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

Carrot, Beetroot & Pickled Fennel Salad

Spoon of everyone. Spoon
of the belly. Spoon of the empty belly.
Spoon of the full one. Spoon of no one
hungry. Spoon for everyone.

— from ‘Spoon Ode’ by Sharon Olds

I’m writing this sitting at our wooden kitchen table, early on a Friday afternoon. The big window above the bench is overlooking a grey sky, treetops bending low under the wind. The rain started up sometime during our sleep last night, and washed everything cool and clean and white. The oven is on, and full of trays of roasting vegetables sprinkled liberally with za’atar. W is playing next to me, sorting star anise into piles. T is fast asleep in our bed. S is stretched on the couch doing some work. The apartment feels warm, cosy. A rare moment of stillness in the chaos of our lives.  Continue reading Carrot, Beetroot & Pickled Fennel Salad

Sautéed Beetroot, Broccoli & Chickpeas

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come on sweetheart
let’s adore one another
before there is no more
of you and me

— from Fountain of Fire, Rumi

It’s Monday evening as I write this, cool enough for the first time this year to be wearing socks and a jumper. The kids are asleep, their soft breathing barely audible from the next room. I’m at the kitchen table, staring out through the big window that overlooks the city, the huge gum tree in our neighbour’s back garden a black shadow against the lilac-and-honey-streaked sky of sunset.  Continue reading Sautéed Beetroot, Broccoli & Chickpeas

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

Beetroot, Quinoa & Hazelnut Salad

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My older brother and his daughter have been coming around on Wednesdays to spend the day with us. The kids fight play together, and we hang out, shoot the shit. He lives in Taiwan these days, so it is especially nice to be able to spend some time together. It is also especially nice to be able to spend some time with my niece – she is small and sweet and funny.

Brothers are a lovely thing. I have two. One older, one younger. Having lived away from my hometown for the past six years, my favourite part of homecoming thus far has been having my brothers (and my nieces) in close proximity. There is something tangible about the sibling bond that I had forgotten about these past few years. They are the only two people that I feel comfortable punching with all my strength, that I can whinge with without feeling guilty, that love my kids in the way that only family can, that laugh at their own bad jokes in a way that is somehow endearing. Continue reading Beetroot, Quinoa & Hazelnut Salad

Roasted Veges with Coconut Turmeric Sauce

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Designers want me to dress like Spring, in billowing things. I don’t feel like Spring. I feel like a warm red Autumn.”
– Marilyn Monroe

Apologies for the radio silence, but I have a good excuse. We’ve just moved – both house and state – with all of the chaos that entails. After almost six years in Brisbane we’re back down south, back in the land of great coffee and cold winters, black outfits and flat vistas. Back home. Luckily, we’re down in time for autumn, my very favourite Melbourne season – purple twilight, red autumn leaves, wine bars, crisp mornings and sunny afternoons. Continue reading Roasted Veges with Coconut Turmeric Sauce

Golden Beetroot, Shallot & Grilled Apple Salad

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My kids have decided that they will no longer nap at the same time during the day. My hour or two of midday quiet is gone. I won’t lie – I was pretty upset at first. I relied on that hour or two. But they’re both still damn cute, and I roll with the punches.

So yesterday morning, while T had his long morning sleep, W and I holed ourselves up in the kitchen. She helped me slice and roast and grill and photograph and then we sat on the floor and ate. W had avocado on toast and slices of grilled apple. I had goat’s cheese on fresh rye bread and great delicious big forkfuls of this salad. Continue reading Golden Beetroot, Shallot & Grilled Apple Salad