I used to be a make-and-stick-to-a-schedule kind of gal and I let my work define my life. Then I had my little girl.

Sure, my 5-year old led me to my boundaries at times, but I listened to those people who said, ‘You have to make your children fit with your lifestyle!’ and I resisted change. I resisted even though such advice holds limited value when your brand of application leaves you sleepless and juggling four different ‘jobs’, all without feeling any closer to your family and friends.

When my now 2-year old came along, this way of life stopped working for me. My acceptance of the change was gradual and painful; I was essentially a Yes person, then I learned that I could say No to stuff. And then I re-learned how to say Yes to other, meaningful stuff too. This taught me how to be discerning and open at the same time, and it’s a lesson the universe continues to teach me.

With these two voting words, we hold incredible power, whether we apply them thoughfully or not. With their use, we can control what we do with our dollars and time, create demand for goods and services at a micro and macro level, and shape our little people’s minds and values. It really is that simple. How we live comes down to where we place each yes and no.

So nearly 16% into the year and late into this post, and because I left new year’s resolutions by the wayside years ago, I introduce my theme for 2014: Enough.

I lived 2013 as my year of Be.Love.Do. It was full of happenings and challenges that helped me to direct my energies into family, food and garden. Being present, loving and action-oriented remains important to me, so I still strive to embed 2013′s theme into my daily life.

So what of 2014? I am swaying towards anti-consumerism, more community sharing of knowledge and skills, and more DIY everything. I am frustrated by the brand new, bigger, better, faster, louder, throw-away-anything-that-isn’t-perfect attitude of moredom that I notice exploding in a slow motion Matrix moment around me. I don’t understand a lot of things about the way the Western world does (or doesn’t) work, including its emphasis on economic/quantitative growth above qualitative factors.

Renowned scientist and environmental spokesperson Vandana Shiva shared some of her thoughts on growth in a 2012 Dumbo Feather interview that gave me a moment of crystal clarity when I read [1]:

…this whole ‘making growth the objective,’ which is nothing but the destruction of society and nature, has to end. To reclaim sanity, you begin with what is available to you.

This reinforces my recurring questions (among others) of:

  • Why do we have this narrow focus on growth?
  • Why don’t we take notes from other cultures and place greater value on happiness, elders and sufficiency than monetary gain, power and greed?
  • Why don’t we apply more learnings from artisan traditions that emphasise quality and specialty of product above expansion?

And yet. All this said, I am pragmatic enough to realise that a free market helps me to source the quality of life that I feel my family needs. The world’s current state of resource exploitation and trade enables me to afford a decent computer, service a reliable and comfortable car, write at night, and source wholefoods at a reasonable price.

When it comes to nutrition, I try to make continually better choices – part of my own kaizen – involving decisions surrounding local vs overseas or interstate suppliers, organic vs chemical-laden, fair trade vs unknown labour sources. This is a personal, iterative process and constant learning journey.

On another note, Shiva is credited in the same Dumbo Feather interview as saying [1]:

The solution to climate problems of instability and predictability, as well as the food crisis, is ecological agriculture. Feed the soil with organic matter, it’ll allow you to go through a drought. It’ll also reduce emissions. It’ll give you more food.

I just love her! The passion that Shiva exudes is an inspiration in itself, and her work on sustainability takes us back to basic rights and needs, by way of seed saving, biodiversity and soil health, generosity and compassion.

I was also impressed by the ABC Radio National’s recent interview with Dr Murieann Irish, in a podcast which stressed the importance of rest for the brain and memory [2]. As a society, we seem to value busyness [3,4] to the exception of downtime and daydreaming, yet the latter is a crucial contributor to creativity, social aptitude, decision-making and mental health. When is our amount of activity enough? Why do so many of us feel the need to keep up with other people’s levels of stress and exhaustion?

