Monday, December 3, 2012

Grams of my life, part 2

Another week in Instagram. I take so many photos these days with my iphone, I'm not sure anything much would get recorded if I didn't have it. Especially my beautiful babies. The little one is getting big so quickly. At 7 months she is crawling all around our house, pulling herself up on things and bouncing whenever she can. I've been told more than a few times that she has the makings of an early walker, serious eeeekkkkk!

The buckets and buckets of roses above formed the aisle for a wedding we went to last weekend. In the Botanic Gardens in the middle of Sydney, they had their ceremony within the Rose Garden. The last week of November may be the perfect time to have a wedding, the Rose Garden itself is so beautiful and they had thousands of roses looking absolutely perfect just in the beds around the wedding venue. This was an utterly stunning wedding, and as a guest it was perfect. After the ceremony we were served Bollinger and canapes whilst looking across the Botanic Gardens and down to Sydney Harbour. The break between ceremony and celebration was almost 2 hours, I didn't mind a bit as we caught up with friends and took in Sydney. We then ambled down into the heart of the gardens to the Botanic restaurant. They did a fantastic job and we were totally spoilt. Matching food & wines, macaron towers, photo books for guests to take home, Polaroid walls. Best barramundi I've had in absolutely years!

Back to reality, and I'm eternally on the search for the best yogurt. It feels like Australia is just starting to get to the point of premium, local, healthy yogurts that England was producing when I left 10 years ago. I still find myself thinking back to how beautiful the Yeo Valley products were and think how silly I am to be missing yogurt. Still, it's true.

Roaming Cow is very special find, the natural yogurt is so silky and mild. I chose it for my 7month old. It's so tricky to find yogurts that are suitable for babies, full fat but with no added sugars and flavours, gelatines etc etc. Gippsland is the only other one that is widely available but it is much more tart. So Roaming Cow gets a huge thumbs up in our family. I may or may not be consuming more Roaming Cow than the little one.

Coffee at Outpost espresso. Favourite spot.

This is London by M. Sasek. These books are absolute retro classics. The prints are just adorable, I think they would be stunning in frames in kids' rooms too. We gave this to a friend of Miss 3 who had a birthday last week. Many of the major cities have their own books, apart from Sydney, but there is a This is Australia version available.

Our first Gardenia this year. They always make me so happy when they appear, and yet so sad that they only last a matter of days. Sensational perfume.

First cherries of the season. Apparently they have had a fabulous year in Young, NSW. So bring on the cherries. My telly watching snack of choice at this time of year!

Digestive biscuits. Blast from the past. I picked these up at Coles for the base in my Chocolate Key Lime pie recipe, and nibbled on a few during cooking. So comforting to have biscuits from childhood.

A trip into the city on Friday morning, lovely to Sydney all decked out for Christmas. I headed to Laduree to pick up some macarons for my sister's 30th birthday. The shop is situated in the middle of the Westfield and has a little cafe too. They are much more of a classic macaron than the Zumbarons. And very special if you are into macarons.

Little one travelling on the bus in the heat. She was the perfect shopping buddy.

First stop in the city was Becasse bakery. They make superb french pastries, probably the best I've had in Australia. I'm still sad that Justin North had to close the rest of his little corner on level 5 of the Westfield. I loved what they were doing and had a wonderful birthday meal there too.

We had 6 close friends over for lunch yesterday. The theme of the day was lime, I think I went through 15 limes in the preparation of all the dishes. 8 or so for Nigella's Chocolate Key lime pie (do it, do it!) 1 on the grilled sweetcorn, 1 in the guacamole, 2 on the barbeque chicken with lime and garlic, another in the beetroot dip.... Might have been a good idea to work out that they are not in season in Sydney right now....

A gift from T2 from one of our guests. Take me to Morocco teas. I had such a lovely weekend.

Have a great week everyone xxx

Monday, November 19, 2012

Grams of my life - Instagram

My blog has been very neglected recently. Having 2 kids in the house makes things very busy, I'm sure you can imagine.
I keep up with what's happening on Instagram. If you haven't looked it up yet you really should! Although the app is key to using and liking other images, Instagram have recently they have also launched user profiles. Here's mine

And some recent photos:

Feel like I've spent hours at the Apple Store in Chatswood over the last few days. My mac finally died after four years, but that has meant that I was able to upgrade to a beautiful Macbook Pro. Exciting!

