The Perfect Chunky Soup for Winter Weekends

Chunky German Potato, Onion & Bacon Soup

Anita has devised a hearty soup which will suit just about everybody.  Based on an old German Recipe, this soup contains basic ingredients that are always on hand.  You don’t require a blender to make this soup and it only takes about 30 minutes to get it onto the table!

If you have extra people arrive for dinner, no problem, just increase the quantity of each ingredient (alter the number of serves in the recipe box below).

You can adjust the flavour by simply adding more stock powder and some pepper.  It can be left simmering on the stove to develop a thicker texture or you can just reheat this soup when required.

Anita likes to serve the soup with some crusty bread or you can serve it with toast, cheesies or hot rolls and parmesan cheese.

You can read all about Chef Anita Here.

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Print Recipe
Chunky German Potato, Onion and Bacon Soup
Chunky German Soup
Course Soup
Prep Time 10 Minutes
Cook Time 30 Minutes
Servings
People
Ingredients
Course Soup
Prep Time 10 Minutes
Cook Time 30 Minutes
Servings
People
Ingredients
Chunky German Soup
Instructions
  1. Place the onion and bacon into a pot and cook on medium heat until the onion is transparent (not brown)
  2. Add the sliced potatoes, water and stock powder and bring to the boil
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes until the potato is cooked. Skim the fat off the top occasionally with a large spoon
  4. Season with black pepper. Adjust the flavour with more stock powder if desired.
  5. Serve into soup bowls and enjoy with fresh bread of your choice.
Recipe Notes

Chunky German Potato and Bacon Soup

If your bacon is really lean, just add a tablespoon of oil when frying off with the onion.

Add some chopped parsley if desired.

Anita's Chef Hack:  Buy bacon in bulk and divide into bundles of 4 rashes and freeze.  Bacon is a great flavour addition to many dishes and defrosts quickly.

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How to Become a Homestay Host for International Students

Homestay Hosting International Students
We became Homestay Hosts just over three years ago. It has been an exciting adventure and has really expanded our lives and has been a window into the lives of young women from around the world.  So far, we have hosted five young women in our home, two short stays and two who have stayed for quite a while and one young woman who has just arrived from Macau. Angela arrived from Hong Kong to study Marketing at The University of Western Australia and stayed for 18 months.  Ziye has been staying with us for over a year now, she comes from China and completed a transition course to enable her to study at the University of Western Australia.  We have also had a couple of short term Homestay visitors, Maria from Italy who came to learn English and Iris from China who decided to move in with a friend once she had settled into University.
Homestay Student Maria
Maria from Calabria

I am a Mother of three adult children and now have my first Grandchild.  Jeff and I have been married for 37 years You can read more about us here.

Why Homestay:

I was a classic “empty nester” after my own children left home.  Jeff was working seven days a week and although I run my own business from home, I felt surprisingly isolated.  When he suggested that it might be time to sell our home and downsize I decided to take action and research online how to become a Homestay Host.

Research and Concerns:

As a Homestay novice, I had lots of questions.  My main concerns were about the meals I needed to provide, security, transport and what if we didn’t get along with the student.  I was also concerned about handling payments directly with the student.  I discovered a lot of information online and most of my questions were answered on the AHN website.

My husband was reluctant at first and thought that having a stranger in our home would impinge on his privacy and limit our ability to dine out, travel or have guests over.

I filled in an online application as part of the research process as I figured that most of my questions would be answered in the first interview and we would take it from there.  It was also reassuring to discover that each placement is initially for 28 days and that each host is allocated a Supervisor who is available to help with questions.

Reality:

Our Homestay Student guests have added a wonderful energy and vitality to our home. We enjoy meal times and each of the students have added their own recipes and ideas to our menu.  We have been updated on technology, discovered our own public transport system and have built some wonderful friendships.

When we decided to get started as Homestay Hosts we were very clear on the fact that the students arriving in our home would be treated just like we would want our children to be treated.  We have also found the students often ask for some help with assignments, essays and clarifying questions and luckily, Jeff comes from an education background and is able to assist them.

