Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gravlax, Lemon Zuchinni and "Buckwheat Bread for One"

I am currently delving in a grain free way of eating and whilst i am not planning on adopting this way of eating wholeheartedly I am really enjoying getting creative with it none the less and improving my knowledge whilst doing so.

When i first came across grain free eating a couple of years ago my first thought was - What! The next thought was - what do you eat then? My what now feels like an uneducated reaction, was probably driven by the fact that I love bread and not having bread in my life is a thought I don't care to have after all I have done countless artisan bread making courses and i do believe there is nothing more beautiful on a Sunday morning for breakfast than a couple of slices of crusty freshly baked grainy sourdough lathered in something? Anyone else out there with me?

Well for the purpose of my own personal growth and development I am putting my love affair with grains aside for the time being and focussing on choosing and making more grain free choices and less of the latter and guess what - I am really enjoying it and can now probably say that I could live without wholewheat bread if i had to. The thing that i am enjoying most is that i feel "clean" after i eat a grain free meal. Make sense to anyone else out there?

I have also been doing some additional research and I have great hope that this way of eating could really benefit my fertility patients who deal with infertility as a consequence of their auto immune disease. Lets hope!!!

The following recipe Buckwheat Bread for One is adapted from Grain Free Living. Venture on over to check out more grain free recipes when you get a chance. I found it to be a wonderful resource full of practical information.

Gravalax, Lemon Zucchini and Buckwheat Bread
Serves 1

Lemon Zuchinni:

1 large zuchinni or 2 small
Juice of half lemon
Splash of olive oil
salt and peper

Slice 1 large zuchinni into strips using a vegetable peeler
Place in a bowl and add the juice of half a lemon, splash of olive oil, salt and pepper
Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Buckwheat Bread
Adapted from Grain Free Living

1 heaped Tbs buckwheat flour
1 heaped Tbs potato flour/starch
1 heaped Tbs besan (chickpea) flour
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tspn vinegar (apple cider) or lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
Approx 1/4 cup of almond milk or enough to make a thick creamy batter

Whisk the flours, salt and baking soda together to remove any lumps
Whisk in the almond milk to make a fairly thick mixture (something that resembles thick pourable cream)
Add the vinegar and olive oil, combine well (the mixture will thicken and get bubbles)
Heat a frying pan over medium heat
Lightly spray pan with oil or melt some ghee if you have it
Pour all the mixture into the pan to make one medium sized pancake
Cook until bubbles appear and the pancake is nicely browned
Flip and cook the other side.

To assemble:

2 - 3 slices of Gravlax (Smoked Salmon)
1/4 avocado sliced into wedges
Small amount of greens if desired such as your choice of herbs or micro-greens

Place the pancake bread on a plate
Top with zucchini salad, slices of gravlax and choice of greens
Add wedges of avocado (if you wish)
Spoon lemon juice that remains in the bowl from the zucchini over the top
Season with cracked black pepper

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Friday, June 24, 2011

A Big Thumbs Up for Avocado

Cooking is pretty much a part of my everyday existence. I never tire of it and I am always on the look out for ways to improve and diversify my skills. Like many others I am also on a mission to make things healthier so you can imagine my delight when the most recent Oldways Newsletter made it to my inbox.

Oldways is an internationally-respected non-profit, changing the way people eat through practical and positive programs grounded in science, traditions, and delicious foods and drinks. It is best known for developing consumer-friendly health-promotion tools, including the Whole Grain Stamp and the well-known Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.

The latest newsletter was titled "Butter Up - Baking with Avocados" Yes, that's right! Not only were they confirming avocados greatness in salads and guacamole Oldways they were also suggesting avocado to be a wonderful baking ingredient as well. I scratched my head and thought, well why not?

So i set to thinking about two contrasting ways i could use avocado in my baking to test this out. The first one I came up with was my regular meusli slice i make for the kids. It's nothing exciting but it is a great grab and go snack that could be made healthier with avocado and the other I came up with was pastry. Who doesn't want a healthier option for pastry?

Something else worth noting is that avocado fat is predominantly unsaturated fat making it a perfect substitute for saturated fat products such as butter. When using avocado in your cooking the recommendation is 1 : 1 - easy peasy! The other great thing is that when comparing avocado to a product such as butter, calories are far less. In fact two tablespoons of avocado has 50 calories whereas two tablespoons of butter has 204 calories. Could this possibly get any better?

Well yes, because when i tasted my two test dishes I was an instant convert. I tasted, I chewed, I analysed and yes from a textural and visual point of view I could tell the difference but from a taste point of view I was very pleasantly suprised. Sure my pastry lacked the buttery flavour that makes it so luscious but I can live without that. The other bonus - the kids were none the wiser. So in conclusion, we are giving avo's the big thumbs up! Try it for yourself and see what you think. Let me know how you go. I would love from you about your own avocado baking experiences.

