Monday, June 20, 2016

KERMIT WOULD BE VERY PROUD OF ME....




White-Lipped Green Tree Frog
Pushkin



Writing about my mate Hieronymus, my in-house tree frog in my previous post got me thinking.  If you’re wondering...my ability to think started long before now.  I think I’ve thought often throughout my life, not only lately.  

This post also answers a question put forth by a couple of my readers in my earlier post re my cats showing interest in their housemate.  For whatever reasons, my cats, not just Remy and Shama who share my life, but other cats that played major roles in my life throughout the years never showed interest in any interlopers who loped into their and my territory.  They, my cats, appeared to take it in their stride....they'd just give a sigh and go back to sleep.

Hieronymus’ tale triggered recollections of frogs that have hopped in an out of my life over the years; and there’s been quite a few.  Silly me! I failed to kiss even one of them! No wonder no prince has made an appearance. On second thoughts, I do now have Hieronymus aka Harry in my life.

I don’t understand why some people hate frogs, or are scared of frogs.  What’s to fear?

When I was kid a floorboard on our front verandah had a piece broken off it where the floorboard was attached to the supporting beam at the top of the stairs. The gap caused by the missing piece allowed us a view of a fat, glossy green frog that lived on the beam beneath the boards. 

Each day my brother and I checked to see if the frog was still there; and for a long time it was. We’d chat with our green mate, but we never disturbed him.   Each night he hopped out to do whatever frogs do at night. Every day we found him back safely ensconced in his protected sanctuary, pretending he’d not moved. No matter how many questions we put to him he wouldn’t divulge what he did during his nocturnal ramblings.

One of our favourite pastimes when we were kids was collecting tadpoles.  We built a little free-form pond under the front stairs. It became their home.

Do today’s kids still go in search of tadpoles?

With keen interest we’d watch the metamorphosis the tadpoles underwent; the growing of limbs, development of lungs, of how the tadpole’s body absorbed the tail. The process fascinated us...the circle of life.  Once the adult amphibian developed, without a backward glance, it hopped off to greener pastures.

That’s gratitude for you!

When I had my greengrocery/healthfood shop in Noosa often, while unpacking cartons of lettuces often I found cute little green tree frogs hiding in the produce.  Fortunately for the frogs, strategically placed about the shopping arcade where my shop was situated were solid, inbuilt garden pots. I’d place the frogs in the foliage out of sight of birds.  After the vast distances they’d travelled to reach me, to end their adventurous lives on a bird’s dinner plate was not on the plate!  Perhaps in the cloak of darkness they hopped across Hastings Street to go for a swim in Laguna Bay when no one was looking.  Skinny-dipping is lots of fun!  I wouldn’t have blamed them one little bit for doing so.  I’ve done it myself!

At the resort on Hinchinbrook Island there was an abundance of plump green frogs and white-lipped tee frogs. A few claimed the cabins as their own. I left them alone.  There was no point telling them to hop it. They’d return before anyone could say “Kermit Robinson!”   After all, it is Tropical North Queensland.

The magnificent white-lipped tree frog, a giant green tree frog, reaches 11-14cm in length.  They lived in perfect harmony with the regular green frogs and tree frogs. There was room enough for them all, including the guests.
  
And then, Grofế hopped into my life when I was living in the house at Yorkeys Knob, the beachside suburb north of Cairns.  On the large rear deck, as well as throughout the interior living area of the house many potted plants and palms enhanced the atmosphere and decor.

When I relocated from Yorkeys Knob to Clifton Beach my plants went with me, and so did Grofế, I discovered soon after I’d settled in. 

Grofế, a well-rounded green frog hitched a ride in one of my potted plants

I named my new green housemate after Ferde Grofế , the composer of The Grand Canyon Suite.
There the pot in which he’d set up home sat on top of my fridge. Grofế was comfortably content in his spot in the pot. From there he had an ocean view. 

At night I’d hear a “plop” as he landed on the kitchen floor.  From there he would hop through my unit, out the front door across the small patio onto the lawn and garden out front.

My two cats, Pushkin and Rimsky, ignored him.  When they heard him land on the floor from his elevated site they’d half open their eyes, but they never bothered to stir much more than that before nonchalantly drowsing off once again.  Knowing Grofế was part of the family, they were familiar with his nightly habit.  He didn’t interfere with them and vice versa.

