The colour brown

Crunchy Anzac biscuits and a cup of tea. Image: Su Leslie

Brown is not a colour I think of much when I’m taking photos, unless it’s autumn and I’m obsessing about falling leaves.

Image: Su Leslie

But it’s the colour of the month at Jude’s Life in Colour photo challenge. And when I looked in my photo archive, I found more than I’d expected.

There was food (naturally).

Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

And art.

Stay, by Antony Gormley. One of two sculptures created for the city of Christchurch, NZ, post-2011 earthquake. Image: Su Leslie

Bernar Venet, '88.5° ARC x 8'. Seen at Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

88.5° ARC x 8, Bernar Venet, Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

(Detail) Tip, John Radford, Western Park, Ponsonby, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

Informal Still Life. Seen at Bushey Park, Whanganui. Image: Su Leslie

And small treasures in the natural world.

Cicada shell. Image: Su Leslie

Driftwood, Castlecliff beach, Whanganui, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

Image: Su Leslie

If you’d like to join in (even belatedly like me), pop over to Travel Words and read Jude’s introduction.

Virtual Afternoon Tea, January 2021

Image: Su Leslie 2021

Major General Urquhart:
Hancock. I’ve got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven’t arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?

Corporal Hancock:
Couldn’t hurt, sir

From the film, A Bridge Too Far (1977) Dir. Richard Attenborough

On that note; wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora. Tau Hou mai i Aotearoa  (Greetings. Happy New Year from Aotearoa).

With Auckland’s hot, dry weather showing no signs of easing, I’ve made my first ever iced tea.

My past experiences with this drink (generally the sort that comes in a bottle from the corner shop) left me a bit underwhelmed. Then I read about cold- brewing; which is essentially adding cold water to tea leaves (it works best with green or white teas apparently) and allowing them to infuse for a long time (think 12 hours in the fridge). This avoids the bitterness, and consequently the (for me, excessive) sugar which is meant to balance it.

It works — certainly for the Big T and me. I’ve experimented with adding kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and mint to different brews (lemongrass is my favourite), and stirring through about 1/2 teaspoon of coconut sugar per cup to the finished product. I’ve experimented too with warmed honey (which certainly dissolves better), but I’m keen to hear from any iced tea drinkers your preferred sweeteners — and additional flavourings.

Iced green tea. Works well with these mini tartlets. Image: Su Leslie 2021

So on to the food.

I’ve just bought a copy of the new Yotam Ottolenghi book — Flavour — and am in love with all things charred. I hope you don’t me experimenting on you with these little tartlets (using my “cheat” baked dumpling-wrapper pastry).

First of all we have grilled prawn with charred fennel and lemon sorrel mayonnaise. I love prawn and fennel together, and the mayonnaise is based on one we were served in Matisse — a wine bar in Napier. My version uses Rick Stein’s Lemon Mayonnaise recipe (from Fruits of the Sea) with a big handful of blitzed-up sorrel from the garden.

Grilled prawn, charred fennel, lemon sorrel mayonnaise. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Or, if you prefer, we have grilled peach with Kapiti Baby Kikorangi blue cheese and thyme.

Grilled peaches, blue cheese and thyme. Image: Su Leslie 2021

My favourite Golden Queen peaches have quite a short season, so I’m making the most of them at the moment. This is the first time I’ve served them grilled in a savory dish, and I quite like it.

The cheese is quite mild, but does seem to balance the (fairly sweet) peach. If there’s a Mark #2 version, I’ll be adding some acid. A balsamic glaze would work — even though the Big T will have a field day reminding me of all the things I’ve said about the ubiquity of this in NZ restaurants.

Homemade Christmas cake and English Breakfast tea. Image: Su Leslie 2021

And if none of this is appealing, hopefully a slice of Christmas cake and a proper cuppa will hit the spot.

As we begin a year that shows no signs of being easier than the last, it feels more important than ever to connect with the people we care about. For me, sharing food has always been an expression of aroha (love); even when it’s delivered virtually. So pull up a chair and help yourself.

The invitation

I’d love to hear from you. What are you doing/reading/making? Your thoughts on the food, the drinks, and whatever I’m rambling about. What’s making you happy or pissing you off?  Your comments make blogging so much more interesting.

And if you’d like to contribute a post of your own — even better. Maybe a shot of your cuppa and/or whatever you’re having with it. A recipe if you like.

I’ll update each of my posts with a ping-back to everyone’s in the same way as I do with The Changing Seasons.

#virtualteaparty2021 for anyone on Instagram who wants to post images (or video?)


Janet, from This, That and the Other Thing has an Irish theme with Irish Breakfast tea AND home-made soda bread. Yum!

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has made some delicious waffle-iron churros; perfect for dunking in hot chocolate. And she’s included her recipe.

Aggie from Nomad joins us from her new(ish) home in London. A hot cuppa is perfect in an English winter.

