Two Sisters In Melbourne And Baking Nana’s Christmas Cakes

I put Little C on a plane to you this morning, and came home to cook up Nana’s Christmas cakes. The diced fruit’s been marinading in lots of brandy, and the house smells very Christmassy! Now we just need the added layer of a fresh pine tree in the house, and we’ll really be ready to celebrate.

So glad you girls have some time together today in Melbourne. I think you’ll put C in a good frame of mind for her college interview tomorrow. After all, you’ve been there and done that. I clearly remember the three of us dropping you off at college on a cold wet night. I felt so sad that evening, but you settled quickly and had such a great time at Ormond.

Enjoy the granola and curry puffs I sent through our special courier today. And I hope you share with the H family.

It is so exciting to think of all of us being together in Sydney for Christmas. It is only a few weeks away!

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Also just before I dash off to get these babies out of their tins and onto some wire racks to cool, I should share with you that I’ve been making lots of salsa for snack time. So easy: just throw into the blender  a punnet of cherry toms with what ever’s close at hand: mint, green apple, cucumber, bell peppers, cilantro. I had some chopped water melon the other day and added that too. Pineapple is a nice addition.  The kick you get from a pickled green chili added to the mix is quite fab. Squeeze in some lime, and you are good for a FRESH snack.

Good luck with the interview tomorrow- I know you’ll have Little C well primed. Thank you for having her to stay and lookking after her, dear Izzy. xx

Fresh herbs from the garden: great in a salsa

Fresh herbs from the garden: great in a salsa

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Wrap it up, Isabel!

I have been making rice paper rolls like its going out of fashion.  Claudia wants nothing else. The weather is warming up, life is too, too busy for big meals, so these light, snacky fresh rolls filled with what ever your little heart desires is absolutely prefect.

I have had a mental block about them for so long, memories of tuck shop mamas making these form scratch,even the rice paper skins.  It all looked waaaay too complicated and time consuming. The convenience of the modern day roll has snuck up on me, and I am delighted to report, that these days, any child could make these EASILY.

We are coming up to crunch time: just four weeks to go before school is over for the Little C, one car sold, one house bought, and our tickets to Sydney booked. Yikes!  There is so much else to do before we leave, though! I am mostly worried about our puppies as we make preparations to transport them to Sydney, via Vancouver.  If only they knew what they were in for!  When we brought Flipper to the United States, I did not stress so much about our Weimeraner princess because there was no quarantine involved in the US.  I just hate to think of two our girls stuck in a large facility out at Rooty Hill (!!) in the way outer suburbs of Sydney for a whole month.

Well, as always for me: cook to alleviate stress!

So, Miss Isabel, here is the simple, easy method of how to make your own fresh rolls: super great when you have friends over Just have your bowls of various ingredients, and everyone makes their own. I have to say though that whatever your favourite ingredients might be, the addition of fresh herbs like cilantro/coriander, mint and basil takes it to the level of sublime!  Enjoy, enjoy- this easy to prepare, no cooking delights.

Ingredients: (apart from the skins, all the fillings are suggestions)

  1. 1 packet of rice paper skins
  2. 2 cucumbers, halved, and thinly sliced lengthways
  3. a couple of carrots, sliced thin
  4. a handful of crushed nuts ( peanuts, sunflower seeds or cashews)
  5. few sprigs of fresh basil, mint, coriander/cilantro
  6. chopped avocado
  7. chopped or sliced tofu
  8. shredded cooked chicken piece, or left over meat,  diced fine
  9. baby spinach or arugula leaves
  10. chopped cooked prawns
  11. sliced chillis for those who like it hot
  12. a mixture of one tablespoon each of oyster sauce and sweet chilli sauce


  • in a flat bottomed dish, pour some boiling water
  • spread a clean tea towel on your work bench
  • drop a rice paper sheet into the warm water, and swish around gently until it softens
  • lift from the water, and place flat onto the tea towel.  Very lightly sponge the surface to remove excess water
  • lightly brush the mixture of oyster and sweet chilli in a horizontal strip onto the middle of the circle ( not too much or it will get soggy!)
  • now on the bottom third of the circle, arrange in a horizontal pile, a little of all the things you want to put int the roll: if its you, I can imagine it would be cooked prawns, avocado, bean sprouts, mint and basil, cucumber slices and shredded carrot ( no crushed peanuts for you!)
  • lift the bottom of the circle closest to you,and fold over the pile,tucking in the two sides
  • roll up tightly, and……..devour! Haha!

The moist skin will stick onto itself, so you don’t even need to seal it with anything. It really is the easiest thing you could do! Enjoy, I know you love these in a restaurant. Now you should try them at home with your fav ingredients!