07 December 2012


That is definitely a made up word.
But in this age of combining words to make them…umm…combined, then I truly believe cinnamon and chocolate deserve that same respect.
Also, I’m writing this post for the monthly blogger event through We Should Cocoa, and I needed a name.
Basically Chocolate Log Blog and Chocolate Teapot came up with the idea of getting food bloggers to put up a recipe that has chocolate in it, along with the ‘special ingredient’ which a new blogger chooses each month.

If you’re one of my two consistent readers (hello) you may remember I did one of these six months back. And now it’s time for round 2.
The special ingredient for December is cinnamon.

I had two recipes that I wanted to use (chocolate and banana cake or jaffa slice)…but I figured it would be breaking the rules if I put them both up…so I went with the cake because it has been made multiple times (mostly by mother-dear), it’s pretty easy and has been exceptional every time.
Which is a fantastic combination.
Just like cinnalate.

Make it. Eat it. Love it.

Chocolate and Banana Cake 
(I believe this is from an Annabelle Langbein book?)


115g butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 bananas, mashed
½ tsp vanilla essence
1½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
125g plain yoghurt (or sour cream)
120g chocolate chips
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

1. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition until well combined.
3. Stir in the mashed banana and vanilla essence. 
4. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together. Fold into the creamed mixture in three lots, alternating with the yoghurt.
5. Spoon half the cake mixture into a lined and greased 20cm cake tin. 
6. Combine the chocolate chips, brown sugar and cinnamon together. 
7. Sprinkle half this mixture over the prepared cake batter.
8. Spread the remaining batter on top and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate mixture. 
9. Bake at 180C for about 45 minutes.  

30 November 2012

A Christmas Wonderland

I started writing a blog post a month or two ago…it was going to mostly be about food…you know, things I’ve eaten since I’ve been in Melbourne…you’d love it I’m sure. But my enthusiasm comes in waves, and it currently hasn't progressed quite as far as you’d hope after this period of time.

So I thought that, at least for now, I would write a whole new post about something that has nothing to do with Australia. And also not a lot about food.

It’s this wonderful little thing called Christmas Wonderland.

I find it very hard to explain…specifically because it is an indoor trail of decorated artificial Christmas trees. Each year, when the time comes to start installing the tired tree and re-used decorations, I become very excited and work incredibly hard for what ends up being a truly mediocre looking plastic plant.
But somehow, when you get 150 of these trees, along with a few incredibly talented ladies and a whole bunch of volunteers, the result is really quite mind-blowing.

Here are a few photos to get you in the mood…but please understand that these really don’t do it any kind of justice.

So if you can get to Birkenhead this weekend or next Thurs – Sun (between 12pm-10pm), you really must head to the Rawene Centre (33-35 Rawene Rd). If nothing else, there is a café upstairs with a gorgeous view of the city, right along with some delicious food…

Visit www.christmaswonderland.org.nz/ for all the info, including ticket prices.
This is a community event, with practically every worker you lay eyes on being a volunteer, and with all proceeds going to the Rawene Centre to aid in the continual work happening there each week. 

Let me know if you go, and what you think!
Peace y’all. 

29 August 2012

We no longer walk…but they’re still beautiful

Almost two years ago Katie (my sister) and I started walking. We decided to go 430km as a means of raising some money for, and the awareness of, the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia.
The work they do at the hospital is quite literally life-changing. They are saving girls from spending their lives in isolation…from being seen as a disgrace…and from being stuck in an incomprehensible life sentence.

If you don’t know what obstetric fistula is, here is a very quick description taken from our now non-existent website:
Obstetric fistula is the result of internal damage caused by a prolonged obstructed labour in childbirth, which can be five days or more. The baby will die and then the mother is faced with a life of permanent incontinence; continually leaking urine and sometimes bowel contents.
Like I said…incomprehensible.

We walked for 16 days (not non-stop) with our mum following in the car and providing sustenance and general helpful mum-stuff. We were given every night’s accommodation free, food vouchers, walking gear, petrol vouchers and on top of all of that, people gave over $33000. The whole thing went better than we had ever dreamed and we were both amazed and humbled by all that happened before, during and after this event.

As a tribute to this upcoming 2 year anniversary, I have put together a collation (which makes little-no sense whatsoever) of all 16 days worth of blogs…and with a total of 11886 words written all up, be glad that this is just a 1676 word snippet.
P.S. There is some fairly exciting news (for me) which is expressed at the bottom…but in order to get to this news you HAVE to read everything else…THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY TRUE, BUT IT’S JUST POLITE TO DO SO.

