Slow Cooked Beef, Barley and Vegetable Soup


Nanny’s Soup

There are few greater feelings for a mother than having dinner on at 9.30am – knowing that you won’t have to pull a rabbit out of a hat later on when everyone is tired and cranky. Better still, is when dinner is this magical healing soup.
It’s based on the delicious soup my mum made us every winter to fill our bellies and ward away the coughs and colds. Which we all have here at the moment – terrible coughs, aches, fevers and chills. It’s rough taking care of sick kids when you’re delirious with fever yourself…
Anyway, hopefully this soup will help return us to good health. (And hurry up Spring!)
It’s cheap, it’s easy and utterly delicious. I make a huge batch so that I can freeze half.
Nanny adds a packet of chicken noodle soup to hers at the end for a bit of extra flavour but as we like to avoid additives I add half a cup of risoni, some mixed dried herbs and a good pinch of sea salt instead.

Here’s How:

In a slow cooker (or large stock pot if making in the stove top)


At least 500 g of a cheap cut of beef – I used 4 pieces of Osso bucco this time as I like to get all those healing minerals from the bones and marrow but I’ve also used gravy beef, casserole/chuck steak etc…
1.5 cup soup mix (Barley, split peas etc…)
1 diced onion
2-3 minced/finely chopped garlic cloves
2 carrots diced, chopped or grated
2 celery sticks, chopped
Optional (1 grated parsnip)
2 litres stock
Top up with 1 litre of water
Good pinch of salt and cracked pepper
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
1/2 cup risoni

Cook on low for 8 hours
After 4 hours, remove meat and cut into bite size pieces, return bones and all to the pot.
Add risoni 1 hour before serving.



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Winter Garden


From the excitement of settling snow so close to home last week, to the magical morning visits by Jack Frost over the past couple of days, our garden and entire local landscape has been experiencing an exciting, changing face. The nights and early mornings are icy cold but the days have been bursting with sunshine and colour.


As I hustled the kids out the door for an early kinder start this morning, we found ourselves quite side tracked by our frozen garden, sparkling under the gradual rising of the sleepy sun.


The garlic, leeks and cabbages are all coping quite well with the extremes, apart from a few hungry slugs or snails and a soccer ball here or there.


The peas, though still growing, have been flattened by recent winds and rather than climbing up its legs and levels, appear to be snoozing at the base of our tee pee.


The leaves of broccoli and cauliflower are staggering under the weight of the heavy frost but should perk up as they thaw out – much like the rest of us.


The kids were absolutely delighted to see Jack Frost had signed his handy work on the back of my car.


And as the afternoon cheered up, I took the boys for a walk around the neighbourhood. Set among the naked trees, stark and beautiful against blue skies, we noticed the gums, quintessentially Australian, still dressed in their slender leafy best.


And my nose tickled as we passed by golden wattle blooms whispering “Spring is coming! Spring is coming!”

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Slow Cooked Porridge – with apple, cinnamon and honey


The Best Winter Breakfast. EVER!
This morning we woke to the most delicious aroma of cinnamon and apple wafting through the house. If you ever needed a reason to get out of bed on a chilly morning, this is it!
J5 declared “yummy!” And R2 took one look at his bowl and said, “don’t like porridge.” Which is typical, but I managed to dot a small amount on the bottom of his lip from the spoon and watched his scowl turn into a smile declaring, “I do like porridge!”
Bowls were licked clean and with basically no effort at all, little bellies were sent off to kinder warm and content.

*Note: as this this breakfast cooks itself over night, it will only work if you’re a bit of a night owl like me as it will be ready in 6-7 hours. I put it on before bed at 11.30pm and it is ready to eat when we get up at 6.30am.

SLOW COOKED PORRIDGE with apple, cinnamon and honey
Serves 4

1. 2 cups of rolled oats
2. 2 chopped apples – I used red delicious as that’s what I had but any variety will work fine.
3. 2 tablespoons honey
4. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
5. 4 cups of water

Combine in your slow cooker/crock pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
Dish into bowls and let stand for a couple of minutes while it cools and thickens a little.
Serve as is or with milk, extra honey, chopped almonds, fresh grated apple… Etc
Enjoy the goodness 🙂

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Sleepy Spring

The chill in the wind this morning is decidedly winterish but my garden tells a different story. Slowly, with sleepy stretching and yawning, leaves are unfurling and buds are beginning to wake and bloom.

Cheerful daffodils smile and nod to greet me at the front door,


The first of my beautiful tulips have shown their true colours,

The strawberry pots are flowering,

The weeping cherry is bursting into blossoms of joy

And the branches of the small magnolia tree are capped with gorgeous deep pink buds. We planted this tree outside J’s bedroom window when he was a baby, of course making it J’s magnolia.
The fruit trees are showing signs of promise as well with tiny buds on the Granny Smith and Fuji apples and a shower of pink blossoms on the nectarine (maybe this year the parrots will let us eat some).
The broccoli and cauliflower are all pulled and half the leeks have been devoured in soups, pasta sauces, omelettes and rice dishes.

The onions, garlic and cabbages are still in want of time and sun and the spinach is as generous as ever.

The empty veggie beds lay ready in wait for for seeds to nourish and sun to bask in.
And for me? It’s still winter. Spring has opened few buds of motivation just yet and while one child is at kinder and the other napping, I am presently snuggled under the warmth of a “bob the builder” blanket, a hot cup of tea in one hand and a good book in wait for the other.


Orange Jelly

After a few glorious days this week of blue skies and warm sunshine, the promise of spring’s arrival planted it’s little seed in my step… And then it was over. Here we are, back to grey skies, cool winds and sporadic rain storms. So if you need some colour back in your days like I do, here’s a lovely vibrant orange snack that you and the kids will love. A perfect vitamin boost to send winter on its way.

Yesterday I posted a recipe for apple and pear jelly here and after a reader’s question thought it would be useful to post a very simple and delicious jelly recipe that doesn’t require a wiz bang juicer.

4-5 oranges, juiced to make 2 cups liquid
1tablespoon powdered gelatine. I use Great Lakes Gelatine which is from healthy grass fed cows. You can buy it here

Heat half a cup of orange juice gently on the stove.
Turn off heat and whisk gelatine into liquid.
Combine well with remaining juice.
Pour into cups, moulds etc and refrigerate for at least an hour.

* I use Sinchies reusable squeezy pouches to fill with my jelly. (Formerly known as “Squeezems” as pictured above)
* This recipe easily filled 6 x 80ml pouches.
* If you want a firmer jelly, use up to two tablespoons Gelatine.
* My kids and I love this jelly exactly as is and if you love fresh oj, you will too. However, if your kids are used to something sweeter you could add 1-2 tsp of honey when heating the liquid.

Enjoy fresh, real jelly with no artificial junk 🙂