Sunday, September 30, 2012

silent sunday

Similar to 'wordless wednesday' only I prefer silence to being wordless. Enjoy some silence today xx

painting by Julia Vanderbyl photographed in Mullumbimby

Saturday, September 29, 2012

mulberry muffins

Together with two of their Byron Bay buddies River and Sol spent a day cooking. Beginning with a fruit platter that River attentively put together and presented proudly to us for breakfast.
The mulberry bush is still providing us with a steady supply of shiny, juicy berries that are spectacular to eat straight from the tree a batch of muffins made by four excitable little chefs. They followed the fruit platter up with a salad they made themselves using greens they plucked from the vegie patch and then had fun chopping cucumber, carrot and tomato to add to it. A 'cafe' was opened, orders taken and little plates set out with salad and cheese. The muffins were on the menu for afternoon tea.
A handful of strawberries added to the mix gave the muffins a jammy, moist texture. Turns were taken at cracking eggs, sifting flour, sneaking pinches of coconut sugar to eat added to the fun.
Mulberry stained fingers held spoons and there was a tussle to be the first to spoon the batter into the tin. Once the tin was full the mixing bowl was scraped clean.
The forty minutes the muffins took to cook seemed an eternity as children ran back and forth from the kitchen to the garden where they were playing 'are the muffins ready yet?' 'A bit longer' I replied each time. And then when they were finally out of the oven there was more waiting to be done as the muffins cooled on the bench. Biting into a piping hot whole strawberry and blistering mouths wasn't going to add to the fun so I sent one and all back to the garden for more playing.
 And then at last. Cooled and dusted with icing sugar the muffins studded with berries were ready to eat!

A request to cook merengues for dinner was met with a 'No.'

They settled for pasta with a simple tomato sauce and grated parmesan. The day was over. Nothing left to cook. Bellies were full and all were happy to have spent the whole day playing and making and feasting.

Berry muffin recipe

3 cups gluten free flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup coconut palm sugar
2 cups berries
1 tbsp honey
1 cup almond oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten

In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients and then place berries on top. Then add wet ingredients and stir to combine taking care to keep the berries whole.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tray and bake at 180C for 40 minutes or until golden and when you can insert a skewer and it comes out clean.

Place muffins on rack to cool and if desired dust with icing sugar. Because really, muffins are little cakes!

Friday, September 28, 2012

rest in peace Jill Meagher

I had a whole other post planned for today but in the wake of the news about Jill Meagher, writing about anything else seems trivial. So I am stepping off topic today and dedicating this post to Jill a woman I never met but who sadly could have been any woman who on Friday 21st September chose to go out with friends in Brunswick inner city Melbourne for drinks and walk home alone at night.

For those who don't follow news stories you may not want to read ahead because it is a story of great tragedy. Jill Meagher is a 29 year old woman who lived in Melbourne and last Friday night went out after work for drinks with friends at a bar in an inner city suburb of Melbourne and never returned home. After leaving the bar at 1am Jill was abducted, raped and murdered.

What happened to Jill and why or how it could have happened is beyond comprehension as is the depth of the grief that lays ahead for her family and friends.

There has been much commentary in the media and on social network sites about women walking alone at night. Social commentator and broadcaster Catherine Deveny writes about Jill's story here.

The safety and vulnerability of women walking alone at night is not a new conversation. Deveny makes the point in her commentary that 'what happened to Jill is horrible but not common'.

I have marched in 'Reclaim the Night' marches, I have a degree in Women's Studies and have lived in the suburb that Jill was abducted from and walked those streets alone at night.

I am looking for something in all the horridness of this story that is not about whether or not Jill should or shouldn't have left the bar alone of course she should be able to walk a city street alone but the reality is that being out at night after a few drinks whether you are a woman or a man we all need to look out for each other.

The randomness and depravity of the act committed by Jill's attacker is uncommon yes.

