Saturday, 23 November 2013

Frank Sargeson's Kitchen

Frank Sargeson's kitchen in what was once the family bach on Esmonde Road has been lovingly preserved . Is is an expression of a creative man who chose to  live a humble life, but also valued his home comforts. In his garden he grew all his own fruit and vegetables and enjoyed  turning out a good meal made from his own produce, often for friends as well.
For many years in this bach he aimed to produce work "which would be marked by an individual flavour: there would be a certain quality which would be recognised as my own and nobody else's.'  Aims which he achieved admirably.
I was lucky to go on a literary visit here recently which was organised by the North Shore Library.





Thursday, 21 November 2013

Sri Lankan Curd and Treacle.

Eating fresh curd and treacle is one of the best food memories I have of Sri Lanka. 
Love and friendship between 2 people is said to be like curd and treacle. So I was really happy to find a bottle of it at IE produce.
Treacle is made in Sri Lanka from Kithul, a species of Sri Palm tree which  grow naturally in the wild in Sri Lanka and in home gardens. It's like maple syrup or coconut nectar but has a slightly earthier flavour.
Over many generations kithul making families have tapped the palms to extract the treacle. Then it is heated gently to create the concentrated golden liquid. It has a GI Index of 35 so has slow rate of use by the body.
Apart from dribbling it over thick yoghurt ( buffalo yoghurt is best) I used some of it to make this delicious muesli. Sprinkle it over yoghurt, dribble a little more treacle over the top and serve with some fresh strawberries alongside. A lovely treat to start the day.
 Muesli with Kokonati
750 grams of rolled oats
1/2 cup of Sri Lankan treacle (I used Kokonati brand)
115 grams of slivered almonds
1/2 cup of long thread coconut
100 grams of sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons of rice bran oil


Bake for 20-30 minutes at 180 degrees C stirring from time to time until lightly toasted


Monday, 18 November 2013

Bead Pot

There are times when I just want to relax and play with my camera.
I placed some tiny beads in this little glass pot and began to shoot.  









Sunday, 17 November 2013

Lemon Curd and Coconut Ice Cream

I used some Anathoth Farm lemon curd and some coconut cream to create these luscious little pots of ice cream. The lemon flavour is the strongest. The coconut cream adds a subtle tropical note.

Serves 4


3/4 cup of chilled coconut cream
1/2 cup of Anathoth Farm lemon curd


Beat the coconut cream for 1 minute.
Beat in the lemon curd.
Pour into four tiny pots or ramekins.
Freeze for about 6 hours or until it sets to a firm ice cream consistency.
Garnish with sprigs of mint. 

Folktree Addons

These little jewel like felt addons from folktree were for sale at Fabricabrac in Grey Lynn this Saturday. It was a fundraiser for Hospice. Kids especially loved them. They were embroidered in India as part of Kate's initiative to bring employment to village women. To find out where they'll be going next go to



These delightful little creatures from Folktree were made in the Indian Himalayas. They love to snuggle into pockets, backpacks, and Christmas stockings! I love taking photographs for my daughter Kate's website ( )

Grey Lynn Farmer's Market at Auckland Zoo

The Grey Lynn Farmer's market moved out of their usual weekend spot at the Grey Lynn Community Centre to celebrate palm-oil-free food as part of Auckland Zoo's Orangutan Caring Week. Everything on sale was, of course, Palm Oil free.
Auckland Zoo is keen to persuade people not to make or buy products which contain palm oil that has been unsustainably grown. Large areas of rainforest have been destroyed and replaced by oil palms causing not only orang-utans but also hundreds of other animal species to lose their homes. The sad reality is that if the destruction of the rainforest is not stopped the great apes could be extinct in the wild as early as 2015.

Find out more ( and how to shop palm oil free)  at

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Vintage Doilies

There is something utterly charming about vintage doilies, each one painstakingly and artfully made for using at home. 



Here's something about their history from Wikepedia
"They are crocheted and sometimes knitted out of cotton or linen thread. Openwork allows the surface of the underlying object to show through. In addition to their decorative function doilies have the practical role of protecting fine-wood furniture from the scratches caused by crockery or decorative objects.
Many patterns for crocheting or knitting doilies were published by thread manufacturers in the first part of the 20th century. The designers were often anonymous. "





Mea'ai Samoa : Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Polynesia

"Come to Samoa for its beaches, it's crystalline blue Pacific waters and stunning mountain landscapes, come for its sleepy relaxing nature and to laugh and laze in its endless tropical warmth but make sure you also come for the food!" enthuses Robert Oliver in Mea'ai Samoa ( Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Polynesia).

This book is a follow up from his hugely successful Me'a Kai – a South Pacific cookbook which won Best Cookbook in the World in the 2010 Gourmand Cookbook Awards.

I was captivated by the gorgeous photographs of the scenery, people and food as well as the stories. They brought back many happy memories of a week we spent in Samoa in the early nineties.

