Monthly Archives: January 2014

Kitchen Inspiration: 12 Ideas


I love food. I love reading about it, cooking with it, eating it, the slicing, stirring, inhaling, tasting, stirring again. I love the fact that there is always more. More to learn, more recipes, more good foods to try. But sometimes I cook the same meals week in and week out and go mad with boredom and give my oven the silent treatment. I neglect my kitchen appliances that I was previously devoted to. I get too lazy to organise my bake-ware properly so my cupboards turn into bake-ware jungle. But hey? I thought I loved food and all of the cooking? Sometimes you need some fresh inspiration to pick you up and make you fall in love all over again. These are my go-to’s. Do one of them, or five of them today. Make a week of kitchen inspiration.


incorporate – Do you have a fun kitchen appliance solicit xeloda cost – waffle maker ice cream maker ect – that’s gathering dust? Make a date with your appliance. Sometimes we don’t use these things because they don’t fit the mould of our regular kitchen schedule. Make Sunday waffle day. Or find a new recipe to try with your appliance. (Personally, I’m hanging out to make these). еnsure – Read yummy, drool-inducing food blogs prednisone price reveal . I love Jessica’s blog. Just her photo’s are enough to have me running to the kitchen. And I just came across this blog which is worth checking out.

measure – Hit up your library! (Yes, they still exist). If you have a good library, like the one I’m privileged to work in, there will be an abundance of cookbooks. Pick three or five books at random and take them home to pour over. Try some different ones: vegetarian, French ect.

– While you’re in the library, try a cook you’ve never tried before. I’m a big fan of Jamie Oliver, Nadia Lim, Mary McCartney, Jo Seagar, Rachel Allen, Sophie Gray, Annabel Langbein, Rose Elliot, Madhur Jaffrey, Julie Le Clerc and David Herbert.

– Read an autobiography. I’m reading Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl at the moment and its blowing my mind! Reichl was a New York Times food critic and man she’s good. It made me go out and eat Japanese. I’m making Thai noodles tonight. I also want to read Julie & Julia (by Julie Powell) or My Life in France (by Julia Child).

– Go for a stroll and buy a magazine. I love Taste (NZ) magazine, Healthy Food Guide has some pretty interesting articles, Jamie magazine (more Jamie!) is great for trying something different.

– Get a recipe book stand and have a recipe book always displaying a yummy recipe in your kitchen. And start a recipe collection, either in a recipe box or folder, collect your favourite recipes and always write down new things you’ve tried! (And always make notes about what you change in a recipe so you know for next time).

– Set yourself a challenge! My challenge this year is to make 100 vegetarian dinners. Maybe your challenge will be to bake a cake every week or try two new recipes every month.

– Read travel books. Travel + food just work together and one can inspire the other. Reading about someone’s trip to Spain or someone’s life in NYC will open your mind to new ideas. And travel guide books with big, beautiful pictures = instant inspiration.

– Eat out! (I know I just posted about cooking meals at home instead of eating out but you have to do it sometimes, right?) Go out for Japanese, French, Mexican or Thai and try something you’ve never had before. It will awaken your senses.

– Go exploring in your town and find a foodie shop you’ve never been in before. Buy one thing and and find a recipe to use it in. Speciality food shops can be so much more interesting and pleasant than supermarkets and often you get much better quality food and stuff that you couldn’t buy at the supermarket.

– Clean out your pantry! You’re all groaning, I know. But seriously, nothing (almost nothing) makes me feel more inspired to cook than a clean fridge and an organised pantry. Are you weird like me? Plus you might find some interesting ingredients lurking at the back behind the empty cereal boxes.


Six Ways to Save in 2014


Get yo’ apron on. This year, make it your mission to learn to make some of your favourite things to eat out, at home. I love nothing more than a good eggs benny. Really. Cook me some eggs. This year I want to learn how to make hollandaise, because hey, eating out is expensive (and while I LOVE eating out, its not something we do a lot because making really yum food at home is so much more satisfying and guilt-free). I also want to learn how to make an amazing, authentic(ish) curry. This week or next I’m going to make Jamie O’s Tikka Misala. I’m already drooling. What is a dish that you love? Pancakes? A good steak dinner? It is absolutely possible to learn how to make  these. It may take a few burnt pancakes but that is how you learn to cook. No truer statement has been said on this blog. The only way to learn to cook is by doing. Also, if you have a good recipe, it rarely fails. So, are you with me?

