Mini Meringue Bites

These meringue bites are so simple (and inexpensive), they’ll become your go-to treat for any last-minute guests dropping in for coffee, or maybe use them as additional birthday party treats.

This is another recipe from The Cake Maker’s Wish. My cake maker, Olivia, gets to have fun creating a wedding cake for a celebrity couple and adds meringues as embellishments to her design, which is another great use for these mini meringues.

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The basic meringue recipe is simple but it’s also flexible as you can change the colour (pink, blue, white, caramel or rainbow unicorn!) or flavour (think vanilla, chocolate, coffee, rose or orange blossom) to suit your taste or needs. Glam them up or keep them simple. They can go as far as your imagination desires.

This one can also be gluten free. (In theory, cream of tartar is gluten free but if you have any concerns about it being processed in the same facility as grains then check with the manufacturer.)

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature… free range, please… I love my chooks 🙂
  • 1 cup of castor sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Add colours or flavours of your choice (e.g. vanilla, rosewater, orange blossom water, coffee, chocolate powder, strawberry powder, jam etc.). Add these to the desired taste or effect but most flavourings only require about half a teaspoon.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 120C.
  2. Beat your egg whites and cream of tartar until they are beginning to hold shape.
  3. Add in your sugar a little at a time, mixing well between additions until the sugar is completely mixed through and the meringue is white, fluffy and holds stiff peaks.
  4. Add your vanilla and/or flavourings or colourings of choice and beat through.
  5. Pipe your mini meringues onto baking trays lined with paper. Bite-sized pieces could be the size of a twenty-cent coin.
  6. Place the trays in the oven and reduce the heat to 90C and bake for around an hour and a half. You want them to cook slowly so that they harden into bites.

Tip

Have fun with these! You could try splitting the meringue into two halves and colouring them differently, then putting both colours into a bag and piping them in a swirl to show both colours.

These Strawberry Lemonade Cakes Taste Like Sunshine and Holidays

Gluten free options

I’m not even going to try and pretend that I’m not crazy in love with these cupcakes! I had my character, Olivia Kent, bake these in The Cake Maker’s Wish because I found recipes online and thought they would be amazing. But… when I went to make them, I found them seriously lacking in flavour. It was so disappointing. I love the intensity of lemon meringue pie and lemon curd so I wasn’t going to have a bar of that! I changed the recipes to jack up the flavours, big time. Now, they burst with lemon and the seductive aroma and flavour of strawberries. Every mouthful inspires hope and happiness, perfect as a winter warmer to chase away the blues.

 

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I’m not going to lie, though: these are not quick to make. But, oh, they are worth it, especially for a special occasion.

Ingredients

Cake Part 1

  • 125g butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • zest of three lemons
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cake Part 2

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose plain flour (or gluten free plain flour)
  • 3 Tb arrowroot or cornflour (check that it’s gluten free cornflour if you want them GF)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (check specs for GF)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Strawberry Buttercream

  • 250g butter
  • 500g pure icing sugar (check specs for GF)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh strawberries (hulled)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

(Note: These quantities will make more than enough buttercream for your cupcakes. You can reduce these quantities if you wish, keeping the ration of 2:1 for icing sugar to butter, or freeze the excess and use later for biscuits or a loaf cake of some sort. I always figure that if I’m making something I might as well make a lot of it to freeze some for later.)

Method

Cake preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and line your cupcake trays with paper. (This batch will make approximately 16 cupcakes.)
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat your butter and lemon zest, then add in the sugar and beat again until well mixed and fluffy. Add the egg whites and vanilla and beat to combine.
  3. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients of ‘Cake Part 2’ together, then add half of it to the butter mixture, mix to combine, then add half the sour cream, mix to combine, then repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and sour cream. Finally, add the lemon juice and beat again to form a batter.
  4. Fill your cupcake papers to 2/3 full and put them into the oven. The cakes will take 20-25 minutes, give or take. (I have a slow oven and mine took 30 mins.)

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Strawberry preparation

  1. Place your strawberries into a blender and blitz until consistent.
  2. Transfer the strawberries into a small pot and heat on the stove until they are gently boiling, stirring often. Continue to cook them until they have reduced down to approximate the colour and consistency of tomato sauce.
  3. Cool the sauce before adding it to the buttercream, otherwise it will melt the butter. (Putting it in the fridge is helpful.)