Day 1
Once at church, it felt quite celebrity like with cheers and clapping whilst we blocked our faces from the flashing cameras and outstretched arms of fans…
…The final song was ‘I Walk by Faith’ and then we headed out the door…
…As we continued on, Dad was following close behind…he was then lost…
…There were some awesome cows that met us on the way.

Day 2
I needed to go to the toilet but decided to hold on…but then I couldn’t any longer…so we crossed the road and just did it in the grass. Katie had the video camera out…
…We’ve done our hot and colds…
… after I screamed and she laughed…
Katie and I headed off (in the car) to a place called The Range where we played some baseball…Katie was good (like really cricket good) and I was bad (like bad).

Day 3
The morning involved Katie getting some scissors and cutting into my skin, trying to relieve some of the blister pain…
We then came across a sign that said it was going to be windy for the next 10km…so we decided to take a photo next to it to pretend we were excited about this…somehow Katie’s excited face turned into her looking high…
…when we did get to the bottom of that first hill we had one of our favourite times of the day – Lesley cookie eating time. These are, and I will quote myself on this, “the best cookies I have ever eaten”…
…It was then that a toilet stop was required…
… Katie: “oh – I don’t have the toilet paper”
Jo: “what?!”
Katie: “umm, it’s in the car”
Jo: “why?”
Katie: [giggling] “cause I took it out”
Jo: “cause it was heavy?!
Katie: “Haha”…
…I then decided that it would be a good idea to start singing ‘100 bottles of beer on the wall’. It seemed like a good idea until I got to the 98th bottle… so in order to get down to 0 I went in large increments, occasionally having 20 bottles of beer falling off the wall at once. For a reason unknown to me, Katie tried to put some bottles back on the wall…it didn’t work cause they were all broken.

Day 4
After hot and colds we went outside so that Katie could do a bit of cricket training…I smashed tennis balls at her with a tennis racket.

Day 5
Katie needed to take her Echinacea [which we say as U-CAN-A-SHA] (a natural remedy for colds) but when mum made that suggestion Katie thought she might instead have some euthanasia…
…we saw a very squashed possum…to which Katie noted, “wouldn’t it be gross if we got possum splattered all over us”. The answer to that is yes.

Day 6
Just a few hundred metres further on from this there was a large park and then, suddenly, this giant came running towards us whistling and yelling. At first we were confused, then slightly scared, and then when we realised it was Ollie Marino…
… Katie said, “I’m not voting for him, he looks like he’s about to die”…
… Katie is more a fan of preservatives.

Day 7
So we held on. Until the nearest bush…
It was at the exact moment that we arrived at the car Rachel and Helena managed to find their way to us without having to take a single step. Very clever…
…we just hung out, chatted and laughed at Katie’s awfully disgustingly dirty feet.

Day 8
7km into the walk 3 car loads pulled up next to us with a crew of walkers to join in…
Brothers Walk for Attractiveness handed Sisters Walk for Beautiful a cheque for $1300…
…we all chilled out on State Highway 1 for a bite to eat…
…Rachel, Nelly and Alex follow us back to our accommodation in the beautiful little town of Opua…
…While Katie and I endured hot and colds, they ate Lesley cookies and drank juice out of wine glasses to revive themselves…
…”it’s snowballed”…
…“no – skied”…
…Oh boy.

Day 9
Today is a joyful day…
we only had 9½km to do…
…Katie decided to start singing…so we sang loudly and waved our arms about…
…we made a wee stop (literally)…
…when I asked if I could throw the mouldy bread to the birds, mum questioned why I would want to throw away Maori bread.

Day 10
‘Happy Birthday’ to mum…
…‘May your day be filled with rainbows, fluffy kittens too, pretty flowers and chocolates, enough to distract someone as old as you’…
…we made a quick stop on a short bridge where Susie the eel lives.

Day 11
I got a call from Alison Pugh from Breakfast
…we either had to walk over this terrain for 13km or be crushed by a slip…
…There was also the option of being hit by a large truck on a small bend… 
…“why is there one truck going north and one going south, but they are both carrying logs?”. That is a good question…
…with the Mangamuka Summit presenting itself in all it’s glory…
…’What goes up must come down’…
…“this is the road that never ends, it goes on and on my friends, some people started walking it not knowing when it ends, and they’ll continue walking it forever just because…”.

