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Showing posts from November, 2005

The trouble with coriander ...

... is that it grows like wildfire and then turns to seed, unless I'm doing something wrong. So I pulled out the plants, picked off the remaining green leaves and cut them up finely - it yielded about a cupful. Then I placed them a bowl with 125g of butter and a finely chopped chili, beat it all up, rolled it up in foil and threw it into the fridge to harden. Ever tried baked, halved sweet potatoes with pucks of coriander butter sitting on top and melting over the sides? Delicious.

Herbal remedies. And a comfort pasta dish.

We gained title to the new house several weeks before the actual move, so we had been coming down and fixing the garden so it would be in order by the time we moved in. There were two of those old laundry troughs in the backyard near the fence. They catch the full afternoon sun and they were full of old soil and weeds. I removed the old soil, put in new, added some compost and transplanted some herbs from the old backyard. Some of these herb plants are very well-travelled and have followed us all around over the years. The oregano, for example, came originally from the beach house. You just rip it out and stick it in the ground somewhere else. I think I overplanted. It's a riot. Oregano is prolific, of course; the sage has taken off and there's more coriander and parsley than we can use. The spinach is almost ready and there's a whole sideway garden of it. * The other night, I made an old standby dish, the kind of thing you cook when you don't want to think about i

Picnic with greyhounds.

Let's get the food out of the way first: a cold chicken salad . On a bed of rocket sat slices of chicken breast that had been poached in white wine and garlic. Over the chicken were slices of ripe avocado, leaves of basil, generous shavings of parmesan, a sprinkling of toasted pinenuts and a light dressing. Kind of an unconstructed pesto. Accompanying that were halved hardboiled eggs topped with mayonnaise, fresh buttered bread rolls with whole seeds, coffee from a thermos, fruit cake from the store and the Sunday newspaper. * We sat on a check blanket in the shade of, but not directly under, an ancient and sprawling gum tree at the top of a large, gently sloping paddock. About a hundred greyhounds were milling about and in an adjacent fenced-off paddock, some 'hounds were off-leash, flying around like mad things, remembering their racing days and trying to decide whether or not they still enjoyed it. It was the annual greyhound adoption program Christmas picnic. One ma

Why ...

... can I walk most of the way from the kitchen back to my office without spilling my coffee, but it always spills within four paces of my desk?

My sister-in-law, the smuggler. And a recipe I can't spell.

The tram freed itself from the Sydney Road scrum and jerked to a stop at Park Street. I was in a seat towards the back, idly gazing out the window, thinking about nothing in particular. Some people got on the tram. Oh, look - it's my sister-in-law, H. She saw me at the same time and made her way down the aisle. H. is English and beautiful and has a kind of old-fashioned manner about her that is charming. She sat down next to me and we chatted as the tram sailed regally down Royal Parade under the massive elm tree canopy. She told me she was flying to Tasmania this weekend for her father's birthday, for which she was going to cook up a feast. Then she pulled a small package out of her bag and showed me the contents. Curry leaves. Not dried curry leaves, fresh ones. She had been to the Indian deli in Sydney Road that sells groceries from the sub-continent and they have a local source for fresh herbs not available elsewhere. H. leaned across to me, held out the curry leaves

The UTTS Principle.

It was late. Without measuring anything, I scattered a bunch of spices over some pieces of chicken on the bone; garam masala, coriander, cumin, chili - all that kind of thing - threw the pieces in a baking dish, crushed up a few curry leaves, threw them in as well, squished a lemon over the lot, slammed the lid on the dish and flung it in the oven. It was one of those nights when you throw things around like an ace card dealer on speed rather than doing things daintily like Delia Smith. Because sometimes you don't have time to be dainty. I was going to bake the chicken pieces and cool them for tomorrow. To eat with - I don't know - lettuce, yogurt, chutney, mango pickle, the coriander that's growing like wildfire in the garden, whatever. - Don't forget to turn off the oven, T. said, yawning and retiring. - I won't , I said, yawning and staying up. The book was good. * It's not that I forgot to turn the oven off, it's just that I didn't remembe

Lemon butter sandwiches.

A post by The Food Whore about pomegranates brought back memories of my own school days. (Or if you were cynical, you might just say she gave me a story idea. OK. She gave me a story idea.) As everyone knows, apart from breakfast and dinner, lunch is the most important meal of the day and at school, lunchtime meant I got to stop doing something boring and uninteresting - schoolwork - and do something fun and interesting instead - eat. Sometimes we ate at our desks - one year our teacher read a whole chapter of a novel aloud to us every lunchtime and I sat and ate and listened, drifting off into a kind of otherworld combining food and fiction, creating an association between eating and writing which has stayed with me to this day. If that makes sense. We had sandwiches nearly every day and as I was one of seven children, that means my mother made approximately eighteen billion sandwiches between 1959 and 1986. That's a lot of brown paper bags. We had vegemite sandwiches, sar

Saturday.

The weather was, at last, sensational. So we had a weekend at the beach. William had his first 'swim'. * It was a hot day and as the sun blazed its way through the afternoon I thought, mmm, mussels in white wine and garlic and maybe a touch of chile because there is no better meal to look forward to on a hot Saturday night especially when there is a fishmonger right down there on the main street with a chalkboard out the front with the hastily scrawled words fresh mussels . The big pot went onto the stove just as the sun was dancing with the ti-tree, casting liquid gold mixed with long spindly shadows into the big west-facing kitchen window. Into the pot went three or four finely chopped garlic cloves, a cup or so of dry white wine and half a dozen chopped spring onions. Touch of chile if you like. I liked. I cleaned the mussels and tossed them into the wine as it came to the boil. I shook them around. I heard them opening. Crack, crack, crack. I scooped them into large

Once upon a time ...

... many years ago, maybe twelve, I knew what it felt like to be a bird in a nest perched high in the tallest tree on earth. It wasn't a nest. It was Chris Talihmanidis' Beacon Point restaurant , above Apollo Bay, and it was November in 1993, and I remember that because it was our very first weekend away. To reach the restaurant, you drive from Apollo Bay directly up the coastal escarpment that rises dramatically behind the town like some fossilised glacier. Well, not directly upwards, there are hairpin bends. I love hairpin bends on the way to dinner. They make the first gin and tonic taste so much better. Parking at Chris's is a no-brainer as long as you don't forget to apply the handbrake. You could drive right off the scenery. (And after dinner, how easy it would be to slip the auto into drive instead of reverse . Hello, Apollo Bay.) Anyway it's November 1993 and there we are, Miss T. and me, at Chris's Beacon Point restaurant and the menus are thrust i

Summer blast hits town; Makybe Diva wins third successive Melbourne Cup; reporters run out of superlatives.

The scribes were calling Makybe Diva immortal after last Saturday week's Cox Plate, so no doubt they were trawling through their dictionaries after the mare won her record-breaking third successive Melbourne Cup in furnace-like conditions yesterday. Where do you go after immortal? * My sister is in town staying at Mum's, so we thought we would get together and have a picnic somewhere cool and shady. We packed sandwiches and the picnic blanket, went off to the gardens and found a nice spot on a heavily shaded lawn sloping down to the lake - bliss on a hot day. All the usual picnic fare, but with an emphasis on salads (potato and chick pea; avocado, tomato, lettuce, onion) and sandwiches (chilled egg and celery, tuna and cheese) - too hot for pastry and cakey things. There were, however, fresh banana muffins and Mum, of course, brought along a flask of hot tea. She would drink hot tea in the Sahara Desert. 'It's cooling' , you see. Around three o'clock, there