I’ve been craving simple things. With attention directed away from the kitchen more than usual, my oven and pots have had a bit of a rest. The weekend has seen us do a lot of batch cooking, making an overflowing serves of bolognaise with umpteen carrots and celery from Transition Farm. I’ll share our recipe soon. There’s been a few rounds of tuna casserole with spinach thrown in for vegetable measure and I’ll eat this as is, with a side of bread or salt and vinegar potatoes if I can be bothered. Sometimes I boil then grate potatoes, before tossing the starchy shred with capers and lemon juice and making a topping for the baked tuna casserole, creating a fish pie of sorts. Vegetable soup has been made and eaten over days, sometimes with noodles, tamari and sriracha, sometimes with bread and butter. I’ve enjoyed this way of cooking and eating, big batches and repitition.
Breakfasts and lunches have looked quite similar. Avocado on toast, even peanut butter, and yoghurt with granola has made a midday appearance more than once. But my favourite has been eggs and toast.
I’m tearing through my new book (for my speed standards) and don’t want it to end. When I was younger I was besotted with the 1994 film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott‘s Little Women. Oh, I adored The Marchs’ dear little house and longed to spend my days reading books, writing stories and performing in plays with Jo. As a collector of old books it was no surprise that I grabbed a copy (along with Little Men and Jo’s Boys) when I stumbled across it in the op shop, but for some silly reason it has sat on the shelf unopened. For years. And for some sweet reason I decided to change that last week.
Jo and Laurie have been my companions alongside breakfast. And on the weekend I went to the dance with Meg. It’s all coming back to me now, Beth and her piano, Jo’s burnt dress…and I’ve already bought Little Women on itunes so that when I am finished with the fragile pages of my red-covered book I will sit on the couch with a cup of tea and watch my memories. After that I’ll go for the one with Elizabeth Taylor as Amy, and after that the Katharine Hepburn version, both of which are new to me. Something old and something new. It’s nice to be besotted again.
Breakfast this morning was a serve of simple olive oil and maple syrup granola, with tart Greek yoghurt and half a peach. Plus roses from mum’s garden and the Pickwick Portfolio.
What did you have for breakfast today?
I’ve been thinking.
This Universe…it’s real. It’s uncompromising in its momentum. Time passes, things change (often suddenly) and perspective is thrust upon you. Clarity comes, and things that once seemed important are not… things that were perhaps less important are now all that matters. Clarity. So you stop, wait, regroup and then go on as normal. But you’re not normal, at least not in the way you were before…before things changed. You have a new normal now. It feels uncomfortable, ill-fitting and foreign. You might long for what was, what could have been, what should have been, but it’s wasted energy because this universe…it just does it’s thing. It keeps on changing and you keep on changing. And even if this change is painful it can be beautiful. Your heart becomes a richer shade of red.
Because sometimes chocolate chips trump walnuts.
♥ Spelt and honey banana bread with chocolate chips – this recipe with about 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips added. I probably would have used dark if I had them but I didn’t and it was wonderful all the same. Also, I messed up and used to big a baking tin, so it’s slightly smaller and a little too brown on the edges. Still, outrageously good.
♥ Green tea
We’ve got a new neighbour.
He’s 63. I know this because we’ve become friendly since we started sharing a driveway three months ago. I also know he likes legumes, appreciates a slice of cake for breakfast and his birth date is precisely five days before my husband’s. Upon discovering this connection, he felt we were to be great neighbours…friends. And indeed we are.
Our neighbour is a generous gifter of homegrown silverbeet. His family makes grappa, which he shares keenly, along with his vegetable soup. I feel I am lagging in the sharing department, though I did make him brownies and brought him homemade stock. And over the Melbourne Cup long-weekend he borrowed our spit roaster to compliment his smaller spit. A truly mean feast was cooked that day, featuring (amongst countless dishes) a whole pig and a delightful, tomatoey, giant bean preparation. In the days following the party he’d knock on our door gifting leftovers to say thank you, from cake to a tub of his sister’s tzaziki, none of which lingered in our fridge very long. We now have a large container of his lamb spice mix for future cook-ups, which makes me feel ok about the fact that I just finished the leftover lamb from his New Year party in early January. His roasted meat is beyond delicious… like, it’s not even funny.
