Green Olive Dip and…Do You Like Biscuits?

(This post will make more sense if you have read my previous post, Hangi Time). 

So the neighbours with the six children and the dirt bikes and the chickens and the rooster and the cigarettes and the long-neck bottles of beer and the bricks, tiles and concrete and the offensive language that landed one of them in prison, sold the house and moved on.  We wondered who had bought it because with walls of chocolate clinker brick and shiny, slippery tiles and raw brick feature walls and brick archways and windows of orange bottle-glass we couldn’t imagine what sort of people would find this home appealing.

With the previous owners being a family of eight, the new owners were a couple whose two boys were all grown up and had left home.  I spied on the couple from my side of the fence and then thought I’d speed up the introductions by throwing over a ball, jumping across the fence and telling them about the ‘accident’ with the ball and ‘Would it be okay for me to collect it?’

Green Olive Dip

And they gave me a very welcoming smile and asked, ‘Do you like biscuits?’  I certainly did.  The man went into the house and came out with an enormous tin filled with assorted cream biscuits – all the biscuits my mother wouldn’t buy because she said they were bad for us!  So I took one and they said I could have another and then he said I could keep the whole tin and take them home.

The new neighbours in the ugly house were a stroke of good luck.  That is because the man was the CEO of a company that made biscuits, Easter Eggs and lollies.  He traveled frequently (first class) and collected all those goodies the fortunate few up the front are given, and brought them back for me.  Worthless items but to me they were treasure – eye patches, slippers, toothbrushes, tiny tubes of toothpaste, after-dinner mints and toiletry bags.

His company was always looking to expand its range so one day my sisters and I were asked if we would mind trying happy-face shortbread biscuits filled with raspberry jam and let him know what we thought of them.  Another time they were looking at buying the rights to Tic Tacks and we were given trays of them and asked to give him our opinion.  Another time it was chewing gum.  We would hardly have been giving him an informative opinion however as we thought everything we had to taste-test was utterly incredible.

They dug up some of the concrete in the backyard and planted a large vegetable garden.  I used to spend my afternoons helping in the garden pulling up carrots and picking ears of corn and harvesting ice-berg lettuce and picking beans and shelling peas.  In the garage they didn’t keep chickens and roosters, they kept bottles of fizzy drink (another product my mother wouldn’t buy), that would be opened when I’d finished ‘helping’ in the vegetable patch.

With their grandchildren living overseas they ‘adopted’ us as their own.  They took great pleasure in celebrating our birthdays and on my 10th birthday I woke up and looked out my bedroom window to see an enormous sign saying ‘Happy 10th Birthday’ and it was surrounded by balloons.  When my older sister turned 13 they gave her a pink lipstick telling her that now she was a teenager she would be allowed to start wearing lipstick.  They were greatly involved in our interests and abilities and came to watch us perform in concerts and swim in races and run around ovals.

White Bean Dip

It was very sad when we had to farewell our wonderful neighbours, Neil and Lesley, when we left New Zealand for Australia.  We did keep in touch with phone calls and that old fashioned mode of correspondence called letter writing but it wasn’t quite the same.  Years went by and Lesley became a widow, a few more years passed and I heard Lesley had cancer.  I sent her a letter telling her what a wonderful person she was and shared with her all the precious memories I had from being their neighbour.  She wrote a letter back saying those days were equally as precious to her.  She passed away a few days later.

Good neighbours are a great blessing.

The biscuit company also made crackers.  Here are two dip recipes I make to serve with crackers.

Green Olive Dip and White Bean Dip

Makes:  About 1 1/2 cups each

Degree of Difficulty:  1/5 – if you have a food processor or blender

Cost:  On Friday night I had an impromptu dinner party.  At 5pm with the guests arriving at seven, I rushed off to Harris Farm and bought two dips for $8.50 each.  Lovely dips but if you make your own you can produce four times the volume for a quarter of the price.

Green Olive Dip:

  • 2 cups pitted green olives (I use the ones in the jars stuffed with pimentos)
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • small handful of parsley
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and blend.  Pour in olive oil in a slow, steady stream and continue processing until olive oil is incorporated.

White Bean Dip:

  • 2 cans cannelini beans (800g) rinsed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • handful fresh thyme
  • splash of olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a medium-sized frying pan heat the splash of oil, add beans, garlic and thyme and gently heat until garlic is fragrant.  Transfer to a food processor, add lemon juice and blend.  Pour in olive oil in a slow, steady stream and continue processing until olive oil is incorporated.

Place in containers and serve with dips.  Also can be used as a base in a pasta sauce.

And…I’ve been nominated in the Sydney Writer’s Group award, Best Blog 2012.  There is also a People’s Choice Award.  If you could take the time to vote for me I’ll be your best friend!

