Family bearing food creates fun times

Food, glorious food is fundamental  to the French people’s expression of family life and never was this expressed more warmly than when husband Olivier’s adult children and their partners visited bearing gifts of food.

French-born Patricia brought her own home-made Les Recettes beef soup as well as a renowned French dessert – Clafouti, a baked egg dish from her French grandmother’scookbook .

“My grandmother is still alive and living near Paris, but she gave me her cookbook  saying “You will have more use out of it than
I will’’,’’ says Patricia. “It contains everyday recipes for the French family.’’

She flicks the well-thumbed pages of her precious hand-me-down French cookbook. Les Recettes Faciles by Francoise Bernard is the old-fashioned kind of cookbook, published in 1967. In the style of the era with simple printed recipes and instructions only without any of the glossy photographs of the nouveau genre,  personality cookbooks which jam today’s bookshop shelves.  Despite being almost 50 years old, it is Patricia’s favourite reference point when preparing a recipe. She says its  recipes are as enduring as
French cuisine.

French people do have a love of cooking; that whole experience of being in the kitchen preparing food,’’ says Patricia, who was born near Paris and raised in Brittany.

“But preparing a particular dish is also a way to share, of showing your  love for the family, which was what  I  wanted to do with my soup. “Soup is such a comforting food, so warm and filling.’’

Patricia says she remembers her great-grandmother who only died 10 years ago and how her grandmother and own mother, Elizabeth, were all exceptional cooks.

“I have great childhood memories of mum cooking for long Sunday lunch which gave us lovely tradition of that  whole fact of how food lovingly prepared connects people and how everyone gathers around the table and sharing a dish, tasting it, talking about it,’’ she recalls.
“I went through a stage in my 20s of rejecting how the
females in my family cooked in the traditional way with all crème fresh, the butter and very very
rich foods.’’

However, the traditional  Clafouti has remained  a family favourite, she says.

“I wanted to cook something with fruit and I had some really nice cherries on hand. It’s a very simple dish and tasty.’’

She says her grandmother was christened Marie Louise but  because she was born on May 1, France’s Remembrance Day when Lily of the Valley floral sprigs are sold on each street corner throughout France, she was called Muguette.

“So there are lovely memories surrounding each recipe I use from my cookbook.’’


Here Patricia shares her Recette pour le Clafouti, from Les Recettes Faciles de Francoise Bernard, 1967.

Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour

Very easy and not expensive


500g of tasty cherries; 60g flour; 125g caster sugar; 3 eggs; 2 glasses of milk (equivalent of 2 cups); A pinch of butter;  pinch of salt.

The clafouti is a traditional French dish from the Limousin region and is like a thick flan-like batter.  I recommend doubling all quantities above (except for the cherries) to get a decent sized dish, like the one baked for Nadine and Olivier at Hindmarsh Island.

The cherries can be replaced by apples, prunes, or plums.


  1. Warm  up your over to about 180 degrees (fan forced)
  2. Wash  and remove the cherry stems, dry with a tea towel, for extra flavour: do not remove the stone
  3. In a  mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt.   Then gradually add the eggs and the cold milk, stir.
  4. Butter  a deep baking dish, lay the cherries at the bottom.  Pour the cake mix on top.
  5. Bake  for about 45 minutes or until the blade of a knife thrust into the cake  comes out clean.

(35 minutes into the cooking time, I scattered some extra
sugar on top to make the cherries look nice and the clafouti golden)
Can be served warm or cold, vanilla ice-cream or cream complement it nicely!







Suzanne shines at her first art show

Much-travelled emerging artist, Suzanne Tilley selected a fitting venue  for her first solo Art Exhibition within the SALA festival, which opened Friday, August 19.

Suzy has travelled far and wide with her husband John over past years through Hoffmanns  Travel, so naturally the Glenelg agency was happy to allow her exhibition space at their offices.

In fact, her exhibition was spawned aboard a cruise they booked through Hoffmanns, where she painted prolifically.

Hey presto, she had produced more than 20 superb paintings capturing the favourite places she has “Visited and Loved” around the globe.


Now the Glenelg agency is decorated with her works until August 26 and part proceeds of all sales will benefit her favourite charity
“Tutti Arts” where young disabled people have the opportunity to expand their talents through, art, music and live performances.   Two of the Tutti special artists performed on the Opening Night.


