Chilled Coconut Soup with Tapioca and Rockmelon

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“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
~ Ruth Reichl


Many years ago, when my sister and I were sharing a house, we’d sometimes venture out for dinner to a little Asian Restaurant in Market Square at Sunnybank. Our restaurant of choice was called Gourmet Court – a cheerful and cheap eating place, which was good because neither of us had any money back then! None of the staff spoke English, and the menu was all in Mandarin, but it did have a helpful photo for each dish. We would always point to what we wanted, smile profusely, and then mime drinking tea. Somehow, this crazy system always seemed to work for us. The tables were covered in red and white checked plastic tablecloths and little vases of fake flowers which was the only decor beside the lucky cat at the till.

Simone and I were always the only Caucasians in the place, and we looked out of place with our pale skin and long blonde hair. At first that felt uncomfortable but we were treated so well that we came to love going there. After we became regulars the owners would usually bring us a complimentary dessert at the end of our meal. In winter it was a plate of sliced fresh fruit, but when the temperature warmed up they brought out this unusual dish – a cold, sweet coconut ‘soup’ with tapioca pearls (made from a form of root vegetable called cassava) and freshly diced rockmelon. It was our complete favourite; cool, refreshing and delicious.

Gourmet Court no longer exists, but I’ve found a way to recreate our old favourite dish! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. An added bonus is that it’s gluten-free,  and dairy-free. I also make mine sugar-free now too, using a sugar substitute. The tapioca/coconut milk mixture will keep in the fridge for five days, if it lasts that long.

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1 x cup of small tapioca pearls, 2 x cups of coconut cream, 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar or equivalent (I use natvia!), one rockmelon (cantaloupe)

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Add the coconut cream, water, salt and sugar to a saucepan and stir well over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.

Soak the tapioca for twenty minutes in cold water, then drain in a colander. Bring two litres (8 cups) of water to the boil in a large pot, and add the drained tapioca pearls. Stir well so nothing sticks to the bottom, and keep stirring every so often. Bring back to the boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for another fifteen minutes. Then rinse well under cold water to stop the cooking process. The pearls should be mostly translucent and jelly-like with perhaps a few white spots still in the middle. Be careful not to overcook, or the tapioca will turn to mush.

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Add the tapioca pearls to the cooled coconut mixture and refrigerate until needed. The pearls will swell a little more with the coconut milk, and will provide a nice chewy texture.

To serve ladle the ‘soup’ and pearls into a serving bowl and then add a generous portion of freshly diced rockmelon to the top. I served mine to Ben and the workmen here at the farm as a post-lunch treat, after they’d spent the morning slaving away repairing fences in the heat. It was soon devoured!

The rest became breakfast this morning.🙂

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Note – this is also delicious served with freshly sliced banana, mango or strawberries.

Blueberry Coconut Pots with Chocolate Sauce and Toasted Almonds

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 “Life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks.” ~  Marilyn Wann


I held an impromptu dinner for friends last night. Roast lamb with baked pumpkin and garden vegetables, and then for dessert these little pots of joy. The pots of joy idea arose from me looking in the pantry and wondering what I could whip up in five minutes flat that would be yummy and reasonably healthy.

This dessert ticks the boxes if you are following a high fat low carb diet, and it can be made gluten-free using dark Lindt chocolate. If you are dairy free substitute coconut cream any time I mention dairy cream! Want to be completely sugar-free? Use stevia or natvia instead of maple syrup. Use a 70% chocolate or above for your chocolate sauce.

On the bottom of each pot is a firm coconut and maple syrup jelly. The jelly is then topped with fresh blueberries, a warm chocolate sauce, a drizzle of thick fresh cream, and some toasted almonds. Result? Happiness in your mouth.

These pots are stupidly easy to make. Here’s how to create some of that happiness for yourself…

Ingredients to serve 4:

1 x 270ml can of coconut milk (I love Ayam brand!) 2 x heaped teaspoons of gelatin powder, 2 x tablespoons of maple syrup, pinch of salt, 1 x cup of fresh blueberries, 2 tablespoons of warm chocolate sauce per person (that’s 8! – you can use a good commercial brand or simply combine 2/3 good chocolate and 1/3 fresh cream over low heat and stir until combined and smooth), 4 tablespoons of cream, 4 tablespoons of toasted almonds.


Place the contents of the can of coconut cream in a bowl. Then 1/2 fill the tin with boiling water and add the gelatin powder. Stir well until combined and then pour over coconut milk. Add the salt and maple syrup, stir well and pour into 4 small ramekins or teacups. Refrigerate for two hours or until set.

