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.

Continue reading Japanese-Style Mushroom Broth

Eggplant Panzanella

eggplant-panzanella-4

If you’re not interested in a quick side of politics with your panzanella, scroll down now. If you are, though, let’s take just the briefest of moments to celebrate the solidarity, where around the world millions of women stood up against racism and hate-mongering, stood up for the rights of the marginalised. Critique and reservations notwithstanding, it warms the cockles. Some amazing pics of the marches here, and some good reading here and here and here.

#NastyWomenEverywhere #WomenMarch  Continue reading Eggplant Panzanella

Shakshuka with Schug + Herby Zucchini Salad

shakshuka-6

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

Broccoli, Onion & Cashew Fried Rice

broccoli-cashew-stir-fry-three

By the time we arrived in our hotel in Hoi An we were exhausted. We’d taken a train, three planes, and a one hour car drive, in which our tired six-month-old bub fell asleep sitting up. Yet we were so excited about being in Vietnam we decided to brave an evening stroll anyway. Bad idea. Bub cracked the shits and we had to retreat. She finally fell fast asleep that first night in a strange bed, and S went out to get us food as on top of being exhausted, we were fucking starving. He came back with a bowl of rice topped with garlicky gai lan (water spinach). Simple ingredients, fresh flavours, and goddamn if it wasn’t one of the best things I have ever eaten. Continue reading Broccoli, Onion & Cashew Fried Rice

Lemony Barley with Grapes, Thyme & Almonds

grape-barley-salad-cloesup

“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

Roasted Sweet Potato & Turmeric Soup

sweet-potato-turmeric-soup-8

It’s a mid-winter afternoon. The skies are heavy with bruised purple clouds, the light low and dark. I’m in the kitchen, sock-clad and lights on. The oven is heating and the room is warm; it smells of spices and roasting and comfort. The kids are sleeping and I’m listening to Philip Glass soft in the background. The bench is covered in peel and peppercorns and all kinds of mess. I’m cooking soup.

Soup is the ultimate comfort food. And spending time in front of a hot stove on a cold day is one of life’s pleasures. Soon after we moved to Brisbane we bought a big red Le Creuset pot. Over time it has become marked with use; scarred, if you will. No longer one of many exactly the same, but uniquely ours. There is something timeless about cooking a pot of soup in the Le Creuset, a sense of connecting to a long line of women cooking soup in big pots. My friend Nev describes it as a harking; “Le creuset is of a historical period, steeped in tradition and pretend memories.”    Continue reading Roasted Sweet Potato & Turmeric Soup

Simple Spiced Pilaf + Roasted Carrots

simple-spiced-pilaf-roasted-carrots

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