From Clifton Beach I headed southwards to live on Newry Island to take care of the accommodation cabins, bar, dining, boat transfers etc., etc. , and all else that needed taking care of in that capacity.  Pushkin and Rimsky joined me on the island, but sadly Grofế didn’t. He remained at Clifton Beach.  I’m sure he was happy to do so.  

So you see, having Hieronymus in my life isn’t that odd!   Remy, Shama, Hieronymus aka “Harry” and I live harmoniously in this humble abode.

Lettuce & Rocket Soup: Warm 1tbs olive oil in pot over med-heat; add 1 thinly sliced onion; cook about 4mins; add 750g diced potatoes and 4c chicken or veg stock. Bring to simmer over high heat; reduce heat; simmer, covered until potatoes are almost tender; add 2 cups rocket or spinach leaves and 1c torn lettuce leaves; simmer uncovered 3mins; transfer vegetables to blender; pour in enough stock to cover; add 1/4c cream; season. Blend carefully. Pour soup back into pot with remaining stock; stir; pour into bowls; top with sliced goat cheese.

Lettuce Wraps: Put 800g green, peeled, deveined prawns, salt and pepper into pot; add enough cold water just to cover; bring to boil; reduce to simmer; cook about 1min. Transfer prawns to colander; cool. Put about 100g cellophane noodles in a bowl; cover with hot water; set aside 15mins; drain; cut into 2-3 inch pieces; return to pot; drizzle with 2tbs rice vinegar; toss.  In bowl, mix 3/4tsp chilli flakes and 2tbs lime juice; let sit 5-6mins; add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1tbs sugar and 4tbs fish sauce; whisk until sugar dissolves; transfer to serving bowl. Arrange noodles in middle of lettuce leaves; top with prawns; garnish with finely julienned carrots, sliced basil leaves, coriander leaves, mint leaves and finely chopped roasted peanuts.

Pasta, Lettuce & Prosciutto: Cut 85g thinly sliced prosciutto crosswise into ½-inch wide strips. Put 1tbs olive oil in pan over med-high heat; cook prosciutto until crisp. In boiling, salted water cook 455g pasta al dente; drain; reserve a little liquid. Melt 2tbs butter and 2tbs olive oil in pan over med-heat. Add 1 small onion, finely chopped; cook 5mins. Add 2c fresh or frozen peas, leaves of 1 butter lettuce, 4 chopped shallots and 1/2c chick or veg stock; cook 5mins; add pasta; stir until just heated through; add more stock or reserved liquid if needed. Toss with 1c finely grated Parmesan; garnish with prosciutto.

Green Delight:  Put 2 celery sticks, 2 green apples, 1 cup of honeydew melon, diced and 1 lime through juicer; then place in blender with ¼ cup fresh mint and 1 peeled Kiwi fruit; blend; serve garnished with fresh mint.

"Feeling Groovy"....acrylic painting by me

Monday, June 13, 2016

WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU LEMONS – ACCEPT THEM GRATEFULLY!



Surveying Things From Great Heights
One of Hieronymus' relatives

This morning I unexpectedly morphed into Alice’s White Rabbit.  I’m running late.  I’m not sure what I’m running late for, but nonetheless, I’m running late.  I’m not literally running. Running isn’t a present day pastime of mine. Not that it worries me because I never enjoyed running, anyway.

I loved ball sports at school, and I participated in them, but I hated foot races.  I could see no point to running from Point A to Point B without an obvious purposeful need to do so.  That’s how it appeared to me, anyway.  Perhaps I, more than anyone else, knew my limitations, and preferred to heed my instincts.

Dawn Taylor, a school mate held similar beliefs so we formed an alliance. Every sports day Dawn and I hid in the school locker room until the races were over...that is until we got sprung by a teacher who’d gotten wise to our game.  Seeing our escape method would no longer work we made a pact that we’d take turns in being the last one to cross the line and, of course, who would come second last. Sometimes, when our mischievous moods couldn’t be denied, we crossed the finish line in a tie, holding hands.  Our rebellious streaks knew no bounds!

This morning I slept in far later than I have in a long time; much later than usual. No amount of running is going to make up the time lost. Perhaps the cooler temperatures, which I love, are to blame. Content to remain snuggled up with me my two bed mates didn’t mind. They got a bit cranky when I disturbed them. Like me, they prefer the cooler weather. Familiarity breeds similarity. My roomies’ calendar is always free of appointments so they weren’t running late for anything. 