We stayed at the legendary Aggie Grey's Hotel set up for the troops in WW2. It was a great holiday. Only the food was mediocre. But times have changed. Robert tells us that:

"When tourists first arrived in Samoa they preferred European style foods like ham and cheese sandwiches. These dishes were foreign to local chefs. "This was tantamount to an Italian chef being asked to make sushi." and most of the ingredients had to be imported."

But nowadays when tourists visit a country they want to sample the local cuisine as part of the cultural experience. This has helped to fuel a culinary revolution in Samoa. "Chefs and cooks are realising with pride that their cuisine, their rustic home cooking, their lovely way of sharing, their umus and sapasuis, their superb farmers and markets is not only world class, it is in a class of its own."

Until I read his book I had never given much thought to the fact that if we as tourists choose to eat local food this has a flow on effect on the economy and creates higher incomes for farmers and fishermen. An added bonus for tourists in Samoa is that almost all the food is organically grown so it is chemical free and healthy.

Great food can be found in Samoa but only if you know where to look. This book  includes a comprehensive list of where the locals like to eat and where to attend fia fia nights which always feature signature Samoan dishes. A map is provided as well as the best kinds of food to order at each place.

But you don't have to visit Samoa to enjoy Samoan Cuisine. There is a wealth of recipes in Mea'ai Samoa to try out at home, both traditional village food as well as recipes for contemporary dishes created by Samoan chefs who live there or in New Zealand. This food is a far cry from the fatty food which has given Samoan food in New Zealand a bad name. Here are some of my favourites:

Iconic Samoan Recipes

Three of the most well known and loved Samoan dishes are included: Sapasui (Samoan Chop Suey), Panipopo (deliciously sweet yeast raised Coconut Buns doused in coconut cream) and Palusami (made with young taro leaves, onion and coconut cream). If you can't lay your hands on fresh coconuts and taro leaves for the Palusami, silverbeet leaves and a can of coconut cream can easily be substituted.

Signature Dishes from Samoan Restaurants:

From the Pacific Jewel Café in Apia comes a very healthy salad which includes sushi-grade tuna, red onion, cherry tomatoes, watercress, lettuce, cucumber and capers. It is tossed with a lemony dressing.

Dora Rossi from Paddles Waterfront in Apia has put a spin on a classic date pudding by substituting the dates with dried bananas.

Recipes from New Zealand Samoans:

Well known New Zealand Samoan chef Michael Meredith has contributed a summery Samoan Gazpacho which he serves with a Coconut Yoghurt.

Beatrice Faumuina shares her mother's recipe for coconut jam. It is easily made from three ingredients (coconut cream, raw sugar and lemon or lime leaves) She likes to spread this as an indulgent treat on a sliced baguette or over ice-cream while it is still warm.

After reading Mea'ai Samoa I'd love to hop on a plane to revisit Samoa and follow the exciting culinary journey which Robert Oliver and his team have mapped out for us. I would heartily recommend it to anyone who is planning to make a trip over there and to all cooks who would like to explore the best of Samoan Cuisine.

Title: Mea'ai Samoa: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Polynesia

Author: Robert Oliver

Publisher: Random House New Zealand. Imprint: Godwit

Price: $49.99

This cookbook review was first written for my regular column in Grownups

Monday, 11 November 2013

Asian Lime and Coriander Dipping sauce


The special ingredient in this Asian inspired sweet, sour and salty dipping sauce is Barker's Lime Low Calorie Fruit Syrup. It's great to dip dumplings into. I often buy a bag of dumplings from the Korean Food Market and keep them in the freezer for an instant meal.


3 tablespoons of Barker's Lime Cordial
2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of chopped coriander

Stir together and serve .

If you like some heat, add a dash of Hot Samoan Boys chilli sauce or some sliced red chilli.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Spinach, Orange and Brazil Nut Salad with a Blackcurrant Dressing



A salad dressing can be flavoured in so many different ways. To this one I added some Barker's Lite Squeezed New Zealand Blackcurrants Fruit Syrup which gave it a vibrant ruby red colour.
The salad itself is a healthy mixture of  baby spinach, orange segments and chopped brazil nuts
Best to use a ceramic or glass bowl for this salad as the dressing can soak into a wooden bowl and leave its mark.
Blackcurrant Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon of Barker's Lite Squeezed New Zealand Blackcurrants Fruit Syrup.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk altogether.
Balance the ingredients to suit your own taste buds.
If you would  like a slightly sweeter and more intense blackcurrant flavour increase the fruit syrup to two tablespoons.