 

Buttercream preparation

  1. Make sure your icing sugar is as free of lumps as possible. You may need to dry beat it first. (Bashing it on the kitchen bench also helps!)
  2. Beat your butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Add approximately three tablespoons of the strawberry sauce and beat until combined.
  3. You may like to use a piping bag to pipe the cream or simply spoon it on! If you wish, you might like to decorate your cupcakes with extra strawberries or edible flowers for an added touch of beauty.

 

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Enjoy! These really are divine 🙂

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Order your copy of The Cake Maker’s Wish HERE.

 

 

 

Easy Gingerbread Love Hearts

These gingerbread love hearts are inspired by my character, Olivia Kent, from my book The Cake Maker’s Wish, who makes a peach-coloured version, though with much more fancy, professional decoration than these have! Still, I like to keep things in the realm of achievable. I had never made royal icing before making these pretty biscuits and while they might be beginner level, I still think they’re a gorgeous gift for yourself or someone you love. (I certainly didn’t hear any complaints when I gifted them on!)

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Gingerbread love hearts, gluten free

 

I’ve made these ones gluten free (as we are a fully gluten free household) but if you want to make them with regular flour, you can simply swap it for the same amount and they will turn out better, I’m certain. Anyone who has worked with gluten free food will know how variable the outcomes are and just how tricky it can be to work with, especially if you have to roll dough! Given that, I’m pretty darn pleased with these.

Most recipes I looked at included 1 tablespoon of ground ginger in the recipe. I did that to start with but could barely taste it! For me, what on earth is the point in something being ‘ginger’ bread if you can’t taste the ginger. I’ve doubled the amount and think it hits the sweet spot, but if you are a super keen ginger lover, feel free to experiment with even more, if you like.

Here we go…

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 Tbs ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground all spice
  • 150g pure icing sugar (make sure it’s gluten free if you want them to be GF)
  • Food colouring of choice, optional (I used Unicorn Superfoods natural pink pitaya powder)

 

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and line two baking trays with paper. Ensure you have a little extra flour ready to dust your workspace to roll out the dough.
  2. With your beaters, beat the butter and brown sugar together until creamy, add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat again until mixed.
  3. Sift in your flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda. (Hot tip: if you don’t have a sifter (or don’t like using one–because they can be quite hard on fingers, wrists and elbows–you can simply shake your ingredients through a wire mesh strainer and it will work just as well.) Mix or low speed until combined into a bit of a ball of dough.
  4.  Place you dough onto your floured workspace and knead lightly until it forms a nice, lightly floured dough. You can wrap it in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour if you like, but I didn’t (because I didn’t read the instructions properly!) and it worked just fine.
  5. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about 4-7mm thick. If you are using gluten free flour, I recommend the thicker width as gluten free dough tends to fall apart and break easily.
  6. Cut the dough into hearts with a cookie cutter, or any other shape you like, and place onto your papered baking trays, giving a little room between each biscuit for them to expand during cooking.
  7. To make your icing, beat your egg white until you they hold white peaks. Sift your icing sugar into the bowl and beat on low speed until combined. Add your colour of choice (or separate into multiple bowls if you want additional colours), then feed into a piping bag with your nozzle of choice.
  8. Enjoy!

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9780143792017If you would like to pre-order The Cake Maker’s Wish, click here.

 

The Best Flourless Chocolate Cake Ever (GF)

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This is a great flourless chocolate cake that is decadent, moist and with a hint of darkness to make it interesting. This dish is inspired by my character, Olivia Kent, who makes her flourless chocolate cake in her shop, Rambling Rose, one grey and misty morning in the Cotswolds.

If you’re gluten free, this recipe is perfect for you, so long a you ensure your chocolate is gluten free too.

