General Stuff

Farmers Markets are the best thing since sliced bread.

Having been involved for about 4 years in Farmers Markets around Auckland I want to shout out about the joys of this way of shopping and eating. There are so many markets around that sometimes it can feel a bit of oversupply and demand but by shopping around you find the ones you love and work the best for you. By Shopping at Farmers markets you are supporting small producers,local communities,and eating food that is generally better for you and much much fresher than what you would get at most supermarkets, and its all made with love and passion or grown by the very people who might be talking to you at the time of purchase.

Working a stall at a farmers market is hard work but the rewards are lovely. You get to interract with the customers, you get to know all the regulars and you meet other stall holders who are just as passionate about the food  they grow or produce as you are yourself.

As a baker I have handmade cakes,cupcakes,biscuits,slices,sweets,savouries,and also vegan,allergy freindly,diabetic freindly and gluten free goodies on my stall. I have regular little customers who bring mum and dad along to the market for their weekly treat along with lots of adults who want something that is hand made tasty and delectable as well as being made with love.

Ive come home with so many yummy goodies from  the farmers market , things that I either cannot buy or wouldnt buy from the supermarket. The veges are so much fresher and last so much longer and are very locally grown and often you can get varieties that you just cant buy in supermarkets.Things like breads, cheeses, dips, relishes all made by hand and with the producers often able to tell you the provenance of the ingrediants. I feel I eat alot more healthy since being at Farmers markets and really enjoy the local community feel about them compared to the big corporate not able to personalise your service supermarket feel.

The Market I’m at is very community based and has been running for 4 years. Its a small market with big personality and I have been there for just over 3 and a bit years and just love love love being there and love the community and working with the stall holders that are there. Its based in the heart of the Grey Lynn community at 510 Richmond Road at the Grey Lynn Community Centre on the first 3 Sundays of every month and then on the last Sunday of the month its an open air market just down the road at the legal carpark.

Why dont you go and have a look here

Sweet Expectations (thats me ) will be there on the 13th October 2013

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The most important meal of the day

Are you a breakfast eater or does the thought of food early in the morning make you want to gag. For me I’m a real breakfast eater, as a Chef it was of my favourite times of the day to cook . Getting up super early was relatively easy and getting your mojo on for the day was quite invigorating. Scientists and medical personal all agree that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day ,it breaks your fast from the long rest of sleep through the night. Even if all you can only manage in the morning is a piece of toast and a cup of coffee make sure you eat breakfast on a regular basis as it energises you for the rest of the day.

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great food service vs bad food service

We were in Albany Mall Last Weekend on Saturday and the mall closed at 6pm.

It was  5.20 pm and we went off in search of Coffee . We went to Muffin Break ordered our coffees,There were lots of people sitting at tables drinking coffee. Bruce ordered a carrot cake and I ordered a lemon cake , it was a $20.00 order.

Straight after we had paid the money over, the woman at the counter said ” ohh its in takeaway cups” we looked at each and asked why , her reply was ” we are not allowed to serve coffee in china cups after 5.10″ Bruce said to her ” we want our money back,” neither of us like drinking out of paper cups and there were lots of people all sitting around with proper cups on the tables.

This woman was adamant that we couldn’t have our coffee in china cups . and then couldn’t work out how to give us our money back , called her supervisor who was just as knowledgeable about giving us a refund. We thought this service was really shocking.

If  she had said at the beginning of the transaction about the paper cups we could have made the decision early in the process to go somewhere else instead of holding up other customers because the stupid staff couldnt even process a refund properly.

We went to Esquires  and the man serving us was just the complete opposite, he had no problem with our order  , he was a bit shocked to think that we couldn’t get a coffee in china cups and to be honest the coffee was way better than Muffin breaks and the treats were just lovely. He was so friendly and helpful  and very welcoming.

Now we could have understood about the paper cups if the mall was closing at 5.30 but it wasnt , her attitude was unacceptable, It was just too bad she couldn’t take lessons from this lovely man at Esquires. The difference between good service and bad service is a huge distance and word of mouth can be your greatest friend or your worst enemy. Get  great service and you will tell  10 people, Get bad service and you will tell 100 people .

There is no just no  cause at all for people in hospitality  or retail to be rude to their customers, its the biggest downfall of both these industries and is the quickest way to lose customer. If you cant give great service then get out of the industries and do something that you dont have to deal with people.

