Staying at Home and Eating Well

As we prepare to spend a bit more time at home, many of us will be planning our meals and how to cater from the fridge, pantry, freezer and perhaps a few things in the garden.
I have just planted broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and beetroot and also have plenty of mint, rosemary, parsley and coriander.
The reality is that we are very likely to have no issue with food purchasing but perhaps there might be some times when we are less inclined to go out, that’s when being oraganised comes in handy.

Here are some of my thoughts but would love to see yours as well.
Helen :)


If there is an egg in the house, you have a meal.  These nutrient dense ovals are great to boil, poach, fry or scramble, use in carbonara, frittatas, quiche and tarts.  Eggs usually have a generous shelf life so are easy to keep on hand.
*Tip: crack eggs into silicone muffin trays, freeze and then pop the eggs out into a plastic container.  Seal and store in the freezer to use as needed.
Bacon, Leek and Potato Tart


Arborio Rice in the Pantry
Risotto is a glorious comfort food and easily made with a few staple ingredients.
Smoked Chicken, Spinach and Lemon Oven. Baked Risotto

Barley in the Pantry
This humble grain is not only great to add bulk to soups but it is also fabulous in risottos and salads.
Mushroom and Prosciutto Barley Risotto

Dried Pasta and Noodles
It goes without saying that dried noodles and  pasta are great to have one hand, particularly in families with kids to feed. For a number of years Spaghetti Bolognese was my kids favourite meal.
Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
Family Chicken Noodle Salad
Quick and Easy Soba Noodle Salad
Easy Pad Thai

Cross-Cut Blade Steak in the freezer
My favourite cut of the stewing steaks. A few packs of this in the freezer means that a casserole or stew is easy to achieve.  These are easily extended and leftovers make for tasty lunches.
Beef Stew with Crunchy Topping
Greek Beef Stew
Asian Beef Stew

Bacon in the fridge/freezer
Essential for Pasta Carbonara, breakfast bacon & eggs or adding some flavour interest for vegetable based soups
Pasta Carbonara

Chicken in the Freezer
Our freezer space is generous so we always have a whole chicken on hand plus some thighs and possibly breast meat.
Chicken Marbella
Kung Pao Chicken
Easy Chicken in a Curry
Food Court Butter Chicken
Chicken with Cannelini Beans
4 1/2 Cup Chicken

Highgrade Flour and Yeast
Useful for bread and pizzas
Pizza dough

Curry Pastes in the Fridge or Pantry
Our family favourite is Thai yellow curry, we always have a tub of it in the fridge and of course coconut cream in the pantry.
Thai Yellow Chicken and Kumara Curry
Pumpkin, Spinach and Chickpea Curry

Chickpeas, Dried or Canned
I would like to say that I soak my chickpeas overnight but reality is that I flick open a can.
Chickpeas are always in my pantry, either for hummus or adding to a salad or curry.
Pumpkin, Spinach and Chickpea Curry
Creamy Hummus
Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas

Canned Tuna
It pretty much goes without saying how useful having a few cans of tuna is.  It is a great source or protein and blends well into many meals.
Brown Rice and Tuna Salad
Tuna Melt
Tuna Pasta Salad

Whether they are in soups or curries, lentils are a great staple. Dahl is one of those simple understated dishes that is positively delicious and very easy to make.

Sweet Treats
Sometimes a spoonful of sugar makes life a bit more cheerful!
Chocolate Caramel Weetbix Slice
No bake Caramel Slice
Chocolate Afgan Biscuits
Chocolate Mint Slice
Chocolate Weetbix Slice
Belgium Biscuits

What is in your meal plan?

Char-grilled Zucchini with Whipped Feta

Whipped feta is great with most vegetables and is also delicious alongside roasted lamb or chicken.  It is easy to make and perfect for a shared plate meal.
The whipped feta is more than you need to accompany the zucchini.  Put the rest in an airtight container in the fridge and use on crackers, in sandwiches and “on the side” for other meals.

March 2020

With teen rowers, summer is a busy time for us and a time when I work on my cooking for the masses skills.  While this is generally fun it does come with its challenges, particularly when we had a 7 hour power cut and I had 12 legs of lamb to roast….
Thankfully a neighbouring property had a large gas oven so a mad dash into town for sausages wasn’t needed!
One of our most popular rowing desserts was Raspberry and White Chocolate Shortcake which is also a fab dessert or afternoon tea for family and friends.  The same recipe can be used with other fruit such as sliced plums or strawberry and rhubarb.
Happy Cooking!

