how to create your own edible garden…
Posted in australia, creative ventures, food, nature June 24th, 2015 by pia


Earlier this year on a drizzly and rather misty Saturday morning in February, I drove down to the very beautiful Glenbernie Orchard in Darkes Forest, in the Northern Illawarra of New South Wales. I had signed up to talented baker Tara Mills of Mill Lane’s workshop on “how to create your own edible garden”, encouraged by my dear friend Jenni who was also attending and lives in the area (I’ll be showcasing Jenni’s gorgeous home here in the (blog)house very soon, in the meantime you can have a little sneak peek here).

I love turning off the highway upon entering the Royal National Park, like other times I’ve traveled in that direction, I wind down all the windows in the car and take deep belly breaths to absorb the gorgeous air. On this occassion, I was playing the latest album of Tenzin Cheogyal called Heart Strings, and so by the time I arrived at Glenbernie, I was well and truly at ease and ready to enjoy the full day workshop ahead. It’s an incredibly rare treat to have an entire Saturday to myself, and to spend it with like-minded people learning all about permaculture and enjoying a glorious home made lunch by Tara made it very special…





These seasonal workshops, hosted by Tara, take place in a large shed on the Glenbernie Orchard property, looking out over the apple orchard. It is taught by Narelle Happ, horticulturalist and garden designer, who has over ten years experience in permaculture, and is filled with knowledge which she passionately shares throughout the day. She’s a great teacher, very patient and willing to share everything she knows about creating beautiful edible gardens.



Throughout the day Tara served a delicious array of dishes for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. At lunchtime we sampled the orchards own apple cider, as well as indulged in a glass of sparkling wine, which relaxed us into the afternoon. In the morning we talked about the principles and ethics of permaculture, designing our individual gardens, and creating health soil, while in the afternoon we learnt about specific seasonal and perennial plants, propogation, and seed saving and raising. Narelle incorporated a lot of hands on activity, so we were able to learn through experience which I have always found the best way to soak in information, especially for those of us who are visual learners.




At the end of the day we each came home with an armful of gardening goodies including our propogated plants, seeds, companion guides, notes, a wooden handled trowel, and some of Tara’s delicious recipes.


It was a wonderful experience, and to be able to come home to my own garden and see it afresh, implementing Narelle’s advice and teachings over time spent in my own little borrowed patch of earth. I have more confidence now with things I wasn’t sure about like my compost system and soil, as well as the needs of certain vegetables. And I’m inspired to keep trying, keep planting and experimenting, and then to cook as Tara does, with pickings straight from the garden.


Thank you everyone who attended that day for the wonderful conversations and a big thank you to Tara, Narelle and Jo who owns the farm, for having me along. I am keen to get back down there for Tara’s baking workshop now, called “the art of making French breads” ah oui!




all photographs by Pia Jane Bijkerk

in sydney now: GREENHOUSE by Joost…
Posted in creative ventures, food, pia's photos, sydney March 9th, 2011 by pia

“I have designed the restaurant in reverse. I’ve started at the end and worked back. My dream has always been to build a restaurant that creates no waste and now I believe I can achieve it!” – Joost Bakker

Last Friday, Romain & I had the pleasure of enjoying breakfast + a catch up with my dear friend Jenni at Joost Bakker’s GREENHOUSE. I’ve been a fan of Joost’s work since learning about him a few years back, and was so excited to hear via gourmet traveller that his latest venture was right here in Sydney. Over the years, Joost has been commissioned to design furniture, spaces, and vertical gardens in his signature style that brings together nature and industry. His focus on sustainability in all his projects is what drew me to his work, and it was such a treat to finally experience one of his creations in the flesh…

For me, stepping inside GREENHOUSE was like stepping into the heart of Amsterdam – from the use of space, colour, decor, and inventiveness  – there is a wonderful air of the unconstrained, which is the very characteristic that I love most about Amsterdam.

