Pie time!!

First off, I have to say a huge thanks to my talented friends Dan and Jo from Wild Fennel Co, who supply Maisy and Grace with their gourmet rubs, for sharing the delicious recipe that follows.  I initially asked if Dan had a winter pie recipe online, and it quickly spiralled into a seriously fantastic lunch at mine, a freshly written recipe, and a blog post to go along with it.  You have to love talented friends, especially of the chef variety!  He even included my favourite of their rubs into it, making it far less likely for me to muck up the flavour when it’s my turn to cook…

Escape this terrible weather we’ve been having, and warm up with a pie!

Enjoy! xx

WFC pie


Ingredients –

Puff pastry (rolled to 0.5cm thick)
1 medium sized pumpkin – skinned, de seeded and chopped
3 red onions – peeled and chopped
1 tin of white haricot beans
30 grams Wild Fennel Co. Chicken rub (no chickens where used or harmed in the making of this rub)
100 ml cream
100g butter
Salt and pepper to season
1 egg for glazing pastry
50ml grape seed oil – for roasting
Hand full of chopped fresh herbs (if you have them on hand)

Method –

Roast the pumpkin and onion with the grape seed oil until it is caramelised and soft in a pre heated oven (180 degrees).
Once cooked, take out and allow to cool at room temperature.
In a medium sized pan bring the cream, butter, and Wild Fennel Co. Chicken rub to the boil, then simmer for 5mins.
Open and wash the haricot beans. Pat them dry, then mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Check your seasoning and transfer to your pie dish.
Whisk your egg, and brush the top and side of the pie dish so that your pastry will stick, and won’t shrink when cooking. Place puff pasty over your pie and press around the sides with your fingers.
Brush with egg wash and poke a few wholes in the top with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Bake in the oven for 15/20mins then serve.

Serving suggestions –

If you are looking for a non vegetarian option, adding some smoked fish, or roasting chicken or pork along with the pumpkin is always a welcome addition.

Pair with a salad of red cabbage, mandarin oil, sultanas and fresh herbs for some fresh crunch. And wash down with a local bottle of plonk, Awhitu Chardonnay or Cliff Edge Rose.

5 Minute guacamole!

One of my summer favourites is fresh guacamole and lightly salted corn chips.  It may be March now, and the weather is starting to slightly cool, but I’m not quite ready to give up on summer just yet.  So pair this with a cold beer or cocktail, and you have the recipe for success… at least at my house that is 😉  Between the neighbours and I we are even starting a trend with the hastags #summerofguac and #guacoclock.  Ok maybe not a “trend”, but one of us only has to whisper “is it guacoclock?” and we all come running lol.  Nothing like taking a friend down the road of corruption with you…  Now, if you’d like an actual recipe for delicious guacamole that’s ready in 5 minutes, keep reading!



4 ripe avocados
1 tomato finely chopped/pulverised (optional)
1/2 a small onion finely chopped

1-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 lime
1 Tbs garlic aioli (this is the secret ingredient I have recently learnt from my awesome neighbour)
hot sauce (optional)
smoked paprika

Halve and stone the avocados (saving a stone), and using a spoon scoop the flesh into a bowl.  Add onions, tomatoes, and aioli.  Using the back of a fork mash until well combined.  Squeeze in the juice from the lime, and season to taste with salt and pepper, smoked paprika, and hot sauce.

I like to serve mine in our white Enamel Pudding Basin (small) and use a wooden board for the chips.  If you’re not serving right away, place the saved avocado stone into the guacamole (helps stop browning), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

It’s that easy!  Enjoy 🙂
xx Shari

DIY Laundry Makeover Before & After!

IMG_9648 Last weekend I decided it was finally time to tackle the mess that was my laundry area.  A different sized washer and dryer made any sort of folding area impossible, and space for anything else was at a premium while trying to balance items on the two appliances.  I had enough!  In my house it’s an area that’s used daily, and I fully believe spaces can be both practical and pretty!  A makeover doesn’t automatically mean it has to break the bank either.  I finished this project for less than $35, and just pulled a few finishing touches from other areas of the house! IMG_6614 copy For those that don’t already know, I LOVE any excuse to bust out the power tools and build something.  So one of the pallets I had ageing in the backyard was perfect for the job once I cleaned off the spider webs, and evicted the earwigs.  Originally this pallet was going to become a coffee table, but laundry inspiration struck and plans changed!  With the help of my trusty Kreg Jig Jr to join the pieces using pocket holes, it was built in no time! IMG_6608 Our house doesn’t have a dryer vent built-in, and I hate letting all that damp air sit around in the garage, or having to keep a door wide open during the colder months.  So I decided I could build a rolling platform that the dryer could sit on, and then easily move it to the side wall when needed and pop a vent out the window.  It ended up being the most expensive part of the project at $14 for 4 wheels, but far cheaper than buying a new condenser dryer, and the icky damp air problem is solved! IMG_9653 This is the end result!  A beautiful aged wood benchtop, and a far more usable space!  I now have loads of room for the wash pile, an area to fold, and space for a few Maisy & Grace essentials including SoapNuts, a wooden scrubbing brush and a gardeners nail brush.  I couldn’t be happier with it!  And for those who are interested, the remainder of the $33 was spent on wood for the benchtop supports, and a pack of screws.  Not too bad if I do say so myself 🙂

