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Tips for happy mealtimes

After the many kind words and questions about my post on eating at our table, I thought I would give you a few tips on how I get everyone in the family sitting up and ready to enjoy their dinner together. I would also like to point out that I am definitely no expert! This is just what I have found works for our little tribe x

– Above all, don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Some meals are always going to be a disaster no matter what you serve your children.

– Make sure everyone is coming to the table hungry- if your children have been snacking all day they are less likely to eat their meal.

– Try and eat the same thing all together as a family. Although this can be difficult in our fast paced lives, it can become such a special part of your daily ritual. Put your children in charge of setting the table nicely- younger ones can put around napkins, older ones can fill water glasses or write menus. Light a candle or collect flowers to put in the middle of the table to show it is a special time for the family to come together at the end of the day.

– Try starting the meal with a salad or vegetables. This can be accompanied by a dressing or dip they can dunk their food into. It is amazing what will be eaten when you’re really hungry and there is nothing else to choose! 

– You don’t need to enforce old school rules of finishing everything on your plate. Encourage your children to try everything, but they don’t have to finish anything. You don’t want meal times to become a battle of who is most stubborn in the family! Trying a little of everything will help them get used to new foods. To start with you might get a nibble, but over time they will learn to like most things. For some children textures are what puts them off, for others it is flavour. If they don’t like boiled carrots, try them grated in a salad, roasted with seeds, or cut into sticks for dunking in hummus. 

– Just as some children are more adventurous playing, some are more adventurous with eating. Make sure there is something on their plate that they know and like so a hesitant eater isn’t too overwhelmed with a plate full of unknown food.

– Try not to label food as good or bad. Just talk about enjoying food and how it makes you feel. These green fritters make us so strong, we will be able to play at the playground for ages! Eating ice cream for every meal would give us a sore tummy, but how delicious does an ice cream cone at the beach on a sunny day taste?

– Never assume what your children may like or not like. One of mine loves nothing more than a pickle but won’t go near a cream filled donut! 

– For dessert, chia pudding or greek yoghurt with some honey or fruit is a great way to fill up any gaps and keep everyone sleeping through the night. 

 What a gift to give your children. A love of good food shared with those they love.

Around our table

When I found out I was pregnant with my fourth baby, the first thing I thought was HOW MUCH FOOD WILL I NEED TO MAKE WHEN THERE ARE FOUR TEENAGERS IN THE HOUSE!? Perhaps moments like this don’t bring out the most rational thoughts, my husband’s main concern was whether we were going to have to sell our car and buy a mini van, but this is a thought I come back to a lot. Already I feel like all I do is buy food, cook food, clean up after eating food. Luckily there is that golden moment in amongst this that is the eating food.

I love that meal times act as an anchor in our days. Now that we have two at school as well as a preschooler and a baby in the house, life can feel a little manic. There is always a sock that needs finding, a question being asked, a baby with a marble in her mouth, a boy who needs you to find the specific small dolphin toy immediately.

Breakfast, lunch (during the weekend when there’s no work and school) and dinner we sit up together at the table as a family. We try to never snack between meals, but come to the table hungry and ready to eat. We try to set the table nicely every evening with napkins and candles and water in a jug. We try to have a dessert every night, even if it is generally some greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and some stewed fruit. We try not to go completely crazy dealing with our four year old. We try not to drink the whole bottle of wine on a Tuesday. This moment, when we come together as a family and talk about our days and gossip and share food together is everything to me.

I hope that one day they all look back and remember at least one of the hundreds of banana breads I made for afternoon teas that we ate on autumn afternoons after school, the bowls of spaghetti alla puttanesca we ate on Friday evenings as we made plans for the weekend, the scrape of the knife across a piece of toasted sourdough as the butter was spread on thick and the smell of coffee in the air, the pop of a pea jumping from its pod as the first sun of spring warms our skin.

Although I feel like the time that isn’t spent in the car driving everyone to different activities is spent in the kitchen, these are the small moments that make up a life and there is nothing better than sitting round the table with family or friends that I love. And it is because of this that I thought I would get back on the blog and start sharing some of these recipes that I come back to time and time again a little further beyond our table.