Every night my two besties and I enjoy a ménage à trois. There’s nothing strange in that; we’ve done so for years. Calm down!  Before you go off half- cocked there’s nothing hot and heavy going on 
here.
  
My two bedfellows are my two cats, Remy and Shama, both of whom have shared my life for the past 14 years as of December next.  Brother and sister, they’re the luckiest two cats in the world.  Not keen to get their paws dirty, they’re inside moggies. Unfortunately (purposely), they’ve not yet learned how to do housework. They are experts at pretending they haven’t a clue.  When I suggest they should change their attitude all I get in return are smirks that say – “Yeah, right!” And then, promptly and guiltlessly, they go back to sleep.   I’ve given up wasting my breath, so I just keep on knitting vests from their discarded fur. 

And now I’ve a third housemate. Uninvited, he’s settled in, showing no signs of leaving.  Our ménage à trois might soon become a ménage à quatre. I’ve told him to hop it, to no avail.  A couple of times I’ve stooped to remove him, (gently, of course), but like a boomerang he comes back.   I’ve given up in that quarter, too.

This cabin is just that, a cabin, pure and simple; and not large. Is there room enough for the four of us?

At least my new housemate travels light. 

Actually, he moved in a couple of years ago. In no time he stole my heart. He hides during the day; re-surfacing at night.

I named him “Hieronymus” after both the Early Netherlands painter of the 15th-16th Century and crime writer Michael Connelly’s Detective “Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch.

My Hieronymus is a little brown-speckled tree frog who, one day, turned up out of the blue. No - I don’t have any trees growing inside.  Hieronymus prefers indoors to outdoors.

As I’ve mentioned I’ve put him outside a couple of times. However, I’ve stopped doing so because each time I did so I felt terribly guilty, fearful the birds that hang around my cabin knowing their get the meat scraps every afternoon when I’ve cut up the meat for Remy and Shama’s dinner might think they’re getting a special treat.

Frogs are territorial creatures; and Hieronymus has made his decision. His mind is made up. Inside my cabin, living with me, Remy and Shama is his territory; and there is nothing I can do about it other than welcome him with open arms.  

It’s obvious he loves living here.  He knows where he wants to dwell. Who am I to argue? My furry overlords don’t listen to me – why should Hieronymus? He does no harm; I would never harm him. 

Hieronymus knows his way around in the dark.  He has his own private route. No doubt discovered the first time he decided this is where he wanted to set up camp. I think he slips out each night to go clubbing. Hieronymus probably has a lady friend, perhaps more, with whom he shares nocturnal visits.  He’s of age. I’ve no say in his private life.  I might give him “the talk”, though.

Frogs are wonderful creatures. With all the nightly activity going on around here it’s little wonder I slept in. Because I’m running late this morning I’ve failed to squeeze two lemons for my daily, early morning kick-start, and that’s not good.  No time to do it now, though - I have to put up the “No Vacancy” sign.

Lemon and Asparagus Pasta: Cook 1-1/2c penne pasta in boiling salted water, 6mins. Add ½ bunch asparagus, cut into 2.5cm pieces; cook until just tender; drain; return to pot. In bowl, whisk 3/4c whole milk, 2tsp Dijon mustard, 2tsp plain flour, salt and pepper. Heat1tsp x-virgin olive oil in small saucepan on med-high heat; add 2tsp minced garlic; cook about 1min; pour in milk mixture; whisk; continue stirring as its brought to simmer. Cook until thick, 1-2mins. Stir in lemon zest and 1-1/2tsp lemon juice. Stir sauce into pasta; cook over med-high heat until sauce is thick and creamy; mix in 1/3c grated Parmesan to pasta. To serve, top with 1/3c shredded Parmesan.

Lemony Spaghetti: Whisk to combine, zest of 1 Meyer lemon, 3tbs lemon juice, 1/2c mascarpone, salt, freshly-ground pepper and 1/4tsp nutmeg. Cook 240g pasta, al dente; drain; reserve about 1/2c of the water. Return pasta to pot; set over low heat; stir in the mascarpone sauce; add 5c fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped; toss until spinach begins to wilt; add 1/4c pasta water; cook and toss until spinach is cooked; add ½ chopped toasted hazelnuts; serve.

