Be Safe and Happy

Laughing is the best  antidote


Here we go again – the virulent Delta strain is spreading like the proverbial wildfire. All we can do is obey, lock down and try to find a way of dealing with our new ways of life. For those of you in countries other than Australia – please be safe too. I think masks have become a way of life and worth wearing whatever the rules. However, enough about that.

Pivot was certainly THE word last year and it looks like that’s what we’re doing again. I had an online zoom with family and friends as we had booked into a Bastille Day concert and dinner. We individually sorted out what we ate à la française. I had very good take-away Duck Confit Cassoulet from my delightful local French bistro Le Coq and Fish. I think it is really important to support local businesses as much as we can afford to and keep them going. My sister and brother-in-law even dressed the part. It certainly makes one feel less solitary. I’m doing my regular Pilates and Strength and Balance classes online. Next my team and I will try our regular monthly Tasty Trivia online.

Sadly we have had to postpone till some time next year the inaugural Hunter Valley Writing & Wine Weekend at beautiful Wandin Estate. However, we are hoping the Moroccan Cooking Dem & Lunch at the Cooks Shed in Sackville on 14 August will be able to proceed.

It was no hardship to be stuck at home to watch the Wimbledon Ladies Final until the wee hours of last Sunday morning. What an incredible athlete Ash Barty is – and a delightful human being. I shared some joy on social media after that with my Celebratory Pavlova recipe in honour of Wimbledon wins by Ash and another amazing Australian,  Dylan Alcott. I developed it a couple of years ago for Pace Farm eggs and I thought it expressed joy and celebration for all concerned, with the benefit of being seasonal in the Northern Hemisphere.

On the TV front I was gobsmacked watching the excellent Ms Represented with Annabel Crabb on the ABC,  a raw and honest account of politics from the female perspective. It is shameful how slow Australia was to enfranchise women and aboriginals.

Look out on  Facebook and Instagram with more about them both below. I am also trialling a new column Musings. Let me know what you think.
Enjoy what you are eating and drinking.


Celebratory Slablova

Now read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.

Jump ahead to see:
YouTube Video
Recipes of the Week
Sir David Attenborough

Roll on 2022 for overseas travel
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

YouTube Video

Easy Cheat’s Rag Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Basil

I just love this technique to make rag pasta, simply tearing up fresh lasagne sheets. I have a YouTube Video of Easy Cheat’s Rag Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Basil which you can watch here. The written recipe is here.

I use the same technique on a recipe I have only just put up on my website Rag Pasta with Chorizo “Carbonara Style” which also show you how to create a sauce from whatever you have to hand.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here for all my other videos including meals in a minute.  Enjoy.

Rag Pasta with Chorizo “Carbonara” Style

Recipes of the Week


I’ve been publishing some older recipes on my website, and they still bear the test of time. So this week here’s a Laksa recipe. If you prefer, I also have a Low-fat Prawn Laksa there too. Sorry that the image is the same for both.

Apples and raspberries are plentiful so try this Spiced Apple & Raspberry slice. It is quite cakey rather than a traditional slice but it cuts up beautifully into little bite-sized morsels to pop in your mouth with coffee.

Spiced Apple and Raspberry Slice

Life In Colour – incredible detail

Third episode of Sir David Attenborough and Life in Colour this Saturday, July 10, At 7.30pm ONLY ON 9now this week.
Already on BBC in the UK and on Netflix Worldwide (except Australia)

Are you enjoying Sir David Attenborough, in Life in Colour on the 9 Network? This Saturday night it will only be on 9NOW because the Wallabies are playing France in a Test series at the usual time of 7.30pm on the main channel. It will return next week. I am blown away by the colour and detail of the camera work.

Last Week and Next

Fun TBT photo from 2006 in front of The Ghan with Liz Hayes and Ben Crane

With live events cancelled and travel severely restricted I thought I’d make a TBT (Throw Back Thursday) post this week. Dreaming of travel within this glorious country of ours as Tourism Australia urges us to “Holiday Here this Year” (I didn’t know there was any alternative?). So here I am on a platform somewhere in the middle of Australia between Adelaide and Darwin during a filming trip on the Ghan in 2006 for Fresh with The Australian Women’s Weekly on Channel 9. I was co-host from 2000 – 2008. Here I am with soundo Ben Crane and his long-term partner, the ever gorgeous Liz Hayes who came along for the ride. I think I might make a habit of this and share some great locations from around Australia in the weeks to come.
With it having been Bastille Day on 14th July, I also posted my simplified French recipes for Easy Cassoulet and Easy Bouillabaisse.
Next Wednesday 21 July is Lamington Day, so I will be sure to post something fun for that.
Stay up-to-date with me on 
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The pleasure of a well laid table

Use utensils and dishes you love, to transform your locked down meal times.

