Tag Archives: travel

Portrait 365 : 47

16 Feb Selfie
Selfie

Selfie

NOTE TO SELF : When travelling internationally with two children, one on your lap for entire journey, aim not to have the worst hangover in history on three hours sleep.

 

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Portrait 365 : 35

4 Feb Dexter
Dexter

Dexter

‘Goodbye Daddy’

The kids and I have gone to Grandpapa’s house for a couple of weeks. It’s a big adventure on the plane, which is exciting, but saying goodbye is always hard for my little man.

The big man too.

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Food Porn in the Byron Hinterland

7 Jan the italian diner, bungalow

When the gorgeous Francesca from SummerHills Retreat gave me a call and suggested a little tour of her local region in the Byron Hinterland I was expecting a drive and a chai latte (because that seems to be the thing to drink in them there hills).

What I actually got was an education in just how much the area has to offer and that it’s positively dripping in spectacular produce, and bloody good restaurants.

I admit to being a tad hungover when my chariot dropped me to SummerHills Retreat but a walk through the stunning grounds and some fresh mountain air was precisely what the doctor ordered.

macadamia trees, Summer Hills RetreatWe walked through the macadamias to what’s affectionately called the Yin and Yang Tree. Two gorgeous figs that have entwined over the years and they wrap around each other in a woody lovers embrace.

Not to be confused with a lovers embrace with a woody.

Different.

Yin & Yang Tree, Summer Hills Retreat

Yin & Yang Tree, Summer Hills Retreat

A stunning vista on the side of a hill is the perfect place to go to recoup and recharge. Whether relaxing by the pool or doing yoga and getting massages is your bag, SummerHills caters for whatever kind of retreat you desire.

Pool area Summer Hills RetreatI often think that a health spa with green juice and yoga all day would be amazing, but in actual fact I’d die on the first day.

I was a little bit happy to note that the the gorgeous suite I mooched around in had a mini-bar.

Summer Hills RetreatMy kind of retreat.

Next up we went for a spot of lunch at the old Opussum Primary School.

Lilliana's Cafe, Possum CreekA chance drive through the hills changed Joanne’s life when she and her partner Gregory happened across the old primary school in Possum Creek and Lilliana’s Cafe was born.

The decor is a very relaxed plantation house vibe and the food was gorgeous.Lilliana's Cafe

Inside Lilliana's Cafe at Possum Creek.

Inside Lilliana’s Cafe at Possum Creek.

What I loved was the fact that almost everything is sourced locally.

My shredded pork shoulder with fennel and apple salad was a pig from Bangalow, a stone’s throw down the road.

Shredded Pork Shoulder with Apple and Fennel Salad with Jalapeño Yoghurt andPickled Carrots.

Shredded Pork Shoulder with Apple and Fennel Salad with Jalapeño Yoghurt andPickled Carrots.

The mahi mahi, my dish of the day, was  served with Greekish quinoa salad and pesto was line caught off the local beach.

Mahi Mahi with Greek-ish Quinoa Salad and Pesto

Mahi Mahi with Greek-ish Quinoa Salad and Pesto

It doesn’t get much fresher and more wonderful than that unless I personally pick it myself…. and I was on holidays so that wasn’t going to happen.

Joanne, proprietor of Lilliana's cafe

Joanne, proprietor of Lilliana’s cafe

When we walked in proprietor Joanne greeted us like old friends and as I left she invited me to pop into the kitchen and meet her head chef, Graeme Stockdale whose food philosophy closely resembles mine – eat fresh and share the love.

Or similar.

Their pastry chef is Mark Conroy from famed Brasserie Bread in Sydney and they told me he was a little shy. A few sweet words from me and he flashed me his buns in no time.

I’ve always had a knack.

Pastry Room at Lilliana's CafeAfter our delicious dessert of an Argentinian Hazelnut Pavlova with Mango and Blueberries (every bit as amazing as it sounds but no photographic evidence as I inhaled it too quickly) we decided we should head down into town for one last look at another amazing local treasure.

The Italian Diner, on Bangalow main street is wonderful for a multitude of reasons, but for me I love the idea of dining in the shadow of Sophia Loren’s slightly fuzzy pits.

The Italian Diner, Bangalow

The Italian Diner, Bangalow

The room is tres cool. Dark wood floors, perfectly placed mirrors and a stylish bar.

All I require really.