 My local beach. Freshwater. We are so so lucky.

My first taste of Barambah Organics yogurt. Blissfully thick, and the hint of cinnamon makes it a little bit different.

Chickpea curry. Simple and wholesome.

Some new cookie cutters bought by my Dad for our family in a great baking shop in Fremantle. They had everything! Miss almost 3 is learning letters so he thought these would be perfect to combine with a bit of baking.


My helper making sure the icing sugar is 'perfect'!

Our family loves gingerbread, especially this Hummingbird Bakery recipe that contains a large amount of ginger, some Tate & Lyle Black treacle and ends up being not too sweet. We're trying to extend the gingerbread season as much as possible and I'm also planning a few gingerbread gifts for my toddler's teachers.

Come follow me on Instagram - I'm heavenlyingredients. see you there!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Early birthday present from T2

T2 is one of the only 'high street' shops that I totally love. (The other is Kikki-K, but that's a whole other blog post...)  The concept is spot on. They adore tea, and everything to do with it. I also think their range of teas and accoutrement is fabulous.

They treat teapots, cups and saucers like fashion shops - they change them all the time, and are always linked by a theme. It seemed to be all about decadence when we were in there today, and my local store had a whole wall of vintage teacups too.

My lovely MIL treated me to an early birthday present, T2 loose leaf Earl Grey, a black square tin (I already have a collection of these and love them!), a honey spoon and 2 tea scoops. At T2 they also let you have free samples - we both chose Creme brulee. So delicious, and perfect as a black tea.

Thank you for my bday present xx

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Do you thermomix?

I'm a gadget queen. Ok, I am, but only in the kitchen. I love having every little bit and piece that I need for making the perfect pasta, madeleines, cupcakes, stews, stocks... the list goes on.

When I started watching youtube videos about the Kitchenaid and saw how beautiful it was, I just had to have one. So impatient too, I could only wait so long after I had ummed and arrggged about the perfect colour. Majestic Yellow. Which of course was being discontinued and gave me even more reason to buy once I found one. Think I got the last one in the country in David Jones in Bondi Junction. I just had to drive across and have a look, and then it was love at first sight.  I continue to adore it, but have to admit that it is hard to justify, on health grounds(!), making cupcakes every week. Still, it gets some use.

More recently I've heard lots of chat about the Thermomix. They do everything.  Chop, beat, mix, whip, grind, knead, mince, grate, juice, blend, heat, stir, steam and weigh! I was told upfront how expensive they are which just made me shrug. I can't imagine my husband would be very understanding about that, even though I think the multi-use factor probably does justify the cost. 

Then last weekend I went to the Good Food & Wine festival and popped to their stall.  The demonstration was fabulous, and so was the sample (some sort of gluten free chocolate almond dessert with orange custard). I'm so almost sold. I would love to host a demo at my place, but I realise that I probably couldn't say no after that...

$1939.... big ouch!

Do you own a Thermomix?

Monday, July 2, 2012

my kitchen

My beloved kitchen!

I can hardly begin to tell you quite how wonderful it is to design your own space. Making sure there is space for everything. Choosing the width of your drawers, the finishes, the fittings, the appliances. My heart flutters a little when I get home and see my dream kitchen is still there, waiting for me.

I spent a long time looking at kitchens before deciding what I wanted. It's such a big decision, and not something that I wanted to have an ounce of regret for. Every since we bought our place, almost three years ago now, I've been flicking through Real Living and Australian House & Garden magazine for ideas.   Anything mentioning kitchen special on the front cover, I was totally there.  Then there were the posts about other kitchen makeovers - I love Retro Mummy's kitchen so much, but the Hampton's style did not feel the right style of kitchen for our 1960s house.

We ended up deciding on very simple polyurethane handle-less cupboards and drawers in white. I love white white white, and wanted to use other colours as accents. It's a really modern feeling kitchen, but I knew that if we ever decided to sell that the place wouldn't offend either.  It's got oodles of drawers for easy access. They really have changed the way I cook and prepare.  I spend so much less time looking for things, and reaching into dark spaces that I can't see into!