Day 12
We made a stop...for one main reason which you are probably aware of…but also to strip off four of the five layers…
…Of course, once we got started walking again it poured down and we were back to square one…
…the little lamby baa’d and everything…
….I recommend being in hot water while the air around you is cold. It’s pretty much one of the best things out.

Day 13
The weather report for September 17th was not pretty…a storm was approaching and it was going to be big…
…for the second time on this trip, I stripped on State Highway 1…
…Would you rather be bald or have no eye brows? Jo – no eye brows. Katie – bald…
…Then we found some fossils…
…Something else that is quite concerning is Katie’s brain…
…“let’s console ourselves with a Lesley cookie”…
…Katie started losing her mind and she started talking as if she was a cow.

Day 14
We were very proud of ourselves until we looked at the photo and realised the sun had changed and that it now just looks like we are quite deeply in love with each other…
…Katie and I are in need of toilet stops throughout the day…
…The long bushy grass is the best option for visibility and comfort…
…mum joking about how painful it would be if we accidentally went toilet on the side of the road in gorse…
…At first I found it very amusing that we should have 120km/hr (75miles/hr) winds blowing at us…
…I soon did find that this was not as funny as first thought.

Day 15
We stopped…we stared…we screamed. I know it sounds insignificant and, quite frankly, stupid…but we saw a horse that we did not expect to be there…
…It was very amusing. And sad. But still amusing…
…Wana hear a joke?
KATIE: “Look! There’s an emu!...no wait…MOA!”
Dictionary.com definition of Moa: ‘…extinct since about the end of the 18th century’…
…It felt very ‘The Amazing Race’ like with Katie being all hard core and me being the slow one in which people yell at from their TV screens for letting the team down…
… Now picture with me, if you will, 60 metres of vertical sand below and a body board to aid you in your descent. In an ideal world, such as the one Katie lives in, you zoom down the hill at an extreme speed, make a thrilling entry onto the flat sand and then come to a brilliantly clean stop. In my world, the kind of world that has ones knee break while falling over relatively boringly while skiing, the path to the bottom is not so easy. I start a few seconds after Katie, I hear her excited scream, I let go of all inhibitions and I slide. I go very very fast and I smile and think I’m awesome. Then, suddenly, my view changes and I am now no longer in contact with my board or the sand…I am flying. The only thing which can follow is the landing...
Thankfully, it was my head that suffered the most so I’m all good to walk tomorrow…
…suddenly, the door to our room swung open and eight beautiful people stormed in…
if it had been just a few minutes either side of their raid any one of us would have been…nakies…
…then we parted ways as it was 9:15pm and that’s like crazy party late.

Day 16
The final day!...
…Rachel commented that she had already put her blisters on, and Ineke mentioned how she liked Robyn Palmer’s legs…
…we had two groups…the peloton…and Robyn…
...Ineke looked really really happy every time she drove past us…slowly…mocking us…
… And then we made it to Cape Reinga!...
…we were indeed finished and that is very much WAHOOO!!!...
…I then asked a couple of tourists if they wouldn’t mind taking a photo for us. They then made the mistake of asking, “Where have you walked from?”…
…The final Lesley cookie (of approximately 70) was broken and shared amongst friends…
…I’m thinking of walking to your house and calling it, ‘Jo Walks for Satisfying’…
…While I was eating my ice cream I decided it would be the perfect and most hygienic time to take off my blister pads…
…Katie’s goal: jab, stab and cut Jo’s blister until it pops and goo splurts out…
…She did this successfully and things such as, “it’s so juicy up there, you just see the water bubbles moving around” and “ew, Jo juice” were said…
The walk is now done. It feels a bit surreal…but it’s exciting to have made it and still be able to move. Thanks so much for your support…it’s been absolutely marvelous.

So there you go. 16 days of walking blogs all rolled into one. How enlightened you must feel.

Ok…so the exciting news I mentioned earlier…
On Thursday September 20, 2012 (which, by exceptionally brilliant chance, is exactly two years after the finish of the walk) I am taking the day off work…
On this day I plan on sleeping in slightly…
Maybe watching a bit of Paul Henry while eating breakfast…
I may then start getting showered and dressed…
Then I’ll walk to the train and head into town…
Once there I will make my way to Federation Square for a spot of lunch…

Yes indeedy…this amazing 86 year old lady who is still working almost every day of the week, is heading over to these here fine Australian shores and will be speaking at a few events. I’m all booked in. I’m all excited. And I’m all a bit nervous about the prospect of meeting this remarkable woman.

