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


Eleven days to Christmas.

It was hot and humid well into the evening.

The sun hadn't broken through the haze all day. Late in the morning I had had to drive to East Kew, commonly referred to as Far Kew, because it stretches almost to North Balwyn; and the roads were choked with traffic, the kind of traffic that doesn't know quite where it's going, like Christmas shoppers torn between Chadstone and the City and ending up at Northcote Plaza.

Something should be done about Christmas. Three million people (or is Melbourne four millions now?) swelter in traffic jams on their way to marathon shopping trips at plazas the size of suburbs and emerge hours if not days later laden with iPods and DVD players and home theatre systems and other necessities of life for anyone older than six; and then when the day arrives they sit down at midday in forty degree heat (but that's OK, the air conditioner's on; just don't tell anyone we voted for the Green Party) to a table of roasted turkey, glazed ham, roast potatoes, plum pudding, butter sauce and Christmas fruitcake with table decorations featuring snow-capped pine trees and snowmen.


No, I hadn't forgotten the accompaniment to the pre-dinner drinks, I mean: it's insane. If John Howard had promised to move Christmas to July, he would still be in Kirribilli House with an increased majority and Kevin Rudd would not currently be in Bali back-pedalling on climate change.

Anyway, I made it home. (But while I'm on the subject of Christmas, would people - random strangers in supermarkets - please stop asking a two-year-old, let alone a fourteen-month-old, what 'Santa' is bringing him for Christmas? I know they are only being nice, but some two-year-olds and fourteen-month-olds don't know what or who 'Santa' is; and some of their parents don't want to them to find out soon. There will come a time.)

On the way home, I stopped at the fishmonger.

Grilled swordfish with individual warm capsicum salads.

The fishmonger had, as usual, a very fine array of fish, from which I chose two fine swordfish steaks. These I grilled in a very hot pan, scattering them with plenty of dried oregano, grown in the garden and hung in the kitchen near the stove to dry, and for ease of reach. A little salt and a lot of pepper on the fish as well.

I had a couple of extra-large capsicums; the longer, finer ones. I baked these on a rack in the oven, whole, for half an hour until they were soft. Then I rolled them in a brown paper bag until they collapsed in on themselves, took them out and placed them on separate serving plates. In this state they formed a slight well, into which I placed six cubes of very good feta and six black mammoth olives each. I drizzled it all with plenty of olive oil, scattered it with oregano and salt and pepper and placed on each capsicum a sprig of basil from the back garden.

A potato, tomato and egg salad accompanied the meal: three waxy yellow potatoes, cubed and boiled until almost soft, drained and combined with four very good vine-ripened tomatoes, two cubed hard-boiled eggs and one small red onion, and bound with olive oil, vinegar and the juice of a lemon.

We ate outside in the warm evening haze, and the boys tumbled around on the lawn. They had eaten earlier, of course; and were not ready for bed. William has developed a liking for olives and came to the table for more. And just this week, Thomas is trying to walk. Step, step, step, bump.


Rose said...

Couldn't agree more the frenzy of Christmas and the mindless consumption. I am becoming more Scrooge like the older I get and find myself growing more sympathetic with him.

Perhaps Scrooge was a greenie too?

Love the accompaniments to the swordfish, I'll try them tomorrow night when we'll be having fish.

Lucy said...

Exciting that Thomas is attempting to walk. Very!

That 'What's Santa bringing you?' nonsense irritates me too.

Made this last night and loved it, though used garfish fillets instead. Just lovely.

neil said...

'Far Kew'...Graham Kennedy would've loved that, sounds like the call of the crows.

kitchen hand said...

Thank you Rose and Lucy, glad you liked the recipe.

Neil, I'm not sure where I first heard the expression; I'm sure it goes back a long way. BTW, I heard Graham utter his immortal words back in 1975. I thought the reaction was over the top. Contrast that to what comes out of our TV screens these days!