Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oranges and lemons

And grapefruits, and mandarins too! Check out the new issue of Little Treasures Magazine for four pages full of citrusy ideas! The recipes are perfect to keep up that vitamin C intake, so essential in winter for Mums and the little ones!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Food styling and props for a photo shoot

Usually I don't like to 'over-style' or use too many props. Like for ingredients often less is best (unless you are making lasagne!) and when I can I want to ingredients to be 'the props', especially when they are beautiful fruit and veggies! Where did these 'ingredients/props' end up? I will let you know tomorrow! For now I just wanted to show you the pictures I took (very quickly) with my iPhone, I hope that my photographer Sean will think that I am getting better!

Photos  by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, July 28, 2012

From my veggie garden

Mostly there is mud, but occasionally I can pick something! Cavolo nero still the main (although receding) crop, only one cabbage big enough to pick (and it was a miniature one!!!) and my last bock choy. But I can see more brassica trying not to drown like the fennel, and I am starting to pick a few celery legs, even if they are still small. And in the background... yes.. Cape gooseberries, but they mostly taste of water now...

Photo  by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pumpkin and red onion soup with thyme and rosemary flowers


1 red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
2 kg pumpkin flesh
1 celery stick with leaves
2 l vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
A few sprigs of thyme
A few rosemary flowers


A nice soup for the weekend, simple, just chop a red onion and sauté with olive oil. Add cut and peeled pumpkin, a celery stalk with leaves and some vegetable stock. When the vegetables are cooked blend the soup, adjust with salt and pepper and then decorate with fresh thyme and rosemary flowers (these can be eaten and will give the soup a lovely rosemary flavor without any of the woody leaves!).

Happy Weekend to all!

With this recipe I take part in the  The Soup Kitchen Monthly Blogger Event, this month's theme is Olympic Soup.

Photos and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dressed potatoes

Photo and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini ©

My thin cut roast potatoes looked like dolls, so I decided to "dress them up". 
What do you think?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Alice Springs, the Camel Cup and a On the Road

Salt Pond

The highlight of Alice Springs was the Desert Park, you can easily spend the entire day there (and part of the night too, to see some nigh animals) and I strongly recommend it! There are several talks during the days, we went to the bird viewing and talk, which was fun and entertaining,

Then the bush tucker presentation (traditional Aboriginal food), and there was a lot of talk about hunting, looking for water, but also foraging (below some interesting edible plants, and if you remember I showed you the bush bananas here). The Aboriginal guide showed us some pretty cool tools and boomerangs, and I loved these wood containers, maybe because there are what the women use for foraging (mostly plants) and I even bought one for myself. I may use it to pick kahikatea berries in New Zealand!

The Desert Park hosts several plants and desert flowers, animal enclosures, easy walks and things to do.  We also went to the museum, but no photos (not allowed), and for the aviation part of the museum... I didn't have any more battery. Still, I satisfied my curiosity about the famous Flying Doctors!

Walking around the old Telegraph Statin and an Emu

Then around the city there are several walks, like around the old Telegraph Station, and of course the MacDonnell Ranges, so beautiful at sunset, but at every hour of the day too really! Arantxa took this funny photo of me posing in front of the MacDonnell Ranges (unaware of Max in the background pulling faces!). Out of focus unfortunately, but it makes me smile so I will share it with you ;-).

After a few days in Alice Springs we drove to Uluru and Kata Tjuta, it took about 5 and a half hours and on the way you can see a lot of desert and the beautiful monolith Artilla (aboriginal name), or Mount Conner (some people call it Connor or even O'Connor...it was quite strange to look it up on Google and find all these names for it!!).

Artilla (aboriginal name), or Mount Conner

Then it was exciting to meet a dingo. Isn't he cute?!?

Dingo love

Unfortunately we also saw a bush fire. At first we saw some really black smoke in the distance, then a lot of fire, and it didn't look like a normal bush fire (done on purpose to control plant growth). As we keep driving the fire got closer and closer to the road until it was on the border of it... and then we saw the cause: a car and trailer had cought fire! Fortunately the passengers (a family with 4 kids) managed to escape in time, and the gasoline truck that was coming up on the other side of the road stopped 50 metres before the car exploded. The police was arriving just as we were driving away, followed by the fire truck, and the news was in the paper the day after. I could not believe how fast fire had spread in such a short time, quite scary really!

We returned to Alice Springs in time to see the Camel Cup. Central Australia is full of camels, they were  'imported' to carry provisions to the first settlers, and then let free when no longer needed, and now they live wild in the the desert (a bit too many, apparently). I think that there are still a couple of camel farms around Alice Springs (we saw one) to give tourists a ride, and the Camel Cup has became a unique event for Alice Springs. The races were classified as 'safe' for the animals, and camels looked quite uncomfortable to ride really! Some camels run and some just decided to walk, a few went the wrong way, or tipped off their riders (especially in the first race, the Vet race, poor vets!). In between this calm chaos they had other competitions like kid races (without camels), and some people dressed up (I bought an Australian hat for the occasion). Very much a community event really, and I never got so close to camels myself before, so it was nice to discover that they are quite handsome. What do you think? :-). 

