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Emigrated from America to New Zealand and never looked back. Couldn't have asked for a better husband, family & life!


It is said every year
Voices young and old
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all
Then stories are told

At the dining table
Forks & knives in hand
And who could forget
The elastic waistbands

Turkey served first
White meat or dark?
And who gets the wishbone
To later rip apart?

Next spuds and stuffing
Under gravy so rich
Just pass on the veggies
Rolls are caught on the pitch

Save your forks ev'rybody
Cuz dessert is now near
Pumpkin pie, and whipped cream
Pecans too, never fear

Waitsbands are taxed
To their maximum limit
Don't forget leftovers
Everything's in it

Dishes are cleaned
And stacked by the dozen
Oh wait, that's more food
stored inside the oven?

Sure glad you could join us
Hope you visit again soon
Now a nap on the couch
Waking up tomorrow noon

Hope you enjoyed
My Thanksgiving story
Now go and enjoy
All your holiday glory

Cheers to all, and save some for me! ;o)


I saw this in the news yesterday and thought it was particularly interesting. Keep an eye out for this product in your health food shops.

Courtesy of:
Monday, November 24, 2008

Three cups of green tea a day could keep obesity at bay. Research shows the tea helps the pounds melt away, even while still eating junk food.

Spearole Tea, a blend of green tea, spearmint, grape seed and olive leaf, also cuts blood pressure and makes it easier for the body to process sugar.

Researcher Dr. Lindsay Brown said: “If someone had told me you could do all these things with something as simple as green tea with olive extract I would said they’d been out in the sun too long. It is simply amazing.”

Dr. Brown, a pharmacologist at Brisbane’s Queensland University, studied the effect of the tea on the health of a group of rats. The creatures were fed a fat and sugar-laden diet caused the amount of fat around their bellies to double in eight weeks and their blood pressure to soar.

When Spearole Tea was added to their diet, their waistlines and their blood pressure quickly returned to normal.

This was despite the continuing to eat junk food, the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress will hear.

Dr. Brown said it was likely three cups of the tea a day could also help people stay trim, improving overall health.

Warning that the obesity epidemic threatened to wipe out the gains achieved by improvements to heart health, he said: “The UK, the US and Australia all have something like 60 per cent of the adult population overweight or obese. The decrease in cardiovascular mortality in the last 40 years has added on average six years to life expectancy. That is the biggest increase in life expectancy in one generation in the history of the species. The control of cardiovascular disease has had an amazing effect on survival and that is at risk from obesity.”


(Courtesy of the Easy Way CafĂ© and Foodtown Magazine Jun/Jul’07)

Today's post is a celebration post!!! It was one year ago this week that my amazing husband adopted my lovely daughter and we made everything official. She was the apple of his eye the day he met her for the first time, but it was all settled and we were finally able to share his surname, and all that entails, with him as a family one year ago.
I am extremely proud of my husband and daughter and never could have asked for more. Hubby is such a kind and loving man and I feel he makes me want to be the best person that I can be. Our baby girl (who is seven going on seventeen already) is very honoured and very happy about having such a great daddy too. I suppose there were a few long and lonely years when I was a solo mum, where she and I probably both thought we would only ever have or need each other, but Hubby came into our lives like a ray of sunshine and showed us both how good life really could be.
I had decided long ago NEVER again to settle for something mediocre, or comfortable. I decided that IF the day was to come that I would look for love again, my daughter would be grown and I would not ever accept anyone even slightly dishonest, "needy" or "clingy"...no "work in progress" for me ever again - I deserve better; someone honest and kind, and someone I could trust entirely and truly, deeply love. I wanted a man who was extremely confident and successful in life, not someone who blamed life for his shortcomings. I can tell you with 100% confidence now, that one should never "look for love"...trust me, let it find you when it's ready!
Now, this recipe came to my attention through my friend and neighbour, Linda (thank you ever so much). She made this for a special dinner she was having and it sounded sooo good, I had to ask for the recipe! Now that I have an extremely important and incredibly happy reason to make it, we are going to indulge a bit tonight.
Cheers to my family - may we always enjoy health, happiness, and each other!


