Christmas food, spices and Zanzibar

It’s that time of year when chefs and cooks around the world turn their minds to the Christmas cooking. Since Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings rely on the delicious spices originally brought back to Europe from Asia and Zanzibar, what better time to share some photos of the spices in their natural habitat in Zanzibar, once known as part of the Spice Islands.

You can compare the images with the spices listed in my Christmas cake recipe from my other blog.360 nutmeg and mace low

348 cardamom low


While holidaying in Zanzibar, and en route to the north-eastern beach at Ras Nungwi, we did a spice tour. It was really fun as well as informative. The guys made it really enjoyable by testing our knowledge of the plants from smell and taste, and along the way made us hats, necklaces, dilly bags, and glasses.

Cloves, not yet ripened.

Cloves, not yet ripened.

Peeling bark from the cinnamon tree.

Peeling bark from the cinnamon tree.

Do you recognise any of these plants, or do you use them in your Christmas cooking? Each and every one is in my Christmas cake recipe but the star is….

Green peppercorns are picked and dried before they ripen.

Green peppercorns are picked and dried before they ripen.

366 spice exchange low_edited-1Now where’s my Cointreau?

Mind you I find it somewhat ironic that all these spices, so integrally associated with Christmas, can be found on the largely Islamic island of Zanzibar.

The travellers in our Spice Farm accessories.

The travellers in our Spice Farm accessories.

Garden flamboyance

Flowers and flags_edited-1
Before I started visiting Open Gardens it wouldn’t have occurred to me to add “artificial” colour and sculptures to the garden. I’m now a convert and love the additional splashes of colour. Tropical light and gardens welcome vivid colours. Balinese flags appear in almost every garden.

Shadow Shot Sunday: Yin and Yang

Another photo from last weekend’s Open Garden which was so full of magnificent shadows, and some interesting contradictions.

While yin and yang is not entirely appropriate for Buddhism, nevertheless it reveals light and shadow. Similarly it’s interesting the Balinese-influenced gardens here so often include a Buddha, yet Bali is predominantly Hindu. That oracle of all things, Wikipedia, says “Balinese culture is a mix of Balinese Hindu/Buddhist religion and Balinese custom”

Yin and yang

Light and Shadow

Buddhist and Hindu

Balinese tranquility

In Darwin gardens

Yin and Yang, Light and Shadow

Yin and Yang, Light and Shadow

Shadow Shot Sunday

Do have a look at the other wonderful images posted under Shadow Shot Sunday.

Shadow Shot Sunday: Trembling in the light

After a frenetic burst of activity through April with the A to Z challenge this poor blog has been languishing in the shadows itself. Time to bring it back into the light.

Trembling in the light

Brazen flowering plants

Compete with the sun

Tropical light trembles

Reveals the cooler shadows.

Shadow Shot Sunday

Check out the other amazing photos in Shadow Shot Sunday.

Floral delight

Last week at the Parap pool I noticed one of the shrubs was flowering so I pinched this little bunch to bring home. I thought they were just gorgeous once you could see the detail.

parap pool flowers

Cassmob Hibiscus genetics

This poor little blog has been sadly neglected over Christmas etc. When I started it I’d planned to post 365 photos over 2012 with each image as a stand-alone “event”. In the end I posted on 173 days, but uploaded 466 photos, and couldn’t resist adding commentary to most. 3900 viewers read the posts over the course of the year.

Normally I only post photos of the Northern Territory here (and I still have plenty on file to upload in due course), but for a change (for all of us) I’d include some of the photos we took on our recent trip to Papua New Guinea when we mainly visited Alotau and Samarai. After all when we lived in Alotau it was still in the Territory of Papua New Guinea and it is also tropical. Well that’s my justification anyway!


If you want to read more about our experiences on this sentimental return voyage, you can read them on this link to my other blog, Family History Across the Seas.


When growing up on Samarai, Mr Cassmob’s mother used to import hibiscus from all over, including Hawaii. We wondered as we looked at these ones growing in the grounds of the Catholic Church (near where they lived) if they were the horticultural descendants of those imported hibiscus although they’re not all that exotic.

Red Hibiscus at Samarai

Red Hibiscus at Samarai


Magnolia flower

I was surprised the other day to see the first magnolia on my potted tree. When I saw the tree in the nursery a while back I was surprised they even grew in Darwin so it became my most expensive plant purchase ever. Our courtyard has a lot of shade much of the day so it possibly doesn’t get as much sun as it would like so it’s been growing taller by the day seeking out the sun. I was thrilled to see its first flower.

Pretty in Pink

Just a quick one today as we’ve been out and about having fun.

Do you like my new pink hibiscus? I think it’s just gorgeous and makes me think of ballet tutus.

Pink Hibiscus: Mrs George Davis

Do you remember?

Who remembers seeing one of these in the laundry in the “olden days”? I can certainly remember when the copper was heated up with gas (in our house) and the sheets were boiled with Reckitts blue to make them white (makes sense -right?!).

Who would have expected to see one reincarnated as a water feature in an Open Garden?

the old laundry copper finds a new life in the garden.