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

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

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

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

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