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: Such a fun time had by all!

Fabulous foodies
Recipes, love and laughter
Sweet southwest escape 

© Leah Dowsett 2013




The Year of Hope

Happy New Year! Here’s to more surprises, more play, more fabulous food, more kindness, more hugs, more family fun, more love, more friendly banter, more faith, more opportunities, more laughter and more poems this year than ever before!

In looking forward,
Hope is tantalisingly
Tangible and sure

© Leah Dowsett 2013

A day of treats

I’ve had one of those days that rates right up there with some of my great memories.

It involved the treat of taking a day off work to witness a fabulous French chef cooking a gateau. Sigh… Does it really get any better?!?!

The Frenchman in question was Emmanuel Mollois, owner of Choux Cafe and guest star on the occasional episode of Poh’s Kitchen. A 2010 Perth Now article about him has him pictured with my favourite French treats – macarons – for which he is also locally famous. He was very skilled, eager to share tips and tricks, had a beautiful accent and was quick to laugh. All wonderful qualities in a person.

I went along to sit with 23 other groupies and learn the secrets of making a Gâteau St Honoré. This involved him showing us how to make puff pastry, choux pastry, crème pâtissière, pate à crumble, caramel and crème légère! The result was truly amazing! Soft and crunchy textures coupled with light and sweet tastes…aahhh, I could go on and on!

He also showed us some sugar work as he is in training for the 2014 Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France) competition. (See the wikipedia explanation too.) I first heard about this award when I saw the documentary entitled “Kings of Pastry“. For the finalists it is a gruelling 3 day examination and not everyone is awarded an MOF at the end. Phew! Emmanuel said today that 500 people applied for the 2014 round and that group was cut to 20, of which he is one! The next cut for the final will be to 10 people. Go Emmanuel! :-)

So, it is now late in the day and I am still smiling. I am still remembering the sights, the sounds, the tips, the tastes, the fun and the french-ness… I am one happy girl!

Fabulous French chef
Custardy pastry gateau
Sweet, sweet memory

© Leah Dowsett 2012

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

I am enough

So I’ve been wondering lately, for a variety of reasons, if I am enough.

When things get a little ‘ho hum’ in some areas of my life and it seems like the lives of others are far more exciting and ‘on track’, it is interesting how the negative thoughts begin to creep in. Am I enough to be a good daughter, a caring friend, a functional worker, a potential partner…? The list goes on. With all this contemplation my normally chirpy self begins to feel colourless, like the sun has disappeared behind a cloud leaving me bathed in shadow.

In times like this I find it helpful to search for a way out of the mental quagmire (don’t you just love that word?!) by talking to friends, reading my bible, or browsing through what’s online. In a recent web search I found some lovely discussions on the topic and I particularly resonated with this post by Jen Lemen (via Tracey Clark’s blog). It is amazing to discover too how many feel this way at one time or another – a very comforting thought!

So if you are, or have been, in a similar head space I want to encourage you, or as the Merriam-Webster dictionary puts it, “inspire [you] with courage, spirit and hope”! Read something that makes you smile, go for a walk in the park, watch a movie that makes you laugh, or hug a friend and truly feel them hug you back. In doing so you’ll be reminded that you are alive…and enough!

Voices in my head
Dispelled by friends, hugs and sun
Yes, I am enough

© Leah Dowsett 2011

My French family

The parents of a dear friend of mine are visiting my parents and I from France this weekend as part of an Australia-wide tour. My friend and I made our connection as foreign exchange students in the USA and have kept in touch and been able to visit each other several times over the past 13 years. (It is always “tough” for me to go back to Paris…ha, ha!)

In keeping up our friendship we have become friends with each others’ parents as well and in doing so we have formed surrogate family bonds across the world. I love having another set of parents who think of me as fondly as I do of them, and am glad that my friend is willing to share them with me! I know my parents enjoy the cross-continent friendship too.

We have shown them around a bit and I really enjoy seeing my city through their “tourist eyes” as it deepens my appreciation of how lucky I am to live where I do. We have had wonderful weather for their visit with lots of sunshine, bright blue skies and balmy nights. I wish they didn’t have to leave so soon!

Ma famille française
So full of laughter and love
A twice-loved daughter 

© Leah Dowsett 2011

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