Want to keep in touch?  Join the fun on the Hotly Spiced FaceBook Page!




  1. Those do seem like they were a great couple, the recipe looks really good too!!

  2. Hehe I had to laugh-at first I thought these were your current neighbours and wondered about you throwing a ball over and taking a biscuit tin home! But when I realised they were your neighbours way back when it made total sense! 😀

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Whoops! This post makes more sense if you read the previous one. This is sort of a ‘Part Two’. I probably should clarify! xx

  3. What a lovely story Charlie, you were indeed very fortunate to have such amazing neighbours but then again you gave them back so much. Their generosity was definitely as way of thanking you and your family for their friendship. I love that you wrote to Lesley to remind her of your wonderful relationship and wonderful memories you have cherished. I wrote such a letter to my Mom even though we lived close enough to visit every day, it would have been so difficult to get the words out without it being a crying fest, considering the situation at hand. I couldn’t even read it to her, because of the tears, so I had her caregiver read it to her and she told me she ended up crying all the way through it. I do miss her terribly.
    As you well know I just love white bean dip, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried the green olive dip (I make a tapinade with black kalamata olives). I always keep a can of chick peas on hand for such situations…but then it’s the crackers I never seem to have on hand! I adore the little bowls you served them in…makes me want to make a trip down to Tap Phong, a restaurant supply store in China Town.

  4. It was like having additional grandparents living just next door. You were lucky!
    The dips sound fabulous!

  5. What a lovely post Charlie! Sometimes neighbors really are wonderful aren’t they? I will make the olive dip for my husband, he loves olives.

  6. What wonderful neighbors. I imagine they loved having you as neighbors just as much. Of course, biscuits in the U.S. are not cookies, which caused my daughter’s Irish friends much amusement when she studied in Limerick. They thought it was quite funny when she made them biscuits for breakfast.

  7. What a great food story!

  8. I voted – for your blog on the People’s Choice Awards…good luck!

  9. What a beautiful post! I laughed about the previous neighbours but this one made me smile. I’ve been incredibly lucky with neighbours and have never had a dud. I’m probably due because I’m very old. 🙂

    We l dips and try very hard to take a break in the afternoon for a few crackers and dip or carrot and celery with dips. I can’t wait to try these.

  10. Good neighbours and bad neighbours. You’ve had them all and what memories! Thank you for sharing your stories and recipes.

  11. You answered my question about who would move into the house following the “motley crew” who came before! What lovely, wonderful people you’ve shared with us. Your love and respect for them comes through your recollections of such kindnesses as offering biscuits and inviting you into their lives. I do love these recipes, Charlie. They are the kind of thing I love to make when I have guests, and I will be so eager to try them. This post moved me very much. People like Lesley and Neil are not what I’ve experienced in my neighbors, but I would sure like to be thought of this way myself. So lovely. Debra

  12. What a lovely story. And you are so right, good neighbours are indeed a blessing. Neil and Lesley seemed to be even more than that, at least for a kid growing up next to them. Sounds like a dream for any kid. It just shows to tell that sometimes luck is better than common sense (as for who would move into a house like that).

  13. What incredible neighbours – must have been so cool having another set of grandparents especially with all of those “forbidden” treats.
    🙂 Mandy

  14. I agree good neighbours are definitely a blessing 🙂 And even though I’m quite young, I honestly believe though that we had a greater connection with our neghbours in the past…people these days, don’t say hi to each other, don’t knock on the door and chat with each other. Niel and Lesley seem like a wonderful couple ~ wow a CEO of a biscuit company! I’m so jealous hehe ~

  15. Hi,
    It must of been wonderful when these lovely people moved in next door, especially after those that moved out. They sound like they were the best of neighbours, it was also great that you did keep in touch every now and then.

    I love your dip recipes, they sound very nice.

  16. What an awesome story – you are very lucky to have such wonderful neighbours and give back to them 😀
    Also wonderful dip recipe 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  17. Like Not Quite Nigella I thought you were talking about your current neighbours at first. What a wonderful couple, good neighbours are a gem and you had diamonds. GG

  18. Loved hearing about your neighbours and will be trying that White Bean dip for sure!

  19. That you wrote that letter to thank your neighbor and to share those wonderful memories was an incredible gift. Incredible.

  20. “Do I like biscuits?” — a rhetorical question if there ever was one. LOL If there’s anyone who doesn’t like biscuits, I’ve yet to meet them.

  21. What a lovely and touching story. I had neighbours like that for a while, I only knew them as Mr & Mrs Cantalin. My sister and used to go to there place to bake bread from scratch with Mrs Cantalin, (the old fashioned way- by hand!) and to pick strawberries with Mr Cantalin out of his garden. They also used to travel a lot and brought presents back for us from Thailand and Scotland. Things that back in the 70’s no one had seen in a little country town.

