Bringing Home The…aw…home…

It’s early evening, I can’t remember when exactly, and I’m trying to pull a day back from the brink of unproductivity. I couldn’t settle on a café so I’ve settled on this take-away chai and this concrete slab. There are two distinct rays of sun tracking my pupils with unerring accuracy, and I shift constantly. Everything is hot and everything is burning, including my retinas, definitely. I can’t see a thing. I scrawl blindly in my notebook, or at my notebook, or around my notebook, or somewhere. What I’m scrawling is an anti-homesickness note-to-self. I note that what I have here is exactly what I wished for: None of me is cold. All of me is warm. At least warm. SO WARM. It’s completely silly how warm I am. My hair is warm, my elbows are warm and I’m pretty certain my bones are warm. The air around me is heavy, no, heaving with WARM, and it hugs me close. The bits of me that the air can’t quite hug, are cradled by concrete. And the concrete is WARM. Satiated by a day’s worth of sun, it radiates generously. I continue on a desperate scramble for things to be grateful for, and alternatives for the word
WARM

Mild
Toasty
Hot
Sweaty
Temperate
Snug
Balmy
Blistering
Tepid
Sunny
Stea-I am interrupted by the cold spritz of a stranger’s saliva. Cool and refreshing. A great relief. Oh boy. The spray prances across the extremely short distance between the stranger’s face and mine on heavy bursts of beer-laden breath. The space between us is made tighter still by a dense mass of coarse black hair (his, not mine). The strands are so thick that they fall in sharp bends rather than curls. He attempts a greeting, fails, then drops on to the slab beside me. His positioning blocks the sun and restores my sight. It’s a miracle. 

Some nice, shady time passes.

Then: ‘What are you writing?’ He’s growling at me. ‘Read me some.’ Another growl.

I look to my page and read over what I have just written: ‘…cold spritz…saliva…beer-laden breath…’ I take a telling pre-lie pause, and follow it up with ‘nothing?’

More growling. Oh, and a whimper.

‘You don’t care about me.’

‘Oh?’ I reply, matching his hurt tone, ‘I thought I did.’

And I did! I do. I do think I do. There is something familiar about him. He feels like my friends feel, you know? And I think to myself, if only I were drunk or he were sober, maybe this would be the start of a beautiful kinship.

‘What accent is that?’ Another question! Maybe he cares about me the way that I care about him!!!

I hardly have time to complete the two syllables: ‘I-rish’, before he interrupts with a ‘LOOK!’ and swings his arm at me with such incredible force that it boomerangs right back into his own gut. Then, returning it, more gently this time, to float unsteadily under my nose, bumping lightly off my chin, he repeats, softly, ‘look…look at me.’ And I do, I look to his arm, and then back up, questioning. Now, he is both physically and emotionally wounded, and it tells in his voice, ‘I…I’m…I-rish.’ I look again. I take his arm in my hand, twisting and turning it from side to side, holding it up to the light, looking first close-up, then at a distance. What I have here is the arm of an Irish man that has been on his summer holidays for a minimum of three generations. I sigh. I guess he’ll have to do. I return it to him, because he needs both arms, and everything else he can muster, to push himself up into a standing position. He’s up, and falling forward, but on a mission, he tells me: to the police station to report a petty theft that was committed against him three years ago! He raises his Irish arm in determination, the knuckles on his fist reflecting the pallor of his ancestors, and I raise mine in solidarity. I wish him well, and nestle his beer in beside me for safekeeping. After all, what are friends for.

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Not Quite Granny’s Porktato & Apple Casserole

I now have an official hand-me-down recipe from my Granny. The paper is all yellowed and everything! The text is fading away! I’m delighted with myself. I cooked it one day when I needed something from home and something from the oven, sure these two things go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, I also needed many more ingredients, and money with which to buy them. So I made do. There will be no prizes for guessing that Granny’s recipe had no miso or quinoa flakes. And, look, I don’t remember the quantities I ended up using very well really at all. Anyway.

Click below for the (kind of, sort of) recipe…

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Bringing Home The Lavender & Rhubarb

Speaking of noses, there was a girl on the train the other day that had a nose that matched her knees. That is to say, while her knees were not knobbly and knee-like, her nose was nosey and nose-like. So, just to clarify, her knees were closer to noses than her nose was close to kneeses. I had never in my life seen a nose crossed with a knee. If you haven’t, like I hadn’t, well, take it from me, now that I know, a nose and two knees, who all look like noses, look nice. Now, I think, that she looked, in actual fact, unreal. Yes, I think, that somebody, had jiggered and jolleyed and pinched and pressed and coaxed and carved her from porcelain. And, I think, in my opinion, that they’d done a very neat job. This is a recipe for her, and for porcelain dolls everywhere, who are sick of eating rhubarb dipped in sugar and flowers pulled straight from the garden.