Let’s hi five.
And hug.

24 August 2012

These are a few of my favourite things…

I’m in Australia…and here are a few of the things which have made me smile:

1. News that my first day was the coldest in 4 years.
3. Masterchef omnibus.
2. Having a guy from my building walk with me on my first day to show me where the closest store was (since then I have realised there are stores much closer) because my apartment didn't have toilet paper...and I needed toilet paper.
4. The Ukrainian pensioner who walked with me in the rain telling me about St Kilda and what trams to catch to get to the city (where young people like me go).
5. Being surrounded by Aussie accents. All the time. It’s like a constant hilarious dream.
6. The fact that almost every time I drive somewhere (which is a fair amount) I’m against the traffic.
7. Having to give way to trams.
8. The food (blog on this will come).
9. Listening to newsreaders say NZ city names...“Waa-ka-tay-nay” (Whakatane)
10. Buying groceries at any of the numerous markets.
11. The ‘if we charge you the wrong price you get it free’ policy at Coles.
12. Being misunderstood all the time…I say ‘admin’, they hear ‘Edmond’
13. Ads…
On the telly - "like all good Aussie men, I like my toilet time"
On the radio – said by male: “down down…prices are down at Coles…including super tampons” 
The radio. It’s actually amazing. I’m by myself a fair amount…yet I laugh out loud on a frequent basis. It’s awesome…they are truly funny and are brilliant at mocking kiwis…
“I was moving house and one of the guys was a Mar-ree (Maori) called Terry, but he said it like Tiri.
‘Hey Tiri, why don’t ya grab ya chilly bin and jandals and get working’”

15. Increasing the Paul Henry fan club...
Kath: "would you buy one of these $10 airfares?"
Paul: "no"
Kath: "why not?"
Paul: "because I'd be sitting next to people who buy flights for $10...and I want to sit next to nice people".

03 July 2012


Now I know what you're all thinking...
'why doesn't Jo supply a cup of tea and sweet delight with her blog?'
Well the answer is...it's impossible. Seriously.
Can you imagine how rich I'd be if I could make food and drink come through your computer screen? That'd be ridiculous.
And anyway, you'd probably spill the cup and ruin your keyboard.

So, I am currently in 'the worlds most livable city' (according to one of those Compton/Coombridge type people who read it somewhere)...I'll be here for a little while longer so will let you know how true that is.
Except this will only be the fourth city I've lived in...and if my calculations are correct, there are about a jabillion cities in the world. So until I've lived in them all it may be a little unfair to rule them out.
In saying that...there's nothing wrong with being bias. So I'll just put it out there and say, the top four most livable cities in the world are (in no particular order):

Now you're thinking, 'why is Jo in Melbourne, yet sitting around writing blog posts called Babble, and actually just babbling?'.
Well the truth is, I lied a little.
I'm not actually in Melbourne...

...I'm currently sitting on a plane on my way to Melbourne.
I figured that as I won't be posting this until I'm there, I might as well use my power of predicting the future (according to a planned and structured timetable) to pre-empt where I'd be.
We've been flying for an hour now...it's 7:30am and, all going swimmingly (metaphorically), I'll be landing in 3 hours which will make it 8:30am.
Mind = blown.

Oh, and just a few things for your information...
#1. If you get a boarding pass with your gate number hand written on it, I'd suggest double checking before walking to said gate. It is likely they have written what looks somewhat like a 7 and absolutely nothing like a 16, despite gate 16 being precisely where you need to go.

Also, be aware that gate 16 is at the opposite end of the terminal to gate 7.

#2. When checking-in and being asked, "window or aisle seat?" and you respond "window please", it's best to keep expectations low as the literal meaning of 'window seat' may be, "a seat in which could have had a window if only one had been installed".

