Tag Archives: australia

October …. Ireland and Australia swap weather, I cycle and a fab curry recipe!

31 Oct

Being back in the working world is really impeding my blogging but fear not .. I am alive and well!
After what seemed like an impossibly long cold rainy winter, made longer and worser in no small way by the excellent weather Ireland was experiencing and the neverending tweets/emails/texts/fb chats I was getting about it,  Perth is finally starting to heat up. It was 37.2 degrees yesterday which was LOVELY! I was delighted for Ireland getting such lovely weather as I know from living here that nothing lifts the spirits as much as a warm breeze, summer clothes and the abilty to plan outdoor events and we all know Ireland needs a lift  …so I trust you will all be equally delighted for me when I start tweeting photos of my bronzed feet in the white sand to a blue ocean background. No?!

In other news …..
I cycle to and from work now its not very far approximately 3.5 kilometres, but in the morning its mostly uphill. My bike is, much like myself, built for comfort and not for speed! So the hills are a struggle but I’m seeing it as an extra bit of exercise and am fully convinced that any day now I will wake up with Heidi Klum legs. Going home in the evening I revert to being a child and free wheel most of the way, sometimes I even stick my legs out and yell WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! The more serious cyclists in their matching lycra on skinny little bikes don’t seem to enjoy this as much as I do. They don’t know what they’re missing.

My job is going well, I am still enjoying having a purpose and a fortnightly payday! But I have noticed that having a job has brought a whole new set of worries … am I being challenged enough? what will my next move be? should I do a course? what course??? Yes, my never ending pursuit of education is back on the table, I do love a bit of study and would really like to do some here, to experience a different country’s education for one thing but I’m sure some homegrown qualifications wouldn’t do my CV any harm either.  I still have a longing to do a butchering class, it was an idea that I formed before coming to Australia but had to be shelved when I didn’t have an income, so I am going to make moves on that in 2014. Looks like I have one new years resolution already …..

Oh and some big news, although if you follow me on twitter you will have heard all about it a couple of weeks ago …  After 18 months of stress and strain we got our Permanent Residency! This means we can stay and work in Australia as residents for at least 5 years, at which time we can apply to renew/extend it but in reality once we have lived here 4 years we can apply to be citizens and get Australian passports which is more likely what we will do.  We’ve been here almost 2 years now … time flies!

As for what I’ve been eating and cooking? Well lots of Indian food lately as I have had the good fortune to make a great new friend who writes this blog: and spent an afternoon recently teaching myself and the lovely Mel from LipstickHoney how to cook some beautiful Indian dishes.  One recipe in particular from her blog we make at least once a week, Kheema or Mince Curry. Its so simple that its hard to believe its so tasty! Try it! And don’t be scared of the chillies … you’ll see that they cook for a while so there’s no scary heat left in them. This is not a hot spicy dish at all.  Last night we had this served with cubes of fried turmeric potatoes (parboil, cut in cubes, sprinkle with turmeric and fry), greek yoghurt and grated cheese … it was a like a fancy Indian version of Taco Fries! It was as delicious as it was bold. I’m not sure its exactly how purist Indian cooks would serve it but believe it me it was fab.

Here is the link to the original recipe which has some useful photos for making it the first time. I’ve added a few little comments below because that’s how I roll … x

Kheema or Mince Curry

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 bay leaves (fresh or dried work fine)

2 cloves

2 peppercorns

1 large onion finely chopped

3 green chillies

1 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste (You can buy this paste in Asian shops/supermarket but I just crush 2 garlic cloves and grate a teaspoon of fresh ginger, mash together)

2 medium tomatoes finely chopped

3 tsp tomato paste/puree

500g  mince (I’ve made with both beef and chicken, the dishes are different but both great. Any meat minced will work!)

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp red chilli powder (if you are very worried about the spiciness cut back on this not the fresh chillies)

1 tsp garam masala (this adds sweetness, if you’re not familiar with this spice mix its really fragrant)

Salt to taste

Handful of green peas

3 tblsp of oil

2 cups of water/stock

Heat oil in a pan add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns and cloves.

Once the seeds start to splutter add the chopped onions and green chillies and sauté till the onions turn a light brown in color.

