Sunday, October 31

the last bake

My final vegan bakeathon for the year.  Almond meal and raspberry jam drops and mandarin almond muffins. A farewell afternoon tea for our neighbour. 

Saturday, October 30

balingup day tripper

One of my favourite day trips in the south-west is to leave behind the flat coastal plain and take the back roads over hill and down dale to the charming town of Balingup.  For a small place, there is ample to satisfy all of my culinary and consumption needs, with nature only a short stroll away.  It is resplendent in spring and autumn, with roadside planter boxes bursting with tulips and crepe myrtle or gold, red and yellow leaves crunching underfoot.  A typical visit might go something like this:

Browse the antique and bric-a-brac shops, trying to resist filling the boot with tins, tea cups, baskets, boxes and miniature Vespas. Do I need a pressure cooker?



Buy some local organic produce from a gourmet deli, or join a cooking workshop at Taste of Balingup.

Sit down for a leisurely lunch at one of many cafes, or grab a loaf of warm, crusty loaf from Fre-Jac French Bakery and head to the Golden Valley Tree Park for a picnic.

Perhaps swing high on an old tyre, or admire some artwork.

Then fuel the trip home with a soy latte or chai at  Balingup Bronze, a gluten free cafe serving organic coffee and possibly the regions best selection of T2 leaf teas.

Friday, October 29

petra olive oil estate & bruschetteria

It is a real pleasure to explore your own back yard, especially in the quieter months when the staff have time to chat, and the pace is more genteel.  On a bright winter's day in August, my dear friend Jane and her dog Gypsy took me on an outing to Petra Olive Oil Estate.

Located on a rural back road near Yallingup, the new tasting room and cafe was flooded with winter sun, and we delighted in the warmth while overlooking a small lake, stands of peppermint and marri trees, lavender hedges and of course, olives.  The estate grove has 1200 trees of six different Italian, Spanish and Greek varieties, chosen for their suitability to the region's climate and soil, and for the quality of the oils they produce. I can promise you, they chose well.

We tasted the full range of  farm-pressed virgin oils, dips, spreads and condiments as an entree before ordering a lunch spread fit for an Italian king.  As the name would suggest, a bruschetteria specialises in bruschetta, and not your average soggy white bread with a salsa of tasteless tomatoes and white onion, but dense, chewy Yallingup sourdough, toasted and drizzled in olive oil and served with your choice of spreads from the deli. On our platter was kalamata olive tapenade, basil pesto and roast capsicum  dip.  Unctuous dollops of fresh punchy flavour.  It is  the kind of food that encourages sharing and snacking, accompanied by smooth coffee and dreams of Tuscany.

In addition to bruschetta, the lunch menu includes a selection of smart, simple Mediterranean food that celebrates the culinary uses of olive oil.  Also on sale are a range of  natural olive oil skin care products.  I bought a pot of Gardeners Cream for my busy hands.  Busy eating bruschetta.

Trading Hours : Wednesday to Friday 10am to 5pm; Saturday & Sunday breakfast from 9am

Wednesday, October 27

feffakookan : mel robson ceramics

I have a soft spot for ceramics and each year on our wedding anniversary I buy a small piece for my infant collection.  This year we were in Melbourne and I welcomed into my life a beaker made by Tara Shackell, purchased at Craft Victoria.

The first piece to grace my home was a bright red raku fired bowl by Fremantle artist,  Njalikwa Chongwe.  I saved up tip money from a whole summer of waitressing, and visited my bowl in the gallery often to stroke its smooth belly and whisper that I would be back.  I took it into my possession and it was so happy in our entry hall, with pride of place on the sideboard, high above the concrete floor...then in a tragic display of darling husband knocked it.  I somehow managed to move on through the pain; Tom is still suffering.

 At the top of my wish list is a bowl or four by Brisbane ceramic artist Mel Robson, who's whimsical and  delicate pieces are imbued with her fingerprints, sketches and handwriting.

I share her obsession for maps, recipes and text, and the combination of these and fine porcelain makes me giddy with joy and desire. 