General Stuff

The power of advertising …. Fake or otherwise

The power of Advertising is huge , be it good or bad especially when it comes to food advertising.

There are some really good bits of food advertising  and then there are loads of really bad or false advertising.

Advertising comes in so many different formats or media that bombard us the consumer with all kinds of messages on a regular basis. Everywhere you go or look you see things be they foods, cars, houses, products of all different kinds .

One of the worst  for Fake or misleading Advertising is that land of the Golden Arches “Mcdonalds” They regularly show images of these giant sized burgers and fries , and we all know and accept that what we get in that little brown bag is going to be 100 times  smaller than the picture but we still accept it as being ok … why is that?

My Husband and I were driving through the bottom part of Parnell in Auckland a few weeks ago and stopped at the traffic lights and to our left was this huge poster for Mcds showing a meal deal that had small fries with it , while sitting there we worked out that the size of the fries on the picture  would have been equivalent  to six of the small size fries you would normally get. Now I know that its just a poster and that its only aim in life is to encourage you to buy this meal,  but its still lying to you , giving you false hopes even though your rational mind knows your not getting what the poster says size wise.

There should be  strict laws in place to ensure that what your looking at on a visual level is the same as what your getting on a physical level. Its a bit like labeling laws they have to be fairly precise and true to the product so that you the consumer are actually getting what it says on the packet.That that mcmuffin with the big strips of bacon and a gorgous looking soft egg and cheese you see on the board is the same as that tiny lump of muffin with the single rasher of bacon and that hard solid egg and plastic  cheese that you get wrapped up in paper on your order.

An Example of a really good piece of advertising is at my local fruitworld vege store  in New lynn , they have a picture on the outside of their shop of this gorgous deliciously soft poached egg on wholegrain toast topped with ground black pepper and flat leaf parsley. I have had to stop parking in that particular spot as every time I see it it makes me want to lick the poster and go straight home and have poached egg on toast. The size of everything on the poster is realisitic and it just looks so delicious and inviting.Now if Mcds and other food advertisers can take a leaf out of the people who made this egg posters book the food would be presented more true to what it is and people subconciously wouldnt feel cheated.

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What is your comfort food?

Those things that you crave at different times for loads of different reasons?

For Example  when Im coming down with a cold or flu I get this Massive craving for Watties Tomato soup in a can.

I do admit to eating Canned soup from time to time and in winter there is nothing nicer than soup, but when Im sick this becomes almost an obsession in the day or so leading up to really coming down with it to the point where I just have to go and buy some if there is none in the house… and there are certain rituals I have when it comes to eating it at those times,

it has to be in a bowl not a mug (when Im feeling fine and just want to have soup I prefer it in a mug),

it has to be super hot ,

and it has to have 2 bits of toast on the side cut in to strips … nothing else will do 🙂

Other comfort foods for me especially when im feeling a bit down and flat are things like

creamy mashed potato, sometimes with gravy and sometimes with out,

a big bowl of spaghetti done really simply with butter, black pepper and parsley and a little parmigiano if I have any in the fridge,

good dark chocolate preferably peppermint filled,

and  a nice big cup of slightly milky tea is always a great pickme up at any time.

Comfort foods may not necessarily be the healthiest food choices but they are what your body craves when it needs to be comforted in what ever way  at that time. They wrap you up like your favourite blanket or your favourite  pair of arms be they your spouses, your parents, your lovers  ,your grandparents or siblings or who ever you turn to for comfort.

Long live wonderful comfort foods , how ever different they may be. Share your comfort foods with me and the rest of the world it would be really interesting to see the similarities and the differences.

General Stuff

We Got Married

Yes thats  right folks my darling man is now off the viewing menu :o)
We had the most wonderful day celebrating our new beginning with family and freinds  and we decided to have a picnic style wedding breakfast.With all the food being made by myself and some wonderful helpers. I had decided to make wedding sweets and cookies from all around the world that were only served at weddings.

On the menu for dessert  myself and a great freind made “Mexican wedding cookies” “Kouribiades” “Croatian Peaches””Amish chocolate cookies””Danish wedding cookies” and then we placed them all on platters with dates, apricots, mixed nuts and dried fruit. Along with the dessert we had our gorgous wedding cake that a wonderful freind of ours made it was 3 tiers with a rich fruit cake  on the bottom, white chocolate mud cake in the middle, and lemon and passionfruit cake on the top tier. She did an amazing job it was spectacular.