200 GMs Good Quality White Chocolate (must contain Cocoa Butter)
¼ Cup Coconut Cream
¼ Cup Bacardi White Rum
1 Egg Yolk
1 Tsp Caster Sugar (ultrafine sugar – smaller granules than normal sugar)
200 ML Cream
2 Egg Whites

First heat the white chocolate, coconut cream and rum in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over a pot over simmering water, until it is all melted together.

In a separate bowl, whisk the yolk and sugar together and then whisk it into the melted chocolate mixture.

Remove the mixture from the heat and cool. I fill my sink with cold water and immerse the bottom and sides of the bowl in the water whilst stirring to cool the mixture efficiently and evenly.

Now, whip the cream just until it begins to hold it’s shape and then carefully fold it into the cooled chocolate mixture.

Next, in a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and carefully fold that into the mix as well.

Now, pour the mousse into your serving vessels (wine glasses, martini glasses, ramekins, whatever…), and chill well for at least an hour before adding the topping. A transparent glass or bowl will highlight the light and dark contrast between the mousse and its topping to give you a very polished presentation.


60 GM Good Quality Dark Chocolate (minimum of 72% cocoa)
100 ML Cream

First, break the chocolate into small bits and place them into a heatproof bowl.

Next, in a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil and immediately pour it over the chocolate bits in the bowl, whisking until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Cool the topping thoroughly.

Next, you carefully pour the well cooled topping over the mousse and tilt the glass/bowl until you have an even layer over the top of the mousse about ¼ of an inch thick.

Now, chill the glasses/bowls until fully set – about 30-60 minutes.

Finally, INDULGE!!!


Lumpia is the Filipino version of a spring roll or egg roll. I learned to make lumpia when I was still in middle school. My home economics instructor back then was a lady from Hawaii and she taught us about many different, weird and wonderful (or, some not so wonderful) foods from places all over the world.

This teacher even brought in Poi one day for us to taste (eeyuk). For anyone unfamiliar, from what I remember Poi is a gooey paste made from mashed Taro root and, if not eaten immediately, the paste is left to sour/ferment for up to a week. It is supposed to be very nutritious for babies with dairy allergies, but once it begins to ferment, it is rarely eaten without adding milk & sugar.

Anyway, I digress, Lumpia and sweet & sour sauce was one of our first cooking lessons (I think I was 12 or 13 at the time) and they turned out lovely, so I have continued to make them ever since. This is my own version, although I am sure there are heaps of recipes out there. I made pork lumpia on this occasion, but I think I like beef the best, but I have added shrimp on occasion and those were nice as well.


2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Lg Yellow Onion, finely diced
3 Cloves Crushed Garlic
500 Gm (approx 1 Lb) Lean Minced Pork (or chicken, or beef)
2 Med Carrots, peeled & grated or julienned
¼ Head Cabbage, sliced finely
½ Cup Mung Bean Sprouts (more or less)
4 Cups Stock (whatever kind you prefer, I used chicken)
1 Pkg Rice Vermicelli Noodles (adjust to suit depending on how many rolls you are making)
¼ Cup (packed) Coriander or Parsley, finely chopped
3 Lg Scallions (spring onions)
*Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Pkg (approx 20 ea) Spring Roll Wrappers or Lumpia wrappers (if you can get them)
*Peanut Oil for frying rolls

*Amounts vary to individual tastes


Heat your sesame oil and begin to cook onions over medium heat.

As the onions begin to go clear, add garlic and cook for an additional 30-60 seconds before adding in the meat of your choice.

Brown the meat and be sure to cook thoroughly, as the frying of the rolls at the end will not be long enough to get the rolls to a temperature high enough for a long enough time to cook the meat at that stage.