#3. When given two mini Toblerones by the nice duty free lady, don't put them in your pocket expecting:
1. You'll remember they are there
2. They won't melt.
Because both these things will happen.
And even though you've just had two sandwiches, you want chocolate because you were given it for free and you're on a plane. Then the lady one seat away from you, who thinks you're a bit on the odd side of normal after trying to crack a joke almost immediately as she sat down, will think you've lost something particularly important as you look through bags and jackets on the hunt for your Toblerone. You will then give up...figuring you must have dropped them on your way to gate 7. However, something makes you think twice and you check your jean pocket as one final act of hope. The mixed emotions that follow are along the lines of: relief, joy and satisfaction -> pain, despair and heartache, as you realize your chocolate bars are now milkshakes. Lucky for me, I love milkshakes.

Thanks for coming to the airport way too early familia!

K see yaaaa.

23 June 2012

It’s as if we didn’t plan it at all

Has anything ever not gone quite right for you?
Get out.

This weekend is all about things not going quite to plan.
Part of the problem was the actual lack of planning to begin with…
…then there was just the little bit of bad luck…
…a small incy amount of stupidity (on my part)…
…and maybe a bit forgetfulness.

Despite the hiccups, another four ticks have been added to my list and we’re now at 20/62.

Here we go…
Saturday morning was very relaxed.
Shuffling about home.
Eating breakfast while reading the paper.
All good things.
My mother and I took the dog to the beach for a walk. It was all far too lovely really.
But then, suddenly, I realised the time. It was 2:00…we hadn’t had lunch and the deli I wanted to go to for something different was closing at 3:00. I didn’t know what time our lunch destination closed…but surely not as early as that deli?! There was no time to take Jed home. So I drove…not knowing the address…relying on mum to know despite knowing nothing.

We were looking for a place called Pyrenees Deli on Remuera Rd. I knew they also had a deli and café…but that was in Mt Albert. Remuera Rd is quite long. And we truly had no idea. I stopped three times and asked numerous people. I finally got an answer from a guy in another café…we’d driven past it. About four or five blocks back. We raced back. Parked. It was very hard not to laugh a little when we did get to it…
…I was driving on the opposite side of the road just searching for the word Pyrenees. You can hardly see it in this photo. I had no chance.
Anyway…we got there at 2:30. Turns out I got a few things wrong.
#1. THIS was the deli and café.
#2. THIS actually closed at 3:30.
#3. The deli (in Mt Albert…where I was really wanting to go) didn’t close till 6:00.
But I bought some cheese (which was all the list said to do) and we went on our way.

We then had to find our way to the Pukeko Bakery in Parnell. Mum navigated perfectly and we arrived (I knew the address for this one) at 2:55.

They were closing at 3:00. Meaning the cupboards were a little bare.

But we got a few goodies and went to the Domain to eat them. We had a croissant (which we ate with our comté cheese), blueberry custard pastry and chocolate brownie.

Despite everything tasting wonderfully delicious (the brownie being my highlight), there was a hint of resignation as I realised, once again, I had made a bit of a boo boo. I picked up my list as I was munching on some blueberry delight and realised I was supposed to buy some of their ‘homemade artisan bread’. In the rush of the afternoon and the enticing remains of their pastry selection, I forgot what I was actually doing. Which, let's be honest, is a little annoying. 

Although frustrated with the world (because my problems are clearly very important), my mood lifted slightly (although possible not visibly) when my iPod shuffled, and this happened…
…*slash* this didn’t really happen. But I was tapping my fingers on the steering wheel with more enthusiasm than what had previously been displayed.

I then spent the evening cooking a meal using a few strands of the saffron I bought way back when.
I found a recipe for lamb tagine…from the quick look I had before printing, it seemed pretty good. Now don’t get me wrong…it was yums…to quote my dad, “this is good”…*a few minutes past*…“mmm, yes this is good”.
But there were two issues I had with this recipe…laziness and lying.
First of all, never write ‘combine the first 8 ingredients’…there are some people who can’t count and end up mixing the first 9 ingredients together. It’s not fair on those people. Whoever they are.
And secondly, DO NOT call your recipe a tagine if you don’t intend to use a tagine to cook it in.
Me no understando.

It was yummy though. The saffron truly does do magical things.

Then, this morning was a much delayed birthday breakfast for Niki. We were all to meet at Queenies Lunchroom in Freemans Bay at 8:00. I had this dream (not whilst sleeping…an actually ‘I-really-hope-this-happens moment) as I was on my way (an even better reason for it to not be while I was sleeping) that as I entered the motorway both Nelly and Niki would pull up next to me and we would all drive in together. Amazingly, about a kilometre later half my dream came true when Nelly pulled up beside me near the Harbour Bridge. It was so romantic.

