Monday, 28 November 2011

Making choices

I had one of the most amazing weeks this week.

Filled with lovely catch ups with lovely people.

Some of whom I haven't seen in many many months.

Day after day I smiled, laughed, talked, hugged & cried.

It was so so magnificent.

Inevitably I am left, once the quiet sets in....reflecting & it feels like a little sadness has crept in.

I talked yesterday to a lovely friend about the idea of making choices.

Of being informed.

We were talking of this in relation to food; about the growing of produce, the ethics of it, the journey of the food from the paddock to the plate.  And how we are able to make choices about what we eat because we are informed.

But today I am left thinking about it in terms of my friendships.

I was thinking about how we need to think about our friendships in the same way.

Are the ingredients balanced?

Are they respectful & nurturing?

Are they wholesome?

Are they non-toxic?

Do the flavours complement one another?

Or is the friendship stale & a little manufactured?

Does it require a lot of work to get it to taste right?

Are the ingredients of the very best quality?

I might be taking the analogy a little far but what I am getting at is that as I get older I think more and more about living as the 'true' me.  Living with honesty is very very important to me.

I need to make choices about what is the best way for me to do that.

It doesn't make sense to make a huge amount of effort in sourcing food and produce of excellent quality & cooking gorgeous food to nurture my body if I am not making the same choices in regards to nurturing my soul.  It is vital to have balance.

So last week was a reminder to me of how my choices over recent times have been very clearly about that.

About making choices that are good for me.

I realised then that it was a quiet happiness that had crept in.....not sadness after all.

Give me one child who doesn't like these! 
One child in the classroom will inevitably have these in their lunchbox on any given day.
My kids have been nagging me to have them in theirs so we finally got around to making them.
They are really sooper doop easy- the kids did all the work.  If your kids like playing with playdough they will like making these!
When we were eating them my mr8 said to me " I like that we know exactly what is in the things we cook." It made me feel happy- happy that he cares about that. 
Like everything the quality of the ingredients you choose will determine the quality of the final result.
You  make a simple basic bread dough first and then portion it and add the toppings.  You could change the topping to other things if you wished. Just follow the bread dough part and make the rest up! 
If you want to add whole seeds, fruit or olives into the dough itself- add in the last minute of kneading.

This recipe made 8 large rolls.


  • 500g strong flour (if you can find bakers flour use that- we used our 00 flour, plain flour will work too)
  •  300g lukewarm water 
  • 1 sachet yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 20g EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 5 rashers of  free range bacon, trimmed & diced
  • 1 cup of good quality cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 organic egg, beaten
In a jug add lukewarm water, sugar & yeast and sit until the mix begins to bubble.

On your kitchen bench place the flour and salt in a mound, create a well in the middle and pour in yeasty water slowly as you mix the dough with your hands.  

(You could do this in a food processor if you want- but the kids LOVE to do this bit!)

Knead the dough till well amalgamated. Add a little more flour if it is to wet.

Rub a little EVOO in a stainless steel bowl and let the dough sit covered with cling film for about 25 minutes. This is called- the first prove.

While this is happening you can finely dice the bacon and grate the cheese And in a small container beat the egg.

Once the dough has risen, shape into individual  balls and sit on baking paper on the tray that will go into the ovenLet the kids make whatever shapes they like.  Who said rolls needed to be round?

Brush the tops with the beaten egg and add bacon and cheese as you like
Heat the oven to 180C.
Cover rolls with a teatowel and allow to sit for another 25 minutes or so.  This is the second prove.
Uncover and place in oven for 25 minutes or so.
Transfer to a wire rack for cooling.
Good luck saving some for the lunchboxes the following day!

Todays listening pleasure is the lovely Ane Brun- I have been listening to her Duets album LOADS over the last few weeks since she released her latest song-Do you remember. Do you do that? Revisit artists old songs when they release new ones.....maybe it's just me!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Conflict of Independence

When our children are born we look at them all defenceless and completely dependent.

We wash them, we feed them, we tend to their cries.

And then as they grow we begin to teach them.

Teach them to wash themselves.

Teach them to feed themselves.

Teach them how to dry their own tears, how to resolve their own conflicts.

We teach them to be resilient, how to manage when things don't go their way.

How to lose with grace & dignity.

How to consider other people & how our own behaviour affects others.

We teach them that we live in a big big world but that as humans we have a responsibility to each other.

We watch as our children make little mistakes as they navigate this growing independence.

We reflect on our own mistakes and our own unique journey into adulthood hoping that some of the mistakes that we made won't be made by our children, hoping that we have somehow given them the tools to make that path a little easier than it was for us.

In our family we are watching as our eldest begin the years into young adulthood.

