Category Archives: Cooking from scratch

Tonight I dream , Tomorrow I do !

Another archived post from 2015..Cured Pork Belly, Art and Spiders. I hope you enjoy my older posts as they give you the reader some insight into what makes me tick…

Retired? No one told me!

Well, I flipping hope so.

I have spent days trying to figure out this linking. Had some great advice thank you, you know who you are.

Thought I had cracked it. Wrong! Published it and nought but blanks this picture is soooooo me at the moment.

questions-1922476_1920 (1)Photo source:

Where’s the vino???????

Rant over.

I’ll start again.

Good Morning everyone what a lovely sunny day it is.

The bacon has been sizzlingSAM_6497 and sampled so as promised here you go folks.

The Recipe:

2 Kilo’s Pork Belly.

For every Kilo of Pork use:

2 parts rock salt to 1 part sugar.

4 cloves garlic.

2 bay leaves

A bunch of Lemon Thyme.

20/30 Mustard Seeds,

12 Pepper Corns,

Celery Juice.


Finely slice bay Leaves and lightly crush with other Spices in Pestle & Mortar.

Combine with Sugar and Salt and mix with Celery juice until damp.

Rub into Pork.SAM_6494

Place Pork in a sealed container…

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New Year, New Resolutions mmmmm sort of, Maybe, Hell no!

Another post from my archives and as you can see I have never been hot on New Year resolutions but passionate about writing and cooking…I hope you enjoy my blast from the past… 2015 to be precise…Enjoy your Sunday xxx

Retired? No one told me!

Come on…own up…which category do you fall in?

Ok then I’ll go first…well events sort of overtook me…….here they come the excuses….do you know what…didn’t make any!  That’s that over with then…….

I am an Author and that’s official……Officially a published author   here is the link for you.

So for those of you who aspire to be an author, I’ll tell you my story:

All through the years I have loved and have written( mostly never finished) I was the bain of my teacher’s life as I remember writing pages and pages for my homework or maybe not ever really told just imagined at a later date that I must have been.

Read books galore.

If I wrote a letter it was probably akin to War & Peace.

Never imagined anyone would want to read what I had written or even tried to find out, just carried on…

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As 2017 draws to an end…A recap of last year…A preview of what’s to come in 2018?


I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to what 2018 brings you.

First and foremost I want to thank all of my loyal followers for without you my blog would go nowhere… Some who have followed me since day one and others I have met as my blogging journey continues… wonderful friends who have inspired me to do better next year….. There are some wonderful blogs out there and each and every one of you in your way inspires me… For that I thank you ❤

So no long list of New Year resolutions for me (I don’t) generally do resolutions in print… maybe in my head or verbally to friends and family but in print… No!

So my  New Years resolution this year is to work smarter, schedule posts and allocate time to write and stick to it…

It takes time to build a following and if you are very lucky you will go viral as for the rest  of us it’s hard work and dedication… true…I have been blogging for 3 whole years now and have seen a steady increase in followers and views over the years especially in the last 6 months but it is a hard slog easy route just hard work and of course writing posts which people want to read and want to come back for more…..


My core readers come from the USA they all seem to like this whimsical, English lady and they are not even closely followed by the UK…You guys are awesome …so thank you ❤

My biggest source of views on social media comes from FB and Flipboard with Twitter/Pinterest pretty close in 3rd and 4th place.

Overall my highest views come through WP reader…

August and October were my highest views topping over 3K…..which for me reflect all the hard work I have done since last June and my sincere thanks go out to each and every one of you who have enabled me to reach those views…Thank you x

My best post being ” Beat the Blues with Food” and I truly do believe that food should be your medicine albeit sometimes alongside prescribed medication.

I always cook from scratch and that will never change…It is cheaper, easier and no nasties and I think that overall I have been surprised how easy it is to make some food items which in the past I have bought …Driven by the fact that where I now live I don’t have access to much of which I previously purchased from stores…

I also have a little more time to experiment and have I had some disasters along the way…Oh yes!

We also now grow much of our own including Turkeys and very soon I hope to have lots of little turkey babies as the mums are sitting on their eggs and have been for a few weeks now…Exciting times and I have seen lots of new fruits and vegetables spring up over the last year as well.

All of which will provide lots of ideas for my posts in the new year…I do hope you enjoy them…

Overall a good year for me but next year will see me spend time out ( I will) schedule more posts to enable me to finish my “Cookbook”..Come on…who doesn’t write a cookbook?

It will incorporate recipes I have discovered and been gifted since living here and recipes passed down through our family over the years…Coupled with my move to Thailand this has seen my outlook and recipe file expand greatly over the last 7 years…

I have also started a new blog called Orienthailiving  so please if you support me here it would be lovely to have your support over there… It covers travel, recipes and also it has associate links but this coming year I will be selling goods which I have locally sourced so if you love my Thai recipes I will be providing some of the pots and pans which we use here…

My idea is/was to keep my first blog completely separate…What do you think.?..should I merge them at some point this year????

