Roasted Sweet Potato & Turmeric Soup

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It’s a mid-winter afternoon. The skies are heavy with bruised purple clouds, the light low and dark. I’m in the kitchen, sock-clad and lights on. The oven is heating and the room is warm; it smells of spices and roasting and comfort. The kids are sleeping and I’m listening to Philip Glass soft in the background. The bench is covered in peel and peppercorns and all kinds of mess. I’m cooking soup.

Soup is the ultimate comfort food. And spending time in front of a hot stove on a cold day is one of life’s pleasures. Soon after we moved to Brisbane we bought a big red Le Creuset pot. Over time it has become marked with use; scarred, if you will. No longer one of many exactly the same, but uniquely ours. There is something timeless about cooking a pot of soup in the Le Creuset, a sense of connecting to a long line of women cooking soup in big pots. My friend Nev describes it as a harking; “Le creuset is of a historical period, steeped in tradition and pretend memories.”    Continue reading

Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts & Bourgal Salad with Maple-Orange Dressing

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We were woken up at 3am on Sunday morning with a sudden roar of wind and rain. W cried out in fright, and it sounded as though the trees out the front were creaking and cracking and breaking. Whenever I’m cosy in bed listening to wild weather outside I’m always reminded of the fantastic tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz. Although of course when we woke up on Sunday morning we were still in Brisbane.

And so I bundled the kids up in jackets and scarves and beanies in anticipation of the cold front that was predicted to hit. Indeed, it was forecast for -3°c in Brisbane. And let me remind you that Brisbane is in the sub-tropics, so that is crazy talk. Turned out the cold front wasn’t quite that cold. Sure, it’s been chilly, and we’ve been wearing or woolens for the last 48 hours, but it hasn’t quite reached into the minus degrees. Not even close, thankfully. I did not move all the way to Queensland to be cold. Continue reading

Semolina Porridge & Maple Baked Apples

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When you go to the supermarket you usually find three or four types of apples – golden delicious, granny smith, pink lady, fuji. Sometimes you might come across a jonathan, or a red delicious. Truth is there are scores of different heirloom apple varieties – sundowner, jazz, alvina, cameo, eve, royal gala, winesap, bramley… These days, though, commercial apple farmers grow the apples for their look and their ability to be stored and travel well. Taste, sadly, is not on the top of the list. If you want to delve into the many different apples available, you need to head down to apple country and find yourself some growers.

We’re pretty lucky to have found a grower down at our local market who comes up from Stanthorpe – Queensland’s apple capital – every week. Each week he’ll have some 8 – 10 apple varieties to choose from, along with – season depending – pears, quince, persimmon. I tend to go for crunchy not-overly-sweet apples, and for ages I was loving the alvinas until they went out of season. Lately it’s been cameos, but they are now at the end of their season too. Continue reading

Pan-Fried Greens with Brown Rice & An Egg

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It’s Monday night. The weekend just past was a busy one. I spent all of Saturday out at Beaudesert for work, getting home in time for dinner, showers, storytime with the kids, then bed. Sunday flew past as Sundays are wont to do and suddenly it was the start of a new week. It was grey and drizzly all day, fine almost-rain that shrouded the city in mist. The streets were quiet. I dropped W at daycare and met a friend for coffee. I bought a book and read while T slept.

And now, it’s Monday night. Both kids are sleeping and I’m sitting curled up in a corner of the couch with my big slouchy woolen jumper on. There is a rhubarb-orange crumble in the oven (and some vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer), all ready for the eating. The sound of the rain is complimenting the scent of oven-browned crumble. I’ve started watching Orange is The New Black. Tonight my big plans include getting into bed, watching an episode, and eating crumble. Continue reading

Pear & Cardamom Spelt Scones

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Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

– from ‘Your Laughter’ by Pablo Neruda

I’m all about lists at the moment. Grocery lists, work lists, shopping lists, ten-year planning lists. Writing out the lists makes me feel as though half the work is done. An extremely easy sense of accomplishment. Here is another type of list; the list of a tired woman with two very small and very beautiful children. Continue reading

Parsnip & Sweet Potato Fries

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We celebrated the start of winter with a swim at the beach. Such is the life when living in the sub-tropics! We spent the weekend before last out at Stradbroke Island. Stradbroke is barely an hour from Brisbane but the act of getting on a ferry and leaving the car behind on the mainland amps the sense of distance. Along with some friends, we hired a house halfway up a hill with a view of the ocean and lazed away three days walking barefoot on the sand, swimming in the salty sea, pushing W on the swings, cooking and eating and talking.

The lovely thing about going away on holiday is the break from the pace and routines of the everyday. The slowing down. With two small people and work and life, things are pretty busy for S and I these days. Little T has just started teething, and his favourite place to sleep is in my (or S’s) arms. At home I use the kids’ nap times to do stuff – cook, work, write, yoga. But out at Stradbroke Island I let T nap in my arms to his heart’s content. And the smell of his little head and the twitch of his little lips warmed my soul. Continue reading

Simple Spiced Pilaf + Roasted Carrots

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South of my days’ circle, part of my blood’s country,
rises that tableland, high delicate outline
of bony slopes wincing under the winter,
low trees, blue-leaved and olive, outcropping granite-
clean, lean,  hungry country…

From ‘South of my Days’, Judith Wright

It’s the first day of winter today. After a warm weekend the cooler weather finally seems to have settled. The skies are overcast and there is a cold wind blowing. I pulled out the warm baby doona from the cupboard for little T and have all the windows closed even though it is the middle of the day. I’m drinking a pot of tea as I write this, S’s big woolen socks on my feet. Winter brings with it a strange sense of melancholic satisfaction, at once the desire to stay still and go internal, and at the same time to escape to far-flung places. I’m in the mood for watching movies, going to bed early, drinking red wine, listening to jazz, writing stories. And eating all things roasted. Continue reading