Food glorious food!

Every so often I get together with two gal pals and cook up a storm and this year’s “MasterChef Southwest” was no exception. One of my friends gives the run down – with pictures! – on her blog:  http://twentyeightacres.typepad.com/blog/2013/06/masterchef-southwest.html. Such a fun time had by all!

Fabulous foodies
Recipes, love and laughter
Sweet southwest escape 

© Leah Dowsett 2013

 

 

Kitchen planning

I’m hoping to renovate my kitchen/dining area later this year and have been working on my “vision board” today to clarify what I really want. I know for sure that I want something beautiful as well as practical. I want a place I will love to work and be creative in, but I also want it to be a warm and inviting place for friends and family to gather. I envisage it as a place for dinner parties and laughter and gooey desserts and deep conversations. Basically, I want to be able to walk in each day and think “wow, this is great!”. (Hmm, I’m not asking much am I?)

Renovation dream
Culinary centrepiece
True heart of my home

© Leah Dowsett 2013

One for the foodies…

I’ve been spending the day doing one of my “whilst on holidays I will…” list items – going through old food magazines.

I wanted to do this so I can then throw the stash away and I have been putting my scissors to good use as I oohed and aahed over each issue. I say “stash” of magazines as I inherited some MasterChef editions from a friend moving overseas, plus have my own collections of Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, etc.  I have to do this type of clean out once in a while as I tend to keep them, and keep them, and keep them! I can’t help it – I love their drool-inducing photography, seemingly effortless meal ideas and the glamorous travel features.
(Although I love foodie mags “just because”, I’m not just a fly-by-night follower caught up in the television food revolution. I once studied hospitality and worked in the industry in both front and back of house areas for 12 years. So you could say my interest is more research-related than most…yeah, right!)

So, I’ve gone through about 14 mags (phew!!) and now have a neat stack of clipped recipes ready to be put in my recipe books/files. Am I the only one with such a collection of pages with sticky-taped cuttings? The only person with bulging clear plastic storage sleeves? It’s just that the recipes sound so good and look so pretty that I cannot resist collecting more – but please don’t ask me how often I actually refer to them! (Ha, ha!) That said, who wouldn’t want a perfect example of  “Salt and Pepper Squid”, “Lemon and Fetta Stuffed Chicken”, “Pea and Ricotta Gnocchi”, “Pineapple and Macadamia Crumbles”, and “Orange Poppyseed Chiffon Cake”. My mouth waters just thinking of future cooking adventures with these dishes, and so the clipping continues…

I did notice in my review today that a feature in one of the mags was an “interview a chef” page. It contained a few “what is your favourite…” details so, for a bit of fun, below is a list of mine.

  • Chefs: Emmanuel Mollois and Guillaume Brahimi. French men cooking French food, mm mm!
  • Comfort food: egg noodles slow cooked in chicken broth with cracked pepper.
  • Guilty pleasure: licking mixing bowl beaters, and french toast with maple syrup plus bacon.
  • Innocent pleasure: watching when someone takes a bite of something I’ve made and seeing the smile spread across their face.
  • Piece of equipment: my “ice”-coloured Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. I got her for my 40th birthday and she is truly beautiful.
  • Gadget: a musical timer someone gave me to add to the water for boiling eggs. They come out perfect every time!
  • Childhood food memories: sitting on a stool in the kitchen helping Mum make cookies, and my Grandmother cooking me pancakes on our visits to the USA.
  • Adult food memories: an amazing multi-course meal at Commander’s Palace (New Orleans, USA) in the late 1990s, and pausing to enjoy the moment and listen to the sound of 12 whisks whisking at a macaron class at Le Cordon Bleu (Paris, France) in 2011.
  • Foodie Movies: Babette’s Feast, Big Night and Julie and Julia.
  • Next project: renovating my kitchen – I can’t wait!

What are your favourites?

Foodie magazines
Providing inspiration
A visual feast

Macaron magic
Flavours and textures melding
Bite-sized perfection

A laden table
Creating sweet memories
Of precious moments

© Leah Dowsett 2013

New adventures

When was the last time you had an adventure?

Did it involve travel, moving house, changing jobs, a significant birthday or just a new routine? Did it involve your head, your heart or your wallet? Did it make you feel exhilarated or exhausted? Did you learn something about a place, a person or yourself?