As all  the food was served cold it was mostly prepared the day before and then just finished off on the day by lovely willing helpers.

A big variety of cold meats and chicken,pork, beef, ham, salamis , devilled eggs, and canapes, pasta salads, cannalini and chickpea salads, green salads, smoked salmon and cucumber salad, potato salad, bacon and egg pies, gluten free vegetarian quiches, bread and butter , fresh sushi and much more . If it hadnt of been for my wonderful helpers before hand and on the day things would have been much harder. A peice of advice to people doing the same thing , dont be afraid to ask for help and get more people to help than you think you might need and it just makes life much easier.
We had a few dramas  with having aproblem with the hot water the day before and then the night before having a power cut at the venue which freaked me right out as it was hot summer time  and I was thinking OMG what if the power doesnt come on and all the wedding food is spoilt , eventually the power came back on and there  wern’t too many dramas on the day

Cupcakes are the most fashionable food right now

simply done simply delicious

Cupcakes really have taken off and soared recently. what used to be a basic little treat for mainly childrens parties are now popular with all ages and decorated and made in so many ways. Basically cupcakes are the little black dress of the food world; I love doing cupcakes, you can be so inventive with styles, flavours, icings and toppings. and its great to be able todo in minature. It often takes far less time to decorate a series of cupcakes compared to decorating a large cake yet look stunning and effective very quickly.

Im now providing some restaurants with cupcakes which is just marvelous

here are some creations I have made

babycupcakes for farmers market


Adding flowers and herbs to Baked goods

I just love using flowers and herbs when making baked goods. One of my favourite flavours is English Lavender, another is Rose. the flavours they impart to baked  items are just wonderful . My lavender shortbread is always a popular item as is my Rose and Pistachio biscuits. These flavours   are so fragrant and beautiful and just work so well with sugar, eggs, cream and flour. They make the most delicious creams, icecreams, cream patisserie,cakes and biscuits and are just wonderful in chocolates. Not long ago I made  Lemon and Basil meringues  which were simply delicious. Its become more popular now to add fresh herbs to sweet treats and it just goes to show how much our tastebuds have developed in the last few years and have opened our eyes and tastebuds to wonderful new experiences. Never be afraid to try new things and flavour combinations, some will work some may not but you do not know if it will until you try.

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Weddings bells are ringing

My darling Man asked me to marry him on the 20th December 2009 and he was answered with a resounding YES 😮

On Saturday 20th March 2010 we went looking at a wonderful venue Called Otimai Lodge in Oratia and we have booked our wedding day for the 8th December 2010.** doing a very big happy dance **

Its so much fun doing the planning and chatting about weddings and along with doing the planning, one of the most important things that need to be planned for is of course the food and drinks that you would serve to your guests.

It comes in many different shapes and forms from things such as a dainty afternoon tea, or a picnic, bbq, breakfast, sit down multi course very formal meal,buffet style, canapes and cocktails, multi day feasts, and many other styles of eating and meals.

Its about gathering those special people around you on your special day and showing and sharing your love for each other as a couple. It should never be about impressing your guests with money, but about the couple themselves and what they both like.

Mountains of money dont necessarily have to be spent to have a wonderful wedding.

Both Bruce and I wanted to get married outside with a picnic meal in a not too large wedding and so thats what we are going to do. Myself and some willing or maybe slightly unwilling 😮 helpers will be preparing all the food in the couple of days prior to the wedding and serving it on platters that people can help themselves to while sitting at long tables that look lovely and go with the feel of the meal. Everything will be served cold and very picnic style (but with out the ants and mosquitos).

As part of the dessert course I want to do an array of cookies, biscuits, sweets that come from around the world and are traditional wedding treats, so if any of you have any traditional wedding recipes please please please send them to me and  I will make them , blog about them and credit you with the recipe.

I await your emails and recipes very excitedly

General Stuff

Easter is but a few bunny hops away now

I have been very busy the last week , trialling a new recipe for hot cross buns and , have tweaked the recipe and came up with a delicious version  that you can find on The smells coming from the kitchen are just amazing, with the spices and  gorgous dried fruit,  and then making chocolate eggs, bunnies and treats for a raffle basket ,and making chocolate bunnies to sell at market mmmmm

heres a  couple of pics of the hot cross buns

mmmmm hot cross buns that are handmade with free range eggs
hot cross buns fresh out of the oven with butter