Archive for April, 2008

The best pick me up and Tiramisu

April 28, 2008

Tiramisu means “pick me up”.  It’s an Italian dessert, fairly recently invented but a classic all over the world already.  It’s ideal hangover food as it contains coffee, eggs and a shot of alcohol!  And the rich mascapone, which is really just condensed cream.  For years I have been making the traditional tiramisu. As a sublime dessert, of course, not for hangovers.  I love how one dish of tiramisu feeds hordes as it’s too rich for seconds.  Well, most people are replete after one serving.  In the interests of matrimonial harmony, no names of those who frequently have seconds, and thirds, will be mentioned on here!  


Last week on the rerun of the SBS Food Safari, individual servings were shown.  I made a healthier version of it yesterday, substituting ricotta cheese for the mascapone and it was DIVINE.   I used 2 eggs, about 4 TBS castor (superfine) sugar, 400g ricotta, about 100 ml espresso coffee, 12 Savioardi biscuits  and I used 15ml of brandy and 15ml of rum instead of liqueur.  Miss N had the last one for breakfast this morning and I do hope she didn’t smell of rum at her first day back at school after the two week break!  .  But – ricotta is good breakfast food.  Protein, and low fat and all that.  So – this isn’t TOO wicked.

And let me leave you with the best pick-me-up of all!


Tagged – my first meme

April 26, 2008

and I was tagged by Brian

Here’s how this one works…
1. The rules are posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and ask them to read your blog.

What I was doing 10 years ago:

I was a full time mum, having resigned from my part-time position in university administration.  (I’m still a full time mum!)  My mom had recently visited from South Africa (her second and last visit) and Miss N was in preschool two days a week.  We were yet to get a computer at home…  Was there life before being “connected”?

Five things on my to do list for today (well, tomorrow – it’s almost 11pm):

  1. long hot bath (soccer for Miss N is cancelled – grounds still too wet)
  2. get organised (or get Miss N organised) for first day of term 2 on Monday 
  3. see Moliere (I have free tickets)
  4. Prepare for Significant Woman meeting on Mon night ( a couple of chapters to prepare)
  5. Church at 6pm… Praise and Worship Night (I’m taking a friend)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

  1. Visit my family in South Africa.
  2. Visit the children we sponsor in Africa (World Vision) and sponsor 1000 more
  3. Buy C a yacht
  4. Buy land on the south coast of NSW and set up a Christian holiday camp for kids from troubled homes

Three of my bad habits:

  1. Procrastination
  2. Being slow to answer emails and return calls (procrastination?)
  3. Biting my nails

Five places I have lived:

  1. Risidale, Johannesburg, South Africa
  2. Fairvale, Johannesburg, South Africa
  3. Russell Lea, Sydney, Australia
  4. Summer Hill, Sydney, Australia
  5. Breakfast Point, Sydney, Australia

Five jobs I have had:

  1. High school teacher (English and history)
  2. Administrative assistant (at 2 different universities)
  3. University Admissions Officer
  4. Research Grants Officer
  5. Church Secretary

Five People I Want to Know More About:

1. Tess

2. Jodi

3. Glenn

4. Bobby C

5. Kelley

Jenolan Caves, LOTR and raw fish

April 26, 2008

Two LOTR devotees (C has read LOTR 19 times, N is on her 3rd reading) and I had a wonderful visit to the caves of Moria Jenolan Caves yesterday.  We left too late to get to do the cave visit of our choice (it was fully booked) but we really did appreciate the one we did instead.  Miss N had made herself a Gollum t-shirt (by printing this Gollum image onto photo transfer paper and ironing it onto a t shirt) and she wore it and looked uber-cool.

I enjoyed my family’s LOTR commentary all the way there (over 3 hours – lots of traffic through Rivendell the Blue Mountains) and during lunch in Blackheath, when both C and I had fish cos that’s what Gollum eats (not really, I just fancied the sound of the fishcakes but sadly they didn’t resemble Thai ones at all!  I guess we are spoiled by the quality of the food here in Sydney.)

I love the mountains.  I love the bush.  We don’t get there often enough and it’s just 30 minutes on the freeway till we cross the Nepean River at Penrith, leave the greater Sydney region and begin to ascend the Blue Mountains’ “heights”.  For the record, my bird list yesterday (and I didn’t even get to use my bino’s) includes a wedge tailed eagle, yellow tailed black cockatoos, king parrots, a brown falcon, nankeen kestrel, yellow thornbills, satin bowerbird and a lyrebird!  Lots of insectivorous bats too (no, they aren’t birds lol).  And a dead wombat at the side of the road. 😦

Even though Lucas Cave was a subsitute choice, it was amazing.  We coped with the people who talked through all the commentary (I guess they thought as they didn’t speak English they could talk loudly in their own languages), the little boy who peed in a plastic bag to avoid polluting the cave (we kept our distance from his mother and the bag for the rest of the tour!), and the selfish parents who brought babies (yes, there were 2) on a 90 minute cave tour.  The poor babes cried all the way.