We got to our destination and waited in Nelly’s car for Niki.
At 8:02 I txt Niki just to make sure she was all good and not lost. After some minutes has past and we had not heard back, nor had she turned up, we gave her a call.
The phone rang.
And then it rang some more.
Finally there seemed to be an answer.
Yet there was silence.
Then I heard a, “arhhh”
More silence.
That is all.
Very funny.
Happy Birthday Nicole!
We still ate…I had the Egyptian Kosheri (as the list said to) and it was wonderful, while Nelly had the smoked fish omelette.
Queenies is cute, delicious and full and hilarious amnesia-type memories.

And finally, back to the Pukeko Bakery debacle.
They have a stall up at the Glenfield Night Market so I just popped up there and got me some bread. Tick.

It’s as if we planned it this way

A few weeks ago, I was in a Facebook conversation with my good friends Niki and Nelly and we decided we should have a night of cooking the delights that are exposed in the little & friday cookbook (you’d think I was getting commission from them…but I’m not…although that is an excellent idea, thank you). Actually I take it back…Niki and I decided we should do this, and that it should happen at Nelly’s (and Alex’s) house. We then booked in a date and told Nelex what, when and where it was happening.
Lucky they like us.

Over the next weeks we remained in occasional contact about how the evening should play out. After some emails and an actual human to human conversation we chose to make four things…
Walnut pesto, caramelised leek, halloumi and roasted tomato galettes (Alex’s choice).
Orange & date scones (Please note: Both Niki and Nelly seemed reasonably excited about this choice)
Baked chocolate tart (it’s one of those ‘wow’ things)
Pistachio and cranberry biscotti (Nelly’s we-must-do-this-and-have-a-cup-of-tea-with-it choice)

So we met on after work on Friday, went to the supermarket and got our goods.

Headed back and had an incredibly enjoyable time cooking in a little kitchen on a friday.
I know.
You’d think we planned it that way.
But we were all amazed at the realization.
And then we took a photo.

Now we had to bake.
There were dishes, ingredients and people flying all over the place.

At times it seemed like pure mayhem. And surely mayhem couldn’t produce our desired results?
Surely with so many things happening at once, in such a small space, and with an oven which holds one small tray at a time and always requires longer cooking time than the recipe suggests, ridiculously delicious food could not be achieved?!

Well you skeptical wee thing…you’re wrong. Dead wrong.

The galettes were an outstanding success. Definitely my #1 of the night. A truly inspired concoction of genius.

Now to the story of the orange and date scones.
This is what happened.
Nelly and Niki took it upon themselves to make these.
They really did a brilliant job.
Nelly chopped the dates.
Niki zested the orange.
The mixture was combined.
The specially bought demerara sugar was sprinkled on top.
While they were in the oven Nelly commented on how excited she was about the scones…quote: “I’m actually so excited about the scones. I think I’m looking forward to them the most”
They came out of the oven.
Our two date & orange scone making queens are happy with their handiwork.
We sit down to eat beautifully fresh and crunchy hot scones.

First bites are had.
Mmmm mmmmm.
Then, as if to blow my mind with confusion, these words follows…
Nelly: “I don’t really like dates”
Niki: “Oh? I don’t really like orange”
Me: “WHAT!? But YOOUUU wanted to make these. YOOUUU were so excited.”
Nelly: “Nooooo”

Niki: “It wasn’t my idea”
Me: *stunned silence*
Nelly: “These would be really good if you liked dates and oranges”

Nelly's leftover scone bits
My brain physically hurts from what has just occurred.
I blame this hurt on the reason the following happened whilst playing Taboo…
Alex: “Umm…it crawls on the floor…it has six legs…”
Me: “Centipede”

Nelly & Niki: *constant laughter ensues*…all night.

Anyway, let us move on.

The next course was my kind of happiness in a sweet pastry shell. We cooked it for twice as long as the recipe stated (due to said oven), but it still did not seem quite right. It was very wobbly. We were told it would be wobbly but that it would set as it cooled.
We weren’t certain this was going to happen/were way too impatient to actually let it cool properly.
So when we dug in.
It was more of chocolate slop with gloriously crispy sweet pastry.
Thankfully I love slop.
Nelly & Alex struggled with the richness.
Niki and I licked our bowls.
Give me a mug of warm chocolate, butter and sugar any day.