Maybe it would be a good idea .. it would definitely make life easier for me…

I have also been invited to do a Food Column by Sally @ Smorgasbord Health which I am very excited about and will be sharing recipes from around the world including my tried and tested ones which have been passed down through  the family for generations and my chatter because you all know I can’t just write a recipe and leave it there…haha

My monthly slot over on The Recipe Hunter which is a wonderful source of truly tried and tested recipes…will continue with my next one scheduled for the 18th January 2018.

Last but not least my Cookbook or maybe 2 and then to complete my first stand-alone novel…I have short stories in two Anthologies…so thought it was high time I sat down and wrote a novel which is an extension of one of my already published short stories.

That concludes my recap of last year and my plans for 2018…

Thank you again to all my loyal followers you are awesome and I hope you have the best 2018…


I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year… Cheers!







Desi… Atta cake… Wheat flour….jaggery…carrot…dates!!!

I am not a big cake maker but this one is an intriguing recipe no eggs or butter and natural sugars …

Cook With Reena!


So Desi, so healthy. Cake with wheat flour, jaggery, carrot, dates. No sugar, no butter, no egg. Recipe credit to Rupali, her blog The recipe was so interesting that I thought of trying it. The basic ingredients are same with little change here and there, the final result was awesome. Instead of pressure cooker I baked it in oven. I must thank u Rupali for sharing such an awesome recipe.  I copied your presentation too. it was brilliant. I am sharing my version here.



  1. Whole wheat flour- 1 cup
  2. Grated Carrot- 1 cup
  3. Grated sugarcane jaggery- 3/4th cup
  4. Black soft dates- 12
  5. Milk- 1 cup
  6. Extra virgin olive oil- 1/4th cup
  7. Chopped Walnuts- ½ cup
  8. Baking soda- ½ tspn
  9. Baking powder- 1 tspn
  10. Cinnamon powder- 1tspn(optional)


Pre heat the oven in 160 dgrees for 15 mins.

Line up the baking dish with butter paper.



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The Christmas Beetle…

Christmas Beetle

I am discovering so much about Christmas this year from how many different names Santa is called, the tales of Trolls which come down from the mountains in Iceland, all the different recipes I am gleaning from far and wide..and I love it and this little Christmas Beetle…ooooh so cute!

FORGET FROSTED GRASS and snow-covered windowsills, in Australia it’s the Christmas beetle that heralds the start of the festive season. They are so pretty with their metallic coats

The metallic scarabs are synonymous with summer Down Under – or at least they used to be.

Christmas Beetle

Research suggests that  Australia’s endemic Christmas beetle (Anoplognathus) population is on the decline.

Entomologist Dr Chris Reid, from the Australian Museum, attributes the drop in sightings to drier than usual spring weather, especially along the coast of New South Wales.

Christmas beetles in the greater Sydney region have also been victims of urban sprawl, with species disappearing from the city’s west due to much of their natural habitat being used for development.

I know people have to live in houses but urban sprawl has a lot to answer for and more care and research should be undertaken before permission to develop has been given or provision should be made to keep wildlife disruption to a minimum…Most cannot readjust.

THE  NATURAL habitat for Christmas beetles is woodland, where there are plenty of trees and rich soil. The larvae develop in the soil, and remain there as curl grubs, feeding on grass and plant roots, as well as the surface roots of eucalypts.

As fully grown adults, they mainly eat eucalyptus leaves but are known to consume the foliage of introduced species, such as the peppercorn tree.

The reason we only see these colourful insects during the festive season has nothing to do with Saint Nick aka Santa and there was you thinking it did…Ha Ha

BUT the end of spring and start of summer is when the larvae hatch out. The adults aren’t active during the winter months; they are larvae only during those months. When the adults are spotted during the Christmas month they’re at the stage of laying eggs.

This time of year is also mating season.

Christmas Beetle. 1

if you are lucky enough to see them during the day on young eucalypts… they’re usually in clusters trying to mate, with the males pushing each other off females.

They are very pretty though and Christmassy …Don’t you think?

If you missed the Icelandic Trolls then never fear the link is here tomorrow it will be Christmas recipes once again…I just thought I would mix it up a little and have a change…

My other blog… my New Blog is over on Orienthailiving and has lots of last-minute gift ideas if you are a racking those brains on what to buy…


The information about the Christmas Beetle came from Australia’s National Geographic Magazine.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay:



Christmas Recipes…Meat free.



