Another one of those personal posts


A friend posted on facebook the other day that, as he was approaching 30, he now understood what his mother meant when she told him that by this age he would count his true friends on one hand.  And I should note this is someone with 2,500 facebook friends and over 10,000 instagram followers.

Friendship has always been important to me, I’ve written about my struggles with it on this blog before. Recently the topic has again been on my mind (maybe it’s an annual thing.)  But whereas the losing of a friend has been a very emotional and personal thing for me in the past, I’m now looking at such change in a more contemplative manner.

Taxman and I went out to dinner last week and we chatted about this topic.  He is someone who has no close friends (other than me) and it has always been the case.  He just exists as a solo entity.  I admire his stoic nature (it’s very much like my father.)  He, on the other hand, did suggest that he would like to be more connected to people, as I can be. (See the grass is always greener.)  But he said he had noticed that the negative things that people sometimes do, and the changing nature of friendships, wasn’t impacting me in the way that it used to.  I agree, and I call that progress.

96d197c8b40e01bd64994222ed1ddb4aOne reason for this change is that I am more focussed on what people can bring to my life, and vice versa.  For too long I’ve wanted to be friends with people because I wanted friends, and to be liked. Not because there was a positive connection.  I’ve held on to a few friendships for way too long, including those which would be considered toxic, because I didn’t want to let go.  I now look at the behaviour of some of my ‘friends’ and think maybe this isn’t the energy I need in my life right now.

Popularity and being liked is something that I’ve wasted an extraordinarily long time on.  I was one of those high school girls that was hyper conscious of the hierarchies of popularity at school (but also outside it as I was too stubborn to conform to the required ideals for beauty and activity.)  Now I exercise my angst in this area by monitoring my twitter followers and blog likes.

Now I’ve got my personal response to friendship in a more balanced perspective, I do think I need to work on the online presence.  I love social media, but I do watch my stats and followers just a little bit too closely.  So I’m now taking steps to focus on this.

Firstly, I’m getting off electronic devices at night when I’m home. I spend 8-10 hours a day on the computer/iphone/ipad for work purposes, I do not need to follow twitter when watching Breaking Bad as well. (Except when twitter is part of the show, like #qanda.)  I’m also not going to check how many followers/likes/stats I have any more. This is a hard one for me, as I do look at blog post stats a LOT.  I’ve contemplated quitting the blog, and quitting facebook (again) but the blog is a great record for me food wise, and I still use facebook for my not-for profit work….so I’m stuck there for now. It is funny that it is twitter and facebook that cause me the most angst (but facebook has been the most enlightening in terms of highlighting the people I may not really want in my life.)  There’s something about instagram that makes it a positive experience – why is that so?

Any tips for keeping balance in the online world?

OMG thermomix mac ‘n cheese


How have I had a thermomix for 2 (or is it 3?) years and never made this before?

Easy, because it will KILL you will all the gooey, fatty, non-paleo, cheesey goodness.

While I’d like to call myself a mac ‘n cheese aficionado I do have a tendency to wallow in packet mixes. Disgusting I know.  For the record Continental Pasta mac ‘n cheese is my go to for packet revoltingness.

But I was sitting at home one day, studying, when I felt mac ‘n cheese inspiration hit. It was time to do my own low salt, if not low-fat, version in the thermomix.

Ingredients – for 1

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of dry macaroni
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Seasoning to taste


Put the milk and butter into the thermomix and heat on speed 1 until it reaches 90 degrees.  Add the macaroni and cook at 90-100 degrees (just watch for boiling over) for 12 minutes on reverse speed 3.  The milk should be absorbed into the pasta and you’re left with a bechamel texture.  Add the cheeses and stir until melting. Season to taste.

Macncheese1This is about as decadent as it gets. I’ve seen some recipes where you sneak grated vegetables into this (for the kids) but why would you ruin a crazily self-indulgent exercise by pretending to be healthy?  Just go with it (but not very often.)