The students are also included in family events and celebrations.

Organising my home:

There are some basic requirements to make sure that the Homestay Students are comfortable, have privacy and can study easily.  We already had the bedrooms set up but did need to purchase desks and lamps.  We bought a couple of nice desks and chairs from Ikea and have found that the students are happy to study around the noise and action of the kitchen.

I also have a list of “House Notes”, to give the students when they arrive. These notes include information to make them feel confident and comfortable about how our home works, meals, snacks plus some details about our dog.

Meals and snacks are planned out for the week ahead and the Meal Plan for the week ahead is put on the fridge.  Although I am not completely inflexible on the plan, it does provide a good base for shopping and keeping the meals interesting and diverse.    You can download a copy of this here:

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Homestay Hosting and us:

I don’t believe anyone should register for Homestay Hosting if the only objective is to earn money.  Although we receive a payment for hosting, we view it as quite a privilege and a responsibility to make sure that each young woman gets the best home life away from home that we can possibly give.

The International Students that we have hosted have all been highly intelligent, well travelled young women who have high work ethic.  They come to Australia to experience another culture, so are willing to try new “taste sensations” and it’s fun to see them tasting foods that they have never had before.  It’s also great to learn about their backgrounds and traditions and meet their families.

Hosting International Students has been a great experience for us.   We have had some challenges but have always viewed these as solvable and found ways to ensure that there is harmony at all cost.

If you would like more information about Hosting international students you can contact the Australian Homestay Network www.homestaynetwork.org

 

Perhaps you know someone who would find this information helpful, please feel free to share using the buttons below.

*This is not a sponsored post and although I am a current AHN host I do not receive any money for this post.  The opinions in this post are my own.

 

Absolute All Time Favourite Hot Cake With Rhubarb and Coconut

rhubarb & coconut cake

When a Chef tells me that this is her Absolute All Time Favourite Cake I take notice.

Anita is a Cake Master, she creates wonderful cakes.  Cakes so special that they are cooked for every celebration and every special event.  This is one of those cakes.

Today Anita has baked her Rhubarb and Coconut Cake.  This is a moist cake, deliciously sticky and sweet with the zap of rhubarb balancing it perfectly. Anita likes to serve this cake hot with whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream and it’s also lovely to serve warm, cold and even old!

Rhubarb and Cocunut Cake
Anita enjoying her favourite cake with a cup of tea.

Rhubarb is often overlooked but is beautiful when added to cakes, pies and desserts.  It dates back to China where it has been used medicinally for over 2000 years and is now found in the vegetable section in most supermarkets.

We hope you enjoy this delicious cake.

Anita & Debra

 

Print Recipe
Rhubarb and Coconut Cake
Anita's absolute all time favourite cake. Delicious served warm with a dollop of double cream, whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream (or all 3!).
Rhubarb & Coconut Cake
Course Cakes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 90 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Cakes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 90 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Rhubarb & Coconut Cake
Instructions
  1. Preheat Oven to 175C
  2. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Slice 1 - 2 stalks of the Rhubarb into 2cm pieces and set aside. Chop another 1 1/2 cups into smaller chunks.
  4. Mix the Flour, Sugar, coconut, Butter, Eggs, Milk and Vanilla together in a bowl. Use a whisk and hand mix (no need for a fancy machine)
  5. Spread half of the batter into the cake tin.
  6. Place 1 1/2 cups of chopped Rhubarb on top of the batter and then spread the remaining batter over.
  7. Arrange the 2cm pieces of Rhubarb in a circle on top to decorate and sprinkle the Raw Sugar on top.
  8. Bake at 175c for 90 minutes. Test to with a skewer to make sure the cake is cooked. Stand for 5 minutes before turning out.
Recipe Notes

If the top of the cake becomes too brown while cooking, loosely cover with foil and continue to cook until done.

Cake can be kept in the fridge and is best eaten within 3 days.

*Chef Hack - weigh out the butter in a cup, top with a saucer and melt in the microwave.  This avoids splattering inside your microwave.