The need to look out for each other, male or female, in our Australian drinking culture is a common need. If your instinct is to walk a friend home, call them a cab or drive them home act on your instinct and if your mates want to look out for you whether you are a man or a woman let them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

why shop at farmer's markets?

No place does farmer's markets like Byron Shire. Well ok, I know there are fabulous farmer's markets all around Australia but few Shires have four each week! I have shared here my love of Mullumbimby farmer's market and today it is the New Brighton farmer's market that inspired me and fuelled me with... bountiful produce to create a Mexican feast, robust Bangalow Coffee, chocolate coated strawberry fun for River and Sol, guitar and song by local muso Waz Porter that set my boys dancing and sunshine aplenty.
We were up early and hatched a plan to head to the market with our dear friend Ruth who is usually a stall holder selling sprouts that make your body sing with good health. Today Ruth joined us with her one year old twin bubbas who also found their dancing feet to Waz's tunes. It was Ruth's first visit to the market as a customer, she couldn't take two steps without a shopper, stall holder or friend stopping her to chat and that is one of the joys of shopping at a farmer's market - the local community comes together there's always time to talk. 

In my ideal world shopping at farmer's markets would be the norm for more people. Why? 

1. Food sold at farmer's markets is seasonal and super fresh. Eating seasonal food keeps us connected to nature and the natural rhythm of summer, autumn, winter and spring.
2. The environment benefits - reduced packaging, reduced distance the food has traveled, organically farmed produce reduces environmental degradation.
3. The village comes together and connects with each other and directly with the people who grew the food being sold.
4. You can talk to farmers in person about how the food was grown and share cooking tips.
5. Rain or shine shopping for food outdoors is good for the spirit, fresh air no flourescent lighting, no muzac and no confectionary at the checkout!

How about you? Do you like shopping at farmer's markets? Do you have a favorite one? I'd love to hear.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

wild at heart

Aren't these native raspberries exquisite? I wish you could smell and taste them, they are sweet, not particularly juicy and light light as a cloud in your mouth. A punnet of these came home with us this morning from the Mullumbimby farmers market along with strawberries, corn bread, handmade chocolates, sprouts, mangos and chocolate brioche. Deciding what to create with this bounty of berries is currently my favorite thing to think about...

partly because I did something yesterday that I was nervous to do. And now I have much aside from beautiful berries to think about. And act on.

I spent two delicious hours without my gorgeous babes (and parted with a considerable amount of money - 'investment') to talk with a business mentor. I was nervous because I wondered if it would be value for my dollars and if I would learn anything about myself I didn't already know.

I am relieved to report the session was valuable and insightful. To step out of the day-to-day dance I do with family and work for two whole hours and focus on the 'bigger picture' really was heaven! I am getting even clearer about what I truly love to do in my work, what my strengths are and areas to improve are. And that I just have to breathe a little more.

For many mamas being with their children in a focused way and giving deeply of themselves to their family leaves them feeling exhausted and with little juice left for themselves. Pursuing a passion, starting a business requires imagination, creativity, focus and confidence and sometimes those qualities need a little recharge following long stints of mothering.

I am interested to know, are you starting or running a creative business? Have you ever seen a mentor? Was it helpful?

If you are looking for some free online inspiration and information of the building your biz kind, I sometimes visit Leonie Dawson, the Aussie blogger hippy chick mentor of 'business goddesses' and for a completely different style, all American gal Marie Forleo provides food for thought and more importantly straight talking tips for ACTION.

Thanks for reading. 'See you' next week x

spring into spring: if you have a desk or studio have you waved the spring cleaning wand over it yet? This weekend set some time aside to clear your desk or create a workspace for yourself to dream your dreams and build your business or creativity. If you think you are short on space, think again. You will find a space that can be all yours even if it is a basket or box with all your paperwork, craft materials, art supplies. Enjoy the spring inspiration.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

from france with love

I was very excited to interview the very lovely Mimi Thorrison about her supremely delightful life, and blog Manger. This story I wrote featured in the Pantry online newsletter out today and I wanted to share it here with you too. I hope you enjoy the read, and beautiful photographs are by Mimi's husband Oddur Thorisson.

