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Showing posts from January, 2014

Picnic in a heatwave.

One very hot day in January. The main street of Daylesford was like Sorrento. Audis backing out of angle parking spots, BMWs indicating one way then turning another, people with phones glued to their ears jumping out onto the road in front of traffic, jam-packed cafes called 'Bocconcini', that kind of thing. I had wanted to stop and go into the double-storey bookshop next to the bank, but decided to come back another time when half of Melbourne wasn't visiting. I drove straight through and down the hill, past the right turnoff to the top lake (unsignposted despite being Daylesford's best attraction) and turned left to the lower lake. Two kilometres and another turnoff. Past a gate was a caravan park office and several old caravans, including one painted bright green. Over the caravans, gum trees held thick pale limbs in the air. I camped here under one once and worried it was going to drop a branch on me. In the near distance, glimpses of cool water - Jubilee Lake - c

Cool, clear water.

44 degrees? Poolside . Children splashing. Lunch on the lawn under an ancient peppercorn tree. The 14-year drought meant there had been little grass for years in places like this; now it is as lush as you like. Not all that many people here. This place used to be packed in summers long gone. I suspect many children are parked in front of air conditioners and screens. This is heading towards an "in my day" harangue so let's leave it right there. And anyway, it's 46 degrees in Adelaide today. That's Celsius. Or Centigrade, as it used to be known. Dinner that last hot night was risotto using 75/25 rice and lentils with a lot of garlic and onion and a little cumin for a dish that might have originated from slightly further around the Mediterranean. Served with sectors of ice-cold truss tomatoes and sprinkled with lemon juice for ample acid bite against the warmth of the cumin. Sensational on a hot night. Cold white wine to accompany. And so, chilled leftover ris

Never buy another jar of tomato sauce.

I used to. No more. Napoli sauce is easier and faster than going to the supermarket for a jar of Barilla or whatever it was I used to buy. Dice an onion and cook it in a decent glug of olive oil and a splash of white wine. Drop in a chopped clove of garlic when onion is almost soft. Cook until just soft; do not brown, much less burn. Now add a tin or two of diced tomatoes, a dash of dried basil or a few leaves of fresh and salt and pepper. Don't be timid: pepper makes this. I put in half a teaspoonful per tin of tomatoes. I also add half a tablespoonful of butter for richness and a small dash of cumin powder. Half a teaspoon of sugar balances the acid. Simmer, adding a little water to maintain sauce-like consistency. I always add a little milk to round out the creaminess towards the end. Perfect on La Triestina giant spinach and ricotta ravioli. (Cooked well, they expand to the size of a playing card.)