Luscious Raspberry and White Chocolate Shortcake

This slice is delicious warm as a dessert with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream, or serve it at room temperature for afternoon tea.
We made it at rowing camp as dessert for 70 rowers  (just multiply the recipe) and it was a hit.  So much so that I came home with a new favourite recipe.
The original source seems to have come from Food magazine and then the Countdown website, I have made a couple of modifications to the original recipe  in terms of proportions of ingredients (more flour and lots more chocolate) plus have added lemon zest.


Savour Niue 202

  • What: Savour Niue 2020, a gastronomic adventure hosted by world-renowned Michelin trained chef, Mark Southon. Guests will enjoy a fun three-day programme including dining experiences that combine Mark’s signature cuisine with Niue’s fresh produce, a tour of food producers and markets, and a cooking masterclass with Mark.
  • Where: The event will take place on the stunning Pacific island of Niue.
  • When: 27th – 30th March 2020.
  • Booking details: Please go to for further event details and booking information.

Foodlovers February 2020

Happy New Year and I hope you managed to have some lovely relaxed time over the holiday break.
We are leaping into the year with some new exciting ventures.  Hosting tours is a passion of mine and I am now in my 7th year of doing this.
Late April we are off to Mexico and there are still spaces available, late in August we are heading to Croatia, the first of our foodlovers tour to this destination.
Both I am sure will be amazing, I guess Mexico has a special place in my heart as I have such wonderful memories of previous trips.  I know that Croatia will do the same.
For those of your happy to travel vicariously then we are sure to have stories and recipes to share.
Happy Cooking!

How to Make Really Good Hummus

Making smooth, creamy restaurant quality Middle Eastern hummus is unbelievably easy with a few simple tricks.
After years of making hummus, it has almost been an eureka moment when I realised I was making very average hummus and with little effort I could make wonderful hummus.
Is there a difference?  Yes there sure is.

Those few simple ingredients of chickpeas, tahini, water. lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt can interact together in completely different ways and it is more complex than dried versus canned chickpeas.  While dried are superior, I do often grab for a can as the convenience factor is huge.

Hummus originates across the Middle Eastern countries with versions slightly different.  All pretty much rely on the same ingredients with the proportions being the variant.


Dried chickpeas do make for a more luxurious creamy hummus although I often make hummus with canned,  the convenience factor is worth it.
If using dried chickpeas, make sure you soak them overnight, well covered in fresh water.
Drain, rinse and then place in a large saucepan with cold water and a big pinch of baking soda (bicarbonate soda). The baking soda raises the PH of the water and helps to break down the tough outer of the chickpea.  Simmer for 1 hour or until the chickpeas are soft – as in really tender and almost mushy.  Drain and rinse with cold water, rub with your hands loosening skins as is feasible and lifting them out (do not add any salt to the cooking water).
If using canned chickpeas they do need some more cooking to achieve silky smooth hummus.  Drain and rinse the canned chickpeas, place in a saucepan and cover with cold water and a pinch of baking soda.  Simmer for about 25 minutes and then drain, rinse and rub off skins.  The more skins you remove, the smoother the end hummus.  I certainly don’t remove all skins but I do rub off many.


Hulled tahini makes for a creamier hummus, unhulled tends to be grittier and also can have a bitter flavour.  I buy Ceres tahini if shopping at the supermarket or if I happen to be at a specialty food store then I will buy Middle Eastern brands.

Less is more with garlic, hummus should taste of all the components not just the garlic.  Use fresh garlic cloves and finely chop them with some sea salt.

Lemon Juice

Fresh lemon juice vs pre squeezed will always taste better.


Ground cumin of any brand.

Adding ice cold water to hummus helps to make a fluffier texture.  I add ice cubes to water and actually add the cubes into the food processor along with the water.