The Best Flourless Chocolate Cake Ever

Ingredients

  • 200g gluten free chocolate (at least 75% cacao/cocoa)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1Tb instant coffee granules (optional, if you’re not a coffee drinker)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2Tb vanilla essence
  • 60g chocolate chips of choice (milk, dark or even white for an added difference)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced).
  2. Grease a 20cm springform pan with butter and line with baking paper. (Pro tip: Trace around the outside of your pan on the baking paper and cut it to size. Measure the depth of the pan (mine is 6cm), then cut strips to lay around the circumference. This will leave the outside of your cakes with a smooth finish.)
  3. Break your chocolate into pieces and place in a porcelain bowl along with the oil. Nest the bowl over a small saucepan of water and heat the water to simmer. Stir the chocolate and oil mix until melted and combined, then turn off the heat. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and set it aside to cool slightly.
  4. In another bowl, combine the rest of your ingredients except for the chocolate chips and egg whites. Whisk if you can but a fork will do the trick if you don’t have a whisk. Add your slightly cooled melted chocolate and whisk again.
  5. In yet another bowl, use electric beaters to whip the egg whites into stiff white peaks. (Beginner’s tip: make sure your bowl and beaters are perfectly dry or the eggs won’t form peaks.)
  6. Fold in the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture in several additions. Try not to ‘beat’ the mixture as you want to preserve as much air in the egg whites as you go. Continue gently until the mixture is fully combined, then stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Pour the batter into your springform pan. Bake for approximately 25 minutes then check how it is going. (My oven is a bit slow so it takes a bit over 30 minutes in mine.) The cake is cooked when the surface has begun to crack and it springs back when lightly pressed.
  8. Take it out of the oven and set it on the stovetop to cool in the pan. It will fall from the top and shrink in from the sides. Once it’s done this, you can carefully release the springform pan from the sides and leave it to fully cool.
  9. Serve with a dusting of icing sugar, berries of choice, whipped cream or ice cream. It goes well with an espresso coffee or even a liquor coffee! Enjoy!

 

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This teacup set belonged to my great grandmother! It’s at least one hundred years old and it only comes out for special occasions 🙂

 

Order The Cake Maker’s Wish here.

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Josephine Moon’s Rustic Apple Crumble Recipe (with Gluten Free Option)

I don’t know about you but I’m a total sucker for anything with baked apples in it. This recipe is a winner because it can be made gluten free and with a few tweaks it can even slide into the realm of being healthy. (Yep, I’ve eaten it for breakfast.)

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What I love about this recipe is that it is so flexible. In fact because I wanted to share this recipe so much, I had to force myself to write it down as I went because I usually make it up on the spot.

One of the opening scenes in The Cake Maker’s Wish involves an illicit apple crumble (you’ll have to read it to find out why that one is illicit!) and was inspired by my own trip to the Cotswolds in 2015.

This is a generous dish because you really do have the flexibility to make it all your own and I’ll leave you some notes on some suggested variations. Ready to get baking? Here we go.

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Josephine Moon’s Rustic Apple Crumble (gluten free optional)

Ingredients

  • 6-8 apples (a mixture of varieties is perfectly fine, and leaving the skin on adds nutritional value and the ‘rustic’ vibe… also, it saves time!)
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 100g butter
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (make sure they’re certified gluten free if you want it to be GF)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup plain flour (or GF all purpose flour blend)
  • 1/4 cup sultanas (or cranberries, or other dried fruit)
  • 1/4 cup nuts, chopped roughly (walnuts are traditional but equally I have used pecans or almonds)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (or nutmeg, or both) to taste
  • drizzle of maple syrup (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (170C fan forced). Locate your cooking pot. I use a 25cm round cast iron pot with lid.
  2. Cut your apples into quarters to remove the core, then slice into approximately even slices (maybe 1-2mm wide). Layer them roughly into your pot, sprinkle with cinnamon, and add the tablespoon of water, which will give them a bit of steam to begin with.
  3. Combine your butter, sugar, oats, almond meal and flour into a bowl and work with your fingers to create sticky crumbles.
  4. Spread your sultanas and nuts over the top.
  5. Distribute your crumble topping evenly over the top and drizzle with maple syrup, if using.
  6. Place the lid on the pot and slide it into your pre-warmed oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the lid and leave to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven) or until golden brown and apples are tender.
  7. Serve with cream, ice cream or yoghurt. Enjoy!

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Tips for healthier versions

  • Add chia seeds and/or coconut shreds to the crumble topping–this makes it worthy of being a breakfast food in my opinion 🙂
  • Reduce or even eliminate the sugar. I have made this with no sugar and you’d be amazed how much sweetness is in the apples already.
  • Choose plain, unsweetened yoghurt as your topping of choice.

 

Happy baking!

Jo x

Pre-order The Cake Maker’s Wish now. 

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Zucchini Rosemary Bread — Recipes inspired by Three Gold Coins

Continuing with food inspired by Italy (where I ate a lot of food in research for Three Gold Coins), here is my recipe for Zucchini Rosemary Bread. Enjoy!

