canes (my doodle) to cheer myself up:=)

Mr P. is also feeling a bit out of sorts at the moment, so we headed down to our fave getaway - Northern Rivers, just over the Queensland border for those not from these parts.  It is beautifully green down there, and guess what, it rains and storms nearly every time we head down.  And yes we had a storm the second night.  But it is glorious with the lightning flashing over the river and nearby hills.

sunset over the river

the view from our room

And yes the light really was that brilliant yellow, making everything gleam like jewels in the twilight.  Very magical.

the bedroom

We stayed at the Ramada Hotel and Suites Ballina, which overlooks the Richmond River.  You will often see dolphins, sea turtles, fish and even rays making their way up and down the water.  There are gulls and terns, pelicans, cormorants and darters fishing and flitting about, grabbing fish and crabs on the go.

another view of the stormy sky from our hotel window 

So Mr P. and I spent a couple of days seeing the sights.  Here is - ta da!  a real butcher.  Yes I have a thing about butchers.  Call me weird if you like, but I love seeing real butchers cutting up real meats.  This is in Wigmore Arcade, Ballina.  A treasure for sure.

a real butcher!

Now here's something you don't see much of these days - a real butcher.  And yes there was a corpse hanging in the backroom - a Bangalow pig I think:=) 

the front (or back?) of the new gallery - look at all those solar panels! 

We meandered on to the Lismore Regional Gallery, newly opened after moving from its old premises round the corner (and after the awful flood earlier this year).  It is situated in the Quad, with the Library on the kitty cat corner.  I think this is the actual front of the building though the obvious access from the carpark is at the back. 

my chicken, cheese wrap 

We had lunch at Slate Café which is in the Gallery building.  Mr P. had nachos, while I had this chicken, cheesy wrap.  Nice and healthy, but a wee bit too much dill for me.  Dill was clearly the herb du jour as we had buckets of it at another café too.

the Emporium at Newrybar 

Newrybar used to be a teeny, tiny little hamlet with a general store and a petrol pump, and an antique shop full of junk.  Now it is home to Harvest, an incredibly popular restaurant with its own garden and forager.  And this place - I have to say an incredibly expensive boutique establishment with lots of wonderful and pricey things.  But then again, well-heeled Sydneysiders flock to it flashing their cash...

our friend Brooke's pottery studio - Red Door

We trotted along to our friend Brooke's studio at Fernleigh in the hinterland.  She was very busy!  So we had a quick yack, and I bought a few things for Chrissie gifts.  As regular readers will know, I have many of her things in my kitchen.  But there's always room for more.

a current exhibition at Tweed Regional Gallery  

As always we stopped off at Tweed Regional Gallery to have lunch and a wander round.  (I was also picking up a painting I'd bought a couple of months ago from one of their exhibitions.)  This is part of the Adventures of Aecap exhibition.

We had a great time as we always do here, and if you get a chance, it's definitely worth a few days in the Northern Rivers area.  Oh, and I didn't even mention the lovely beaches, and hinterland drives, and the Byron Bay Lighthouse, and the quaint little villages up in the hills, and the produce...

last year's Christmas doodle

Friday, 8 December 2017

Black Cherry Jam And Coconut/Macadamia Slice

Mum had 4 hungry mouths to feed (plus Dad) so she was always on the lookout for cheap and cheerful meals to make for us all.  She used to make her own blackberry jam from the berries we picked in Summer (which we also sold to the Monbulk Jam Factory nearby).  Can you imagine anyone nowadays using berries that had been picked by dozens of anonymous little kids out in the bush?  

I made these the other day for a food competition.  It really brought back the memories of childhood.  I'm not a big jam eater, but I do like a bit of the French black cherry variety.  So I decided to use that in this slice, and to add chopped macadamias rather than all coconut, for a bit of added texture and nuttiness.  (Nuttiness?  like me, do I hear you ask?) 

very tasty, my dears

(Based on a recipe from Taste.com.au; slightly adapted by moi:)

Serves: many :=) 


250g. ( 2 cups) plain flour

210g. (1 cup) caster sugar

125g. (1/2 cup) butter, chilled and cubed

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

245g. (3/4 cup) of your fave jam - I used black cherry

85g. (1 cup) dessicated/shredded coconut

120g. (1 cup) of macadamias, chopped roughly into very small pieces or blitzed in the processor till crumb-like