The final course was probably all our least favourite. There was nothing wrong with the biscotti. But we were all very full and by this stage it was quarter to midnight…but with a cup of tea and a few more hours of conversation, we concluded the evening in fine fashion.

And in the words of Nello, “Four recipes in one night and feeling little & friday’d out, let’s do it all over again.”

16 June 2012

The Picnic, The Fish and The Dentist

Remember during Queens Birthday weekend how I ticked a whole bunch of things off my list, and you were amazed? Yea that was fun ay.
Anyway, I wrote that before the weekend was through, and I wasn't quite finished.

On a classically temperamental Auckland day, I was hoping the sun would give us it's love for long enough to enjoy a 'picnic in winter at the Auckland Domain'. The food of choice was Wisconsin Burger...but sometimes what you want doesn't matter, as for some peculiar reason they thought giving their staff the day off on a public holiday was appropriate.

So while Sarah had a mini breakdown, Naomi, Christie and I went about deciding what to do. We ended up grabbing cabinet food from the Coffee Club...let's just say, I'm glad the company was fabulous.
There we were...sitting on a blanket...eating food...at the Auckland Domain...in the winter. Tick.

And then just the other night, I convinced my mother and sister to join me for Thursday Night Live at the Auckland Fish Market. For $15.99 you can get a specified meal and glass of the house wine + live entertainment. Katie and I got that special and were very happy with our decision...I forgot to take note of what exactly it was, but I'm gonna call it delicious salmon on delicious spaghetti with delicious stuff.

Mum asked whether we thought she should get the entree or main size. After some consultation, Katie and I concluded that a main was indeed the best decision. And as that giant mound of salt & pepper squid arrived at the table, our hearts were aflutter at the realization that mother would need our support in the act of ensuring-food-is-not-wasted.

We then partook in a slice of dessert. And by slice I mean epic plate of yum.
The picture says all that needs to be said…but just in case you’re interested…it is:
Banana fritters + ice cream.
Warm chocolate brownie + ice cream.
Chocolate sauce.
Kit Kats.

Just before you go, I would like for you to imagine this scenario...remembering it is 100% hypothetical and absolutely did not happen to me.
You're at the dentist.
They inject your face with numbing liquid.
A tooth gets filled.
All is well.
The dentist hands you a cup of water to rinse out your mouth.
He tells you to take care as the numb part of your face won't be able to control the usual water-holding mechanism which comes naturally.
This amuses you as you can’t quite believe what he’s saying.
It then amuses you much much more as you realize he was so right as water flows from what you believed to be well sealed lips.
However, your head is placed square over the sink so there is nothing to fear.
Except increasing amusement.
And as the humour of the whole situation overcomes you…
…you drop the cup.
Water water everywhere.

I can’t believe you did that. What a crazy.

08 June 2012

The Big Wide World of Food Blogging

So I was just reading one of the blogs I follow...heartbreak pie...which lead me to this "blogger event thingee" called We Should Cocoa (which was created by Chocolate Log Blog and Chocolate Teapot)...which in turn lead me to the excitement of the fact that I could contribute to something food blogger-ish.
Cool story ay?

So each month food bloggers can submit a chocolate recipe (via their own blog...hence this post) which must use the special ingredient in it (which is specified by a food blogger somewhere out there). This month (June), that special ingredient is coffee.

So here I am...submitting a chocolate recipe using coffee in the month of June.

This recipe came from when I was living in America as an Au Pair. 'My youngest' found this recipe and, due to his great obsession with these cookies (he dressed up as one for Halloween), we made them immediately. Enjoy.


1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar                       
170g butter                                        
1 tsp salt                                             
1 tsp espresso powder
1 egg                                                    
1 Tbsp water                                        
1 tsp vanilla essence                       
1½ cups flour                           
¾ cup cocoa                                    
3 Tbsp sugar                                     
3 Tbsp cocoa                                                                        

1. Beat together sugar, butter, salt and espresso powder.
2. Beat in egg, water and vanilla, then flour and cocoa.
3. Roll dough (it will be very stiff) into even sized balls.
4. Combine the extra sugar and extra cocoa together, and then roll each ball of dough in it to gently coat.
5. Place balls on a lined and greased baking sheet and flatten with a flat bottomed glass (to ⅓ cm thick).
6. Bake at 165C for about 18 minutes (careful not to burn). Allow to cool completely.
7. Place a teaspoon of Oreo filling (below) in the centre of one cookie and gently squeeze another cookie on top to distribute evenly.
8. Repeat for all remaining cookies.