Test Case One:

Meusli Slice

Makes 10 - 12 slices

60 g spelt or wholemeal flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
115g Rolled Oats
1/3 cup Rapadura Sugar
60g dried cranberries (or whatever dried fruit you have on hand)
60 g shredded coconut
50g organic dark chocolate cut into chunks
85g very well mashed or pureed avocado
1/4 cup ricotta or natural yoghurt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Line a square baking tin (20 x 20cm) with baking paper

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl
Stir in the oats, sugar, cranberries, chocolate and coconut
In a separate bowl lighlty mix the avocado, ricotta, egg and vanilla
Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and mix together until combined (don't over mix)
Transfer to the prepared baking tin and level the surface with the back of spoon

Bake for about 25 mins or until slightly risen, golden and just firm to touch
Allow to cool
Cut as desired and enjoy!

* i have also made this slice with buckwheat flour in place of the spelt. When doing so I added in 2 tspn of baking powder to the dry mix. It comes out moist and delicious. I also find that when i use ricotta it tends to be heavier than when I use natural yoghurt.

Test Case Two:

Avocado Spelt Pastry

Enough for 1 family pie or approximately 12 mini pies

3/4 cup wholemeal spelt flour
3/4 cup white spelt flour
100g diced avocado
2 tbs LSA
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
50 mls chilled water (use only if needed)

Place the flour, diced avocado, LSA, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
Slowly whilst the motor is running gradually add a little water at a time until the pastry comes together. (as soon as it starts to come together stop the machine)
Remove the pastry from the bowl and knead lightly on a lightly floured bench and form into a ball
Put in a glass bowl with a lid and let the pastry rest for 30mins in the fridge to rest.

This pastry can be used for any savoury tart or pie you wish. The boys requested mini beef pies so i have outlined my recipe for that below if you are interested. I haven’t ventured as far to make my own puff pastry as yet so I used **Borgs Organic Puff Pastry that is available from most supermarkets for the top.

Organic Beef Party Pies

Makes approx 12 mini pies

500gms organic minced beef
1 dozen cherry tomatoes chopped in half
1/2 vegetable stock cube
1/2 cup water
6 sage leaves roughly chopped
1 medium size potato diced
1/2 carrot diced finely
1 heaped tbs tomato chutney
1 egg lightly beaten

** Puff Pastry for Top

Preheat a pan over medium heat and brown the mince
Add the chopped tomatoes, potato, carrot, vege stock cube, water and red wine if you wish
Allow to simmer gently for about 15 mins or until the veges have softened
Stir every now and again to ensure even cooking
Add the sage leaves and tomato chutney
Sir well and remove the mixture from the heat to cool.

Pre heat over to 185 degrees celcius and prepare trays by lightly spraying with oil
Remove the pastry from the fridge and flatten into a disc shape
Using as little flour as possible, roll the pastry once or twice then use a pasty knife to lift and rotate clockwise before rolling again
Repeat this until you have reached a diameter of approximately 25cm
Using a tea cup, cut the pastry into 12 circles
Lift each pastry circle and press into little tins or trays
Using a tea cup, cut the puff pastry into 12 circles
Divide the meat mixture between the pie bases and top with puff pastry circles (don't overfill)
Trim the edges of the pie by taking a knife and working it around the perimeter
Use a fork to press the edges of the pie together
Brush the top with a lightly beaten egg
Place in a preheated oven and cook for 30 - 35 mins or unit the pastry is golden brown
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Zucchini and Hazelnut Salad with a Lemon Caper Dressing

This recipe is super easy and fast. The most difficult part is putting some hazelnuts into the oven to roast and toasting some breadcrumbs. I have outlined how to do this below.

With regards to the zucchini, I bought a nifty little gadget from my local House Shop and the boys think it is spaghetti – you have got to love that. We also use it for carrot spirals although that usually results in the boys draping them over their ears pretending to be girls with curls. The vegetable spaghetti makes a fun addition to the boy’s lunchboxes alongside some pasta or sourdough bread and some protein such as fish or eggs. In the photos below my eldest son was pretending to be Walrus with the zucchini spirals. Anything to get them to eat fresh food I say.

A Handy Tip

In my opinion only, I believe that nothing beats breadcrumbs made from leftover wholegrain sourdough bread. It is a great way to minimise waste and all you need to do is place the stale pieces of bread into a food processor or blender and whiz rather than placing them into the bin. Get hold of your old bread before it becomes mouldy and whiz them. You can freeze them for later use and they will come in handy for all types of things such as crumbing fish, risotto cakes or topping pasta bakes.

