When your mojo vanishes…

photo-60 Something weird and wrong has happened in my universe. I can’t go into the kitchen at the moment, I can’t cook, I don’t want to read recipe books… I’ve lost my cooking mojo. I found this definition of mojo

Self-confidence, Self-assuredness. As in basis for belief in ones self in a situation. Especially in the context of contest or display of skill such as sexual advances or going into battle (author: or making dinner).

I was looking outside today at my garden (pictured above). I think this sums up where I’m at. This is what the garden looked like last year:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow it’s a friggin’ wasteland of weeds and half dead chilli bushes. I told my muse (husband), who is now on cooking duty, that maybe I’m gearing up for a mid-life crisis. The problem is, I can’t think of anything I would like to do, to mark such a crisis. A friend of mine is having twins at 50 years of age, another friend left her husband and found the love of her life, and yet another friend has decided to train as a kineseologist. None of these options appeal. I was thinking of a trip to Paris, but everyone does that. Plus, my birthday is in the middle of the tourist season. Then I thought about working in a hospital overseas, but I work as a nurse here, so it doesn’t really make much sense. I might just give up cooking, and sit morosely looking out the window for a week or two. I could pout, and look interesting, sip some wine and read a book. Except I still have to go food shopping, and clean the house (and tend to the pet ferrets) so that’s not going to work either.

Meanwhile, the release of my new e-book romance is getting closer. Maybe, I will have a little party to celebrate instead. That, and the return of the sun. I can’t remember the last time it stopped raining, or wasn’t grey outside. French Champagne. That might be the magic needed to pull me from my slump and bring back my mojo…

Let’s move on from condensed milk…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHmm, I’m feeling guilty about sugar today. I’m feeling bad about processed foods and carbohydrates too. I’m feeling bad that I haven’t been to pole dancing for a couple of weeks, and that I still haven’t joined the pilates class I’ve been talking about. I feel guilty that I don’t bound out of bed, eager to go nursing on the days I’m not writing, and that I often cancel my shifts when I don’t need to because I can’t face the patients whinging at me. I feel bad that I watch too much TV in the evenings instead of working on worthy craft projects, and that I like gin so much. I feel angry at myself that I bitch about people and that I never meditate, and that I haven’t saved more money in my life. Not to mention that my garden has run to rack and ruin, and is full of friggin’ weed and crap. Apart from that, it’s a gorgeous, nearly spring day outside today. I posted the photo of our markets in the city. They are awesome. Every week I feel bad that I go to Woolworths instead to shop…  I should go for an afternoon walk now, but I think I might lie down and have a little nap instead. I’m exhausted!!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Sauce for Ice Cream

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve just been watching the news, and seen the heatwave in some parts of America. It’s scary stuff to be caught in. We went to a New Year’s Eve party at a hotel two years ago, and the temperature was still 40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit) at midnight. The hotel went into meltdown, with the air conditioning failing. Needless to say, we left early, and went home. It’s not much fun having sweat coming off the end of your eyelashes! So my thoughts are with the people in those areas, even though it is 4 degrees this morning (39 Fahrenheit). It’s also the final day of the Summer Blog Hop. It’s been so much fun collecting new recipe ideas from fellow writers. I’m going miss it! So, to finish up, I’m doing a dish with no garlic. It’s not one I make too often, because once made, it doesn’t last very long (in other words, I eat it all).


175ml of thick cream

100g chopped up milk chocolate

100g smooth peanut butter

3 tablespoons of golden syrup

Method: Put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Stir over a low heat until melted together. Once cooled, either eat it all directly from the saucepan, or spoon it over ice cream. Consume in the shade. Yuuummmmmm.

Spicy Chicken and Herb Salad

IMG_0173 I grew up in a cold climate, Wellington, New Zealand, to be precise. I think it is officially the windiest place on the planet, along with being one of the hilliest. An average summer’s day would be around 18 degrees, and my sister and I would go to the local swimming pool come rain, shine or hail. It was summer! Needless to say, we didn’t eat a lot of salads, which is one thing I love about living here. So, without any further ado, here is today’s recipe, which you can once again, adjust totally to your own tastes.


