When we lived in a tree house

Our treehouse had such a creative and nourishing impact on our lives from May 1998 -Jan 2015. When we sold the house we had so many inquiries about the design of the house and requests from many people who stayed with us over the years for the floor plans. So I thought it fitting to write a little piece about what it meant to live there and how some of its unique design details created such a special sense of space.

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Love, Books and Sweet Memories

It's all about the LOVE. I have been on search for the recipe for these sweet delights since first trying these delicious caramel centred light shortbread biscuits in Bookoccino book store in Avalon on Sydney's northern beaches years ago.

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Linocutscecille
A Gift For Your Daughter - A Sisterhood Quilt

When my daughter, Sophie, was 16 she won a scholarship to Atlantic College on the coast of Wales in the UK. When she was notified that she had won the scholarship we were excited and overwhelmed in equal measure. It was amazing opportunity and one not to be missed but it was a huge journey for me as a single mum, to let her go across the other side of the world at that age .. to follow her passion and dreams.I decided to create a sisterhood quilt that would honor the women that had gone before her and the woman that inspired her and that surrounded her now, as well as the inspiring peacemakers at home or abroad and the heroines she loved in books and films.

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Lemon Curd Tea Cake

This was one of my mothers go-to recipes for afternoon tea with friends. She loved to serve in on the verandah overlooking the harbour when we lived at McMahons Point just behind the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Served with fresh whipped cream and a cup of hot Assam tea or good brewed coffee and watching the boats sail criss-cross up the harbour .. nothing better.

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Taste of Sicilian Summer - Sage

One of my fondest memories of Sage is picking the large wide leaves in Sicily in the kitchen garden of Case Vecchie. As late afternoon approached we walked down the hill and through the century old vineyard towards the old stone cottage where dinner would be served.We were greeted in the garden with a refreshing Aperitif served with these wonderfully surprising treats, Sage Leaves in a Light Beer Batter.

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Food/Recipescecille
Baking for a Cheese Platter

These two recipes are super simple to make and really tasty. Great as home made gifts for a hamper or to bring to a summer picnic. The Oatcakes deliver a perfect neutral balance for any savoury topping. The Fig and Walnut Paste wrapped in vine leaves is not only beautiful to look at but with the inclusion of toasted sesame seeds, warming spices, quince vino cotto and a little ouzo they are a sweet fragrant 'friend' to cheese.

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Too Tired to Cook? - 2 Easy Recipes

Sometimes no matter how we manage our life there are times when the joy of slow cooking using freshly market produce is beyond us and we just need to get something on the table quickly.Here are two recipes to keep the "wolves at bay" while you work on the main meal or they can also work perfectly well as a delicious light lunch or dinner.

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The Classic Cookie ... three ways

My grandfather (Papa) always had his meals at the same time every day and morning and afternoon tea were always the same combination. A mug of coffee and two of "Papas Biscuits".This recipe is a wonderful biscuit basic. You can add any filling or flavour to fancy it up a bit. I enjoy dividing the final mixture into three parts to create three different flavour variations.

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Devonshire Tea and Mum

Growing up Mum had a large cast iron cauldron that she made her jam in – strawberry, fig or marmalade, volumes of it, bottled and labeled and given away to everyone who walked in the door. And her scones were famous not the least because they were delicious with her home made jam and King Island cream but because of the conversations and company that accompanied them.Everyone was welcome in our home no matter what age, region, or culture.Mum passed away last week and I share her classic scone (biscuit) recipe in her honour.

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DIY Coat Hanger and Feather Wreaths

Wire coat hangers are one of those things, like odd socks, that multiply in your wardrobe surreptitiously over time. This is a great use for at least one of them!It's a 30 minutes exercise and delivers an instant Christmas wreath... simple and easy for kids to make too.You can tie the greenery or flowers to the wire or just twist it round and around, depending on how soft and bendy the flowers stalks are. It's also a wonderful way to used fresh picked herbs which are soft enough twist around and add a lovely fragrance to the room.And at the end of the post you'll find a Found Feather Wreath which is also just as quick and easy if you already have a feather collection.

