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


I have been seeing recipes for this everywhere lately and decided I wanted to give it a go.  I looked at several that sounded good and found this one that I modified slightly to suit our tastes.  http://kirbiecravings.com/2014/08/crispy-golden-pork-belly.html

So here is how you make a really nice pork belly, which is probably best cut into small pieces and served as an appetizer, but we had it last night for dinner with green salad and mashed potatoes.

This recipe does take a bit of pre-planning, but it's really worth the little bit of extra prep when you taste how well it turns out.

Step one - is to marinate the pork, covered in the fridge, but not let the marinade touch the skin.  I used a slight variation of the original recipe (Kirby Cravings).  My marinade was soy sauce, garlic, Thai sweet chili sauce, ginger, and a bit of Chinese cooking wine.  

Pre-heat the oven to about 180 C.

Step two - is to remove the pork from the marinade, score the skin and rub it down with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Step three - is to completely cover the entire skin with a thick coating of salt (mine took just under a cup of salt).  This creates a thick crust that soaks up a good portion of the excess fat and water to dry out the skin to improve the quality of the crackling.

Step four - is to put the pork onto a rack in a shallow roasting dish, adding about an inch of water but not allowing the water to touch the pork.

Step five - put the dish into the oven for about an hour. (Kirby's recipe states 40 minutes, but I left mine a bit longer)

Step six - remove the pork from the oven just long enough to remove the salt crust and put the dish back into the oven...bumping up the heat to about 250 C....for about another 45 minutes or, until crispy & golden (again, Kirby's recipe indicated about another 30 minutes, but mine took quite a bit longer to get crispy).

It turned out brilliantly and the meat was moist & tender with crispy and slightly salty crackling.  I think that cut into bite-sized pieces, maybe stacked on a toothpick with a bit of crispy potato or something slightly acidic to cut the fat of the pork, would make a nice appetizer...if you have the patience for that sort of thing.

That's about all for now.  Happy cooking!


(Hakata Mon Style)

One of my old favourite places to eat in Beaverton (Oregon) was a Japanese place called Hakata Mon that a very close friend introduced me to. Unfortunately, I hear the place is no longer there, but one thing I will never forget is their wonderful salad dressing...that, and their Udon dishes with the wriggling tuna flakes on top!

Recently, my family was at a local teppanyaki style restaurant here and their salad dressing took me back to Hakata Mon in Beaverton. I asked if I could buy some to take home or if they could share the recipe, but I just got the shy Asian “no, sorry”. Darn it!!!

Well, I am pretty good at identifying and recreating flavours (if I really put my mind to it), so I Googled Japanese dressing recipes and have been experimenting. I have found a really good combination that is incredibly close and exceptionally tasty, so here it is...go ahead and give it a go (unless you have nut allergies, in which case I will post a nut-free Miso dressing recipe for you soon).

One thing I suggest too, is that you cut your greens fairly finely and grate in other veggies like carrots, courgettes (zucchinis) and beetroot. There's not much worse (in foodie terms) than not being able to enjoy a salad because the greens are still whole and too difficult to manipulate with either a fork or chopsticks! I use fancy curly lettuce and cut it into fine ribbons then add chopped or torn herbs and other grated veggies.


1 Small Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
½ Tsp Crushed Ginger
½ Cup Chopped Celery
½ Cup Peanut Oil
1/3 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Ketchup
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper to Taste


Combine all ingredients in a large jug and puree with an immersion blender (stick blender) until smooth and no longer lumpy. Alternatively, you can combine everything in a standard blender, so long as it will liquify the chunks.

That's it! This one is just too easy not to try, and you will be ever so grateful you did!




Well, I know it's been ages since I posted anything, but here's one new recipe I thought was worth sharing... Now, I couldn't remember my Dad's recipe, but I found and modified one that Alton Brown did a while back. You see, I bought ground pork (pork mince) when I saw it because it can sometimes be hard to come by, but then thought, "what the heck am I going to do with it this time?". I have done the meatloaf thing, and stuffed peppers, mushrooms, and made burgers, so...meatballs were the obvious solution.

I did try to talk hubby into eating out since we were running errands anyway, but he pointed out to me, to my reluctant agreement, that mince (ground meat) should be used right away. Hmph...well, when we arrived home I started mincing the onions, so here is how you can make these tasty meatballs too.

First, my notes: I used panko bread crumbs rather than fresh white bread (we don't buy white bread normally, and I didn't think wholegrain bread would be the same). I also didn't add any ground beef because I had a rather large package of pork. Alton’s recipe didn’t call for sherry or sweet wine, but a splash would be good in the sauce, added just as the roux is ready and before adding the stock. Lastly, I didn't use heavy cream either, only regular cream because I had just enough to do the sauce, and didn't want to open a new container.


½ Cup Onion (1 Small Onion), minced and sautéed till soft and clear
½ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs (or 2 Slices White Bread, torn up)½ Cup Milk
2 Egg Yolks
½ Tsp Salt
½ Tsp Black Pepper
¼ Tsp Ground Allspice
¼ Tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 Kilo (~2 Lbs) Ground Pork Mince
¼ Cup Clarified Butter
¼ Cup White Flour
3 Cups Beef Stock
¼ Cup Cream (Heavy Cream if you want it richer)

First preheat the oven to about 95°C/200°F and put an ovenproof baking dish inside to warm.

In a medium bowl, soak bread or crumbs in milk and set aside.

Using a teaspoon or two of the butter, gently sauté the onion and set aside to cool.

Now add the egg yolks, spices and meat to the bowl and mix well with your hands...no better way to make sure everything is combined and evenly distributed.

Add the sautéed onions to the bowl and mix in well.

Roll about 30 meatballs and place onto a plate or sheet ready to brown in a skillet.

