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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Rawson


It’s a delicious 26 degrees here today and I’m sitting in the shade at the outdoor table, enjoying a gentle warm, breeze while having a cup of tea and tapping away. Since moving into our new home, time just disappears and before I know it another week has passed by.

I don’t know the legend in the Maori language but there’s a native tree here called the Pohutukawa and the legend basically goes that if the pohutukawa flowers early (i.e., beginning of December-ish) we’re in for a long, hot summer. Well take a look at this beauty we discovered on our walk yesterday morning. It’s going to be a great summer!

I’m in the throes of plans and changes for our house and as much as I love all this creative stuff, it is very time consuming. Bright and floral fabric is on order for blinds and drapes in the living areas, crisp white shutters for the bedrooms and the office are being made and our gas fire is about to be delivered. The builder who was recommended has turned into such a gem and will create a false wall to accommodate the fireplace with built-in bookcases floor to ceiling on either side. Late January is when work will commence. Then there’s the bathrooms. These will be fitted out in black and white. I’ll show you something similar to what I’m hoping to do in the ensuite, for starters.

But there won’t be a wooden table in the shower!

Yesterday, we got the last of our things delivered from our recently sold family home in Auckland and it was lovely to see my huge mirror and Italian prints come through the door. My greatest excitement though was to have my upright fridge and upright freezer arrive. I went a bit mad at the supermarket this morning, stocking up the freezer for our Christmas drinks, Christmas Day and many other social occasions to come. I’ve already filled part of the fridge with wine and bubbles and I see Steve has nudged all of it over so he can get his beers in! Priorities, huh?? I’m making lemon ice cream this afternoon (recipe to follow) and will de-bone a whole side of salmon, wrap and freeze it until required. This is the recipe I’m going to use when I cook it. The apple salad will complement the wasabi nicely. What do you think?

Christmas is on our doorstep - aaargh! Actually, I’m not too bothered as we’re staying put. Gifts and cards have been sorted and sent to the family as sadly, there’s no going to Adelaide or London for Christmas this year. We would have to quarantine both there (in Adelaide) and here. Until that changes we won’t be seeing our little Australian family or our No. 2 son in London. I know we are not alone and thousands of us (if not millions) still can’t be with loved ones. We’ve been incredibly lucky to be at the birth of our first grandchild and then to have three more weeks mid year.

What are you doing for Christmas Day? Ours will be brunch chez Rawson for eight of us - Bucks Fizz, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, sour dough toast, bagels, cream cheese and compotes. We’re planning on a decent beach walk afterwards, a few hours break and then all meeting up at my friend, Ginny’s place for the main event - turkey, ham, salads, new potatoes and all the trimmings; the 'works' for a Kiwi Christmas in the heat. I’m making a chocolate roulade and either a hazelnut meringue or pavlova for our dessert. I’ve yet to decide but one of them will have lemon curd cream, raspberries, kiwi fruit and strawberries on top. I think we just might be a tad full after all that deliciousness!

I really got ahead of myself this year and made my Christmas cake at the end of October. I’ve been dosing it weekly with brandy to keep it moist and will shortly make a brandy butter icing for it. I’m not keen on the marzipan so the brandy butter icing is a good option. I’m super happy with how it came out and it’s never failed me over the many years I have been making it. It’s huge and great to offer with a cuppa for visitors calling in or after dinner with chocolates and strawberries.

With summer upon us our Sunday farmers’ market is getting bigger and bigger each week and is full of the most wonderful food. We’ve been eating fresh asparagus for weeks now - every which way, new season fresh peas have arrived as well as slurpy, juicy sweet stone fruit. Soon it will be tomatoes falling off every stall and late summer I'll be making up batches of gazpacho to use up the glut of tomatoes. I’ve discovered a local cheese maker who makes goat’s cheese almost as well as the French. She does a wash-rind one called Yellowstone, which I love and once at room temperature it oozes out onto the plate begging to be scooped up on a cracker. Just heavenly.

My next stall visit is to Yeast Coast Bakery who make the best baguette (outside of France) as well as a delicious olive sour dough and this seeded rye loaf which is so dense and hefty in weight. A thin slice is all you need for toast or two for a sandwich; so filling. That rhubarb is now a compote for cereal. I doubt there’s much left …

There’s too many stalls to mention but one place I do love lots is the organic vegetable stall where you can buy your salad and vegetable plants as single ‘plugs’. You don’t need to buy six of anything, you can just choose what you want, pluck it out with a special stick and plonk into the paper lining your trug. At the counter, each item is counted up and wrapped in the brown paper for you to take home. It’s such a great idea as you can keep replacing/rotating your garden stock weekly or fortnightly, depending how fast everything grows.

Cos lettuce, 2 x basil, beetroot, 2 x coriander, beetroot and two lettuces.

Steve doesn’t always get out of bed early to come with me on a Sunday morning but the days I suggest he might like a bacon sandwich for his breakfast he does manage to haul himself out the door! There’s always a queue.

A couple of kilometres down the road is Scott’s Strawberry farm. Oooh la la! These strawberries taste of childhood summers, barefoot, careering around the neighbourhood with the other kids in our crescent. They are incredibly sweet. I’ll drop one in each glass of Bucks Fizz on Christmas Day.

I mentioned the lemon ice cream …. I so wished I had this recipe with me while we were living in France and London. I’ve made it often but could find nothing to compare to it online, while away. I’ve also made sorbets so have included these as well in case you might like to try your hand at these. Too easy!

You can gather how often I’ve hauled this recipe out!

We’ve also had our first visitors to stay and I so enjoyed having them. It’s been nearly five years since we’ve met up but we slipped straight back into our friendship. Both Steve and I loved showing them around but I’ll keep that for the next post.

If we don’t speak before Christmas, I hope you have a fun and special time.

If you find it difficult to leave a comment and would like to, or would like any of the other recipes, drop me an email at

Ta ra luv!


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