Bread, a new oven, roasted mushrooms and David's Birthday

Each year my family gathers together on October 23rd. We hang out and cook, make cookies or cake and distract ourselves with little tasks. It's a day to just be. My older brother was a 1982 baby, three years older than me, so he would have been 32 on Thursday.

I'm getting used to the fact that our family is smaller, decidedly quieter, since he died. It's not the same and I miss the old "us", but I love the new us too because we cherish our time together. We're different... we will never be the same and we'll always feel somewhat empty, but life is sweet now that we can breathe again. And I try to think less on the life he had yet to live, and more on the good life he did live.

This year I helped mum clean out her wardrobe (well, really I just took a few pieces I've always loved) while we waited for her oven delivery, watched movie trailers with my younger brother and baked bread with dad. I'm working on a couple of articles about bread, and was keen for time with our resident bread master. We experimented with different flours, baking in the woodfired oven, and tasting the nuances of flour and method, which was totally fun. I will absolutely be talking more about bread in the future and will share my thoughts when I do.

Mum's old oven was ripped out to make way for her well-deserved upgrade...

...but before it went she made a batch of David's favourite peanut butter crinkles.

We've recently experienced a few hot days, which has left me craving ice-cream rather than my usual cookies for David. Though Thursday was quite chilly, I went ahead and made vanilla ice-cream (recipe link) for the five of us using my parents' outdoor camp stove.

I then folded vanilla bean through defrosted raspberries, which I swirled through the nearly set ice-cream. And though it needed a few more hours to set in the freezer, I just had to sneak outside to snap and share the almost end result with you. When I'm feeling low I tend to be a tad dramatic, and my propensity to not do things by halves is exaggerated. I quite think David would have approved of the fact that I added a shitload of vanilla to this custard. And I do so love a raspberry swirl.

Woodfired Roasted Wine and Thyme Mushrooms

The Australian Mushroom Growers' association sent me a box of goodies this week (thanks, team!) and I promptly decided their fate would be the woodfired oven. To a large tray of mixed mushrooms I added four garlic cloves (skin on), a few good knobs of butter, fresh thyme leaves from my parents' garden, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, as well as a few good slugs of red wine and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. They roasted for about 20 minutes before I added the delicate enoki mushrooms, then everything roasted for a further 10 or so minutes. You could easily do this in a hot 200 degrees Celsius oven inside.

The wine, butter and mushroom marriage in the pan made the most luxurious sauce, which we devoured with dad's freshly baked spelt sourdough bread. We also roasted baby potatoes in the oven which were deliciously served alongside mum's sorrel pesto (recipe link) and creme fraiche.

People would never think them brothers but they are just that.

Each year, each day, my brother gives me the gift of knowing of how fleeting our time here really is. It's painful but important. And I am so grateful. I genuinely treat each day as a gift. Because it is. There is beauty in each and every day. And since losing my brother the good is magnified, elevated. Stress, confrontations and headaches are demoted... and spontaneous kitchen dance parties, cool breezes and a plate of pasta is promoted. David has made my every day so beautiful. I just wish I could tell him thank you and live this life with him. We miss our musician. Happy birthday, David.

Heidi xo