As a parent I am watching and feel conflict as a parent that I have never felt before.

I always felt confident as a parent when they were little.  I knew that what I was doing was right.

That I was giving them the right tools to make their way through early childhood.

Now I am not so sure.

There are fights- not big ones but we really haven't had any before.

It doesn't feel familiar.

It makes me feel uneasy.

Makes me question whether I am doing the right thing.

That teenage confidence of 'knowing everything' and ever growing need for independence has crept in.

The secret world of youth.

It is so necessary and right for young adults to have a little bit of secrecy from their parents....but it feels uncomfortable for me and that tug of anxiety is always there.

I know we will make it through and that the groundwork we have paved is solid.

But it is hard.

Really truly hard- the hardest part by far.

What is it that is hard?

I have thought about that a lot.

It is the beginning of really & truly letting go.

Having to trust that I have given him everything he needs to make it through.  I have to let go of the safety line a little at a time and trust that he can indeed do it on his own.

The conflict of independence is knowing that independence is exactly what we want without really wanting to let them go from us at all.

After all wasn't it just yesterday that I held this babe, who is now well & truly taller than me, in the crook of my arm?

Whoever pressed the fast forward button would you mind pressing pause while I catch my breath just for a second.


Most people don't know how easy it is to make your own mustard.
I love really hot mustard.  The kind that blows your sinus to bits- like a good Wasabi hit.
I grow my own horseradish- well really it grows itself (blogged about it here).
I love it in mustard.  We got a beautiful batch of Horseradish mustard in our latest delivery from Bruny Cheese and it is all but gone.   I promised one of my kids- who LOVES it- that we would make our own It is HOT so use it sparingly!  Also it is worth noting that the flavour develops over a couple of days.
Here is the recipe- it will be enough to fill a small jar. 

  • 1/2 cup good quality mustard powder
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of brown mustard seeds 
  • 60g fresh horseradish, cleaned, trimmed & peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 juniper berries
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • 1 clove of garlic
Grind the peppercorns, salt, garlic & juniper berries in a mortar & pestle to a fine paste.

In a food processor blitz the horseradish with the vinegar until a fine paste.

In a small bowl add the horseradish vinegar to the mustard powder.

Add the ground ingredients, whole mustard seeds and the sugar.

Stir through and place into sterilised jar.


Let it sit for a couple of days before you use it to let it's full flavour develop- if you can resist!

This track is a live version of one of my favourite Calexico tunes. Enjoy.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The power of words

I love words.

I think I always have.

My mother has said I always have....I believe her.

Recently I spoke of how much I miss reading.

I think about reading a lot- I wish I could translate that thinking into actual reading.

While I have been stuck in my readers block I have been thinking about the power of words.

I have ALWAYS been confused & a little dismayed by this old rhyme:


Do you remember being recited this as a child?

I do.

It NEVER made sense to me.

I have always been in awe of words.

By the messages we can convey with them.

By how we can use them to express how we feel.

They have an incredible power..... more powerful than most things.

Words can last a lifetime- can change the direction of our lives.
Words can fill our soul with joy & warmth.
But INCREDIBLE hurt can be inflicted by words- hurt that stays buried & aching forever.
Broken bones mend.

I love to read how different people put words together.

I guess it is EXACTLY this that I miss about reading other peoples words.
I miss how when I read,  it opens a window into thoughts that perhaps I couldn't put into words or pictures that I couldn't portray.

This week I read some lines from Charles Dickens- still as powerful & magnificent as he ever was.

Such inspired language. So rich & beautiful.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
English novelist (1812 - 1870)
It reminded me how & why I love words so very much.

I was left taking a deep long breath.  Flummoxed by the beauty and fullness of his words.

It left me still.

It had reminded of the power of words.

Zucchini's are just BEAUTIFUL at the moment.  I love them but I konw lots of people who are not fussed.
Try this EASY PEASY recipe and enjoy.  It is the same basis as Potato latkes- you can just substitute the zucchini for Potato.  Your kids could make this recipe quite easily.
They are great served on their own or as an accompaniment.
I served mine alongside a pan-fried Snapper fillet for a really quick dinner last night. So simple & delicious!

  • 2 zucchini, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a bunch of dill, chopped
  • S & P
  • 200g feta, crumbled.
  • olive oil for shallow frying
  • sour cream to serve- optional
Squeeze the grated zucchini to remove excess moisture.


Add eggs, dill, feta, flour, baking powder & salt & pepper.
Mix ingredients well.
 Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat.  
Add 2 teaspoons of Olive Oil.
Use a tablespoon to pick up a large spoonful of mixture and add to pan.
I fried 3 at a time.
Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes.
Remove and serve immediately topped with a little dill, some crumbled fetta & a dollop of sour cream.