The roasted hazelnuts give this salad a nice crunch. It is important to ensure that when roasting hazelnuts the outer skin is removed, as it can be bitter and when it comes to toasting the breadcrumbs I recommend not leaving them in the pan to cool and they will keep cooking and may burn.

I would recommend dressing this salad just prior to serving. Any leftover dressing can of course be refrigerated and use for a later time.

So enjoy and Bon App├ętit! (see recipe below)

Zucchini & Hazelnut Salad with Lemon Caper Dressing

For the Salad (Serves 4 - 6 as a side)

3 zucchinis sliced with a mandolin or vegetable spiraler
¼ cup roasted hazelnuts chopped roughly
¼ cup sourdough bread crumbs toasted
½ lemon shredded (seeds removed)
100gms sheeps milk feta crumbled
1 cup chickweed and water cress (you could also use rocket)

Roasting Hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius
Spread the whole hazelnuts, in a single layer, evenly over a baking tray.
Place in the oven and roast for approx 10 mins or until the hazelnuts are aromatic and lightly toasted. By this stage their skins should have started to come apart.
Remove the hazelnuts from the oven and whilst still warm remove the outer skins by placing them in a tea towel and gently rub together. This will help to remove the outer layer

Toasting Breadcrumbs

Place the breadcrumbs into a pan set over medium heat that has been lightly sprayed with oil
Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until the crumbs become golden (approx 5 mins)
Remove the crumbs from the pan and allow to cool

For the Dressing

¼ cup Lemon Juice
¼ cup Cold Pressed Olive Oil
¼ cup Capers
1 Tbs Wholegrain Mustard
1/2 - 1 Tbs Raw Honey (adjust to your liking)
Salt and Pepper to Season

Combine all ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well to combine

Assembling the Salad:

Slice the zucchini into spirals with a spiraler or mandolin
Add the breadcrumbs, shredded lemon, feta, chickweed and watercress
Toss gently to combine
Roughly chop the cooled hazelnuts and scatter over the top of the salad
Spoon your desired amount of dressing over the salad to lightly coat and season as you wish.
(store unused dressing in the refrigerator)

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Day at the Show and Some Pineapple Pear Muffins

So we ventured to the local show on Friday. My first time ever! The kids loved every second of it. They fought their need for sleep through tired eyes. They eyed each animal up and down and hesitantly touched them. It was wonderful to watch. We shared the day with my parents, sister, her husband, their two children and of course my own little family. We snacked on muffins that had been made fresh that morning and basked in the beautiful sunshine that the day offered. It was a lovely day but we were glad to get home and put those weary heads to bed.

These muffins are superb! They are soft and moist and you could substitute the fruit for whatever you have on hand. I had an over ripe pineapple and some half eaten pears in the fridge (kids) that i blended and turned into puree the froze the rest for future use. I have also made these muffins with mashed banana as well and they were gooooooood!

Pineapple Pear Muffins
Makes 10 small muffins

1 1/4 cups spelt or wholemeal flour
1/2 cup pecan or almond meal
2 tspn baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup pineapple/pear puree or your choice of fruit
1 egg lightly beaten
1/4 cup rice milk or cows milk

Preheat the oven to 185 degrees celcius
Combine flour, pecan meal, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl
Combine olive oil, egg, pureed fruit and milk in another bowl
Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until just combined
Spoon mixture into patty papers and bake in the oven for 20 minutes

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Choc Chunk Tahini Cookies and A Morning At The Beach

The boys are obsessed with any type of heavy machinery these days. We actually stalk work sites and do worksite drives by’s in search of machinery working – what has my life come to? The morning we made these cookies it just so happened that a digger and bulldozer were working at our local beach pushing sand to and fro. It was there that we sat for the next couple of hours watching, mimicking, gasping and eating these freshly baked cookies in the perfect winter morning sunshine.