xx Shari IMG_9660 IMG_9667

Spinach & Feta Quiche – Nom Nom!

Spinach and feta quiche you can make tonight! It’s ooh so easy and really tasty. Served up on our round wooden board, and baked in the classic 25cm falcon enamel pie plate.

Prep time 15mins, cooking time 45mins.

2 sheets of frozen savoury pastry. I used 2 so it would fit nicely into the pie plate, and just trimmed excess.  Of course you could make your own, but this is meant to be quick and easy 😉

6 nuggets of frozen chopped spinach. Defrosted, drained, and patted dry. Approx 250g

3 large white mushrooms chopped.
75g feta cheese (I used garlic and cumin for extra flavour)
1 cup grated edam cheese
Handful of cherry or grape tomatoes quartered
6 eggs
1 cup whole milk
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 9-inch/25cm pie plate and lay pastry. Trim, and place in the freezer while you prepare the other quiche ingredients.

Transfer defrosted spinach to a colander. Press firmly with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Pat dry with paper towel. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove pie crust from the freezer. Place dried spinach (add a extra couple cranks of salt and pepper here), mushrooms, feta, and grated cheese, on the bottom of the crust. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese. Lightly press in cut tomatoes, and pop in the oven for 45mins. You may need to remove the quiche approx half way through and cover crust edges with tin foil strips to stop them from over browning, but just keep and eye on it and see how you go! Finish baking when the centre is firm, remove and cool for 10mins. Sprinkle on some fresh herbs, then cut and serve with a nice crusty bread. Also delicious cold the next day if you can keep some behind!


xx Shari

Citrus Cleaner – LOVE this stuff!!


Orange or grapefruit peels + white vinegar in a jar.
Put lid on and leave it for 2 weeks, or up to 2 months, to allow all the goodness of the peels to permeate the vinegar. Give it a good shake every now and then to release some more of the goodness of natural orange oil, which is a powerful degreaser.
When you feel it is ‘done’ strain it into another container, and you can use it either straight or diluted 1:1 with water. Pour into spray bottle and there you have it.

It really is lovely to use. It doesn’t have an overpowering vinegar smell because the citrus has really overtaken, and the combo of both = cleaning heaven.

Use it as an all purpose disinfectant, surface cleaner, shower cleaner, dishwasher rinse-aid (undiluted), stove top, floor cleaner….

By Christall Lowe

Lemon & Rosemary Yoghurt Cake….easy peasy lemon squeezy

Lemons and Rosemary are rife in the garden at the moment, and what better combination for a deliciously moist cake – zesty lemon with a subtle, fresh, evergreen rosemary scent. This is an adaptation of a recipe I was given by a work colleague quite a few years ago. I have no idea where it has come from as it was a photocopy of a photocopy! No butter, just oil (unless of course you top it with buttercream like I did!).

(Recipe below)

lemoncake1 lemoncake2


1 3/4 cup sugar
Rind of 2 lemons
2 eggs
1 cup oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup yoghurt
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp fresh and finely chopped rosemary (optional)
2 cups self raising flour

Beat oil, eggs, sugar and lemon rind well, and then add the remaining ingredients.
Pour mixture into greased and lined 24cm spring form cake tin.
Bake at 180 degrees celcius for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out carefully onto a rack.

Can be sprinkled with icing sugar, or, when completely cool, smothered in lemon butter cream frosting (mmmmm)


By Christall Lowe

Cookies in a Jar

Here’s a sweet little take on our Brownie in a Jar – It’s a wee “Cookie in a Jar”! Made in our smaller Pint Mason jars, they are super cute – perfect for gifts and wedding favours.


