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

Roasted Carrots, Crispy Lentils & Spicy Yoghurt

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The crazy vegetables
Uncurled
Their tendrills and leaf-crowns,
Throbbing bulbs,
In the sub-soil
The carrot
With its red mustaches
Was sleeping…

From ‘Ode To The Artichoke’ by Pable Neruda

Pablo Neruda was one of the first poets that I learned to love, and one that I still love to this day. I have several of his collections sitting on my book shelf, tattered and well-thumbed, as all good books are. A prolific poet, his work is considerable. He is probably best known for his love poems and sonnets which are, undoubtedly, some of the finest you will ever read. Continue reading Roasted Carrots, Crispy Lentils & Spicy Yoghurt

Green Tea Soup with Roasted Eggplant

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Green tea soup – ochazuke – is one of my favourite Japanese dishes. Traditionally, it is served with rice and salted fish (usually salmon) as well as nori or another type of sea vegetable. Ochazuke is a kind of un-cooking. You prepare the elements in advance but then it all comes together at the last in a haphazard way. Pouring over the hot green tea takes care of the cooking of the vegetables, but it isn’t an exact science. A little more of this, a little less of that.

I like the idea of un-cooking. Mostly, I suppose, because it echoes my style of cooking. I seem to have a complete inability to follow a recipe to the letter. Even my own recipes! Unless I’m developing a recipe for the blog (or baking), I rarely use measuring cups or spoons, preferring instead to eyeball the amounts. And I’m always tempted to add chilli, some green veges, extra spices, a handful of herbs, or just a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to make the recipe my own. The beauty of un-cooking is that it teaches you to cook by the seat of your pants, to improvise, to mix shit up. Continue reading Green Tea Soup with Roasted Eggplant

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 Roasted Sweet Potato & Turmeric Soup

Autumn Salad with Tahini-Miso Dressing

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A few days ago a baby gecko was darting about the kitchen. It was the size of my pinky finger and the colour of pearl. I caught it in my cupped hands and showed it to W, who stared at it with a mixture of fascination and uncertainty. I let it crawl up her leg so she could feel its tiny little feet. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more – me or W. The gecko was probably scared shitless.

These days I’m making a conscious effort to block out the noise. I’m re-teaching myself how to be still, how to be observant, a skill I’ve let lie fallow these past few years. When I’m breastfeeding in the middle of the night, or walking someplace in the morning, instead of reaching for my phone I take a deep breath and let my mind wander. Not about what needs doing or what I could be doing, but about the feel of the sun on my skin, or the colour of the bright green grasshoppers that have suddenly appeared everywhere. Continue reading Autumn Salad with Tahini-Miso Dressing

Green Papaya Salad

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Brisbane is in the humid sub-tropics. Word on the street is that there are over 300 days on sunshine a year up here. Feels about right. Of course, it being the sub-tropics, in the summertime those sunshine-y days are interspersed with raging thunderstorms and torrential rains. Since we moved here, there were the crazy floods during the summer of 2011 that saw the Brisbane River break its banks and wreak all kinds of havoc, then the wild storms that hit us last year smashing windows and roofs and cutting off power to half of Brisbane, and this weekend just past two massive cyclones hit the Queensland Coast pulling houses into the ocean and devastating the mid-coast.

We were lucky here in Brisbane. The cyclones petered out before reaching us. What we did get, though, were the rains. At the moment damp is everywhere. It’s infiltrated the foundations. At first the cool weather was a welcome break from the blazing sunshine. But soon the wet started to take over. S and W went walking on Friday morning just after the cyclones made landfall – W now has a cold and S’s sandals sprouted a fine covering of pale green mold overnight. The water has seeped in under the house and through the floor, soaking the rug. Nothing dries; our towels are perpetually damp, as is the washing. Mold has started growing on the walls. Everything smells… wet. Continue reading Green Papaya Salad

Roast Veges & Millet with Thyme Lime Pesto

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How did it get late so soon?
– Dr. Seuss

Time is a tricky friend. It speeds up and slows down with no accounting. Some mornings stretch into a peaceful endlessness, only for evening to come around in the blink of an eye. Other days hours pass by so fast that breakfast suddenly becomes bedtime. Some days all of the plans to do this and that fall by the wayside. Other days so much gets done, with time to spare. It’s the ebb and flow, I guess. Continue reading Roast Veges & Millet with Thyme Lime Pesto