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Showing posts from September, 2005

Fourteen weeks.

He lies in between us in the morning. He's been fed; and we have breakfast, being very careful with the tea. He can grasp. The newspaper is appealing. It rustles, you see. A small hand clasps and jerks. I wasn't reading it anyway.

'Eat your orange/yellow/red vegetables.'

It used to just be 'eat your vegetables' , now they want us to eat one of every colour. Something to do with phytochemicals in the pigment. Either that or the Sesame Street generation has grown up and is running the health bureaucracy. That's OK. I don't care what colour my food is, as long as it tastes good. Stuffed yellow capsicums. Take two yellow capsicums (here's one pictured with his red friend thanks to the New South Wales Department of Agriculture) and slice their tops off. Brown an onion in olive oil, add minced meat - pork and veal is good but I used beef this time - brown, add salt and pepper, a good slosh of tomato paste, a few pinches of zatar for a middle eastern touch and plenty of chopped parsley. Mint from the garden if you have it as well. Now add rice - probably one third in volume compared to the amount of meat - and enough water for absorption. Stir it through and cook on low as the rice absorbs the fluid. Stuff the capsicums with the meat and

Migrant approved for re-entry into Australia.

The Federal Government has approved entry into Australia for Frenchman, M. Roquefort. M. Roquefort, a native of south-western France, will be admitted into Australia - without having to spend time in a detention centre - following a decision by Canberra bureaucrats last week* (if 'decision', 'Canberra' and 'bureaucrats' can be used in one sentence, which I doubt). M. Roquefort has been living in a limestone cave in his native France but is certain to be welcomed into dining rooms all over Australia. He was last in the country in 1994 before being declared an illegal immigrant by a previous administration. *I love the way a news story about French cheese being allowed to be sold again in Australia appears highest on Google in an Arizona newspaper!

The new house.

We picked up the keys last week. I had noticed there are no wire screens on the windows and no evidence of any having ever been there. Inside, the window furnishings are 1950s cream venetian blinds, side drapes of gold satin and filmy lace between. All in good order, just a little dusty. I raised the venetians with some difficulty, they appeared not to have been lifted for a long time. Behind them, the double-hung sash windows are original shellacked cedar, twelve throughout the house. Many of the sashes were stuck. I wrestled them for most of the day. Just one failed to respond. The rest eventually squeaked along their vertical tracks. Every counterweight cord was clean and in perfect condition. Regular use should grey the cords because of the oil or metal stain from pulleys. Amazingly, these windows appear not to have been opened for decades.


IT'S HERE! And who needs a recipe. Just scald it for a few minutes in boiling water and eat warm, dipping the ends in mayonnaise or hollandaise. Don't worry about cutlery in the privacy of your own home. When you eat like this, asparagus IS the cutlery. Or sprinkle it with vinaigrette or just lemon juice and cracked pepper. Or wrap it in prosciutto ... roll it in pesto ... shake the tender ends into a salad with quartered boiled eggs, mustard, capers and maybe some anchovies. It doesn't matter what you do, just pour a nice crisp white wine, sit outside and watch the sun going down later ... and later ... and later ... and bite into that delicious herby yet meaty, delicate yet robust asparagus flavour - a flavour that is hard to describe - and rejoice in the arrival of spring. Did I mention I like asparagus?

It's all in my head.

The mind can remember up to seven separate items and then it struggles. I heard that theory somewhere, not sure where. I start to struggle around five. Sometimes four. So I go to the supermarket with seven things to remember. Yogurt. Timber polish for the 1930s Tasmanian Oak wardrobe, currently stored in the garage, that will resume storage duties at the new house. Shoe laces for a pair of running shoes that are still perfectly good but have gone through several pairs of laces. Clean up your act, shoelace manufacturers. A can of one of T.'s favourite comfort foods, Tom Piper Rice Cream. Milk. Bread. What else ... I'm right on memory capacity. Oh yes, something for dinner. (Why write a shopping list when this is such a great way to preserve your mental faculties? I could always read the daily newspaper, but where's the intellectual stimulation in that?) Where was I? In the spice aisles. Heh. We're feeling a little jaded so I'm looking for something tasty that won'

Friday, I'm tired, but this will make a nice dinner to end the week.