We were too full to sample more food here, but Francesca has named it as one of her top 5 in the area and swears the home-made gelato is bellisima (that’s fancy Italian for totes amazeballs).

DSC_0112I have started a new little love affair with the hills behind Byron Bay.

I somehow get the feeling that its slightly slower paced life, without compromising any style, is totally in keeping with my being Cuban philosophy.

Perhaps they need me to go more often to ensure they keep up the good work.

***THIS POST WAS SPONSORED BY SUMMERHILLS RETREAT WHO SHOUTED ME ALL THE FOOD I COULD STUFF IN MY BELLY****

Cook Once, Feed All COVER_lr

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’, this book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by stories from my life.

If you subscribe now to the Keeping Up With The Holsbys mailing list you will automatically receive my new mini-eBook ‘A Bit On The Side’  – A collection of fabulous summer salads and side dishes.

To order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All ($35) head to the Holsby Shop right now.

If you like what you’re reading why not like my Facebook page now or subscribe via email, to be sure to always keep up with the Holsbys.

Hooking up with the IBOT gang over at EssentiallyJess because it’s Tuesday and I’m a’blogging.

I resolve to be more Cuban

29 Dec happiness in havana cuba

habana, cubaI was having a little reminisce recently with my Mama about what she thinks was not only one of her best ever travel experiences, but also sadly she thinks maybe one of her last.

She has multiple sclerosis, which I’ve kinda touched on before, and as the years go by the idea of long plane journeys are less and less appealing to her.

A few years ago – PP (Pre-Progeny), I entered a short film competition called the The 48 Hour Film Comp….as the name would suggest you make a film in a weekend.

Friday night you get your genre, a character and a line of dialogue, and Sunday night you deliver a 5-7 minute short film.

Anyway, I tell you this not because finishing that damned film with only seconds to spare, sand paper eyes hanging out of my head on stalks, was one of the greatest achievements of my life, but because my team won the NSW round.

I know, right?

Awesomesauce.

It gets better. Stay with…..

When they handed out the prize of a free trip to Miami, Florida, I was the only one that could utilise that sweet, sweet free aeroplane ride to joy.

Me at the Miami Film Festival, in my new hat.

Me at the Miami Film Festival, in my new hat.

I was super excited to go to the Miami Film Festival, of course, but I was even more excited at the thought of being so close to Cuba.

A place that had always intrigued and excited me.

I told my Mama of my idea of jumping the ditch between the States and Cuba and she was rather keen to join me on a mother-daughter-transcontinental-adventure.

Miami was way cool.

Seeing my film on the big screen up against the rest of the world was an eye opener.

I’m not going to say anything bad about our little movie. It was very art-house, my curtain call acting performance (not Oscar nominated), and it won me a ticket – so it was BRILLIANT!

However, the top 3 films were astoundingly, gobsmackingly fabulous and I did feel a tad like the country mouse.

I’m not here to talk about my almost, but not quite, illustrious film career.

I’m talking about Cuba.

havana, cuba

In Cuba people are joyous.

Great big smiles split faces. You are greeted like family by people you’ve never met, and eyes twinkle with deep joy.

They laugh.

Not like freaky, maniacal psychopaths, but like people whose joy bubbles from within and bursts forth from them in a fountain of tumbling sound.

There is music and dancing everywhere. They are not generally rich in monetary terms, but in the food of the soul – music –  they’re millionaires.

It’s in their veins. It’s in their viscera.

havana, cuba

They take time to chill.

They don’t siesta per se, which I think is a trés civilised custom for people who like to nap (or indulge in afternoon carnal delights), but they sure do know how to relax.

Just chillaxing with my buds...

Just chillaxing with my buds…

In the afternoons they sit around on crates and shoot the breeze in the shade, and play music and laugh with their friends.

There is no rush. No hurry.

havana, cubaThey wear brightly coloured clothing, which is always a trend close to my heart with my über passion for brights mixed with brights.

While I was there I was joyous, and carefree.

Sure, I had no kids, bugger all responsibilities and I was on holidays, but that’s a minor detail that we can wrap up as mere semantics.

I was exploratory and saw wonder everywhere and I was open to new things.

There was also very cool cars cruising around which adds to the sheer style of the place.

There was also very cool cars cruising around which adds to the sheer style of the place.

My life was filled with music and I danced.

And there was rum. And wine.

havana cubaAnd my Mama Bear who is one of the greatest women to ever walk, now wheel, on this planet.