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Cooking with Chickpea Flour

Made with healthy chickpea flour and lightly fried in good olive oil ... what's not to love about these salty nibbles?At first glance, "Panelle" as they are called in Sicily, look a little bit like fat corn chips but these delicious puffy morsels are a revelation. They have a nourishing nutty taste and the flavour of olive oil without any greasiness.Watching Fabrizia Lanza prepare this dish in the kitchen of Case Vecchie was a study in wonder. We watched, with our cameras and notebooks poised and, as each step unfolded, we were no closer to imaging the last.The result served to us with a traditional Aperol Spritz in the courtyard of the old stone house, the late afternoon light receding over the hills. We could not stop eating them.

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Bringing Sicily Home

In Australia we call fava beans, in their distinctive large green spongy pods, broad beans. I always felt they were too much work until I tasted the authentic flavours of Sicily in Fabrizia Lanza's fava bean soup ... with an egg dropped in the middle and dusted with fresh parmigiana. I think you could taste the green goodness. And when I returned I waited to see them appear so I could bring some of that sicilian summer feeling into my Clareville kitchen.Here I have used them simply ... tossed into a raw zucchini salad and dropped into tomatoe and goats cheese tarts .. perfect for summer picnics.

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Afternoon Tea Classics

I have such strong memory of mum inviting the "ladies" over for afternoon tea. Beautifully dressed women with powdered faces and smooth lipstick pressed on cheeks as they said hello. The strong smell of perfume, each with their own, creating a heady mix of scent in the dining room. A medley of fine china cups and saucers patiently waiting on the linen covered dining table. These are two of mums classic afternoon tea recipes; Date Cake and Shortbread Pecan Balls. They're very easy to make .. even easier if you use a kitchen wizz.

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A Sicilian Food Odyssey

Sicily may seem a strange destination for someone who had been slowly transitioning away from wheat, pasta and dairy but there is undoubtedly a romance in the idea of living and learning in this simple rustic way and understanding the authentic roots of Sicilian cooking and farming and the wonder of bounty of their kitchen garden … tall artichokes, rows of fava beans hanging waiting to be picked, spinach, rainbow chard, tomatoes, olives, almonds, wild greens and honey. And it more than delivered.Join me on my pilgrimage to the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily with this recipe for a delicious Almond and Olive Oil Torte, "Torta di Mandorie e Olio d'Oliva"

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"Easy-as" Country Style Table Runner

A vintage linen runner, simply stitched, which I recently purchased from Faded Emporium inspired this design for an "easy-as" DIY version.Just stitch together linen tea towels and voila! For instance, for a French country look you might like striped red and white linen or for a more Australian look just the raw linen perhaps with a faint little stripe.(as they are already hemmed you don't even need to own a sewing machine!)

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Yammy Drops - no guilt

This recipe for Yammy Drops (yummy and jammy) is really a healthier version of the old fashioned jam drop. But don't expect the same shortbread consistency, these are chock full of nutty flavours drawn from the sunflower seeds, tahini and almond meal and sweetened with maple syrup .. (the jam in the middle is a real treat). They're great for school lunch boxes or to satisfy that 3pm low point when you're normally seeking out chocolate!!

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Walnuts - Cracking and Baking Tips

A walnut grower selling from a stall in a Canberra market last Saturday shared with me the "best ever" tip for opening walnuts in the shell. No more nut crackers needed when you follow these simple steps.And to celebrate the joy of walnuts we have a recipe for Fresh Apple and Walnut Clusters ... too chunky and full of apple, walnuts and raisins to be called a muffin !

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Sweet Potato Pie Base - Boom!

Following on from our focus to transition slowly (the 20% rule) to healthier alternatives for the traditional ingredients we love ... Here is a pastry-free crust for quiches or savoury tarts that really works a treat. You can prepare this sweet potato crust in the pie dish or tin and freeze it so you always have it on hand when you need a quick and tasty lunch or dinner. Especially good when you're wanting the whole family to eat just a little bit healthier. Enjoy!

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