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

Rice & Egg Bowl

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A few weekends ago I invited a friend around for Sunday brunch. She came with a backpack full of eggs and fresh herbs and sambal oelek, and proceeded to cook us all bowls of egg-y, rice-y, herb-y goodness while I sat on the kitchen bench. My friends rock, I know it.

Indeed, I enjoyed the eggs-over-rice style meal that she made us so much, that I’ve replicated it a few times in the last couple of weeks. Now that our chooks have (finally) started laying (!!), we’ve got plenty of the freshest eggs to go around, so any dish that showcases them in all their splendour is just what I’m after. Continue reading Rice & Egg Bowl

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

Sabich

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Last month I loaded the kids onto the train and headed a couple of hours south for a long weekend in Byron Bay with various members of my family. It was still blistering hot, so we spent three days lazing on the sand, taking walks, cooling off in the ocean, drinking coffee, swimming in the pool, cuddling sick children, and enjoying the cool evening breezes that would come through as we headed out to grab dinner, the sun a low golden orb in the sky.

Byron Bay is the hippie capital of Australia. Clinging to one of Australia’s most picturesque coasts, the combination of a temperate climate and golden sand beaches is irresistible. That said, these days Byron is a bit of tourist mecca and can get both crowded and expensive. Generally, we prefer the hinterland, where the cool dark subtropical rain forest climbs along hills hiding cascading waterfalls and quaint little towns with barefoot pubs. In fact this recent trip to Byron was my first one in almost a decade. Continue reading Sabich

Eggplant Orzo Salad

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It was bigger than an emu’s dark brown egg
But smooth and glossy. Its outside was curiously hard
If you picked it up. Like a turtle egg it bowed
With a sort of elasticity to the touch. I dug
A fingernail in. Beneath the purple surface.
The taste, we knew, would be strange, perhaps poisonous.

– From ‘Eggplant’ by Thomas W. Shapcott, in The City of Empty Rooms

I’ve had a rocky relationship with eggplant (aubergine) over the years. It was one of the few foods I went off during my pregnancies. It can be difficult to cook well, and after a few kitchen disasters I avoided cooking it myself at all, for many years. So often the vegetarian stand-in for meat at pubs and restaurants, I could stand never to see a soggy slice of eggplant laden down with tomato sauce and cheese again. Continue reading Eggplant Orzo Salad

Roast Butter Parsnips with Thyme Polenta

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Do you like our new table? It’s the one in these photos. Rough dark-brown pine, full of knots and flaws. We especially chose something a little on the rustic side, where a few spills and knocks will only add character. Because we’ve got two little kids, and while we don’t want them to trash the house, exactly, we’re never going to be the kind of family that keeps the kids away from the furniture. We’re simply not that precious.

And besides, in the end we won’t love the table because it looks good. I mean I like things around the house to look good – I’m not immune to the simple pleasures of aesthetic beauty – but in the end we’ll love it because it will become imbued with our memories, our stories. We’ll sit at that table every night, all four of us, eating good food, talking about our day, aggravating one another and making each other laugh. Over time the narrative of our family will be deep in its cracks and its crevices. Continue reading Roast Butter Parsnips with Thyme Polenta

Simple Spiced Pilaf + Roasted Carrots

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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