My lovely co-host, Del at Curls n Skirls has produced a feast. Cheese, fruit and crackers, chicken sandwiches and chocolate cake. Can I go straight for dessert please?

Yvette from Priorhouse Blog has brought some key lime cheesecake to have with tea.

Ladyleemanila is serving pancit, coleslaw and vegetable quiche with some hot apple tea. Perfect!

Be sure to pop over to Deb’s (The Widow Badass) and drool over her Christmas Black Forest Trifle. And read the hilarious back-story!

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful has brought us a wonderful persimmon loaf. I love persimmons and can’t wait until they are in season to try the recipe she’s thoughtfully included.

Save the date: Thursday 14th January

We’re back!

Del (Curls n Skirls) and I had so much fun hosting virtual afternoon tea in 2020, we’re doing it all over again.

I hope you’ll be able to join us — anytime from about 3pm next Thursday (Kiwi Time = GMT+13). Golden Queen peaches are in season here (my absolute favourites) so expect to find them on the menu. And I still have a whole Christmas cake waiting to be eaten.

Virtual afternoon tea, December 2020

Christmas shortbread cookies. Image; Su Leslie 2020

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora koutou katoa  (Greetings. Hello to you all)

Way back in January when Del and I started talking about a virtual tea party, we had no idea if anyone would read our posts — let alone want to join in. We just saw it as a fun way to share our love of kai and korero.

But perhaps because this extraordinary year has isolated, confined and frankly frightened so many of us, the idea of sharing virtual food and drinks doesn’t seem so strange after all.

And so we’ve reached the final tea party of 2020 and once again you’re giving me the chance to let you know how important you — my blogging whanau — are to me. Over the years you’ve shared your thoughts, stories, advice and support and I’m very grateful for that.

In an ideal world, I’d invite you all round to mine for a meal. But as that isn’t going to happen any time, I hope this will do instead.

Lettuce cups. Image; Su Leslie 2020

For many of you, Christmas is a mid-winter festival, and most of the associated foods are more appropriate for cold weather. But my Christmas will be spent in a humid Auckland summer, and my food choices reflect that.

Pomegranates don’t grow well here, so we only have them when they are imported from the US. And this is pomegranate season. I’ve used the tart juicy little arils as garnish on some lettuce cups — filled with orange, a feta/ricotta mix, mint and walnuts — and with some pea, feta and mint fritters. The recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple.

Yes, my garden is full of mint and it’s a taste I associate with summer.

Thank you Yotam Ottolenghi for this yummy and easy recipe. Image; Su Leslie 2020

The iced Christmas tree shortbread biscuits above were a bit out of my comfort zone, but I confess I did have fun making the little squiggly things — eventually.

And for those who aren’t fans of royal icing, I also baked some plain lemon shortbread and dusted them with rosemary flavoured sugar.

Lemon-rosemary shortbread. Image; Su Leslie 2020

Chocolate dipped strawberries. Image; Su Leslie 2020

And to finish … some fresh, locally-grown strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.

And maybe a glass or two of bubbles.

The invitation

I’d love to hear from you. How are you doing in this Covid-crazy world? What’s making you happy or pissing you off?  Your comments make blogging so much more interesting.

And if you’d like to contribute a post of your own — even better. Maybe a shot of your cuppa and/or whatever you’re having with it. A recipe if you like.

I’ll update each of my posts with a ping-back to everyone’s in the same way as I do with The Changing Seasons.

#virtualteaparty2020 for anyone on Instagram who wants to post images (or video?)


Janet from This, That and the Other Thing has baked some delicious black forest biscotti.

Sarah at Art Expedition has made beautiful matcha and redcurrent cookies; her take on the German classic “Angel Eyes”. They look so delicious.

Joining us this month, Thistles and Kiwis has baked up a storm with some tomato toasts, buckwheat chocolate chip cookies and date scones (you all know my weakness for scones). Please pop over and say hi.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind has laid a beautiful table in her outdoor lounge area. She has lots of yummy things to eat; including fresh cherries.

Lois from … On Pets and Prisoners … has joined us on her beautiful rustic horse. I love the magic of the blogosphere.

Aggie at Nomad joins us with a lovely tin of Farrah’s toffee. Yum!!!

Deb from The Widow Badass has shared her Christmas culinary adventures in a post that will have you laughing out loud.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico takes us on culinary Christmas tour of Mexico. And as always she includes links to her recipes.

Ju-Lyn from All Things Bright and Beautiful has baked scones (one of my favourite things to eat) and served them with lemon curd (one of my absolute favourite things to eat).

Yvette at Priorhouse blog has some zesty lemongrass tea to accompany a delicious chicken salad.

Coconut macaroons and ginger orange tea with Ladyleemanila? Sounds delicious.

Maybe you’d like to try Cranachan and raisin spice cake with Del at Curls n Skirls?