Havana cuba with my mama

And life was good.

Real good.

I’m not one for New Years Resolutions. I have been in the past, but I never really keep them because I forget by about January 2nd.

havana cubaThis year I’m already fit and healthy.

I don’t smoke, I sure don’t intend on cutting down my drinking, swearing or wanking, so obviously the only resolution left is about becoming Cuban.

I’m also not waiting for the New Year, I’m going to start today.

I’m going to listen to more music, and dance. In the lounge, in other people’s lounges….

Where-evs.

It’s about the letting go and just being in your skin.

I’m going to see more joy around me and focus on what’s great… And laugh because I can’t contain my joy.

I’ll buy a bottle of rum, for good measure, and whether I’m sipping a quiet one, or just going about my day, I’ll try to remember that happiness is a choice.

Ditch the shit that doesn’t serve you, and relish in the shit that does.

I’ll reckon I’ll skip the Cuban cigars though.

No one takes up smoking for a New Years resolution, do they?

Havana Cuba

Cook Once, Feed All COVER_lr

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’, this book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by stories from my life.

If you subscribe now to the Keeping Up With The Holsbys mailing list you will automatically receive my new mini-eBook ‘A Bit On The Side’  – A collection of fabulous summer salads and side dishes.

To order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All ($35) head to the Holsby Shop right now.

If you like what you’re reading why not like my Facebook page now or subscribe via email, to be sure to always keep up with the Holsbys.

Going to India

13 Dec source
source

source

***THIS IS A SPONSORED POST. All neurosis are my own.***

Upon reading this you can be forgiven for suspecting that I’m a complete basket case, but I’m going to let you in on a little idiosyncrasy of mine.

Anyone that has known me for a long time will know that I have these little ‘episodes’ whereby the noise in my head becomes so great, and tsunami like, that the only obvious solution to me is to go to India.

Of course.

More than once I have been caught in the act of actually packing a suitcase, sometimes in tears, and when questioned about what I’m up to whilst frantically tossing clothes into a bag, my response is -

I’m going to India.

I have no idea why India seems like a solution, perhaps it’s my spiritual home because my grandparents were born there, or perhaps it’s because the noise there would surely drown out the noise in my head?

My head is loud, but India is a cacophony unto itself.

Over the years this urge has come at various different times of my life but it’s usually when I wonder what the hell it’s all about.

I mean, what is it really about?

Do you ever wonder, or am I just weird? I’m ok with being weird, I’ve suspected as much for a time.

Sometimes I get that feeling that I’m just a mouse on a wheel, running my little heart out, but I’m not actually going anywhere.

Nowhere is relative, I guess, but does the mouse think it’s going somewhere when its running its little heart out but the view stays the same?

God, this is not a philosophical blog. Sorry about the weird mouse spiel.

A therapeutic sojourn is not even what is used to be for me anyway. Running away with entourage is not quite as romantic.

What was once a backpack with a couple of pair of knickers, a book and a toothbrush (confession : I never really travelled as light as that. Too vain. I may be a backpacker, but I will not be a smelly, un-stylish backpacker) is now one extremely large suitcase shared between myself and two children who find it physically impossible to wear the same outfit two days in a row due to unruly eating habits.

And that’s just me.

Half the damned suitcase is taken up with disposable nappies and a disassembled MiniMicro scooter AND HELMET, so if you really count the bag space once Ratty and baby Doll are stuffed in there it’s 5/8 of two tenths of stuff all.

Then there’s a travel cot, a pram the size of Texas and of course I’d need a quote for travel insurance, in case I lose one of them.

The accoutrement, I’m referring to, not the children.

These days even my getaway plan is flawed.

The thing is I’m doing more, and achieving more and ticking off goals left right and centre, and yet I still feel as though I’m not doing enough.

I guess sometimes we need to kick back and truly ask ourselves

what is enough?

Perhaps because it’s been a mega couple of months, professionally and personally, and because the end of the year is nigh I’m getting a tad reflective. There’s nothing wrong with taking stock, in fact, it’s good to reassess and look at stuff from time to time so you can see where you’re headed.

It’s also important to see where you’ve been.

To see how far you’ve come.

No matter who you are, or what you’re doing, the only thing that you can bank on is things will always be changing. Anything less is stagnant.

I don’t have a point.