As the meat is browning, in a separate pot, bring your stock to a boil.

Once meat looks cooked, add in the carrots, cabbage, and bean sprouts.

Once the stock boils, remove it from the heat and add your rice vermicelli noodles and allow them to soften about 2 minutes.

Once the noodles are soft, drain them and add them to the meat mixture.

Remove the meat mixture from the heat and add the coriander/parsley, the scallions, and the black pepper and make sure to combine everything well and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Now you need to remove the wrappers from the package and lay them onto a damp tea towel. You will remove one wrapper at a time and fold the damp towel over the top of the remaining wrappers while rolling each lumpia roll.

Depending on who you talk to, traditional lumpia rolls are fairly small with very little filling however…I tend to make them bigger and more the size of a spring roll, but it’s up to you how much filling to roll up in each wrapper.

To fill and roll lumpia, as with most spring roll/egg roll items, you begin with the wrapper angled with corners on both sides and placing the filling across the bottom corner.

Next roll the bottom corner up and the sides in toward the center. Continue rolling up from the bottom and with clear water, moisten the top corner to “glue” it to the roll.

Once you have all of your rolls made, you can heat up the peanut oil and fry them 2-3 at a time to cook the wrapper until it’s golden brown and crispy.

Lumpia is best served with a sweet and sour sauce. You can find a simple recipe for my sauce with my post for Coconut Prawns.



This is one of my all time favourites. It's a smooth and creamy comfort food with loads of flavour. Here in New Zealand it can be challenging to find certain items (such as porcini mushrooms), so I get my special ingredients at the
Mediterranean Food Warehouse in Newtown.

I buy the dried porcinis and soak them prior to use. In this case, the obvious option for me, was to dice the dried mushrooms and then add them to the stock before bringing it to a boil. This way, the gorgeous procini flavour was able to develop in the risotto from the start. Otherwise, if you have access to fresh porcinis, you also have the option of adding them with the bacon as I have indicated below. Either way, this dish is "to die for"!

This recipe makes quite a large pan full, so you may opt to cut in in half...personally, I like leftover risotto for lunch the next day, so I don't mind.


1.5 Litres (6-6.5 Cups) Stock of your choice (I used Chicken)
2 Large Onions (finely chopped)
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
75 Gms Butter (approx 2.5 oz)
¼ Cup Verjuice (or ½ Water-½ Lemon Juice Mixture)
500 Gms (about 1 Lb) Diced Bacon
½ Cup Diced Porcini Mushrooms
300 Gms (5 oz dry/uncooked) Arborio Rice
3 Cloves Crushed Garlic
1 Tbsp Oregano
¼ Cup Packed Freshly Chopped Parsley/Cilantro
150 Gms (~5 oz) Parmiggiano Reggiano Cheese (finely grated & FRESH)
*Fresh Parsley Garnish
*Freshly Ground Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes


Firstly, fry off the bacon until the bits begin to go crispy, then set aside.

In a large chef's pan or other wide-bottom pan that can hold 8 cups or so of cooked risotto...heat the oil & butter and start to cook the onions. Do not brown the onions, just cook until they start to soften.

Whilst the onions are cooking, you will need to boil the stock and keep it hot in a smaller saucepan until it's used up.

When the onion starts to go clear, add the rice and stir to coat well. It will almost look "glassy" and transparent on the grain ends when well mixed. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Now increase the heat and add the verjuice (or substitute) and stir until the liquid soaks completely into the rice.

Reduce the heat again and begin adding the hot stock to the rice pan one-cup at a time. Stir constantly and only add the next cup after the previous one has been absorbed into the rice. Repeat this until 2/3 of the stock is gone. This takes about 20 minutes - stirring constantly.

Now add in the bacon, mushrooms, garlic, and oregano then increase the heat once again.

