November 24, 2009

New Beginnings

In less than a month I shall turn 50. My dear friend Gayle shall be back in New Zealand. We decided to have a lunch, a proper lunch that is, down on the farm before she returned. And so it was haphazardly thrown together with her lovely daughter, grandson and sons attending as well.

Hubby has gone to the trouble of creating an outdoor area just above the river flat. When I say creating, I mean, well, building and putting it together. He is one of those rare creatures these days who has to make everything himself. No storebought, ready-made for him. No way. That would be tooo easy. Heaven forbid.

And so out we went to christen the building and the new chairs. Unfortunately we didn't have time to drench and dry the 'kwila' hardwood chairs and so the tanins leached out and stained our clothes. Oops. Oh dear. Sorry about your very good footie tee Simon. We were guinea pigs. And sometimes we find things out the hard way because of it.

However when it comes to food, Gayle always says she loves being my guinea pig. I was very happy with the lunch and so it would appear was everyone else. Not sure if it was the outdoors but it was a lovely, relaxing day despite the searing heat. And her little grandson was very intrigued with the cows and calves. He left with a new word in his vocabulary. Moo.

I guess in a way I am like Hubby too. When it comes to food that is. I am very hard on myself and usually have to make "everything". And make everything I did. However I really enjoyed myself. I was well organised, paced myself well, and worked steadily. The most important thing is I didn't stress. I am thinking that I'm old enough now to figure out "it just aint worth it". If I "stuff up", well then I am just human. It has taken me a loooong time to get here. But I have finally made it. And I am finally relaxed. Having said that, it shall be interesting to see how I go when I cater for my 50th. That will be the 'real' test.

And so we had our first official lunch at the farm. The beginning of many, many lunches I hope to have on our beautiful place in the country. The beginning of my new self, a more relaxed self, that will in fact be able to put on these spreads and 'enjoy' doing so. The beginning of the second half of my life. Am I being a little optimistic here? Why not. The beginning of a new life with time spent more around nature and the outdoors rather than in the shopping centre. Life's good.

The Menu.

Roasted Mini Trim Lamb - A Mediterranean Morsel
Buffe of Turkey Breast with Pistachio and Bacon Stuffing
Couscous Tabbouleh
Confetti Coleslaw
Mixed Lettuce Salad with Mariana's vinagrette
Salad of avocado, cucumber, tomato and spanish onion
Oven roasted capsicum, marinated in garlic, olive oil, white vinegar
Char-grilled eggplant marinated in garlic, olive oil, parsley, balsamic vinegar
Silverbeet, Feta and Ricotta Tart
Tomato Relish
Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Vanilla Slice with Passionfruit Icing
Freshly made fruit salad with mango, passionfruit, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, orange and peaches. Sorry, no photo, but it was absolutely delish!!!!!

Stuffing for the Turkey
5 or 6 slices of multigrain bread, trimmed of the crust, finely processed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
60 or 70gm butter
2 rashers chopped bacon
1 small onion
1/2 cup whole pistachio's

Heat butter in pan, add peeled and chopped onion and bacon. Saute gently until onion is tender. Combine with remaining ingredients; salt and pepper if desired. Mix well.


  1. Oooooo Yum....ya dun it agin !!!!!I was busy and missed lunch today and have just read your post. Drool, drool :-) Oh my you did well. It all looks delish. Is the base of the silverbeet slice puff pastry or filo? I looks very do-able and I have just picked some silverbeet to take down to the city with me.

    What a month you will have in December....your 50th (congratulations in advance)AND Christmas. I hope we have a little cooler weather for your celebrations. Looking forward to hearing about the dishes you have planned for the celebration.

    It is so good to catch up with old friends isn't it. Yes...when you hit 50 you have established who you truly are and can sit back and say....take me or leave me...this is what you get. Enjoy your next 50 years ;-)

  2. What was that Frittata? I couldnt find that on the list.

    And, look at how big Peter is!!! For a second there, I looked and thought "Who is that little boy?" The last time I saw my nephew, he was a baby. Now, he is a boy. I think its time to visit! We'd love to meet up with you when we visit!

  3. oh this just made me sad!! Little Peter is turning into a little boy. We soooooo have to get up there. This spread looks amazing Marianna! How well did you all do, but I am not the least bit surprised all you foodies in the one place all together.
    Ditto to Bruno, we would love to see you in person. xoxo

  4. What a menu!! the food looks so so good! I too like to make EVERYTHING myself and I usually get stressed to learn not to. But I just can never bring myself to get 'bought'/catered food its always worth it in the end. :))

  5. Yes Linda the base is puff pastry. Just the good ole Pampas Puff. However I used a huge bunch of silverbeet and I am so envious that you can just freshly pick some from your garden. Our veggie garden is completely out of action. Still, I did get it from the farmer's market, so that's not too bad. Yes Linda, December is going to be quite frantic plus some unexpected things have cropped up just this morning. Oh well, after gloating about how relaxed I am now, I guess all will be fine. Hehe. Thanks for your kind regards. My birthday gathering shall be Dec 20th. No, of course I am not a glutton for punishment.

    Hi Bruno - so nice of you to drop by. You did a great job with your photos from Japan by the way. No frittata there Bruno. You were eyeing off the silverbeet, feta and ricotta tart. I cut it into squares rather than wedges so that may have given it a more 'frittata' look. I lined the base with puff pastry and my mixture was wilted silverbeet, heaps of shallots, feta, fresh ricotta, 4 eggs and 1/2 cup of thickened cream, salt, pepper and the real flavour sensation was I used a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Spinach or silverbeet marry beautifully with nutmeg, but, it has to be freshly grated, not the powder stuff in a tin.
    Absolutely, just let me know when you are up next and we shall get together.

    Hi Gorgeous - yes your little nephew is growing up. He was so well behaved but not surprising really because Sara is such a relaxed and 'cruisy' mother. Amazing for her firstborn to be that way. She is such a natural. And ditto to you too - welcome whenever you get up here. I have a few dates in December I may not be here, I think the 7th to the 11th, the 13, and going to Sydney in the New Year. Also going to Sydney in two days. Hope this gives you an idea of my whereabouts. Love Mariana.

    Oooh your compliment made my morning zurin. I had a feeling you were an "I make everything myself kinda gal". hehe. Seriously though, there is just no compromise to the 'real', homemade stuff. I once bought marinated capsicum from the deli and I literally threw it out. All I could taste was vinegar and none of the capsicum was even slightly detectable. I couldn't believe it. It looked so good.
    Being organised and timing really helps with nerves. Also don't be proud, if you have anyone to enlist for help, take it. What is the point of saying "I made it all myself" if you are flat out on the ground from stress.

  6. Well, Congratulations and Happy Birthday (a little early)! What a special year for you - and what a gorgeous meal! It's just before lunch here and boy am I hungry now...