I’ve found that adventures can be scary, funny, busy or silly, be impromptu or planned, and last a few moments or a lifetime. The great ones keep us revved up and enthused about life. They give us the opportunity to enjoy our favourite things, let us soar to unimaginable heights, stretch us and make our souls sing. The not-so-great ones teach us the meaning of “this too shall pass”, bring out our inner strength, enable us to learn humility, challenge us to be brave and sometimes even remind us of the healing power of tears.

The best thing about all adventures is that they are usually shared with the people we love, whether it be through lots of “likes” on Facebook, a co-worker’s friendly hug, a parent’s wise advice, or a best friend acting as a one-woman cheer squad. (The other thing is that they usually involve great food either in celebration or commiseration!)

I’m prompted to think about this as a good friend at work had her last day with us yesterday after many, many, many years (!!) and she is now heading off on a new adventure. So exciting for her, albeit a little sad for our office – we will miss her! It has made me think about all the transitions I’ve had in my own life, for better or worse, and how they have truly shaped the person I have become. Life really is an amazing journey…

So, hooray for adventures – now get out there and have some!

In walking forward
A heart rich with memories
Blossoms on new path

© Leah Dowsett 2012

Smiling just because…

This morning I am smiling just because…

  • I am on holidays,
  • I slept in until after 8am,
  • I had cookies for breakfast,
  • I got some snail mail yesterday and am still recalling my friend’s funny comments,
  • I can appreciate the beautiful sun streaming through my window,
  • I can hear my cat softly snoring as I type,
  • I am anticipating a delicious yum cha lunch with a gal pal,
  • I am enjoying looking at photos as I get ready to make up another photo book,
  • I have cleared out so much “stuff” during my break and feel freer for doing so,
  • I can have a nanna nap later this afternoon, and
  • I feel happy and loved.

What’s making you smile lately?

Daily adventures
Sunshine softly warms my skin
Blue sky overhead

© Leah Dowsett 2011

Aahh, Christmas

Another work week over which means we’re a few more days closer to Christmas – yay!

This is my favourite time of year – not just because my office shuts down during the two-week Christmas/New Year period and I get to visit the beach (!!) – but because of the meaning, the family time and the food!! (Warning: there may be a lot of  exclamation points in this post!!)

When I was little I loved the excitement of putting up the Christmas tree with my parents, having presents arrive from overseas from my American relatives and start to surround the base, singing along with the choir at midnight mass, and knowing that a big feast was planned for the 25th. Now I relish seeing the decorations on the streets and in the shops, humming along to a crooning Bing Crosby whilst trying to find just the right gift for everyone and pondering the true meaning of Christmas.

I’ve always been taught that to make something special you have to make an effort so for the Christmas day lunch we always use the linen, the crystal, the china and the silver. There are usually baubles and ribbon decorations as well and the table sparkles! It’s like all the love that goes into the preparation becomes tangible and really does “dwell amongst us”.

And, as a family-raised foodie, the menu is a key part of the day! (Prepare to salivate!) Each of us contributes something with our family (er, Mum…) cooking the American favourites of ham, dressing (like stuffing), pickled peaches and stuffed eggs. In more recent years I’ve taken on the role of cooking the turkey rolls in the kettle barbeque, making the gravy and a salad and bringing some bubbly. Our dear English friends that we celebrate with do the pre-meal snacks, the melon/prosciutto entree, mashed or roast potatoes and lots of sweet treats like melt-in your mouth mince pies, shortbread, rum balls (my favourite!!!) and the pièce de résistance: the steamed fruit pudding with custard and cream!! Yum!!

With all that said, I think I need to stop writing and get organised!!

So, whatever your Christmas holds, I wish you a truly wondrous season full of friends, family, food, fun and, most of all, love!

Feasting at Christmas
With friends that are family
Abundant blessings

© Leah Dowsett 2011

A perfect day

I had wonder-full day today! A lovely chat and walk in a beautiful park with a gal pal, yummy cake for brunch with my folks (sometimes you just have to eat a piece of really good cake right?!), frosty beverages with three old school friends, and some retail therapy at a local kitchenware shop. With the mild Summer weather it made for a pretty perfect day.

Do you ever have these kinds of days? Days when you cruise along from one thing to another and every part is so enjoyable? Where the sky is blue, the beer is cold and the conversation is peppered with giggles?

I have a set of quotes on my work desk that a friend bought me and one says “Remember to notice when you are happy”. Today has been that kind of day.

Warm sun on my face
Foodie treats and laughter
The comfort of friends 

© Leah Dowsett 2011

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