Summer in the Garden

Some delightful discoveries blooming in the garden as summer gets into full swing…

could be orchid

These amazing tree orchids popped up – not sure of the variety, but they smell divine.

black eyed susan

A tumble of vine blossoms that I was delighted to discover are called Black Eyed Susans – that sounds so Old South and What Katy Did!


Agapanthus everywhere – one of my favourite mad garden things.’

green mangos

The mango trees are heavy laden – right now we are trying to figure out how to cover and ripen them and save a few from the possums!

tall redgum

This magnificent red gum is just awe inspiring.

Comfort Food cookbook review


I like this cookbook, from the ‘fine cooking’ series by Taunton Press, even if it does look quite basic at first glance. The recipes are well laid out and easy to follow, and while they are ‘comfort food’, the dishes are varied and created with healthy ingredients. No short cut or processed ingredients are used. The only hitch for me, in a metric country, is that the measurements are in lbs and ounces and need to be converted.

The dishes covered are soups, chilis, stews, gumbo, ragout, pasta, one pot dishes, casseroles, fried chicken, curries, and familiar classics like chicken cacciatore, meatloaf, osso bucco and pot roast.  If you are a seasoned cook with a large repertoire (and a bookshelf groaning with cookbooks already) you probably know most of them but for a new, aspiring cook this is a good basic collection of recipes. It is always good to have reliable recipes for hearty international favourites like steak and Guinness pie, beef stew with red wine, braised lamb shanks, and of course, paella.

 It is a good all round reference recipe book for all sorts of occasions and meals. There are breakfast and lunch dishes with step by step photo guides. Every cook needs to know how to make a perfect omelet, blueberry muffins, buttermilk pancakes, waffles and eggs Benedict, to serve up a scrumptious breakfast, and homemakers, whether sharing or single, can benefit from tips like a buyer’s guide to bananas and how to fix a broken hollandaise. In fact, as a first cookbook, this would be an invaluable gift for a new homemaker. It even covers sandwiches, from classic grilled cheese to croque Madame.

Other sections of the book covers side dishes, like scalloped potatoes, shrimp fried rice and mashed potatoes. There there are the desserts, all classic comfort foods like eich, dark, sinful Southern Devil’s Food Cake to pure hearted, country style carrot cake (although it looks more on the indulgent than healthy side with a whipped cream cheese and vanilla frost). There are also instructions on how to ice a cake, how to make perfect pie crust, flaky pie crust and a classic rice pudding. In fact it covers almost every aspect of comfort food cooking in one book. I think it’s good value, available from both Amazon and Book Depository.

My thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.

Barrio 2013!

After last year, we were all worried that the Brisbane Barrio Fiesta had lost its mojo – but this year I am happy to say it came back bigger and better than ever. It was great fun, and great food, all the way.

barrio2013 kids stall1

One of the new attractions was a kids’ activity tent. Here my granddaughters get into the fun of painting and decorating. If anyone spotted that pink My Little Pony baby she is holding, could you leave a comment? She is very upset at losing it.

barrio 2013 layla art

Very proud of her art work!

barrio 2013 2The weather was a bit overcast, but there was no rain, and a good crowd gathered. There were lots of stallas as well, and that always is good to see.

barrio 2013 bread stall

This is good to see as well – lots of lovely bread. I bought loaves and yummy coconut buns to take home and enjoy!

barrio 2013 cake pop

My grandkids loved the cake pops – this one was sooo pretty – until grandson ate it up!

barrio 2013 dancer

On stage there were graceful, beautiful dancers…

barrio 2013 girl duo

and talented singers

barrio 2013 family
I met this beautiful family from Saints Crusade

barrio 2013 food queue
and the queue for Hector’s Lechon went on forever, as usual – but on the Fruit Spin stall, the bubble tea ran out – sob!

barrio 2013 paquino Tshirt

My son-in-law Mannie got this great Tshirt

barrio 2013 adria

All in all – a great day. Can’t wait for next year.

Cookbook review: Bake it like you mean it

5191gotOPgL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_I’m a sucker for a beautiful cookbook. Ravish my eyes with delectable photographs of glorious culinary creations, toss in the recipes so I can try to recreate them, and I am your friend for life. The author of this book says her philosophy is “bake it like you mean it:” – create desserts that are delicious and beautiful from the inside out. I can live with that.

The recipes start with meringues, a section called My Big Fat Creamsicle Meringue Moment. I adore meringue, usually floating on top of a lemon pie, but I also love her basic meringue recipe, and what she does with it. Far superior to macarons, in my estimation, are two fat fluffy meringues sandwiched around a luscious filling. You can even colour them. They look so utterly delicious I have to try it. Then there is Nut Kiss Cake, which looks like a chocolate dream, and Grand Marnier Souffle with chocolatey creme Anglaise. But let’s not get hung up on the meringues or we’ll be drooling here all day. But I can’t leave this section without admiring the sass of whoopie meringue pies filled with raspberries. I shall return.

 The next section is sponge cakes, starting with an airy Citrusy Angel Food cake, a recipe possibly stolen from the gods. It is served with a dollop of marmalade on top, probably to stop it floating off the plate.The Madame Butterfly is an opera cake, a sponge flavoured with green tea and joined in layers of seductiveness – mango buttercream, white chocolate ganache and almond paste. It looks like the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  But then I am arrested b y the gorgeous dark enchantment of Rigo Jancsi Slices, named after a Gypsy violinist who persuaded a beautiful, wealthy and very married American woman to run off with him. A creation fit for a romantic legend with its heroic layers of chocolate sponge, apricot preserves and chocolate filling, topped with a crown of white buttercream. Even Nutella gets the OMG! treatment.

In the rich and decadent butter and pound cakes section, some adorable little Bundt cakes, flavoured with wine simmered pears and glazed with thin white icing, catch my eye, and pumpkin pie can’t hold a Halloween candle to a glorious Pumpkin Toffee Coffee Cake. I like the idea of making a drunk Figgy Pudding with Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, and sticking a pastry axe in the top. Halloween is going to be spectacular this year.

In the Cheesecakes section, the Sunshine Creamsicle Cheesecake looks divine, the mocha ricotta tower looks almost impossible to make (but if I see one in a cake shop, I’m having it), but the caramel macadamia carousel almost looks achievable. Oh, and decades after reading ‘What Katy Did at School’ and wondering what ‘crullers’ are I finally know how to make them. Easy peasy.

 In the yeast section, there are recipes for brioche, pain perdu, little German doughnuts called krapfen and croissants,, as well as lots of other delights. have i tickled your taste buds yet? What I am saying is that this book is crammed with the most sumptuous dessert recipes I have ever seen, and some of them have wonderful stories as well, like the Rigo Jancsi slice. I just love it. This is my kind of cookbook.

This dreamy cookbook is available from the Book Depository.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.