Monthly Archives: July 2016

A visit with friends to help prune the vines

Another busy week in SBA’s kitchen and beyond…

Last weekend we were invited to visit with friends for the pruning of the vines in their little vineyard – well I should say so that Gary could help with the pruning of the vines! The weather was freezing. We were up very early on Saturday morning, about 5am as we had a long drive ahead of us. We quickly packed, had a hot drink and even remembered to put in the sponge that I had baked, which is fondly referred to in our family as Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake. We arrived after a 3 ½ hour drive, Gary did all of the driving, while I studied for my next French lesson. When we got there, Gary headed straight down to help John and George in the vineyard, while I enjoyed the warmth of the family home, a lovely hot cup of tea and a great catch up with Vicki.

At lunch time, Vicki and I prepared some salad, while John cooked beautifully tender steak and toasted some rye bread, and we all enjoyed a steak sandwich for our lunch while standing around the open fire outside the cellar. As soon as they had finished eating, the men headed back to work. I went down and took a few photos before heading back up to

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the house with Vicki. That night we enjoyed a wonderful meal of slow cooked pork belly with roast pumpkin, potato and fennel, and steamed broccoli and beans. It was delicious. We spent the night at our friends’ home before returning home on Sunday.


The view from our room on Sunday morning

But before we left we enjoyed a lovely hot breakfast and witnessed a lovely rainbow. DSC03864

Back home we started to prepare for the arrival of my sister and three friends on Monday.

While Sonnie and one friend arrived early afternoon, the other friends arrived early evening, all having traveled from Melbourne. Gary and I had spent the time since returning home preparing for their arrival. Gary had the yard and house looking wonderful, and all of the breakfast food had been prepared – poached fresh and dried fruits, homemade yoghurt, Véronique’s Brioche, a cob of grainy bread and a really nice


Crunchy Gluten Free Granola, which I had put together just to have something crunchy to have with the yoghurt and fruit.

For dinner that night, we had decided to prepare smoked ribs. So I prepared a rub, and the ribs were smoked for about seven hours in our smoker. I also put in some sweet potatoes and other potatoes to be used later for soup making etc. I wanted to serve the ribs with a simple potato bake, so made it using chicken stock rather than the usual cream and milk. It is not quite as rich, but just as delicious. Then I wanted a salad, a kind of coleslaw but with fennel, apple etc. So when I set to making that, I took the mandolin out and set a large bowl ready. I didn’t think I had enough fennel, but was soon to find out that I had plenty and quickly went looking for a larger dish, which turned out to be a roasting dish. The recipe changed as I was making it, there was no cabbage needed, so that went back into the fridge. I had bought crème fraiche to make the dressing, but didn’t touch it, instead I used horseradish cream, blood orange vinegar and some amazing fresh extra virgin olive oil. The resulting salad was a delicious DSC03887Fennel, Apple and Orange Slaw. With everyone here and around the table we served up the meal. The conversation was loud and at times absolutely hilarious – thank you Sonnie and Anna….

DSC03890 (1)The next morning I was up early studying again, before everyone else was out of bed. I had set the table for breakfast the previous night after everyone had gone to bed, so all I had to do in the morning was set the brioche in the oven to warm, slice the bread, put out a plate of sliced cheese, as well as the yoghurt and stewed fruit. People slowly started to appear and when we were all ready, we sat down to another great meal time of food and great conversation. I had to quickly excuse myself (and leave them to clean up) as I had my French Lesson at 10:30. You know, I think I am starting to get it a little!

Anyway, French lesson done, and eggs from my teacher, I decided to stop at the farm gate on the way home for some more to send home with our guests. Lunch was easy – the Fennel, Apple and Orange Slaw left over fromDSC03897 the previous night, sliced ham, homemade bread, and one of the smoked sweet potatoes roughly mashed, topped with some homemade cheese, diced red capsicum, finely diced green chilli and a sprinkling of piment d’espelette (French chilli powder) and baked in the oven.  The general consensus was that the salad had developed in flavour and improved even more since the night before.

We had a lovely relaxing afternoon and evening together, wandered around the garden, sat in the sitting room with the heater on, enjoyed some homemade liqueurs in the evening, lots of chatting and laughing.

The next morning we were up early, some of our guests had to be on the road by 8 am and we wanted to make sure that they had had a good meal before the road trip back home. We made bacon and eggs. That is bacon and egg sandwiches, as well as fried eggs, poached eggs, tomatoes, bacon and toast. Everyone returned home with a dozen fresh eggs, a bottle of my homemade Worcestershire Sauce and a bottle of my homemade Tomato Sauce. We can’t have them leaving empty handed, now, can we…

So my friends, that is what has been going on here.