Deliciously Creamy Hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup hulled tahini
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons ice cold water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
If using canned chickpeas then pllace the rinsed chickpeas in a saucepan and cover generously with cold water and a pinch – 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon – baking soda.  Simmer for 25-30 minutes.  Drain and rinse well with cold water, rub of loose skins as is feasible in terms of time.
Place chickpeas in a food processor with tahini, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, water and salt
Process until smooth.   Taste and adjust flavours to suit.
Spoon into a bowl or container and drizzle with olive oil. Refrigerate until needed.

How do you make your hummus and any tips from you that haven’t been covered here?

Foodlovers Croatia Tour with Helen Jackson


Croatia has long been on my bucket list of tours so I am delighted to bring you this itinerary starting August 31st 2020.
We will miss the peak summer crowds but still have some welcome heat on leaving the New Zealand winter behind.
Our local guide will be with us every day and we also have transport and most meals taken care of.
You just have to sit back, relax and have fun!
Our hotels at this stage are indicative, depending on number and currency conversions we may be able to upgrade a little but these will be confirmed later.
Remember that this is your holiday so you do as little or as much as you like.
Questions?  Email me and I will get back to you straight away [email protected]

Day 1. Zagreb August 31st 

Arrival Zagreb, transfer to the hotel for check in and some free time (depending on flight). In the afternoon we will take a walk to the fortified, medieval Upper Town, you will visit St. Mark’s church, with its multicolor tiled roof, Parliament, the government palace, and many fine old buildings. Another highlight is the Lotrščak tower, where they fire a canon every day at noon. A very mystical place is also Zagreb’s Stone gate, the most significant shrine in Zagreb. Feel free to stop by, light a candle and pray for health, happiness, good luck and love.
Welcome dinner at Vinadol or something similar. (D)
overnight Hotel Jägerhorn or similar.

Day 2. Zagreb – September 1st, Istrian peninsula (Motovun) 

After breakfast we will board our van and head to Istria with a stop at Natura Tartufi where we get to see a truffle hunt and we will also have truffle tasting and lunch.
Next we travel on to Roxanich Hotel with some free time to relax followed by a wine tasting and gourmet dinner at the hotel.
(B,Tasting lunch,D)
Overnight Hotel Roxanich Motovun or similar

Day 3. Motvun – September 2nd, Poreč – Rovinj – Motovun

Today you can have sleep in and free morning to perhaps enjoy the Spa and pool at the Roxanich hotel.
We then head to the Pino olive oil farm, for a light lunch. Afterwards visit the town of Poreč famous for its 6th century basilica under UNESCO protection and finally arrive to Rovinj for the sightseeing and free time.
Here you will hear the legend of St Euphemia, a young Christian girl from Constantinople, which refused to give up Christianity, and was thrown to the lions. People say that her marble sarcophagus came floating in the sea to the coast of Rovinj after a big storm at dawn of July 13, 800. A small boy with two little cows managed to haul the sarcophagus up the hill. The people of Rovinj considered it a miracle, and they proclaimed St. Euphemia the patron-saint . Dinner at Da Baston restaurant or similar. Return to Motovun.
Overnight Hotel Roxanich Motovun or similar

Day 4. Motvun September 3rd

After brekafst visit of Motovun, the most beautiful small hilltop town in Istria and afterwards go to an agrotourismo for lunch with local products of the family. After lunch return to the hotel.
Overnight Hotel Roxanich Motovun or similar

Day 5. Motovun September 4th,- Plitvice lakes 

Today we leave the Istrian peninsula and drive to the Plitvice lakes. Stop on route at the Rastoke village, a small village with very few houses. Most of these were mills in the past, and water still runs through the village. It is very picturesque and relaxing.
There is also a possibility to visit one of the still operating mills.
Lunch in a restaurant near the lakes.
Dinner at our accommodation
(B,L, D)
Overnight Fenomen Plitvice or similar


Day 6. Plitvice lakes, September 5th, – Zadar – Split
After breakfast, we drive to the city of Zadar. The historic town of Zadar is rich in cultural and historical monuments. Here you can see the Roman forum dated to the 1st century AD, the church of St. Donatus dated to the 9th century AD. Of special interest are the famous Zadar Sea Organs, one of a kind in the world. From Zadar we continue to the Bibich winery in the Dalmatian hinterland. Traditional Croatian produce in Tapas style will served, accompanied with their award winning wines.
After lunch we continue to Split.
(B,Wine tasting, L)
Overnight Hotel Briig Split or similar