From France with Love

One glimpse of Manger, the blog of Hong Kong / Parisian style queen and fabulous foodie Mimi Thorrison and you’ll understand why I am suffering a rare case of life envy. Mimi and her husband Oddur left behind city life in Paris eighteen months ago and moved their family – 6 children and 14 dogs, yes 14 – to Medoc, a peninsula on the Atlantic ocean. Surrounded by chateaux, pine forests and vineyards, Medoc is the kind of place where life slows to the pace of the seabreeze, where shopkeepers take long lunch breaks and people stop in the street to talk about their latest hunting expedition or the mushrooms they gathered in the forest.

Before life in the French countryside raising a family, Mimi worked as a journalist and now puts her research and writing skills to good use on her blog. Mimi’s words and recipes coupled with exquisite photography by Oddur who works as an art director and photographer (and most recently fulfilled his dream to breed dogs) the duo have struck upon an enchanting way to share their stories and are also collaborating on a cookbook.
Mimi says, “I wake up with a food idea every morning, whether it’s an ingredient, a feeling, a craving. I mainly cook seasonal dishes with fresh local vegetables and products chosen with my kids, I want them to understand seasons and what nature has to offer”. On her blog she writes, “I would like to imagine my children’s lives bookmarked by food memories, especially Sunday lunches. It’s a sacred moment in time where all the ingredients matter”.
Mimi’s recipes have an elegance, simplicity and authenticity to them, as does her own sense of personal style that is captured in Oddur’s portraits of Mimi that feature in the blog. Staying true to her passion for beautiful produce Mimi builds the dish around a handful of ingredients and flavours with tantalising results. Of her red cabbage, onion and walnut tart she writes, “Let’s face it, cabbage is very wholesome, but it’s the kind of vegetable that you don’t always feel like cooking, but you would like to. Last weekend, I got carried away and couldn’t resist buying a few too many vegetables. Since I have become a country girl, markets are my new playground, and to my surprise, I get more excited with seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers than the latest Louboutins (designer shoes). I decided to slice the poor red cabbage that fell off the plate to see if it was still fresh. Wasting food upsets me, and I had to give it a last chance. As the cabbage opened, I was drawn to its inner beauty – splendid purple-red spirals everywhere, screaming for an alliance with flavours to match. That’s when I decided to make this tart. The walnuts were there, the red onions were fresh – the game was on”.
You will find Mimi’s ‘everyday’ recipes on Manger from classics like cheese and tarragon omelette, steak and bĂ©arnaise sauce, poulet au vinaigre (vinegar chicken) and braised butter endives and sweet indulgences such as chocolate mousse with salted butter caramel chunks, madeleines and Persian love cake. Mimi says butter and cream are the soul of French cooking and for her nothing is forbidden it is all about enjoying all that she loves in moderation.
The best part of country living Mimi tells me is “Feeling free like a bird and seeing life grow everywhere around you – it is most inspiring and touching.  I love growing our own vegetables and beautiful flowers, especially roses.  Our children can play in the garden surrounded by acres of untouched pine forests”. Living near favourite vineyards and meeting farmers and producers is a bonus, not to mention the beautiful surf beaches she says, “It’s a very fulfilling life.  And our dogs are happy!” 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the first wave

Six am sees us up and heading to the beach most mornings. On this morning River and Sol 'helped' Pete carry his board up the sand at Broken Head. While Pete surfed we warmed ourselves in the sun, doing yoga, drawing sea creatures in the sand, having running races and lazing about.

