Thursday, 26 May 2011

Autumn, early nights, fireplaces & cuddles

Autumn is my favourite season.

The leaves transform from green to luminous yellows before bursting to red & then finally beginning their descent to the ground.

When we bought our house here a few years ago one of the treasures in the front garden is a magnificent Magnolia that was planted when the house was built in the early 1920's.

Over summer it creates a gorgeous canopy that the children hide inside.  We have a table and chairs right next to it and eat & drink out there most days.

Come Autumn it drops its leaves and begins its mighty transformation from bare branches to a tree with a thousand hands wearing the most beautiful purple gloves you ever saw.

Just for a minute I had to defend that beautiful tree from the pruning madness of my Hubby. in a delusional frenzy he thought we should get rid of it and replace it with something else.

Here he is happily planting some Australian natives in our garden with the kids that are giving us their magic for the first time at the moment.

 Nature is fabulous.

And restorative.

I am soaking in the beauty of the Autumnal trees that will only last a few more days before the Winterness sets in and most of them are bare.

My little ones are too. Walks take longer as they crunch their way through the leaves scattered on the paths.  Or throw them up in the air to watch them float back down.

While I am taking the world a little slow at the moment it suits me to walk a little slower;  take in a little more & let nature weave its magic into my soul.

It allows the little things to take on more meaning and allows me the time to savour it all.

I normally walk with urgency and weirdly it takes a lot of effort for me to go slow.  I am practising being mindful about it.  It helps.

Autumn is about the day ending early, it's about the children getting dressed into their jarmies in front of the fire before a snuggle on the couch.
Autumn also means lots of slow & hearty cooking.  Or food with fiery heat.

I love thinking each day about what yummy goodness will be on our table at night.

As my big two are staying up a bit later and have become so adventurous with their palate Hubby & I can now enjoy meal time with them as they will eat anything I serve.

Yes you heard me right!! ANYTHING!

'Scuse me while I shout "Hall-a-f***in-lool-yah"!!!!!!!!!

Don't worry the other three are still as fussy & difficult as ever and mostly eat weet-bix...(click here to read a whole post dedicated to the wonders of Weet-bix) but I now know from experience that ahead lays hope that this will one day change.  It will....... it just takes time.

Ayway.......yesterday I was craving some Szechuan food. 

I love the hotness and the mind blowing numbing sensation of Szechuan pepper.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE it......!!!!!!

A few years ago one of my dearest friends' friends came to our place and cooked the MOST amazing Szechuan feast.

One of the dishes he cooked was a Szechuanese potato dish.  I LOVED IT!!

It is so different to any other potato dish I have ever eaten.  And a fine example of simple cooking.

I cooked it last night as an accompaniment to some slow braised Chicken in a Master stock.  It would also be lovely served with Hainan chicken (click here for my recipe for that).

The boys absolutely loved it-  I hope you try it and love it too!


What you will need:
 To serve four as a side dish.   
  • 4 potatoes (waxy varieties work best)
  • 1 tspn ground szechuan pepper
  • 1 tblspn oil (canola)
  • 1 red chilli- chopped finely
  • 1/2 tspn sugar
  • salt

Finely shred potato using a mandolin & then slice very finely. (I cheat here with a weird contraption my kids saw at a dodgy stall at Queen Victoria market and we bought for $5- see pics)

Once shredded place in water to allow starches to leech out of potato into water. This aids in keeping the potato crunchy when cooked.

Drain well.

Add a tablespoon of oil to a non-stick pan and heat up till it is very hot but not smoking.

Add the chilli & szechuan pepper and as soon as it is fragrant (almost immediately) add the potatoes and stir fry for a minute or two.

Add sugar & salt and stir fry for another minute or two.


  Today I am loving the beauty of The Magnetic did I not know this band????


  1. Autumn is so beautiful in Melbourne. Here in the hills, it's magnificent. I love the low cloud, the vivid colour of the leaves... the warmth of the heater and the fires. And, like you I love food packed with heat. The recipe above combines two of my loves... I love potatoes!
    I'll have to give the recipe a go.
    Oh, and the magnolia... magnificent!

  2. I can't wait to try this one GG. And very glad hubby didn't touch that Magnolia!! xxxx

  3. I love your recipes - you inspire me and my Mr will adore this one - he loves spice a great deal indeed! I LOVE that your 2 oldest will eat anything at all. Bebito isn't that fussy but anything at all is something we are working towards. :) x

  4. Beautiful autumn words GG. With love and thanks,
    Fernando y Magdalena xx

  5. Love you, love have given me some hope that my fussy children will one day eat the lovely food I go to enormous lengths to put in front of them!
    As for autumn, my FAVOURITE season..............we have the most divine ornamental pears ablaze with incredible reds..........a colour which always brings you to mind! Funny that!!
    Keep up the beautiful work.
    Georg xx

  6. Beautiful post!

    Magnolias, as old as the dinosaurs. Aren't they a wonder and a beauty? So glad Hubby didn't chop it down!

    Yes, I do need to remind myself that they do grow out of the fussy stage! Our eldest was incredibly fussy, and now eats almost everything. Something I need to old in my mind when the youngest looks at the dinner table and asks yet again 'What's for dinner for ME?' *sigh*

    Summer is taking hold here but the heat we had at Easter seems to have lost it's way back to us....

  7. GG, you have such a beautiful blog and write with such warmth. I'm with you on Autumn being my favourite Season. It's so magical. I love the colours and the crunch and the food opportunities that it brings.

    You're lucky that your 'hubby with the pruning tools' goes along the lines of; "I NEARLY had a pruned tree" most wives have a story more along the lines of; "oh yes, we had one of them, then DH 'PRUNED' it... never did recover!".... My DH got to our plumbago with his brush cutter (yes, I know, meant only for thick undergrowth - but he thought to try it out on the plumbago!) as DD and I walked out and gasped at the site of the just flowering plumbago shredded all over the ground, we looked up to see DH smiling ear to ear and proclaiming - "that looks better now doesn't it!" weird thing was... he was serious - he thought it looked better without all it's flowers, closely shaven back. DD on the other hand was mortified running at the flowers, picking them up and trying to put them back on the tree declaring "put them back on daddy, we're not going to live like that - like maniacs!" quite a comical garden scene.

    Your potato dish looks delicious, we'll definitely be trying it out, and I would LOVE one of those weird potato shredding contraptions - clearly I don't shop at the right markets! WOW! :)

    Love your blog xxx

  8. Absolutely fantastic!
    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the visit. :)


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