Add the last 2 cups or so of the stock one cup at a time, as before and stirring constantly (about 10 minutes) until the risotto is smooth & creamy.

Taste for seasoning and check that the rice is cooked through.

Finally, remove from heat and stir in the Parmiggiano and parsley/cilantro and that’s it!

You may also wish to serve this with an extra drizzle of EVOO, additional parsley and cracked pepper. Even my picky daughter (who claims to hate rice) loved this one!


So, I've been quite busy these last couple of weeks. With the school festival and trying to plan Thanksgiving, and somewhere in all this the excitement of our precious daughter getting her first job! That's right, only 7 years old and we make her earn her keep! Actually, she has always been quite a little drama queen and she was recently given the opportunity to be on television in a commercial for a bank. (pretty cool, eh?!) Technically, it's her second job though...her first gig was a photo shoot for a government brochure about 2 weeks after we arrived here in New Zealand. A photographer had asked me if she could photograph my lovely little nymph as she chased pigeons around the parliament courtyard...several weeks later we received, a package with a check and several photos in it along with a copy of the Auditor General's Annual Report and guess who graced the cover?! Well, that was a couple of years ago now, and I don't push my little one into anything, so there are no acting lessons on the horizon as we will stick to ballet and piano for now. She wants to do everything (guitar and singing/dancing are the flavours of the week because she wants to be like Hannah Montana). LOL

Anyway, my point...so much to do and so little time!

I had practically forgotten about coconut prawns as I haven't had or made them since we moved down under. This was a favourite appetizer at a local restaurant that a former director used to take my department to whenever we celebrated anything. In any case, it was always something I liked to make, but my daughter has never been fond of coconut or prawns...aha, but put them together and as long as it's fried, it now passes inspection...just barely!

These were just fantastic last night though. Not too heavy, and the ever-so-slight coconut aroma was heavenly. This was paired perfectly with the slightly spicy sweet and sour sauce I managed to whip up successfully (one of the first things I had learned to make way back in home economics class when I was about 13 or so).

My only regret here, is that I apparently didn't make enough for lunch today, so it's back to leftover chicken from my hubby's weekend cooking spree (he won a size 20 chook in the quick-fire raffle at the school gala - just a bit too big for our little family I think).

Here is the easy-to-follow recipe for my coconut prawns and sauce. Sauce first...


1 Cup Crushed Pineapple, with juice
3 Cloves Crushed Garlic
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
2 Tbsp Red Chilli Sauce (or minced red chillies without seeds)
2 Tbsp Chinese Black Vinegar (lemon juice will do in a pinch)


Prepare the sauce by combining pineapple (with juice from can) in a pot with garlic, soy sauce, and cornstarch, then stir together until well combined

Now, add chilli sauce or minced peppers (jalapeno works as well, but use half as much if you don't want the sauce to be too spicy).

Mix together until peppers are well incorporated.

Next, simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to desired consistency.

Lastly, stir in vinegar.

The sauce is best prepared up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to serve (serve room temp or cold). Also, any leftover sauce is great with leftover rice the following day. Mmmm…sweet and slightly spicy!


½ Cup Flour
½ Tsp Baking Powder
½ Tsp Smoked Paprika
½ Tsp Garlic Salt
½ Cup Cold Water (more or less)
¾ Cup Breadcrumbs
1½ -2 Cups Shredded Coconut (I prefer the finer texture over the coarsely shredded version)
500 Gm (approx 1 lb) Prawns, de-veined and tails off
2 Cups (more or less) Peanut Oil or Rice Bran Oil


Stir together the flour, salt, baking powder and paprika in a medium size bowl with a fork or using chop sticks.

Once well combined, add water and whisk until batter is smooth, then set it aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and coconut to make the coating.

Drop the prawns, one by one, into the batter, and then roll in the coconut mixture, pressing down on the prawns to coat them well. I used chop sticks to keep from making a big mess.