Home made chilli sauce


Like most people alive today, I am in love with Sriracha. I even got my Dad onto it and found five different varieties of chilli sauce, including that most famous, when I last visited his house.

But reading the ingredients list, as I’m want to do, is a pretty terrifying experience.  I’m a recovering MSG addict (time spent in China will do that to you) and I don’t really want it in my life ongoing.

When I cam across this recipe for home-made sriracha I had to give it a try.

I was all set to make it with red chillies, but my local market had other plans and none were available, so green it was.

Ingredients -  Recipe via My Darling Lemon Thyme

  • 15 long green chillies (I had 3 red and 12 green chopped into chunks.)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar


Place all ingredients except the apple cider vinegar in the food processor/thermomix and blend until smooth.  Place in a clean jar and loosely screw on lid.

Stage one. Pre-fermentation. Not the prettiest of colours.

Stage one. Pre-fermentation. Not the prettiest of colours.

Leave in a warm, dark place for 3-4 days until the fermentation begins. You will see little air bubbles in the jar.

Return the mix to the blender, add the vinegar and mix until smooth. Then sieve to remove the solids.  I was tempted to cook and reduce, but I wanted the benefits of the fermentation. (Read Michael Pollan’s Cooked for a great overview on fermentation and why it is important for the body.)

But….this was not the greatest success I have had.

Firstly, there was not a lot of sauce at the end, as you can see below.

chilli sauce 1

Secondly, it was very watery.

But the taste….KAPOW. Like being hit in the face with a lot of chilli. (Not very poetic there, but true.)

CHilli sauce 2

So not a complete disaster. I’ve used the sauce in cooking and to make a sriracha mayonnaise (I’m a little mayonnaise obsessed right now.) But still seems like a lot of effort for a small, if powerful, reward.

Anyone had better luck making chilli sauce?


Home made yoghurt and labneh


So many of my recent posts are the result of the wonderful weekend I had with Josephine in February.  While we not only ate and visited many fine food establishments, we talked food for 76 hours, which led to an uptick in creativity for me.

An example of this was out visit to Rootstock, and the yoghurt and cheese workshop.  It was only a couple of weeks later that I decided to put this new-found knowledge into action.

I should note that my primary aim is still to master the art of coconut yoghurt making, as this is my preferred yoghurt.  But this is proving to be quite a challenge.  Basic yoghurt, however, could not be easier and the results are pretty amazing.

To start the process I ensure all my containers and jars were sterilised by dousing them in boiling water and drying them in the oven.

I then heated 1500ml of organic full cream milk in the thermomix to 90 degrees.  Interestingly what the thermomix said was 90 degrees was not 90 degrees on the thermometer, so the process took a lot longer than if I’d trusted the machine.

Then the milk is left to cook until it reaches 42-45 degrees, which took about an hour.

Mix in 1 tablespoon of yoghurt per litre (so 1.5 tablespoons.)  Ensuring you have one with live cultures.


I poured into my thermomix steel warming bowl. Popped into a plastic bag, wrapped this is a towel and stashed in the oven for 24 hours. (Oven off of course.)

Open the next day and ta-dah! Yoghurt.  Mine was really creamy and not too tart, which I preferred, as a result of the milk I’d used.  It was particularly good with stewed plumbs with cardamom and vanilla, or figs, honey and cacao.

fig and yoghrt


I took about 1 litre of the yoghurt and added a teaspoon of salt.  Poured this into muslin and hung it, tied to a wooden spoon, in a bucket for another 18 hours.

Presto! Labneh.  Which was so smooth and creamy.  Dreamy even.


I used a tiny bit of it in some canapés with pomegranate and olive oil.  But a lot I covered with oil and popped into the fridge where I can use it over a few weeks.

Labneh 2How easy is this? Everyone thinks its impressive when I said it was ‘homemade labneh’ but it’s actually embarrassingly simple.

A must do.


Hazelnut pancakes #2 – protein version (paleo friendly)

HP 2

What do you do with egg whites?  I’m not a huge fan of the egg white omelette and I’ve had a succession of paleo-fails trying to make meringue with maple syrup or coconut sugar.