Cook about 6 or 8 of the meatballs at a time (using another teaspoon or so of the butter if needed) in a skillet about 7 minutes over medium-high heat until browned all over, then transfer into the dish in the oven to keep warm.

Once the meatballs are done, pour the remaining butter into the skillet and add the flour, whisking to make a roux and allowing it to cook about 2 minutes or so.

Now add your dash of sherry or wine (if using any) and then slowly add the stock a cup at a time, stirring gently to avoid lumps and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Once the sauce begins to thicken, add the cream and continue stirring and cooking until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.

Pour the sauce over the meatballs and serve with wide egg noodles (if you have them).
Unfortunately, all I had in the pantry as far as pasta goes, was egg vermicelli and large shell pasta, neither is ideal, but the meatballs were very good with the thin vermicelli noodles last night. I have friends who serve Swedish Meatballs with rice, which might also work, but the wide egg noodles are what I remember from years gone by, and that’s what I would personally try to stick with. Anyway, it’s a perfectly yummy meal with a green salad or steamed veggies.




I love this dish! There are many, many different versions of this Filipino dish and you can add just about anything you like in the form of different meats, and veggies and even different sorts of noodles. It doesn’t need anything else because it’s wonderful just like this, but different people have different tastes, so modify away!

The only key ingredients that truly make it a genuine pancit, and are non-negotiable, are: Onions, Garlic, Chinese Sausages and noodles…everything else is a personal choice!
I love the baby mung bean sprouts, so I added them to my recipe. I also sometimes add baby corn or water chestnuts, but this recipe is to be modified according to your own taste, so feel free to add or subtract away…you’ll need to multiply too if you plan on taking it to a party because this dish goes FAST!!!


3 Tbsp Oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, crushed
500 Gm Meat , (sliced Chinese sausage, and anything else you want to add)
1 Stalk Celery, diced
1 Shredded Carrot
¼ Head of Cabbage
250 Gm Mung Bean Sprouts
4 Cups Stock
(Chicken, Beef, Veg…doesn’t matter)2 Eggs, sliced
3 Spring Onions, chopped
*Sesame Oil
*Sesame Seeds, lightly toasted
*Good Soy Sauce to brown and season the noodles (I used Mushroom Soy Sauce)
*Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


Heat the oil in the saucepan and soften the onion first.

Next, add the garlic and cook for an additional minute before adding the next ingredients. The onion should just start to brown.
Now add a bit of soy sauce and black pepper.
Next, add your Chinese sausage (essential ingredient for this dish and cannot be substituted, to my knowledge) and any other meat you like (shredded chicken, shrimp, diced beef, etc.), and cook until the sausage pieces begin to brown.

Now add the celery, carrots, cabbage & bean sprouts and cover the pan allowing the veggies to steam for a few minutes. At this stage you can choose to add more soy sauce & pepper for flavour if you like.

Meanwhile, boil some stock for your noodles and cook the noodles in your stock according to the package (use pancit canton noodles if you can find them, but rice stick noodles and many others are perfectly acceptable for this dish).

Now, grab a large bowl and combine the noodles and the cooked mix really well.

Top it all off with your egg slices, a bit of sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and the spring onions (scallions).

This is a wonderfully tasty dish and can be served hot or cold.



What a week. Baby went with her school mates on her first school camping trip. It was 4 days and 3 nights which seemed very long to this overprotective American Mum who worries too much. She came home yesterday afternoon safe & sound, albeit quite knackered (exhausted to the point I thought she would fall asleep in the car). She wrote notes for herself to remember the highlights from each day and read them back to us in the car on the way home from the train station.
I took her day pack into the house before marching her upstairs for a much needed bath, and noticed it was unusually heavy for what should have been in it...well...when I emptied the bag, in addition to 3 full sandwiches, 2 apples, 1 and a half snack bars (presumably her lunches from the last 3 days), and a wet towel, I also pulled out several rocks, about 2 cups of beach sand (minimum) and a dead sea sponge! (Some of the loot is pictured below and even the cat was perplexed.)
Imagine reaching into a bag for a towel to launder, and touching THAT thing! Eeyuck! LOL

Now, back to the cookies...I was to send a batch of baked treats (no one necessarily knew these weren't technically "baked") along with the other families doing the same, for the kids and their teachers & other adults to enjoy as afternoon snacks and such. So, of course I had many recipes to choose from...too many, and I needed a quick decision so I asked a friend in Oregon to help me out. She directed me to her mate's site and this recipe, which was a great help and an easy and tasty recipe to try. As a matter of fact, I made two double batches...one for Baby to take to camp and another to share between home and work. So, thank you Pam & Cheryl, for your assistance.
In Pam's post, she mentions that the cookies were a bit moist and not to make them in humid weather, however...I have added a bit more sugar to make the chocolate syrup just a bit "stickier" to hold together and, I dried them "Pavlova style" in the oven afterwards and they were perfect!
Here we go...this is for my double batch, so halve everything if you only want about a dozen or so cookies.
½ Cup Milk
½ Cup Butter
2 Cups Sugar
6 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1½ Tsp Vanilla Essense or Extract
3 Cups Quick Oats (like for breakfast cereal)
1 ½ Cups Coconut (finer texture is better)

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the cocoa powder, sugar and milk then bring to a boil for 2 minutes.

Next, remove the mixture from the heat and add the vanilla, oats and coconut and mix until thoroughly combined.

Now, using gloves or two spoons, drop spoonfuls onto a non-stick mat or baking tray lined with paper and wait until dry.

If the cookies are still too moist or fragile to move & stack, heat an oven to about 210°F/100°C and turn it off once it’s warm, then put the cookies in for an hour or two to set.

Just like you would expect, they do taste a bit like a Mounds or Cherry Ripe candy bar (without the cherry).