Crab-Lemon Tart: Roll 300g shortcrust pastry onto lightly-floured bench; line 24cm loose-based tart tin. Chill until firm. Bake blind in preheated 200c oven, 20mins. Reduce oven temp to 180C.  Remove baking beans/rice and paper; bake tart case further 5-7mins until golden; cool. Put 2 eggs, 1 crushed garlic clove and 200g crẻme fraỉche in bowl; gently whisk to combine. Don’t over-aerate. Using ¾c grated Parmesan, add half the Parmesan, finely grated zest of 1 lemon, grated nutmeg, 2 finely chopped shallots, 2tbs finely chopped chives and 300g crab meat; season. Pour into tart case; scatter over other half of the grated Parmesan. Bake 30mins or until set; cool 30mins before removing from tin. Decorate top with chives.

Lemon Curd: Place 100g unsalted butter, chopped, 1-1/2c caster sugar, 1tbs finely grated lemon rind and 1/3c lemon juice in heatproof bowl.  Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.  Cook, stirring constantly with wooden spoon for 5mins, or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.  Whisk in 2 lightly beaten eggs. Return to heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 8 minutes, or until mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool. Strain into hot, sterilised jars. Secure lids. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Meyer Lemon Lava Cakes with Raspberries and Cream:  Preheat the oven to 218C (425 F).  Grease 8 (4-ounce) custard cups with softened butter or non-stick baking spray.  Place them onto a rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Melt 8tbs unsalted butter and 125g white chocolate in bowl over water (don’t let bowl touch the water, stirring every 15 seconds until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and whisk until smooth.  Add 2/3c unbleached plain flour, 1/2c icing sugar sugar and pinch of salt; mix well.  Add 4 extra large, lightly beaten eggs, 4 extra large egg yolks, 3/4c lemon curd, 2tsp freshly grated lemon zest, and 1/2tsp vanilla; whisk until blended.  Divide the batter evenly into the prepared custard cups. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the edges are just starting to turn golden brown and the centre is puffy and just beginning to set.  Transfer the custard cups to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes.  Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cakes to loosen.  Invert the cakes onto small dessert plates or dishes.  Dust the top with icing sugar.  Garnish with fresh raspberries and serve with whipped cream and/or raspberry coulis.   

Dark Chocolate Lava Cake with Lemon Caramel: Preheat oven 190C/375F. Grease ramekins with butter, then set aside. In metal bowl, whisk 3/4c sugar and 6 eggs vigorously, 3-5 minutes until sugar is suspended in egg mixture. Over a double boiler, melt 240g dark chocolate and24og  butter over low heat. Remove from heat and continue stirring until lukewarm. Slowly mix chocolate mixture into egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour into ramekins, filling them 1/2 way, then place in oven.  Cook for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven; allow the cake to separate slightly from the side of the ramekin, then with a knife, gently go around the side. Invert onto plate then garnish with caramel sauce. Lemon Caramel Sauce: In medium saucepan, combine1c  sugar and 2tbs lemon juice over med-heat.  Stir constantly until mixture reaches a light brown. Reduce heat to low and slowly add 1/2c heavy cream, stirring constantly.



Froggie went a courtin’ and he did ride. Mhmm.


Froggie went a courtin’ and he did ride..


A sword and a pistol by his side. Mhmm


Saturday, June 04, 2016

WHAT A BEACH!



My Brother Graham with his first born....1967
Graham and Me at various ages during our childhood
Mervyn and Me circa 1966...photos a bit weather-beaten...similar to me these days!
My brother Graham when he worked with me at the resort on Hinchinbrook Island 1986/87
Graham...2nd May, 1998 (with steam engine in background) and cutting his 56th birthday cake, 28th February, 1998
View from the current Noosa Surf Club...circa 2015
View to the east from Mount Tinbeerwah
Widgee Crossing on the outskirts of Gympie
For me the beach has never been, and never will be an area that is choked by multi-storeyed high-rises towering over the foreshore and beyond; nor is it a place where shopping centres the size of regional towns filled with hordes of people breathing down the necks of others abound. Add the extra, unwanted bonus of bumper to bumper, non-stop traffic and my spontaneous reaction is to stay well away from the fray.  “Non-stop” is probably not the correct description because too often the traffic comes to a stop causing the patience of some to vanish into the ether. The mere thought of one or all of the above makes me quiver and quake...aka a “double shake”. 

I know I’m getting old; I live with the fact every day and don’t need anyone else to point it out to me (the woman who dwells in my mirror does that), but because I am the age I am I remember the “good, old days” at the beach.  And what great days they were!

