Blackberry Pavlova

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I spent about an hour this afternoon gardening. I’ve still got dirt underneath my fingernails, and smudged on the knees of my jeans. We don’t actually have a garden per se, it’s more of a terrace. But it’s big and sunny, and we’ve been slowly filling it with greenery. When we first moved in we inherited a few plants – rosemary and thyme, a small olive tree and a dry lavender bush, as well as loads of mint. We’ve since added flowers for the kids, a rose bush that S brought home this morning, a cumquat tree, tomato bushes, Vietnamese mint, parsley, coriander, lettuce leaves, a chilli plant, and a slender ghost gum. Everything is planted in a haphazard mix of terracotta pots and wooden planter boxes.

This detailed rundown of our garden, though, is actually a roundabout explanation for why this is my first post in some three months. Gah!

Continue reading Blackberry Pavlova

Peach & Fennel Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

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“The walls were wet and sticky, and peach juice was dripping from the ceiling. James opened his mouth and caught some of it on his tongue. It tasted delicious.”

– from James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

We woke up this morning to grey skies awash with a light rain. The arrival of autumn is always bittersweet. Crisp mornings and cooler days, deep purple twilights, pots of tea and woollen scarves, apples and persimmon. All of these are things that I love. But it also means the end of summer, with its long days and bounty of fresh stone fruit, warm night breezes and morning swims, icy cold slices of watermelon. With the arrival of autumn, the endless horizons of summer come in a little closer to home. Continue reading Peach & Fennel Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Iced Tea, 2 Ways

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“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
– from ‘Notes from Underground’, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Brisbane summers are not for the feint of heart. By August spring is on the wind, and well before the new year summer has made herself good and comfortable. The air is heavy with moisture and summer dreaming. The sun is bright and hot up in an electric blue sky. Heat waves on top of the regular sub-tropical weather bring regular programming to a stop; all energy is spent on staying still and keeping core body temperature from boiling over. Continue reading Iced Tea, 2 Ways

Toasted Coconut & Green Mango Salad

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Whenever I go someplace new, I seek out the markets. Not the tourist trinket traps, or even the quirky weekend crafty markets (though I’ve a fond spot for those as well). I seek out the produce markets frequented by locals, where they sell the fruit and veg and, if you’re lucky, some damn fine street food. Usually you have to get up good and early to catch markets at their bustle-y best, but each place has its very own rhythms. No matter my feelings towards a new town or city, discovering the markets will inevitably allow me to tap into the heart and the beauty of a place.

A few years ago in India I arrived in Jaipur late one afternoon. After checking in and stuffing my face with delicious aloo paratha I took a stroll around the streets. I turned a corner and stumbled across the most colourful market sprawled in the narrow alley between two rows of buildings. Although I associate produce markets with early morning, this one was doing a brisk evening trade. Baskets heaped high with gleaming purple eggplant, plump sweet peas in their jackets, mounds of turmeric and fiery red chilli, were being picked over by elegant women in saris and salwars, tiny bangle-clad children underfoot. I bought myself a street-side chai, found a perch, and drank it all in. It was during that moment I fell in love with India. Continue reading Toasted Coconut & Green Mango Salad

Vegetarian Pho + Comfort Food

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This post is part of a blog collaboration on healthy comfort foods and recipes, as well as thoughts on comforts beyond the kitchen. Links to the other participants’ articles are below my recipe. 

One of my first ‘blogging’ friends was the ever-lovely Katie Schmidt of Whole Nourishment. Although we’ve never actually met (being in opposite hemispheres), I’ve no doubt that Katie would be as warm and generous in person as she is online. Moreover, her blog is one of my favourite spots online – unpretentious and inviting, replete with thoughtful, delicious recipes that embrace whole foods and mindful eating. In particular, I appreciate the informed way Katie discusses nourishment in a holistic sense, and have learned a lot from her approach to integrating food and life. So, when Katie invited me to participate in a collaborative recipe series around comfort food, I jumped at the chance!

Katie invited myself and four other food bloggers to reflect on the notion of comfort, both in food and in life. In Katie’s words: “Comfort food to me is not only the food on my plate but also the non-food aspects of daily life that nourish me all the same.” These days, when people talk about comfort food what they usually mean is the kinds of sugary/oily/salty food that are too-often used as an emotional crutch. Which isn’t comfort, not really. Katie draws a whole different – and much refreshing – take on it, elucidating the ways that certain foods and the accompanying life choices bring our bodies a genuine deep-seated comfort. Continue reading Vegetarian Pho + Comfort Food

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