Pasta salad with olives and roasted garlic

Pasta salad with olives and roast garlic

I started out making pasta when I moved out of home, at age 17, featuring a crisper worth of vegetables plus some pesto from a jar. (Wry smile thinking about the strange tiles of pumpkin I used to cut, and the undercooked eggplant. But I was doing a good job of eating vegetables at least!) Continue reading Pasta salad with olives and roasted garlic

Green salad with fried almonds and ricotta

Green salad with herbs, fried almonds, ricotta

The last time we hosted Christmas, we didn’t have children and possibly didn’t have a Christmas tree (or if we did it was nothing I can remember). Now look at us, we’ve got a real tree (thank you, Oxfam) with a smiley angel that my daughter and I made perched on top, and two polka-dot stockings hanging from our mantel. I even make a wreath of kangaroo paws for our front door. Continue reading Green salad with fried almonds and ricotta

Japanese greens and walnut salad

Blanched beetroot leaves, chopped asparagus, calendula and short-grain rice

We just got back from three weeks travelling around Japan, and we’re still doing that lovely thing – remembering what we were doing in increments from now. You know, ‘This time last week’, or ‘Two weeks ago today’: ‘We were walking around that amazing moss-covered cemetery in Koya San / at the giant Buddha in Kamakura with Shiro and Timoko / eating yakitori skewers for breakfast in Kochi / in our Airbnb in Kanazawa listening to the typhoon howling out our window!’ Continue reading Japanese greens and walnut salad

Fig, feta and honey pizza

figs ripening under our net

Having dinner outside sometimes feels like our kids’ ticket to mucking around at the dinner table – wandering off on important missions such as to catch a cabbage moth stuck in the raspberry net, or to feed the chickens some basil. The eating can go on f-o-r-e-v-e-r as we don’t have the heart to tell them off properly and ruin the atmosphere. Instead we say a few semi-cross words, make sure they have a few more mouthfuls of dinner, then we’re back to having a conversation and they wander off again about a second later. But it’s so nice sitting out in the greenery with all of us enjoying our space. Continue reading Fig, feta and honey pizza

Zucchini, tomato and basil stew

zucchini tomato basil stew close upBaby Tromboncino zucchini

The zucchinis are upon us! I’m growing the Italian variety called Tromboncino again, and I won’t write much about it here as you can read about it in last year’s post (Stir-fried zucchini and seasonal greens with soybean paste). In a nutshell, this zucchini is a climber so it takes up much less ground space than regular zucchini. We have it growing over an arch-like frame, which creates a lovely shady nook in the garden. The pale-green zucchinis are super long and thin and the kids like to pretend they’re walking sticks. Family, friends and neighbours have been gifted a few this year – I’m spreading the crazy zucchini love! Continue reading Zucchini, tomato and basil stew

Mint chutney

mint chutney sandwiches

Last year my daughter’s school celebrated Kindness Week. It was not just for the children but parents too, as we were meant to step out of our usual social circles and say hello to someone else. I happily thought of Ranjani, who I was already getting to know. We bonded because we walked the same way home from school and our daughters were in the same class. It didn’t take long to realise that we both loved cooking, so we talked about that whenever other topics ran out. Continue reading Mint chutney

Potato, dill and caper salad

Potato, dill and caper salad

Our family has been exchanging emails about who’s bringing what for Christmas. I love how this day has evolved from the traditional roast meat and veg, to meat with a spread of colourful salads and side dishes spilling over the meat on your plate, pushing the meat a little into the background (well, the way I dish up anyway!). Just quietly, I think the salads and vegetables are the main event. I do love quality ham and roast pork with crackling, but you’ll generally find me hanging out in the trimmings department. Continue reading Potato, dill and caper salad

Kale, bean and breadcrumb salad

kale and broad bean salad 3kale and broad bean salad 2

Kale is one of those ingredients that people do seem to love or hate. The haters might have tried kale once and thought it chewy or bitter or just better left as rabbit food. The lovers throw it in everything and anything – smoothies, pestoes, salads, stir-fries and soups. I’m somewhere in the middle with kale; still finding my way with it. Even though it looks a bit like silverbeet, I wouldn’t use it interchangeably. Continue reading Kale, bean and breadcrumb salad