Enough is an ideal that matches well with my emerging philosophy of living whole and wabu-sabi (or perfectly imperfect). It’s why I aim to make every food item I regularly use from scratch at least once, and it’s why I value the material things in my life more if they have past lives. It’s why I love the garden beds my husband made for me from repurposed materials; they have so far given us a rustic aesthetic as well as tomatoes, greens and herbs.

For me, Enough is also about making the most of what we have, modest living and easy pleasures. Simple things like enjoying my garden and the natural environment around me. Like understanding the art that goes into making artisan foods. Like focusing on giving my children and husband a loving and secure home. Like loving myself sufficiently to get the right amount of sleep.

When it comes to blog posts, I’m going to wait for the right combination of time and inspiration to hit, because that synergy means that I can give you more useful words.

And, when it comes to making a plan, I am taking a leaf out of my own project management workbook and looking at what each scheduled item really means for the big picture. Chances are, unless it relates to my passions, my family or my friends, it’s movable or removable.

[So it seems that, with my definition of Enough, comes a list of commitments and desires akin to resolutions. Maybe old habits die harder than I thought.]

On that note, I hope you enjoy your 2014! May it bring you just Enough.

H :)

  1. Pittman, P. (2012) “Vandana Shiva is Mother Earth” on Dumbo Feather. Available online via http://www.dumbofeather.com/conversation/vandana-shiva-is-mother-earth/ [last accessed: 15 February 2014].
  2. ABC Radio National (2013) “The mind at rest” podcast on ABC Radio National’s ‘All in the Mind’ program. Available online via http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/the-mind-at-rest/5141356 [last accessed: 16 February 2014].
  3. Wilson, L. (2013) “When Did It Become Cool To Be Busy?” on MindBodyGreen. Available online via http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9740/when-did-it-become-cool-to-be-busy.html [last accessed: 16 February 2014].
  4. Kreider, T. (2012) “The Busy Trap” on The New York Times. Available online via http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/?_php=true&_type=blogs&ref=opinion&_r=0 [last accessed: 16 February 2014].


17 February 2014 at 12:34am 9 comments

How to eat a whole plant.

Depending on the plant, it’s not that hard to eat the whole thing. But it does look impressive when the plant is nearly as tall as your five year-old.

x & radish

When I started composting my food scraps, I began to realise just how wasteful we can be when it comes to food preparation. Incredibly, an estimated 40% of food is wasted in Australian kitchens each day [1]. Now that I am growing some of my own herbs, fruits and vegetables, I see the effort and love that goes into them and I don’t want to waste a morsel.

Having faced disappointment at the hand of preserved daikon, I chose to plant daikon radish seeds in my herb garden because I wanted to experience the reported amazingness of this root vegetable.

The daikon radish is renowned for its overall health benefits in Chinese medicine. A short burst of googling shows this bitter root to be very healthful, containing appreciable levels of vitamin C, sulforaphane and flavonoids [2,3]. A morning scan of recent news tells me that the daikon radish, which can grow to more than 30cm (a foot) in length, may also be instrumental in preventing excess nutrients from entering our water supply [4].

My first-picked radish was smallish but fresh and mild in its bitterness; the second was tastier and about the size of a carrot. As time goes on, the radish root gets bigger and less sweet, and the plant begins to flower. It was the flower buds that led me to the daikon’s heritage, as part of the Brassicaceae family (along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale).

daikon flower

We have been eating through our radishes one by one, in their entirety. The young leaves are tasty in salads, older leaves are great in stirfries and soups, the root is tasty roasted or eaten raw in salads, the yet-to-grow pods (fruit) are apparently delicious in a stirfry, and every part of the plant can be juiced.

eggs & daikon salad

In the course of my foodly journey, I have discovered that the oft-discarded foliage of domesticated vegetables can be edible and highly nutritious. For example,

  • you can eat or juice celery tops raw, or use them as an base ingredient in vegetable stock;
  • beetroot leaves are lovely in salads;
  • the leaves from regular radishes can be added to smoothies and juices; and
  • carrot greens can be eaten in salads, pestos and soups.