1 tablespoon of olive oil

500g chicken mince (that’s about a pound I think)

3 crushed cloves of garlic

2 chillies, chopped

1 and a half tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

1 red onion, thinly sliced (Spanish onion)

Mint leaves

Coriander leaves

Basil leaves

Method: Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Cook the chicken mince until brown, being sure to break up any lumps with your spoon. Add the garlic, chilli and cook for 1 minute. Stir through the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. To serve, toss through the greens and the red onion.



Greek Potato Salad

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA When I was growing up, potato salad was made with mayonnaise. Rich and creamy, it was one of my favourite summer dishes, until I tried this version at a Greek friend’s house. It is much lighter for summer, and perfect for meals in our heat, when it is dry and hot, and you don’t really feel like mayonnaise (well, I probably always feel like mayonnaise, but this is a great alternative!) You can adjust the dressing to your taste, and I have used spring onions, instead of white onion, which is just as good.


5-6 medium-large potatoes

3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup of lemon juice

3 cloves of garlic, crushed (you didn’t think I’d chose a recipe without garlic!)

1 large white onion

sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup of freshly chopped parsley

Method: Cut the onion into thin slices, then cut slices in half. Peel the potatoes, cut into large bite-sized pieces (try to get them the same size). Place into a saucepan of boiling water, until you can pierce them easily with a fork (approx 15 minutes). Drain when they are cooked, and place in a serving bowl, with the onions, and toss.

The dressing is made by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. You can whisk it together, or put it in a large, screw top jar, and shake it until it combines. It will look a bit cloudy, and check that it suits your own tastes at this stage. Pour this dressing over the potatoes, while they are still warm. It will let the dressing absorb a little into the potatoes, giving the dish more flavour. You can serve it warm, at room temperature, or cold. Enjoy!

Tomorrow’s recipe will be a spicy chicken and herb salad. See you then.

French 75


Sydney. A city of enchantment and dreams. It really is a magical place. In honour of this great city, and all that it taught me, I am going to post my favourite cocktail recipe today. It contains two essential food groups – champagne and gin. Tomorrow, my mind will return to South Australia, and I will  post a potato salad recipe! Until then, happy dreams…


15ml gin

15ml fresh lemon juice

15ml sugar syrup

Ice (for the cocktail shaker)

Chilled champagne

Method: Pour the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup over the ice and shake it like there is no tomorrow. Pour into a champagne flute, then top with champagne.


Summer Pasta

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve lived in Melbourne and Sydney, which are two major cities here in Australia. Melbourne is very elegant, classy, groovy, and has a large Greek and Italian population. There is a lot of rivalry between these cities, but hands down, they are both winners for me in the food stakes. I can remember it getting so hot in Melbourne, one summer day, that the local council left the swimming pool open all night, so people could cool down for free. Here is a summer pasta recipe I first tried in one of the cafes in Melbourne.


1 tablespoon olive oil

6 rashers of bacon, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

6 spring onions, chopped (not sure what these are called elsewhere. They are like tiny leeks)

1 cup of artichoke hearts (I use tinned), chopped in half

1/2 cup of seeded black olives, halved

1/2 cup shredded fresh basil

1/2 cup of sliced sundried tomatoes

Handful of rocket, or baby spinach

2 cups cooked fettuccine

Method: Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the bacon and garlic, and cook until bacon is how you like it. Stir in the other ingredients, until warm, then add the pasta and rocket. Stir through. With this recipe, you can adjust it to how you like it. My husband puts cream, and tomato paste in the dish, before he adds in the pasta. We’ve used other pasta besides fettuccine, which are just as delicious. I like to garnish it with Parmesan cheese, and often will add a Spanish onion to it as well. It’s a very flexible, tasty recipe. Perfect for a warm summer’s night.