1⅓ tsp gelatin
2 Tbso cold water
120g  butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
2½ cups icing sugar

1. Soften gelatin in a cup with the cold water.
2. Place the cup in a larger dish with hot water and leave it there, stirring occasionally, while gelatin dissolves.
3. Meanwhile, beat together butter, vanilla and icing sugar (it will be very dry at first, but it will eventually clump together).
4. Add gelatin mixture and beat until smooth.

03 June 2012

The Greatest Blog of ALL Time

I know! Isn’t it amazing that this is the greatest blog of ALL time!? Don’t you just feel ridiculously privileged to be reading the greatest blog EVER?

In all truth, I just wrote that to see how many people would click onto it. Shame.

Anyway, I do have something to say. So feel free to read on if you’re not too angry at me with the trick tactics I used to get you here.

First of all, hi – it’s been a while.
I was starting to feel like this list thing just wasn’t going to happen. This whole going-to-Melbourne-for-a-couple-of-months thing threw in a bit of a spanner where I didn’t expect it. And I’ve been far too lazy to actually look at my list and go do something. But on Saturday, I awoke with great enthusiasm and great ideas for the day ahead. This day was going to be truly great. The greatest day of ALL time you might say.

It started off the way any great day should…sunshine and morning tea with stunning friends in the greatest café of ALL time.

This time we were at the Newmarket location of little & friday…not quite the same feel as the Belmont one…it’s still very cool and very unique, but the Shore is where it’s at. Nevertheless, I had to come here (and force my friends to also) in order to tick it off my list. And a doughnut was on the cards once again…this time, the classic cinnamon sugar glory.

Imagine the best cinnamon doughnut you’ve ever had…
…and then laugh in its face.
That’s right.

Niki had the rhubarb tart, I had me some bliss and Nelly had a risotto cake. I can tell you from previous experience that the tart is a true delight (not a sentence I had planned) and, from sampling on the day, the risotto cake was absolutely marvelous.
So yes, if you haven’t been to little & friday yet, you definitely should do something to change that. And you should almost certainly take me with you.

The list ticking was not over however. Not by a long shot.
I got home, quickly sorted out my life, and then headed to…the…LIBRARY.
As #3 of my list states, ‘go to the local library and spend a lazy Saturday morning perusing cookery books and get some inspiration for free before hitting the shops’. I may have cheated slightly…with not so much ‘perusing’, and was more ‘quietly rushing’. But I got in, took a photo of myself with chosen books (sunglasses make me unrecognizable, clearly, hence taking photo of oneself in library is less embarrassing)…
…and I got out before the clock struck midday. Saturday morning in a library looking at cookbooks – done.

This was then followed by a shop for the ingredients in which to cook for dinner. I also decided that it would be a grand time to buy some saffron and Heilala vanilla essence (also on my list). Pak ‘n’ Save provided the saffron and I E Produce supplied the vanilla. Now when I say ‘provided’ and ‘supplied’, I mean that I paid for them. And by ‘paying for them’, I mean I took out a mortgage.
Shelter is overrated anyway.

Once home, my talents were severely challenged when the smoker I borrowed off the wonderful Honores didn’t work. And by ‘didn’t work’, I mean Jo’s an idiot. As you can see, I can make fire. But fire is not smoke. And my list clearly states that I must smoke my own salmon, mussels, chicken and veggies.

A couple of hours later J-man rang to my rescue and informed me that those pans of fire need to go under the smoker in order to create smoke. It worked a charm. Almost too well in fact…my chicken cooked in about 10 minutes (not really the idea). Anyway, I smoked. I ate. I ticked my list.

Now you’re probably thinking, ‘Wow Jo, you’re so amazing…so many things in one day.’
Let me put a stop to that this instance. I’m not amazing.

I also made chocolate chunk cookies (from the little & friday cookbook, using Heilala vanilla)...it uses a wonderful amount of butter, sugar and chocolate (I had peanut butter chocolate on hand so figured it would be as good as any. Unless you’re allergic to peanuts. Then it would be very very bad).

They were easy to throw together.

And perfect with a cuppa (yes, I said it).
I’m not amazing…
…I’m incredible.
And you are more beautiful than words.