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

Shakshuka with Schug + Herby Zucchini Salad

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Not that long ago, a special occasion called for booze and parties, wild costumes and late nights/early mornings. In these present days of small children and being all grown up, special occasions are mostly food-based. Afternoon barbecues, civilised early dinners, pancake breakfasts, brunch. Which is alright by me, truth be told. I like going to sleep early, and I like to cook. And I love to eat.

And so for Mother’s Day this year, I put on a brunch. First time cooking for guests in our new house. I’m not really one for the hallmark-card holidays. S and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day and since having kids we haven’t really paid much attention to the parents days either. But we’re back in our home town now where the various members of our extended family live, and so this year we celebrated Mother’s Day with my mum and her partner, my little brother, and my older brother, his wife, and their daughter. Continue reading Shakshuka with Schug + Herby Zucchini Salad

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 Simple Spiced Pilaf + Roasted Carrots

Roasted Beetroot with Crispy Lentils & Dill Yoghurt

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“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime…the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.”

– from Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Continue reading Roasted Beetroot with Crispy Lentils & Dill Yoghurt

Two Salads: Green Beans & Asparagus + Potato & Dill

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Now that we are a month into autumn, night comes early. By the time we are sitting down to dinner on the front verandah the shadows are long. By the time we finish, it is well and truly dark. So even though it is barely 8pm as I write this, I feel like it is much later. And even though I’m pretty fucken tired right now I’m enjoying being awake – the kids are both sleeping, S is reading in bed, there is a cool night breeze through the house, and I’m eating deliciously gingery pfeffernusse.

We got home this morning from a trip up the coast for the long weekend. We stayed in a cute cabin in the hinterland and spent a few days visiting markets, hanging at the beach, buying books, playing on swings, walking through gardens, and watching movies. It was a most lovely way to spend Easter. We are pretty well too – toasted homemade hot cross buns for breakfast, fresh bread and olives and cheeses and boiled eggs for lunch, takeaway fish ‘n’ chips on the beach for dinner. Continue reading Two Salads: Green Beans & Asparagus + Potato & Dill

Purple Cabbage, Zucchini & Dill ‘Slaw

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“It is often mild distraction that moves the imagination forward, not uninterrupted concentration. Thinking then works by indirection, sauntering in a roundabout way to places it cannot reach directly.”

From Woolf’s Darkness by Rebecca Solnit

Sometimes I wish that I had more time to myself. More time in which to read and write, to think, to daydream. It makes me wonder what I did with all the time in the day that was mine before I had a kid. Procrastinated, drank beer. One thing about not having a lot of free time is that when I do have it, I (usually) use it better – when you only have an hour till the child wakes up again procrastination is not an option. Which is why I like the quote above; it reminds me that my creative juices will continue to flow despite everything. Continue reading Purple Cabbage, Zucchini & Dill ‘Slaw

Lemon & Lentil Soup

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About three years ago I had the pleasure of travelling across western Queensland with the food writer Matthew Evans, on a food writing tour. We drove 800km inland under flat blue skies into cotton country, where green fields stretched into an endless horizon and at every door we were greeted with fresh scones.

After trading in his life as a Sydney food critic, these days Matthew lives on a small farm in Tasmania with his partner and son, where he grows his own veges and raises pigs. Matthew believes in good food – fresh seasonal ingredients grown yourself or sourced from your local farmers market. He believes that mass-produced food and industrial farming sacrifices both quality and ethics. During the many hours spent driving across Queensland, listening to his passion for, and knowledge of, food and food production, it was hard not to agree. Continue reading Lemon & Lentil Soup