When the boys spotted Pete making his way out of the water towards us they ran down to meet him and Sol decided he was ready to surf. Off came his clothes and into the water he leapt. River and I looked on as Pete carried the board under one arm and with his other hand gripped Sol's hand lifting him up and over the waves. River commented with pride and not a hint of envy, "Sol is so brave mum". With great glee and delight Sol laid on his tummy on the board and with a nudge from Pete caught his first wave back into shore. A proud surfing moment.

Occasionally my mind wanders forward in time to when I will have mornings and afternoons all to myself while Pete, River and Sol go surfing or fishing together. The day will come. The weekends will come. And does my mind wander to what would that time be like if we also had a daughter? I can with all honesty say I am so thrilled to be the mum of two adorable boys who have a wonderful father who loves them so much and shows it with his time. And perhaps if we had a daughter she would go surfing and fishing too!

Sol and River regularly ask, 'Can we have a baby sister?' to which the answer is sorry, no. (There are no guarantees baby number three would be a sister. Plus Pete and I feel too old for another baby! The boys have started working on me to adopt a baby sister. Sorry boys I don't think that will be happening either).

Right now in this season of their childhoods quiet times for me are few and I wouldn't have it any other way. I never wish for those quiet days to come faster because I know they will be here in a blink. Every single moment together right now is precious. As my wise and wonderful friend Mette says, "the moment is all we really have and if we are somewhere else in ourselves we miss the moment."

Monday, September 17, 2012

here we go round the mulberry bush

Each morning Pete and the boys wander down to the mulberry bush in David's garden and have fun spotting the ripe berries to pick for breakfast. Along with strawberries and blueberries from the farmer's markets, beautiful berries are plentiful. My thoughts moved from breakfast to dessert and making a berry frangipane became a priority. 

I adapted this from Matt Moran's recipe

Berry frangipane

Berries of your choice at least two punnets
1/2 cup berry jam of your choice, heated

This quantity will make enough for a 25cm tart.

3 cups white spelt flour
2 tbsp rapadura sugar
185g butter, chilled and finely cubed
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp chilled water

Pastry can be made in a food processor, I don't have one so I make it by hand and enjoy doing so. Using your fingertips rub the butter into flour and sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then make a well in the centre and using a butter knife 'cut' the egg yolk into the 'crumbs' and then add the water a tablespoon at a time and 'cut' that into the pastry until begins to clump together. If it still looks too dry and crumbly add a splash more water until it comes together soft and pliable into a ball, taking care not to overwork it though.

Most pastry recipes recommend refrigerating the pastry at this point for an hour to relax the gluten so that when you roll it out it doesn't shrink back like a piece of elastic. There is less gluten in spelt flour than wheat so I don't bother with resting and it works out fine.

On a floured surface roll pastry out 3-4mm thickness, round enough to cover the base and sides of the dish you are using. Tip: once you have rolled out your circle, to get the pastry from the bench to the dish, place your rolling pin at one edge of the pastry and gently lift the pastry off the bench and wrap it towards the rolling pin rolling it back towards you like you are rolling up a sheet of paper around a tube. I learnt this from my great-grandmother and perhaps you already do it too, but a friend watched me use this technique recently and said, "oh that's how you do it without breaking it!"so I though it is worth sharing.

Grease the dish you are using and place pastry in and trim excess off edges. Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

185 grams butter cubed
3/4 cup rapadura sugar (because rapadura sugar is brown the tart will have more of a golden colour than one made with white sugar)
3 eggs
2 cups almond meal
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180C.

Using electric beaters, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until mixed in. Fold in almond meal and vanilla extract.

Gently heat jam until runny and then brush over pastry base until covered.

Pour in frangipane mixture and spread to edges.

Gently arrange berries on top pressing them lightly into the mixture.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and completely cooked.

Remove from the oven and brush with remaining warmed jam.