Turn on the oven to 180C

Butter and line a slice/lamington tray with baking paper

Place the flour, half the sugar and all the butter into a food processor

Whizz till it's like bread crumbs

Add 1 egg and the vanilla

Whizz again till it forms a dough

Press the dough into your baking tray

Bake for 15-20 minutes till lightly golden

Spread the jam over the warm base

Now whisk the other 2 eggs and the other half of the sugar together, just till they're well combined

Stir in the coconut and the chopped macadamias

Spread it evenly over the jam and bake for around 25 minutes - it will be a lovely golden colour on top

Let it cool completely in the tray then slice it up


My tray is about 30cm x 30cm x 5cm (8 x 8 x 2 inches)

I used my small processor to chop the nuts - so much easier:=)  You want some texture so leave some large bits

ingredients gathered

blitz the nuts till they look like large bread crumbs 

whizz the flour, sugar and butter till crumb-like   

add the egg and vanilla and keep whizzing till it forms a ball 

spread the dough out on the base of the tin and bake for 15-20 mins.  

whisk the eggs and stir in the sugar, coconut and macadamias 

slather the topping over the baked base and jam   

out of the oven and ready to slice

have a cuppa and a big slice of Slice :=)

my macadoodles

Friday, 1 December 2017

In My Kitchen - December 2017

Can you believe it, my friends?  The last IMK post for the year already.  How did that happen?  I'm sitting here feeling a bit overwhelmed to be honest.  I tripped over a few days ago, and have done myself some damage.  So no housework or chores have been done, and I am sitting here trying not to move too much.  And there's so much to do before Xmas - eek!

You know the drill but here it is again:

Here are the options again to add your post:

1. Adding via the link button at the bottom of this post.  Instructions can be found on the sidebar of this page, under Add your IMK link
2. Comment on this post, providing a link to your post so I can add it to the linky list below
3. Email me: sherrym1au@gmail.com, with your link or any queries about the link process

limes in my kitchen 

Our friend with the lime tree handed over some more of his bounty.  Thanks Andrew!  I use them all the time - over fish or chicken or salads or just to clean my wooden chopping boards.

love Enid Blyton 

I adored Enid Blyton's books when I was a child.  I really wanted to be one of the Famous Five so desperately.  I even planned to climb out my bedroom window and meet up with a friend at midnight!  But I fell asleep before that could happen.  She might still be waiting...  How could I possibly not buy the book then?  The recipes look simple, so I will give it a go and report back in the New Year.

beautiful ceramic plate by Starr, a local artist

I just now took this photo, so the light isn't great.  We had a big storm this morning and it has stayed grey all day.  Weird Spring weather!  Starr creates beautiful paintings, and has now expanded her repertoire into ceramics.  Mm, I may have to give Mr P. a hint for Xmas gifts.

ice-cream container

This is fabulous and just in time for Summer.  It fits into the freezer door, and is shaped to make scooping easier.  I can't wait to make some ice-cream and try it out.  (There's actually a recipe coming up soon.)

soy sauce (?) hopefully

I visited the local Japanese grocery store a few weeks ago, and ended up with this little beauty - all in Japanese, so I'm really praying it is soy sauce!

delicious fudge from our friend Marisia

Marisia makes wonderful, creamy fudge.  She is a dynamo with a hubby and kids, and a hairdressing business, and the fudge business and a coffee truck... well, I am pooped just listing it all.  She can be found at lots of Brisbane markets.  Check out her Facebook page, and you will see her marvellous coffee van Effie, the gorgeous Ford.

well, these could be anything:=)

The tiny biscuits on the left were chocolate, I think - not sweet at all.  The ones on the right were curry-flavoured rice crackers, most likely.  They are kin to the 'soft salad' crackers we usually buy, which are the most delicious and ever so slightly fishy rice crackers of large dimension.  Sounds like something out of The Princess Bride, doesn't it?

gotta love a green Kit-Kat

These were very green and a wee bit bitter, due to the matcha flavouring.  Not sure I would choose to have these again, but they were interesting.  I really want to go to Japan, to the Kit-Kat museum, and check it out.  I need to try those seasonal flavours.

my home-made mustard

Mr P. is a huge mustard fan, so I have to make a big batch a couple of times a year.  It's always a bit different, depending on the honey I use, and the various herbs and tomatoes.

Just to let you know re. next month's IMK: it will be IMK Lite!  I am going to take a month off over Xmas/New Year but I will put up the link so you guys can add your post.  I will drop by to check it out, but will leave commenting etc. till after my summer hiatus:=)

Thanks so much everyone for joining in for this last IMK post of 2017.  It has been wonderful being your host, and I really hope to see you all again next year.  Merry merry Christmas to you all!

my Xmas pudding doodlle

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Sherrys Pickings