(Aside: if you are thinking “aren’t carrot and celery tops toxic?”, I encourage you to start your own research by reading the articles linked under [5] & [6] below, bearing in mind that once-upon-a-time it was common knowledge that tomatoes would kill you [7].)

I should share another side benefit of growing your own daikon radishes: if you’re a beginner gardener like me, you might be pleased to learn that this is a plant which pretty much grows itself.

I did not realise on first planting just how addictive this plant-tend-eat-compost thing would be for me; I spend part of every day talking or singing to my sproutlings if I am not watering, mulching or feeding the little cuties. My tomatoes and mustard greens are looking excellent, by the way. And, with a new radish crop ascending, I am hoping to be able to hold myself back from their crispy deliciousness for long enough to grow just one to its limb-sized potential.

H :)

  1. Skelton, R. (Ed) (2013) “Do Australians waste $8 billion worth of edible food each year?” on ABC News: Fact Check. Available online via http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-08/food-waste-value-australia/4993930 [last accessed: 30 October 2013].
  2. Rudrappa, U. (2013) “Radish nutrition facts” on http://www.nutrition-and-you.com. Available online via http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/radish.html [last accessed: 2 November 2013].
  3. Manchali, S., Murthy, K. N . C. & Patil, B. S. (2012) “Crucial facts about health benefits of popular cruciferous vegetables” in the Journal of Functional Foods Volume 4, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 94–106, via ScienceDirect. Available online via http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464611000843 [last accessed: 3 November 2013].
  4. Leschin-Hoar, C. (2013) “Can Radishes Be The Secret Weapon In Protecting Our Water from Big Farming’s Runoff?” on Take Part. Available online via http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/10/29/can-radishes-protect-our-water-0 [last accessed: 30 October 2013].
  5. Ly, L. (2013) “Are Carrot Tops Toxic? (The Short Answer: No)” on Garden Betty: Diary of a Dirty Girl. Available online via http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/07/are-carrot-tops-toxic-the-short-answer-no/ [last accessed: 3 November 2013].
  6. Philpott, J. (2013) “On celery, seduction, science and salad” on Jane Philpott’s Food, Nutrition and Cookery Blog. Available online via http://drjanephilpott.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/on-celery-seduction-science-and-salad/ [last accessed: 5 November 2013].
  7. Smith, K. A. (2013) “Why the Tomato Was Feared in Europe for More Than 200 Years” on Smithsonian.com. Available online via http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/food/2013/06/why-the-tomato-was-feared-in-europe-for-more-than-200-years/ [last accessed: 5 November 2013].

Addendum of 6 November 2013: Spelling errors have been corrected! So sorry if they caused your brain any pain. It’s what happens when you mix a tired Hannah with midnight blogging…

6 November 2013 at 12:10am 4 comments

Conquering a mountain with (samphire) salad

I can’t remember when or how it happened; it just did. One meal I didn’t pick up my camera to take a photo before eating. Then before I knew it, a day, a week, a month, three months had passed, with no food photos. And that coincided – or is that culminated? – with no blog posts for a while.


Sometimes assembling a blog post can seem an Andean effort when you are caught up in the flurry of other stuff that is life. Then you remember that wellness is not only about what you put into and onto your body. Sometimes you just need to remember to breathe and know what to let go.

My quest for balance and mindfulness sees me spending less time online and more time with my husband, being mum, reading, writing and singing to my mustard seedlings, as I slowly learn what it is to work smarter. It’s not any less hard but it is incredibly enriching.

On the work front, I am proud to be involved with The Forever Project, with which I co-presented two workshops involving the dynamic Chris Ferreira and illustrious Steve Wood as part of this year’s Kings Park Festival.

In the lead-up to Saturday’s food theatre, I was asked to use samphire in my dishes – and this led to an unexpected journey of discovery. I had to figure out what on earth samphire was, how to find and harvest it, and how to eat it.