 

Zucchini Rosemary Bread

(GF and optional DF)

 

Ingredients

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

2/3 cup oil (melted ghee or coconut oil or olive oil)

3/4 cup honey

4 eggs

1 cup of milk or nut milk

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla bean powder (or extract)

1 tsp Himalayan or Celtic sea salt

1 tsp nutmeg

3 cups grated zucchini

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup white rice flour

1/2 cup gf rolled oats

1/2 arrowroot flour

2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped.

 

Method

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two loaf tins with baking (parchment) paper.
  2. While the oven is heating, lay out your walnuts on a baking sheet and let them toast gently till fragrant.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients down to the milk and whisk till combined.
  4. Add your dry ingredients one at a time, stirring as you go till everything is well combined. (Add extra rice flour if it looks too wet.)
  5. Divide the mixture between the two loaf tins and place side by side on a top shelf of the oven.
  6. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a cooling rack before cutting. Serve with butter.

Blossom Water Amaretti: recipe from Three Gold Coins

Like all my books, Three Gold Coins is full of food. One of those foods is the delectable amaretti.

If like me you are gluten free, the amaretti biscuit seems to be heaven sent! It’s also a great one if you’re time poor or not very confident in the kitchen. It’s sweet and chewy, freezes well and is just perfect to accompany coffee and tea.

Here is my recipe for amaretti–so easy, so versatile, so yummy! Enjoy!

Ingredients

4 egg whites

350g caster sugar

300g blanched almond meal

50g almond meal (not blanched) **
(**Note: alternatively, use 350g of blanched almond meal in total.)

30mLs orange blossom water

Method

Preheat your oven to 170 C.

Beat your egg whites with an electric beater until stiff.

Use a silicone spatula to fold in the dry ingredients, as well as the blossom water, until smooth.

Place small dollops of the dough onto two pre-greased and/or lined baking trays, leaving about a centimetre between biscuits.

Place a slivered almond in the centre of each biscuit.

Cook until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.

Feel the Love at Goodness Gracious Cafe

20160524_105802LOVE. This is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Goodness Gracious Gluten Free & Organic Cafe in Yandina on the Sunshine Coast. The women who run this charming abode (Jill and Nicky) radiate love.

But I’ll get back to this. For now, I’m going to sidestep a little to a time in my life when I was really sick. Stay with me…

About thirteen years ago, my health was in a terrible mess, diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Hashimoto’s Disease, hypothyroidism, a host of rheumatological issues and more. It was an intensely frightening time, unable to work to make the money I needed for the many treatments that doctors and natural therapists claimed would help. Unable to afford them, I had to make Big Life Decisions. But one of the easiest decisions I made was that I needed to invest the little amount of money I had into FOOD. It was clear to me that high quality food would be the basis of everything after that.

I started going to the Northey Street City Farm organic markets each week. And then for whatever reason, I found myself drawn to eating at Govinda’s (Hare Krishna) cafe in Brisbane city. Something that deeply impressed me about the Hare Krishna lifestyle was how important food was in their service and spirituality. So much so, I was told, that to be a person elevated to a food prep position was something of an honour, something that had to be earned. To prepare food in a Hare Krishna kitchen included loving and blessing the food before it was eaten.

Call me crazy if you like, but I felt some deep healing on those Sunday evenings spent at Govinda’s.

And this takes me back to Goodness Gracious Cafe. From the moment you pull up on the footpath you are surrounded by love–in the welcoming chalkboard signs; in the organic garden that’s lovingly tended by these women; in the heart-shaped art pieces hanging from the ceiling; in the locally-made handmade artworks for sale; in the groups of women knitting at the tables, with their rows of stitches becoming blankets for the homeless in the local area; and most certainly, most definitely, in the food.

Everything here is baked on site inside this post-war home on stumps–a home that has a fascinating history including being a railway station master’s home and having had a resident spirit called ‘Alfred’ walking the rooms (who was later ‘released’ when his daughter, who’d also lived in the home, happened upon the cafe and took him home with her).

Jill and Nicky and their friendly staff are always there with a warm smile, knowing many of their customers by name. Their gratitude for living their dream is evident, with the cafe and its customers supporting more than half a dozen different charities, both local and overseas. And their gastronomic creations never let you down.

My favourites include the Turkish delight hot chocolate (with real rose water); the chocolate, blueberry and lavender mud cake (seriously, you MUST try this!); the banana pancakes with homemade caramel sauce and banana ‘nice cream’ (dairy free); the chicken crepes and salad; the paleo lemon bar; and, well, pretty much everything else on the menu too.