Grow some food at home. Do you have a lavish garden full of produce? Sprawling plants, shiny tomatoes, a bounty of crops? Yes. Good. You’re doing yourself a million favours (roughly). Having a garden takes time and lots of love (it really does) and some investment at the start, but it isn’t expensive to maintain and what you come away with massively out-ways the starting cost. You can contribute to your year round supply of food as well as basically living off your veg patch in the summer. I don’t have a lavish garden but I think gardening is like many things, you have to start small and work your way towards something really good. Along the way, you learn the tricks of the trade, time-savers, how not to kill things and what to do when you suddenly have about 200 ripe tomatoes.

If you don’t have a garden, or a big garden, that’s OK, What you can do is start. No matter what time of year it is, you can start. Start by making a plan, what resources do you have available? Do you have a garden plot, space to put one in, or space to set up a container garden? Here’s one instance when size doesn’t count. You can grow something in anything. My first garden was half a mussel float. Buckets work well. Whatever is available, use that. You can always expand later. Don’t aim to start with a lot of plants. They all need care and lots of water, the less you have the less work there is to do. I like to plant tomatoes (duh), herbs, lettuce, cabbages like pak choi, spinach, peas and beans. Even a small herb garden will add something to your pantry. You don’t need many tools, a hose makes life bearable, and a garden fork is needed if you have real dirt to work with. Figure out where you can set up a small garden, start putting a few dollars aside for some seeds seedlings (foolproof) and tools and aim to have a small, but rewarding garden next spring summer.


Preserve food for the future. One great thing about having a garden is that you get a large output of produce. Tomatoes that you run out of ideas what to do with. This is when you go and find your classic Edmonds cookbook and choose your recipe to turn crops into culinary delights (if you don’t have one, make it your mission to get one. I doubt you will need another cookbook – hit up second-hand book shops, markets, Trade Me). My go-to is an everything relish (chutney) which is very simple to make and can be used in everything from muffins, to pasta, to BLT’s. Also, learn how to use your freezer. Think carefully about what leftovers you put in the fridge – are you going to eat them tomorrow or the day after. If not, freeze them. Date and label what ever you put in the freezer. Once every month or so go through your freezer and see what goodies you have.

Tomato Relish



Hello friends! I just spent three rather spiffy days in Christchurch. (Actually one of those days was mostly spent on a train looking at pretty scenery and watching NZ go by). For those of you who don’t know Christchurch is the third biggest city in New Zealand (population wise at around 340,000 people). In February 2011 the city was completely trashed by a shallow 6.3 earthquake. This was probably the scariest natural disaster to happen in NZ in my lifetime and in a long time in general. 185 people died in this earthquake which is really hard to comprehend (sadly, mostly from one building collapse). Anyhooo…so I hadn’t been to Christchurch in about five years, but an opportunity came up to go with my friend. So we did. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but it was a sad and happy experience. The city is incredibly beautiful and green with masses of parks and trees. We had a lot of fun exploring, eating real fruit ice creams and just eating in general and not getting lost.

Aisha had never been to Christchurch (she’s from Germany) but I had been lots before so the hard part for me was that nothing at all was familiar. I didn’t get my bearings until just before we left. We walked right up to a backpackers (hostel) I stayed at several times without evening realising I knew the area well. (The backpackers was all fenced in and covered in graffiti and I was overwhelmed at that sight more than anything else). The city is recovering slowly but is full of empty lots and there are road cones and fencing along every street (A lot of the fencing has been decorated like in the photo below which is really cool). I think about 70% of the buildings in the CBD were demolished (or collapsed) so its quite strange, not really having a central point to the city. So its a bit of ghost town, a bit like a movie set and a bit sad. But I do recommend you visit because there is lots to see and lots of people doing cool things to try and bring the city’s spirit back. Those Cantabrian’s are a bunch of fighters and it makes me proud to be a Kiwi. I could have taken a hundred photos of crumpled buildings, sagging houses and ruins but I didn’t. If you want to see more or read more of the earthquake, Google as usual is your friend.


ABM_1390697411Our super cute backpackers (recommend!) and Vinnie the resident cat.


The temporary container mall. So much good food down this street.








On our last night we went to this little Japanese restaurant called Dose, Izakaya Bar and I ate a silly amount of food. I’m actually a little bit drooling at the tempura in that photo. Best tempura I have had. Can’t get you out of my head. I also drank some really nice Marlborough wine which I hadn’t had before called The Maker (Sauvignon Blanc) which I plan to hunt down the next time I’m in the supermarket but I bet they either don’t sell it there or its expensive.

Have you been travelling recently? Tell me about it!


