Saturday, May 18, 2013

Easy Creamed Corn and Chicken Soup with Lemon Grass and My Gourmet Garden Noosa Adventure Day 1

Noosa Hinterland
Hello Beach Dwellers
I am still on a high from my fantastic adventure in Noosa and surrounds.  If you followed any of the social media surrounding the event, you will know that  Laney from Crash Test Mummy, was a most deserving winner.

More on the cook off,  and all the gorgeous dishes next time, but first I want to tell you about the lovely afternoon we spent in the Noosa hinterland on day one of the final.

 I learned so much across the three days and had a fabulous expereince, mixing with some truly fantastic cooks.
I have been inspired to be more adventurous in my cooking and whilst easily doable, yummy weeknight wonder type dishes will always remain my signature, I plan to branch out a bit in my weekend cooking and try new ingredients and cuisines and improve, like I used to do want to do before children.

So after a very early start and feeling a little bit like 'mutton dressed as glam' at the airport in florals and hot pink,  I was whisked away and driven up to Freestyle Escape in the Noosa Hinterland for our first day of cooking and blogging inspiration.  The road in to the property was 4 wheel drive affair and my driver was advised to call from the front gate for a lift up to the outdoor kitchen and not to drive in himself.   So yes, I was standing in the middle of nowhere, at the farm gate in heels and florals.  Not very appropriate, but funny all the same.

I was the last blogger to arrive.  There was media waiting to film our every move and I am somewhat dreading the posting of the video on You Tube.  I did try to remain a lady at all times, so we shall see.

A tissue box coated with tin foil, is a great way to add a pop of light to your photography subject.
Once we conquered the off piste driveway and made it up to the out door kitchen, we were treated to some mini master classes before lunch.  One of great interest to me, was creative food styling by food stylist, chef and food writer, Jacki Passmore.

We also met and listened to Jody from Stay at Home Mum who has over 138,000 likers on her Facebook page alone.  She does not understand how it took off initially, but I think it is a brilliant example of choosing a name that is relevant and being a very searchable phrase on Google.  Jody, from Gympie (above shot 2nd from the right) now employs 27 people to assist her in the running of her online business including a website.  Her Facebook page is run by about 15 (I think) mums globally, who work in shifts over a 24 hour day posting updates to cater for American and international fans as well.  

Amanda from Cooking for Busy Mum's (right) 
One of the highlights of the whole trip, was meeting girls with whom I have developed a friendship online, but I had never met before.  Anne from Domesblissity  (centre) who is so kind and friendly.

The lovely Alberto all the way from Spain who runs the blog Mucha Vida
Amanda from A Cooker and a Looker a fantastic local girl, who knew loads about the area. Amanda entertained us with stories of her foray into the wonderful world of Masterchef and auditioning for that gig.

Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella was also there to do a Q and A with us.  There was lots of interest in how she secured her book deal with Penguin.  She spoke about bidding wars and how most smaller publishers know they won't win against Penguin, so pull out when they enter the fray.  Lorraine also said that the average Australian book deal is about $5000, which seems very little, considering all the work involved.  So what agents try to achieve for their clients, is a bidding war to drive up the price of the manuscript.

Lorraine told a funny anecdote about how she thought it was her job to impress the big wigs at a publishers meeting.  She attempted to do this by making some beautiful fudge to take along..  Her agent set her straight and told her "no it is the publisher's job to woo you Lorraine". She took the fudge along anyway and they loved it.

 She is such a sweetie and left a lovely comment on my blog that evening after the lunch.  How gracious and sweet of her to bother!!!!!!

Also at the lunch that day,  was Kim McCosker of 4 ingredients fame.  A delightfully friendly lady, who is decidedly down to earth and sweet.  I have to say that, when my mum gave me Kim's first book 10 or so years ago, I flicked through it and never used it.  I now realise what a mistake that was.  The entire lunch was prepared by us bloggers, using Kim's 4 Ingredients recipes and Gourmet Garden Herbs and Spices and they were fantastic.  So simple and delicious.

Kim and I decided to style tea cups with Baby's Breath for the soup

I was left to prepare the Creamed Corn and Chicken Soup with Lemon Grass, for the luncheon which literally look about 10 minutes and feeds about 20 people.  This is a double quantity of the recipe, but just halve it for a hearty family sized pot of soup.