I could say I’m going to vow to take it easier, or be kinder to myself in the New Year, but it’s hollow. I won’t.

But I will endeavour to remember to look at how far I’ve come and remember to say -

Dude, you’re anything but stagnant.

Do you have a runaway fantasy when all gets too much?

Where would you go if you could?

Catching up with my fellow floggers for some FYBF action over at With Some Grace. Yo Mama G!

Cook Once, Feed All COVER_lr

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’, this book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by stories from my life.

If you subscribe now to the Keeping Up With The Holsbys mailing list you will automatically receive my new mini-eBook ‘A Bit On The Side’  – A collection of fabulous summer salads and side dishes.

To order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All ($35) head to the Holsby Shop right now.

school of the world and brown rice sushi

22 Sep brown rice sushi

brown rice sushi ingredientsI think one of the best gifts you can give your 18 or 21 year old is a plane ticket. One way if they’re a turd.

Joking.

I am super fortunate that I have traveled my whole life. Being born in the Channel Islands to intrepid parents ensured that my childhood had a bit of adventure and I got a few stamps on the old passport.

I think that taste of travel as a child was one of the biggest catalysts to me wanting to travel so much.

The Caribbean on my Dad’s yacht, the foul smelling tannery in Morocco, the oldest bullring in the world in Spain, a full moon in the desert in India, the biggest bird poo ever on my back in Madrid, the food, THE FOOD, everywhere.

The tastes and smells of adventure… so many memories of cultures so different to ours. So many people who live in ways so unimaginable unless you’re sitting on the dirt floor of their hut, playing charades with someone who doesn’t speak your language in order to communicate, getting ripped off, swindled, charmed or wooed, or drinking beer under a palm tree with a kid who has grown up in a parallel universe.

If nothing else, and is there a lot else, you learn to be grateful for this country we live in.

I was pretty clueless, as I’ve mentioned. Did all sorts of dumb shit, but it’s that dumb shit that taught me what I was capable of, and that I, too, am intrepid.

All I know is the more I travel, the more I want to travel. I’d love to trek with the kids on our backs (maybe we’d get sherpas for that), andI don’t know if I’m still up for camping at the end of the day.

Glamping maybe. With good pillows.

Oh, god, maybe I’m not as intrepid as I used to be.

brown rice sushi rice mixBabies and mortgages have temporarily shackled us at this present moment, but Mister H is a bit of a traveler too. It won’t be long before we can go exploring again and instil a love of travel, and exploration and different cultures in our children.

I’ve never been to Japan, and I’ve never really been attracted to it, but I know one thing I would love about it is the food.

I love brown rice sushi and when I recently saw Brenda from Brenda Janschek Health and Nutrition make her sushi rice loaded with goodies, she totally inspired me to push my growing edge and get my sushi on…. Our only regular fast food is sushi, and now that I’ve mastered it, I think it’s fast food at home all the way.

brown rice sushi rollingYield : 20 pieces of sushi

What you will need :

  • 1 salmon fillet, you can use a chicken fillet or tofu if you prefer
  • 2 tablespoons ketcup manis (sweet soy)
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 5 tablespoons sushi rice seasoning (I buy all in one but you can make your own with 5 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt)
  • 1/4 cup zucchini, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup carrot, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup of coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of pickled ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a dry frypan
  • 1/2 an avocado, sliced
  • 3 teaspoons good quality mayonnaise. I like Thomy.
  • 3 sheets nori
  • one bamboo sushi mat
  • wasabi and soy for serving

brown rice sushiWhat you will need to do :

Pop your rice with 3 cups boiling water in a saucepan on the stove, turn it down low, stick a lid on and leave it until the water is absorbed and your rice is cooked (30-40 mins).
When cooked, remove from pan and place it into a flat dish, pouring over your sushi vinegar seasoning. Stir well to combine and leave to cool.

Roll your salmon in the ketcup manis and cook in a little coconut or peanut oil in a frypan (or BBQ is even better) until just cooked. Remove from heat.

Toss your carrot, zucchini, coriander, chopped ginger and toasted sesames through the seasoned rice and stir well.

Place your nori on your sushi mat and spread a generous layer of your sticky rice over the nori, leaving a bit at the edge bare.

Flake off your salmon and lay a nice chunky line through the centre, along with some sliced avocado and a little smear of mayo.

Using your bamboo mat, roll your sushi quite firmly to ensure it sticks nicely together. Roll until it is a tight cigar and set aside.