Add the Ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, tomato paste and sauté. This sauce is now known as a MASALA. You need to make sure that the masala is cooked well until the oil starts to separate.

It is very important to sauté the masala well or else the dish will not taste good.

Once the oil in the masala has separated add the mince, coriander powder, chilli powder, garam masasla, salt and sauté again for 5 minutes.

Be careful that it doesn’t burn.

Add the Peas

It is very important at this stage you lower the heat and cook the mince for almost 10 minutes in the masala (chicken will cook faster than beef so use your own judgement as to when the meat is cooked)

The gravy is meant to be dry so be careful not to flood the dish with too much water. It has to be just enough for the meat to cook.  Give it around 10 – 15  minutes to cook properly and then sprinkle some fresh coriander while serving.

You can serve this dish with potatoes, rice, naan bread or other veggies if you are attempting to cut back on carbs. Cauliflower goes very well with curries, I’m still promoting cauli at every opportunity.

Let me know if you try this,


SJ x

Books, libraries, celebs and food!

18 Jun

Last week myself and my friend Donna went to a cookery demonstration in the local library. The two ladies giving the demo had been contestants on the last season of a reality cookery show called My Kitchen Rules. Its a show that I really enjoy and I believe a UK & Ireland version is currently being made with the lovely Lorraine Pascale as a judge.



Daniela and Stefania are cousins (double cousins in fact) and act like sisters, as in they bicker and joke non-stop! So amusing to watch but most importantly they cook delicious Italian food. We got to taste some lovely bites and I even had some cake (not sugar free) it was a chiffon cake and I was so interested in how it was made that I had to taste it. It was the lightest fluffiest texture and most interestingly it has to be made in an aluminium angel cake tin with tripod little legs extending from it to allow for the height that it rises! If the tin was non-stick or greased the cake wouldn’t be able to “climb” up the sides and so would flop. I am bringing this recipe home on my next visit as I know my Aunty Kitty loves trying new types of cake, I must pick up the correct tin too I believe kitchen warehouse is the place to go.

Stefania demontrating how to get the chiffon cake out of the angel cake tin (see the tripod legs?)

Stefania demonstrating how to get the chiffon cake out of the angel cake tin (see the tripod legs?)




How do I have the recipe?? Yes. I bought the book! In fairness to me I don’t have any Italian cookery books and it has been commented on more than once that my pasta sauces are not as good as jars (what an insult!!) so it was needed! But also the ladies were so so lovely that I wanted to support them.


For anyone who has just moved to Australia be sure to check out the local libraries they are really good not just for borrowing books/dvds/cds etc but also for running demos and classes … my next adventure with the library is a Penguin book club, I’ll keep you posted …

I’m also going to another book club meeting that Donna found through MeetUp which is reviewing a book called How To Be A Good Wife with the author Emma Chapman in attendance. I read the book this week and really loved it, its a long time since I have read a book with structure, a good story and beautiful writing so I am very excited to hear what the author has to say.

SJ x

Its February .. the month of love and no sugar!

8 Feb


Dry January got off to a spectacular start and continued as such for exactly 14 days and 16 hours … then a rat strolled across our yard as nonchalant as you like, I could be mistaken but I think he was smoking a cigarette – YES he  was THAT CALM!

What followed was the freak out of all freak outs on my part and after a brief draining of blood from his face a very calm taking control of the situation by Dave! Rats are one of my biggest fears in life, second only to death and in joint place with falling and breaking all my teeth, so as you can imagine I wasn’t too happy seeing one in the middle of what had been a lovely afternoon. Mr Rat, as the neighbours have taken to calling it (they had been watching him for a while it seems .. no, I don’t understand this either) had eaten all our chillies and was probably heading for the capsicums which were starting to rot in the sun. Dave disposed of all our veggie plants in one swift movement, laid poison, set traps and poured me a glass of wine. There really was nothing else for it, the only way to stop me crying was to have me drinking!

The rest of January although not strictly dry was very restrained until Australia Day which became a 4 day weekend of immeasurable fun lubricated with various alcoholic beverages … Oh the fireworks! The laughing! The fun!


And shur then it was February ….