Another pre-requisite was the biggest possible kitchen island. And I got it. It's a dream size, and we spend so much time sitting and eating around it. I no longer have to cook away in a tiny little 3m x 3m kitchen space with no company, everything is open. I think the island itself is 1.6m x 1.8m!  I can see my little girl drawing, doing play dough and reading, because she can sit and do that on the other side of the island to me.

And then to space. Our kitchen designer told us that he would easily be able to trump the space of our last kitchen. I'm so happy with it. We have hidden storage under our island, a huge pantry with pull out drawers to chest height, wine racks, open shelving and even a cupboard for my ever-growing cook book collection.  I don't have to stack items upon items upon items to get them in the cupboard. Love it!

The finishing touch was the splash back. If we had designed this a few years ago I'm sure I would have chosen a glass splash back. But I've seen so many over the last little while and really wanted to go with tiles. I love the subway tile look too, but I got a lot of opposition to that. So, inspired by Martha Stewart we chose dark blue penny tiles. I was so nervous that I would hate them, as they are such an important feature of the kitchen. But I adore them, they totally make the space, and bring the contrast to the white that it so needed.

Have you ever designed a kitchen? And what do you love or hate about your current space?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

news & a peek at my new kitchen

I've been away for more than a little while.  This is the first reason for that. I gave birth to a little girl in mid April. We are all so happy to be welcoming another girl into our family. She is so very special, she looks physically a lot like her big sister, but with twinkling and very knowing blue eyes.

I'm reminding myself to enjoy the mothering a newborn experience more consciously this time. Being a first-time parent was wonderful in so many ways, but also so overwhelming with feeling so ill equipped to properly look after a little person. Those feelings have passed, now I know what babies need. Human touch. They love to be held and rocked. It's time consuming but not really all that hard.

The other big life event that has been taking up our time is a huge renovation. It has affected about half of our house and the worst part coincided with baby L arriving. Yes, really!  We were very lucky to have lots of family support to help us through. I honestly think I might have had a break-down if I were a first time parent, but somehow this time we made it work.

Excitingly I have a brand spanking new kitchen. I love it so much. The whole process from thinking about what I wanted, to design, choosing the surfaces and colours, and all the details was so much fun. 

I plan to reveal a bit more of my kitchen in the next few weeks - stay tuned.

Laura x

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sugar Free Granola

I like to be healthy at breakfast time. Starting the day well is very important to me, and then we have the odd treat, like bacon & eggs or pancakes and pastries on weekends.

There are a couple of things that I love to eat during summer, and then during the winter I like to mix it up a bit with porridge.

The first is a sort of mixed up bircher muesli, which I'm pretty flexible with the ingredients, but always using the base of rolled oats. I'm never quite organised to leave this to soak overnight, but I find that 15 minutes or so whilst I'm having my first cup of tea for the day is more than enough for the flavours to start to mix.

Ingredients for my cold oats are roughly 2/3 cup of oats with a handful of frozen raspberries and a handful of frozen blueberries, soaked in either yogurt (greek yogurt or vanilla Jalna are constants in my fridge) or full cream milk. Then add in a sprinkle of slivered almonds, finely sliced dried apricots and sometimes a few dried sour cherries. And a few chia seeds if I have them. I will also use a fresh mango, nectarine or peach if there's one sitting in the fruit bowl.

It's pure goodness, a satisfying and ice cold breakfast if you include the frozen fruit. Oats are great for cholesterol, but also for satiety, and I find that I don't normally need any morning tea if I've had oats in the morning. The frozen berries also turn the milk a deep berry colour, something akin to what cocoa pops do, only the healthy & natural version!

My other favourite breakfast is homemade granola. I'm a bit addicted, and not just to the taste, but also the whole process of making granola. It smells wonderful, and the roasting of the nuts make them super special, and intensify the crunch.  This version is a healthier granola, and sugar free, unless you choose to add dried fruits at the end.  (Here's a link to the other granola I love to make too). I honestly don't think that flavourwise the dried fruits are essential, the granola is sweet on its own, but they add another softer texture to the muesli.

