15 Sep 2014

the life and times of a cabbage

sowed in march
transplanted in april
rediscovered in august
savoured in september
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this is a simple story really of growing a thing with a purpose in mind. I bought purple cabbage seeds at the beginning of the year dreaming of batches of homemade sauerkraut come the end of winter. they were sown in seedling trays in a makeshift shelter of concrete blocks and a poly-plastic covered door. they grew and were watered while the ground was fed lime and compost in readiness for their arrival. sure enough in april they were transplanted in the ground with bare hands. a few weeks later we said goodbye and I wondered what would become of them.. months passed and I was asked to return to the farm to help pack eggs for a few weeks, so of course I went to spy on those cabbages now ripe for picking. I was giddy with happiness - my first cabbages you see. home they came and soon shredded, salted and squashed flat to ferment into kraut... and each time that vibrant pink appears on our dinner plate I remember all those months of beginning, growing, becoming...

10 Sep 2014

walnut and honey breakfast cake

This lovely cake was made on the weekend and it's almost all eaten.  It is special because it used eggs I collected, washed and polished from a local farm, applesauce I made back in April along with local walnuts and honey from the farmer's market. I was inspired by the Greek celebration Finikia cookies which feature orange, honey and ground walnuts. A heavenly combination. This cake is so moist, only mildly sweetened with apples and honey and makes a wonderful gluten free breakfast. It is perfectly accompanied with a generous dollop of tart yoghurt...


. Walnut + Honey Breakfast Cake .

3/4 cup walnuts (plus 1/4 cup extra for garnishing)
3 eggs, separated
1 cup unsweetened apple puree
1/2 cup honey
zest and juice of an orange
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup rice flour 
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of sea salt

Preheat a moderate oven (180'c). Lightly roast walnuts on a tray in the oven until golden and fragrant, shaking once or twice. Grind walnuts in a food processor or by hand with a mortar and pestle. Combine walnuts in a large bowl with egg yolks, apple puree, honey, orange zest and juice and mix until combined. In a smaller bowl whisk flours, spice and baking powder together. Gently stir flours into wet mixture. In another clean bowl whisk egg whites until frothy. Fold into batter. Pour into a paper lined baking tin and bake for 45 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin. Garnish with extra chopped walnuts and a drizzle of honey. 

8 Sep 2014

Full of glad

Spring enfolds us in sunlight and blossoms - creamy jonquils and natives I don't know the names of... the farmer's market on saturday morning is brimming with hats and sandals and pots of hellebores and crocuses (remember those lush crocuses that would appear in the grass in France)... We lick frozen juice ice blocks and chat about chickens... We wrap gifts for father's day and prepare a big batch of rocky road (with homemade marshmallows)... Next morning we prepare a special breakfast of buttermilk pancakes with bacon, fried tomatoes, strawberries and maple syrup.  We shower him we love with kisses and our gifts laced with brown string and toddler-painted labels. We church and take our lunch out to the property we plan to grow our farm. In the shade of old old gum trees we eat and rest and talk with friends. We ramble over rocks, we soak in magnificent views of sweeping gorge, running river, rolling hills... We draw with our fingers the outlines of a orchard, vegetable gardens, grazing routes for cows and patches for cutting hay. We dream of a house nestled in the hill and the thought of watching a day of light fall against the rocks. A hawk soars in circles above us... For almost an hour we stand by the water and throw stones - delighting in the bubbles and ripples each splash makes. We walk until we're out of breath and I carry all fifteen kilos of boy up hill till my heart's racing in my chest. We close the weekend with boundary lines on a map and kinship by the fireside. We drive home in the dark, tired and full of glad...

4 Sep 2014

two years seven months

Little one,
Today is the first (and only) day you will be two years and seven months old, exactly. I want to pause and remember you just as you are now - so full of energy and light of feet...

I want to remember the way you talk - your command of new words and sentences every day. The spontaneous pleases and thank you mama after I give you something you asked for. The way you hurry to say goodnight to all on your way to the bath: goodnight dadda! love you! sleep well! Those wonderful mispronounced words: flying socks (flying fox), jump-o-line (trampoline), more movie (smoothie). Once you were watching a trail of ants crawling up the road - so you crouch down low and ask very seriously: what you doing ants? And one time at dinner you lean over to me and ask: It's yummy dinner mama? It's nice? I say yes, and you exclaim: Amen! 

You can name colours and shapes. You can count with ease to nine with a deliberate skipping of four and five. I haven't worked out why....You can grate carrot and cheese which you eat with gusto on corn chips smothered with avocado. You can help pack away toys, juice oranges and shape little rolly-polly snakes from play dough. You can sleep eleven hours without a peep - and did most nights last week. You rouse me from bed with a cuddle and freezing fingers on my neck...