I started reading about going sugar free in earnest after Christmas, my main source was Sarah Wilson’s blog and e-books. Any fans of Masterchef Australia may remember Sarah presented the first series, she has an autoimmune disease as do I so this really interested me as she claims to have healed herself and lost weight by cutting fructose and wheat from her diet. It was something I had been thinking about for years so I decided it was finally time to give it a shot. So from Feb 1st I have not eaten any fructose including that in fruit and avoided wheat as much as possible, I am doing really well! My tastebuds have recovered to such an extent that a glass of full fat milk now tastes deliciously sweet!

This week I joined the local library, it was such a shock to see how high tech libraries have become its a long way from the stuffy little place we used frequent in Arklow in search of Roald Dahl & Enid Blyton books! For one thing the books check themselves out these days, you can keep them for 21 days, there’s dvds too and its not quiet AT ALL! My main reason for joining was that I wanted to read another book on giving up sugar called Sweet Poison by David Gillespie, Sarah Wilson refers to him as an inspiration. The book is incredible, I read it in 24 hours (it would have been less but I had to keep stopping to get into the pool and sleep) and would recommend it to anyone interested in health, the food industry, why we are getting fatter, heart disease, cancer, diabetes or just looking to expand their knowledge base (in other words info-hungry like myself!).

I’m not going to try and convert everyone but if you have ever wondered why humans are doing more exercise than ever but getting fatter, eating more low-fat/light products than ever but getting fatter and why this has all come about in our lifetimes this subject is worth looking into!  Oh and don’t worry I will be eating fruit again in a few weeks, I am detoxing totally first then I’ll start eating it again.

Are you wondering what I am eating? If so let me know and I’ll do a post on a few meals ….

Today I made these rice paper rolls, very simple and filled with all sorts from the fridge such as peanut butter, courgette/zucchini, cucumber, carrot, capsicum/pepper, fresh coriander, last night’s roast chicken, avocado (of course!) …I’ve munched on 3 as I’ve been writing this! Other filling ideas are cold rice, noodles, meats, prawns really anything works as long as its not liquidy.  Great with a simple little dipping sauce of lime juice, tamari (soya sauce) and chilli …


Of course February is the month of love with Valentine’s Day falling slap bang in the middle of month! I just love love and not just the romantic hallmark flowers and chocolates sort but the real life best friends, sisters, parents, family, being there for each other, knowing you are not alone in this big bad world sort of love! In the past few weeks I have come across some really beautiful stories that I want to share … if you’re a Hurley get the Kleenex out ..

Bill and Shelley: Their love story 

The Race Grows Sweeter Near its Final Lap 

Ada Bryant and Robert Haire 

And lest we forget those that were not so lucky to know love in life …. Margaret Magdelene No. 322 

And as for me well I am super lucky and know first hand all sorts of real love but none so greater than what I feel for my early Valentines gift …. isn’t she a beauty????

20130208-131155.jpgYip, I’m as shallow as they come ,

Be good,

SJ xx

Christmassy Time

19 Dec

Christmas is fast approaching .. although it feels nothing like it to me as the sun is shining, I’m thousands of miles from my family and no one has asked me what I am doing for New Years today yet!
However I am doing my best to create a Christmassy feel for us so I’ve decorated our little abode,  while deciding on a theme I had toyed with something understated and tasteful like this …..

Chic Christmas TreeHowever I don’t do understated particularly well and the Christmas feeling needs a bit of help this year so I went for  “All Out Tacky” instead!

2012_12_05_14_42_339726240938784123_4945572_Hudson 2012_12_13_12_01_345443233755100562_4945572_X-Pro III have baubles hanging from every spare wall space and have taken to wearing this around the house, do you think it makes my ears look big?

Elf hat I’ve even explored my crafty side (if I have one!) and crocheted some decorations .. I started with a star

Crochet star

Progressed a little better with some Christmas trees …

Christmas tree crochet And eventually had something worthy of hanging on the wall …

2012_12_17_06_03_348162262391387407_4945572_RiseI hadn’t crocheted since I was in primary school but once I had watched a couple of simple tutorials on youtube I was flying at it again. I used this pattern for the bunting trees and this one for the star. I found the abbreviations and the different names for the stitches confusing at times but this link was really helpful in that.