Repeat until all ingredients are used. I sometimes have rice leftover which is fab in a salad.

Using a sharp, wet knife, slice your sushi in half, then in half again, and then in half again…. unless you prefer a large roll.

Serve with wasabi and soy… and Asahi beer. Not for the kids.

brown rice sushi

Hooking up with Our Growing Edge over at Sweets and Brains. Thanks for hosting, guys!

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Youthful stupidity in Morocco and Chermoula fish

30 Jul chermoula fish with nutty cous cous

Chermoula fish with nutty cous cous ingredientsBy the time I was 21 I thought I knew everything about everything.

I’ll freely admit I was probably old beyond my years, but with the benefit of hindsight I can say I was still fairly clueless in many ways. Or perhaps I just thought I was invincible, like every 21 year old.

I was on my big world adventure and I was finding Europe too damned cold, so my bestie and I thought we’d head on down to Morocco to seek some winter sunshine, and good hash. I used to be a fairly enthusiastic smoker in my early twenties and I’d heard fabulous reports of the Moroccan produce, namely from my Dad, who may have also been enthusiastic whilst in the sunny climes of Northern Africa.

In many countries where the locals try to rip you off, I’ve always felt it was done in fairly good humor. Just a little good-natured grifting, shall we say. The thing I found about Morocco was there was often a sense of malice involved. I felt threatened on more than one occasion and there was an electric zing of danger in the air. I tried to take a photo of a dirty little urchin child and a man came yelling and threatening me with his fists…

‘Don’t photograph this child. Take pictures of the nice children’ he cried with anger.

Our guidebook said ‘if a local family invites you to dinner, go, and see how the locals live’, so when we were invited to stay with a family we jumped at the chance. The first night was magical. They sang a traditional song, we sang Alanis Morissette. They hennaed our hands for an exorbitant fee and sent us to a local bathhouse where I was scrubbed head to foot by a woman with pendulous bosoms that slapped me around the head as she scrubbed away my desert grime.
The ‘Uncle’ had organised a block of hashish for us, so we giggled our way through the evening.

Fun was had by all.

chermoula fish ready for ovenThe next night things went weird.

Firstly, I’ll admit that the dope was great, so we were not thinking wisely.

Secondly, whenever we were asked for cash for stuff we handed it over. Money for dinner, money for this, money for that. It seemed ok, until suddenly – it didn’t.

Then thirdly, an unidentified nocturnal visitor in my sleep frightened the bejesus out of us so when ‘Uncle’ suggested we leave Fez and head off to his hash farm at the base of the Atlas Mountains we jumped at the chance.

What a pair of boobs.

No one knew where we were or where we were going. We sweet, young fools thought it sounded like a great adventure.

It was like stepping into Twin Peaks.

There was a laughing toothless dwarf, someone from the compound followed us every time we tried to go for a walk, and people would walk into our room whenever we tried to have a moment’s privacy.

I’d say we were fairly interesting creatures for the locals, but being as our paranoia had kicked in royally by, now nothing felt right, and everything had a David Lynch filter.

Anyway, after a sleepless night we made a daring early morning escape. No idea where we were going just found a road that looked slightly less like a dirt track and got on the first bus, loaded with chickens and locals headed god knew where. Thankfully, it took us back to Fez.

I look back now and thing how stupid we were. Crazy fools.

Bloody great memories though.

I’ll be terrified when my kids decide to travel. It’s inevitable, coming from two traveling parents… and don’t even talk to me about educating them about drugs. I just hope they have more of Mister H’s genes than mine, when it comes to that matter. He was much more controlled and sensible than I.

This recipe is inspired by my Moroccan adventure.

chermoula fish with nutty cous cousChermoula Fish with Nutty Cous Cous

Yield  – 2 adults and two toddlers

What you will need :

  • 600g firm white fish (ie blue eye,  barramundi)
  • A good handful of parsley leaves
  • a good handful of coriander, including stalks
  • juice of half a lemon
  • one clove garlic
  • a teaspoon of cumin
  • a fat pinch salt
  • a glug of olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped into wedges
  • 1 roast capsicum, jarred or home roasted, seeds removed, cut into chunks
  • 6 green olives, smashed to remove pips
  • 1 cup cous cous
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • some roasted pistachios
  • 1/2 a preserved lemon

What you will need to do :

Cut your fish into large chunks. Place into a baking dish large enough to house it all.