See more of her work, thoughts, and creative process on her beautiful blog, feffakookan.

All images courtesy Mel Robson

Tuesday, October 26

full moon folly

I was waiting on the beach for Aquaman to return from a late afternoon surf, when I thought I'd play around with the full moon, a slow shutter speed and a burst of twirling.  I do love a good bit of photographic frivolity.

treacle tuesday : bunting

Bunting is making a comeback, at least in my realm of focus.  There are even DIY kits available for those that are creatively challenged.  There is something nifty about making your own decorations.  It harks back to winter days when Nana and I would make a room full of paper chains in preparation for Christmas.

The world is full of bunting when you start looking.  Beautiful bunting beyond the likes of car yards and race tracks.  Like this image from Natalija, a creative soul who recently settled into an enviable life in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. 

photo by Natalija Brunovs
The desire to cut paper triangles resurfaced in June when I sat buntingless and followed Pia Jane Bijkerk as she created a magic window display in an Amsterdam bookshop for the launch of her book, Amsterdam: Made by Hand.

photo by Pia Jane Bijkerk

photo by Pia's French boy
photo by Pia Jane Bijkerk
 Inspired, I dug out some "prayer flags" I made last year, remodeled them into triangles and behold, bunting.

On a roll,  I bought four packets of crepe paper from our little shop on the eve of my big B, cut out triangles and stapled them onto thick fishing line.  Not fancy, but very cheap. There wasn't many colours to choose from, so I went with the patriotic Indonesian flag colours.  Red and white ; brave and pure.

They looked splendid against the lontar leaf thatching in our neighbours open air hut. 
What's a party without decoration? 

Saturday, October 23

the big B

It's my birthday.

Good excuse for a spot of twirling and leaping.
Got up when there was still a 4 at the front of the digital display to watch the moonset over the lagoon. Aquaman left me for the dawn patrol, and I went back to bed with a cuppa and a book.  I refuse to acknowledge the number associated with the big B-Day, instead convincing my consciousness that I am in fact getting younger. 

I am now the same age that my mum was when she had me.

I still hate cooked peas and rockmelon, and love to dance and spin like a child.  My spirit is always in a hurry, but crippled by time sickness, afraid I'll get to the end of life with unfulfilled dreams.  My ego fights between the now and the have, and the when and the want.  I can sleep like a koala and eat more greens than I'd imagined possible.  I am healthier than I was ten years ago, and despite a life of sun-loving, the sunscreen and moisturiser is paying dividends.  I have more grey hairs than I'm comfortable with, and they seem to wink at me in the morning sunlight, teasing me to confront the passing years.  I am slightly better at letting go of expectation, but in doing so feel I have lost some of my power of aspiration.  I get bored faster than ever and flit between projects like a plate spinner.  Life's inbox will always be full.

I made some bunting and baked vegan chocolate and almond mud cake muffins for a little party (recipe below). I finally got to use the adorable sugar flowers my dear friend Louise brought over last year.  The  merrymaking was held next door at Tinggi's because he has two maids and I have none.  This means I could make a fabulous mess and not have to clean it up.

Along with delicious cup-cakes, we drank almond milk mocha frappucinos and ate pancakes with jam.

Lounged around in the heat and talked about surf and wind and off-season adventures.

And then it was over.  I don't like when things are over.

Aquaman hit the waves for a second session and the steel grey clouds gathered.


I played in the rain while a pot of lentils burnt on the stove.

Selamat hari ulang tahun - happy birthday to me. 

vegan chocolate mud muffins

makes 12 large muffins
3 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar (I like a mix of dark and regular)
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1 1/2 cup water or soy milk
3/4 cup vegetable/coconut/olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla essence or one vanilla pod scraped

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bi-carb.  
Stir in almond meal and sugars.
Mix together wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients.
Stir until well combined.
Pour into greased muffin tins and bake for approx 30 minutes at 180 degrees C.
Let cool on rack before serving.
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