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Lavender & Pine Nut Granola & Honey Roasted Rhubarb

Continue reading “Bringing Home The Lavender & Rhubarb”

Bringing Home The Kumquat Marmalade & Murray River Salt

OKAY. Here goes. Exciting personal developments. Following a recent road trip, I am now the proud owner of A Murray Valley Citrus Peeler. As a result, I have been declared, by myself, as officially fit and ready for the year ahead. Bring. It. On. Particularly bring on oranges and other citrus fruits. Below is a still from a new video of the new me peeling my new orange with my new citrus peeler. Hardly recognisable. Partly because I have my hand covering the majority of my face. But only partly. Another example of the new me is marmalade. The new me likes it. I got some kumquat marmalade at Orange World. The old me didn’t like kumquats either. Are you keeping up? Perhaps a little break and a little snack to keep you going? Okay. A sandwich. Let’s ease our way into marmalade with a short story about sandwiches, followed by a recipe for sandwiches, followed by eating sandwiches.

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Before our trip to Orange World, we caught a paddle steamer tour down the Murray River. It was nice, if a little boring, but the good kind of nice, and the good kind of boring. It acted as a sort of palate cleanser for the fun ahead. We cleansed our actual palates with actual sandwiches. We brought our own, and carried them aboard in the bag that the bread had come in. This is absolutely my favourite mode of transportation for sandwiches, ensuring that both nostalgia and sentimentality are kept at peak levels of freshness. We cut our sandwiches into grown-up triangles. As in, each triangle was half a sandwich, not a quarter of a sandwich. They were selling the quartered kind on board, all freshly handmade and lovingly draped with cling-film. While I made my way around my own motelmade share, I watched a family of three get to work on their boatmade ones.

I kept locking eyes with the teenage boy. This was likely due to the fact that I was staring at him. A lazy character evaluation, based on first impressions, would conclude that he displayed all of the classic signs of being both incredibly awkward and incredibly shy. This…maybe…also…was likely due to the fact that I was staring at him. Anyway, he eventually used this opportunity to avert his gaze and to fully and completely commit himself to a silent conversation with his sandwich. He enquired constantly with it as to its fillings, and by the third triangle he was eliminating all vegetables. In less than half the time it takes to complete a nice and boring boat tour, this apparently shy, awkward teenager had transformed himself into a bona fide boss. Boss Of The Sandwich. Before long, all tomatoes present had been dismissed from their duties, while the unsuspecting cucumbers had been ruthlessly knocked to the table, left, right, and finally, centre.

The son’s behaviour was rewarded with the close attention of his father, sister, me, and now, you. His father was gently but persistently concerned with his son’s findings. He was the boss’ boss, after all, and it was his job to carry out a full appraisal of the boy’s activities in his new role. What exactly was his impression of the sandwich? Good? Really? It’s O.K.? Oh, good. That’s good. Was he sure? Surely sure? Double sure? Oh sure. That’s O.K. That’s good. O.K.

The father, henceforth to be referred to as the giant, held his own helping with a hand roughly the same dimensions, length and width, of an A4 page. And it was, oh, say, 50 sheets thick. The giant folded his stack-of-paper hands around his standard-sandwich-sized-quarter-sandwich-triangles, and slowly passed them one by one from his giant hand to his little mouth. Seeing this, the little hook on his giant nose descended and, turning inwards slightly, gave a reassuring nudge as if to say ‘in you go, ‘attasandwich’. His nose really was giant. At least A4. It was great and handsome and wonderful. His son and daughter both had the very same one, decreasing in size in descending order of age, with the son’s being the smallest and the most in proportion with his own hand and mouth and sandwich.

The daughter watched the pair of bosses closely, and back-and-forthly. She seemed most amused by her little brother with his littler nose and his funny little ways with his little sandwich. She smiled at bits, really warm and really contagious. I, on the other hand, tried not to, because I was just the creep on the boat watching her watching the giant watching the boy watching the sandwich.

I can now only just count on three hands and three fingers the amount of times I have used the word sandwich above. So this seems like a good time to get on with the recipe. I really liked the family and their sandwiches and my family and our sandwiches. The whole thing was a recipe for nostalgia and hugs stew. There, two recipes in one post. So, now, onto number two.