While enjoying a doughnut and cuppa, I was fortunate to meet Georgina, one of the talented designers on the team. She spoke about the design and  creation of the restaurant, and how they’d love to find a permanent place for it in Sydney (yes, please!). Thanks to the lovely Georgina, I also got a chance to meet Joost on the rooftop garden + bar…

The GREENHOUSE philosophy is about “lifestyle and the many choices that can be made; from material choices to fashion, food and ultimately waste.” This is evident through the space – everything has been made from recycled materials, including the bathroom doors and jar covered lights…

GREENHOUSE is only open for another couple of weeks, so if you live in Sydney, I highly recommend you go and check it out while you can. Sitting on Campbells Cove, just opposite the Opera House on the other side of the quay, it’s well worth it just to drink in the view on the rooftop terrace, surrounded by strawberries and herbs of all varieties…

Congrats to Joost and his incredible team, here’s hoping for a permanent GREENHOUSE in Sydney!



photos by Pia Jane Bijkerk & Jenni Booth.

many thanks to the cook’s atelier…
Posted in food, france October 28th, 2010 by pia

photograph by Jen Altman

Marjorie Taylor from The Cook’s Atelier has cooked up a delicious storm in the (blog)house kitchen this past month. Today in the kitchen you’ll find her last recipe -a classic apple tart – which completes her autumn menu & her stay here. What a treat it’s been to have Marjorie here this month. I hope you’ve all enjoyed her recipes and incredible photographs. Here for easy reference is her complete autumn menu:

roasted cream of cauliflower soup
rôti de veau
winter market salad
apple tart & pâte sucrée

You can keep in touch with Marjorie by following her blog, and she also has lots of great pics on flickr.  For now though,  please join me in saying a big merci beaucoup to Marjorie for being here. Merci Marjorie! Please come back again, you’re welcome anytime. x

a new guest cook in the (blog)house kitchen…
Posted in (blog)house news, food, france September 29th, 2010 by pia

all images in this post are by photographer Jen Altman

Today and for the month of October,  I’m delighted to welcome a very special guest cook to the (blog)house. But before I introduce you, I want to say a big thank you to Yvette for holding up the fort for so long! She was so self-sufficient –  baking up irish tea brack when the mood & weather struck, serving up rhubarb compote, and sharing some Dutch Fare with us all among so many other delicious recipes over the course of the last few months – beside taking full advantage of her enthusiasm to cook for others, I got very used to her company. Alas, we must say au revoir to my dear friend Yvette for now, and let her enjoy the fruits of her labor with her new cookbook, home made.  Merci Yvette,  for being such a generous, wonderful, fun guest. Until next time!


But with this au revoir comes a warm and heartfelt bonjour! to our new (blog)house kitchen guest.  Would you like to meet her? Not only is this special guest a very talented cook, inspired by markets and small artisan producers, but she also runs cooking classes and market tours, hosts wonderful evenings called “dinner with the cook”, and is committed to living a sustainable life.  When she moved to Burgundy in France, she ditched her car and as she says so eloquently  “took to the proverbial “French bike” adorned with a basket of market produce and flowers as my preferred choice for transportation.”

Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to Marjorie Taylor, the cook herself from one my of favourite places, The Cook’s Atelier

Marjorie has prepared a fabulous Autumn menu, just for us here in the (blog)house, each accompanied by beautiful photographs she has taken herself. And during the month of October she will be sharing a recipe or two from the menu each week, starting this week with the entrée. There will be 5 recipes altogether. Marjorie notes,

“this menu is the perfect example of an autumn menu for dinner with the cook, or the type of menu that we would prepare for a market tour and cooking class.  Everything is made from scratch and guests enjoy a convivial dinner at a long, zinc topped French farm table.  Dinner with the cook is like a supper club, only guests help prepare the menu for the evening. ”

How utterly marvelous. Thank you dear Marjorie for taking the time to share these amazing recipes with us, and to give us all a delicious taste of what dinner is like chez vous.

Mes amis, I hope Marjorie’s October-long stay in the (blog)house kitchen will inspire you in your own kitchens. Perhaps her stay will also inspire you to enjoy a weekend in burgundy, dining at The Cook’s Atelier table. Perhaps we could go together.


Click here to view Marjorie’s first recipe, Roasted Cream of Cauliflower Soup.

All images in this post are by photographer Jen Altman.

distracted: inspiration from around the blogosphere
Posted in blog favourites, food, photographers September 2nd, 2010 by pia

this plum tree and this recipe for plum oatmeal bread, from saipua.


jennifer causey’s new online portfolio.


…oh so west coast canada, portfolio of Jennilee Marigomen, found via vic (who just got back from paris, check out her beautiful paris pics here).


I’m distracted by all of the above this morning, and some, so I thought I’d distract you too.