Not much time in the garden, I’m afraid, but did get a bit more work done on the “Grand Old Dame”, still plenty more to go though.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!


Crunchy Granola

Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake (with gluten free option)

Fennel, Apple and Orange Slaw

Véronique’s Brioche


A bit of work in the garden followed by a day off to make a rustic meal to share with some special visitors.

I cannot believe how fickle the weather has been, but I certainly was not going to complain when confronted with two glorious sunny days….

Gary decided to head off to my hometown (a mere 5 hours drive to get there…) to get another load of wood. I opted to stay at home and work in the garden. There is a grand old weeping rose in the garden that I am sure has not been pruned in at least a decade and it needs some TLC… The trunk of this rose is at least 15cm/6 inches in diameter, no-one can believe the size of it, and she stands tall enough that I can easily stand underneath

After Gary headed off, I set to, and spent a little more time DSC03779than I should, trying to work out a plan for the fruit trees – I think I was delaying the inevitable, but had to move the pots so I could access this “Grand Old Dame” of the garden. Anyway the jury is still out on that plan for the fruit trees. They are to be espaliered in The Corner Patch with a view to maximizing the amount of garden left to grow vegetables.

Anyway, finally with two pair of secuteurs and a small saw I went in…It is a slow tedius job and will take a few days. At the end of the day, I was a little disappointed to see the clouds coming in, but that disappointment soon led to shear delight when I was confronted by the most stunning sunset…DSC03781

The next morning, I checked the weather, and I think the weatherman was a little confused, it wasn’t supposed to be such a nice day, you know, possible shower, maybe up to 15… I went out to have a chat to our beautiful Duchess, (AKA Border Collie) and it was simply beautiful – a bit of wind, but not cold at all – in fact it was so nice, I decided to cook a simple barbeque on the terrace for our lunch. Gary arrived home mid morning with the trailer load of wood, and while I went and did the grocery shop, he set to unloading it. When I got back I got stuck in, and helped with the stacking. We enjoyed our simple lunch of tasty sausages and barbeque veg salad.

Lunch over and it was back to work on the Grand Old Dame. By the end of day 2 I was almost 2/3 of the way through, I think, and feeling somewhat like a pincushion!!!! She is not being very kind to the person who is trying to give her a new start… What I found as I went in, was that old canes had sent down roots, so have several rose brambles to deal with as well. I think she will be looking rather naked when I am done with her, but hopefully, she will come back to life in all her grandeur!

Today was a little different….

We were expecting visitors, my Aunt and Uncle, who we get our fire wood from, were on holiday with cousins in Melbourne, and they were all coming to visit us. We were very excited, as we didn’t think they would ever have the opportunity to see our new home, and I knew that my Aunt would love it. But what to cook???? I didn’t have a lot of time given that I’d been making the most of the weather and working in the garden, so we decided on


Delicious slow cooked lamb shanks

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with mash, and in the centre of the table we had dishes of oven roasted coloured carrots with carrot top pesto (an adaptation of my Roasted Carrot and Beetroot Salad) and broccoli dressed with lemon juice and a lovely peppery olive oil that I picked up from the farmer’s market on Saturday. In fact all the vegetables I used were from the farmer’s market, with the exception of the onion and celery.

For Dessert, a simple Cherry Clafoutis dusted with icing sugar and served with just a little double cream (the cherries were some that I had preserved during the summer).

We had a lovely time together, we walked around the garden and my Aunt believes that the work I am doing on the Grand Old Dame will bring her back to life, I am very happy. Together with Betty, we discussed roses, camellias, azeleas, gardenias, iris’s and rosemary. Finally inside, we did a tour of the house before settling into the kitchen for the rest of the visit. While we all talked, I finished off the meal and he we sat, ate and talked more. It was a great meal, lots of laughs and reminiscing, but alas, they had to return to Melbourne. We took photos and waved them off for their drive home before heading back in to finish tidying up and moving on to other things.

Oh, and my wonderful husband takes the time to read through all of my blogs and recipes before they are posted, and as we were sitting by the open fire the other night discussing my work, he mentioned to me that he did not understand some of the terms I used, and thought it might be helpful if I explained them so that people would not be put off trying my recipes.  So I have now created a “Glossary” page and if I use a term that may need some explaining, I will add a link to that page so that you can find out what it means.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!


 Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

Cherry Clafoutis (Clafoutis aux cerises)

Roasted Carrot and Beetroot Salad with Poached Egg, Carrot Top Pesto & Dukkah


A wintery blast!

