Onions Garlic Ginger

Samoan Style Chicken Curry

Onions and Curry Powder

Here’s a dish we most likely inherited from Asian settlers in the Pacific. Samoan curry is made with powdered Indian spices, but it isn’t as strong or as fragrant as traditional curries.

Instead it is creamier, with spices balanced in a soul-food kinda way by the subtle sweetness of coconut cream.


You can make Samoan curry with beef or lamb, but I prefer chicken only partly because it cooks faster.

My version of Samoan style chicken curry is so easy (and cheap) to make that it’s my go-to dish for pot-lucks and large family gatherings.

This recipe will feed an army – or 4, maybe 5 hungry Samoans.

Here’s what I used:

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How to eat Palolo (when you live in New Zealand)

First, you have to get someone in Samoa to send it to you. Preferably frozen (because of how it’s seafood).

My lovely aunt in Samoa surprised us this Christmas by sending her husband over with this for us:

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Coming Up Roses


Years ago I wrote something about how I’d lost my camera, and along with it, some of my interest in photography. But I also mused that one day… I just might pick up an actual (i.e. not installed in my phone) camera again and learn how to take real photos.

This here is my first attempt.

The camera I’m using now once belonged to my sister. It’s a cute little Fuji-film thing (yes, digital) and I’m skimming through websites and really great online tutorials to learn stuff about apertures and shutterspeeds and something about sensitive images.

It took like 30 or more shots before I finally got this one (the image above)… and while the rose is slightly wilted and the composition isn’t all that imaginative, this photo is probably the best I’ve ever taken.

No filters or anything.

I’m excited now. I hope to keep getting better at this, to build my confidence as a photographer (*ahem*) and start collecting breathtaking images from the world around me.

Next on my shopping list: a tripod.


Easy As Bread – and my gastronomy bucket list

I watch so much Food TV that words like ‘risotto’ and ‘white truffles’ and ‘saffron flower’ roll out of my mouth like I know what they taste like. I don’t. Not really. I think I had risotto once from a $30-a-meal Italian place in Mission Bay, ages ago, but then Mario Batali or Rick Stein or someone similar talks about how the perfect risotto rice might not be Arborio after all, and I’m like, well. I wouldn’t know. Not from my one risotto way back when that may or may not have contained Arborio.

So now I have a new mission. If you’ve been following along, my other mission this year was to be more conscientious about the ingredients in my food, you know, like sneaking whole wheat flour into my baking and cutting down on sugar, that sort of thing. The endeavor is attached to the renewal of my perennial resolution to get healthy (again) and keep the people around me healthy, too. I’m still working on that one. Slowly.
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One of the beaches, eastern side of Saipan island 1986_16448278285_l

She, the Storm and the Sunshine

I wrote this for July 2014’s Blog Topic of the Month over in the One Samoana Ville.

When she was young she collected rocks – oddly shaped, interestingly-hued stones, mostly from the many tropical beaches we knew, and a few from the chilly riverbeds we visited in New Zealand.

I’d smile at the congruity of her hobby. That she with the iron will, the unrelenting stubbornness and the coconut head would choose to collect rocks? Nothing else in our world made as much sense.

She displayed these stones on a large shelf in her corner of our bedroom. They were her trophies, spoils from a time in her life when dragging us around with her to explore the wonders of nature was fun. And easy.

That time spanned several years, actually, but looking back now, it raced by so fast.

After a while, her rock pile didn’t grow very much. Like storm clouds closing in on the sun, her general mood churned and darkened. She was quicker now to hurl those stones than to collect them. Sometimes through open (and not so open) windows. Sometimes into the thin panels of her bedroom door. Once or twice, or maybe three times, at me.

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Whole wheat (well, almost) tortillas


I’m not on a diet. Just saying.

My change of direction is just about understanding and appreciating food – how it’s grown or processed, how it’s best prepared for flavor and nutrition, and how it affects our bodies chemically. Knowledge is power, right? I just want to make better food choices and figure out how to create delectable dishes – morsels I’d be proud to share – out of wholesome ingredients.

As an emotional eater who doesn’t think a lot about what’s really going into my body, this has already been a huge learning experience. A little bit of research led me to a bunch of different movements in food. Vegetarian and vegan, we all know, but Paleo? Clean eating? Macrobiotic? I’m going to need a little while to decipher those concepts.

