Category Archives: food

Unfulfilled expectations

Poached eggs as they should be...

Poached eggs as they should be...

A couple of weeks ago I went in to a little cafe in West Preston to have a quick lunch with a friend. The menu boasted an “all day breakfast” and as I’ve always had a fondness for breakfast at lunchtime, I ordered poached eggs on toast.

What arrived was literally that – two poached eggs on a single, if large, piece of dry toast. No butter, no salt and pepper, no Worcester sauce, and definitely no greenery in sight.  My friend quipped that at least the menu had described the dish accurately, but I was so gobsmacked that I couldn’t talk. And, as she was technically correct in saying that I got what I ordered, there was really no way for me to complain, although I did feel very hard done by.

I felt compelled to make myself poached eggs for lunch a couple of days later, though, to restore my faith that they could be appealing and delicious. And, of course, before I ate I took the photo above and sent it to my friend. I’m thinking of sending a copy anonymously to the cafe, to show them what this dish should look like!

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Blogiversary and other stuff.

Birthday cupcake with one candle 

Well, here we are at last! Blogday is one year old, and the original project that I set myself has come to an end.

Thank you to every one who let me know that they enjoy reading my posts and looking at my photos (I had emails, texts and comments on my class blog, as well as some comments here). I was really thrilled to get such support.

So Blogday is going to continue, but I’m going to break away from taking photos just with my phone (handy as it is) and post pictures from whichever camera I use. I’m going to concentrate on sharing more recipes, seeing as that gives me a chance to combine two of the things I love, and gives me an excuse for making lots of my favourite recipes, just so I can photograph them!


Right now, though, I need to tell you how excited I am about the arrival of Spring … the garden is full of blossom and bees, and there is the promise of a bumper harvest of nectarines, plums and apricots. Even my little fig tree, bought as a cutting two years ago, has set four figs. I’ll be nursing it along until they ripen to be sure that no one but me gets them (no birds or bugs, that is – I’ll share with the family!)

I’m off now to work in the garden, as there is a vegie patch that needs to be weeded so that I can get my tomato plants in next weekend, and then tonight we are off to see Bill Bailey!

I can’t wait – we’ve had the tickets for months and we’ve spent the last couple of weeks watching lots of his stuff on Youtube and re-watching Black Books a million times, getting ourselves in the mood. I won’t make the same mistake I did with Michael Buble – tonight I am taking a camera that should be able to cope with the lighting conditions a little better (Meg’s), so hopefully I’ll have some photos to share in the next couple of days. I did toy with the idea of taking my DSLR, but I don’t want to take pictures to the exclusion of watching the show, so I think I should probably leave it home.

Here is a little treat to finish the post – Bill Bailey as Manny in the Black Books episode called The Entertainer. If you’ve never seen it, have a look – if you have, watch it again; either way, you’ll be dazzled by his talent.

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Filed under cool things, food, gardening

Sweet success!

Months ago, I entered a number of competitions in the Royal Melbourne Show, mostly as a way to give myself deadlines on a couple of projects, but also – in the case of the cookery competition – because everybody who eats the bread I make is VERY complimentary about it, so I thought I would see how it stacked up against other people’s.

Out of the blue, we were very kindly given a weekend in the snow at Falls Creek by some friends, and it happened to coincide with the day for delivering food entries to the showgrounds for judging, so I had decided that I would just forfeit my entry fees and have another go next year.  Until we had to cancel at the last minute, that is.

Meg was sick with bronchitis – and I mean really sick  – so I was up most of Friday night with her. Seeing I was up, I decided to make my bread after all.


I made two batches and ended up with a couple of loaves I was really happy with, so I took them over and dropped them off at about 10 in the morning, just for the hell of it. I certainly had no expectation of winning anything…

Last Thursday, the day the Show opened, I hopped onto the website to look at competition results, and was absolutely stoked to see that I had won second prize! I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes! It’s now become a running family joke that I am an ‘award winning’ bread maker.

I’ll admit, too, that my first thought after Oh my god, I’ve won second prize! was What do I have to do to win first?  I guess I’ll be practicing a lot more during the year!


