The Magic of a Venn Diagram!

My Venn diagram showing where my friend’s 5km radius and mine intersect


I’ve been thinking about Venn diagrams. It started with the announcement that from 13 September, fully vaccinated people can meet with up to four others in a park or outdoor space (not a backyard) for an hour. Evidently online sales of picnic baskets and blankets have gone through the roof.

However, it also occurred to me, that as we can walk with one other person, socially distanced, within 5km of home, that I could use a Venn diagram like we used to at school. Someone put me onto 2kmfromhome and I found that unlike the other ones, I can plot my friends’ 5kms too. You can adjust it for any distance. So on the weekend, weather permitting, I can meet a friend in the overlapping area. What fun!

A big shout out to all the Dads, Grandpas, significant males and carers who celebrate Father’s Day on Australian time. For me, that’s to my son-in-law for making me a GlamMa. And a wonderful Dad he is too, to my two lovely grandchildren.

Happy Ali, the seriously happy global news site to which I contribute is celebrating its First Birthday – and remember, subscription is now free. So hop on over for all manner of uplifting and quirky stories. Mentioning all things happy I had a lovely phone call during the week.

It looks like we will be out of lockdown for my Moroccan Cooking Dem & Lunch now planned from 11am – 3.30 pm on Sunday 24 October, as that is the very day we are promised more freedoms. More information next week,

Please take care and stay in the loop on  Facebook and Instagram or email me with any requests or comments.


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

Hints & Tips
Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Last Week and Next
Things to Make us Smile
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

YouTube Video

Chocolate Pretzel and Marshmallow Slice

Here’s a fun recipe to do with the kids. It is ridiculously easy, yet really appealing and fun to make, just throwing the layers on. Chocolate Pretzel and Marshmallow Slice. You can watch me make it here in one minute on YouTube. You can find the written recipe here.

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

Recipes of the Week

Asparagus on Garlicky White Bean Puree with Crisp Pancetta

I had to wait to see Australian asparagus in the shops before I recommended an asparagus recipe. Asparagus on Garlicky White Bean Puree with Crisp Pancetta makes a lovely light lunch or a small course at dinner.
Pink Lady Apple and Coconut Cake is a seasonal recipe I created when filming my Taste of Australia TV series.

Pink Lady Apple and Coconut Cake

Hints & Tips

Parmesan Crisps

Some more hints and tips this week. I was reminded by a post of Colin Fassnidge to put parmesan rinds into sauces and certainly they transform minestrone, but I have what I think is a much yummier thing to do with them; to make Parmesan Crisps. Just cut the rind into pieces, then place on a piece of paper towel and microwave on high for around one minute, or until puffed. Allow to cool and they will crisp up. Gorgeous to eat alone as a snack, or with soup or risotto.
While we’re talking parmesan, it’s worth defining the real deal. 

Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard cows milk Italian cheese,  aged for at least 2 years and comes only from Parma, Bologna, Mantua, or Modena. These words ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’ are clearly stenciled onto the outer rind of each wheel of cheese and are protected by DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) laws. This cheese also has a rind which is 100% edible.Grana Padano is a hard cheese originating in the Po river Valley in northern Italy, similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese but with less strict regulations governing its production and so costs less. Like Parmigiano Reggiano it isa Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheese, meaning it has a set of rules that must be followed and must have been made in a certain place in order to call itself by that name. In fact, it is the best-selling PDO cheese in the world. It also has different age profiles from 9 months to over 20 months. It’s rind is also edible.

Microwave Magic – yes really
And while we’re on microwaves, before you pull back in horror, they have some great uses like for the parmesan crisps. If you don’t want to dirty a pan, or are short of time, good quality streaky bacon is great in the microwave too. Just wrap loosely in paper towel and microwave on high for one minute per rasher. Make sure they are spread out. Allow to cool and they will be crisp, lean and delicious.

If your fresh herbs are wilting, briefly microwave them, blend and store in an airtight container for up to six months.