Easy Creamed Corn and Chicken Soup with Lemon Grass 

8 Chicken thigh fillets trimmed of fat and diced
600g canned cream corn
10 dessert spoons Gourmet Garden Lemon Grass
2 litres Chicken Stock (Campbells Brand)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring Stock to the boil
Add Chicken and creamed corn
Simmer for 15 minutes
Add lemon grass
Simmer for a further 5 minutes
Serve in a teacup with crusty herbed bread.

We had a lovely trio of dips.  The 4 ingredients Salmon Dip was fantastic and I will make it at home soon for the blog.  That salad was beetroot and apple and was terrific.

Here are some more of the dishes

Here's what I chose for lunch.
There were some lovely prawns with chorizo and some delicious chilli chicken wings.  I will definitely be using some of Kim's lovely recipes.

Especially this incredible chocolate mousse dessert made using avocado instead of cream.

Last up was a great SEO talk from Edmund Pelgen, who made that set of slides under my dessert there.  I always love learning about how to blog better and I think there's a whole post in that itself.  The importance of Google + cannot be underestimated and I shall be working on that too.

After dessert we were whisked away back to Noosa.  We were each given  our own lovely town house to stay in, right on Hastings Street.

The Hastings Noosa

I dumped my bags and headed straight across the road to the beach to catch the sunset and people watch, one of my favourite past times.

Then it was back to the town house to dress for dinner with a group of lovely foodie bloggers.  A great end to a fabulous day.

Next up the cook off and how it all played out.
Today I am linked up here


  1. Well, you're pretty damn lovely yourself. A lovely account of what happened on the first day. Great post Carolyn. xx

  2. What a fabulous event and trip. Great food and super pictures. Hugs, Marty

  3. This is a very interesting post. I learned a lot. I will be making the easy peasy chicken soup. What a joy-4 ingredients. How can I mess that up. By the way are you still into France? Anita at www.castlecrownsandcottages.blogspot is having a french link party and you might enjoy some of the beautiful (all about) french blogs.

  4. The soup looks delightful in the teacups! Sounds like a fabulous time!

    1. Thanks Deanne. That soup would be great for your big crew.

  5. What a wonderful experience from beginning to end. You write so well Carolyn, I'm sure you will have a book deal too. I'm so glad you have met the lovely Lorraine - so genuinely fabulous and such a glamour xx

    1. Well Charlie coming from you that is really something, so thank you. Yes Lorraine is all class and so very nice with it. No wonder she is so successful.


  6. What a perfect summary! Was wonderful to meet you in person too xx

    1. Thanks Lisa such a treat to meet you as well. I am determined to eat more of your beautiful food one day.

  7. Carolyn, So glad you had a lovely time! Well done for being a finalist... It sounds like the loveliest time! Rach xx

    1. Thanks so much Rachel. Yes being a finalist was an honour.

  8. really loved the hot pink and floral I think you would have looked great.glad you had a great time and cant wait to here more-love dee x

  9. Great account, and I loved the pictures of the beach, I blooming love Noosa. Have been twice both times with none of my beloved bairns, real holiday spot. That soup sounds a lot better and simpler than the one I usually make. I bought the 4 Ingrediant books and do use them, esp the newer ones.

  10. It was a real pleasure to meet you Carolyn and I'm so glad that you had such a great time. I didn't want to leave you guys as you were all so much fun! :D

  11. Great wrap up of a fabulous day Carolyn! That soup was so easy and so tasty - it'll get a lunch time run at our place now the days are cooling down. :)

  12. You took so many great photos! I wish I had got down to the beach, just never had a chance. Wonderful to finally meet you and your dish looked amazing. Hope to see you on the Gold Coast in September :)

  13. OMG that photo at the beach on sunset is just stunning!! Sounds like an amazing experience. Fi xx

  14. You have been a busy lady! What an incredible experience for you to do. It looks like it was a lot of fun :)

  15. it's so great you got to experience our wonderful coast line...your food looks amazing!
    well done.
    Bec x

  16. OMgosh,
    this looks SMASHING!
    Love the photos.
    Great shoes!
    Cute boys!


  17. Wow, that recipe seems so simple, looks beautiful! Love the pictures of the event as well!
    We would love it if you would link up at our linky party:
    Two Girls and a Party
    Live every Wednesday to Sunday. Hosted by:
    Dana @ This Silly Girl's Life
    Parrish @ Life with the Crust Cut Off
    We hope to see you there!


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