Sweat button mushrooms in a pot, add a sliced avocado over the top to warm while the mushrooms cook. Cook rigatoni according to pasta instructions. Add quartered brussels sprouts a few minutes before cooking time ends, sliced zucchini a little later and snow peas right at the end when you switch off the heat source. Meanwhile, add pesto to the mushrooms and avocado to warm through. There's not a lot of work involved so far. Well, not really. Now. Drain the pasta, sprouts and snow peas. (The snow peas were just added a minute or so ago, right? They're still green, not grey.) Throw the pasta mixture back in the pot and add the mushroom and avocado and pesto mixture. Fold through. Serve after having dusted very generously with grated parmesan. Vegetarian friends will congratulate you on this dish because it is sublime. Non-vegetarians will, as well.


Everyone has a favourite bread. I've had many favourites over the years, ever since my family's bread was delivered in the early '60s by Mr Goodwin, the baker's man, driving a Morris van up the street, and before that, a horse and cart. I barely remember the horse, but apparently it used to eat the foliage on the tree at the front gate while Mr Goodwin was patiently waiting for mum to make her selection from the basket - pipe loaf, unsliced high tin, brown or white sandwich loaf or dinner rolls with poppy seeds, all fresh from the bakery. Then I grew up and someone opened a French bakery somewhere and we discovered French bread, chewy but light, with an amazing depth of flavour. To this day, I believe soft, runny cheeses taste best on a hunk of genuine fresh baguette. After that, I went through a rye bread stage, smearing it with creamy butter and dipping it in chicken broth. Parathas, naan, chapatis, those toasted Greek bread rings with nutty sesame they sell in the de

The pantry.

Occasionally I idly wonder how long one could live on the food we stockpile in the pantry. Or larder. (What's the difference between a pantry and a larder?) And why do we keep so much food? It's not as if we live several hours from the nearest supermarket, as does T.'s best friend M. - who lives somewhere in outback New South Wales and has to drive two hours for a cup of coffee not made by herself. There's a store not a hundred metres from our front door. Moving house provides an ideal opportunity to run down stocks. I've already thrown out dozens of empty glass jars - why do we keep empty glass jars? - and other hoards. An entire drawer of plastic bags. A box of string, twine and that plastic fishnet stuff that onions come in - all useful for tying up tomato plants. All out. We can collect again at the new place. Or not. And the food: dried beans and peas. One of every colour. They look pretty on the shelf. Yellow split peas. Green ones. Red lentils. Brown lentils


The paper hit the drive. The dog doesn't even fetch a slipper let alone a newspaper so I opened the front door, greeted the day and picked up the newspaper. Every year there's a morning like this. Something in the air. It smelled like summer. The noise was different, a kind of early morning hum, not like winter's cold, wet silence. And there was a welcome warmth. * The kettle has boiled and tea is brewing in the blue and white teapot, Duchess 'Genevieve' bone china, made in England. Milk jug and sugar bowl, Carrigaline traditional blue ring design, made in Ireland. Cups and saucers, Bristile vitrified china, made in Australia. Front page of the newspaper - the fifth cricket test between England and Australia is lead story. A slow news day is kind of a relief in these times, isn't it? * I turned the page, poured milk into the cups, picked up the teapot and poured the tea ... into the milk jug. * I do like mornings.

The magnolia tree. Etc.

Ten in the morning, sunny and calm. William lay in his pram, parked beneath the flowering magnolia. He gazed up at the fat pink buds, thinking who knows what. (Probably not that the possums had eaten maybe half of them.) * Then off to lunch with W's older sister. We visited the same cafe to which I used to take my two older children most Saturday mornings when they were growing up. Milkshakes and ravioli - yes! - for them, coffee and toasted sandwiches for me. It was always the same. The place hasn't changed in years. It's tucked away in a little arcade off a main shopping street. The coffee was always great. Still is. * We spent a few days at the beach last week. No damage from the storms, but a tree went through an old man's roof in Dromana. You'd think I was obsessed with gum trees. Must be through reading the tragic Seven Little Australians as a child. Incidentally, that book should be compulsory reading for today's children. Something of an antidote to the

And another thing.

OK, the weather settled down but I'm still angry about this case . The weather reports and wind warnings were unequivocal. 'Do not go near trees.' They went near trees. They camped under trees. The girl died. The college spin started. 'We followed guidelines.' No, you let the girl camp under trees on a night in which severe warnings had been issued. 'We were in a designated camping ground, not "wild bush".' Gumtrees in camping grounds know not to drop their branches? I'm not the litigious type but I hope the family sues their sorry asses. Because if you can sue a company for the cigarettes you smoked, for the building materials you built a shed with; if you can sue a municipality because the geese at a public park pecked you and you tripped and hurt yourself (all true cases) then by heavens! someone who allows a child in their care to camp under a gumtree in the wildest weather in the face of clear warnings of winds should be ... no, I'