Serve with whipped cream or custard and toasted almond flakes.

spring into spring:  time to tackle your children's collections of clothes and shoes. I am enjoying being away from home with very limited clothing options for all of us. Less really is more! So, go to it. Pull out every item of clothing and pairs of shoes your children own and only keep clothes that fit and are in good shape. Goodbye stained, torn, tight items. Sort remaining clothes into piles of t shirts, shorts, singlets, pants and so on. This way you can clearly see what items you are low on or have way too many of - 15 t shirts? 3 jackets? Less clutter, less choices makes for a smoother start to the day and clothes are easier to find.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

organic friday

Just another blissful day in the Northern Rivers Shire...

-Started the day at Mullumbimby farmers market drinking coffee made from locally grown beans and eating baklava made with local macadamias, walnuts, local honey and rosewater - heaven scent! The makers of the baklava also make a wonderful almond hummus among many other spice inspired offerings. Visit their website Spice Palace to discover more...

-Watched this really fun clip (River and Sol love it) created by a talented man who is the son of a dear friend of mine (talent and creativity run in the veins of this family!) film makers, music lovers, and er cat lovers click on over and check out Rufus Tower (Jay do take a look and Jodi I think your family would love it too)

- Looking forward to immersing ourselves in the peaceful gardens at Crystal Castle next week

-Going to Spaghetti Circus is on River's wishlist

-And going to a yoga class overlooking main beach at Byron is on mine.

Happy weekend to you one and all. I hope you get some sunshine! x

ps photo taken at Brunswick Heads Health Food store owned by our friend David Shaw

Thursday, September 13, 2012

thirty eight

Today I celebrated my birthday in Byron Bay sunshine, with love from my gorgeous family and friends, cake covered in rose petals, generous gifts and happy phonecalls. I am thirty eight and grateful!

- birthday breakfast: blueberry, strawberry and banana smoothie made with rice milk and honey
- River and Sol in front of a quintessential Byron sticker coated van
- Lunch at Brunswick Heads Health Food Store (owned by our beautiful friend David)
- An afternoon cup of earl grey tea I had with my friend Ruth and her sweet twin babes who have just turned one and who my big boys are wrapping with love and attention
- A sweet gift from Pete and the boys
-! I do love birthdays.

How about you? What do you love about birthdays?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

up up and away

While the house was quiet, everyone sleeping, I sewed into the night. And worked to a deadline piecing a story together. And packed and tidied. Because that is what we mamas do - get the job done. Whatever it takes: late nights, dawn awakenings, laughter, tears all through the seasons and on it goes.
This night I was sewing 'showbags' for River and Sol to have on our flight to Coolangatta. Simple calico bags with a zip on top. One of my favorite childhood memories is of showbags sewn and filled by my nana for my brother and I when we would fly with our mum from Melbourne to Adelaide to visit my mum's brother. Inside the bags would be all manner of drawing and colouring materials and there definitely would have been lollies! No lollies inside these ones for River and Sol but a Spiderman colouring book has snuck in along with puzzles and for River a dot to dot book and Sol a Playschool colouring book. Since the photos were taken stickers and stamps have been added to the bag along with a bag each of organic popcorn and a fruit bar.
A two hour flight spent drawing, reading and doing puzzles with a few questions 'when will be there mum?' 'how much longer?' to be expected.

I have bee pop honey lollipops for them to suck as we land and a tin of rescue remedy pastilles for all!

What do your children like to do on planes, trains and automobiles?

spring into spring: how is the spring cleaning coming along? still in the mood? I've been thinking about spring cleaning of the emotional kind, spring cleaning of the heart and mind if you like. Sending a card or making a phone call to friends and family I haven't contacted in a while, bringing my attention  to everything I am grateful for and when thoughts of self doubt arise to send them on their merry way. Take a moment today just for you and clear your heart and mind of all that you are holding that is holding you back or bringing you down. Step into spring with a happy heart and a clear mind xx Gently now.