Now heat approximately 1 inch of peanut or rice bran oil in a large frying pan to 185° C (approx 365° F).

When the
oil has reached temperature, fry the prawns in batches of about 6 at a time until they are golden brown on both sides, turning over once.

Remove the prawns from the oil using a slotted spoon or tongs and drain the excess oil on paper towels.

Finally, you sprinkle the hot prawns with a pinch of salt to enhance the flavour before serving with steamed rice and a veg. I added a hint of coconut essence and a few drops of sesame oil to my rice and it was addictive!!! YUM!!!


Add ¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper to bread crumbs and follow basic process as above.



Sorry, it's been a few days...just been so very busy sorting out Thanksgiving plans for 30 people or so, and trying to assist with the school's upcoming "Lamb & Calf Day Gala", which coincidentally means I'll be baking again today for the cake stall on Saturday!

Anyway, this is a new recipe I had seen one version of and decided to give it a go and see if we liked it. Our daughter wasn't crazy about it, but she did well. I think I might put it into a pita bread next time.

Okay, Palak Paneer is an Indian spinach curry with homemade fried cheese. Palak means spinach and Paneer is cheese. This was my first time attempting to make palak paneer and it was quite fun (and tasty). I had no idea how easy it would be to make cheese at home – how REALLY easy!!! I love spinach and feta, Mediterranean style salads and things, so I thought this would be a good challenge for me.

This dish would ideally be served wrapped in a flatbread like naan or a pappadum. I quite liked the sort of "squeaky" texture of the fresh cheese and might opt to make some herbed cheese with some of my favourite flavours thrown in for future gatherings!


2 Litres (8 Cups) Whole Milk
6 Tbsp Plain Unflavoured Yogurt
4 Tbsp Fresh Lime/Lemon Juice


First, whisk the yogurt and citrus juice together and set aside.

In a large stockpot, slowly and carefully bring the milk to a boil, stirring constantly.

Once boiling, immediately remove the milk from the heat and stir in the citrus/yogurt mixture.

You will immediately see the milk begin to form curds.

Now, return the pot to the heat and continue to boil until the curds stop developing, about 2 minutes.

Line a colander or sieve with cheesecloth and carefully pour the contents of the pot over the cheesecloth and allow it to drain away all of the clear liquid.

Allow the curds to drain until the cheesecloth is cool enough to handle and then twist the cloth as tightly as possible to remove any excess moisture that remains in the curds.

Put the wrapped curds in the refrigerator between two plates and weight it down with heavy cans (or other heavy items) to smash it into a flat disk about a centimetre or two thick for at least three hours to allow it solidify.

When you are ready to fix supper, unwrap the cheese, cube it, and brown it in a preheated pan that has been coated with cooking spray over medium high heat.

The paneer takes a bit of planning, but the results are so very worth it. I feel like a genuine Kiwi milkmaid or something and I didn’t have to pinch a teat or anything! Ha!

Now, for the curry dish…


500 Gms (about 1 Lb) Frozen Spinach, thawed
2 Cloves Crushed Garlic
1 Tsp Ginger, finely minced
1 Small Onion, diced
100 Gms Small Mushrooms, washed
(sliced and/or canned shrooms are okay)
1 Green Chilli, finely minced
1 Tsp Garam Masala
*Flaky Sea Salt
*Canola Oil Cooking Spray, or comparable substitute
1 Batch Paneer, cubed and browned (recipe above)

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


First, combine thawed spinach, garlic, and ginger in a blender and puree then set it aside.

Now spray a large pan with a generous amount of canola spray and place over medium heat.

Add the onion and chilli and cook it until it begins to brown.

Now that the onion is beginning to brown, add the mushrooms and get them heating through.

Next, add the spinach puree and garam masala and continue to cook until all of the ingredients are heated through and well combined.

Lastly, add the cubed and browned paneer then salt to taste.

Serve with a flatbread such as naan, or with pappadums.