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A Sandwich of Salt & Pepper French Toast & Kumquat Marmalade

Click below for the recipe…

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Bringing Home The Meyer Lemon, Garlic And Weeds

So I’m slow dancing around my kitchen with a head of garlic in one hand and a sweet meyer lemon in the other. I’m singing that one about the bicycle made for two. I don’t know it yet, but there are glitter canons hidden under the presses on the wall. They go off with a bang. BUT, wait, what’s this now? Yes, instead of glitter, they shoot organic weeds!!! There are flowers and everything. Yeah, I know, right, the dream. I gasp and look from the garlic to the lemon and back again and I say: ‘Did…did you…oh my god you guys…that is…I’m speechless…that is the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever installed in my kitchen’. All three of us are crying at this stage, smiling from ear to ear, but sobbing too. Then, I give each of them one last hug, carefully slice them up and add them to the following dish…

Pumpkin, Feta, Lemon Salad

Roasted Pumpkin, Feta & Meyer Lemon

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Bringing Home The Lemon Myrtle

For about a week, every time we opened the fridge the scent of lemon myrtle would skip up our nostrils. Now, it’s come into the fold. It’s filed away neatly in our brains, somewhere alongside lemongrass, lemon and lime. It doesn’t excite the way it did on those first few days, but it is still just totally and completely delicious. It’s new to me. Or, at least, re-new, maybe I knew it a long time ago. I picked it out from the Barbushco stand at Eveleigh Market, before I’d even swallowed a sample of their Lemon Myrtle cheesecake. Lemon Myrtle Barbushco are bush food growers who champion ‘Australian Native Flavours’. They have an organic farm in the Lorne Valley, where they grow Lemon Myrtle, Aniseed Myrtle, Lemon Scented Tea Tree, Davidson Plums, Riberries and Brush Cherries. Em…!!! That selection should most definitely be exclaimed, not full-stopped. I didn’t even know what those were!!! I had to google them all!!! Every last one!!! It’s all very exciting. The best bit though, my very favourite bit, is that the herbs and spices that Barbushco produce are incredibly versatile and can be introduced seamlessly into all styles of cooking. It’s so wonderful using something so unique, intriguing and indigenous, without feeling intimidated. I can’t wait to (completely over-)use lemon myrtle. So, here goes then. Lemon Myrtle Granola 01 Lemon Myrtle Granola & Chia Seed Pudding & Stewed Raspberry Last week, I had breakfast at Brewtown Newtown. That was a good idea. One of my best. Ever. I got, I think, toasted seeds & nuts & strawberry compote & lavender almond milk & maple jelly. It was subtly delicious and textured and oh, extremely pretty (important). I guess that dish was my starting point here. It focussed my lemon myrtle thoughts on one specific idea, and married it with a recipe I picked up at Katie Sanderson‘s recent raw food workshop held at The Stables on Fumbally Lane in Dublin. Click below for recipe… Continue reading “Bringing Home The Lemon Myrtle”

Using Up The Sweet Potato

Hi! Also, HELP! I took a turn onto Memory Lane while working on that post about Fairy Bread and now I can’t find my way back home. How about you go and look for help and I’ll just try and make the best of the situation here. Oh, oh, maybe, tear up this slice of bread and leave a trail behind you. Foolproof! Great. So the year is 1993 and begorrah haven’t we only upped sticks and moved from Queensland to Ireland, thereby swapping hundreds and thousands for packets of Tayto. Sure, they had hundreds and thousands in Ireland but they hadn’t thought about putting them on bread because, well, you know. However, CRISPS. Now there’s another story. Crisp sandwiches are a veritable rite of passage for any young sprout newly planted in Ireland. To make matters more complicated, said sprout will likely be expected to weigh-in on the Tayto versus King debate. While I do have opinions on this matter, I don’t plan on getting into them here, as I feel that it may be seen by some as childish and immatAYTO. Okay, so, In a similar vein to my last post I have updated this old classic for a much more mature, discerning, grown-up, boring audience.

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Click below to see the recipe…

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Bringing Home the Chia Seeds

I’m in Australia now. Sydney. I no longer work in a supermarket. But if you want me to work in yours, I will, I definitely will. I’m still spending all of my time in them anyway. Yesterday, in one supermarket, I signed a petition in return for free mango. Not sure what it was for. I said:

I’M SORRY I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE SENSORY EXPLOSION CAUSED BY THIS LARGE CHUNK OF ACTUAL GOLD AND ACTUAL SUNSHINE.

