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



Happy Australia Day. The weather gods were merciful today, serving up a warm day without a temperature high enough to provoke a total fire ban. Barbecues are burning! Right now, the aromas of grilled lamb, fish and chicken marinated in a hundred different flavour combinations is drifting across the suburb - or maybe just from the house three doors up - and I can detect along with these barbecued corn, grilled zucchini and eggplant, potato slices crisping over rosemary and garlic and wedges of pesto-smothered cooked polenta sizzling on a hotplate. I hardly need to cook. I can just sit out here in the shade of the lilli pillis and the old grapefruit tree with a cold beer and smell everyone else's dinner arriving at intervals on the breeze, which tonight is a pleasant south-westerly.


In fact, we are not joining in with the barbecue set tonight but cooking up a large pot of seafood balchao with rice and fenugreek roti and very cold beer. Recipe here. Replace the kilogram of rockling with the fish of your choice. We are using using cubed swordfish and sliced calamari.


The south-westerly is blowing now but the rest of the week will be a dragon: 41 on Wednesday and 40 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I've been carrying the watering can around the garden to strengthen a few plants for the onslaught. As far as I know it's still legal to water your remaining plants with a watering can, but let me know if I'm behind the times. Bucketing water is not new to me; I remember the drought of '68. I must have been about ten. My brothers and sisters had a bucket brigade going up and down the garden while Dad gave directions. Fruit trees first, then ornamentals. That was the summer of the Lara fires when Geelong Road exploded in flames.


How do clean a three-year-old who won't go near a bathtub? William is afraid of the plug and nothing can convince him the noise is not the bath monster. Hot weather solution: hose him down in the back garden. He loves it. (Let me know, also, if hosing your children clean is illegal. I'd love to test it in court.) Fortunately, William is not the dig-in-the-dirt child that Thomas is. Yesterday the latter child emptied three pot plants; native seedlings waiting to be planted. Dirt everywhere. He just ran away laughing.

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