Rice Tips
This is how I nearly always cook my “steamed rice” : pour 2 cups boiling water over one cup of rice with a pinch of salt and a slurp of extra virgin olive oil. Microwave on high for 14 minutes, fork over and rest, then serve.
There’s the old school finger method too: wash your rice three times and place in a heavy based saucepan. Put your middle finger down on top of the rice fill with water to the level of your first knuckle from top of rice. Bring to boil reduce to low, cover with a lid and cook for 12 minutes or so then leave with lid on to steam 5 mins with no heat. Remove the lid and turn over with rice paddle or fork, leave two more minutes then serve.
While you can cook this long and slow, or make it in the pressure cooker to save time, the microwave works too. Combine 4 cups water with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a deep microwave-safe casserole. Slowly whisk in 1 cup medium grind polenta. Cover with a loose fitting lid and microwave on high for three minutes. Remove and whisk well. Repeat this four more times, for a total of 15 minutes. Whisk in four tablespoons butter until smooth.

Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Global organisations unite to spotlight blood cancer this September

Some of you may know that I lost my joyful, previously fit and healthy son Blair Milan to Acute Myeloid Leukemia 10 years ago. He died only three days after diagnosis which just shows the importance of having a GP you see regularly and of seeking help for the slightest of symptoms because it is hard to diagnose. Not all medicos are familiar with the signs. That is why I am supporting this special month for awareness.

For the first time, leading global blood cancer organisations have joined forces for International Blood Cancer Awareness Month to fuel the global fight against the disease as incidence and mortality rates continue to climb worldwide.

With Blood Cancer Awareness Month now in its 11th year, this international approach aims to raise a collective voice and put blood cancer at the top of the agenda.

In a unique collaborative effort, the leaders from Leukaemia Foundation of Australia, Blood Cancer UK, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society US, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Canada, and Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand share their united message via a moving video you can view here.

Begun on  1 September, the [This] is Blood Cancer campaign will see public monuments around the world and within Australia glow red during the month of September as well as social media accounts using the hashtag #ThisIsBloodCancer in support for the growing number of people living by blood cancer, everywhere.

From Melbourne’s iconic Flinders Street Station, Brisbane’s Story Bridge to Auckland’s Sky Tower, Cardiff Castle in Wales and London’s Kings Cross Tunnel, popular public monuments will transform into a sea of red on various dates throughout September to build blood cancer awareness in communities across the globe.

Blood cancer can develop in anyone, anywhere, at any time and at any stage of life – from children to working adults through to the elderly. Unlike other cancers, there is no way to prevent blood cancer through lifestyle change and there are no screening programs to detect it.

In Australia, 50 people are diagnosed with the disease each day, seeing blood cancer recently confirmed to be the
 second most diagnosed cancer and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the country.

Blood cancer symptoms vary depending on the type of blood cancer however some common symptoms include recurrent infections, increased fatigue, night sweats, bone pain, bruising or enlarged lymph nodes. If you are feeling unwell, please see your doctor – early diagnosis is vital.

Click here to learn more about blood cancer and its symptoms or if you are impacted and would like support (at no cost), please contact the Leukaemia Foundation on 1800 620 420 in Australia, or the Leukaemia organisation in your country.