A bridge in the cave gave C and N an opportunity to re-enact the LOTR scene from the bridge of Khazad-dum in Moria. C was the Balrog and Miss N was Gandalf (without her Gandalf cloak).

I am awestruck about the age of the caves.  I cannot reconcile a young earth with caves dated this old, and can’t understand why God would create an earth with caves that date this old if they were created recently.  God created the heavens and the earth.  In heaven I hope to learn how.  Here on earth I am content to enjoy His creation and praise Him for placing us on a tiny planet in the midst of an infinite universe.  Song coming…. 

And let me share with you a recipe for “raw” fish (cos that’s what Gollum eats) that C and I used to make often. It’s from the Vogue Australia Wine and Food Cookbook – Home Truths what foodies cook for themselves published in 1988.  The lime juice “cooks” the fish and it tastes wonderful – fresh and clean.

Ceviche (serves 8 people)

16 small whiting fillets

juice of 6-8 limes

1 cup very finely sliced baby white onions

2-3 fresh red chillies, chopped

salt and white pepper

1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)

lime slices for serving

Remove the skin from the whiting fillets and cut the flesh into 4 to 6 pieces.  Place in one layer in a glass or ceramic dish.  Pour the lime juice over the fish and scatter the onion and chillies on top of the fish.  Place in the refrigerator and after 2 hours, season with salt and pepper.  Leave for another 2 hours or overnight.  The fish will be white and have a cooked appearance.




Anzac Day and Anzac biscuits

April 24, 2008

Anzac Day is tomorrow (25 April) and is probably Australia’s most important national day.

It’s the day we Aussies honour those who have served Australia in the many conflicts Australia has participated in, and especially those who lost their lives. It’s a day for serious reflection.   Just about everything is closed until 1pm (even more than on Good Friday or Christmas day).  Dawn services and marches are held all over Australia, and it’s traditional to play two up.

Encouragingly, crowds seem bigger each year, even though there is only one Digger from WW1 still alive (I think) and those from WW2 are fewer and fewer.  Many of the marchers will be descendants of those who served.  I have never been to a march but N and I were in Auckland, New Zealand on Anzac Day in 2003 and we caught the end of the ceremony at the Museum there, and it was moving.  In 2006 as part of our bigger-than-Ben-Hur European trip, we sailed through the Dardanelles on our cruise and it was amazing to think that the Anzacs had landed somewhere on the coast to our right.  We couldn’t see where Gallipoli (Gelibolu) was – the coastline seemed pretty empty from the distance we were.  N had studied the Gallipoli campaign in history that year so it was really meaningful for her.  Gallipoli was where the Anzac legend was born.

Great article here.

In honour of the occasion, let me offer you a recipe for Anzac biscuits (cookies).  These biscuits are a traditional and popular Australian biscuit  – and easy to make. This recipe is from the Australian Women’s Weekly sweet old-fashioned favourites cookbook.  We are planning to make a trip to Jenolan Caves, and I plan to bake some biscuits to take with us to munch in the car.  (It’s a 3 hour trip.)

Anzac Cookies


1 cup rolled oats (NOT quick cook oats)
1 cup plain flour (NOT self-rising) (I, of course, use spelt flour)
1 cup sugar (white or half white, half brown)
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
4 oz / 125g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons boiling water


Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl. In a saucepan, melt butter and golden syrup over a gentle heat. Mix bicarb soda with boiling water, add to melted butter mixture and add this to the dry ingredients. Stir until combined.

Take teaspoonfuls of mixture and place on a lightly greased oven tray; allow room for spreading. Cook in a slow oven 160degC / 325degF for 20 minutes. Loosen while warm, then cool on trays. If you leave them a little longer, they’ll be crisper (but they’re nice chewy too). Makes about 35.


You can replace half the white flour with wholemeal.
You can add some spices; mixed spice, or ginger.
You can add a little wheatgerm or bran to the dry ingredients.
You can replace the golden syrup with honey.


Psalm 34:14

  Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.


Pappardelle con Spinaci e Panna

April 23, 2008

We have a love affair with Italy that goes back to when C worked for Olivetti in the 80s and made a couple of trips to Ivrea.  Many evenings at Venezia restaurant in Johannesburg (I wonder if it is still there?) with the wonderful Giorgio and Ivana fostered our love of Italian food, and all things Italian.  I’m very lucky to have been to Italy three times already (my first trip to Europe in 93 was 6 weeks in Italy – we didn’t go anywhere else).  If I had to live on one national cuisine for the rest of my life, it would have to be Italian.

