Where My Heart Is

Happy Mothers Day!

My gorgeous Mum (I’m on the right)

This year, Mother’s Day is a little different! It is the first time that we (David, Maddie, Paris and I) have not been all together for Mother’s Day. Both David and Paris are away. David is away on business and Paris is on an exciting African adventure. Don’t worry, I have not been forgotten. They organised an early celebration for me!

Today I am looking forward to a celebratory lunch honouring motherhood with my mother and sister, and the rest of the clan.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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On Easter Sunday lunch was at ours! I decided to do slow-cooked lamb for the first time. I was going to use my sister Jenny’s wonderful melt-in-your mouth and tried-and-tested recipe, but I stumbled across a recipe in Feasting by Karen Martini and thought why not increase my stress level on Easter by try something that I’ve never cooked before that sounded super simple and delicious too. I do have a lot of faith in Karen Martini and she certainly did not let me down. I also made her Cos Lettuce, Herb and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dressing, which was the perfect accompaniment. And Jenny made a divine Roast Vegetable Cous Cous. It certainly was a feast.

Chocolate Meringue and Chocolate Cream Pie

When Mum asked me what I wanted her to make for dessert I knew it had to be pie! Mum is the Pie Queen. The only tough decision was what kind of pie?

What’s your favourite kind?

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Sticky Pecan Rolls

Easter Sunday was the most glorious, warm autumn day.

We began celebrations with sticky pecan rolls at my parents home.  Easter just would not be Easter without them!

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Tradition

Dying Easter Eggs has been a tradition in our family forever! However when I saw these beautiful hand-painted eggs over at Decor8, I wondered if we should try painting our eggs next year? Aren’t they gorgeous? I love the delicate colour palette Leslie has chosen. I’m not sure if my hand is steady enough though.

Dying eggs is not an Australian tradition. Here in Brisbane it can be difficult finding eggs with really nice white shells.

Do you have any Easter traditions?

Have an egg-cellant weekend friends!!!

Photo from Decor8

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I Think I Deserve A Medal

This week was a momentus week for our family. Paris (our baby) got her driving license! And I never have to supervise another hour of driving ever again, yay! Do you know what a relief this is?

Here in Australia Learner drivers need to complete 100 hours of supervised driving over a 12 month period before they become eligible to sit their driving test. It is a great initiative which David and I embrace totally. Everything that we can do to try and develop safer, more confident young drivers is a plus, right?

Now Maddie was a reluctant driver and did not want to learn to drive until she turned 18, by which time Paris had her Learner’s permit too. So lucky me…I got to supervise both girls almost simultaneously. I think my fingernails are imprinted into the armrests and maybe my nerves are a bit shot too?

And I am a stickler for rules and made the girls do every single minute!

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Sidewalk Art {Lisbon}

Whilst visiting Lisbon I was particularly taken by the beautiful Portuguese mosaic pavements that adorn the city.

Today they are still made by hand and are part of the country’s heritage and identity. They certainly add a wonderful charm to the city.

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We are finally experiencing some cooler evenings here and I have even had to pull up the covers in the wee hours of the morning. It is such a welcome change after the long Queensland summer.

I’m so looking forward to making soup again. I always feel so virtuous after devouring a big bowl of hearty soup. Soup soothes both body and soul, don’t you think?

Now my all-time favourite is my sister’s Harira Soup recipe. It’s divine and super easy to make. It can even be made in the pressure cooker which makes the lamb melt-in-your-mouth tender!

So, I thought I would share the recipe with you in anticipation of the cooler weather. It certainly is a regular on our Autumn/Winter menu.

Harira Soup

50g butter/olive oil
1 large onion – roughly chopped
1 stick celery – chopped
1/2 teaspoon (or more) cinnamon
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp (or more) paprika
1 Tablespoon cumin
450g lamb – chopped into 2cm dice
100g dried lentils (whole) or 1 tin
1 tin chickpeas
4 large tomatoes chopped or 1 tin
Any vegetable you wish to add eg. pumpkin, beans, carrots, zucchini, spinach
Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
Small handful coriander, chopped
Natural yogurt, to dollop
Lemon to serve

Melt butter/oil and cook onion, celery and spices until onion is softened, then add lamb.

Cook until lamb starts to brown a little. Stir in tomatoes and add water (amount of water depends on whether you add dried lentils or not. If adding dried, put in now).

If cooking in pressure cooker, put lid on and pressure cook now for 15 min or so (when pressure cooking, don’t add too much liquid – top it up later). If slow cooking, bring to boil, then simmer and cook with lid until lamb is getting tender (1-2 hours??).

When lamb is quite tender, I add in the vegetables, in order of cooking time, tinned lentils and chickpeas. To thicken the soup a little and change the texture, crush chickpeas against side of pot, or mash 1/2 of them with potato masher before you add them to pot.

Stir in coriander and generous amount of salt.

Cook for a few more minutes, stir in parsley.

Turn stove off and add baby spinach at very end (if using).

Serve with a lemon wedge and a dollop of natural yogurt.

What’s your favourite soup?

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Just over a year ago, I accompanied David on a work trip to Lisbon. I really did not know what to expect. Lisbon doesn’t seem to get the publicity that a lot of other European capitals do.

But wow, does it have it all…good hotels and restaurants, culture and history, night life (not that I saw any) and entertainment, great shopping, museums and art galleries, wonderful service and fantastic value for money.

I just loved wandering the streets of this culturally rich and charming city…it really is a photographer’s delight.

I think this is the beginning of a long love-affair. I’ll be back for sure.

Have you ever been surprised by a destination either good or bad?

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Brownies {I Feel So Guilty}

Oh my!  The whole guilt thing is kicking in about my pathetic blogging schedule of late. The truth is my father has been in hospital, David is away, I have been helping Paris organise a trip to Tanzania, I can’t sit for long because of my bad back, I’ve been going to pilates 4 times a week and most of all I’m slack and undisciplined. I’ve just come across an online art project by Cory Arcangel called Sorry I Haven’t Posted, which re-posts posts of people apologising for not posting on their blog.

So, I’m NOT sorry for being erratic with my blog posts :) and I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I’m planning to make my very favourite Donna Hay recipe – Basic and Speedy Brownies. They’re truly the best, just how a brownie should be, nice and fudgy in the centre and crunchy on top.

So my friends, I might see you on Monday!

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For Maddie’s birthday cake this year, I was inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Victorian Sponge recipe here. However having had a bad experience recently making a sponge cake that was a total throw-in-the-bin flop, I decided to cheat. I purchased an uniced double sponge cake from a good old fashioned bakery. I could guarantee it would be nice and light and airy.

Then to make it into absolute deliciousness, I followed Jamie’s recipe for the strawberry and cream filling. The key ingredient is the lemon juice. I have to admit I was a tad nervous adding lemon juice to the cream. You would think it would curdle, wouldn’t you? However it adds that perfect tartness to balance the strawberries and jam. I certainly will be making this again soon. We almost ate the whole cake in one sitting!

BTW if you have a foolproof sponge cake recipe, please share.

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