Now I have stir-fried this native herb with vegies, blanched it with hot broth, steamed it with broccoli, nibbled on it neat, and enjoyed it raw in a salad. I find its mild saltiness quite delicious, and am very excited to now have my own plant to nurture, with thanks to a certain nursery owner.

20130928 samphire_plant

*** Important note: if you’re planning to forage for samphire along the Swan River, you will need a permit (and I assume you would now get this from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, as it is subsuming the Swan River Trust…). ***

Rich in folate and vitamin C [1], samphire may just be the latest superfood [2]. It has a salty, fennel-like flavour and certain varieties appear to be related to fennel [3]. As a pickle, samphire has been used to combat scurvy on long sea voyages [4].

the remnants from Saturday's tasting...

the remnants from Saturday’s tasting…

This is an opportunistic salad, as those who came along on Saturday will know. I used what was seasonal and available while attempting to balance saltiness, sweetness, tartness, texture, colour, smell, and more. I encourage you to change the recipe to match your supplies/taste rather than spend a lot of money on specific ingredients.

Recipe #143: Samphire salad. Serves 4 as a side. The only utensils you need for this recipe are a knife, chopping block, serving bowl and glass jar.

You will need – for the salad:
► 3 x 10-15cm sprigs of raw samphire, finely chopped [remove and compost any woody segments before you chop]
► 1/3 of a small red onion, finely sliced
► a handful of young asparagus spears, sliced into 2-3cm lengths
► 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, each tomato sliced in half
► 1 overflowing handful of salad greens, roughly chopped [I used wild rocket]
► a handful of goji berries
► [optional] fennel flowers, cut from 4-5 umbels [yes, 'umbel' is the formal name for the 'umbrella' to which the flowers are attached]
► a handful of walnuts, roughly chopped

You will need – for the dressing:
► 1 clove of garlic, smashed
► 3 fine slices of fresh ginger
► ~40mL of your favourite vinegar [I used a mix of apple cider and coconut balsamic vinegars]
► ~60mL of good olive oil

Start by making the dressing. Place all ingredients into a jar. Seal the jar tightly and shake vigorously. Set the dressing to one side. Shake and strain just before adding it to the salad.

To make the salad, combine all salad ingredients, except for the walnuts and fennel flowers. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to make the rocket leaves glossy. Sprinkle the walnuts and fennel flowers (if you have them) over the top of the salad. Serve and enjoy.

I did not add salt to my salad because of the natural salt content of the samphire, however you may want to season to taste.

Final note

20131002 cacaocherryslice

You could be making and tasting this delectable cacao-cherry slice if you come to my class this Sunday; there is still a place just for you! Book by emailing or calling: 0468 830 114.

Stay well until next time (and it really is lovely to see you here again!),

H :)

Samphire references:

[1] Think Natural (undated) “Medicinal plants: Samphire” on http://www.thinknatural.com/. Available online via http://www.thinknatural.com/articles.php?id=10202; accessed on 26 September 2013.
[2] Meldrum, J. (2013) “Samphire: The Next Superfood?” on Weekend Notes. Available online via http://www.weekendnotes.com/samphire-the-next-superfood/; accessed on 26 September 2013.
[3] Plants for a Future (2012) “Crithmum maritimum – L.” on http://www.pfaf.org/. Available online via http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Crithmum+maritimum; accessed on 1 October 2013.
[4] The University of Western Australian (2012) “Adaptations 4: Surviving Extremes (fact sheet)” on http://spice.wa.edu.au/. Available online via http://spice.wa.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Surviving-extremes.pdf; accessed on 1 October 2013.