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To Assemble:

Toast your almonds in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. This will take just a few minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool.

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Make or warm your chocolate sauce. Don’t make it boiling hot. You should still be able to comfortably stick your finger in it. (Yum!) Too hot and it will melt your jelly!

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Divide the blueberries between the pots.

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Pour a couple of tablespoons of warm chocolate sauce over the blueberries.

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Now drizzle some fresh cream.

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Top with toasted almonds.

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Share with friends!

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Hot Buttered Apples with Tumeric and Ginger

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“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
~ Desmond Tutu


This sounds like a tasty and warming dessert, right?

Well, it is, and if that’s how you want to enjoy it, go right ahead, It’s yummy and good for you.

But then again, this recipe is so much more…

Ever suffered from drug-induced nausea, morning sickness, adrenal exhaustion, upset tummy, chemo mouth or a complete lack of appetite when you need to be taking medicine with food?

These apples contain spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves – that quell nausea, reduce inflammation  boost circulation and your immune system, fight candida and chemo mouth, and aid digestion. The fat from the butter will let you absorb all of the benefit from the turmeric, plus it gives the apples a lovely silky texture. It’s low in sugar, and soft to eat. When you’re sick it’s supreme comfort food that works to help you feel better too.

I usually make a big batch, but you could halve the recipe, or even double it! You can eat it on its own, with breakfast cereal or porridge, or turn it into a crumble. It’s delicious hot or cold, but if you’re not well, warm apples will be easier on your body.

I’ve made two batches today – some for a friend who is going through chemo right now, and some for us to enjoy at home.

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12 large Granny Smith apples – peeled and sliced, 1 cinnamon quill, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 8 whole cloves, 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 1 inch of root ginger – peeled and cut into fine matchsticks, 1 heaped tablespoon of butter (grassfed if possible), 4 medjool dates – seeded and chopped, natvia or other sweetener of your choice if desired.

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Place the apples in a large saucepan with about 2 centimetres of water in the bottom of the pot. Add the spices, and dates, and bring to the boil. Then lower heat.

Now add the butter to the apples, and stir through until it melts. Add sweetener if using. I used about a tablespoon of natvia for these apples. Place lid on pot and simmer on lowest heat for ten minutes or until apples are soft.

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Remove cinnamon quill and cloves before serving.

Serve on its own, or with a dollop of yoghurt, coconut cream (my favourite!) or cream and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon.

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Nana’s Delicious Ginger Cake Recipe

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“And I had but one penny in the world. Thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread.” ~ William Shakespeare, Love’s Labours Lost


This was my Pa’s favourite cake. It is a heavy, moist old-fashioned ginger cake and it has very good keeping qualities. Teamed with an afternoon cup of tea or an early morning breakfast coffee and you have happiness on a plate. It has that heavenly gingerbread taste. Need I say more?

Pa would often have this cake, un-iced (that’s without frosting, for my American friends) and generously buttered as a pre-breakfast fortification with strong tea before heading out into the yard for early morning chores, or downstairs into his man-cave to paint and tinker and so on, while Nana slept in.

The cake freezes well. I’ve used gluten-free flours very successfully with this recipe, and have also used it to make cupcakes, slab cakes and bar cakes.

Nana’s Ginger Cake is a picnic and mustering favourite because it doesn’t go to crumbs in your basket, saddlebag or rucksack. This is a big cake and it will easily feed a crowd.

Whenever I make it I am taken back to Nana’s kitchen, and my grandparents’ tiny neat war-service home on Marlene Street at Mount Gravatt. How I miss them!

This is my Nana , Pa and Dad just before Pa signed up for World War Two. Pa's mother gave Nana the ginger cake recipe so she would know how to make his favourite cake.

This is my Nana , Pa and Dad in 1940, just before Pa signed up for World War Two. Pa’s mother gave Nana the ginger cake recipe so she would know how to make his favourite cake.

Excuse the mess in my kitchen. I have crystals everywhere, getting ready for my next retreat in just over a week’s time!

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2 and 1/2 cups self raising flour (self rising), 1 and 1/2 cups plain flour, a generous pinch of salt, 1 generous tablespoon of ground ginger, a heaped teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1/2 cup glace ginger – finely chopped, 1 egg, 1 cup of treacle (you can substitute golden syrup but the flavour won’t be as strong), 2 lightly packed cups of brown sugar, 3/4 cup of butter (6oz or 185g), 1 cup of milk.