Day 7. Hvar September 6th,
Walking tour of Split,  the Diocletian’s Palace on the UNESCO’s List of World Cultural Heritage, with the Peristyle.  We will also have a food tour with tastings.
Next is a gorgeous ferry ride to Sari Grad on the island Hvar.
Once we arrive in Stari Grad, we drive through the fields of Hvar towards the main town – Hvar. Expect stunning views while we drive the Panoramic road above the city of Hvar. Dinner in one agritourismo or traditional restaurant on the island.
(B,Foodie tour,D)
Overnight Grand Hotel Amfora or similar

Day 8. September 7th,
In the morning walking tour through the historical old town of Hvar, where you will see the piazza, the Arsenal, the first public theatre in Europe, cathedral.
After lunch we will hike up to the town fort overlooking the harbour to get some lovely scenic views of the Pakleni islands.
(B, L, D)
Overnight Grand Hotel Amfora or similar

Day 9.Hvar September 8th,
Today is for you to enjoy as you wish. For those interested we have the option of an excursion to the island Vis (The Mamma Mia! movie was filmed here) & the Blue cave on Biševo island.
Overnight Grand Hotel Amfora or similar

Day 10. Dubrovnik September 9th,
Departure from Hvar to Dubrovnik. We will go to the south tip of the island, town of Sućuraj and have some 20min ferry to the coast. On route to Dubrovnik we will stop in Ston and the winery Vukas on the Pelješac peninsula where we will taste the wine and fresh oysters and mussels from the winemakers own farm. Arrival in Dubrovnik.
(B,L,Wine tasting, D).
Overnight Hotel Kazbek Dubrovnik or similar

Day 11.Dubrovnik September 10th, Dubrovnik city tour. Meanwhile the old city of Dubrovnik was recently made famous due to Game of Thrones series which was filmed in the old town and the surroundings. Completed in the thirteen century, the old city has remained basically unchanged since. Its medieval ramparts encircle the city which pedestrians can enter through one of two gates – either way, you cross a stone bridge under the watchful gaze of the city’s patron Saint Blaise (Vlaho), to find yourself joining the evening promenade down the broad, stone-paved avenue known as Stradun. During the walking tour we will visit the Franciscan monastery. The Monastery complex includes the third oldest pharmacy in Europe which has been active uninterruptedly since 1317. After the sightseeing free time to explore the city on your own and fans may want to discover the Game of Throne filming location..
Dinner tasting menu at Restaurant 360.
Overnight Hotel Kazbek

Day 12. September 11th Departure Transfer to Dubrovnik airport (B)

11 nights in 4* hotels
10 breakfasts
8 lunches
8 dinners
city taxes
Local tour guide
Mini bus for all land transfers
ferry to Hvar island
Local site seeing costs as per itinerary e.g Plitvice Lakes, Franciscan monastery Dubrovnik
Truffle tasting and hunt
Bibich wine tasting
Food tour in Split
gratuities for driver and guides

Price $7350 NZ for 11 nights twin share.
Single supplement available on request.

“Helen is well organised and very obliging to accomodate everyone on her tours. Because of her friendly nature she has a good relationship with the guides in the countries being visited which in turn makes the trips more enjoyable. I now consider her a very good friend.”
Kate (3 x traveller with Helen)

“The itineraries that Helen comes up with always have a lovely balance between sightseeing/cultural/ culinary activities and periods of relaxation coupled with some free time for shopping etc. Helen also tries to get away from the usual tourist traps and seeks out more authentic experiences.”

Shelley (4x traveller with Helen)

Keen to come with me?  Email now for a booking form.
Numbers are strictly limited.

Liven up Summer with Sauerkraut and Kimchi

Summertime is a great time to catch up with friends and family, the days are warm and long and it is ideal for entertaining.

Over this time I try and keep the fridge, pantry and freezer stocked with things that I know can easily be put together to form a meal that is a bit more interesting than the standard family fare.

Along with cheeses and dips, a jar of kimchi and sauerkraut can literally bring life to many dishes, adding a great zing of flavour, texture and also visually adding interest.

Here are some of our favourite ways over summer with sauerkraut and kimchi.

This feature is brought to you by Living Goodness, New Zealand-based creators of fermented, raw sauerkraut and kimchi.

