Leave a comment

2017-04-18 01

The celebration that was Easter has been and gone since my last post.  The lead-up here was pretty low-key.  In fact, it was Wednesday before I really even gave much thought to the family lunch on Sunday.

Our menu ended up as follows:

Hummus with rice crackers and vegetable crudites

Cold Chicken Curry
Brown rice tossed with french dressing
Tossed green salad
Baby spinach, roast pumpkin and feta salad

Mango sorbet

Whilst we are far from self-sufficient I do like to include some of our own produce and this time I was able to make use of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocadoes, pumpkin, mangoes and eggs.

The Cold Chicken Curry is a family favourite and usually makes an appearance at most family get-togethers.  Unfortunately, I did not take a photo but I will add the recipe to the recipe files later in the week.

We had a quiet and peaceful weekend spent with various family members visiting and staying overnight.  It was relaxing and enjoyable and I hope your Easter break was, too.

Yesterday we managed to spend some time in the vegetable garden and I will show you the results of our efforts later in the week.

Remember KISS


We all know the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Sometimes I read things online or hear conversations that really leave me wondering if it is time to remind ourselves of this and, dare I say it, get back to basics.

Today I read a comment on social media from someone who wanted to know if there were any good Apps for menu planning.  I do have an iPhone and have several Apps on it but certainly do not need one to plan a menu for the week.

If you can make a decision on what to eat for dinner, make sure you have the ingredients, prepare the meal and serve it to your family then you are capable of menu planning – and it does not require an App or any other gadgetry.  A pen and back of a used envelope work quite well.

Some people plan for a month, others have a 4 week rotating menu or a set dish each week such as Monday night is pasta and so on.  Some make a fixed decision about what meal on what day or the opposite view is a list of potential meals and choose what suits each day.

2012-05-05 05

There seem to be as many ways to plan a menu as there are people but here is my take on it.

I plan meals for the coming week – 6 or 7 nights – and do it each weekend before I go shopping.  I know what staple pantry items I keep and the first step is to check for anything in the refrigerator which needs to be used up.  I also make a note of the types of meat I have in the freezer and take into account what is growing in the garden.  Basing our meals on what is seasonally available is important to me and nowhere is this more evident than what is in your own garden.  Take into account any family commitments eg: sports training, late meetings, social events.  I then make a list of meals using the ‘rules’ I have set up.  These are unique to me but I am sure you will have some of your own.  They may relate to pricing, type of food, preparation time and so on.


My ‘rules’ are that in a 7 day period there will generally be one fish, one chicken and two red meat dishes with the remainder vegetarian which will include at least 1 egg-based meal.  Also, I try to make sure I rotate the carbs in a meal and do not have rice on consecutive nights.  Our meals are gluten-free but that is really no problem for me – it is simply how we eat.  The weekday meals must be able to be made ahead and reheated or prepared quickly due to long days at work and commuting.  I generally prepare enough of at least some meals to freeze for another week.


Then it is simply a matter of roughing out a plan on a piece of paper.  From this you can then make a shopping list and buy only what you need for the week.  This will assist in eliminating wasted food and save you money.

I think the aspect of menu planning that people find the most daunting is actually thinking of meals to add to the list.  If you are struggling with this just start by keeping a notebook and writing down meals as you think of them and the meals you eat each night until you have at least 12 meals and use that as the basis of your plan.
2011-09-07 04
There is nothing particularly clever or high tech about menu planning.  It is simply a method of taking the angst out of deciding what to eat for dinner each night.  It removes the fallback position of “let’s grab a pizza/fish and chips/hamburger” and puts you in control.

A Christmas Table & Leftovers


Each year I review my Christmas catering efforts to see what worked, what didn’t and what could be changed.

As I have explained, this year was quite different as I catered for a small family gathering of 4 in an unfamiliar kitchen with limited ingredients.  I shopped with a view to minimal leftovers as well as a very simple menu.  You can see the menu in my previous post.

This was the entree – grilled asparagus and prosciutto-wrapped haloumi.  There was a roasted capsicum sauce to accompany it.

Main course
Here is the table set for the main course with grilled salmon, chestnut and cranberry stuffed chicken roll and 3 different salads.

It was very enjoyable and there is nothing that I would change.  The menu could easily be used for a bigger group with minimal additional effort.

We visited relatives on Boxing Day so the leftovers had to wait until the following day when I used them to  create a main meal salad.  I do not have a photo but here is the ‘recipe’.

Potato & Salmon Salad

6 tiny potatoes
1 small piece of grilled salmon
1 stick of celery
1/4 red capsicum (bell pepper)
Herb mayonnaise

Boil the potatoes until just tender.  Cool and cut into small pieces.  Flake the salmon and add to potatoes.  Add finely sliced celery and diced capsicum.  Toss ingredients and stir mayonnaise through.  Chill and serve on a bed of salad greens with tomato wedges.

The recipe is based on exactly what I did and it served 3 adults for lunch.

What creations have you made with leftovers during the festive season?

The Christmas Menu


As you know we are staying in a holiday apartment so Christmas this year is a little different.  I do have access to some basic oils and condiments, however, the full range of pantry ‘essentials’ that I take for granted at home are not all here.

On Sunday evening I finally made some effort to plan our Christmas Day menu but it was still really flexible when we went shopping at the Queen Victoria Markets yesterday.  The plan evolved as I found various items.  Today I went to the local shops to pick up the last few things I would need and I have started the preparation.

Here is the menu.


Cracker biscuits and vegie sticks with dips – beetroot, pumpkin, carrot & coriander and 1 other which I can’t remember.


Grilled prosciutto-wrapped haloumi and grilled asparagus with roasted capsicum salsa


Chicken roll with spinach and pinenut stuffing
Seared Atlantic salmon with lime and cucumberPotato salad with herbed mayonnaise dressing
Roasted balsamic pumpkin, red onion and feta salad
Rocket, avocado, tomato and capsicum salad


Berry meringue smash

It is designed to be a simple yet special meal which I can prepare in an unfamiliar kitchen with minimal extra ingredients.  I have made the pumpkin salad, cooked the potatoes, wrapped the haloumi in prosciutto, roasted the capsicum and made the salsa.

Tomorrow I will assemble the other salads, roast the chicken and make the dessert.  The Duke will cook the asparagus, haloumi and salmon on the BBQ.

I am looking forward to sharing a relaxing day with my family.