Monday, September 10, 2012

welcome home banana & walnut bread

Let's not pretend. Banana bread is banana cake. Calling it bread tricks us into thinking it is healthier than cake but the ingredients are roughly the same. This applies equally to muffins. But you all knew that already didn't you? :) This story and recipe is of the wholefood cake variety and there is truth that wholefoods are better for you - even the cakes!
Pete had been away for the last couple of weeks in the Northern Territory photographing this year's Garma Festival. We welcomed him home with afternoon tea of homebaked banana and walnut bread and River made a 'banner' for the front door to show him how much we missed him.
It was a big trip for Pete personally as much as professionally because it's been eight years since he had seen his Yolgnu family. He was adopted by his Yoglnu Bapa (father) and Nandi (mother) in 2000 when he recorded 'Yolgnu Mali - Aboriginal Spirit '  his first photographic book about Aboriginal culture. (The book is sold out but the link shows the cover).

I do admire Pete's commitment to recording the stories and wisdom of Australian Indigenous people. There is a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation in the media.

We can't wait until next year when we will travel as a family to Arnhem Land. I haven't been to the Territory nor have River and Sol, the exquisiteness of the country and its people from what Pete tells me is like no other.

Perhaps I'll pack a couple of loaves of banana bread for the trip.

Let me know what you think of the recipe. Enjoy it with a cup of chai x

Banana and walnut bread

2 cups white spelt flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup powdered stevia
2 ripe bananas mashed
2 large or 3 small eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
Combine bananas and wet ingredients in another bowl.
Mix wet and dry ingredients together thoroughly.
Pour batter into a loaf tin lined with baking paper.
Bake at 180C for 35-45 minutes.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Friday, September 07, 2012

double happiness

We are counting the sleeps til we board a plane and fly to Coolangatta next Tuesday. On landing we will drive south a little way down the highway to the Northern Rivers Shire and stay with our friends at Tyagarah, just outside of Byron Bay. This 'vintage' photo of River and Sol was taken two years ago on the very lawn at our friends house where we stay each year. (Look at the rolls on Sol's arms!)

It is a journey we have been making annually for the last seven years; Byron Shire has become our second home where we spend time with our other family of friends and walk, swim and surf our other favorite beaches. Well, Pete, River and Sol do the surfing.

How lucky are we to have double happiness?! Not one but two beautiful coastlines we feel connected to in so many ways.

This weekend will be a quiet one spent at home list checking and packing, and resting River and Sol up who are both suffering with ear troubles which is so not ideal with a flight happening in a few days. Hmmm wish me luck.

Some links just for you:

- If you are feeling crafty or just like to fantasise about being crafty pop into Wisecraft

- Another crafty mama who provides endless inspiration, yes Amanda Blake Soule of Soulemama has me dreaming of creating my own one of these

- I'm adding this wholefood cookbook to my wish-list, and

- A blog I've enjoyed discovering is one small kitchen

What are you up to this weekend? What remedies do you use when your children have earaches or ear infections? How is the spring cleansing going? The weekend seems like a good time to add a touch of spring air to cleaning my car inside and out. There seems to be more toys, books, children's clothes and scraps of food in there at the moment than in the house! 
Thanks for visiting x

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

homemade muesli bars

I have been wanting to come up with my own version of muesli bars or muesli slice for a while now and with this recipe I think I've done it. It is a bonus they look this pretty :)

Commercially made muesli bars are one of those 'trick' health foods that are falsely marketed as being a nutritious option when really they are often high in saturated fat and sugar sugar sugar.

My recipe uses coconut oil which is a highly nutritious fat containing lauric acid which is a medium chain fatty acid shown to be antiviral and antibacterial. The other place you'll find lauric acid is in breastmilk so it has to be good for you! I have sweetened these bars with honey and dried fruit, yes honey and dried fruit are forms of sugar but the difference between commercial bars and one you make yourself is that you can regulate the amount and quality of fat and sweetener. Next time I make these I will reduce the honey to a quarter of a cup because they were a touch sweet for my tastebuds.