100 Days of Veg: Lemon & Feta Spaghetti


Hello! And happy sort-of midweek. I’m on holiday and its raining. That’s OK. Tomorrow we’re going to Christchurch. We’re going via the train. Can’t wait! This year I want to cook lots of vegetarian food, not because I’m a vegetarian, but because vegetarian food is made up of all the good things. This is a recipe I made this week and its also from Food. And it has cheese in it. Can’t go wrong with cheese, in my book. I’m noticing a bit of a trend re vegetarian food – its really easy to make! This meal required minimal cooking and only used one pot! I’m really really into food and food that doesn’t have a full cast of dirty dishes at the end is my best friend.

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So here’s the recipe. I’m not privileged enough to own a copy of Food yet, but its right at the top of my list for must-haves. I’ve made a ton of things from it and it really is the prettiest book too. You should get yourself a copy stat (no-one told me to say that).

Courgette and Lemon Spaghetti

Of Gardens and Griddle Cakes

DSC04170 Its Sunday, the end of the day. That time of the day between finishing work and making dinner. Its a good time. Especially at this time of year when the sun is still shining and you can have all of the doors and windows open. I will go outside after writing this and pick some tomatoes (they’re starting to ripen!). I don’t have the ‘ugh its Monday tomorrow sigh groan’ standard Sunday afternoon feeling because I’m now on leave for a week. Its the last week that Aisha is staying with me, which feels both exciting, because I’ve got the week off, and really bizarre and sad. Six weeks was not long enough lady! We’re going to make the most of the week though. I can’t wait.

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Dinner tonight, a cooling river on a hot day, throw-together-from-the-pantry dinner on Friday (pasta, tomato sauce with basil, cheese). 

Aside from taking a week out to be in holiday-mode, I’m currently in limbo as I wait for a few big dates to roll around. February. February is going to be something. I can’t reveal all yet because there are a few people who must know before the internet does, but its going to be scary and really exciting! Have you got something great planned for next month? Are you taking time to go and see, learn something new, be with someone lovely or just to do something for you? Its easy to fall into the day to day rhythm of life and forget some of the super important stuff – taking time out for you, time to be outside, time to have hugs, time to cook something you wouldn’t normally  take the time to cook, time to write or play or make. These are the things that should be day to day. Don’t forget that.

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In the first photo, my lilly is starting to flower. I swooned when I saw that little burst of white. Lilly’s are weird. They can go for a time without flowering, which makes it more, ahem,  ‘swoon-worthy’ when they do.  And just there, that’s one delicious breakfast I recently had, at Paula’s Plate. I love going out for breakfast, having something with berries and actually getting fresh, tasty berries. So good. Also, griddle cakes! What on earth are they? I should know that right. But anyway, they tasted so good. That’s all that counts. Yep.

And lastly, the infamous flailing tomatoes, for your viewing pleasure. I think they’re sexy. Go cook make do be something super and tell me about it! (I’m in Twitterland too. @happypantry14). Stay cool peeps! (literally, coz it’s way too many degrees outside).

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Lets Make Bruschetta


This is what I do in the summer. Eat tomatoes on stuff or in stuff or just by themselves. You’re probably noticing a trend. You’re probably massively over me ranting about tomatoes. You’re all like, there are other vegetables too, Laura – fruits, it’s a fruit isn’t it? Well, there are, but its summer. Summer basically translates to tomatoes. Anyway. Even you can make bruschetta. Its basically the best.  You can serve bruschetta for breakfast (I would!), lunch, as a a starter or side for dinner, as hors d’oeuvres, or take it along to a dinner party, or lets be real, a BBQ. Everyone will think your top notch. You can impress your in-laws or your new boyfriend (giggle) or simply make it ‘cos its yum. And good for you. And really easy.  So, all together now, lets make bruschetta.

You need lots of tomatoes, basil, oil (olive if you want to get serious about things but something like canola works fine), salt and pepper (ground). You can add garlic if you’re into that but its not essential. Oh yes, and you need bread. A French stick or similar.


As a starter or side, for two, make 8 – 10 pieces. Slice up your French stick on a diagonal, about 2cm thick. Make as many slices as you fancy to feed your crowd. Lay your slices out on an oven tray and grill until golden brown (watch they don’t burn!). Turn them over and grill  on the other side. Nice and golden and crispy.


Three tomatoes is the minimum. Six  or seven will make enough for a whole French stick, which will be enough for your swanky dinner party.  Cut your tomatoes in half and scoop out the seedy flesh. Then dice your halves into small, 1cm pieces and pop them in a bowl. Slice your basil leaves into ribbons and add to the bowl (5 – 8 leaves). Measure 1 – 2 tablespoon of oil, add to the tomatoes and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well. (You can also add 1 – 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic at this point).


Lay out your bread slices on a platter or big wooden board. Spoon tomato mix onto each slice. Lets make them look pretty. Serve and eat. Now tell me you don’t like my friend the tomato.