Choc Chunk Tahini Cookies
Makes 8 - 10

½ cup puffed millet
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup spelt flour or wholewheat flour
½ cup pecan meal (could substitute almond meal here)
½ tsp bicarb soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup rapadura sugar
4 Tbs unsalted butter
¼ cup tahini
1 egg lightly beaten
½ cup dark organic chocolate chopped into chunks

Preheat an oven to 185 degrees celcius
Melt the unsalted butter over a low heat. Remove and allow the mixture to slightly cool
Place the dry ingredients in a bowl – millet, oats, flour, pecan meal, bicarb, salt and sugar
Lightly mix together the slightly cooled butter, tahini and egg before adding them to the dry ingredients
Mix well to combine and then add the dark organic chocolate mixing well once again
Line a baking sheet with baking paper and drop a tablespoon of the mixture onto the tray
Repeat with the remaining mixture
Bake in a pre heated oven for 12 – 15 mins
Remove and cool on a wire rack before serving.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Carrot & Kaffir Lime Pancakes with Hummus and a Chickweed and Watercress Slad

These made for a lovely light lunch after a morning at the Farmers Markets

Carrot and Kaffir Lime Pancakes with Hummus and a Chickweed and Watercress Salad
Inspired by The Modern Vegetarian
Makes approx 8 pancakes
Serves 4

150g grated carrot
4 kaffir lime leaves finely chopped (you could substitute the zest of a lime)
½ cup of packed coriander chopped roughly
100 gms chickpea/besan flour
¼ cup quinoa flakes
1 tspn baking powder (gluten free)
2 egg yolks lightly whisked
½ cup milk
1 Tbs tomato chutney (gluten free)
salt and pepper to season

To Serve

Small bunch of watercress and chickweed
Hummus (homemade or store bought)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined and a thick batter forms
Allow the mixture to stand for approximately 30 mins
Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat
Spoon a generous tablespoon of the mixture in the frypan to make a pattie shape and fry on both sides until golden.
Repeat with the remaining mixture.

(to keep pancakes warm until serving place in a slow oven)

To assemble

Place two pancakes on a plate and top with a generous dollop of hummus before adding a serving of salad to the top of the hummus

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Polenta Chips

These Polenta Chips are fantastic as a snack when friends gather on a Saturday afternoon or as a side to fish for something different at the dinner table. Going one step further they even went nicely in the boys lunch box the following day.

Polenta Chips
Inspired by the Modern Vegetarian
Serves 2 - 4

125gm quick cook polenta
750 ml water
100gm pumpkin, finely diced
1 vegetable stock cube (reduced salt)
1 heaped tspn dijon mustard
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Bring the water and stock cubes to the boil
Add the finely diced pumpkin and stir gently to disperse the stock cube
Reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer for 5 mins

Remove from the heat and using a hand held blender whiz the mixture until smooth
Return the pot to the stove top and set to a medium heat
Slowly whisk in the polenta and cook for approximately 5 mins, stirring gently until thickened

Remove from the heat and stir in the dijon mustard and parmesan cheese
Season with pepper if desired

Pour the polenta mixture into a 20 x 30cm tray that is lined with grease proof paper
Place in the fridge until cold and firm (about 1 hour is ideal)

Holding onto the edges of the greaseproof paper gently lift the set polenta out onto a chopping board and cut into small rectangles that resemble a chip about 8 x 2 cm and place onto a tray that is lined with foil and well greased

Pre heat a grill to 180 degrees celcius

Lightly spray the chips with oil and place under the grill until golden brown (about 10mins)

(if things are a little slow then increase the grill to 200 but make sure you are able to watch the chips as they will burn very quickly if left unattended)

Remove the tray and gently turn the chips over to grill the other side (i used a butter knife for this. The chips may lose their shape a little whilst under the grill but you can easily reform them using the edge of the knife)

Return to the grill and brown the opposite side.

Remove from the grill and allow to cool slightly before serving.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Healthy Lead - Chlorella, Chilli Roasted Pumpkin and Fresh Strawberries on Ricotta

This week we took a healthy lead from Sarah over at My New Roots. For anyone out there that hasn't come across this blog you should as it is an amazing resource for anyone interested in health and nutrition. I often pass it onto my fertility patients as a resource given the extent of wonderful nutritional knowledge they could benefit from.

Sarah's last post "Green Dream Chlorella Cream" struck a chord with me and I admit my curiosity got the better of me. So much so I hot footed it to the health food store and purchased a bottle of the named Chlorella.


Well as I mentioned, Sarah gives an amazingly detailed post over on her site that I totally recommend reading for the ins and outs but essentially - Chlorella is a green alga or pond scum as Sarah light heartedly refers that offers a comprehensive list of health promoting benefits for just about every body system and every person which is pretty cool!

We tried it and we liked it (boys included). It certainly helps that it is mixed with honey and tahini as per Sarah's suggestion (see recipe here). To date we have prepared it in two ways - firstly as a snack on chilli roasted pumpkin and secondly for breakfast drizzled over fruit toast, ricotta and fresh strawberries.