In the meantime, I thought I should start with something simple. I already love tortillas, but I only recently tasted them homemade and fresh out of the skillet – wow! So they can be a pain to mix and shape and flatten and roll, etc. but the pay off is in the flavor and texture. Nothing that comes plastic-wrapped from the store is ever going to taste as good. I know this now.
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Basque Kitchen & Bar

Except I don’t drink, so no bar for me. Could tapas without alcohol still work?


My Florida-based cousin and his wife were in town last week. They were in transit home from Samoa, where they adopted a beautiful baby girl. To celebrate the success of their family venture, they took my mom and me out for dinner one night… but it couldn’t be to just any restaurant.

The cousin wanted to try someplace nice, something different from what we’re used to (as trans-Pacific, multi-ethnic Americans), something fun. So he flicked through The Metro Top 50 then asked us, “How about Spanish?”.

A couple hours later we were shuffling out of the chilly Auckland evening and into a cozy Basque Kitchen & Bar.

My first impression of the place came from the blonde lady at the counter who expressed some surprise that we’d brought with us a sleeping baby, then promptly shooed an imbibing couple away from a family sized table so we could lay the bub down on the cushioned bench while we ate. Champion! Read More


Getting hooked on juice

So I mentioned a new direction in food for me. I wanted to start this journey off right by “cleansing my palette” – and my body just a bit – with a juice fast.

Yes, I’m one of the millions who’ve fallen under the spell of the new Juice Master, Joe Cross. Have you seen this Aussie bloke’s documentary yet? About how he changed his life with a 60 day juice-only trek across America?

It’s cheesy and predictable, especially for jaded consumers like me who’ve entertained too many diet fads in the past, but it still managed to inspire me.

It helps that I’ve been trying to shake things up in my life…

Travel the world!
…Do something I LOVE for a living!
……Express myself creatively!

After a while, those dreams need to come off the shelf, right? Read More

Chocomint Brownies

Choco-Mint Brownies …and a change of direction

Chocomint Brownies

The great thing about a relatively new blog is… it probably won’t upset my 2 or so (highly valued!) readers if my focus here is suddenly different.

The change won’t be huge, though. Cup Tea first started as a celebration of the kinds of food we make for special gatherings. That is, our signature, saved-for-guests-and-parties dishes.

But for me that meant a lot of cake, cookie, pie and brownie baking, and although my culinary track record isn’t 100% – we’re all learning, right? – my baking is usually pretty good, if I do say so myself… and I indulge in it a LOT, which is not so good.

This is one reason I’m still on my extended break from OpieChomp! baking (thank you so much to everyone who supported that effort and kept me busy for several months with lots of orders).

I recently got back from Samoa, where I spent a couple months with family who are more concerned about eating right than I usually, ever am. I came home a little bit lighter (yay!) and with a new interest in really learning about food – not just what tastes great, but what makes my insides feel better. You know… *good* food. Read More

My Camera

I first wrote this on the 12th of August 2008. Just transferring it here from an old blog. 

I lost my camera.

It happened maybe two years ago, around the time my house was broken into… twice, even, in less than 3 months (bloody South Auckland street kids).

The thing is, I didn’t even notice it was gone until a few weeks later. Or maybe I did notice, but that memory was filed away somewhere in my subconscious, along with other tragedies in my life that I refuse to willingly acknowledge.

Even today I’m clinging to the hope that my camera will show up again somewhere – at the back of the hot water cupboard? Buried under the old monitors, broken desks and moldy newspapers piled high in the garage? Or maybe a cousin will turn up to my house one day and apologize for not getting my camera back to me after borrowing it a year and a half ago – but here it is, thanks, in perfect working order.

I can’t even remember the make of it. Nikon I think. Or Cannon. All I know is that it had a manual /auto adjust zoom lens, the flash still worked, never mind that its cover looked burnt, and it required film that cost around $13 each, or less than $30 for a triple pack.

Over the years that I’d had this camera, I must have spent thousands of dollars developing film. Thankfully, only a small portion of that came out of my own pocket. People actually paid me to take photos – mostly friends and friends of friends who were getting married and didn’t want to fork out ridiculous amounts for a real photographer.

I was the girl with the camera at everybody’s wedding in those days, and sometimes it was magic – perfect timing, great shots, lots of frame-worthy images. Other times I’d have to walk away from a job sighing, ah well. You get what you pay for… because while I could take a pretty picture, my photography was hardly ‘professional’. Read More