So our first Christmas in the heat is nearly upon us (I spent one other Christmas in Australia in 2004. I was in Melbourne, it rained, I was miserable!) We are hosting a dinner party on Sunday, turkey with all the trimmings is the plan and our guests are all either Irish or English and away from their families so everyone is invited to bring along a family tradition. I am doing carrot and parsnip puree as we always have it and Dave’s Mum makes the most delicious potato stuffing so we are going to attempt to recreate that (hopefully the awful Australian potatoes won’t be a spanner in the works) we have even been cultivating two thyme plants especially! Our English friend is making Bread Sauce, I have absolutely no idea what this is and am very intrigued to find out. I’ve ditched mulled wine in favour of this chilled cocktail from food blogger Katie Quinn Davies (she’s Irish living in Australia so its appropriate). It should be a fun food-filled evening!

Xmas cocktail

On Christmas Day itself we shall be with my lovely Irish-Aussie cousins experiencing Christmas on the beach eating a BBtQ’d turkey with salad. Its forecast to be 38 degrees so there’s a good chance there will be very little eating but heaps of sitting in the shade melting done!

The postie has delivered lots of exciting pakcages in the last few days, most with strict instructions not to open until the 25th … but I had a peek at one or two and I am glad I did as we now that this adorable decoration on our tree …

Santa boot dec

In case we forget where we are I have also placed some exotic flowers around the place … gorgeous aren’t they?

2012_11_26_06_06_332943683723261146_4945572_X-Pro II

Only 6 more sleeps til Santa arrives ….

What are you all up to for Christmas? Any unusual family traditions? In our house we call it “Eat Yourself into a Coma Day” … I’ll miss that

SJ xx

A moving feast ….

25 Sep

In the spring of 1987 as I was eating my breakfast before school,  my mother said to my 2 younger sisters and I “There’s a surprise coming in September, guess what it is?”

“A dishwasher!” I guessed

“Well, actually yes but that will be here before September there is something better coming too …” she said.

“Better than a dishwasher” I thought to myself. Unlikely, very unlikely!

I was delighted about the dishwasher because I had recently come to the conclusion that we desperately needed one ..  you see every time I wanted to go somewhere my Mam would say “after I have done the dishes” .. dishes were ruining my little life!

As for the other great surprise? That was a third sister, followed a couple of years later by a fourth. Although I am fond of them now I was fairly annoyed that my mother couldn’t have gotten us some brothers at the time. I remember that morning so well, it was a very cute attempt to get us excited about a new baby wasn’t it? Backfired with me though!

The dishwasher in 1987 didn’t change my life in fact it probably ruined it a bit more as small children are a good height for stacking .. especially when you have a very busy mother and a “work ethic” family .. However this week I felt the excitement all over again as we have moved house and there is a beautiful new fitted kitchen and (joy of joys) a dishwasher!!

There is also a lovely little yard where we will be attempting to grow some veggies, I may need some advice on this as the seasons, climate, varieties are all completely different to Ireland.

The past week has been spent moving, cleaning, sorting, unpacking, cleaning, losing everything, slowing finding things again, buying more furniture and even more flippin cleaning … I am exhausted!

When I read this recipe yesterday I knew it was just what I needed – I didn’t have all the exact ingredients but as my national school teacher used to tell us “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” and it was delish!



Rye bread instead of wraps, fresh coriander instead of dried, cherry tomatoes instead of “cooking” tomatoes (whatever they are?), button mushrooms instead of large, lettuce instead of spinach .. and a chilli for good measure!

tomatoes cooking

add paste and herbs


sweating mush and onions Sweating the onions, low heat & patience – usually I try to rush them resulting in burnt onions! But I’m wising up … a pinch of salt helps too!

coriander and chilli I added chopped coriander and chilli to the tomato sauce just before serving …

mushrooms and balsamic Added in mushrooms then balsamic … which btw adds an amazing flavour to the mushrooms, I’ll be doing this again!

mushies ready to go


avo and toast This avo was very ripe so I just spread it on the toast but sliced would be nice too … a sprinkle of salt at this stage to bring out the flavour!

Ready for assembly ..

finished The finished dish .. it was really tasty and healthy .. if I was doing it in this form again I would poach the eggs, scrambled are perfect for a wrap!


Later on I had this … yes it is Nutella. A girl has to get her fruit you know!