Note: This bakes well using gluten-free flours


Line a 23cm round, deep tin with baking paper. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Place the butter, syrup and sugar over low heat and melt until thick and combined. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Then add the cup of milk, stirring well.

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While the sugar mixture is cooling sift the flours into a large bowl with the ginger, salt, bicarb and cinnamon. Then add the glace ginger and stir so that the pieces become covered in flour, This prevents them sinking to the bottom of the cake! Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture.

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Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Starting in the middle, stir well with a wooden spoon, slowly incorporating the dry mixture from the edges of the bowl.

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When all the ingredients are combined add the egg and stir thoroughly. Pour into the paper lined tin and bake for one hour.

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Cake should spring back when pressed lightly in the centre, or a skewer inserted in middle of cake will come out clean with no mixture sticking to it. If not quite done cook a little more.

Cool in tin. Remove paper and place on platter.

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Serving Ideas:

You can serve the cake on its own, or with butter or ice-cream. It is also tasty when iced with a lemon icing. Here are a couple of simple recipes for that. Beat butter and sugar together on low speed if using an electric mixer, and then increase speed to medium. Of course if you are doing by hand, then just beat like crazy. Gradually add enough lemon juice to make a thick but fluffy mixture. Spread on top of cooled cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting: 250 grams (1 cup) cream cheese, 2 cups of icing sugar (confectioners or powdered sugar), 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice

Butter Cream Icing: 1/2 cup softened butter, 2 cups of icing sugar, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice

However, I think this cake goes best with friends!

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Celebration Cupcakes Recipe – Because We Hit 2 Million Views!

celebration cupcakes

“Children take joy in their work and sometimes as adults we forget that’s something we should continue doing.”
~ Ashley Ormon


Sometime last Friday Cauldrons and Cupcakes hit two million views.

Two million views is cause for celebration. And we did. With cupcakes, of course!

Dear Readers, thank you so much for all of the love, support and community that you’ve blessed us with since my very first blog post. It’s true to say that often the reason I have hauled myself out of bed on my less-than-best lyme days was to spend some time with you.❤

This cupcake recipe is easy to make, moist, and can be endlessly varied. It was given to me many years ago by the mother of a boy I dated at high school. Because they were his favourite, so she thought I should know how to make them! I’ve given two of my favourite variations below. One is a Strawberries and Cream Cupcake, and one is for a Choc-Caramel Deluxe Cupcake. So easy. So yum. So party!

Let the celebration begin!!!

Bert, hopeful for cupcakes!

Bert, hopeful for cupcakes!

Cupcake Ingredients (Makes 12 large cupcakes):

3 eggs, 1/2 cup (125g) softened butter (Trust me, this recipe works so much better if the butter is soft), 3/4 cup castor sugar (superfine sugar), 1/2 cup whole milk, 1 and 1/2 cups self-raising flour (self rising), 1/2 cup custard powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. 2 tablespoons cocoa and 1 extra tablespoon of milk put aside.

*Note – this mixture doubles easily to make 24 cupcakes. The cupcakes will also freeze well, uniced.


Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit). Place twelve paper cupcake liners into a cupcake or muffin tin. (This helps them to hold their shape.)

Sift flour and custard powder together. Dump all ingredients except cocoa and extra milk into a large mixing bowl. Beat on low speed until combined and then  on medium speed for four minutes or until the mixture changes colour and becomes thick and creamy.

Spoon 1/2 of the mixture into the first 6 papers. Now add the cocoa and extra milk to the cake batter, mix well and then add to final six cupcake papers.

Bake in oven for twelve to fifteen minutes, depending on speed of oven. Cupcake will spring back when lightly pressed in centre. Do not overbake or they will become dry.

Cool cakes and remove paper liners.


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Strawberry and Cream Cupcakes:

Ingredients – one cup of slightly sweetened whipped cream, strawberry jam, fresh strawberries.

*Note: I used 1 cup of thickened cream, a teaspoon of vanilla essence and 2 tablespoons of icing sugar to make 2 cups of slightly sweetened whipped cream. If you’re a cream nut feel free to use a little more.

Method – Using a sharp knife cut a circular piece from the top of each cake. Then remove some of the core of the cake to make a well, being careful not to go too close to the edge or to break the cake.


Dice two or three strawberries (more if very small) and add to half a cup of cream. Mix well. Add a small spoonful of jam to the bottom of each cupcake well. Then fill to just above the top each cake with the strawberry cream filling.


