Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2005

The long journey.

He was due on Tuesday 21 June. We didn't know the sex. If a boy, he was always going to be William, after my late father. William arrived two days late, on Thursday June 23. June 23 is my father's birthday. * We were having coffee in Brunetti's , the best cake shop in the universe, when labour set in. We drove home, a half hour drive, called the hospital. They said, come in at once. We drove back in. The hospital is not 200 metres from Brunetti's. * Contractions slowed. They sent us home in the evening. T. slept not a wink, noting contraction times. Back to hospital Wednesday morning. It was a long day's journey into night. Shifts of midwives and nurses came and went. At half past ten, I slipped out into the cold and walked around the corner: Lygon Street. The cafes north of Grattan were mostly closing, but on the south side some stay open into the small hours, some all night. I went into Notturno, an old favourite, for a bowl of gnocchi and a glass of red. And then


William was born Thursday morning after a marathon labour lasting ... a long time. 4094 grams. Or 9 pounds and one ounce. I think. All well. More later. Thank you, God ... and the Angels at RWH.

The kitchen's upside down. What's for dinner?

The refrigerator is in the dining room connected to power via an overhead extension cord. The six-shelf cupboard we use as a larder has also been emptied and moved. Half its contents - cans, jars, bottles, packets - are piled high on the small round table; while the other half - cooking magazines and cookbooks in their hundreds - completely cover the large dining table. (Have you any idea how heavy several hundred books and magazines are? Nobody should need that many recipes. I think I'll throw them all out.) The reason? We have just had the dining room floor polished and the kitchen floor retiled. It took a while. It's a project T. started on a whim - the week before Christmas - by tearing up the floor in the dining room. 'It's the week before Christmas,' I had said, 'and you have just ripped up the dining room floor and we have scores of people coming for Christmas!' 'So?' T. replied. 'We're eating outdoors.' You have to admire a wo

Dinner at mum's, a rather large cake and a trip to the airport.

Saturday afternoon, T. produced a magnificent hummingbird cake. Once it was iced with cream cheese, flecked with toasted coconut and topped with pecans, it was only about as big as the Sydney Opera House. The cake was our contribution for Saturday night, which was ... Dinner at Family Central - my mother's house - for my youngest brother's birthday. ( Thirty-seven? I still think of him as barely into his twenties, if not an actual teenager.) He and his partner recently announced they were expecting ... and they already know it is a girl. If this family baby boom continues we will all be needing larger houses. It was a nice evening. Various brothers, sisters and nieces were in attendance. My sister-in-law had flown in from Alice Springs to stay overnight at Mum's before her Sunday morning flight to California for a conference in Santa Cruz. Tomorrow mum will fly to Alice Springs to mind junior while his mum is in the US. Her husband - my older brother - works odd hours at

Baked Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon and sweet potato.

OK, Tasmania is nowhere near the Atlantic, but if Pacific Oysters can be grown in Adelaide (on the Southern Ocean) and Sydney Rock Oysters in Albany, Western Australia , then who's going to have a problem with Atlantic Salmon from Tasmania? Not me. Especially when it's as good as it was this morning at the market. Here's how T. cooked it: (She gave me the night off, I've been doing all the housework - man, that is EXHAUSTING .) Marinade for the salmon: a dessertspoonful of seed mustard, the juice of a good-sized orange, a generous splash of tamari, a teaspoonful of honey and a couple of drops of sesame oil. Mix, pour over salmon fillets, into the fridge for half a day. Peel and slice a sweet potato, place in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake fifteen minutes. Remove from oven, add salmon to baking dish, pour marinade over fish and sweet potato. Cover and bake for fifteen minutes, removing foil cover after ten. Served with mashed potatoes and spinach wilted with c


I've always wanted to write a Snippets column. Growing up in the sixties, I loved stealing Dad's Herald - the now-defunct Melbourne afternoon newspaper - and reading In Black and White by E. W. Tipping. Others wrote the column after Tipping was gone but he was the best. * Six-thirty Sunday morning. I was driving across the foothills of the Dandenongs towards Healesville. The hills rose away to left and right as I crested a rise and was suddenly gazing over the Yarra Valley, its early morning mist like a liquid gold sea, lit by the rising sun. A hot air balloon in the distance hung still in the air, like a light bulb in an empty room. There is something special about Sunday mornings. * The 'mountain run' at Healesville was on a loop of 4.3 kilometres which we ran three times, crossing the dam wall each time. The scenery was beautiful if you cared to notice it. Running up the hills was hard, but down the other side was worse. I almost ended up in the scenery several tim

Outback New South Wales.

That's where T's very best friend, Mary, lives. For Mary, shopping for basics, like milk, bread and the 'papers, is half an hour away. Real shopping, i.e., fresh fruit and vegetables, groceries etc, is two hours' drive, which is also how far she has to go for a decent coffee. Her parents-in-law live next door, which in outback NSW is just down the road. Let's think about that for a minute. Imagine having your mother-in-law two hours closer to you than a good coffee. No, I can't think about that. Mary has three children, the oldest and youngest of which were born in the big shopping-and-coffee town; while the middle child was born prematurely in Sydney after complications which resulted in the sad loss of its twin. Mary visits Melbourne every few months or so for whirlwind visits with family and friends; however she doesn't usually stay with her family as her mother is 'trouble'! While she was in town the other week, we had lunch in Rathdowne Street,

Things you get around to ...

It's funny how you earnestly discuss your plans for years and then, one day, things just ... happen . No, I'm not talking about having babies, I'm talking about buying a muffin tin. We kept saying to each other, Oh, we must get a muffin tin, in that vague manner which is partner code for Instead of going out to coffee shops all the time and paying five dollars for a muffin, we probably should bake our own muffins. But not yet! Then, about ten weeks ago, there it was in the supermarket, a beautiful non-stick muffin tin with spaces for six extra-large muffins. Since then, T. has baked probably several thousand muffins which may be a slight exaggeration. (I do a lot of the cooking, but T. bakes. Being of Scottish descent, baking is her sixth sense. You should see the kitchen cupboards. There's about seven different kinds of flour in there yet every time I go to the shops, T. asks Can you get some more flour? ) She's done everything from choc-chip to plain sugar-dusted