Chard, Lemon and cheese pie



  • 300 gm ricotta
  • 500 gm chard, remove stalks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ leek, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 finely chopped cloves garlic
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 slices preserved lemon, pith and flesh removed and finely sliced
  • pinch of cumin seeds
  • pinch of fennel seeds
  • 100 gm bunch of parsley, chervil or any fresh green herb of your choice, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 eggs
  • 300 gm feta
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 270 gm pack filo pastry
  • rapeseed oil, for brushing


Let’s Cook!

Pre-heat the oven 190C/170C fan/Gas 5


Drain the ricotta in a sieve for a few mins to remove the whey. Thoroughly wash the chard, and in a clean tea towel, dry the chard, then finely slice.


Heat the olive oil in a wok over a medium heat, add the leek, onion, garlic, chilli, preserved lemon, cumin and fennel seeds with a big pinch of salt and cook until the leek and onion are softened and fragrant – about 10 mins.


Add the chard, herbs and a good squeeze of lemon juice and season, cook for a few mins until the leaves are wilted but not mushy. Allow to cool, and then squeeze the chard in a sieve to remove any excess moisture.


Whisk the eggs in a bowl until a little frothy and mix in the ricotta and feta. Stir in the greens mixture until well combined and grate over some nutmeg.



Remove the filo from the pack. Brush the inside of a 20 x 9cm deep cake tin with a little rapeseed oil, and lay a sheet of filo in it, smoothing over the base and up the sides with your fingers – it should cover the bottom and reach up to the sides, overhanging the edge.


Brush with more oil to cover the pastry and repeat, laying another sheet to make sure the base is completely covered. Gradually build up the layers, brushing with plenty of oil between sheets, adjusting the positioning of the sheets to get even coverage until the tin is fully lined.


Fill the tin with the cheese and greens mixture and cover with the filo, brushing with oil between layers and on the top. Add herbs between the layers for a pretty touch. Crumple the filo in the middle of the pie for an extra crispy ruffled texture and scatter with a few more fennel seeds.


Bake for 50 mins until golden and the filling is set. Allow to settle for at least 20 mins before removing from the tin.


Cool completely and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

I personally like this pie warm with some steamed vegetables and roasted tomatoes on the vine…although it is also very nice served chilled…

Mince pie Baklava



  • 1 x 411 gm jar mincemeat
  • 100 gm pistachios, chopped
  • 100 gm ground almonds
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 150 gm butter
  • 2 x 270 gm packs of filo pastry

For the syrup

  • 150 gm granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier or brandy

Let’s Cook!

Heat the oven to 160 C/140 C fan/Gas 3

Mix the mincemeat with the pistachios, almonds, orange zest and a good pinch of salt, then set to one side.

Melt the butter, then use a little to brush the bottom and sides of a 20 x 30 baking tin. Cut the sheets of filo so they are the same size as the tin, then cover them with a damp tea towel to stop them from drying out.


Press one sheet of filo pastry into the tin and brush with the melted butter. Continue to layer the pastry in this way until you have used up one pack of pastry (around 10 sheets). Evenly spread the mincemeat mixture over. Top with the remaining pastry, continuing to brush the layers with melted butter as you go. Brush the final layer generously with melted butter. Using a very sharp knife, cut deep, diagonal lines all the way through the pastry to form a diamond pattern. Bake in the oven for 1 hr until golden.


Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the sugar and 75 ml water into a saucepan, and cook over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer until the syrup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier or brandy. Once the baklava has baked, remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Pour the syrup over the baklava, then return it to the oven for 5 mins or until the syrup has been absorbed. Leave to cool completely in the tin, then slice into pieces along the diagonal lines. Will keep for up to one week in an airtight container.


I hope you love these meat free dishes as much as I do and the Baklava makes a nice change from traditional mince pies.

Last minute presents then pop over to my other blog Orienthailiving and see what I have found for you xxx



Fish Friday…Fried Whitebait with dill mayo


We all love these little fish the kids as well so nice and crispy and with a little mayo….lovely!

They would also make a lovely starter for your Christmas dinner table…I forgot about them when I did my  Christmas starter post but they are quite light so would leave lots of room for the luscious food which is to follow…

Fried Whitebait.


450 gm whitebait washed well

2 tbsp fennel seeds

50 gm flour

2 tbsp fresh mayo

1 lemon cut in wedges

A few sprigs of dill, picked

Let’s Cook!

Heat your oil to 200C.

Crush the fennel seeds and add to the flour, season well.

Coat the fish and fry in batches..remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain well on kitchen paper.

Pick the dill and combine with the mayo and serve the whitebait with the lemon wedges.


This is one of the quickest and easiest starters to make and nearly everyone loves little crispy whitebait…

My new blog if you would like to pop over Orienthailiving it would be lovely to see you there…