When we were little kids my late brother Graham and I spent a lot of time at the beach. Both of us learned to swim at an early age. Graham and I ran free as the wind along the sand. We collected shells as well as cuttlefish for our canary, named “Sweetie”.  We often swam in the ocean without another human in sight.

And the times trips to the beach were not possible we hiked out to Widgee Crossing to swim in the Mary River and to have a picnic around a camp fire. 

Regular trips to Tin Can Bay, 52kms north-east of Gympie were on our agenda (or on Mum and Nana’s agenda; we were taken along for the ride; and we enjoyed the ride and the beach immensely...the latter more so). 

With Nana we collected oysters fresh off the rocks out from the esplanade. We ate fish and mud crabs freshly caught by our mother, and by Graham the times she took him along with her.  Mum taught both of us how to fish.  She loved fishing and crabbing; as did Graham.

Also, when I was a little girl our next door neighbours regularly took me along with them to Noosa Heads for a day of swimming in the ocean at Laguna Bay, followed by a picnic lunch. A condensed milk tart always played a part in the picnic fare.  Mrs. Butcher, our neighbour, knew I loved the tarts; therefore she always made one as a special treat for me.

I looked forward to those Sunday adventures; to reaching the top of the range at Tinbeerwah. Tinbeerwah is a semi-rural area, about 14kms west of Noosa Heads...between the small township of Cooroy and the Noosa River-side suburb of Tewantin. 

Driving to Noosa we always played an exciting game. Playing to win - when reaching the top of the hill to be the first to see the ocean in the distance; pretending not to notice the adults pretending it was me who saw it first and not them.

In those days of the Fifties, and the early Sixties, in fact, Hastings Street was little more than a track. 

Next to the original surf club building were outdoor showers, dressing sheds and picnic tables.  The floor of the wooden, unlit dressing sheds was always wet and sandy. I disliked the dank, dark, smelly sheds. I soon became a record-breaker in the art of  changing swiftly out of my wet togs into dry clothes.  I was spurred on, too, of course, by the thought of the condensed milk tart that awaited my attention.

The Sixties arrived; and I felt I had, too. I‘d morphed into a bikini-clad surfer girl. Magically, so too had my group of girlfriends.  We spent every spring, summer and autumn weekend at the beach. 

At my urging, my brother became a Noosa Heads surf lifesaver, which was a good thing, but it was also a bad thing.  Being a lifesaver was good for him, but it was bad for me.  I had only myself to blame! It was my idea he joined the Noosa Heads Surf Club.

Taking his big brother role too seriously Graham believed it was his duty to steer would-be suitors/admirers of his “little” sister in the opposite direction; for them to focus their interest elsewhere - or else.   

He was nicknamed "Ding-Ding" by his mates in the surf club..."just ring a bell and he'd come out fighting"!

On Friday just gone I talked at length with three of my friends from those days....ex-Noosa lifesavers who were fellow-club members (and mates) of my brother Graham.  

One of the above with whom I spoke was my first husband, Mervyn. 

Mervyn managed to slip through Graham’s guard, although in those days of the early Sixties, Mervyn and I  didn’t really date as such.  We weren’t “boyfriend-girlfriend”.   He worked in Brisbane.  I lived in Gympie, but during the ball seasons he always returned to town late on the Friday afternoons to be my partner at the balls.  There were three or four balls a season – during winter; and Mervyn always escorted me to the balls.

And then Randall (who later became my second husband, now ex) came to town...life as I knew it changed.  And then Randall went overseas...and once again, life as I had grown to know it, changed.  

I was by then living in Brisbane and shortly thereafter Mervyn and my paths crossed. We married and remained that way for approximately two and half years...and the rest is history.  History I shan’t write about in detail at this moment in time.

Friday just gone, 3rd June, was Mervyn’s birthday. I always telephone to wish him the best for another milestone reached.  He does similar to me on my birthday.  His wife, Jackie answered the phone, telling me she knew who it would be before she heard my voice.  Jackie and I talked at length, too.  We always do...we have no reasons to dislike each other. 

The other two fellows I spoke with on Friday are still friends with Mervyn, too.  One, “Laney” was our best man.  He played the role again when Mervyn and Jackie married, as well.  Laney was captain of the Noosa Lifesavers for many years; and for many years after he was president of the club.  He and I have remained friends since the late Fifties/early Sixties until now.