SJ x








Station Street Markets, Subiaco

12 Sep

Almost every weekend since I’ve been here I’ve made the trek to Subiaco for these markets .. I love them!
From the outside it looks like nothing, maybe a warehouse or underground carpark but once you get inside its a hive of activity and I adore the buzz! I like to think I am a bit like my hero Darina Allen pottering around the English Market in Cork picking the best of everything … perhaps the sun really is getting to me.

There’s a superb health food shop called The Angry Almond where I buy porrige oats, basmati rice, dried apricots and lentils among other things from huge open metal bins. It is also a great place for spices, oils,  flours, yeast,  hard to find ingredients (just this weekend I got coconut sugar) and some good cheeses!

Angry Almond
There’s a branch of my favourite french patisserie La Galette de France, a florist, juice bar, milk bar, numerous restaurant stalls offering all sorts of delights but the largest part, and my favourite hands down are the fruit and veg stalls!!

The array of fruits and vegetables astound me everytime .. 5 types of melon, 6 types of tomatoes, 4 sizes of avocados (my addiction), fresh herbs in huge bunches, produce I don’t recognise, bright colours, fresh smells, choice, choice, choice!!


Potatoes Royal Blue potatoes are really good, they are white on the inside and sadly don’t keep their bright blue colour when cooked but taste really good!






I have no idea what this is or what to do with it? Anyone??




uglyHow’d you like them (custard) apples??!!


oranges and apples

There is better value to be had here compared with the large supermarkets, these eggs for example are about €6 in our local supermarket and since discovering these markets our food bill has decreased … however we also had to get a larger fridge for the amount I haul home every week.. five a day is no longer the aim but a minimum!

While in Ireland last month I treated myself to this new book from another one of my food heroes Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, I’m hoping to try lots of new vegetable dishes and salads suitable for the warmer weather while taking advantage of the huge array of fresh good quality product available here.


Station Street Markets are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday and Public Holidays.

Wagamama – Subiaco, Perth

21 May

I love Japanese food, in fact most asian food I’ve ever tasted has appealed to me but Wagamama and Yamamori were often called upon in Dublin to save me from hangovers that threatened my life … and rarely let me down!

Waga’s chilli chicken ramen was always a firm favourite but I also loved the noodle dishes, juices and even the thought of the tempura fish bento boxes in Yamamori make my mouth water!

So you can imagine how delighted I was to discover a Wagamama here in Perth, its situated in Subiaco which is a great suburb with lots of shops, bars, markets that’s always buzzy. We headed over on Saturday to the Subi Farmer’s Market but I got the times totally wrong and we missed it! Luckily we also had lunch on the agenda too.

I am giving the prices here purely out of interest, Perth is more expensive than Ireland but its a booming economy with higher wages so its to be expected.

As anyone who has eaten in Wagamama knows the food comes when ready and not all at the same time – it works really well for us as we love to share but perhaps not the ideal location for a first (awkward) date!


We ordered:

2 Sides

Chilli soft shell crab ($9.80)
soft shell crab coated with panko breadcrumbs then deep-fried and seasoned with sea salt and shichimi. served with a ginger and garlic vinegar

Tebasaki ($9.20)
chicken wings marinated with ginger and sake then deep fried. served on crisp salad drizzled with soy miring, sake and white sesame seeds

2 Mains

Chilli chicken ramen ($19.80)
noodles in a chicken soup topped with a marinated grilled chicken breast, fresh chillies, sliced red onions, beansprouts, coriander, spring onions and a wedge of lime

Ostunaaji beef salad ($8.90)
beef tenderloin marinated in cumin, aniseed and ginger stir-fried with caramelised red onions, sweet potato, red chillies, eggplant, mint and red capsicum in a coriander, lime and soy dressing. served on a bed of baby spinach and chinese cabbage. garnished with fried shallots

The food was all really delicious.

The soft shell crab was really crispy with a great chilli kick!

In the tebasaki there were only two small “wings” which I didn’t feel was a big enough portion for the price but what was there was delicious.

My beef salad was gorgeous, the meat was well cooked whereas my preference would always be rare but it was full of flavour and I love that there are salads on the menu here which are not in the Irish restaurants, I look forward to working my way through them all!