There is some kind of deep wisdom that tells us that to provide food with love, and to eat food with love, is one of the most powerful things we can do. That’s why so many of our memories involve food with loved ones. That’s why we say ‘you are what you eat’. That’s why we go home for a ‘home cooked meal’. That’s why we make our loved ones soup when they’re ill.

Hippocrates is reported to have said, “Let food be thy medicine.”

Whether it’s intentional or not, the love and care that comes from these women’s hands infuses every mouthful. Just like my time at Govinda’s all those years ago, I come away from Goodness Gracious every time feeling blessed, nurtured and a little bit healed. And I walk away feeling that the world is a good place after all.

 

Goodness Gracious Cafe: 3 Conn St, Yandina. 

Opening Hours

Mon – Fri  8:00am – 4:00pm

Saturday  7:00am – 2:00pm & Sunday  7:00am – 1:00pm

(This post is part of a series of fortnightly reviews by Josephine Moon and Ashley Jubinville of healthy places to eat on the Sunshine Coast.)

 

Husk & Honey (Food Tour of the Sunshine Coast)

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(A guest post today from my friend and tour partner, Ashley Jubinville, Kitchen Coach.)

Like the quiet little bees that go about their service of pollinating flowers so we can exist – without question or many thanks from us, this little café has been diligently going about “business as usual” in quiet little Nambour for over 4 years! The difference though is that their “business as usual” is really quite extraordinary and so refreshingly authentic.

If the reference was suiting enough already, the café’s name happens to be Husk & Honey AND my café-touring friend Josephine Moon has most recently released her wonderful foodie-fiction book called The Beekeeper’s Secret too (lovingly set on the Sunshine coast)!!! How fitting?! …you probably think I planned that one…. Haha

For those of you diligent foodies out there who are looking for a refreshing break from the stress of finding somewhere that you can eat without concern, the short drive out to the very funky Queen St. in Nambour is highly worth your while. There is not an ounce of gluten to be found anywhere in their kitchen, nor any other grains for that matter, and they make everything from scratch!!! – like everything! Even their tea blends, non-dairy milks, and hot chocolates! I LOVE YOU!

Next time you go, please pass on an extra bit of gratitude on my behalf to the lovely Johnny, Tashi, Sam, & Sarah for me – for their dedication to healthy, homemade goodness, authenticity, and happy service! And for anyone wanting a copy of any of your Josephine Moon books signed by the lovely Jo herself, you MAY just find her writing her next book in the cosy corner of Husk & Honey one day too!

Keep up the great work, smiles, and AWESOME food Husk & Honey – we need more like you to lead the way and help inspire people with what is possible. For all you Sunshine Coasters, lets ‘vote’ wisely with where we choose to spend our dollars – for the future of our food supply like the good bees we can bee!

Kunara — a health foodie’s dream

Dear friends,

As Australia’s first foodie fiction author, I take my position seriously and therefore I have decided to make the ultimate sacrifice for you and eat my way around the Sunshine Coast in order to let you know what’s out there. No, please, no need to thank me. It’s my service to you 😉 To keep my spirits boosted during this obviously arduous task, I’ve enlisted the assistance of my friend, Kitchen Coach Ashley Jubinville (of the amazing “bee cake” fame). Together, we will eat on your behalf.

The obvious place to start is at Kunara, the organic superstore that is fast becoming the power centre of what the Sunshine Coast does best: health. Not only is there the organic supermarket itself, but organic cotton clothing, an organic hair salon and day spa, a holistic vet, holistic doctors, organic garden centre, organic butcher and more on the way.

In the cafe you’ll find everything a food sensitive soul would want: coconut milk cappuccinos, paleo chocolate desserts, golden turmeric mylk, vegan pastries and more.

One of the most delightful things about Kunara’s cafe is the outdoor seating that is situated within their garden shop, with the sound of the natural (and spectacular) water feature nearby. It’s a tranquil little space and we both agree it’s rather special. The other thing we particularly loved today was the gluten free spinach and feta roll. Wow! (If you’re not gluten free you won’t understand how exciting this is. For me, I’ve been gluten free for twenty-five years and this is the first one of these I’ve seen in that time. Trust me, it’s a big deal.) Ashley and I are strictly gluten free and to stumble across one of these was a first for both of us. And it didn’t disappoint. Go get one!

And for a bit of trivia, Kunara even features in The Beekeeper’s Secret.

Until next time,

Jo x