N and C in Venice

Miss N was yesterday in dire need of green vegetables – she had had a movie day with friends on Monday and then a sleepover so not much of any nutritional value had been consumed for a while.  So dinner for C and N was fettucine with spinach and ricotta – an adaptation of a Valentina Harris recipe from “Instant Italian”.  It’s one of their favourites (and was mine too before I went wheat and dairy free!)  I “made do” with leftover roast sweet potato, spinach and grilled halloumi (sheep’s milk!)

on the Rialto

Pappardelle with Spinach and Cream (serves 4)

400g pappardelle, fettucine or tagliatelle


400g fresh spinach, rinsed (frozen is quicker and cheaper!) I use 250g frozen

10 TBS single cream ( I substitute a big dollop of ricotta and I used some marscapone as it was on special)

6TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese (the horrible packaged powder will NOT work!)

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

salt and freshly milled black pepper

1 TBS butter

Cook the spinach (I use the microwave), drain well.  Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling salted water.  Whizz the spinach in a food processor with the cream and Parmesan.  (I use my Bamix)  Add the seasoning.  Combine drained pasta, sauce and butter in the saucepan and serve at once.






Mushrooms on the Moor

April 22, 2008

I love mushrooms.  Porcini and shitake, enoki, swiss browns, the huge pine mushrooms you can coat in oil and spices and bbq like a burger, oyster mushrooms and the common and garden (though I would never harvest garden ones) mushrooms that I buy and use every week.  Truffles too!  I still remember a truffle pizza we ate in Spoleto in 1993 and an omelette with shaved black truffle in Gubbio the same trip.  I have yet to taste a white truffle but if it’s exotic and yummy, I will search it out (this blog is not called “Food from Afar” in vain) so I will get to try one sometime.

I currently own three F.W. Boreham books.  Two I have in my possession, one is on its way from ebay, and one I will be sending on when I have digested it.  A writer friend of mine, Steven Clark Goad, introduced me to Boreham.  He reads them, like Ravi Zacharias does, a chapter a day.  He collects them too, first editions if possible.  My first Boreham – “Wisps of Wildfire” – is a first edition.  I just missed out on a first edition of “A Bunch of Everlastings” on ebay a week or two ago because it went too high – A$34.  Silly me.  Paperbacks cost that!

“Mushrooms on the Moor” is not a first edition but it is an 1930 (year my mom was born!) elegant pocket edition.  It is compact and sleek and a comfortable size and I love the way it fits in my hand and into my handbag to be taken with me so I can read it while I wait to pick up my daughter.   “Wisps of Wildfire” sits on the edge of my bath and gets dipped into (but it has stayed dry!) most mornings (the days I have to rush and shower instead are Boreham-deprived.)

Why do I relish reading Boreham?  Why does he feed my soul?  

His writing celebrates the ordinary but he sees in the everyday and the mundane (envelopes, a collar stud, parcels) connections to and metaphors for the sublime and the divine.  He has an uncanny knack of perceiving truth and delivering a lesson in the most elegant manner.  His first book dates back to 1891, six years before my grandfather was born, and his last was published in 1961, after my birth and his death, but his truths are timeless.

Boreham is spiritual food from afar.  He was first published the century before last.  He emigrated from England to the Antipodes (he preached in New Zealand, Tasmania and Melbourne) but although  that makes him “local” to me, he is almost unknown here in Australia now.  I learned of him via my friend in California.  How global is that?

Of course, I may have just spoiled my chances of winning Borehams on ebay if anyone else is inspired to read him too.  Oh well.  I just can’t NOT share Boreham. (yes, that’s a grammatical rule I broke but it’s MY blog!)


Chocolate and coffee.. gifts from God

April 21, 2008

Those who know me already know I love coffee and chocolate.  I love them both dark and organic and intense and they bless my daily life.  (Not that I have chocolate every day!)  My mission in life is to nurture my family.  So combine all that with my love of cooking and what do you have?  A dessert which is quick, easy, divine and not too wicked, and one I have made quite a few times.


Coffee and Chocolate Self-saucing Pudding  

(from Donna Hay Magazine Issue 32 Apr/May 2007)

1/2 cup (125ml) milk (I use soy as i am dairy free)
35g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (150g) plain flour, sifted (I substitute spelt or another flour as I am wheat-free)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
1 tablespoon instant coffee, sifted 
1/4 cup (27.5g) almond meal (ground almonds)
1/4 cup (27.5g) brown sugar

1/2 cup (55g) brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup (250ml) water

Preheat the over to 180 degrees Celsius (355 degrees Fahrenheit). For the pudding batter, place the milk, butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place the flour, baking powder, coffee, almond meal and sugar in another bowl and mix. Gradually add the milk mixture and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

For the sauce, place the sugar, cocoa powder and water in a 15cm 4 cup (1 litre) capacity non-stick (NOT Teflon!) frying pan (I use a Le Creuset cast-iron pan) over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Pour the pudding batter into the frying pan containing the sauce. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm to touch.

Serve with cream, mascapone or whipped ricotta. Or even plain.  It doesn’t need anything with it.  

Serves 4 (leftovers make good breakfast – almonds are protein!)