The chilli chicken ramen is always a really generous portion and did not dissappoint.

Service was efficient and friendly, its a lovely location & an advantage of living here is that we could eat outside on the deck overlooking the main street in Autumn!

With one beer the bill came to $67.60 (approx €53).

I am already looking forward to going back!


SJ x


Rottnest Island

21 May

Rottnest Island is just off the coast of Perth and everybody talks about it, so we said we’d better go and check it out.

I am not a fan of boats as I have always gotten all sorts of travel sickness but it was a lovely smooth journey from Barrack Street (near Perth CBD) to Rottnest stopping twice along the way to pick up other passengers. The swan river is really beautiful and we were lucky to go on a lovely sunny day.

Nice day for a boat ride.

Rottnest itself has a perimeter of about 27 kilometres there are no cars on the island so most visitors bring their own or hire bikes once there to cycle around. There is a bus tour too if cycling is not your thing.

Cycling is not my forte or at least it wasn’t during my J1 summer in Hyannis, Cape Cod, USA! I have no doubt that some of my companions on that trip still have nightmares about me swerving erratically all over the highway and going around the rotary (roundabout) the wrong way, I certainly do. However I was allot better on Rottnest, the lack of cars no doubt helped and the hills in some places were rather steep which kept my erratics to a minimum.

There are beaches all around the island and we found the ones on the north to be much more beautiful and plentiful than on the south, we didn’t make it around the whole island as on a day trip you really only have about 4 hours on the island (you spend more time on the boat) but in that time we fell in love with Rottnest. I will let the photos speak for themselves but we’ll undoubtedly be back and definitely stay 3/4 nights the next time – we spotted some gorgeous little chalets near Georgie Bay which is also near the general store that would be perfect!

And I should probably mention this thing, its a Quokka and I didn’t like it ONE BIT!

The original discoverers of Rottnest thought they were rats and hence named the island Rat-Nest or Rottnest, they’re not rats but apparently related to the Kangaroo. In my mind they were rat type creatures and I tore off on my bike the minute I spotted one … much to everyone’s amusement.

So all in all our first day trip was very successful and Rottnest is a must see if visiting Perth or Western Australia!

SJ x

Flipper’s Friends

2 May

While sitting on a bench by the Swan River this evening I thought all the talk of Sharks here in WA had gone to my head as I saw a fin and a splash!

Luckily my mind is not gone although my identification of sealife is a little off. It was a dolphin, actually two dolphins.


A childhood of watching Flipper after school was not wasted on me … I knew these critters are special and can solve all sorts of problems!

We followed them along as they swam right by the shore, diving and re-emerging and at one stage tossing a big fish in the air. It was fantastic. I may have been a bit excited causing one passer by to comment “Jeez, I thought she was going to dive in!” .. Look, we don’t have dolphins in Wicklow*!

I’ve seen dolphins before but only while actively looking for them, I’ve never been taken by surprise by one before and I have to say it made my day!

Have a little look at our superb videography and see for yourself …

Dolphins in the Swan River, South Perth

More dolphins

If you’re looking for me I’ll be down by the river waiting for my friends to come back so we can solve a few mysteries ..

SJ x

* My lovely Aunty Kathy just informed me she spotted a dolphin between Bray and Greystones last week! Not that I blame the dolphins it is a beautiful part of Ireland, the Garden if you will.  She didn’t produce any videographic evidence but I’ll still give her the benefit of the doubt, being family an’all.

For any non Irish readers that I may have Wicklow is on the east coast of Ireland, south of Dublin its known as the Garden of Ireland and was the birth place of such notable figures as Charles Stewart Parnell and my good self. Its lovely you should go and visit.


12 Mar

Its never easy to leave home, your comfort zone, much less when you thought your travelling days were done and had your sights set on a picket fence!

But every cloud has a silver lining and there is much to love about a hotter climate, gorgeous food, a more outdoorsy healthy lifestyle and being 6 weeks ahead in Home&Away 😉

Attached is a lovely short film/docu made in association with Toronto Irish Film Festival. It echoes many of the responses we would give .. I miss my friends and family and he misses his football. No one misses the rain or the negativity.

My good friend is the guy who misses Irish bread and has a refined Wexford accent!