So, what shall I start with?

Ready to write again.

It’s been almost nine years since I sat at a borrowed apartment table in a San Francisco airbnb and wrote the first post for Flowers in my Hair,. Today I find myself sitting with my computer open at a slightly bigger table in our home in New Zealand. Four children, a move across the world, and many, many meals later.

I didn’t think this would be a place I would come back to. But I received the email saying my domain had expired and it stirred something in me. A desire to write, to documet the chaos of our kitchen with so many little mouths to feed, the desire to take a snapshot of this stage in life that is flying past so fast that I am sure to blink and miss it. I am finding that the fast paced scrolling through recipes and snapshots into people’s lives on instagram isn’t doing it for me anymore. I am getting recipe books out of the library and finding a moment here and there to actually sit and read and immerse myself in thoughtful stories and photos of food. Perhaps this blog could be an extension of that? Perhaps only my husband will read it and that’s ok too.

I’m here.

I’m ready to write again.

Banana Pancakes for your Saturday Morning

On Saturday morning we made banana pancakes. My sixteen year old self wanted to put the Jack Johnson song on while we ate them, but much to Ollie’s relief, my thirty year old self won and we listened to Sufjan Stevens’ newest album of which I can’t get enough of, instead.

To my surprise (I am not a pancake aficionado) they were light, they were fluffy and the banana made them so sweet and tasty that they are definitely coming back to our table next weekend.


Banana Pancakes
Makes enough for four

1 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 banana (any old overripe brown one that needs using up  is fine)
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp olive oil

In a big bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a smaller bowl, mash the banana with a fork, whisk in the eggs and milk.
Pour the banana mixture and the oil into the flour mixture.
Fold the batter gently until just blended.

Fry them up and you have nine smallish pancakes- enough for the three of us with a couple left over.


We served ours with fresh berries, natural yoghurt, maple syrup and big mugs of coffee.

Lilias thought they were pretty good too. I cut up the leftovers and put them in the freezer to defrost for baby sized lunch treats. I have found it is always good to have something to pull out when you can’t quite make it to the store in time and there is nothing fresh in the fridge. Our freezer currently has ice cube sized bolognese, braised lentils, tomato and spinach pasta sauce, cut up cauliflower fritters and pureed root vegetables in little bags lurking amongst the frozen peas, stock and ice cream.

I would love to hear what go to frozen treats other parent’s freezers have, I am always looking for inspiration.


Pasta for a misty evening


I have been somewhat absent of late. A few weeks cooking for one while Ollie was in China for work, a trip home to New Zealand for a friend’s wedding, work and trying to get ourselves sorted for the baby’s arrival in just 7 ½ weeks (all going to plan), has meant I have not been snapping and blogging what we have been doing or eating. But here I am with a recipe for you.


We had a weekend of unseasonably warm weather, 24 degrees, sunny, no wind and the smell of spring in the air. This meant wandering around the city with visiting friends, iced coffees, picnics in the park and a few new freckles. A lovely way to be welcomed back to the city after twelve days of sunshine, friends and family back home.


We have also been welcomed back by the citrus stand at our local Farmer’s Market. They are currently laden with tangerines, clementines, mandarins, blood oranges, pomelos and grapefruit. Every Sunday we come home with bags of fruit, peeling and eating with sticky fingers and then watching my tummy go crazy when the sugar hits the baby. The big bowl of citrus and the sunny weather called for fresh and tasty things to eat when our friends came for dinner on Monday night. We enjoyed a quinoa, baked salmon, blood orange, fennel and pomegranate salad with fresh bread and cold white wine, followed by an orange and coconut cake that is so easy to make, I must blog it soon.

And then the mist rolled in. The temperature dropped and we were plunged back into winter. At work yesterday, all I could think of were hearty winter meals to sustain and warm us. I decided on a broccolo romanesco pasta with lots of parmesan, and perhaps some sausage meat too. May not sound glamorous, but it was perfect.