Anyway. Two equally interesting facts about me are that I lived in Australia from age 0 to age 5 and that for this particular period in my life I was a fairy. The real deal. I ate only Fairy Bread, an Australian delicacy. Fairy Bread consists of a slice of white bread, spread with butter, covered in hundreds and thousands, and cut into triangles. Isn’t it about time that somebody adapted this recipe for safe adult and human consumption? OOH ME ME I’LL DO IT I’LL DO IT!! Okay then.

Chia Seed

Grown-Up Nutrient-Rich (PFFFT) Chia-Sesame-Poppy Fairy Bread 

(Serves 1 human)

3 tsp chia seeds
3 tsp poppy seeds
3 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp oil, whatever you have
1 large pinch brown sugar, plus more to taste
Butter or margarine
1 slice bread, white is best for this one

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius. Combine first five ingredients, and the brown sugar, and spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the oven for about twenty minutes, but keep an eye on them. Butter your slice of bread, right up to the edges. Remove seed mixture from the oven and allow it to cool. Add more brown sugar to taste. Spread the mixture onto your slice of bread. CUT IT INTO TRIANGLES. Eat it. Cast spells.

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Bringing Home the Greengages and Camelina Oil

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If greengages were people I would bake them a cake. Just because. And they’d be so flattered and would say: ‘For meee? But whyyy?’ And I’d say, like I just said: ‘Oh, you know, just becaaause.’ But really I’d be thinking you’resopretty&nice&modest&Iwanttobeyourbestfriend. I feel a little bit funny about admitting that I want to be best friends with a variety of fruit. So, I’ll go ahead and move on swiftly, if that’s o.k. with you guys. The recipe I’ve adapted here is one that went a bit viral there for a bit. I found it on Food52. I adapted it because I really like greengages. It’s not like I want to be their best friend or anything, I just really like the taste (shhh heh heh heh). Also, subbing camelina oil in for the olive oil makes so much sense to me. I mean, if I’m being honest, right now, I want everything to taste like camelina oil. However, look, camelina cakes make so much sense; infused with that floral and fruity and light yet v v v distinctive flavour. So here‘s the recipe I followed. I just replaced the olive oil with camelina oil and the standard plums with the more specific greengage. The preceding main course was described as ‘a hug on a plate’, the highest compliment you can pay a cook, if the cook is me. THANKS.

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Bringing Home The Bacon, Sea Bass and Cavolo Nero

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This evening I was ripping up my third bunch of three of cavolo nero when a sleepy little lime green caterpillar landed silently on the kitchen counter. Heya. I commended it on its choice of bunch and further still on its decision to evacuate said bunch before getting folded into my potato stew. The potatoes and kale were both leftovers from last night’s fish and chips. It was such a quicky. Great. So, the oven was preheated to 200 (celsius, fan) and first in were the freshly cut chips, tossed in olive oil and sea salt. Ten minutes later the seasoned vine tomatoes and avocado went in, with a drizzle of oil, leaving room in the baking dish for the seabass. Five minutes on I seasoned the seabass and quickly fried the flesh until golden, for a minute or something. Then I nestled it into the baking dish, skin-side-down, and finished it in the oven. Strips of bacon took its place in the frying pan, while the kale steamed over a simmering pot of water. About seven or eight or nine or ten minutes later, dinner was ready, and the kale and bacon were added to the baking dish. Such a satisfying sizzle!! – successfully drowned out by the sound of rubbish Saturday night TV YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYYA

Bringing Home The Poppy Seeds and Millet

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That’s 15 euro, I said, I’m so sorry, I said.

Shock. Like a thud. Then, slowly, between thin, shallow breaths, the lady: ‘oats…aren’t…sexy…anymore‘. Her cheeks reddened, she leaned in closer, whispered: ‘What is sexy is…quinoa…flakes‘.

I think all porridge is sexy and has a great personality too. Millet porridge is one of my favourites. I just restocked. Then I saw this. I had previously decided that if I keep making the same cake recipe with different adaptations maybe I will learn about baking. So, I keep making Anna Jones‘ Seeded Banana Bread from her book, A Modern Way To Eat. She’s wonderful. Okay, anyway, the recipe calls for 150g of little seeds. I put in 75g of poppy seeds. Then I added 75g of millet. I told the millet that if anyone asks, it’s to lie and say it is a little seed. Nobody asked. Great. I gave similar instructions to some baked apples and fresh blackberries. They were to pretend to be bananas. I don’t know if I should just make an apple cake when I have apples. Like, there is a really good-looking one in the same book, just five pages back. Anyway, these apples I picked from the garden. I learned that if an apple is ripe it will part quite willingly from the tree. Your apple knows what is best. Trust your apple and it will reward you with delicious cake.

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Click below to see the recipe…

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