Philipa’s Dream Wedding in Tonga

Philipa Charlesworth had been married too many times beforehand to ever be a Bridezilla when she married her fifth husband Bruce Pattullo on an idyllic beach in Tonga.

“Because I have had many weddings I had an enlightening moment on the day of my wedding when I thought “This is wonderful…I have never married when I haven’t been running around like a blue-arsed fly, but here I am sipping wine at lunchtime and I am getting married at four o’clock,’’ she recalls with a chuckle.

However, Philipa spent 12 months planning every detail of her romantic Polynesian wedding from her riverside home at Goolwa, South  Australia where she has lived with Bruce since she left her old life in New Zealand 18 months ago. (See my previous writings on Philipa in Women’s Lives).

She had visited the Fafa Island Resort on the small island of Nukualofa, Tonga a few times before and had taken Bruce there 12 months ago – and he had proposed to her  there.

“We hired a wedding package which included Willy, a gay Fijian, who was in charge of the wedding and he did all the flowers – leis for all the men and we women had floral hair pieces,’’ recalls Philipa.

In a way she  had carried the dream of this day in her mind since they promised to marry each other  45 years ago when they were both teenagers in New Zealand.  But Bruce broke up the romance and they each married other  people.

The couple arrived two days before the wedding with four couples from South Australia, but within hours Philipa’s
matron-of-honor, a best friend from New Zealand, cancelled her flight because another earthquake in Christchurch had badly damaged their funeral home business.

“My dearest friends for so long,  the only New Zealanders, who knew the person
I was and the evolution of my middle age, weren’t  going to be with me,’’ she says.

“But Suzanne telephoned my son Dan and proposed that he go in their stead. So, Don and my grandson, Archie arrived completely by surprise.’’

On her wedding day, a native Tongan girl did Philipa’s  makeup and adorned her hair with a garland of frangipani.  It was  June 15, her 63rd birthday.  She slipped on her beautiful two-piece wedding dress made in an Hawaiian fabric which she bought on-line and had made to her own design by a local dressmaker in Goolwa. Then, she left her little grass hut and walked alone to meet her groom.

“We had planned to meet at the bar and as I walked in in my pink wedding dress, the look on Bruce’s said it all; his eyes opened so wide and  his smile showed how happy he was and so proud and I thought “Yes, this is our lovely wedding day,’’ she recalls.

“He took my hand and we walked out from the bar to the beach through the three archways formed by palms and dotted with flowers.

“At the end of the archways the Catholic priest, in his Tongan skirt and his  crisp white shirt,  stood at the little table waiting for us.’’

On the beach, their guests were joined by the 14 other guests of the resort, who were invited to join the wedding ceremony where they all enjoyed canapés and Moet champagne.

The island boys  sat around their Kava bowl and sang local Tongan music for the Christian marriage as Philipa and Bruce made their vows.

“We had canapés for a while with the other island guests and when it grew dark, the island staff escorted us and our bridal party through a pathway lit by flares to our wedding table.’’

They honeymooned sailing for three days around the islands with their Australian friends.

However, the one hovering question now that life has returned to normal in Goolwa is “Will this marriage last?’’

“Oh yes, this marriage will last because I have so many comparisons to make.  Bruce has made me the happiest in my life. I
am so full of love and lust and friendship for him – and thankful for all that he brings to me and my life.’’



Julie’s cancer Journey

By Julie House        July 2011

When I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January this year, I was 53 years old and terrified.  Insulted too. I had been practising yoga for years and considered myself fit and healthy.  Why did I have cancer?  My diet hadn’t always been optimal, stress levels had been difficult for a few periods, and I had over-indulged in food and alcohol fairly often.  But I was still slim, energetic and agile. My friends and acquaintances were shocked, too.

We all live with the threat of cancer because the cell mutations occur within us all the time and I believe cancer strikes in a random manner, or as the oncologist said “Sh*t happens to nice people’’..  My “quality control” – my immune system – failed to detect a mutated cell division and it fired off.

A few bouts of irritable bowel symptoms might have been a warning, but I changed my diet to exclude gluten and it helped.  I lost a few kilos and had more energy.  Then I noticed some blood spots the resultant colonoscopy found cancer.  I never felt unwell with the cancer.  That’s why we need to talk about this insidious disease.
Read more »

The Cancer odds of 1 in 2 hits our home

Life has dumped a heap of dirt on us again with Olivier spending another 10 days in hospital with unmanageable pain.  The hormone treatment has failed to hold his advanced prostate cancer, which has now moved into his bone marrow and blood.

