Pistachio Butter Birthday Cake

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.

– from The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare

The waratah flower, native to the south-east coast of Australia, is a striking plant. Its deep crimson flowers bloom on top of a branch whose spirally-arranged leaves are serrated along the edges. It is known to be difficult to cultivate and can take five years from seedling to flower. It is in season for just a short few weeks in late spring. The name comes from the Eora Nation, the sovereign peoples of the area known as Sydney. We named our first born Waratah, our bright spark of a child.  Continue reading “Pistachio Butter Birthday Cake”

Roasted Cauliflower & Beetroot Salad with Rosewater Dressing

I bend to it willingly, this patch
of earth and its green things, in their own world
(though I hold the title to it) hungry for life…”
– from ‘After’ by David Malouf

We planted daffodil bulbs yesterday, the kids and I. Fingers in dirt, carefully. Now we water, and wait for them to bloom, a slash of the brightest yellow across these winter skies. Continue reading “Roasted Cauliflower & Beetroot Salad with Rosewater Dressing”

Pistachio Dukkah

pistachio-dukkah-one

I’m sitting on the couch, cross-legged, woolen socks on. It’s late afternoon, raining outside, low grey skies, seeping damp. Both of the kids are asleep. I’m balancing a milky cup of earl grey tea and a thick slice of banana bread on the couch armrest. Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook is open on the table in front of me – I’m planning Swiss Chard Fritters and Mejadra for dinner tonight.

A moment of calm in the chaos. Continue reading “Pistachio Dukkah”

Peach Pistachio Galette + A Melbourne Trip

peach-galette

“I’m not a prophet / or a stone age man / just a mortal / with the potential of a superman…”
– David Bowie

My first memorable encounter with David Bowie was the tripped-out fantasy film Labyrinth. To this day, one of my favourite movies. The thing is, Bowie’s legacy is so much more than his music. He was an artist in the way we all want to be artists. He was brave and daring. He blurred boundaries. He was enigmatic and beautiful. He was deeply creative and he embraced the otherwordly, whether by design or inclination or a little of both. He made us feel proud of our weirdness, our queerness. He was inspired and inspiring. Continue reading “Peach Pistachio Galette + A Melbourne Trip”

Apricot Eton Mess(ish)

eton-mess-outside

Christmas is done, and the New Year is almost upon us. We had a quiet Christmas up at my mother-in-law’s place in Maldon, where we ate loads of lovely food, W gorged herself on homemade chocolate biscuits, and we enjoyed the array of weather that Victoria has to offer – sweating in shorts one day and rugged up in scarves the next. We’re back down in Melbourne now hanging out with friends and family for another week of holidays and eating and chatting and beers and playgrounds and coffee and all kinds of nice things.

I don’t generally go in for new years resolutions, but for 2016 I’ve resolved to only read books written by women, with an emphasis on women of colour. Last week I was reading Rebecca Solnit’s fantastic essay ‘Men Explain Lolita To Me’ (she nails it every. single. damn. time.) and the final paragraph struck a chord: Continue reading “Apricot Eton Mess(ish)”

Chia Bowl, 2 Ways

chia-seed-pudding

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

– from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Imagining the impossible is a wonderful thing to do. Children are, of course, experts at this. Ground down by reality, us adults need a little more practice. Cooking is, I find, the perfect conduit to the creative. In the same way that the paradoxical ‘going forward and standing still’ of train travel lets the imagination break free, so does the paradoxical ‘action and waiting’ of cooking. A flurry of cutting and slicing and chopping followed by a slow methodical stirring; sifting and stirring and kneading and then sitting by the oven, waiting. Plenty of time to imagine the impossible. Continue reading “Chia Bowl, 2 Ways”

Eggplant Orzo Salad

eggplant-orzo-salad-landscape

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”