I believe for some people it can be a little hard on the digestive system so the recommendation is to go slow at the outset and work your way toward using more. Who knows you may even like it like it.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pecan and Strawberry Friands, Quinoa Patties and Some Wallpaper

Can I just say that these were the most decadent and devine tasting "things" ever. A special occasion prompted their creation and i think they were enjoyed by all based on the “these are goooooooood” comments that kept coming. I like that, especially when I know they came from my kitchen!

And with the leftover egg yolks quinoa patties were created with inspiration from Heidi Swanson. I haven’t purchased her new book yet but I have seen them recreated on other blogs to know that they look good. They were actually fabulous and included sweet potato, cranberries, some leftover basil pesto – whatever I could find in the fridge to use up really. They stuck together beautifully and the kids could handle them easily without to much mess. I am definitely going to recreate them for a later post as they would be extremely versatile and practical for the lunchbox.

And don’t you just love parents? Mine have recently sold our family home of 40 years. Sad I know but I have been so lucky to score a few treats such as the likes of this wallpaper and a collection of different linen and napery just to name a few. Very Happy!!!

Pecan and Strawberry Friands
Adapted from Canelle et Vanille

Makes 8

110 grams unsalted butter
4 egg whites
½ cup palm sugar or rapadura
1 cup pecan meal
2 Tbs cacao powder
110 grams strawberries

Melt butter over a medium heat in a saucepan until brown solids start to form on the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool
Meanwhile in another bowl, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, pecan meal and cacao powder
Add the cooled butter and whisk until well combined and refrigerate the mixture for a couple of hours
Preheat oven to 185 degrees celcius when ready to bake
Line a muffin pan with baking papers
Spoon the mixture into the baking papers, filling about half way.
Press the strawberries into the mixture.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Walnut Spelt Bread with Sunflower and Sesame Seeds

My weekly shop at the organic grocer this week left me so excited. Why? Spelt grains were back in stock. They had been unavailable due to the floods early in the year. I filled my bag and put them in my basket with a little smile and carried on.

I love to grind my own grains. There is nothing better than freshly ground flour to make bread or any baked product for that matter. In my opinion it is totally superior. I had been getting frustrated by pre ground spelt flour from the shop as I was finding the mixtures of my baked goods to be bitter and possibly an indication that the flour could possibly be rancid. Has anyone else had this problem?

It was frustrating me so much that I emailed Jude Blereau (wholefood guru) and she felt it may be a possibility. Speaking of Jude Blereau I would so desperately love to be a part of her natural chef training program. It looks wonderful and I sigh each time i lurk around her site just day dreaming about it. Daydream is about all I can do at this stage of my life so with that being said I shall continue to grow and develop my own education about wholegrains as best possible until maybe one day i can take up the opportunity.

Walnut Spelt Bread with Sunflower and Sesame Seeds
(Inspired by Galton Blackistons “Summertime”)

Makes 1 x 900g Loaf

For the bread

450 g whole or white spelt flour
pinch of salt
25 g butter, softened
20 g honey
20 g dry yeast
1 large organic egg, lightly beaten
225ml milk

1 cup walnuts roughly chopped

For the topping

1 large organic egg, beaten with 2 T milk to make an egg wash
1 T each of Sunflower (soaked for at least an hour before if you can), white and black sesame seeds, mixed together

1 x 900g loaf tin, greased and lined with greaseproof paper

Place the flour, salt and softened butter in the bowl of a food mixer and, using the dough hook, mix thoroughly.

Combine the honey and yeast in a bowl.
Mix as best you can before adding the egg and mix
Mix together thoroughly

With the food mixer running, slowly add this mixture to the flour mixture (you may not need to use all of this mixture)
Allow the machine to knead the dough for 5 – 8 mins, or until it comes away from the sides of the bowl and does not stick to your fingers

Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover the dough with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in volume.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead well with the palm of your hand until smooth and pliable. Work the roughly chopped walnuts into the dough at this stage.
Place the dough in the loaf tin and pat down gently. Set aside somewhere warm to prove again or until the dough has risen well above the top of the tin (this should take about 45 mins)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius/ 400 degrees farenheit

When the dough has risen again, brush the top of the loaf with egg wash and scatter over the mixed seeds.
Bake in the centre of the pre heated oven for 20 – 25 mins – the loaf should sound hollow when you tap your knuckle on the top and bottom.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

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Hey There, I’m Sherilyn the creator of Wholepromise. This is where I venture outside of being a mum, wife and Fertility Nurse Specialist. I live on the Sunshine Coast in Qld, Australia and am spoilt by year round access to Farmers Markets offering a plethora of local, seasonal and organic produce. In all Wholepromise is my style of food, it’s the food I want my boys to appreciate and it’s the food that makes me happy. Styling and photographing it is just another bonus.


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