Japanese-Style Mushroom Broth

“There is not city
But the city within.

No door, but the door
To simple wisdom.

We walk, dumb
As newborns.

Into the tremendous and endless
Blessing.”

– from ‘The Hinge’ by Cynthia Cruz

Last night was sweltering, the heat of the day barely letting up. And despite their exhaustion, the kids weren’t interested in sleeping. Too hot perhaps, too sticky. After kissing them goodnight, we could hear giggles and hushed voices from their bedroom. W had climbed into T’s bed and they were laughing, telling each other stories, grabbing toys and reading. Even through my frustration at their refusal to go to damn sleep, I was warmed by their closeness, aware that those stolen moments away from a parent’s prying eyes are the excitement of childhood.

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Grilled Eggplant with Ginger Dressing

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“The smell of manure, of sun on foliage, of evaporating water, rose to my head; two steps further, and I could look down into the vegetable garden enclosed within its tall pale of reeds – rich chocolate earth studded emerald green, frothed with the white of cauliflowers, jeweled with the purple globes of eggplant and the scarlet wealth of tomatoes.”
– Doris Lessing

I’ve been dreaming in eggplants these past few weeks. I never knew how much I loved this most delicate of nightshades until this year. Every weekend since they came into season we’ve come home from the markets with our bags overflowing with the deep royal purple of eggplants. I tend to favour the long slim Japanese eggplants with their slightly sweeter taste and thinner skin. I’ve made this salad more than a few times lately, and last weekend S made a deliciously smoky baba ganouj that he served with lashings of tahini, a drizzle of sticky-sweet pomegranate molasses, salty fried haloumi, and roughly torn fresh mint. Continue reading Grilled Eggplant with Ginger Dressing

Soba Noodle Salad

sesame-soba-noodle-salad-closeup

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

Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

peanut-soba-noodles-chopsticks

The day last week that I made this Peanut Soba Noodle Salad turned into a bit of a madhouse. The noodle salad is a variation on a dish that I make regularly and can do with my eyes closed, so my plan was to whip it up and photograph it while W was having her nap, and then when she woke up we’d share it for lunch.

Things didn’t quite go according to plan. Firstly, I had a bunch of rhubarb in the fridge too, so on a whim I decided that I’d also put together a crumble (recipe coming soon!) and that while it was in the oven I’d make the peanut soba noodles. Two birds, one stone. By the time I got around to making the noodles, the kitchen was already quite a mess (I hadn’t cleaned up the breakfast dishes yet) and bench space was becoming scarce. Rather than stop, do a quick load of dishes, and clear a space, I decided to forge ahead with the noodles, making even more mess and balancing bowls and all manner of things precariously on top one another. Continue reading Peanut Soba Noodle Salad