Orecchiette with Ricotta, Eggplant & Black Olives

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“Things have a life of their own,” the gypsy proclaimed with a harsh accent. “It’s simply a matter of waking up their souls.”

– from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Over a decade ago now I spent some months in Colombia. I travelled from Ecuador up through the green coffee-clad mountains to the coast, searching for warmer waters and the landscape of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. After a spell in Cartagena – a bright, vibrant city – I caught a boat with a Frenchman to a small, impossibly glorious, island in the Caribbean waters. There was nothing on this island but a dirt road, a tiny town, and a hut with a thatched roof and no walls where we could sling our hammocks and fall asleep watching the stars reflecting off the ocean. I would have scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning, and the freshest fish for a late lunch. I spent my days reading and reading, and exploring the beaches and rocky shores. It was a bizarre and beautiful time in my life.  Continue reading Orecchiette with Ricotta, Eggplant & Black Olives

Blackberry Pavlova

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I spent about an hour this afternoon gardening. I’ve still got dirt underneath my fingernails, and smudged on the knees of my jeans. We don’t actually have a garden per se, it’s more of a terrace. But it’s big and sunny, and we’ve been slowly filling it with greenery. When we first moved in we inherited a few plants – rosemary and thyme, a small olive tree and a dry lavender bush, as well as loads of mint. We’ve since added flowers for the kids, a rose bush that S brought home this morning, a cumquat tree, tomato bushes, Vietnamese mint, parsley, coriander, lettuce leaves, a chilli plant, and a slender ghost gum. Everything is planted in a haphazard mix of terracotta pots and wooden planter boxes.

This detailed rundown of our garden, though, is actually a roundabout explanation for why this is my first post in some three months. Gah!

Continue reading Blackberry Pavlova

Roasted Cauliflower, Spelt & Za’atar Bowl

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Her chariot is an empty hazelnut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
– from ‘Romeo & Juliet’, Shakespeare

First up, an apology. Things have been sporadic and rather quiet around here of late. Mostly because the last few months have been crazy for us – we moved interstate in April and since then it’s been a cacophony of new jobs, new daycare for the kids, new houses, renovations, getting used to the cold cold Melbourne weather. It’ll be another month, at least, ’til things settle back down. And then I will definitely be back – I’ve got a long list of kitchen ideas on various bits of paper, in my diary, on the back pages of books I’m reading. Continue reading Roasted Cauliflower, Spelt & Za’atar Bowl

Savoury Miso Porridge

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“Oh madam, when you put bread and cheese, instead of burnt porridge, into these children’s mouths, you may indeed feed their vile bodies, but you little think how you starve their immortal souls!”

– from ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte

My friend Nev is of the belief that savoury porridge will be the next big food fad. And it has been popping up in more and more places, from the hipster cafe that I frequent in Footscray (their version is topped with grilled octopus and pickled vegetables, and is fucking great) to Bon Appetit, and on various food blogs here and there (Heidi, of course, being a good few years ahead of the trend).   Continue reading Savoury Miso Porridge

Miso-Roasted Carrots with Green Beans & Soba Noodles

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The half-circle of blinding, turquoise ocean is this love’s primal scene. That this blue exists makes my life a remarkable one, just to have seen it. To have seen such beautiful things.

from ‘Bluets’, Maggie Nelson

I’m reading Maggie Nelson’s cult novella Bluets at the moment. 240 short stanzas ruminating on love and life and loss and philosophy, and the colour blue. Part autobiography, part meditation, part long lyric poem. And it is making me notice blue everywhere – in the slash of sky outside my window, in my daughter’s startling eyes, in the flash of the train coming past, on the underside of the birds that squawk in the wattles by the train line. Continue reading Miso-Roasted Carrots with Green Beans & Soba Noodles

A Beautiful Winter Coleslaw

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We went out to the bush last Sunday. It turned out to be the kind of winter’s day you wish all winter’s days were like; cold and crisp, bright and just warm enough in the sunshine. W waded into the shallows – shoes and all – so that she could set leaves afloat into the current like miniature boats and T took the greatest of pleasures throwing handfuls of pebbles into the water.

We feasted on coffee cooked over the trangia, thick slices of homemade kale & potato pie that our friends brought, humus and rice crackers, crunchy apples, and sticky fruit buns that we picked up on the drive over from Sourdough Bakery in Seddon. We strolled through the bush (alternately carrying or chasing after small people), and ended the morning lying on the banks of the creek in the midday sunshine as the kids splashed in the stream. Continue reading A Beautiful Winter Coleslaw

Pistachio Dukkah

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I’m sitting on the couch, cross-legged, woolen socks on. It’s late afternoon, raining outside, low grey skies, seeping damp. Both of the kids are asleep. I’m balancing a milky cup of earl grey tea and a thick slice of banana bread on the couch armrest. Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook is open on the table in front of me – I’m planning Swiss Chard Fritters and Mejadra for dinner tonight.

A moment of calm in the chaos. Continue reading Pistachio Dukkah