Toolamba Bloom Walnut Farm: Photo by TRUphotography

Thursday, 2 June 2011

All You Need Is A Little Inspiration

Hi folks!

If you have stayed with me this far, you would probably be wondering what has been happening with HUGO?  Aside from waiting for the walnut press to arrive (where art thou my lovely walnut press?), my husband and I have been busy coming up with a design for the walnut oil label and logo.  We are meeting our designer this weekend to begin the design process.  I haven't been this excited since I bought those crazy cowhide chairs.  I will keep you updated on the design process.

If you have any ideas for the design of the walnut oil label or logo and would like to share your ideas, write to me.  I would love to hear from you.

This design process has got me thinking, "what inspires people?" I think if you had asked me this question a number of months ago, my answer would have been putting together a great outfit, learning a language, cooking a great meal, being surrounded by beautiful things....but now as I am going through this journey with creating HUGO, I have come to realise that what inspires me is the process of creation; the artistic and intellectual pursuit of creation.  What I mean by this is that I am inspired by the process of creating something new and sharing it with people.

As cliche as it sounds, what HUGO has taught me is that when you are doing something you love, it does not feel like work.  That's why I can be writing my blog at 1am in the morning and I won't even feel tired.  However, keeping up the momentum can be hard but what inspires me to continue is people like Sheryl Thai of Cupcake Central; the lovely ladies of Gingerbread Corner, Sarah Hunt of Hidden Documentary and many other young entrepreneurs who are doing amazing things.  Their talent, drive and creativity keeps me inspired.

Please let me know what inspires you?

It has been freezing in Melbourne lately so I whipped this up on Monday for pre-dinner nibbles:

Toasted bread with buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil, drizzled with walnut oil and balsamic vinegar- delicious.

You can also dip bread into the lovely walnut oil and balsamic vinegar mix: a healthy and tasty snack.

It's time for Walnut oil fact of the day:

Before the rise of olive oil, walnut oil was widely used in Italy (many generations ago).  People would gather to pick the walnuts and press the nuts to extract the golden oil as a community.

Thanks for spending some time with me and until we meet again, get the good oil.


Your humble Walnut Oil Queen.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Taking the plunge: life in the Walnut Lane

Hello folks

When you decide to start your own business, it's a thrilling and exciting prospect but as your journey continues you come to realise that living life in the walnut lane is hard: the highs are high and the lows are lows.  If somebody expresses even a passing interest in your walnut oil or compliments you on your blog your heart soars and your excitement knows no bounds....and then the doubt creeps in..."what do you think you are doing?"..."you will never make it"..."stop wasting your time."

There is no map for life in the walnut lane.  There is no manual entitled "how to set up a walnut oil empire".  Nobody has heard of a walnut oil tycoon, magnate or Queen.  It's uncharted territory and that's why it's both exciting and scary.  Sometimes it feels like you are Bear Grylls who has been dropped off in some foreign and dangerous location with only a pocket knife and a plastic bottle to keep you alive, except you don't have Bear Grylls' survival skills.  I think taking a risk is always terrifying.

Sometimes the risks are small but we struggle to overcome them nonetheless.  I was out at dinner last night with friends on Smith street....the restaurant's ambiance was perfect: trendy but not pretentious, it had a high ceiling but with an intimate feel, the type of place that had the right amount of sophistication, where you can still be yourself.  We were served by a male waiter who was clearly of the other persuasion, slight body, who moved elegantly, swiftly around the restaurant like a conductor of an orchestra.  The restaurant was his domain, he owned it....he moved gracefully, poetically.  I was so struck by his lyrical movements and the way it made us feel like we were the only customers in the whole place, I had this immense desire to tell him that he moved like poetry in motion. This is how the battle in my head played out:

"Do it. Tell him.  It's a compliment.  He needs to know."

"Are you crazy? He may think you are coming onto him."

"But clearly he is not interested in girls and what do you have to lose?"

"To lose? Your dignity. He may laugh in your face."

"Gawd, it's only a compliment...why shouldn't it be shared?  What's the point of keeping compliments in your head?"

The next time the waiter approached our table, I turned and said to him "excuse me, I want to pay you a move like poetry in motion."  There.  It was out.  I had done in.  He was pleased..."oh thank you, he gushed." I was elated.  He did not laugh in my face.  He was genuinely pleased.  The rest  of the night continued wonderfully....we were treated like royalty (quite befitting of my royal status really).

If you have taken a risk lately and it has paid off, please let me know as I would love to hear your story.