With lockdowns spreading limiting social interaction, I have been thinking about what we miss about that and what we can do about it. In a way, it is how John and I approached our sudden hotel lockdown in March last year: We tried to make life as normal as possible. So we would wake up, deal with emails coming in from the UK, exercise, shower, get dressed and have breakfast then work until lunchtime when we would take a break together. In the afternoon we would exercise again to punctuate our work and stop around 6pm. However, food would come in disposable Chinese plastic containers and I have developed an absolute distaste for them.

Many of us are relatively fortunate to at least be isolating in our own homes, just going out for exercise and essential services or possibly work (though for some, like me,  this is severely curtailed). Whether we are cooking at home, or having take away, I think it is really important to observe the niceties, the things which will make us feel civilised and special. I absolutely hate eating out of take away containers. Whenever John was hospitalised, I would get friends to drop off food to the hospital, and I would eat my meals on proper crockery with cutlery. That’s how I feel now. I want to at least feel like my dining experience is pleasurable, though I sorely miss the hospitality of the table, dining solo,

Yet for me, eating and cooking aren’t just about the pleasure of food, they’re also about the utensils I use as I eat and cook. We need to like what we hold and handle. First thing in the morning, there is a particular mug (which John bought me) which I like to have my hot lemon drink in. I use different mugs for coffee. For each meal, I eat on china with appropriate cutlery – or chopsticks should I perhaps be eating sushi. I use the appropriate wine glass and for anything I drink from prefer fine to thick.

I have a favourite frying pan which I use often, a favourite chopping board. I love my citrus juicer, my knife,  I have my copper collection hanging on my kitchen wall, along with an ancient French print of a Milan cabbage (who knew there was such a thing?). I find fresh flowers cheer me up – currently I still have some indoor flowering Phalaenopsis orchids which friends have been kind enough to send over the past few months. However, poppies are now out, but I have a glorious painting of poppies inside my front door to always bring their colourful cheer.

So when you sit down to dine, please surround yourself with things which bring you pleasure. After all, that is one of the joys of dining out, not only the food and wine, but the performance and ritual which goes with it.
What things are important to you?

Roll on 2022 for overseas travel

I will keep including my planned tours in my weekly updates to give us all something to look forward to. As you know, I am a great fan of the fun and security of travelling with a company specialising in a particular area, using local guides who speak the language.

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Tagines are delicious in Morocco

Moroccan Culinary Tour begins in Rabat on Friday 23 September til Tuesday 4 October
This trip will see us travel from Rabat the capital, to spiritual Meknes and Fes, and to Marrakech the red city. On the way you will explore the archaeological site of Volubilis, visit a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. You’ll discover the delicacies of Moroccan and French food, dine in local eateries through to upmarket restaurants, and experience the making and flavours of Moroccan dishes during cooking classes. Luxury accommodation is in charming, authentic riads. sometimes in exclusivity. Only 10 – 12 guests.
By Prior Arrangement is highly experienced and well-known in Morocco and I have confidence in working with them to bring this very special tour into being. Talk to them about the trip, or feel free to email me with any queries. I am excited!
Read Where to Eat Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Rabat.

Puglia Tour October 2022

My happy group in UNESCO protected Alberobello on a previous tour to Puglia

Puglia in the boot of the heel of Italy is still relatively unspoiled. A secret Italians tend to keep to themselves, it is a wonderful place to visit and so much less crowded than Tuscany. After Morocco I’m going on to host Culinary Adventures in Puglia and Basilicata 8 – 14 October 2022. Join me and share an unforgettable week of culinary and cultural exploration. Think hands-on bread, cheese making and cooking class; visits to wineries, olive farm, tours of UNESCO sites Alberobello & Matera & other cultural centres with local guides. All sensational meals and wines included. You only need money for the very inexpensive shopping you will find there.

Group size: an intimate 8-16 places only
Lodging in authentic, family-run noble estates and palaces
Operated by: Local Puglia specialist Southern Visions Travel: the leading experiential travel company in Southern Italy
Full brochure

Read more about my adventures in Puglia
Explore Puglia in House & Garden Magazine
Seven dishes you must try in Puglia, Italy in the Sydney Morning Herald
Puglia, the undiscovered heart in Selector Magazine

Stay safe, healthy and happy. Keep up to date  on all my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Pinterest and my YouTube channel.

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