Afternoon Tea Classics

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I have such strong memory of mum inviting the “ladies” over for afternoon tea. Beautifully dressed women with powdered faces and smooth lipstick pressed on cheeks as they said hello. The strong smell of perfume, each with their own, creating a heady mix of scent in the dining room. A medley of fine china cups and saucers patiently waiting on the linen covered dining table. These are two of mums classic afternoon tea recipes; Date Cake and Shortbread Pecan Balls. They’re very easy to make .. even easier if you use a kitchen wizz.

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A Sicilian Food Odyssey

The wondrous kitchen garden of Case Vecchia, full of fragrant herbs and flowers with beautiful fig trees ... a dream to sit it and wander through.

Sicily may seem a strange destination for someone who had been slowly transitioning away from wheat, pasta and dairy but there is undoubtedly a romance in the idea of living and learning in this simple rustic way and understanding the authentic roots of Sicilian cooking and farming and the wonder of bounty of their kitchen garden … tall artichokes, rows of fava beans hanging waiting to be picked, spinach, rainbow chard, tomatoes, olives, almonds, wild greens and honey. And it more than delivered.

Join me on my pilgrimage to the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily with this recipe for a delicious Almond and Olive Oil Torte, “Torta di Mandorie e Olio d’Oliva”

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“Easy-as” Country Style Table Runner

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A vintage linen runner, simply stitched, which I recently purchased from Faded Emporium inspired this design for an “easy-as” DIY version.

Just stitch together linen tea towels and voila! For instance, for a French country look you might like striped red and white linen or for a more Australian look just the raw linen perhaps with a faint little stripe.

(as they are already hemmed you don’t even need to own a sewing machine!)

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Yammy Drops – no guilt

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This recipe for Yammy Drops (yummy and jammy) is really a healthier version of the old fashioned jam drop. But don’t expect the same shortbread consistency, these are chock full of nutty flavours drawn from the sunflower seeds, tahini and almond meal and sweetened with maple syrup .. (the jam in the middle is a real treat). They’re great for school lunch boxes or to satisfy that 3pm low point when you’re normally seeking out chocolate!!

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Walnuts – Cracking and Baking Tips

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A walnut grower selling from a stall in a Canberra market last Saturday shared with me the “best ever” tip for opening walnuts in the shell. No more nut crackers needed when you follow these simple steps.

And to celebrate the joy of walnuts we have a recipe for Fresh Apple and Walnut Clusters … too chunky and full of apple, walnuts and raisins to be called a muffin !

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Sweet Potato Pie Base – Boom!

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Following on from our focus to transition slowly (the 20% rule) to healthier alternatives for the traditional ingredients we love … Here is a pastry-free crust for quiches or savoury tarts that really works a treat. You can prepare this sweet potato crust in the pie dish or tin and freeze it so you always have it on hand when you need a quick and tasty lunch or dinner. Especially good when you’re wanting the whole family to eat just a little bit healthier. Enjoy!

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Branch Weaving

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Last year I had the joy of a experiencing a real slow living creative retreat in the hinterland of Byron Bay organised by an incredible team from Australia and abroad. This Local Milk Retreat was a mindfully created and curated 3 days photographic, styling, cooking and collaborative experience which provided the opportunity and luxury of slowing down and reconnecting with your creative passions.

It was such a treat to take time out to inhale the minutia of moments, the dappled light on a window, the texture of plate and linen, the color of fresh picked produce, the alchemy of a well crafted meal … in order to “speed up” your craftsmanship.

A highlight for me was learning branch weaving with Rebekah Seale from The Camellia Fiber Company in Tennessee. Follow the instructions and create your own.

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Little Tips for a Healthier Life

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It’s often the case that when come away from a retreat, a seminar or a book you are fired up to make major changes to our life. We approach the pantry and the fridge with evangelical zeal throwing out the bad food, restocking with new ingredients you’ve never used before. You then announce to the family the new regime only to find they are resentful, the change is confronting and ultimately we retreat feeling like a failure.

Take a tip from the ancient philosophy of Ayurveda: The 25% rule – the secret to making changes to your lifestyle that “stick” and try this simple Ayurvedic recipe for the perfect rice and learn about “the 6 Tastes” to make every meal satisfying and nourishing.

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A healthier version of Grandma’s Recipes

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Our diets have changed a bit since the 1950’s and one thing that strikes you is how much refined white sugar there is in these recipes. So I’ve begun to tweak the recipes and transition them to healthy versions of the ingredient. It’s not a full abandonment of the original ingredients so there’s not a big change in the chemistry or experience of the final cake or slice or dessert.

Here is a delicious, chewy and easy-to-make Canadian Walnut Slice. Perfect for a cup of tea. It’s just a transition recipe so we gradually get used to a warmer kind of sweetness not so sharp and we replace the grains with one that’s a little better for our digestion.

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Easy-as Boho Earring Hanger

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It’s a big thing to move house, especially when you’ve been in the one place for a while. There are phases you go through as you move through the packing and moving process and there are levels you move through too, depending on how organized and energized you (or your friends) are.

It’s always a mystery to me that that there’s always a bottom draw with crappy little things in it that you can’t throw away and that don’t really belong anywhere. And in that draw there always seems to be a single earring or two. That’s because earrings are one of the most fiddly bits of jewellery to display. So here’s my “easy-as” DIY solution to this problem, a Boho Earring Hanger.

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