Annual mushroom soup

Pine mushrooms and wood blewitts

I thought we’d well and truly missed mushroom season this year. For pine mushrooms (saffron milk caps) it’s autumn, and now it’s July and we’ve only just managed to rustle ourselves out the door and in the car and down to my dad’s place in South-West Victoria, where we have a secret mushroom spot nearby. We found it about five years ago and going back has been a highlight every year since. I jump out of the car and skip around like a schoolkid, way too excited. My husband is the stealth hunter and gets straight to business, finding and cutting the best and most beautiful specimens over the hills. Continue reading Annual mushroom soup

Feijoa and lime meringue pie

feijoasFeijoa and lime meringue pie

This year was a first for me – I tasted feijoa. Life is short and I can’t believe I have wasted so much time already! These dusky green globules are just beautiful to cut, with a creamy yellow interior and a swirling flower pattern made up of translucent yellow-green flesh speckled with a few tiny brown seeds. Their exotic smell wafts all over the house – if you’re not a fan, you might describe it as ‘Deep Heat’, but that’s a bit unfair I think … The taste has a definite sarsaparilla twist, but after having a few my daughter and I found them irresistible. Sweet but with an interesting tang, and such a nice change from the pears, oranges and apples of late autumn and winter. We spooned out the flesh one feijoa after another, the table littered with empty shells. Continue reading Feijoa and lime meringue pie

Tomato kasoundi

Jars of red and green tomato kasoundi

Last weekend was the final hurrah for our old kitchen and bathroom. Now our weatherboard worker’s cottage has been stripped of its lean-to addition and reduced to four very cosy rooms, each one really having to pull its weight. We have a study/kitchen, two bedrooms/storage, and a living room/everything else. We’ll be spending the next few months building a new kitchen, bathroom and larger living space, and I’m aiming to be very calm and graceful and to take our chaos in my stride! (A wry smile from my husband.) Continue reading Tomato kasoundi

Fig and quark (or cream cheese) strudel

Fig and quark (or cream cheese) strudel

Figs, I’ve noticed, are surprisingly polarising. You offer them to some people and they act like you’re presenting them with a bag of precious gems, loaded with memories of childhood and warm autumn sun and being perched in the middle of their grandfather’s fig tree. And then, there are people who look at you with the deepest suspicion, as if sizing you up to see if you are actually serious. They take a moment, looking at the prospect of eating some kind of poison, then reply an awkward ‘no thanks’ and try to change the subject. Continue reading Fig and quark (or cream cheese) strudel

Green bean, coconut and yoghurt salad

Green bean, yoghurt and coconut salad

Tonight at dinner our 18-month-old daughter finally decided that beans are pretty good. We didn’t have to cut them up into little pieces and ask her to ‘go quick’, which is a silly game that involves her stuffing as much into her mouth as fast as possible, and sometimes ends with the food dribbling back out (we resort to it only if we’re getting a bit desperate). We also didn’t have to scatter tinned tuna on top like I did the other day at lunch, or sneak bean pieces in on chopsticks hiding behind something else more appealing. Instead she sat there with a half-eaten bean wobbling in her hand as if to say, you know what, Mum and Dad, these aren’t bad. ‘Maw’ she said after she’d eaten that one, and I thought, hurray! Continue reading Green bean, coconut and yoghurt salad

Apricot, almond and spice cake

Apricot almond and spice cake

I think our suburb must be the apricot capital of Melbourne – there are trees drooping with fruit all around us, not too many birds to steal them, and the owners of most trees don’t seem very interested (perplexing!). I’ve taken to doorknocking and last year I found a house with two trees and a lovely Vietnamese family who were happy for us to pick what we wanted, as they eat a few apricots but prefer fruits of Vietnam. They are swimming in apricots – or squelching really, as they are spattered all over their driveway. This year we visited twice and took some eggs from our chickens as a small thank you. Continue reading Apricot, almond and spice cake

Broad bean stir-fry

Broad bean stir-fry (with pickled mustard greens), and tofu tomato stir-fry

About three weeks ago, spring officially ended in our vegie patch. I pulled out the lettuces that were all of a sudden full and large, the parsley that had gone to seed, and a small, proud patch of my first ever beetroots and carrots. Saddest of all, I picked the last of the broad beans, then chopped off the stalks a few centimetres above the dirt. Instead of a lush green view out the kitchen window, we were left with rather desolate beds scrappily covered with last season’s mulch. And it was suddenly a very different feeling gazing out the window while doing the dishes. Continue reading Broad bean stir-fry

Italian chickpea bread

Italian chickpea bread and salads

A few years ago, while searching in an op shop, I found a small hardback cookbook that’s become a favourite. Believe it or not, good cookbooks are so hard to find in op shops that I’ve almost given up looking. You sift through a gazillion microwave and diet cookbooks and mostly come up with nothing. Continue reading Italian chickpea bread

Proper egg carbonara

Proper egg carbonara

In my uni days I used to stay at my boyfriend’s share house almost often enough to chip in to the rent – it was a house of four guys, where the dishes only got washed once they started to turn the corner of the long u-shaped bench; where the figs on the big tree in the backyard were used to play cricket (no-one knew what to do with a fig, even me); and where someone’s basket of dirty clothes stood in the laundry unchanged for two years. Carbonara was a feature on the menu, involving pieces of bacon not fried for long enough and still with its chewy rind on; onion or spring onion; and a 600 ml tub of cream.

Continue reading Proper egg carbonara

Banana, date and wheatgerm loaf

Banana, date and wheatgerm loaf

I have read that Italians sometimes eat cake for breakfast – perhaps with a milky coffee made with espresso leftover from the night before. They don’t do dessert after a meal, but sweet snacks and a decadent breakfast seem okay? (As for coffee – after midday it’s strictly without milk.)  Continue reading Banana, date and wheatgerm loaf