Please see below a picture of the walnut, pear and blue cheese salad we had last night.  It had crushed walnuts through it but it struck me that the salad would have been perfect with a little walnut oil dressing drizzled through it.  You can make walnut oil dressing, using a table spoon of walnut oil, a little grainy mustard or Dijon mustard and a splash of verjuice or balsamic vinegar. Walnut oil and pears are a winning combination.

It's time now for the walnut fact of the day:

Walnuts are known as brain food and preliminary research has found that walnut extracts appear to have anti-inflammatory affects on brains cells.

Bed time for me now so until we meet again get the good oil.


Your humble Walnut Oil Queen.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

La Dolce Vita

Hello folks

In my post today I want to share with you my philosophy in life: La Dolce Vita. In English, it means "The Sweet Life".  La Dolce Vita means different things for different people, but for me its about taking the time to smell the roses and see the beauty of life everywhere:
It's about riding your bike down the banks of the Yarra river with the sun on your back and the wind in your hair and thinking to yourself..."this is a sweet life".
It's about getting together with your girlfriends on a lazy Sunday afternoon, drinking wine and talking about love, life and reminiscing about the old times until the sun goes down.
It's about telling your loved one how much you love them a million times a day and then that one more time just to be sure.
It's about ringing your Mum, not because you want her to do something for you, but because you want to share your day with her and let her know that you love her.
It's about doing what your passionate about; the stuff that feeds your soul and lights up that small spot in the back of your brain and not be apologetic about it.
It's about using your best china everyday and wearing your best frock during the day because it makes you feel good and why shouldn't you feel good today?  What's special about tomorrow?
It's about getting that crazy, spotted cowhide chair because you love it and it inspires you; even though you know nobody else would appreciate it.
It's about looking after your health not because you want to be rake thin like some of the women in Hollywood, but because you love yourself and you want to feel good.
It's the Art of Living.
If you stayed with me for this long, you would probably be thinking, what does La Dolce Vita got to do with walnut oil or HUGO?  Everything and Nothing.  Nothing because there is no obvious connection and Everything because the philosophy is all about seeking quality of life.  This philosophy was important to my husband and me when we created HUGO.  I think walnut oil is something that you can incorporate into your life as part of living a sweet life.  As I said before it's a beautiful and delicate oil that you can put into your food and enjoy the many health benefits.  
Originally, this was meant to be a post on the health benefits of walnut oil but I didn't think you would be interested in me regurgitating the scientific evidence (write to me if I am wrong!) of the health benefits of walnut oil such as it contains antioxidants which counter the effect of free radicals (i.e fights against the aging process), that it contains plant sourced Omega-3 which has been found to lower your risk of heart disease, it contains vitamins B-1,B-2,B-3, E and niacin and studies have shown that it helps the body cope with stress. I think at the end of the day most people know the value of incorporating nuts, especially walnuts into their diet.
Now for the walnut oil fact of the day:
Did you know that walnut oil can be used as massage oil because it absorbs easily into the body?

Write to me if you have had a La Dolce Vita moment.... until we meet again get the good oil!
Your humble Walnut Oil Queen

Saturday, 21 May 2011

From Toolamba Bloom with Love

Hello folks

I am writing this post from the beautiful and tranquil walnut farm which belongs to my parents-in-law: Toolamba Bloom, the birth place of HUGO.  Think autumn leaves, gorgeous rose garden, rolling green lawns, sheep grazing under a magnificent walnut orchard and a lovely grand house to relax in.  This is the life!  I wish I could spend all my days here on the farm.

My husband and I are having a relaxing weekend with our dear friends Nico and Randy.  We started our morning with a good sleep in and lingered over our coffee and had some home made walnut pancakes!  To make these pancakes, just use a basic pancake recipe and add some walnut oil in the batter before frying.  The walnut oil gives the pancakes a subtle nutty flavour. See my photo below:

Since my last blog I have been given some feed back that my photography skills are somewhat lacking, but in my defence I never claimed to be a photographer or a food stylist (unlike the awesome photos I have posted of the farm by Leslie Cool of TRUphotography).  So in the interest of keeping it real, I shall continue to post the food I make.

Okay, lets get down to business: I want to tell you about HUGO.  HUGO is the brain child of my husband and I.  We think walnut oil is going to be the next big thing and we are determined to bring you our own locally made walnut oil from locally grown walnuts.  There are a number of things that needs to be done before we can launch HUGO (none of which I will bore you with).  The major thing that we are waiting on is a walnut press which has been ordered from overseas and is currently being shipped.  The expected date is around mid June.  It's only when the walnut press arrives that we can get serious.  For now, I hope that you stay with me and continue on this journey and discover more about walnut oil, its uses and health benefits. I will write more about the health benefits of walnut oil in my next post.