Finish each cake by adding the remaining whipped cream. Cut the small circular piece of cake into two wings, press into cream and add a few slices of strawberry to garnish.


Choc-Caramel Deluxe Cupcakes:

Ingredients – one cup of slightly sweetened whipped cream, one can of Top ‘n’ Fill Caramel, one to two tablespoons of soft brown sugar, fresh raspberries

Method – Prepare cupcakes as above, by slicing off tops and making well. Fill well with caramel. Add brown sugar to whipped cream and beat well until combined. Top cakes with whipped cream, the cupcake lid cut into ‘wings’ and a fresh raspberry. If inclined, sprinkle a little extra brown sugar on cream.

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Easy Ginger Poached Pears Recipe

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“If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.”  ~ Mao Tse-Tung

Pears are in season right now here in Australia, and they are one of my favourite fruits!

Poached pears are a delight. These ones have a gingery, cinnamon sweetness that makes them perfect for dessert, or spooned over your breakfast cereal or porridge. You can also team them with savoury foods such as pork or chicken.

They go smashingly well in a fruit crumble too.

You can easily make this a sugar-free recipe. I’ve added the instructions for that below.


6 to 8 large firm pears (really ripe ones will turn to mush!), 1 cinnamon stick or 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 inch of fresh root ginger washed and cut into fine slices or 1 to 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 and 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 cup of raw sugar or your favourite sugar substitute. (I like Natvia!)

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Cut pears into wedges, remove core and peel.

(Note: If I use Beurre Bosc Pears I leave the skin on)

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Wash and finely slice the ginger. No need to peel.

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Place water, ginger, cinnamon stick and sugar (or sweetener) in a large pot. Bring to boil, and dissolve sugar.

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Add sliced fruit, place lid on pot, reduce heat and cook for ten to fifteen minutes or until pears are soft.

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Remove from heat, and take out cinnamon stick.

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Serve on their own as a warm dessert or with coconut cream, yoghurt or fresh cream and a dash of cinnamon powder. For a fancy winter dessert, serve with a really good vanilla ice-cream.

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The pears will keep, refrigerated, for one week.

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Easy Stewed Apple Recipe

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“If God had intended us to follow recipes, He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers.”
~ Linda Henley


Stewed apples always remind me of my grandmothers’ kitchens. Both of them were avid fruit stewers, especially when fruit was beginning to get a little old, or soft, or if there was too much to eat fresh, or if it was tart and not so great for eating. Nothing was ever wasted in their kitchens.

Of course you don’t need old apples for this recipe. Any apples are fine. They are a simple and thrifty dessert that is easy and quick to make. Served plain, or with a little cream, custard, yoghurt or ice-cream it is wholesomeness in a bowl. I guess most people call it ‘fruit compote’ these days, but good old-fashioned stewed apples works for me.

I like to make a big pot so that I can have some for a warm dessert and some left over to gift others or to eat during the week. They are delicious served cold, spooned over cereal or teamed with yoghurt for a yummy breakfast. They also make a smashingly good base for an apple crumble. My Nana often served this apple with pork chops or roasted pork too. Both grandmothers served them up to us as children if we had upset tummies or were feeling poorly.

I’ve gone a bit crazy with cinnamon in my stewed apples (much more than what I state in the recipe). Why? It’s a brilliant anti-fungal and anti-bacterial spice, and it helps normalise blood sugar and reduce inflammatory responses within the body – so it’s great for people with lyme disease.

This recipe freezes well, or will keep refrigerated for one week.

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8 to 10 apples, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or 4 whole cloves, juice of half a lemon, 2 tablespoons raw or brown sugar of your favourite sugar substitute, 1/2 cup of water

*If your apples are sweet to eat you may want to use a little less sugar. If they are tart you may want a little more. Sweeten to your own preference. Natvia works well if you need to be sugar-free.


Peel, core and chop your apples into wedges. Toss them with the lemon juice to prevent them going brown.

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Place the water, sugar and spices in a large saucepan over medium heat, and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Add apples and stir to coat in the spice mixture. Leave on medium heat until water begins to bubble. Place lid on pan, turn down heat and cook for ten minutes or until apples are soft.

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This is me in my pyjamas and slippers, eating my yummy stewed apples and yoghurt in front of television last night. Cosy, snug and feeling very nurtured after a big stressful day.

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 PS: How cute are these slippers, although if you look closely the one on the left does look a little gnawed. Thanks, Harry!