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”

Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts & Bourgal Salad with Maple-Orange Dressing

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We were woken up at 3am on Sunday morning with a sudden roar of wind and rain. W cried out in fright, and it sounded as though the trees out the front were creaking and cracking and breaking. Whenever I’m cosy in bed listening to wild weather outside I’m always reminded of the fantastic tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz. Although of course when we woke up on Sunday morning we were still in Brisbane.

And so I bundled the kids up in jackets and scarves and beanies in anticipation of the cold front that was predicted to hit. Indeed, it was forecast for -3°c in Brisbane. And let me remind you that Brisbane is in the sub-tropics, so that is crazy talk. Turned out the cold front wasn’t quite that cold. Sure, it’s been chilly, and we’ve been wearing or woolens for the last 48 hours, but it hasn’t quite reached into the minus degrees. Not even close, thankfully. I did not move all the way to Queensland to be cold. Continue reading “Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts & Bourgal Salad with Maple-Orange 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”

Soba Noodle Salad

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It’s been rather an unusual weekend. For starters, Brisbane has been in the midst of a crazy heatwave (it is still 36°c and it is 7:30pm in the evening as I write this). Our lovely Queenslander house atop the hill usually stays pretty cool, but on a weekend like this, with not much of a breeze to speak of, it is like living in a sauna. Plus being seven months pregnant doesn’t help the situation at all. So basically it has been too hot to go out, and too hot to stay in.

The second thing that made the weekend unusual was the fact that Brisbane is hosting the G20 summit. We live only a few minutes walk from where all the action is going down, and between the police presence, the near-constant helicopters, and the road blockages, going out was a bit of a saga. S did have to head into the city on Saturday morning and alas, a trip that shouldn’t have taken more than an hour ended up taking almost three as Obama was driving through to the summit centre right at that very moment, and S got caught in the street shutdown. Continue reading “Soba Noodle Salad”

Romanesco Cauliflower, Chickpea & Mint Salad

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We just got back from a two week sojourn to Ubud, Bali, hence the lateness of this post. I did have it all cued up and ready to go while we were away but alas, we were struck with the slow internets. It’s hard to care too much though about slow internets when you’re lounging around in a sarong eating fresh mango and papaya all day.

So I actually made (and devoured) this salad a few weeks ago, when the weather was still on the cusp of summer, when there was still a hint of cool breeze in the evening. This is a perfect season-cusp salad, with the heartiness of cauliflower combined with the spring of mint and pomegranate. Since we got back though, the heat seems to have settled in. Brisbane is dry – the park is a sea of dusty brown and street-side trees are withering and dying with all of the lack-of-rain. Continue reading “Romanesco Cauliflower, Chickpea & Mint Salad”

Green Coconut & Pineapple Smoothie

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A few weeks ago S planted spinach, parsley and coriander seeds. They started sprouting just before we went down for a flying visit to Victoria, and by the time we got back were coming along quite nicely. This past week we’ve been enjoying the baby spinach – the first of our spring crops for this year, there is nothing like the feeling of going out the back to pick a vegetable fresh from the dirt and be eating it less than twenty minutes later.

Maybe it is my imagination, but I feel like our homegrown spinach is just, well, better than the stuff we buy from the market. The leaves are almost plump, juicy and full of flavour. Mostly I have it chopped up in a lunchtime salad, but a green smoothie is easily the best way to showcase fresh leafy produce. Continue reading “Green Coconut & Pineapple Smoothie”

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”