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How to Bake the Best Mothers Day Gift Ever

Mothers Day is a day to celebrate our Mothers, Step Mothers, Grandmothers and women who are like Mothers to us.  For many, Mothers Day is a reminder of the precious Mothers who are no longer here and we celebrate their legacy too.

While we treasure our Mothers it is usually difficult to select the perfect gift.  Most of us wander around or scroll looking for a special present to show our Mum’s how important they are to us.

The commercialised version would have us believe that Mum’s like to receive a lot of slippers, bath bombs and body lotions.  I would prefer a destination holiday, a years supply of flowers or perhaps a Cleaning Service forever – or just anything really, that doesn’t contribute to cluttering my home!

My gift to my Mum will be home made.  Something that she will enjoy and share.

Thank goodness for my friend Anita!  She is the most wonderful Chef – you can read all about her here .  Anita has created a recipe so delicious and yet so simple to make.   The picture below is my home baked version of these delicious, melt in the mouth shortbreads (obviously anyone can whip these up!).  I gave the recipe two stars for “Very Easy”.

Simply gift wrap with some cellophane, add a ribbon and you have created the perfect Mothers Day Gift – a gift made with love.

We wish you a wonderful Mothers Day!

Enjoy

Debra & Anita xx

 

Print Recipe
White Chocolate, Cranberry and Roasted Pistachio Butter Shortbread
A delicious nutty shortbread which is easy to make.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Roast the pistachio kernels in a moderate oven for 5 minutes and leave to cool.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla.
  4. Stir in half of the flour.
  5. Then add pistachio kernels (either chopped or whole), cranberries and white chocolate with the rest of the flour. Mix until just combined (don't over mix or it will become stodgy when baked)
  6. Roll the dough into a cylinder shape using a sheet of baking paper to make smooth and compact. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour until firm.
  7. Remove from baking paper and slice into 1.5cm rounds.
  8. Place on lightly sprayed baking paper on baking tray. Space apart to leave room for spreading.
  9. Bake at 170 degrees until lightly golden - approx. 10 - 12 minutes. The shortbread tastes better with a little colour but not brown. Leave to cool on the tray.
Recipe Notes

Mothers Day ShortbreadIf you want to get fancy, you can drizzle some melted white chocolate over the shortbread and sprinkle with finely chopped extra pistachios.

Wrap up in cellophane and tie with a ribbon.

Variation:  Use Macadamia Nuts instead of Pistachio Kernels.

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5 Great Things to do in Hong Kong

 

It was so exciting to get the chance to travel to the vibrant and busy city of Hong Kong.  I last visited Hong Kong when I was a 10 year old child so my memory of the city was very different from the reality of modern Hong Kong!

Luckily, we had Angela, our lovely Homestay Student, living with us and her home town was Hong Kong.  Angela was here in Perth to study marketing at the University of Western Australia and she provided us with lots of great insider information about exactly what to do in Hong Kong.

Angela graduation UWA
Graduation Day for Angela *photo credit Marco

Angela set up a private Facebook Group which she updated with all manner of research and information about places she felt we should see.  As I did my own research and added options I had read about, Angela let me know which things should not be a priority for us.

Where We Stayed:

This was an all expenses paid trip and the accommodation was super high end – grateful!.  We stayed at the Shangri-La which is priced around $750 per night and is a stunning hotel with beautiful food.  We had a Harbour View Room which had a stunning view of the promenade below and Victoria Harbour.

The Breakfast Menu:

The breakfast was one of the best I had seen and included foods from every culture along with waffles and ice cream which Jeff found irresistible.  Every. Single. Day!  The hotel has a wonderful tea menu including the most delicious Ginger Tea I had ever tasted.

Shangri-La Hong Kong view
The view from our room in the Shangri-La Hong Kong

The Best Transport System:

There are many choices of things to do in Hong Kong and I was very grateful for all the advice that Angela had given me. The public transport system is truly amazing with the subway system  easy to navigate provided you remember which letter of the alphabet you entered from!  The local transport card, the “Octopus Card”, can also be used at convenience stores and coffee shops.  We had $200 loaded onto it and used it a lot.