Consider this the foundation recipe and feel free to play around with ingredients, use different nuts and seeds, come up with another way of sweetening it, use a different nut butter. See this is more fun than buying muesli bars isn't it?

The thing to remember about muesli bars, even delicious, home made nutritious ones is they are an energy dense food. So, if you are wanting to shed a few kilos or you aren't very active, enjoy eating one or two but don't fool yourself into thinking they are healthy therefore you can eat the whole tray in sitting!

Savour the moment, enjoy each bite, then get moving!

If you like this recipe go ahead and share it with your real food loving friends x

Home made muesli bars

2.5 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup honey or rice syrup
4tbsp coconut oil
2tbsp creamed coconut (optional)
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2tbsp pepitas
1 cup dried cranberries or sultanas or chopped dried apricots
1 tsp cinnamon

-In a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients.
-Over a gentle heat melt together almond butter, honey or rice syrup, coconut oil and if using creamed coconut.
-Mix melted ingredients with dry ingredients and press into a lined 25 x 30 cm pan.
-Bake at 120C for 25 minutes.
-The key to success with these staying together so you can cut them into bars is the cooling time:
leave in the tin to cool for 15 minutes then cut leaving in the tin and refrigerate until completely cool.

If you live in a warm climate I recommend storing them in the fridge because they will fall apart if the coconut oil warms and softens.

spring into spring: I am posting one spring inspired task at the end of each post this September to brighten up your post winter world. Today I have taken great joy in...dusting! The top of the fridge is clutter and dust free ditto windowsills, bookshelves, desk, top of chest of drawers even a few skirting boards got the once over. Dusting requires de-cluttering because every time you move something to dust underneath it ask yourself, do I really need this? Oh it feels good.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

black turtle bean deliciousness

There is something about the process of soaking beans overnight and simmering til soft that makes me feel like a 'real' wholefood mama, you know virtuous that I didn't use canned beans. That said, my pantry is stocked with canned beans and legumes for those occasions when I want to make hummus instantly or want a quick lunch that isn't a sandwich.

Until this recipe I had never cooked black turtle beans. I am glad I have now and will return to this recipe. I hope you enjoy it too x

ps for the month of September I will be adding a spring clean note at the bottom of each post. If you are inspired to do each one by the end of the month you'll be feeling a little lighter in home, heart and mind.

Black turtle beans with sweet potato, greens and rice

200grams black turtle beans soaked overnight
1.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 onion roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 dessertspoon coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tin diced tomatoes
1/2 medium size sweet potato, peeled and diced into bite size pieces
10-12 smallish green leaves (I used silverbeet, kale and spinach), washed and chopped
ground black pepper
Bragg's all purpose seasoning

Drain and rinse turtle beans.
Simmer in stock for 1.5-2 hours.
Melt a knob of butter in a heavy based pan and gently fry onion, garlic and spices.
Add sweet potato and tomatoes and gently simmer until sweet potato is tender.
Add in black beans and greens.
Turn the heat off and cover with a lid so that the greens wilt into the dish.
Season with black pepper and Bragg's.

Serve with basmati or brown rice and plain yoghurt.

Spring into spring: time to let go of any books you haven't read or will never read again. Someone out there is waiting for those cookbooks you've grown out of, those pregnancy books that served you well but your babies are in school now, those novels you loved but really will never read again. And good bye picture books too that are no longer favorites. I pulled 10 books off my shelf yesterday to return to friends! Go on you can do it.

Monday, September 03, 2012

springing into spring

I basked in the Spring sunshine this weekend, it was heavenly! Here is a Spring inspired story I wrote recently for The Pantry's online publication. Hooray for the warmth of the sun and the feeling of endless possibility floating in the breeze.

Samantha Gowing - Springing into Spring

If you’re feeling like you’ve indulged in one too many bowls of pasta this winter let me introduce you to someone who will inspire you to a good spring cleanse. Samantha Gowing is a former publican and hat-winning restaurateur turned Therapeutic Chef who has spent the past 14 years learning, teaching and celebrating the ancient wisdom of food as medicine.