Throw your parsley, coriander, garlic, lemon juice, salt, cumin and olive oil into a little food processor or mortar and pestle and smash it all together.

Coat your fish and leave to marinate for an hour or so.

Preheat oven to 200C.

Add chopped tomato and roast capsicum and place around the fish. Chuck your smashed olives on top and cover with foil and stick in the oven for about 20 mins or until fish is just cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook your cous cous according to packet instructions. Add a dollop of butter to it when you’re at the fluffing stage. Add chopped roasted pistachios, preserved lemon (flesh removed, skin only), and remaining handful of coriander. I also liked to add a good pinch of lemon pepper, but you can season however you like.

Just stay away from hash.

Drugs are bad, m’kay?

chermoula fish with nutty cous cous

Do you have any crazy travel misadventures?

Cook Once, Feed All COVER_lr

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’, this book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by stories from my life.

To order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All  head to the Holsby Shop right now.

If you like what you’re reading why not like my Facebook page now or subscribe via email, to be sure to always keep up with the Holsbys.

Big Daddy’s homecoming and Oat, Date and Ginger Biscuits

24 Feb date and ginger cookies finished

ginger and date biscuits ingredientsAt the very second I type this we are T-2hrs until picking Mister H up from the airport.
It’s been a long ten days without him.

D Man is allowed to stay up late tonight and just he and I are heading off to the arrivals gate to see Big Daddy walk through. I think both chaps will get a buzz out of that….and I’m not embarrassed to say I’m looking forward to a pash. I reckon a public pash at the arrivals gate is totally acceptable behaviour.

Mister H left on Valentine’s Day and I didn’t write a Valentine’s post. I read a few spectacularly schmaltzy ones and it made me wonder if I was unsentimental, or perhaps my relationship was lacking….

You are the air I breathe and my sun and moon, just don’t quite describe my feelings for my husband but I’ve done some thinking in the last ten days.

I was 30 when we met.

I had lived a very full life and I’ve always relied on myself. I’m very independent, strong and fiery and I can get by just fine on my own. The majority of the  day-to-day ‘kid stuff’ I do anyway because he’s out of the house early and home late, so it wasn’t a biggie.

I haven’t missed not having all of the training clothes to wash, nor have I missed all of the shoes in the lounge.

What I realised was, though, is that Mister H is like the tonic in my gin. Gin is pretty good on it’s own, a complete thing, if a tad harsh, but when you add tonic?

Wow, now that’s a real marriage.

Mister H is the cheese on my pizza, the sugar in my coffee and the bubbles in my bath.

He’s the date and ginger in my oat cookie.

I have missed the kisses goodnight, and my friend coming home and chatting about our day.

I have missed the sound of he and the kid’s laughing, and I’ve missed cuddles in the kitchen…..so I made a batch of these chewy, spicy date numbers to ease us through the final days of his absence!

date and ginger biscuits licking the beater

What you will need :

  • 85g softened butter
  • 50g castor sugar
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 80g chopped dates

What you will need to do :

Preheat oven to 190C

In a large bowl cream together the butter and the sugars until nice and pale. Then add the egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

Stir  together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt and gradually beat into the spread mixture bit by bit.

Finally, stir in the oats and dates.

Pop teaspoon sized balls onto baking paper and stick in the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden and delicious. Leave for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Chewy, moist, sticky, spicy, sweet and yummy…..I ate 4 while they were still hot, and felt instantly better.

date and ginger cookies finished

Ironically, after I had already written this, Mister H gave me a present from his journey……

It goes perfectly with tonic.

Hendricks Gin

 

 

On Honeymoon With a Superstar….Vietnamese Pork with Coconut Rice

18 Aug viet pork fini

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to hang out with Brad Pitt at a Brad Pitt Appreciation Convention, then you could simply take a blond haired, blue-eyed baby to Vietnam to get the gist of the mania. Luckily, we didn’t have twins or it would have been akin to traveling with the Beatles and I don’t know if I could handle having undies thrown at me on my honeymoon.

D Man had the honour of accompanying Mister H and I on our ‘month of honey’ when he was 9 months old. It was a little less like mead moon and a little more like Bia Hanoi but D Man refrained for the most part, sticking to breast milk, possibly occasionally tainted with a touch of said Hanoi nectar.