Remember to Keep to the Right:

Everything moves super fast in the subway including the travelators and the escalators.  You feel like you will get whiplash from the fast descent but the Hong Kongers seem to be completely oblivious to the speed as they focus on their phones.   Just make sure you keep to the right to enable the fast movers to get past you.  I have read that MTR Transport have now deployed safety officers in red shirts who try to prevent people from walking on the escalators to improve safety and I am curious whether that is working!

With so many choices of awesome things to do and see, I have simplified my list down to 5 to make it a good basis to build your Hong Kong experience from.

5 Things to do in Hong Kong:

1 Visit the highest bar in the world.

The Ozone Bar at the top of the Ritz Carlton Hotel is currently ranked as the highest bar in the world.  It sits at level 118!  The views over Hong Kong Harbour are beautiful.  They serve delicious and very different snacks too so  wear something nice because they have some rules about dress code.

Highest Bar in the world Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
We were here – Ozone Bar Hong Kong

2 Take in the view from the Peak.

Catch the tram up to the Peak to capture the views of some of the most expensive real estate on the planet.  The tram has been transporting people up and down the mountain for over 100 years and the ascent is so steep you feel like the buildings and trees are all leaning too. There are some restaurants and souvenir shops at the top.   You can even pay a photographer to capture your picture with the city in the background (we took our own).  Arrive early to avoid the massive queue that forms to purchase tram tickets.

The Peak Hong Kong
capture your picture with the city in the background

3 High Tea at the Peninsula Hotel.

This spectacular colonial style hotel serves High Tea daily to the sound of a quartet playing classical music from the upstairs balcony.  The food is scrumptious and plentiful and the tea and coffee are bottomless.  We went with a large group and waited in a very long queue despite arriving prior to the opening time however the service was impeccable making it such a treat to enjoy a silver service afternoon tea.

Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong
The service was impeccable

4 Lunch in Soho via the mid levels escalator.

Soho (South of Hollywood Road) is the trendy restaurant area and the place to go to enjoy many food choices and lots of antique shops to browse through.   The mid levels escalator, which  is the longest in the world, is cleverly switched to accommodate the pedestrian’s working hours.  We rode the escalator for miles and  made the mistake of staying on all the way to the top when the down side was switched off.  It would have been a really long hike back if we hadn’t hailed a taxi to take us back down to Central.

5  Ferry trip and tour.

Angela did not put this tour on her list of things for us to do but the ferry trip and tour was fun and we did learn a lot about Hong Kong and it’s history.  The Star Ferry took us across Hong Kong Harbour to our double decker bus with open top and audio guide.  Then we caught a traditional junk ride to view the floating restaurant, saw the old houseboats and travelled by bus through to Repulse Bay where we decided to make our own way back.  Stanley Markets was nearby for some very critical handbag shopping followed by a lovely lunch and drinks at one of the beach front cafes.

Hong Kong traditional junk ride
traditional junk ride

 Dining and the Weather:

The food in Hong Kong is absolutely beautiful.  The locals use apps to book some hidden gems and you can enjoy some really unique dining experiences.  Just about every restaurant has free wifi.

Hong Kong Foods
unique dining experiences

Our trip to Hong Kong was in November and the weather was lovely.  The pollution level causes a visual haziness and the “light pollution” from the bright city lights  prevents you from seeing any stars in the night sky.

Hong Kong is a great destination for those looking for a fast paced and exciting destination.

Hong Kong Supermarket
checking out the beautiful fruit in the local supermarket.

A couple of extra tips:

  1. Download the MTR App to assist you to easily figure out how to get around the city.
  2. The supermarkets present their produce beautifully and the quality is really high.
  3. Leave plenty of time to get to the airport.
  4. Check your bags in at Hong Kong or Kowloon stations and travel to the airport bag free.
  5. Make sure you try the Pineapple Buns.
I hope this information has been helpful in your trip planning.  Know someone who is off to Hong Kong?  Share using the buttons below.