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Showing posts from July, 2011

Side dish steals limelight.

The other night I made a simple pasta dish of spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, anchovies and finely chopped fresh chili. It needed something on the side. I did not have leaves of any kind so I made a salad out of some items that just happened to be there. The salad got out of control. It turned into the main event. Warm salad of roasted pumpkin, fennel, avocado and kidney beans. I had some leftover oven-roasted pumpkin and a head of fennel that resembled a miniature bagpipes. There were a few other potential ingredients vying for inclusion. How to bring them together? Here's how: Chop the fennel into manageable pieces. It will fall into an array of j-curves and other fantastic three-dimensional shapes, allowing you to marvel at the geometry of nature while you construct a mega-salad. Re-heat the cooked pumpkin if you want a ‘warm’ salad; otherwise, add it to the salad straight from the fridge. Open one can of kidney beans. Drain. Halve and section one avocado (relati

A shorter history of the Sunday roast, with a recipe for a rainy Sunday night.

The Sunday roast was a childhood fixture. Let me qualify that. It was a fixture until I was about ten years of age, then it slowly disappeared, like the Latin Mass at about the same time. Perhaps there were too many children to feed. Maybe my mother went through a vegetarian phase, or just couldn’t be bothered doing it any more. I don’t remember. The era passed. While the tradition lasted, the roast was usually ovine. That is to say, sheep. But not lamb. This concept is completely foreign to modern sensibilities: Not lamb? What other kind of edible sheep is there? The same kind actually; just older. The roast we were served was often leg of two-tooth, two-tooth being a farmers’ reference (my grandmother was raised in southern NSW) to a sheep of more than 12 months, otherwise known as hogget; or sometimes leg of mutton, from a sheep older than two years. Lamb is generally considered more tender … but two-tooth, or mutton, cooked properly, had more flavour. And was larger. We were sti

Walk in the park.

Albert Park, 16 July 2011. Above, Tom commences his athletic career in the under 9 one-kilometre race-walking event. Below, he nears the finish as evergreen veteran Bob Gardiner (1964 & 1968 Olympics; 1970 Commonwealth Games) continues through ten kilometres. Tom ate well that night. Results and more pictures at Victorian Race Walking Club (motto: "You Walked Before You Ran" ).

The taste of tea in the morning.

It was still dark, but the birds were twittering and tweeting. I sat up and realised those verbs didn’t work any more. More perfectly good words gone forever. I felt my way to the kitchen, found the kettle and put it on. Then I switched the light on. I could have done that first, but I hadn’t been able to find the light switch, and the faint light from the east-facing window had led me to the kettle first. That’s what happens in when you’re in an unfamiliar house. At least I hadn’t clocked myself on an overhanging mantel, or a door ajar. The kettle hummed and then clicked off and I poured the water into a brown ceramic teapot over loose leaves of Tuckfields Tynee Tips tea, the name of which product once led to an alliterative jingle that once heard, could never be forgotten. I haven't. * We were staying in a renovated 1940s timber house in the middle of town. It had polished floors, an east-facing kitchen, two bedrooms, and a lounge furnished with comfortable chairs and a b

Falling sea levels.

There’s nowhere for the water to go. It just sits there on both sides of the narrow road and it feels like you are driving across some kind of inland sea. Graduated depth markers at intervals on each side of the road remind you how far under water you would have been after the January flood, and the September one before that. This was the road that branches west-south-west off the Western Highway at the historical marker (something to do with gold) 6.5 kilometres out of Horsham. It rides the plain and drops you onto the Wimmera Highway near Natimuk, where floods have antagonised the locals for 150 years. A marker tells you a 48 year old coach operator was washed away from here in a flash flood in 1893. Never saw it coming. I drove across the inland sea, and now it was raining again. The sky had that luminous, sickly green-purple light that says storm. Visibility dropped. I switched the lights on. The rain was deafening but someone in the car, it might have been William, asked if th

Lunch for a cold Saturday.

It was a cold morning. Coffee in the mall, perfectly expressed and poured, and topped with a thick but fine froth shot through with caffeine-laced perfection. And still only $2 . Ridiculous, but in a good way. Then home for an early lunch with an Off the Record soundtrack. Still the best radio program in Melbourne, if you like that kind of thing. * The cauliflower in the fridge must be a week old and still hadn't found a purpose in life. I decided to give it a reason for being. I trimmed and boiled it with half a chopped carrot, drained them when done, added half a teaspoon of cummin seeds, and salt and pepper to taste. Then I pureed it to the consistency of thick soup, due to the retained water in the cauliflower. (Add a little milk if necessary.) I added half a cup of grated tasty cheese, and stirred it over a low heat until the cheese melted. Then I served it immediately with crumbled fetta and a spoonful of yogurt, both optional. Early afternoon the sun broke th