Last Week and Next

Duck Soup with Coriander and Noodles

I’ve been quite active on social media this week. My most popular post was Duck Soup with Coriander and Noodles. I had just felt like something comforting, yet elegant – so shared this ridiculously simple recipe which will also see you supporting your local Chinese restaurant by buying a Chinese roast duck:
Next in popularity came Orange Bread and Butter Pudding. This recipe was in my second cookbook published in 1997, Flavours. A Fresh Approach. At the time I was enjoying the
 English TV series Pie in the Sky which is screening again in Australia. Policeman and chef Henry Crabbe hot on the tail of two thieving old ladies made sure he found out the secret ingredient of their bread & butter pudding before he nabbed them!  This is my version of it.
I was also most impressed with the latest release of a wine from Calabria Family Wines. In 2020 it was 75 years since their wine company was founded. Celebrations were put on hold and may be postponed again. So they sent the 2016 vintage release of Iconic Grand Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz which I have yet to try and the latest release of the Saint Petri Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2017. Both wines come from old vineyards which the Calabria family acquired and rehabilitated to give exceptional, low-yielding fruit. It is this latter wine, the GSM which I enjoyed so much, although it will live on for a long time in bottle. It was of medium weight, delightfully savoury and wit silky tannins. At $90 a special occasion wine. I will save the other for when I can share it with someone.
I also published a recipe for Lemon Polenta Bitesand a TBT (throw back Thursday) photo with Kristofer Hivju, a Norwegian actor best known for playing the role of Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones.

L: Orange Bread and Butter Pudding and R: with Kristoger Hivju in Norway a few years ago.

Things to Make us Smile

Isabel Beard Hibiscus named for my mother and grandmother

A week or so ago I was on Facetime with my granddaughter and showed her my Isabel Beard Hibiscus plant. Not flowering at the moment but I wanted to tell her the story of it, as her name is Isabel, after my mother.  My uncle Stan Beard bred it and named it after his mother and sister, both named Isabel Beard, though my mother’s married name was Hall. For  six or eight generations the eldest daughter was named Isabel or Isabella (in the Scottish/Spanish tradition). So I looked for a photo online and was dismayed to see several nurseries had it wrongly labelled Isobel. (Funny story, the late Margaret Fulton’s middle name was supposed to be Isabel in the Scottish tradition but her father spelled it wrongly when he registered her birth.) It always annoyed my mother if people spelled her name wrongly. So I wrote to these nurseries and was absolutely thrilled that all three of them responded and have corrected the spelling of the name. I was able to send a photo to my Isabel which pleased her no end, especially as it was pink!
My Uncle Stan also bred a hibiscus in honour of Gladys Moncrieff and also Dame Zara Bate, with whom he became great friends.

Computer Activities

I have to say that even in lockdown I am always busy and never really bored. I miss going out, certainly, and companionship but I am reading and have lots of other work to do. However, I do enjoy online camerarderie and have frequent zoom catch ups. Last weekend I played an online game with my sister’s family which was like a visual Chinese Whispers which was ridiculous but got us all laughing.
Now the Australian government has released some resources to keep us occupied during lockdown. Computer games for our computer or smart device.

Recipes I want to try
When I was a kid, a very special treat was a potato scallop (the name in NSW) from the fish & chip shop. I’ve only rarely tried them since, and on the very rare occasion I’ve been disappointed. So I want to try Adam D’Sylva’s version entitled  Beer-Battered Potato Cakes (Definitely Not Scallops) – well he is from Melbourne, hence the different name.
From the New York Times, I love the idea of
Caramelized Zucchini Pasta

Are there any recipes you want to try – or let me know if you try these?

Home deliveries to help hospo businesses
As lockdown continues in most parts of Australia, talking to friends I have become ever more aware of how every little bit we buy online or for delivery can help. I am often put off by meals for four or even banquets for two, as I am now a solo household. Imagine my delight to find that Bloodwood does a really flexible take-away menu. I was able to buy two jars of their famous pecan pate, fried chicken, stuffed mushrooms and pear and blue cheese salad with a couple of cocktails for one too. Well worth it.
On the drink front Nip of Courage has some great Australian spirits. They are the first distributor and wholesaler ever to represent 100% Australian made and owned craft spirits and also the first spirits distribution company in Australia that is female owned.  I had only intended ordering gin, but couldn’t resist the humour of the
Gladys Picnic Negroni for when we are allowed our one hour picnic with up to four double-vaccinated friends after 13 September. My friend (who is the owner) put in some other goodies too.

A box of goodies from A Nip of Courage

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Come to the medina with me 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. This tour is nearly fully booked, so we are considering another tour later in October. Watch this space.
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

Traditional bread meaking on my trip 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

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