A messy life and a messy rhubarb and coconut slice

In our social media lives, we are inundated with beauty. Images of gorgeous food, people and places rain down upon us from our Instagram, Facebook and blogging feeds. This stuff floats my boat. It inspires and feeds the creative beast that lurks within. There is nothing wrong with beauty, with wanting to create it or own it. It lifts our spirits and soothes our eyes and souls when we are weary, low or merely bored.

Beauty lubricates life and is the grease that keeps my wheels turning. But there is a flip side to every coin and a ying to every yang.

When viewing these images, we can easily forget the chaos that goes on behind the scenes and that life is intrinsically messy. Children are, intimacy is, friendships and family can be. My hair is messy and curly, no matter how I may try to tame it. My house is a weird mixture of beauty, clutter and order. Work is not always straightforward, nor is writing a blog. It can be difficult to decide how much to reveal and how much to keep private. Disarray abounds.

This slice reminded me of that fact. Whilst trying to smooth the troublesome batter into the cake tin, the temptation of binning the entire bake was high. My fingers were steeped in a sticky blend of butter and flour and as the vibrant rhubarb poached, my temper rose to simmering point. The coconut crumble for the top resembled the surface of the moon and the resulting photos looked shambolic. The scrappy coconut playing havoc with my focus (both the cameras and my own.)

Don’t post, came to mind. Yet it tasted so very, very good. The jammy sweet and sour rhubarb was offset by a crunchy biscuity bottom and the textural tropical macaroon topping. The Yak was a very happy man, giving it the big coeliac thumbs up. He certainly didn’t give a flying fig how it looked.

So perhaps, loveliness is also in the mess. We were brought up to believe that beauty is only skin deep and what truly matters is depth of character. Something we try and relay to our own children. So much of the food we consume at home isn’t always picture book perfect but it certainly tastes darned good.

Beauty perhaps, truly is in the eye of the beholder.


150g butter, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup gluten free plain flour
1/4 cup teff flour (or rice flour)
2 bunches rhubarb (I had one big bunch that weighed 550g) washed, trimmed and cut into 3cm lengths
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup caster sugar (to cook with rhubarb)

2 cups desiccated coconut
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 160C and line a 3.5cm deep 16cm x 26 cm (base) lamington pan. I used a larger tin and spread the mixture out to roughly those dimensions.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and the 1/3 cup of sugar until well combined.
Sift the plain and teff flours into the butter mixture and mix well.
Using an offset spatula (the recipe suggests floured fingertips but I found it far too messy), press and smooth the flour mixture evenly into a pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool down and increase the oven temperature to 170C.
While the base is cooking, combine the rhubarb, water and 1/4 cup caster sugar in a large saucepan. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for up to ten minutes or until the rhubarb is tender. Let cool for about 30 minutes then spoon the rhubarb mixture over the cooled and cooked base.
Mix the eggs, sugar and coconut well, then spoon the mixture over the rhubarb. Press down and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until light golden. Cool in the pan and cut into squares or slices.

An adaptation of a recipe from the Taste website. Link to original recipe provided after the photos.



Kale, red onion and a splash of verjuice

Dear snotty lady in the overpriced posh food shop many years ago,

Four score and twenty years ago, I came in to your store and asked for some verjuice. I pronounced it exactly as it was spelt. Saying ‘ver’, then ‘juice’ as in ‘orange juice’. You looked down your elongated nose and pronounced in your very best plum in the mouth, lower northshore accent. ‘Surely dear, you mean ver-jus’. (Your pronunciation of the ‘juice’ as in the French pronuciation of the word jus…rhyming with zhoo..like ach-choo but softer).

Yes, you did make me feel ten cm tall (and I am barely taller than that anyway). I slunk away that day, clutching my bottle of unripe grape juice to my slightly wounded pride.

I write today to happily inform you that your elitist attitude didn’t deter me from continuing on my food journey. Some of the foodie jobs I have held did consist of educating others. I truly hope I have never contributed towards making anyone feel as small I as felt, when I left your shop that day.

This big, wide wonderful world of food is a never ending journey of exciting discoveries. Learning new things everyday rocks my very being.

Yours delightfully,


PS Get stuffed.

KALE AND RED ONION with a splash of verjuice!

2 tbl garlic infused olive oil or regular olive oil
1 medium red/Spanish onion, sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 bunch kale washed and chopped into 2-3cm strips
Splash of verjuice or squeeze of lemon

In a large frypan, sauté the onion, capsicum, salt and chilli over low to medium heat until they are soft and starting to caramelise, about 15 -20 minutes.
Add the kale, stir and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until it starts to soften.
Add a large splash of verjuice (or lemon) and stir to mix through until the verjuice starts to sizzle.
Season with extra salt and pepper to taste.

This dish is great by itself as a light lunch or dinner. Also as a side to eggs, grilled meats, casseroles, tofu dishes, anything your wee heart desires really.

This is also good with a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, added just before you pop in the kale. Due to the Yak having to talk to people all day, sometimes we have to dial back on the garlic during the week.

A cheergerm recipe

What the heck is verjuice anyhoo?

Made from unripe grapes, it was used in the Middle Ages as a condiment in sauces or to deglaze particular dishes. It is a alternative to vinegar. One of my food heroes, Maggie Beer, was at the forefront of bringing verjuice back into popularity by being the first (her claim) in the world to produce it commercially.

The mild acidity of verjuice is a real bonus. It isn’t as ‘in yo face’ as lemon juice or vinegar and is great in dishes where you want a gentler acidic alternative. You should be able to find it in good delis and in some supermarkets.

I love it as an alternative to vinegar and lemon in dressings, tossed over sautéed veggies and also to deglaze the pan juices of meat, cheese and other veggies dishes.

Please note the beautiful white pottery bowl I popped the kale in. Made by one of my fabulous New Zealand aunts who is a very talented potter.