Tomato Rolls and a Tasty Dip

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We have hot, dry summers here in South Australia, so these two recipes make a lovely lunch time meal, without heating up the kitchen. The feta dip is a recipe shared with me by Michelle, who runs a wonderful little wine bar in Adelaide with her husband Travis. It’s called Cork Wine Cafe, and if you are ever in this neck of the woods, you should check it out (https://www.facebook.com/corkwinecafe) My muse (hubby Craig) and I spend a lot of summer evenings there, sitting outside, watching the world go by. Enjoy!



Small bread rolls


Garlic, crushed

Basil, shredded

Olive Oil


Method: I get the freshest, squashiest rolls around and cut them in half. Then I dice the tomatoes into small pieces, and toss them in a bowl with crushed garlic (depending on your taste), a good glug of olive oil and lots of salt. I like to cut the basil through the tomatoes, but you could use any other herb you like. If I am making this for myself, I would probably use 1-2 big tomatoes, one clove of garlic and about six basil leaves. It’s like making a salad for the inside of the rolls. Mix it well, then pile it into the bread. Delicious, and utterly easy.




250g packet of feta cheese

2 cups of cooked peas (I use frozen peas, then just boil them)

Mint leaves (use depending on how much you like mint)

Juice of a lemon

Lemon rind (a few strands)

2 cloves crushed garlic

Method: Put it all in the food processor and blend! Store in the fridge and use as a dip on crackers, or I have even used it stirred through warm pasta. You can experiment with the quantities of peas and lemon juice that you use, as it is really based upon taste. Some feta cheese is more creamy than others too, so if it is a bit crumbly, then I might add some olive oil, or even some sour cream, to get it to a smoother consistency.

Cold Avocado Soup

Noumea 010 I’ve posted this photo of a holiday we spent in Noumea, New Caledonia, from a couple of years back, to get me in the mood to write about summer food. Noumea was one of those dream destinations, where you imagine endless palm trees, blue sea and French speaking locals and tourists. It was kind of like that, except there were sea snakes (!), it was soooo expensive, and the French tourists around the pool were all bronzed gods and goddesses, leaving me and my hubby feeling like big Aussie lumps that would glow in the dark. Anyway, the supermarket was fantastic – wall to wall French red wine, and endless varieties of pate, and big, long loaves of crusty french bread.  Food-wise, it was fabulous. Which brings me to my recipe for today. It’s very healthy, but tasty too. Even my husband will eat it, which says a lot…


3 small ripe avocados

1 Lebanese cucumber (I’m not sure what they are called elsewhere, they are the small cucumbers)

1 green capsicum, seeds removed

1 peeled red onion (also known as a Spanish onion)

2 gloves of peeled garlic

2 cups cold water

1 bunch of coriander (also called cilantro)

Juice of 1 lime

Sea Salt to taste

Method: I just put everything in the blender and blitz it until it is a smooth soup. Then I chill it for about four hours, and serve it with a dob of sour cream on top. After a bowl of this, your immune system will be fighting fit! Enjoy.


Cold Cucumber Soup

summer-chillin-button-1Welcome to the first recipe in the Summer Chillin’ Blog Hop. Thanks for coming by. One of the lovely things about living in Australia, is the huge diversity of backgrounds people come from. One of my best friends is Greek, and she first showed me how to make this soup at a family Christmas. It might seem like a strange combination, but even my friend Jim, who comes from China, loves it. It seems to cross a lot of cultural barriers with a simple YUM. It’s really easy to make too. Enjoy!


2 medium cucumbers

2 cups of Greek yoghurt

2 cups of chicken stock (I use a powdered stock, mixed in cold water)

1 large garlic clove, crushed (add more if you like garlic)

3 tablespoons of chopped dill

1 cup of chopped walnut pieces

Salt to taste

Method: Grate the cucumbers into a bowel. Add the yoghurt, chicken stock, dill and chopped walnut pieces. I use a whisk to blend it together, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Add salt to taste, and serve with crusty bread and a glass of sparkling wine. Delicious…

That’s my recipe for today. I’m aiming to post recipes that are easy and tasty, with ingredients that should be available in most places. Tomorrow, I’m going to share my cold avocado soup, that is bursting with flavour and nutrition. Don’t worry though, down the track there will be my mum’s recipe for chocolate peanut sauce, and my favourite cocktails!