I served it this morning with a few sultanas and sour cherries (again!) and a dollop of greek yogurt. Gorgeous weekday breakfast, something I look forward to it when I wake up.

This recipe is from the Rose Bakery Cookbook, my favourite cook book for the moment. And that is a big call with my cookbook collection growing each month!


300g rolled oats
100g whole natural almonds
120g sunflower seeds
120g pumpkin seeds
1 Tbs wheatgerm  
125ml (1/2 cup) apple juice
4 Tbs sunflower oil, or another neutral oil

Dried fruit such as apricots, sultanas, raisins, sour cherries - to taste, optional


Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees.

Mix all the dry ingredients and coat in the sunflower oil and apple juice.
Spread evenly over a large baking tray.
Place in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, turning the granola every 15 minutes or so to ensure the muesli is toasted evenly.
Allow to cool before mixing in dried fruit.
Serve as an accompaniment to other cereals, or by itself, or with yogurt.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What I've been cooking lately

I've been absent a lot from my blog lately. I could apologise, but really this is probably the way things are going to be for a while. Blogging twice a week would be ideal for me, I never wanted to be a once-a-day sort of a blogger, but even that is way beyond my capacity right now. The little girl keeps me more than busy most of the time, and we're also renovating our house.

That hasn't meant that I've forgotten about food altogether, I still love spending time in my kitchen, and find that even on my tiredest days I am revived by preparing and eating something that I truly enjoy. Mostly that means old favourites that I don't feel like writing about. Pesto, curries, baked eggs....

I've started experimenting with jams too. These strange fruits are a native Australian fruit that we found in my Father-in-law's garden. Like many of those not-so-nice fruits the literature says they are 'good for jam'. Most things are good when immersed in their weight in sugar, but anyway, I thought I would give it a go.

They are strange things, very solid, with a pale flesh that could be compared to an unripe nectarine or peach. Each fruit also contains 4 to 5 very solid black stones that need to be removed. The preparation part for the jam was a lot more arduous than using traditional stone fruit I must say, even with my sharp Global knives I struggled to cut into the black apples.

The rest of the jam making process was fairly normal, although once finished I found that the fruit was still very solid, rather than soft like other stone fruit would be. It was quite edible but a bit of a fail overall. There is a reason why we don't see black apple jam on the shelves of Coles!

Another little experiment was making praline, inspired by The Rose Bakery cookbook. The bakery is a beautiful little cafe near the Gare du Nord in Paris which I visited on my last trip to France in 2007. They have no website for me to link to, but here's a lovely review by Chocolate & Zucchini.  They bring English style food to Paris, that is less delicate and refined, but healthier and really tasty.

The book is gorgeous and I hope to be cooking a few other things from it over this rainy Sydney weekend.  Granola, Pistachio cake and some of the savoury tarts are all on the to do list.

Chopping almonds

Making the sugar syrup

Caramel setting over the almonds

Praline shards in my Magimix


The praline is so beautiful. The nuts make it less sweet than a pure caramel dust would be. I sprinkled it over Connisseur vanilla ice cream. And the best part is that I now have 2 jars full in the cupboard which can be used to sprinkle over cakes, muffins, ice cream and yogurt.

Have you tried Twinings new Australian Afternoon Tea? We bought some at the weekend. It's a strong but beautiful blend, something that would be more suited to the morning for me personally (I'm more of an Earl Grey or herbal girl in the afternoons).

We had a few friends over for dinner last night and I turned to Nigella. I've made this Greek lamb, lemon & chilli dish a few times, it's easy to pre-prepare the oven trays and put them into the oven for an hour or so when needed. The chilli and lemon make the dish special.

I served it with fresh bread and a green salad.  Simple, uncomplicated dinner.

For lunch today I used some of the lamb cutlets left over from last night and quickly fried it with some halloumi.

These were added to a winter salad of Israeli couscous, roasted pumpkin and a few green salad leaves with a bit of lemon juice on top. A strong combination of flavours, but just what I was after on this cold and wet Sydney day.

My new Emile Henry pie case awaits for this weekend, I just need to find the perfect beginner's recipe tonight to work out what to make.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

Have a great weekend everyone x