It is a terrifying time as his oncologist delivers this grave news on the Friday morning, two days after Olivier’s Emergency admission.  After lunch, eminent pain management/palliative care expert, Professor Ian Maddocks is at his bedside telling him how to use Morphine injections for quality of life.

He doesn’t want Olivier to return to our island home, but to stay in Adelaide.  This is the one piece of frightening news which we understand: His life is under threat.   Everything changed in a matter of hours.  After dinner, Olivier has his first chemotherapy treatment.

We don’t mention the unthinkable to each other and I marvel that he does not seem at all anxious with the diagnosis.

I spend my days and early evenings at his bedside and in my private hours, I cry a river of tears over the deteriorating state of his disease.   Suddenly there is anurgency to finish building our new  retirement home.

What a situation!  Our house is not even at lock-up stage, even thought the foundations were laid seven months a go.  One of his sons contacts our builder, Stellar Homes, and gives the grave facts – that Olivier is facing a period of palliative care without a home. They promise  to accelerate building and his son Herve reports that Stellar is planning to finish the house within six weeks.

I leave to visit the building block to make a list of trades needed to finish the contract and I pick shrubbery, some olive branches and some hardenbergia to remind him of our little garden patch, now largely decimated by the building process. It is a small gesture of hope for a future at Belair and race back to the hospital to  place it in a vase on the shelf in his room. He is pleased.

On the 7th day, nurses (a wonderful team of women and a fellow named Robert) take a blood test, after which he is hooked up for  a blood transfusion. Another follows on the 8th day, when he also receives steroids.

I am there at 7.15 am on the 10th day, another Friday morning to meet the oncologist, Dr Parnis. It is the day he is to be discharged and also when we find out if the chemotherapy has worked. Olivier is asleep, so I sit in the patients’ lounge and write notes.

Doctor sees me and quips “Now I know you sleep here overnight,’’.  “No, I simply have to be here to meet you,” I say. “Remember the one morning I wasn’t here you delivered dreadful news to my husband and I wasn’t there.”

“Well, we haven’t had anymore bad news,’’ he says.  My heart leaps as he adds “Come with me’’. We are overjoyed when he tells a sleepy  Olivier that although his PSA count is still very high, two other types of blood tests have shown that one element has returned to normal and the other has fallen to half. “It means that the chemotherapy is having an effect on the cancer and we will give you another cycle in a few weeks,’’ he says.

“Meantime, you can go home, but you  do need to follow Professor Maddocks’ instructions about pain management.’’


birthdays are beautiful



Birthdays are beautiful ways to celebrate life and love.  This year was my first Facebook birthday, which added an exciting new dimension to the many “joyeux anniversaire’’ cards, telephone calls, flowers, kisses, hugs and les cadeaux
(the gifts) I received. There in my email box was a long string of more than 30 Facebook greetings from  my “friends’’,
people I had known for years and new connections.


I remember reporting on a top 10 list of qualities needed to build relationships and gift-giving was one – along with
using terms of endearment. These are the all-important doing verbs of the noun “love’’ and my birthday over-flowed with acts of endearment – and celebratory events.


There was another dimension this year, too, to mark my 67th birthday – an outpouring of kindness from friends.
Not the least of these was from former work colleague, now personal friend, Samela, who invited husband Olivier and myself to share a meal  with husband Bruce and their friends Barb and Brian on the night of my birthday.

Conversation flowed as freely until we were summoned to the dining table. A grand home-stuffed,
oven-baked chook, laid with bacon rashers made a magnificent piece-de-resistance. Its steaming herbaceous aroma filled the space as Bruce poured another top drop. Why did we forget our camera to capture such a delicious moment?

We slept over, too, and over scrummy scrambled eggs I gazed over Encounter
Bay as the waves rolled to shore. And I thought how friendship is such a human gift – one to the other and
how we glow emotionally in its warmth.

The adult children arrived on Saturday, Felicia driving from Melbourne to our island home while Tyson and Vanessa came from Adelaide where we adjourned to Currency Creek for a Duck-Off, a delicious feast of three great duck dishes from three competing chefs.


Somethiing was amiss, though, this night, because husband Olivier had to retire to the car half-way through the event
because of chronic back pain.  How could we foresee that the joy of my birthday, within days, was to become despair and
sadness as life turned over to another dark chapter.