Photos: Alessandra  Zecchini and Arantxa Zecchini Dowling ©

Friday, July 20, 2012

Uluru (Ayers Rock), the most famous rock in Australia (and the world?)

Yes, a childhood dream come true, after 5 and half hours drive from Alice Spring we finally reached Uluru! Like every tourist who comes here we headed for the only resort complex in the area (this one, but there is a wide range of accommodations for different budgets), and since it was late afternoon we strolled to a quiet Uluru viewing area to see the sunset.

Almost twilight... the sun is about to disappear from behind our backs...

The sun is at the horizon now and the sand looks really red!

Twilight! The viewing area had two chairs (and only us!) There was a table there too, I am sure that they set it up to do romantic dinners and photo shoots... if I had knew I would have brought out dinner for us and some props :-)!  Next time perhaps!

The second day we drove to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and all around Uluru. There are a number of walks to do, we did one by ourselves and one with a park ranger.

At close distance every angle of the rock looks different. It is truly spectacular

The black stripes are where water falls when it rains

The guide showed us several rock paintings and he did a few designs for us on the sand to understand the meaning of them. You can find some here!

Although the local Aboriginal people, the park rangers and the geologists ask tourists not to climb, here is a long line of people who still does it. The whitish line that you can see there is rubber from under their shoes. The guide also told us that at the top a few people also 'do their business' which is quite polluting and yuk! And that some throw the ashes of their departed there too (and below, he showed us a spot where grey ashes were freshly sprinkled!) This too is very polluting in this sensitive area. 

Of course I didn't. None of us did. And after all I always dreamed of seeing Uluru, but I never thought that it was also necessary to climb it, and even if I would have want it to, I don't think that it is right or ethical to do so, especially with a bunch of insensitive tourists with rubber shoes who pee and throw ashes around!

On the third morning we got up really early to drive back into the park to watch the sunrise. It was freezing cold and also cloudy, so the light wasn't the best, but nevertheless, it was magic! 

Photos: Alessandra  Zecchini  ©

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Australia

Driving towards Kata Tjuta, a WOW view from the front seat

I have been to Australia many times, but like most visitors (and Australians) always around the coast, in cities, or even in Tasmania, and never in the dry red centre! But I always wanted to come here. Maybe it is because the desert and big red rocks is what I always saw in the geography books we used in school when I was a child (books which dedicated very few pages to this continent, btw). The other pictures were of Kangaroos.

Or maybe because I was "impressed" early in life by the book A town like Alice (funny enough in Italian the word town was translated as città, so I kept saying A city like Alice, infuriating my husband who kept correcting me).

Anyway, I always dreamed to visit the outback. And one of the most spectacular thing I saw was Kata Tjuta, almost as impressive as Uluru (next post, for sure!!!). Kata Tjuta has 36 domes and covers 35 square kilometres, the highest dome is Mt Olga (1066 above sea level, 546 above the plain). Among these 36 big rocks I felt like a figurine form a nativity set, or a toy soldier in a gigantic canyon.

But the thing that I liked more was to see the colours! Kata Tjuta doesn't have a permanent water hole, but several holes fill with rain water, and in the last two years there has been more rain than usual in the desert, so the plants where green and lush! And the little water that you could see felt so precious, and just look at this reflection below!

It was late afternoon and cloudy, but every now and then the sun would come out from behind a cloud and give the rocks a beautiful red glow.

Now, I know that you cannot see them, and in moments like these I really wish I had a good camera with a mega zoom... but behind those bushes we saw two big kangaroos! I have seen many types of wallaby and small kangaroo before in the wild, but never the big ones! It was trilling! They stayed far away from us, hiding, and looked almost as red as the rocks!

It got close to sunset time, so we moved "into position" to take a good sunset picture. There were so many clouds in the sky by then that I wasn't sure of what we would see, but even then in the course of 5 -10 minutes the colour of the rocks and surrounding area changed magically in front of our eyes! Here is the grand finale: a set of three consecutive Kata Tjuta sunset pictures.

Photos: Alessandra  Zecchini  ©

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Flowers in the desert

I am bewitched by the red sand in arid Central Australia, but most of all by the plants. Because there has been lots of rain in the last two years (I mean, a lot for this area...) the desert is quite green, and the Desert Park in Alice Springs is full of flowers too, mostly daisies. 

Look at all these colours! Several plants and flowers are medicinal or edible, other are just fun! I love the name the English gave to this one below... poached egg daisy! I thought that it looked more like a sunny side up egg ;-)! Pity that there isn't an Arrente name for it. (Arrente are the Aboriginal people of this area).
Photos: Alessandra  Zecchini  ©

Red Sand

Photo: Alessandra  Zecchini  ©


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