Filed under cool things, food, melbourne

Slow Monday

I can’t believe that, after having been so busy last week with BAS paperwork and other book-keeping tasks and with medical appointments, I am sitting here today wondering what I should do… The obvious answer – post to Blogday, of course.

The weekend just gone started with my parents coming over for tea on Friday night, as it was my Dad’s birthday. Without doubt, too much food was consumed, but it was all so good! The menu included wild olives from the Grampians in west Victoria; Marisa’s sopressate; Grandfather salami; bocconcini; Blue Castello; brie; aged Tasty; dried tomatoes and figs – and all this was just the entree!

School in the afternoon had been fun, as usual, and was crowned by an opportunity to photograph a fabulous piece of graffiti art in Westgarth, just next to the station. You can see a number of photos of ‘Snail-tale’ in the gallery. I love the main characters in this piece – they have such expression in their faces that they make me smile every time I see them.

Saturday was market-shopping day with the requisite early start to beat the crowds to the Queen Victoria Market. The 5.30 start is always worthwhile – in the fifteen years that my mum and I have been going, we’ve made some good friends among the sellers, and going early means that we have a chance to talk to them as well as get our produce before it has been completely picked over by other shoppers.

The other advantage of the early start at the is that we generally get to see the balloons going over the city from the crowd at Balloon Sunrise. This week there were seven of them.

I don’t know what it is about hot-air balloons, but I just love them. Luckily, where we live is on one of the main flight paths, so I often see balloons five days out of seven, but I just never tire of them. Some of the photos above show the balloons going over the city. They unfortunately have been reduced to big specks by the extreme wide-angle of the phone camera lens, but you can still see them.

We did have to adjust our routine a bit though, seeing as I have been told to lift nothing heavier than a phone book (yes, my  limit has gone from two kilos to about 3kg!). Dad came with us to push the trolley and help load/unload the car and I just had to walk along twiddling my thumbs!

This problem with my neck is taking some adjusting to. I’ve realised that I am a poor judge of what things weigh and am still inadvertently carrying too much weight when I do the shopping or even just work around the house. Oh well, nothing has happened yet, so hopefully it won’t ever.

Sunday was to be for market shopping of a different sort, with the artisan’s market at the Abbotsford convent. It was very disappointing, though, in the range and number of artist’s displaying or selling their wares, and we came away empty handed.

A trip to Victoria Street in Richmond soon made us feel better, though, as we happened upon a fantastic Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant doing Yum Cha, and with one empty table in an otherwise very crowded room. The food was great, the atmosphere buzzing, and the prices very reasonable. What more can a diner ask for?

So – there ends the diary of the weekend past – with lots of photos to make up in part for the fact that it has been a week since I last posted (again). Cheers.


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Birthday treats

Mecca Bah, Docklands

With Michael’s birthday last Tuesday, and him busy at an evening class (learning Blues Harmonica), we decided to celebrate yesterday (Good Friday) by going to Docklands for lunch.

It’s hard to imagine how – after the heatwave that has just finished – we could want to be inside to be warm and out of the wind, but it was so chilly and gusty down by the water, that that was exactly what we wanted. Fortunately, Mecca Bah – the restaurant of choice – was open and able to accommodate us. They seated us by the window overlooking the harbour, and proceeded to woo us with their Middle Eastern inspired menu and decor.

The food was very good, with the Spicy Lamb and Pinenut Boureks a favourite, but the real highlight of the day was our waiter. His memory was phenomenal and his attention to detail, exemplary, making the meal a real treat. It is nice to see that really good service is still around; I’m only sorry I didn’t ask his name so that I could give him a better plug, here.

Mecca Bah #2

The other reason for choosing Docklands for the celebration, was to look at some of the sculptures that have been installed along the waterfront as part of the Contempora Sculpture Award & Festival of Public Arts.

As with any art, the appeal of sculpture is subjective. I only saw a couple of pieces that I liked, one of which is shown below, but regardless of whether they were to my personal taste or not, they did add a bit of interest to the boardwalk that is NewQuay Promenade.

