Winter Borscht Salad

The beetroot is in my roots, borscht in my bloodline.

My great grandmother was Ukrainian. The story goes that during a pogrom in the early 1900s she stabbed a Russian solder who was attempting to rape her, then escaped with nothing but a pair of brass candlesticks. I can’t vouch for the truth of this story – it could be that my mind has simply embellished a snippet overheard in childhood – but I’m not too bothered either way. As a storyteller, I’m a fan of narrative embellishment. What is true is that my great grandmother eventually made her way to England where she married a Polish man and had four children, one of whom is my paternal grandmother.  Continue reading Winter Borscht Salad

Roasted Carrot, Cauliflower & Black Lentil Salad

“But then the dark skin of night would peel off and there would be a fresh day waiting for us, glossy and colourful as a child’s transfer and tinged with the same sense of unreality.”

– from My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Pre-dawn on Monday morning T and I boarded our train home. I had no coffee, and T was yawning, but watching the sunrise unfold along the horizon from the window of a speeding train made up for all of it. The first lick of colour was an egg-yolk yellow fading up to green, silhouetting the trees in front a deep black. Ever so gradually the sky began to blush blue, until the fiery orange sun finally broke its banks. T’s excited yells woke all of the sleeping train passengers; such is the beauty of discovery as a child.  Continue reading Roasted Carrot, Cauliflower & Black Lentil Salad

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

Lemony Barley with Grapes, Thyme & Almonds

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“On the vines the grapes hung in tiny clusters, freckled and warm.”
– from My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

I’ve read My Family and Other Animals countless times. Durrell’s funny and exuberant memoir of his childhood on Corfu is resplendent with lush descriptions of places, of people, of animals, and of food. He describes spending his days exploring the olive groves and swimming in the ocean, stopping to visit his neighbours whenever he felt hungry and snacking on “a bunch of amber grapes still sun-warmed, some figs black as tar striped with pink where they had burst their seams with ripeness, or a giant water-melon with an inside like pink ice.” It is one of my favourite books, not least because of Durrell’s obvious enthusiasm for food. Continue reading Lemony Barley with Grapes, Thyme & Almonds

Roasted Broccoli, Barley & Feta Salad

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Sometimes my six month old son takes his time falling asleep at night. He likes to be fed and rocked and cuddled and fed again. When I’m low on patience, or have a million things waiting for me to do once he does fall asleep, this can drive me crazy. But then, once he is fast asleep in my arms, mouth open, gently snoring, I run my hands over his small bald head and soft round cheeks and there is love, too much love.

When they’re awake, toddlers are crazy and loud and hilarious and exhausting. And when they are asleep and the house is warm and quiet, they are all kinds of perfect. Before I go to bed I always sneak into W’s room, tuck her into the blankets that she has inevitably thrown off herself, stroke her hands and flyaway curls and kiss her cheeks and there is love, too much love. Continue reading Roasted Broccoli, Barley & Feta Salad

Sweet Potato Barley Bowl

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This morning was one of those crisp bright winter mornings in Brisbane. Blue skies and clear fresh air, cool enough for a scarf, but warm enough so that by the time you walk down to the cafe you’ve shaken the cold out of your bones. We’ve discovered a favourite new cafe on the corner, opposite the park. It’s only a ten minute walk from home and W loves it because it means a run around in the playground and a shot on the swings on the way down (and usually on the way back as well!).

We don’t often go out for breakfast these days, but this morning we woke up and thought fuck it. It’s a public holiday, we’ve got a whole day with no plans, let’s treat ourselves. And it was so worth it. S got smoked pork with a fried egg served on lightly toasted flat bread with yoghurt, tomato, cucumber and coriander and I got homemade sourdough crumpets with poached rhubarb and honey macadamia ice cream. Pretty decadent for brekky, but let me tell you, SO GOOD. Continue reading Sweet Potato Barley Bowl