2 October 2013 at 11:35pm 2 comments

Chocolate & beetroot

While I ordinarily enjoy the witticisms and observations sandwiched between the pages of The Flavor Thesaurus (my excellent Mothers Day present), I respectfully disagree with author Niki Segnit’s comments regarding chocolate and beetroot [1]:

In chocolate beet cake, the cocoa almost entirely overwhelms the beet flavor, leaving nothing but a hint of its earthiness, which make the cake taste like a cheap chocolate cake that’s been dropped in a flowerbed.

the cake

You may have already heard of or fallen in love with red velvet cake – a chocolate cake that is coloured red, either by red food colouring, beetroot or the reaction of vinegar and buttermilk with light cocoa [2].

When my friend Tiina shared her raw chocolate beetroot cake with me a few weeks ago, my tastebuds were tickled and my brain buzzed with new possibilities.

Enter today’s recipe, which is uncooked and features both beetroot and cacao in generous proportions. The main points of distinction between this and your usual chocolate beetroot cake recipes are that the cacao, beetroot and other ingredients are raw, no flour/eggs/refined sugar are featured, and there is no baking involved.


I am really happy with the end result, with its complementary variations in flavour and texture. The base is biscuity, the cake is moist, and the topping is light and creamy. The only thing I would do differently for next time is to pass the mousse through a fine chinois (fine mesh strainer) to make it even smoother and fluffier.

Recipe #142: Raw red velvet cake. Or you may prefer to know this cake by its full title: Hannah’s Version of Tiina’s Delicious Chocolate Beetroot Cake. You will need a food processor or Thermomix [TM] to make this recipe.

You will need – for the biscuit base:
► 140g raw cashews, ground into meal
► 140g shredded coconut
► 50g dates (I use medjool)
► 50g raw honey (I favour jarrah, but any will do – or you could substitute agave syrup, yacon syrup, coconut nectar or more dates)
► 50g goji berries
► 40g cacao powder

- for the cake filling:
► 2 medium-sized beetroots, cut into quarters
► 140g almonds, ground into meal
► 45g almond flour (made from dehydrated pulp leftover from making nut milk. You could substitute for this by doubling the amount of almond meal)
► 140g macadamia nuts, ground into meal
► 35g cacao powder
► 1 decent pinch of Himalayan salt

- for the mousse topping:
► 140g dates (use whole dates, don’t worry if you are slightly over or under 140g)
► 35g cacao powder
► 1/2 small avocado
► 6 tbsp of olive oil
► 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
► 1/2 tsp of vanilla powder
► [optional] a swirl of agave syrup (for extra sweetness, if needed. You could also use more dates)

Start by making the base. Place all the biscuit base ingredients into your food processor and process until the fine crumbs of mixture stick together like dough when pressed [TM: less than 30s on speed 8]. Press the mixture into a lined cake tin (I used a 20cm round springform tin) and place into the freezer while you make the cake filling.

To make the cake filling, process all ingredients until the mixture looks like semi-cooked cake dough [TM: speed 6-7 for up to 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go]. You may need to add a little water to help the mixture to process effectively.

Remove the cake tin from the freezer and spread the fresh cake filling evenly over the top of the biscuit base, pressing it slightly at the sides to ensure there are no air bubbles. You will need to work fairly quickly, as the mixture will darken (oxidise) from red to brown on contact with the air. When you have an even surface, place the cake into the freezer for a few minutes while you make the topping.

For the mousse topping, process all ingredients together until the mousse is completely smooth. This may take a few minutes [TM: speed 7-8 for a few seconds at a time then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat these steps as often as needed]. Add more olive oil – or macadamia oil is also fabulous – if your end result is not creamy enough, a little water (a trickle at a time) if your mix is too thick to process, or agave syrup if you need more sweetness.

The mousse topping is a variation on the avocado mousse from my chocolate uncooking class, incorporating much less avocado than I have previously advocated. By using only part of an avocado, you lose the avocado flavour while retaining the creamy consistency.

Spread or pipe the mouse over the top of the cake and it’s ready to enjoy – in a modest slice with a dollop of cashew nut cream [= 2 cups of presoaked raw cashews blended with lemon juice + 4 dates + a pinch of salt] and your favourite chill out track playing in the background.