Wow, what a cold, cold week we’ve had, I barely poked my nose out the door, so there was plenty of creative time in the kitchen to keep warm…

This week’s big hits were Duck and Quince Pies and Cream of Celeriac and Parsnip Soup

The Duck and Quince Pies were made from leftover meat from the duck necks I’d been working with. Can you believe that from six duck necks, I used the skin as the casing for pork, garlic and red wine sausages, duck stock and duck ravioli as well as these delicious pies, not bad, hey!!!?

In the pantry I have jars of deep burgundy coloured quinces that I’d preserved and thought they would go amazingly with the duck. So got to it, making sure that I made note of everything I used and how much of each. The end result was amazing, we got two good sized individual pies together with quite a few cocktail sized pies which always come in handy, either as a canapé, or an addition to some duck dish, just to add a little interest, flavour and/or texture.

Then there was soup and sweet night… Don’t you love that. Nice warm soup and then later as we sat in front of the roaring open fire, delicious sweet treats for dessert. I had purchased a lovely celeriac to make a mash from, but with the weather so bleak and cold, we needed soup. I had plenty of parsnips in the fridge, so this soup, topped with parsnip crisps was perfect. I absolutely love parsnip crisps, so made sure I made extra as a cook’s treat.


Cream of Celeriac and Parsnip Soup

As for the sweet treats,


Who could beat Chocolate Fondant!

With the weather on the improve, I finally got back into The Corner Patch and did a stocktake of what needs to be planted – there’s a lot of work to be done!!

And then escaped to the flower garden where I discovered a little bit of sunshine.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!


Cream of Celeriac and Parsnip Soup.

Duck and Quince Pies




A fresh, crisp cos lettuce – what to do?

Last week as I was leaving my hour long French lesson, Wendy, the wife of my teacher, offered me some fresh cos lettuce from their garden. They had all come in at once, and were ready to pick, so she was giving them away because she didn’t want them to go to waste.

Yes, again, I am trying to learn the beautiful French language. This was only my second lesson, and I have just had my third. I have just spent the last two days at my desk trying to get a hold on the what I had learned so far, but by last night was feeling quite despondent, as if nothing was sinking in and went to sleep feeling as if I was wasting my time…

This morning when I woke up, I started

DSC03723 (1)

Proof of my hard work and frustration!

reading some more, got up and did some writing, and started to feel a little better – though not much. Anyway off I went, about a forty minute drive, listening to French language CDs. Upon my arrival I voiced my weariness and frustration, in English, but was soon to find out that the hard work was actually paying off, particularly as I began to recall some of the vocabulary that had been causing me so much frustration. So I am back home and feeling much more positive – maybe you should ask me how I feel again, next Monday night, as I finish another week of studying!

Anyway, I digress…

Back the lovely cos lettuce. We are fans of the beautiful Caesar Salad, but often find that people tend to overdress it with it arriving in front of you looking rather sad, limp and wet. After checking the fridge to make sure I had everything needed, I decided that I should prepare my version of Caesar Salad for a quick, light and very tasty dinner.


While I still think I made it a little too wet, it was quite delicious.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

PS: Don’t forget to keep an eye on what’s happening in The Corner Patch!


Caesar Salad.


It’s been a busy week in the corner patch…

It’s been a busy week, particularly for Gary, my husband, as we clear the area that is to become the vegie patch!

When we arrived here, there was a quince tree and a miniature lemon tree, and then six weeks later we found another lemon tree that was hidden between an overgrown hedge and the fence. But there was no vegie patch!

I am very excited that we are now working on the area that I will now refer to as the “Corner Patch”! Just before we went to Melbourne last week, Gary got the chainsaw out and took down four trees. Two flowering pears and two bays. Now for me, I’d much rather have pear trees that give fruit, and who needs two overgrown bay trees. One can only use so many bay leaves, and a tree in a pot is easier to control and provides more than enough leaves for the kitchen. The trees hid what had become a dumping area for anything rubbish and a lot of work was needed to clear it out, in fact it took FIVE trailer loads to the tip to get rid of everything, plus we have stored what wood we could from the trees to dry for the open fire next year.

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It is a standing joke among those we know that last year, in anticipation of the move, I bought 40 or so fruit trees, bare rooted, and we potted them into oversized pots to get them ready for their new home. So they are also about to be planted out, in the new area. A lot of them will be espaliered so that they will become features of the garden.

While all this work has been going on, there has not been a great deal happening in the kitchen. But we have enjoyed a lovely light Truffle Omelette, a quick and easy, as well as DSC03677delightfully delicious evening meal. There was also a smoked potato soup with truffle shavings, cream and a little truffle oil, and a duck salad where I got to try my recently cured, air-dried duck breast, or as some like to call it duck prosciutto, and some of my confit duck leg.  It was delicious.

Hopefully back into the kitchen this weekend, as I have some more duck ideas and some other recipes that I want to trial.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!


Truffle Omelette