  22. My, how your face must have lit up when you heard that your new neighbor was in the biscuit business! To a child’s eyes, this is the stuff of miracles. What a wonderful story and how fortunate for all that Fate brought your 2 families together.

  23. What lovely neighbours indeed 🙂 Aren’t those little bits and pieces so exciting for children? My daughter still loves getting the little shampoo and conditioners from hotels. My dad travelled extensively too, and he would not only bring home pressies for us kids, but all the neighbour kiddies as well. Most neighbours now rarely see each other, let alone are friends!
    Your dips are delicious, and of course so much cheaper! Yummo!

  24. Wow, I wish I had such wonderful neighbours when I was growing up. You guys were very lucky.

  25. Great post – thanks for sharing!

  26. Thanks for sharing those precious memories of your neighbours.You enriched one another’s lives in such a lovely way! And those dip recipes could be just the thing to share with our neighbours.

  27. What a touching story. You were both lucky to have each other.

    Nice recipes as well–I particularly like the looks of the green olive dip.

  28. What a beautiful story, and beautiful neighbours. I love that you kept in touch afterwards; it would have been easy when the biscuits and treats were there but distance makes it harder. I’m sure your letters and contact remained important to them and I felt quite sentimental when thinking about your final correspondence when Mrs Neighbour had cancer. Congratulations on the nomination too! I will definitely vote.

  29. Oh my goodness. You have me in tears. What a beautiful story and what special neighbors you had! It’s such a treasure when you wind up with good neighbors and it sounds like they felt quite the same way about you. 🙂

  30. What a wonderful gift to have grown up with neighbors like that! I so love your stories.. and of course, your recipes!

  31. I forgot to ask… did they ever find the pit, or was that redone into the veggie garden?? xo Smidge

    • hotlyspiced says:

      No, I think we kept the goings-on of the previous owners a secret. The pit was filled in and new turf was laid before the agent brought in the first potential buyers – wise decision!

  32. i can smell the goodness of the green olive dip 🙂

    Latest: FiSh Castle

  33. That’s great the neighbors that moved in were so wonderful! I remember doing many fun things with my neighbors growing up, it’s nice memories.. 🙂
    I would love to try the white bean dip!!

  34. What a sweet and wonderful story. It’s such a blessing when we have people come into lives that make such an impact…and so rare!

    The green olive dip sounds fabulous, I will definitely be trying that this summer. 🙂

  35. My neighbour is the bestest.. she mows the lawn and trims the hedges for me! But when she left for a while and new neighbours came in, that’s when I realised she was a gem! Now she’s back I keep telling her to never leave!

  36. Good Luck dear Charlie… I loved this post as always so delicious… Thanks and Love, nia

  37. Good people are priceless, thus I love the story … and to have one last communication has to be extra special.

  38. Quite an improvement over that last bunch! What fun it must have been to have such an interesting (and generous) pair next door. Lots of treats, good eats and a garden to boot!

  39. We have had experience with neighbors on both ends of the spectrum, good neighbors are a great blessing! My favorite way to eat biscuits is under a heaping ladle of sausage gravy, but those are different biscuits than you are describing here. 😉 Love the flavors in your white bean dip, I’ll have to make some of that very soon!

  40. A sad ending to an exciting childhoosd tale. Good neighbours are hard to find and when you are a kid its very important

  41. Aw, what great neighbors! It’s hard to find a good neighborhood, but to luck out and have wonderful neighbors, it’s a blessing. Great post!

  42. Both dips sounds incredibly yummy. First I would have chosen the olive dip but then I saw your bean dips was flavoured with thyme, garlic and lemon.

    I didnt know u grew up in new zealand. I cant imagine what it must be like to live there. I think so the LOTR was filmed mostly there.

    Good neighbores are difficult to find and when u have to part it is sad because they are like family at times.

  43. sounds like you had some wonderful neighbors!

  44. We had wonderful neighbors when we were growing up and it is truly a blessing!
    I love the olive dip, come summer time dips make regular appearances on my menu and I look forward to trying this one

  45. Magnolia Verandah says:

    It is so nice to have nice neighbours a rarity it seems these days when we hardly know them cos our lives are so busy. Good dips.
    Good luck with being nominated in the Sydney Writers Group Award Best Blog 2012 I have put my tick in the box for you!

  46. sorry to hear about your friends. I always craved neighbours like that,

  47. What wonderful neighbors! Great story. I wish my kids had surrogate grandparents like that – I mean, they kinda do – but not exactly. Very nice!

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