Layer the following into a Pint size jar:
1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 cup white sugar (mixed together)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
Cover lid with pretty fabric or paper, bind with twine and tie on a tag with the following directions:
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Empty contents of jar into a bowl.
Melt 100grams butter, beat one egg, and add to dry mix.
Drop tablespoons of mixture onto oven tray.
Bake for 6-7 minutes.
Makes approximately 12, delicious, crunchy and chewy cookies!!!
(Mine turned out more chocolatey, as the melted butter melted my chocolate chips!)
Enjoy. x

By Christall Lowe

Brownie in a Jar

This idea was such a hit at the end of last year that it almost made the charts. Facebook went into overdrive and little old ‘Brownie in a Jar’ went viral, finding its way into all sorts of Christmas stockings, parties, wedding tables and teachers end of year gift piles. Amid the frenzy I forgot to even blog about it! So, here’s the Brownie in a Jar recipe (Ball Quart Mason jars available from our store)….

I first saw this idea about seven years ago when I purchased one from a school fundraiser. Unfortunately the brownie wasn’t that nice, as it had a whole heap of oil in it, so I searched around for a good, simple recipe and adapted it slightly to make a ‘jar full’ of mixture.



BROWNIE IN A JAR – The perfect homemade (and cute) gift idea ♥

This recipe fits into our Ball Quart Mason jar and our vintage ‘Agee Special’ jars. Layer the following into the jar:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup walnuts/pecans (optional – replace with chocolate if necessary)
1/2 cup chocolate chips/chunks/buttons

Cover lid with pretty fabric or paper, bind with twine and tie on a tag with the following directions:
Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius
Line an 18x28cm (or similar) baking tin with baking paper
Empty contents of jar into mixing bowl, mix in 3 lightly beaten eggs and 1 cup (225g) of softened butter.
Spread into baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes

Lovely cake like crust with gooey moist centre – and did I mention rich?! The perfect homemade gift. x

By Christall Lowe

Rise to the challenge – Easy Peasy Focaccia Bread

If there’s one thing that disappears almost as fast as the milk in this house, it’s the bread. What is it with males and bread?! So when I put the chicken casserole in the oven to cook for a few hours, I thought I would be safe to leave it, bring it out just before tea time to cool a bit, and serve it with the trusty bread. I should have known my darling Mr 4 year old would make himself a late afternoon snack, and demolish the bread that was left, while I was, oh I dunno, cleaning the toilet, or comforting the sick baby, or writing emails, or updating my Facebook status.

When I realised at 4:30pm that there was no bread, and none in the freezer, I turned to my recipe book shelf. “HELP ME!” I screamed. And out jumped Annabel Langbein. Focaccia bread. Looks easy enough I thought. I mean, how hard could it be, how could I possibly fail at making FLAT BREAD???? Surely you can’t get any flatter than flat. I’ll give it a go.

You must do this people! It’s the easiest bread ever to make (I’ve made a few in my life), and as you can see from the results – it was a success! I give myself an A+ and a chocolate (or two) for that.



Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Annabel Langbein’s “The Free Range Cook”

(I actually halved this recipe shown below and made one bread, not two)

1 ½ cups warm (not hot) water
1 ½ tsp dry yeast granules
1 packed cup cooked mashed potato
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ½ cups high grade flour (very important you use high grade for bread), plus extra for kneading
2 tsp salt

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
½ tsp sea salt

Place warm water in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the water and allow to stand for 2 minutes (I was in a hurry so I used the instant dry yeast from the packet, makes the dough prove faster).
Mix in the mashed potato (leftover from the hangi yesterday!) and the ¼ cup olive oil.
Stir in the flour and salt and mix until the dough just starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and using lightly oiled hands knead about 30 times (that’s the part I like – only 30 kneads! I can deal with that!)
Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with muslin or a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 3-4 hours or until it has doubled in bulk (but if you used instant dry yeast like me, and halved the recipe, it only took half an hour in the oven warmer drawer). You can also leave it in the fridge, covered, to rise slowly overnight.

When you’re ready to cook your bread, place a baking stone on the centre shelf of the oven and preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius (I don’t have a stone so just used a solid baking tray and it worked well).
Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured bench, divide in half and shape each half into a ball.
Roughly flatten one ball onto a tray lined with baking paper, pressing the dough out to an oval shape about 25 x 20 cm. Use your fingertips to press dimples into the top of the loaf, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and salt.

Slide the baking paper with the dough on it off the tray onto the preheated baking stone/tray. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden. When cooked the bread will sound hollow when you tap it. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking stone for a few minutes. Then transfer to a rack to cool.

Phew! Bread to go with our casserole – crisis over!

Delish I tell you. Apparently the stickier/wetter the mixture the better, so don’t be tempted to add in more flour.

Give it a go, I’d love to know how you get on. Of course, you can use whatever topping you like!


By Christall Lowe