So after making the coconut curd, which will be on the blog in a couple of weeks, I was left with five egg whites.  While walking the dog I came up with the solution – a second round of hazelnut meal pancakes.

One problem with a lot of baking with nut flours or meal is that they can be heavy and dense.  Especially if not eaten immediately.  One solution to this is to soufflé the hell out of those babies and add beaten egg whites.  An excellent plan, if I do say so myself, as these were fabulous.


  • 5 egg whites beaten to stiff peaks
  • 1/3 cup hazelnut meal
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut water
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Pinch of vanilla powder
  • Coconut oil to cook.


Mix the hazelnut meal, coconut flour, coconut water, coconut cream, vanilla and lime zest in a bowl. Don’t leave out the lime as it really adds a lift to this recipe, particularly as there is no sweetener.

Incorporate a spoonful of the beaten egg whites, folding slowly. Then add the meal/flour mixture to the egg white bowl and mix until combined. Try to keep as much air as possible.

pancakes hazelnut 1

Fry in a pan coated with coconut oil until done. At first they are puffy, but they do sink a little. Not a problem as they taste great. I served them with coconut curd, which is very sweet, some pomegranate seeds and a splash of coconut cream.  The whole concoction married really well as the light pancakes married with the thick, sweet honey and coconut curd.

HP 3



Eggplant and pomegranate salad with labneh

Eggplant 3

It was not meant to be anything special.  A quite Sunday night dinner using what was in the fridge (mainly left overs from the party I had catered on a previous Friday.)

It turned out to be the best thing I’ve made in months.

As usual I cannot claim credit for the idea, I’d had this wonderful eggplant and goats cheese salad at Restaurant Nomad last year and when I saw the recipe in Gourmet Traveller I knew I had to make it.  So simple, yet very delicious, I can honestly say it’s the first time a recipe has tasted the same, if not better, than the restaurant equivalent.


  • 1 eggplant, cut lengthways into slices
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon Juice
  •  White wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  •  Mint 
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Labneh


Salt the eggplant first, leaving for 15 minutes.  Rinse the slices clean.  Brush with olive oil and grill on the BBQ. (I will admit I was lazy and I fried them in the pan.)

In a mortar and pestle crush the garlic, add olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar and mix to a emulsified dressing.

Top the eggplant with a smattering of mint leaves, pomegranate seeds, dollops of labneh, some seasoning and then dress with the salad.

Eggplant 3Serve with lamb. Or eat by itself.  You wont be sorry. I had the little lamb chops “with handles” which I loved as a kid.  It’s the simple things that make me happy.

Eggplant 2


Onion rings (paleo friendly)

Onion rings 3Onion rings are ‘having a moment.’  Or they were when I wrote this post (mid-February.)  I first noticed the resurgence of the onion ring at Paramount Coffee Project, which does a very nice version.  Then they turned up with beef brisket at Hartsyard.  Suddenly they were a thing.

While onion rings are never going to replace good fries in my heart, cholesterol and all, I still think they are a nice indulgence.  So I thought I’d have a go at a paleo friendly version.


  • 1 large onion sliced into rings
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • Spices and salt to taste – I used cayenne pepper, salt and some garlic powder.


Mix the flour and spices together in a bowl. Coat your onion rings in beaten egg mixture then cover in coconut flour and spice mix.

Onion rings

Place on a baking paper coated baking tray and pop into a 200 degree oven for 10-20 minutes or until cooked until your liking.  I like crunchy, yet soft onion.

These were cooked well, but a little sweet and the onion and the coconut flour combine.  I’d suggest going a) heavy on the spices and b) maybe trying a mix of almond meal and coconut flour.  Some recipes I’ve seen also fry them in coconut oil.  I’m afraid of frying, but maybe it’s worth giving a go.

We served with a good piece of steak from the BBQ and sautéed warrigal greens with garlic.  Yum.

Onion rings 2