Thank you to Tiina for the inspiration!

H :)

[1] Segnit, N. (2010) The Flavor Thesaurus, Bloomsbury, New York.
[2] Beard, J. cited in Wikipedia (2013) “Red velvet cake” in Wikipedia. Available online via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_velvet_cake [last acessed: 15/06/2013].

16 June 2013 at 11:22pm 8 comments

Honey nougat goji cashew cacao ball delights

The title is long and a work in progress, but the balls themselves are raw and scrumptious – and everyone knows just how loved up you feel after a solid dose of good chocolate.

20130511 balls5

I have tasted a number of variations on the goji-cacao ball theme in the past and none quite hit the spot like these, which I whipped up quickly when I needed a healthy snack for a girls’ night. I hope you like them too.

Recipe #141: Honey Nougat Goji Cashew Cacao Ball Delights. You will need a food processor, Thermomix or similar to create this recipe. Makes around 20.

You will need:
► seeds from ½ of a vanilla pod [or ½ tsp of vanilla paste/powder]
► ½ tsp ground cinnamon
► 20g cacao powder
► 200g cashews
► 120g shredded coconut [or use desiccated if you can't find the shredded version]
► 50g goji berries
► 50g pitted dates
► 50g jarrah honey [you can use any type of raw honey you have to hand, however jarrah honey has the distinctive taste I was after, plus it is also purported to exhibit greater antimicrobial and antifungal qualities than other honeys]
► extra cacao powder, to serve

Start by processing the vanilla, cinnamon, cacao powder, cashew and coconut until the mixture reaches the consistency of a fine breadcrumb [TM: this takes about 10 seconds on speed 8]. Add in the goji berries, dates and honey, then process until the mixture clumps together when you press it in your hand [TM: process for about 10 seconds on speed 8, followed by a manual mix with a spatula to ensure nothing is stuck to the bottom, then process on speed 10 for up to 30 seconds, or until the TM grinding sounds laboured].

Roll your mixture into balls of any size you like. Mine were moulded from rounded teaspoonfuls of the mix:

20130511 balls0

Refrigerate on a bed of cacao powder in a container for at least two hours (or freeze for one hour). When you are sure that your balls are quite firm, shake them around in the container for an even coating of the powder. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

20130511 balls4

Eat. Enjoy. Yum.

H :)

PS. On a personal note, I got married on 30 April (International Jazz Day)! Another reason, besides the chocolate, to feel lovey dovey :)

12 May 2013 at 12:13am 4 comments

10 life lessons I learnt from my herb garden (and another chance to win movie tickets)

I am the sort of person who learns best from harsh personal experience rather than telling and I am always grateful for those learnings that come gently. To this end, my herb garden is an excellent teacher.

20130424 marjoram

My herb garden gives so much more to me than food; it gives me life lessons. Here are just 10:

1. Great things are often borne of the least work. Take my wild rocket [thank you to my lovely neighbour for choosing me organic seeds]. I dug three parallel, shallow trenches with my pointer finger, poured in the seeds [well, I wouldn't have been so liberal if it wasn't for the breezy day], and less than a week later I had lots of little green leaves peeking out from the cover of their richly composted bed. Four months later, I am still enjoying the spoils of this shoddy planting.

20130424 wildrocket

And my mint! My glorious mint plants – gifted from a lovely neighbour and a loving sister – were cuttings and offcuts that are growing beautifully with only the occasional watering.

2. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I believe that organic is always preferable because resistance breeds resilience – for us as well as the plant. I have just started to regrow what I can from kitchen scraps and the results are very telling.

20130424 celery

This image shows the base of an organic celery alongside that of a conventionally grown celery, both sprouted in the same bowl of water at the same time, and pictured right before I planted them. The conventionally grown celery actually had a much larger base, but this became soggy and rotted away as the root soaked. The base from the organically grown celery stayed firm and strong and sprouted much more healthily, and was the only one to survive in the ground.