I feel very grateful we have such an open-hearted neighbour. He has taught me a lot in the few months we’ve known each other. Sometimes I catch myself wanting to duck into the house undetected, but I am always happy when I get over myself and have a chat by the fence. More often than not he’s trying to hand me some lettuce. I’ve decided that hearing the story his voyage to Australia when he was 17 is worth the sugar high from that second slice of cake he forces me to eat. I just hope that one day he’ll tell me the story of how to make his sister’s spinach pie.
Just a little post today. Some Wednesday things and thoughts.
This week I was particularly efficient in scheduling clients, only leaving the home on Monday and tomorrow, Thursday. Yesterday and today are home days, involving with some recipe development work for a client and a lot of laundry. I plan on wearing my pyjamas for longer than appropriate…until bedtime. The rain yesterday and last night was particularly delicious, and I want to keep the cozy going.
When I was in primary school the number one chip flavour was Light & Tangy. Everyone was mad for it. We’d crumple the packet and eat tiny, severely seasoned chip flakes by the handful, usually chasing it all with a swig of a Torquay soft drink. It was awesome. And, on reflection, awful.
Come high school I went for a more classic chip, favouring plain or lightly salted, which I’d invariably stuff into a plain, soft, buttered roll. Try it and thank me later. If not eating chip rolls, my friends and I would engage in a truly odd activity, for which I have no explanation other than we were teenagers and liked to live on the edge (?? perhaps??)…we’d buy salt and vinegar popcorn from the Tuck Shop, shake the bag, bring it to our mouths and inhale sharply. Vinegar pains, straight to the lungs. Why? Who knows. For kicks. Kind of like that classic sleepover dare of eating a spoonful of cinnamon (which I do NOT encourage you to try)… but slightly more odd because what was the point? To laugh and cry and laugh and eat popcorn, I suppose. These days I still favour plain or lightly salted chips, passing on the vinegar inhalation and eating them like a regular person.
It was a Thursday afternoon and I had a craving for something rich and in the chocolate realm. That’s how this slice came about. Lunch was a salad with grated carrots, quinoa and other good, roasted things… and I recall that Ben wasn’t to be home until around 8:30pm. It was mid-December, a busy time of year, and dinners were late, which felt very European. I was going to make an omelette, with prosciutto and provolone. I remember this because it was just after Ben’s birthday and our fridge was full of cured meat and cheese, party food. That omelette was good. But first, there was a snack…
Raw cacao met a few other ingredients in the food processor. We had a bounty of oranges leftover from Jackson’s cocktail show, so they went in too in the form of zest and juice. I formed a sweet slab and threw it in the freezer, telling myself I could enjoy some in half an hour after doing the laundry and invoicing. Bribing oneself with chocolate is a cliched move but a brilliant one. And it always works. I was surprised by how tasty this cool, nutrient-packed fudge was, so I grabbed my camera and took a few quick photographs (without even bothering to clean up the fudge from under my nails) before finishing the rest, leaving, oh, just a slither for Ben. Real life, all of it.
Though I use dates here, I distinctly remember feeling tired of nuts (too much chewing, perhaps?). Usually the two go hand in hand when talking “raw/vegan desserts”, aka expensive, high calorie deliciousness. I’m so into it. But on this day, I couldn’t be bothered with chunky nuts, so opted for a simpler line-up of ingredients that included some conveniently pre-ground almonds, sticky medjool dates, raw cacao, orange and salt. The bitterness of the cacao balances the sweetness of the dates rather splendidly, and the orange flavour really shines through, brightening the whole situation.
Our niece and nephew live in a different country, and therefore we don’t see them all that often. Aged six and a half and three and a half (those halves really matter), they change a lot between visits and I never feel like I can keep up. Just as I’m learning all the names of trains in an effort to impress a certain small, impossibly cute gentleman, he moves onto something else. They’re always teaching us things, from Chinese phrases and songs, to how to make the best mango smoothie (“you really need vanilla extra but you can use yoghurt instead of ice-cream if you don’t have any”). They’re also showing us how much our hearts can grow and that we had better be prepared to move and dance and discover the world with unaffected and curious eyes…because they’re not stopping or waiting. And we don’t want to miss it.