I had traveled in Thailand when I was a stinky backpacker, and I’d also been to many of the Indonesian islands but Vietnam had been high on my itinerary wish list for a rong rong time….it seemed the perfect time to go, as we were heading to Holland for a white Christmas and it was practically on the way……and it was OUR HONEYMOON.

It really was like traveling with a superstar. People would come running to touch him, grab him out of our arms, once even reefing him off my shoulders practically decapitating me in the process. The kid was a hit.
He was a bit of a reluctant hero though. I dare say the experience was somewhat overwhelming as ‘personal space’ is not a commonly used term in most not-quite-third world countries.

We tried to protect the little fellow from too much man-handling. We found him safest in his backpack, but a kid cannot spend an entire three weeks in a backpack. Besides, it squashed his nuts.

He was a brilliant travel companion, and I thoroughly recommend inviting your children to your honeymoon. If you don’t have children, don’t take someone else’s though because they do cramp your style somewhat (i.e. bonking romance is not the same with imminent squawking, or wakeful babies). Just a little warning.

The food in Vietnam was awesome. It not as chilli-burn-your-face-off as Thailand (although I do love that), and I just adore the big, fresh flavours.
This recipe was inspired by our trip, or more accurately, a desire to eat Vietnamese without taking off my slippers and getting a babysitter. It’s not totally authentic, because I made it up, and I’m not Vietnamese, but it hit the spot.
This would be awesome with a couple of birds-eye chillies chopped into the meat, but I was serving it to D Man – who enjoyed it considerably more than the kofte, thanks for asking.

Yield : 4 serves

You will need :

For pork -

  • 500g pork
  • 5 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass, white part only chopped and bashed (I found a jar in the fridge and used that. If you don’t have it or can’t find it, use a little lemon zest, or omit. It’s not make or break.)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shao Xing wine, or sherry
  • 1 handful chopped coriander
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

For coconut rice -

  • 1.5 cups Jasmine rice
  • 1.5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
  • 2 bunches Chinese greens, to serve

Put your rice on first as this will take half an hour to cook. Aim to get the rest done and cooked in that time…..or turn your rice off.
Throw rice ingredients into a heavy passed pot with a lid. You could chuck it into the oven on 180C for half and hour, or you can get it to the boil on the stove, then turn it right down and pop it on a diffuser if you need to….Do not stir. Just ignore it for half an hour, or until liquid is evaporated. Turn of an leave to sit, especially if it looks gluggy. Sitting will be good for it.

Throw all of your pork ingredients into a bowl and give it a good mix with your hands. Remove your wedding rings first cos getting this out of the grooves is not cool.
Using tablespoon sized portions, roll into balls and give them a little pat to flatten.
I cooked mine on the BBQ but you could pan fry or grill. Whatever floats your boat.

Steam your greens giving them a nice drizzle with oyster sauce, or soy, plus some sesame oil and maybe a squeeze of lemon.

Serve it all together and throw some of those tasty little fried onions that you get from the Asian supermarket. I bloody love those crunchy, little morsels.

Take a little walk down memory lane with me….I loved hunting these photos down. That’s the arse about hard drives. Pictures aren’t as present as they used to be.

A Prayer to The Travel Gods

4 Aug

Dear Travel Gods,

It’s me, Danielle. I’m sure you’re aware of my travel itinerary today so I just wanted to drop you a little prayer.

Please let my children behave like angels on our journey. We didn’t sleep well last night and I’m a tad frayed around the edges and I’d hate to lose my shit in public, or at altitude, or both.
Please help me navigate my way to airport, and check in with enough time to get a large coffee. I think that will help the entire freight of Flight DJ125.

If the airline doesn’t give us an entire row, can you please let the person sitting next to us be a child-friendly person. A kindly nana would be my first preference but I know you’re busy what with all the other poeple traveling today so I’ll take anyone who won’t roll their eyes at me, or pretend they can’t hear D Man saying ‘hello’ incessantly for an hour.

Also, one more small thing…. Please don’t let D Man do a poo after we leave the house. He despises public change tables and I don’t have any pull-ups with me. If he does have to go, please just try not to let it be on the plane. I can’t actually think of the logistics of that. There’s nowhere to put the baby once we’re all in that tiny cubicle.

That’s pretty much it, thanks guys.

Yours, with great optimism,

Danielle

PS Better keep an eye on the actual plane too. Guess none of these matter as much as that.

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