3. People lie. Sometimes. Not all the time. Or maybe it is just that their frame of reference is offset to your own. My chilli plant is a prime example of this learning. I asked the little grey lady who sold me the plant, “Are the chillis hot?” to which she replied, “I think so. Quite hot.” Prolifically fruiting the plant is, and hot the chillis are not.

20130424 unhot_chilli

4. Sometimes something has to die away in order to be reborn. For example: my very healthy parsley plant died when I dug it up from the crack in the pavement and replanted it into a pot – but then a tiny, new parsley plant grew in its place – for a little while. Then that died too. So I guess sometimes plants don’t survive after replanting.

20130424 parsley

5. Too much care can kill. Well, I’m pretty sure it killed the parsley.

6. Recycle. It’s good for your health. I cut and planted the roots from markets-bought spring onions, and these spring onions sprang up. Yum.

20130424 springonions

7. Some of the sweetest things are the simplest. Fennel seeds. Chewed fresh from the plant. There is nothing better, especially when the seeds are young and soft.

20130424 fennel

8. When you give them the chance, events can happen as they aren’t meant to – and it’s kind of magical. Nasturtiums can grow all year round with enough shade and water.

9. New starts can come from broken branches. Just as this geranium spawned unexpected progeny after its unfortunate break.

20130424 geranium

10. Never, ever, ever give up. Never stop believing – and keep on watering, even when it seems pointless. I learnt this lesson from a ginger root that did nothing for a long time, then it suddenly decided to sprout. I also learnt this lesson from a ‘dead’ lemongrass plant that came back to life after five weeks of persistent care (and that care was offered only because of its obviously alive brother).

20130424 lemongrass_alive

I hope my little list has given you a smile and some food for thought – and I hope you have read far enough to discover my movie ticket giveaway!

TM Publicity have given me five double passes to give away for the new foodie film, Haute Cuisine, based on the story of President François Mitterand’s private cook. It opens in Australian cinemas tomorrow.

Based on the blurb, this looks to be a fun movie that I want to see:

Hortense Laborie, a renowned chef from the Périgord, is astonished when the President of the Republic appoints her his personal cook, responsible for creating all his meals at the Élysée Palace. Despite jealous resentment from the other kitchen staff, Hortense quickly establishes herself, thanks to her indomitable spirit. The authenticity of her cooking soon seduces the President, but the corridors of power are littered with traps…

20130424 HauteCuisine_TM
Image courtesy of Transmission Films.

Leave a comment below about a lesson your garden has taught you by 9am WST on Friday 26 April, and you will go into my random draw for a double pass. Good luck!

H :)

Addendum of 26 April 2013: First, I corrected some spelling errors. Sorry about those…

Next, I drew the prize winners for my giveaway, with results provided by random.org‘s sequence generator:

20130426 thedraw

Congratulations to commenters 11, 6, 7, 3 & 12 – otherwise known as Tanya, Kerryanne, Sonya, Kim & Heather! I am just about to email you for address details so that I can mail out your double passes.

24 April 2013 at 8:41am 17 comments

Guest Post 7: A mindful business, a retreat & a recipe

When Nicole van Kan from Équilibre told me about their upcoming retreat, I thought it sounded fabulous enough to warrant its very own post. Thankfully, Nicole thought so too!

One of the great joys in my life is the fact that I can pop out my back door and gather together a variety of edible greenery from my herb garden, so I am also excited that Nicole’s post features Sophie Zalokar’s simple and delicious recipe for greens with an apple cider vinegar dressing.


H :)


Équilibre + Our Autumn Retreat
by Nicole van Kan

20130410 equilibre-big

Équilibre is a health and fitness business with a difference. We don’t believe in quick fixes, miracle cures or gimmicks. We do believe in the sheer enjoyment of food, cooking with love and exercising for how it makes you feel. We also believe in BALANCE!