Much to my delight your love of books continues to grow - we borrow books every week from the local library. Before your nap and at bedtime we pile favourites onto our laps and read and pause and point. From when you were tiny I would stop on pages to point out details in the illustrations and then when you were older ask you to point them out for me. It was a wonderful surprise when a few weeks ago (before I had the chance to cut in) you began to ask me: where's the clouds mama? where's the... sky... cows... dump truck? Last week while I hung the clothes out to dry you put the empty basket on your head and announced I'm a tiger... ROAAAAR and ran about wildly. Which could only led to one thing: mama chasing you...

You are our sensitive soul, and seem to hate hearing disappointment or frustration in our voices. You need many kisses on a sore finger or bumped head. You ask often for cuddles and lean in for kisses. You also spend a lot of time doing your own thing. I give you a lot of time and space to play by yourself - which is when you play happiest - mostly it's with a wheeled-vehicle racing through the grass with a ambulance or fire engine sounding behind. I love hearing your imagination at work. You have discovered the drawing potential of markers and watercolour paints (far superior to pencils) and are especially partial to black, green and red hues...

You test limits most days - and sometimes I loose my temper and need to say sorry. You protest most about getting out of the bath and coming to the table for meals. You occasionally have fantastic meltdowns in public over a trivial thing and I wonder if anyone feels as helpless and judged as a mum with a screaming toddler in a grocery store. You are empathetic too - and will ask "are you okay?" if we hurt ourselves, sigh in frustration or tiredly yawn.  We are learning to set boundaries and find positive ways to empower you. Above all we want you to know you are loved and able.


For all this and more
today and always,
I am so glad to be your mama... x

28 Aug 2014

sunshine

A profuse of wattle blooms, the story of a gum tree, sand pit adventures, afternoon light, homegrown lemons, sunshine in a cake... something about those golden hues that enliven the tired-of-wintering (and not-quite-well-feeling) self. 

It's true - the last few weeks have passed in a haze... packing eggs, planting trees, learning to build farm fences, sickness, preserving seasonal produce, making new friendships and rekindling old ones, keeping up with a toddler, planning our own business - we fall into bed early, heavy-lidded. 

We three are transitioning to a new life in the countryside - and it is an exhausting, wonderful daunting thing...
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Very lemony yoghurt "sponge" cake
(a satisfying tea cake with just enough tartness - and gluten free of course)

100g softened butter
3/4 cups cane sugar
pinch sea salt
2 large, pastured free range eggs
1 cup unsweetened greek yoghurt
zest and juice of two lemons

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I blend rice/tapioca/arrowroot flours)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Using beaters cream butter and eggs until light. Beat in eggs one a time. Beat in yoghurt and lemon juice and zest. In a separate bowl whisk flours and baking powder together - gently fold into wet mixture until just combined (it will look a bit lumpy). Pour into paper lined 20cm square or round tin and bake in a moderate oven (180'c) for 35 minutes or until lightly golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin and cut into squares. Eat plain with a warm cup of tea or with a generous dollop of fresh cream...

11 Aug 2014

take a walk

go on, take a walk -
see your new neighbourhood,
bustle up with woollens and move
briskly - all the way to the playground
take the slide and make a freezing sand castle
wander over the bridges
fumble fallen oak leaves
(and watch them float into the creek)
hear the gentle lull of water moving
gaze through skeleton trees
or bend down excitedly
to smell unfurling daffodils,
dance with feet in boots
quoting Wordsworth
and rubbing ears prickled with cold
blowing red noses, running
and hiding, exclamations
at the birds we see flying,
though there's blossoms about
it's still winter here,
walk all the way home
and make tea.

6 Aug 2014

ode to sydney

Tomorrow we leave our old friend Sydney (the city where I was born and raised) for the crisp countryside nine hours drive south... we leave with so many wonderful memories of the months past...

of blue water and salty breeze, of excursions to the aquarium and fish markets, of rides on the train and tram and bus, of tree-climbs and daily visits to nearby playgrounds, of quality time spent with kin, of delicious family dinners, of early morning market stall setting and filling bags with seasonal produce, of walks up hill, of profusely flowering shrubs and sky gazing at the planes taking off...

of lunches of falafels and labneh balls, of visits to my dad (and rocket-launching), of time spent with friends, of heart-talk with my sisters, of exciting collaborations, the sight of my babe sleeping against his mamie, of sewing and finger-threading, of filming a beautiful wedding, of a romanic date with my lover, movie watching, newspaper thumbing, house-painting, gardening, kitchen sweeping, resting, sun-soaking...

I'm from the city but it isn't where I feel at home. I love the closeness of everything, the noise and colour and humdrum of the city - in small doses, yes - then I long for the wide open, wild and windswept places, the melody of faraway frees and creatures grazing, earth under my feet... the exhale.