Sculpture #1      #2

Docklands itself was a let-down. It is a while since I’ve been down there, and there has been massive development in that time, but it seems a soulless place overall. The proliferation of high-rise apartment buildings and the dearth of greenery made it seem cold and sterile, and definitely not somewhere I would like to spend a lot of time. Still – restaurants like the Mecca Bah, and the service they provide, will ensure that we pop past occasionally.


Filed under family, food, melbourne

Counting my blessings

City Square Christmas Tree

This Christmas tree, located in the City Square in the heart of Melbourne, is spectacularly tall. I wasn’t able to photograph anyone beside it, to give a sense of the scale, but, as usual, the City of Melbourne has really gone to town (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Apparently there is a lighting ceremony every night from Nov. 10th (last Saturday) to December 24th, with the lights having been sponsored by a prominent light-globe manufacturer. If you want more details about this, you can find it here.

You’ll know from earlier posts how much I enjoy the Christmas season, so it will be no surprise that I stood gawking at the tree for quite a few minutes yesterday. When I got home, one of yesterday’s batch of Christmas cakes was sacrificed so that we could be sure that they had turned out as hoped. The verdict? The whole thing disappeared in about two minutes flat, and was very nice with ice-cream (though not quite as good as the pudding will be on Christmas day)! I should have known that a CWA recipe would be foolproof!

Meg came home from camp, yesterday – she was only gone one night but the house was too quiet without her. She and I collected Dad from hospital this morning, stitched and a bit sore, but in good spirits. All of us are optimistic and sharing a laugh, and most of all, we are together – all reasons that I am counting my blessings…

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Friday again…

christmas cakes

Today is an auspicious Friday – it is the last day of my academic year, I got my last assignment back and I made the first batch of Christmas cakes.

Of course, not all is sweetness and light – I had to say goodbye to all my study friends until the new year, and Dad is having surgery as I type. The nature of melanoma means that there will be an anxious wait for the next week for the pathology results, even though we are optimistic.

I’ll be keeping in touch with one of my friends from the CAE – Bruce Clarke– through his blog Write On!. Bruce is a really talented writer; probably the most polished ‘new’ freelance writer I’ve ever come across. You should check it out when you get the chance.

On the Christmas cake front, I think I’ve finally found the recipe I’ve been looking for! I’m so excited – all the while I was trying out ‘rich’ fruit cake recipes, and what I should have been making was a boiled fruit cake! This might not seem important to most people, but I do love Christmas cooking, and now that my Grandma has gone, it is left to me to hold the fort (a self-imposed responsibility, of course).

Due to one of those very unpleasant and unexpected things that happen when someone in the family dies (like one half of the family suddenly telling the other half that they never really liked them, and winding up the estate on their own), my Grandma’s cookbook went who-knows-where, probably in the bin. For the last six years I’ve been trying to find a recipe just like hers, and I think this is it – hence my excitement.

Cakes are one of the things I like to give as gifts at Christmas, so I’ve been saving large Tuna tins for the last couple of months. They make the perfect-sized cake tin for this. The recipe, for a boiled-fruit-cake, was one a friend pointed me to on the ABC Sydney’s website. The only variations I made to it were to omit the lemon and almond essence, and the walnuts – mainly because a couple of friends had nut allergies (and I don’t personally like lemon essence) – and to divide the mixture into smaller tins.

If you want to do this, I found that each tin takes 1 1/4 cups of mixture and that they need to be cooked for an hour and a half. The three tablespoons of extra sherry called for at the end of the recipe became four, because I put half a tablespoon onto each of the eight cakes.

Happy cooking – hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Filed under Christmas, family, food, recipe, writing

Rats and chocolate cake.


This sculpture sits beside the path that leads up to the hill that is one of the focal points of All Nations Park in Northcote. It is striking in size and materials, drawing the eyes of those who visit, and reflecting the park back at them .

Although I don’t know any details about who commissioned or made this work, the plaque on its face indicates that it is a memorial for fallen servicemen, and it seemed an appropriate sculpture to be featuring as Remembrance Day approaches. This was one of the photographs I took yesterday on the epic walk to, and around, the park.

