Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Short-cuts. And Barbies.

After a Christmas and New Year of intensive food preparation (the preparation was intensive? what about the eating? that was exhausting) it is a sheer joy to throw all your fussy ideas about home preparation into the trash and live out of a jar and a packet for a while.

So we did. And it was good.

Monday looked nice enough to have an evening barbecue. High twenties, not a breath of wind, maybe just a light zephyr climbing over the back fence and sighing at the apricot tree.

Possum damage aside - and I'm ignoring them, pretending they don't exist - the garden is still looking pretty good after its pre-Christmas haircut and shave. Well, no trees have blown down or anything.

So I trundled out the cast-iron grill. It weighs a ton, has brakes on the wheels, is prehistoric and cooks the best barbecue in the world. It lives in the garage all winter long, collects dust and never complains. It is low tech and high output. If today's grill of choice is a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti then mine is this. It is my favourite toy.

I threw a tablecloth and put a bottle in the fridge. T. and I got ourselves into the vegetable patch and we hauled out some last broccoli stalks and yet another cabbage. I'm just about sick of the brassicas, they've overstayed their welcome this year. Time to uproot them and send them packing like in-laws.

Then, fun with packets and jars. I tossed half a dozen chicken pieces in a plastic bag with the contents of a sachet of Tandaco Coating Mix for Southern Fried Chicken , while some sliced beef made friends with a jar of Yeo's Barbecue Satay Sauce (label warning: 'Contains Peanuts'). Both went back in the fridge while we made a broccoli and pumpkin salad, a potato salad and a simple coleslaw.

Then I thought: if there is no wind, why is the sky clouding over?

Later, my son and his wife and their three girls arrived and we walked around the garden trying to establish if and when the rain would start. A big spot hit me on the forehead. We carried the table and chairs into the big garage which doubles as an undercover outdoor dining area in times like this when you can't rely on the weather bureau.

The girls had brought their Barbie dolls and the Barbie dolls were having a play argument. One Barbie doll pulled another Barbie doll's hair. That Barbie retaliated, kicking the first one and a third Barbie doll joined the fray, on whose side I'm not sure. But it was a helluva fight. No wonder they have issues, they all have the same name.

The rain didn't really get started and we moved the table back out into the overcast warmth of the mid-summer evening. The satay beef skewers were the star of the evening. Thanks Mr Yeo. The chicken was good as well. Nice with coleslaw.

The girls, having eaten, were now making chalk drawings on the ground while we sat at the table and had another drink. Barbies lay exhausted around the garden, missing various accessories and hair all over the place, like scarecrows.

Later Canisha asked me to look for a lost Barbie tiara. We didn't find it. I suspect that somewhere in a tall conifer, very close by, there's a possum being admired by his family.

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