At Living Goodness, we pride ourselves on making premium quality and tasty fermented

1. Finger food e.g canapés can be easily put together with a few essential ingredients on hand.  Brush sliced baguette with olive oil and then grill to make bruschetta.  Top this with your favourite cured meats e.g. prosciutto or salami or smoked salmon and a dollop of sauerkraut.

2. Hot Smoked Salmon Canapes 
on blinis are also made even tastier with a sprinkle of sauerkraut.  We like Living Goodness Hearbeet for this one, beetroot and salmon are a great combination. The sour flavour of the kraut balances the richness of the salmon beautifully.

3. Pig in Blankets are always a party favourite.  Try wrapping (sausage roll style) chunks of cooked German style sausage such as bratwurst in butter puff pastry with some wholegrain mustard and a drop of sauerkraut.  Brush the outside with egg and sprinkle with a few caraway seeds.  Bake at 200 C until puffed and golden.

4. Bite sized Pinwheel sandwiches are another canapé idea, made with thinly sliced cured deli meats, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a little chopped gherkin.  Secure with a toothpick if necessary.

5. Kimchi Dip is ridiculously simple and perfect for summer holidays.  Mix 250g cream cheese, sour cream or mayo with about 1/3 cup Living Goodness kimchi (more or less to taste).  Mix well or pop in the blender for a quick whizz, taste and add a dash of fish sauce if you want to.  Rip open a bag of chips or crackers and you are there!

6. Devilled eggs are great for picnics and also parties.  Scoop yolks from halved boiled eggs, mash with Kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese) and then stir through chopped kimchi.  Stuff this mixture back into the whites and arrange on a platter with a small pinch of kimchi on top of each.

7. A healthy and nutritious summer dinner is easily made by combining cooked quinoa, flaked meat/fish (or slices of tempeh), salad leaves, kimchi, sliced radish and some toasted seeds to garnish.

8. New potatoes and summer go hand in hand and with that we all love a good potato salad.  Add some flavour, colour and texture interest to your next potato salad with a couple of spoonfuls of sauerkraut mixed through. You can of course give your potato salad a pretty pink hue by using Kimchi instead.

9. Sauerkraut is actually great in so many salads, pep up your coleslaw with some sauerkraut or chopped kimchi and a simple salad of baby spinach leaves with toasted sesame seeds, sauerkraut and soy dressing is just delicious.

10. Fish tacos are popular all year round but even more so in summer when the days are hot and hopefully we have access to freshly caught fish.  With a jar of Living Goodness kimchi in the fridge your tacos will be even more flavoursome.


11. Kimchi juice from the jar is great for adding to a dressing such as this one with seared tuna.

12. Along with aioli, mayo, hummus etc… pop a jar or bowl of sauerkraut or kimchi out onto the table as a condiment at your next barbecue.

13. Simple Sausage Sizzles can be made extra tasty by serving beef sausages in a warm long white roll with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and sliced gherkin.  Finish off with mayo mixed with a little chopped dill (can be dried).   A Reuben sausage!

14. A Cheese Board with farmhouse cheeses and bread is made even better with the addition of sauerkraut.  Sauerkraut is so often interchangeable with other pickles and sits so well on top of open sandwiches.

15. Grazing Platters are still in vogue this summer and adding some bowls of sauerkraut and kimchi amongst the cheese, meats, bread, crackers etc… all makes perfect sense.

16 green smoothie is a great place for some sauerkraut.  Pop it in with everything else and taste the flavour difference.

17 Lettuce cups are a perfect way to serve Asian style slow cooked pork and kimchi. High in flavour and low in carbs.

18.  Asian style Chicken Kebabs with Kimchi is fantastic.  Marinate the meat in soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, fish sauce, chilli etc… barbecue or pan fry, serve with rice on the side and a dollop of kimchi.

19.  Lucky enough to get your hands on some scallops this summer?  Flash them through a hot pan with a dash of oil and serve with a good pinch of kimchi on each – YUM!

20. So we all know that the best way to avoid a Hangover is not to drink in the first place.  However if that has already happened then you could follow the advice of many Russians and eat some sauerkraut.  At the very least the water and salts do help to hydrate.

Living Goodness Fermented Foods are sold around New Zealand.  Check out their stockist list to find your nearest retailer.