Today being Melbourne Cup Day, and with neither of us interested in the horse racing, Meg and I went to see the movie, Ratatouille.

I dislike rats intensely – that is, I dislike the non-cartoon variety of rats, having had problems with mice in the house over a number of years, and a big, fat rat that lived in our shed for about four years and seemed to eat baits like they were lollies! But – this film! It didn’t just make me feel more kindly-disposed towards rats, but also made both Meg and I want to rush home to cook and create recipes to share.

In the spirit of sharing, I have a recipe of my own that I’d like to share. Around home it is known as the ‘chocolate cake to die for’. Based on a fabulous recipe of Donna Hay’s that I once found on the Channel 9 Today Show’s website, it has a rich, fudge-like texture, but less than half the fat. Not that it is low in fat, mind you, but it is better than a lot of others you might come across. If you’d like to try it, you’ll find the recipe here

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Christmas Pudding time

Pudding Bowls

 It’s past the mid-way mark in October, and my mind has turned to Christmas. Meg and I are planning and buying components for gift making, and are well on the way to knowing who is getting what – although we still have to get everything ready in time.  I’ve given myself until the first week in December to get the presents ready for those interstate, which is the bulk of the family.

This year, because I am able to, I am spending time on presents, rather than money. At least, I am for those who appreciate it.  Not everyone sees the thought and effort that goes into making something from scratch. For these people, a gift of food seems to work where perhaps a handmade bracelet doesn’t.

So, the next thing on the list is the Christmas cooking. I’ve checked with my local nut shop owner, Ross, to find out when he will be getting the dried fruit in for the Christmas puddings, and have been assured that it will be in, in the week after the Melbourne Cup is run.

Making Christmas puddings has become a big deal for me.  Last year I made 13 – this year it will probably be 15. They are not all huge by any means. Some of them are only big enough to serve two; others are big enough to serve 12. I’ve got an arrangement with everyone who gets one, that if they return their empty bowl to me, I will refill it the next year. The image above shows the new set of pudding bowls I recently bought at Queen Victoria Market.  I love them so much that I won’t let them stray too far from home.

My Christmas Pudding recipe is a cracker – given to me by my mother-in-law about ten years ago, it originated in the Australian Womens’ Weekly, sometime in the ’70s, I believe. I make a gluten-free version for my coeliac friends, by substituting a wheat-free mix for the regular flour, and an alcohol-free version for my Buddhist friends from Tai Chi, so pretty much everyone is covered. In the latter case, I substitute orange juice for the brandy, and only let it soak for an hour or two before proceeding with the mixing. That’s the other thing I should mention: where the recipe calls for rum, I’ve always used brandy because I prefer the flavour it produces.

For those who don’t like dried fruit (though I find it hard to imagine myself),  I make various other confections, with Meg’s help: shortbread, gingerbread, chocolate balls (rum balls without the rum) – even jars of laksa paste and chutney.  Throughout November and December, the house is full of the smells of Christmas. I can’t wait.

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Filed under Christmas, food, recipe

Christmas is coming…


At Queen Victoria Market this morning, the egg man – who normally sells chooks and ducks as well as eggs – had these beautiful little goslings for sale.  He also had the two mature geese – honking concern from their cage –  that you can just make out in the image above.

I know the poem as well as anyone – Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat – and as soon as I saw them, my mind went into overdrive – how long is it ’til Christmas? Is there time for them to be fattened up for Christmas dinner or will they be safe for this year? 


I’m hoping that so few people in Australia eat goose for Christmas, that these birds will instead go home with some delighted children and be kept as pets or watch-geese. I know I’m deluding myself, but I can’t imagine eating something that I’ve had a relationship with – especially not if I’ve seen it as a baby. I hate the thought that any of these little guys will end up as someone’s Christmas dinner!

I realise that I am a hypocrite when it comes to meat.  I eat it, but couldn’t if I really thought about what it starts out as, and what happens to get it to the table. As a result, like many people, I normally do a good job of pretending that I don’t know any of the gory details.  It’s only when I’m confronted by something I can’t ignore – like cute, fluffy goslings 12 weeks before Christmas – that I seriously consider the merits of vegetarianism.

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