It's now time for the walnut fact of the day:

Did you know that walnut oil has 14 times the amount of Omega-3 (ALA) of olive oil?

I have to go now as my chicken roast dinner calls, but I want to leave you with a picture of the decidedly civilised tea party we had this afternoon.  My friend Randy takes her tea very seriously so we were schooled in the proper way to take your tea (ladies, milk first!).

Until we meet again, remember to get the good oil!


Your humble Walnut Oil Queen

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

My affair with HUGO

Hello folks!

If you read my first post you may be wondering why walnut oil and why HUGO?  If I have to pinpoint the day HUGO was conceived it will have to be on 27 February 2011 (how's that for precise?), but before we even go there, I would like to take you back to 2003 (insert flashback music).....


I was a university student at the time and my then boyfriend (who is now my husband) took a call from his parents in one of our lectures.  They said that they had bought land in Toolamba (Goulburn Valley, Victoria) and they were going to grow walnuts!  This would not have been surprising news if he was from a long established farming family but they were city slickers and have never owned a farm before......from there my love affair with walnuts grew (insert flashback music to take us to the present)....


So when I had coffee with my mother-in-law in Brunetti's in Myer (incidentally, I am loving the new-look Myer) in February this year and she mentioned that there was an opportunity selling walnut oil, I had a light bulb moment.  With the help of my mother-in-law and husband we came up with HUGO.  It is an acronym for Healthy, Unsaturated, Gourmet Oil, but over time HUGO has become like a person to me (you know like Wilson for Tom Hanks in that movie "Cast-away"?).  Okay, maybe that was way too much information.

In my next post I will tell you more about HUGO, but for now I want to share with you a fantastic walnut oil  recipe that I whipped up last night for dinner: Walnut, pumpkin, spinach, bacon pasta.


1. couple of slices of bacon;
2. quarter pumpkin;
3. two handfuls of baby spinach leaves;
4. half onion, finely cut;
5. pasta of choice;
6. small tub of tomato paste;
7. walnut oil; and
8. toasted walnut kernels (garnish).


I am from the Jamie Oliver school of cooking so my "method" is just get in there and give it a go.

1. Pan fry the bacon (do not use any oil. Just cook in the cold pan) and cut into strips.
2. Cut the pumpkin into small cubes and microwave for about 10 minutes until cooked.
3. In a frying pan, brown the onions, add the tomato paste, bacon, pumpkin and a little water and pepper.  At this point you can add some herbs to garnish if you like (e.g fresh oregano, but I didn't do this as I was too lazy and hungry).
4. Lastly add the baby spinach leaves and take off from the heat once the leaves begin to wilt and put aside.
5. Plate up some cooked pasta and drizzle walnut oil to coat the pasta.  Toss through and add the pasta topping.
6. Garnish with toasted walnut kernel if you like.

Enjoy!  Adding the walnut oil makes the pasta more airy and adds an extra dimension to the taste.  The taste is subtle but very good.

I have posted a picture of my dinner last night.  I am no Donna Hay when it comes to food styling but I assure you it was tasty.

Okay, I am going to leave you with walnut fact of the day:

Did you know that walnuts are the only tree nut that contain significant amounts of omega-3 compared to any other tree nut?

I will see you in three days but until we meet again, get the good oil!


Your humble Walnut Oil Queen

Monday, 16 May 2011

The empire begins.....

Once a upon a time there was a self-proclaimed Walnut Oil Queen who had no subjects; the problem being that nobody knew what walnut oil was....this is her story....

Hello folks!

So what's my story?  I am an ordinary Melbournian girl trying to make an impossible dream a reality: introducing walnut oil to the world.  When I talk to people about walnut oil most people draw a blank.  It is such a lovely oil with a delicate nutty taste that I want everyone to try it!

Walnut oil is made from pressing walnuts to extract the golden goodness from the nut.  It is a gourmet oil which is ideal for vinaigrette, salad dressings, dipping crusty bread into it and tossing through cooked pasta.  Not only is it a delicious oil, it's very healthy.

I hope you will join me in my journey as I share recipes, facts about walnut oil and my quest to set up my own business selling my own oil: HUGO (healthy, unsaturated, gourmet oil) walnut oil.

That's all from me for now.....until we meet again remember to get the good oil: HUGO oil.


Your humble Walnut Oil Queen