Pasta broccoli e salsiccia
Serves four

I head of broccoli romanesco
4 small breakfast sausages
4 cloves of garlic
Chilli flakes
4 anchovies
Splash of white wine
Olive oil
1 packet of short pasta such as rigatoni or fusilli
Parmesan cheese

Take your beautiful, spiralling head of broccoli romanesco, break it into florets and then wash. Cook these in a pot of boiling water until tender. While these are cooking, heat a generous amount of olive oil in a pan with the chilli flakes, anchovies and the whole, peeled garlic cloves. Remove the sausage meat from the casing so you have little bits cooking in the tasty oil, flavoured with spice and salt. When the florets are tender, fish them out and add them to the sausage. I added a splash of wine at this stage, simply because we had a bit left over that wasn’t enough for a proper glass and was looking lonely. Smush most of the broccoli with the back of your wooden spoon so you have almost a pale green sauce with a few whole florets and the little bits of sausage meat within. Cover and leave on a very low heat while you cook your pasta in the broccoli water according to the packet instructions. Combine the pasta with the sauce and plenty of parmesan and dish up.

Quick to make and absurdly tasty.




On Thursday we celebrated our first Thanksgiving with some good friends, wine and plenty of food. The smallest turkey we could find was almost 8kg, so we cut it down the middle and just cooked half of it. I had never cooked a turkey before, just watched my mother do at least one killer turkey every Christmas, but was rather happy with how it turned out. I roughly cut carrot, celery, onion and halved three satsumas to cover the base of my roasting dish. I lay the turkey on top, put generous amounts of butter, orange zest, rosemary and thyme under the skin, and then wrapped it with bacon. This meant it was succulent and tasty. No dry turkey breast in sight.


I served it with gravy made from the almost disappeared vegetables from the base of the roasting dish, cranberry sauce, sweet potato, carrot, leek, beetroot and red onion roasted in honey and thyme, crispy roast potatoes, brussel sprouts fried with bacon, a cauliflower and pomegranate dish and stuffing balls. These were made with roasted chestnuts, herbs, bread crumbs, pork mince, bacon and an egg to bind. I want to eat stuffing balls every day of my life.


We had prosecco, mulled wine and red wine. Apple pie, pumpkin pie, home made gelato and a persimmon and pomegranate fruit salad. And it was glorious.

Bring on Christmas!

Pancakes for the 4th of July

Firstly, please excuse my absence over the last few weeks. My family have been over from New Zealand and we have been too busy exploring and adventuring for me to be blogging. Now I know some people shudder at the thought of family holidays, all that time, all that family. I happen to rather like them. We have always enjoyed holidaying together so when I left home and then when my sister left home, somehow the holidays didn’t. We continue to meet up somewhere new every year, and this year it was the U.S. of A.

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We spent some time eating and exploring in San Francisco, and then went down to Monterey and Carmel for a bit of a beach holiday. Known as the fruit bowl of America, the fresh produce was incredible. So many berries, nectarines, cherries, peaches and artichokes! As well as the food, the seals and otters were pretty awesome- look at them all!

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To make things even better, while they were here my work visa came through. This means I have started the arduous process of trolling through job websites and sending my CV to anyone I think could be interested. But before I started that, we celebrated with the family all together at Bar Tartine- an absolutely incredible evening, by watching Dangerous Minds- to get me in sorted for teaching in America, and by celebrating our first Fourth of July eating pancakes- before spending the day in Dolores Park with friends.

My sister is actually the pancake queen in our family, but seeing as she had just got on a plane, I decided I would give them a go.


Raspberry and Coconut Pancakes

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp brown sugar
30 g butter or oil
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup frozen raspberries, broken up into smaller pieces
2 Tbsp shredded coconut

This is so easy! Simply mix your dry ingredients and then add your wet. If you are using butter, melt it first. This mixture will make four small pancakes, perfect for two people. I served them with some natural yoghurt and some of my kind of strawberry jam.


Happy Fourth of July, and here’s to family x