“Ned”, the other friend I spoke with whose first name is really “Ken/Kenneth”, I’ve known as long.  Another Gympie lad, born and bred, when he was a teenager - “a bit of a lad” (and a very good-looking one!), he earned the nickname “Ned” – in honour of Ned Kelly, the Aussie outlaw - and the name has stuck with him throughout his life. He was a bit of a rascal, but not in a bad way.  Ned, too, was a lifesaver in the Noosa Surf Club.

When we conversed on Friday last, Ned and I. as well as sharing many stories, memories of the past and tales of the present, laughed over my brother Graham's nickname...particularly as I'd been thinking about it only the previous night.

Mervyn turned 76 on Friday.  Laney turned 78 in May, and Ned is around the same age as Mervyn, I think.  I'm the "baby" of the group - I’m tailing them by a few years...I’ll be 72 this coming November, but I keep failing to believe it to be so.  It can't be true!  I keep doing the math...and the answer still keeps coming up the same!   Dammit!

Few cars hogged the roads back in the decades when we group of present day “oldies” were kids and teenagers. If Mooloolaba was our choice destination in 1960 we had to go along the Bruce Highway through Nambour to get there. The David Low Way hadn’t yet been opened.  The Sunshine Motorway wasn't even a developer's dream.  The developer probably hadn't yet been born!

The “Sunshine Coast” nomenclature came into being in 1960, but it took longer for the title to fit into our vocabulary. Noosa was Noosa; Coolum was Coolum, Mooloolaba was Mooloolaba, Alexandra Headland was Alexandra Headland (or "Alex") etc. 

In those years of yore the coast was great.  I believe we experienced it at its best. We had room to spread a towel; to catch a wave. Without a worry, we could leave our possessions unguarded on the beach when we went surfing/swimming.

To me, that is the beach – the coast. It’s long stretches of golden sand with she-oaks, pandanus palms, coast banksias, angular pigface, sand spinifex etc., fringing the foreshores; not soaring, multi-storey structures, crowds and endless traffic.

My brother Graham, who would've turned 74 in February, 2016, could be such a pain, often. We had our arguments...and we had them often from when we were kids.  We had our good times; we had our bad times. We experienced and shared happy times; and we had our fair share of sad times.  

Regardless of it all; the good, the bad; the happy; the sad, and the in between - Graham remains in my thoughts every day, and he has permanent residency in my heart. 

Thoughts of Graham are even more vibrant and alive around this time of the year - Graham passed away 6th June, 1998.

There were many times he annoyed the whatsits out of me; but I’ll always miss him. 

What a beach!

Spicy Picnic Chicken Wings: Combine 1/4tsp allspice, 1/4tsp ground cloves, 1tsp cayenne, 1tbs sweet paprika, 2 garlic cloves, salt, pepper and 1/4c olive oil; grind into a paste. Place 500g chicken wings in marinade; toss well. Cover; chill at 4hrs or overnight. Preheat oven 180C; line baking tray; spread wings on tray; bake 25mins until golden and cooked through.

Picnic Pesto Salad:  Cook 600g frozen cheese tortellini until al dente; drain well; cool. In large bowl, whisk 1/4c pesto, 1/4c Greek yoghurt and 1tbs lemon juice; season; add tortellini and 2c rocket; toss; season to taste.  Sprinkle over grated parmesan before serving.

Picnic Loaf:  Grab 1 large rustic round loaf of bread (approx 22cm in diameter); carefully cut a lid, approx 8cm in diameter off top of loaf; set lid aside. Scoop out most of the bread, leaving the outer shell.  Spread 8tbs fresh pesto evenly over the interior base and sides. Thickly slice 250g mozzarella; place the slices and 400g sun-dried tomatoes neatly inside bread in an even layer; top with a handful of fresh basil leaves; then a layer of drained artichoke hearts (180g). Replace lid; wrap loaf tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate with a heavy weight on top to pack down; chill overnight. To serve, cut loaf into thick wedges.

Condensed Milk Tart – Easy-Peasy:  In metal bowl, pour in 1 can Condensed Milk (not low-fat kind): add juice of 1 lemon. Mix well with wooden spoon; the mixture should get very thick. Pour into prepared tart shell; refrigerate until required.

Double Thick Chocolate Shake: Place 120ml milk or almond milk in blender; add 4tbs cocoa powder; blend; add 5-6 small dates; blend; add 1 fresh or frozen banana; blend until thick and smooth. Decorate with date syrup or chocolate syrup; top with choc bits and a maraschino cherry. 

 
Tin Can Bay