It would be very easy to hand clients a calorie controlled diet sheet full of low fat foods and tell them to weigh, measure, eat this and not that, all while doing numerous high energy exercise sessions per week. And you know what? If they followed it to the letter, they probably would end up losing weight and feeling better. But ultimately, we don’t think this approach is sustainable or really very healthy.

Very much like Hannah does at A Foodly Affair, we advocate a mindful approach to food and believe that everyone needs to discover what works best for their own body. A healthy body image and harmonious, connected relationship with food (and exercise) is the real key.

As a way of demonstrating our ethos in action, we had always envisaged running retreat style getaways. So, on discovering Foragers – a farm-based cooking school and dining room with gorgeous self-contained accommodation in the Southern Forests of WA – we knew that it would be the perfect setting. A weekend of beautiful food, wine, cooking, fresh produce and shared meals; all balanced with gentle, invigorating exercise and the opportunity to form a foundation for glowing good health and fitness.

Our first retreat at Foragers last spring turned out to be an amazing weekend and surpassed our expectations (and those of our guests!). That’s why we’re heading back for more this autumn with our Mother’s Day weekend retreat.

Sophie Zalokar owns and runs Foragers, along with her Swiss-born husband Chris, who is the craftsman behind many of the beautiful buildings and chalets. She grew up in the Barossa Valley and qualified as a chef under Maggie Beer. Sophie’s view is that cooking and food production is not only a fundamental life skill but also one of life’s greatest pleasures. We couldn’t agree more.

20130410 blackboard-big
Image courtesy of Sophie Zalokar

You can see from the menu for our Saturday evening ‘seasonal dinner’ that Sophie is adept at creating mouth-watering dishes based on the freshest seasonal produce, all with an inherent balance. Ingredients are sourced from the local area wherever possible – including, in this instance, watercress from the brook at the edge of the property, about an hour before dinner!

Our lunchtime cooking class with Sophie was also a special experience. We came away armed and inspired with an array of classic recipes that have become a welcome part of my own cooking repertoire, including labna (yoghurt cheese), a herb and spice spiked aromatic sea salt and a golden chicken stock.

I’ll leave you with Sophie’s recipe for this quick and easy apple cider vinaigrette, which makes leafy greens and herbs taste spectacular, especially if picked freshly from your own garden (still a work in progress for this non-green thumb!).

Recipes like these are a great reminder that simple really is better and that getting back to basics can be good for our taste buds, as well as our health.

20130410 foragedgreens-big

Recipe #140: Foraged Greens with Herb Infused Vinaigrette.
by Sophie Zalokar (reprinted with permission)

You will need- for the dressing:
► 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
► 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
► 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
► 3 tbsp mild oil (I use cold-pressed macadamia oil)
► sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
► 1 tsp each chervil, tarragon, chives, parsley & mint

- for the salad greens:
► 4 large handfuls of a mixture of the following: watercress, landcress, oakleaf or cos, turnip tops, Italian parsley leaves, radicchio, salad burnett, mustard leaves, corn salad, endive, broad bean tops…
► optional extras: avocado, radish, seed mixture

Mix together the mustard & vinegar with a little salt & pepper. Whisk in the oils and then add the herbs. Check the seasoning. Dress the salad by lightly tossing the salad greens with the fresh dressing.

We still have a few places available at our autumn retreat which runs from the 10th-12th May, so if you feel inspired to join us, be sure to get in touch very soon!

Équilibre also runs an outdoor group exercise program called Fitness for Foodies and will be commencing an exciting new workshop series mid-2013 for those who want to learn the secrets to joyful eating, fabulous fitness and healthy balance!

Thanks again to Nicole for sharing!

My guest posts typically get lots of clicks well after they are published – because I only choose talented & interesting people to contribute to A Very Foodly Diary! Check out previous guest posts via their links:

10 April 2013 at 9:47am Leave a comment

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