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

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

Toasted Coconut & Green Mango Salad

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Whenever I go someplace new, I seek out the markets. Not the tourist trinket traps, or even the quirky weekend crafty markets (though I’ve a fond spot for those as well). I seek out the produce markets frequented by locals, where they sell the fruit and veg and, if you’re lucky, some damn fine street food. Usually you have to get up good and early to catch markets at their bustle-y best, but each place has its very own rhythms. No matter my feelings towards a new town or city, discovering the markets will inevitably allow me to tap into the heart and the beauty of a place.

A few years ago in India I arrived in Jaipur late one afternoon. After checking in and stuffing my face with delicious aloo paratha I took a stroll around the streets. I turned a corner and stumbled across the most colourful market sprawled in the narrow alley between two rows of buildings. Although I associate produce markets with early morning, this one was doing a brisk evening trade. Baskets heaped high with gleaming purple eggplant, plump sweet peas in their jackets, mounds of turmeric and fiery red chilli, were being picked over by elegant women in saris and salwars, tiny bangle-clad children underfoot. I bought myself a street-side chai, found a perch, and drank it all in. It was during that moment I fell in love with India. Continue reading Toasted Coconut & Green Mango Salad

Broccoli, Onion & Cashew Fried Rice

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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

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

Tofu Salad

tofu-saladWaiting.

I’m in a state of waiting. Each day as the heat builds and the grey clouds roll in on top of one another I wait for the summer afternoon rains to fall. Endless reading of the news and various social media streams waiting in the countdown for the state election. And as my belly grows and tightens and the days tick by and my due date looms, I wait for the baby to come. Continue reading Tofu Salad

Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

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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