Blackcurrant Coulis and Icecream:

I created this light summery dessert using Barker's new Lite Blackcurrant fruit syrup. The coulis has an intense berry flavour and can be made in seconds in the microwave. Simply pour a little of the hot syrup over  a scoop of vanilla icecream .
Barker's has replaced half the sugar in their blackcurrant syrup with a natural sweetener called Stevia which substantially cuts down on the calories.
This coulis could also taste wonderful over meringues filled with whipped cream.
Serves 3-4 .
1/3 cup of Barker's Lite Squeezed New Zealand Blackcurrants Fruit Syrup.
1 teaspoon of cornflour
Pour the syrup into a microwave safe jug.
Thoroughly whisk the cornflour in.
Cook on high for 30 seconds in the microwave.
Continue to microwave, stirring every 10 seconds until the syrup has thickened.
Pour while still hot over scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Yoghurt Drink with Lime, Elderflower, Kiwifruit and Mint.

As the festive season of over indulging approaches I start to crave really light and healthy treats. Here's a refreshing yoghurt drink I whizzed up this morning with some Barker's Squeezed New Zealand Limes with Elderflower syrup, a kiwifruit and some mint. So good for breakfast .
I've been making a habit of diluting some of this fruit syrup ( 1 part syrup to 6 parts of water) and freezing it in ice block trays so it is instantly ready for making drinks like this or their lime and elderberry ice.


1/2 cup of yoghurt
4-6 iceblocks made with Barker's New Zealand  Limes and Elderflower Syrup ( 4 parts water, 2 parts syrup)
The flesh of 1 kiwifruit
4-5 mint leaves

Whizz together in a food processor / blender until smooth

If you would like to sweeten it more add another small splash of the syrup.

Decorate with a sprig of mint and serve while icy cold.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Little Monster foraging in the Folktree forest.


Kate and I spent a happy time this afternoon while I photographed these little monsters who were foraging in Smith's Bush. They'll be available in the Minerva Bookshop in Cuba Street  from November 18 until Christmas. And some will be popping in to Clevedon market on November 17 as well. Find out more about them at They're up for adoption.

Cheese and Tulips in Amsterdam

Big rounds of Gouda Cheese and bunches of tulips are some of the things I loved about Amsterdam last month.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Lime and Elderflower Ice

We enjoyed this ice which is lightly sweetened and perfumed with Barker's NZ Lime and Elderflower fruit syrup for dessert last night as part of a special dinner. It was very light and refreshing after a substantial main course and looked very pretty, like snow.It was so easy to make as it has only two ingredients. I served it with marinated strawberries.
This would also make a perfect Christmas dessert after an indulgent Christmas dinner.


700ml Barker's Squeezed NZ Limes with Elderflower fruit syrup (dilute 100mls of syrup by adding 600mls of water)


Freeze the diluted fruit syrup in ice cube trays overnight. Turn the frozen blocks out of the trays, pulse in a food processor to crush and serve in glasses, topped with fresh mint. As an option, spoon some fresh berries on the side.

For this Barker's recipe you need some Barker's Squeezed New Zealand Limes with Elderflower Syrup from


Monday, 4 November 2013

All Good Banana Munchkin

Emily likes her bananas straight out of the banana skin. 

All Good Bananas has WON the 'Best Kids Product' at the 2013 Munch Awards!!!

The Munch Awards are to raise awareness of the "goodies" and the "baddies" of the kids food industry.
Over the last 6 weeks they gathered nominations and obtained votes in 6 categories. And have now announced the awards.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

Little Monsters March to the Clevedon Market.

These adorable little hand stitched  monsters will be marching to the Clevedon Market on Sunday, November 17. Come and collect one of these Folktree favourites which my daughter Kate will be selling.
To find out more go to


Revisiting Elvis: Banana and Peanut Butter Toasties


Elvis was very fond of fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. It showed on his hips!
Here's a healthier version.

Spread 1 slice of multigrain bread with Pic's peanut butter.
Arrange 1/2 of an  All Good banana (sliced) on top.
Cover with another slice of multigrain bread
Spread the outsides of the bread very sparingly with butter/olivani
Fry until crisp and golden brown on both sides in a non stick frying pan

Dance off the calories with the Jailhouse Rock


Friday, 1 November 2013

All Good Banana Pikelets


Hot out of the frying pan, these All Good banana pikelets were made with an All Good banana with a Graciella sticker on it. Graciella belongs to the El Guabo Cooperative of Small Banana Farmers. It is so good to think that kiwis have been able to contribute over $280,000 in Fairtrade Premium Funding in addition to the fair price paid for each box of bananas just by buying and eating All Good bananas.

To make them use your favourite pikelet recipe . After ladling the pikelets into the frying pan  place a slice of All Good Banana on top of each one. When bubbles start to appear on the surface of the batter and the bottoms are lightly browned turn them over and cook them on the other side.
Sprinkle some icing sugar on top and serve while warm simply dribbled with some maple syrup. Or let the syrup soak in, wait until they are cold and then butter them.
Right now the All Good Family Sticker Competition is on. Find out more at