In her restaurant heyday in the nineties, Samantha and friends would leave Gowings Restaurant in Collingwood after dinner service and head to Chinatown’s Supper Inn to devour chilli quail, lap chong (Chinese sausage), BBQ pork and Peking duck pancakes sending it all south with lots of wine. Samantha laughs at the memory now, and while she hasn’t lost her appetite for a good time she has though changed her lifestyle and diet dramatically since becoming a clinical nutritionist, cooking teacher and wellness coach. And of her old ways she says, “I don’t miss anything. I am much happier, fitter and healthier.”
            These days Samantha is delighted to call Byron Bay home, the perfect location to hone her newfound love of surfing and continue her work helping others increase their energy and wellness through food. From her menu at Cabarita Ocean Health Retreat where she is Head Chef, Samantha’s signature Spa Cuisine “Surf Spa Food” includes dishes such as Japanese salad of kelp noodles with nori, arame, dulse, house pickled ginger, red cabbage with sprouts and snow pea tendrils; or chickpea tagine with tomato, red capsicum, ginger, paprika, preserved lemons and olives with wilted kale leaves and fennel puree. Samantha has the enviable job of consulting to luxury spas, hotels and health retreats internationally developing their menus and training staff. September sees her head to Bali where she will work with The Four Seasons Sayan, Ubud.

Her recipes shatter any notion that nutritious food is boring and limited to chicken broth and carrot sticks. Her blog Bitter Sweet Sour attracts a loyal following who visit for nutrient dense, organic and mostly gluten free recipes that are original and satisfying such as quinoa, minted pea and truffle salad, or adzuki bean with black jasmine rice, red slaw and crunchy pepitas and for dessert raw pecan cacao brownies. Yes dessert. Samantha’s approach is not one of deprivation, she is a realist with a great sense of humour and the aim of her game is health and wellness not starvation and misery!
In her work with private clients all over Australia, Samantha says the biggest hurdle she sees people face when making changes to their diet and lifestyle is accountability, taking ownership of their choices,  "Many people expect their trainer or health coach to do all the work, when they really need to embrace the change to reap their rewards. Nutrition is 75% and exercise is 25%, however I firmly believe that visualization is the key. Focus on what you do want rather than what you don't want."

Samantha shares her top 5 tips for Springing into Spring:

 1. Kickstart your spring with a gentle 3 day cleanse of superfood smoothies, warm vegetable soups and/or miso soup to take some of the workload off your digestive system. Not too much cold food, just broths and room temperature drinks – it’s easier than you think.

2. Gift yourself 5 AFDs and each night have a mini spa ritual at home like a bath with scented oil, a late massage or yoga class, a DIY foot rub or a facemask, then go to bed before 10 pm with no TV or phone. Read a book. Remember them?!

3. Create a digital detox for your sacred space at home – no TV, ipad, iphone in your bedroom for 5 days and witness the improvement in your sleep. Then avoid connecting until you get to your workplace. Make space in your morning.

4. Kick the caffeine for 5 days – beware the detox headache on day 3ish – so be prepared with natural anti-inflammatory supplements like krill oil or fish oil, magnesium and ginger tea.

5. Detox your pantry and supplement box – discard any out of date supplements or prescription meds that you never finished like that pesky course of antibiotics! Throw out the old dried herbs and spices, buy yourself small amounts of beautiful organic cayenne, turmeric, cumin and coriander and take pride in every item in your pantry. Piff the pasta and get on some wholegrains like basmati and brown rice, seeds like quinoa and amaranth and grasses like buckwheat and soba noodles.

photos courtesy Nigel Carboon

Sunday, September 02, 2012

silent sunday

Similar to 'wordless wednesday' only I don't like the idea of being wordless. Silence is golden x

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