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Nourish Me

A sometimes misguided, but (hopefully) always delicious journey into healthful, natural food.

Updated: 2015-09-17T02:32:03.477+09:30


This blog has moved...


...just in case you didn't know.

New, improved, and here.

Blogger, you've been good to me


(image) Spindly, bare-branched trees have, seemingly overnight, burst into blossoms of pale pink and crisp, creamy white. And not a moment too soon. Spring, I love you.

Relationships – good ones – should change and grow with time. For two-and-a-half years you’ve given me a small space here in which to indulge a passion for food and photography. In the process I’ve learned much about myself, gained some previously unimagined skills and, most amazingly of all, found a community of like-minded individuals.

But this is no Farewell to Blogging (can you tell I’ve been reading Hemingway?). This post is simply a fond Farewell to Blogger. Blogger, you’ve been good to me, but a newer, fresher space is calling. Loudly.

The boxes are packed, the removal van is in the driveway and this little weblog is moving to a new home.

Come on over. The kettle’s on and there’s a tray of cookies in the oven.

If those of you who link to Nourish Me on your own sites would be kind enough to change the address in your link list, that would, of course, be wonderful.

Thanks. Can’t wait to show you 'round.

A fragrant bowl of wild rice


Digging around in the pantry these last few weeks has been quite enjoyable. A jar of wild rice – long sleek grains of black and chocolate brown – and a packet of dried porcini were unearthed this weekend. Soup season may have dug its heels firmly in this week, but I’m nowhere near done with it. Not while the celeriac looks this good, anyway. Clean is Deborah Madison’s typically spare description of this soup and she is, typically, spot on. Clean, as a descriptor, may not seal the deal on recipes ordinarily, but by this stage of winter I find myself longing for something lighter. There’s been a lot of stodge eaten in these parts of late. So this beautiful and yes, clean, balance of warm, wintry earthiness and toothsome, lightly-cooked vegetables seemed to say all the right things. A cloudy, fragrant stock from simmering wild rice and dried mushrooms together; a little soothing creaminess stirred through at the last moment and I served it with a little saucer of amber sesame oil to dribble, at will, across the surface.The recipe below is the result of gleaning a little from each of Deborah Madison’s wild rice chowders, some streamlining from experience and a small bottle of organic, unhomogenised cream from Tasmania. I must say, I quite like the photos for this one. They say, to me, exactly what I wanted them to. Fresh, clean, healthy. With cream.It is excellent. A timely reminder that spring, and change, are not too far away. A wild rice and celeriac soup – feeds 4Wild rice smells intoxicatingly good as it cooks. Too often that scent is lost in and amongst other grains. Not here. Here, it is star. Attention paid to the quality and flavour of your soy milk will make all the difference if cream is not your thing. Adapted, heavily, from Deborah Madison. 3 handfuls of wild rice (about ¾ cup)1 handful of dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, etc)Toasted sesame oil6 cups of waterSea salt3 tablespoons of olive oil (or a mixture of butter and oil)1 large bundle of spring onions1 bunch of parsley2 carrots2 stalks of celery1 fist-sized potato, scrubbed well1 small celeriac1 bay leafA few healthy sprigs of thyme½ cup soy milk or thin creamPepper Place the wild rice in a saucepan, add the mushrooms, a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and the water. Bring to a boil, add ½ a teaspoon of sea salt and reduce the heat to a burble. Set a lid, slightly ajar, on top and simmer for 40 minutes. When ready – the grains will butterfly open, bursting from their skins – set a strainer over a large bowl to collect the rice stock and drain. Set both stock and rice aside separately. Warm the olive oil in a wide saucepan over a gentle heat. Trim the spring onions and chop finely. Slice the parsley leaves from their stalks, reserving the leaves. Finely chop the stalks. Add the spring onions and parsley stalks to the saucepan and cook while you chop the remaining veg. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Cut the carrots into thick slices and then into large irregular shapes. Trim and slice the celery stalks. Cut the potato into large dice then thickly peel the celeriac and cut it too into large dice. Add the vegetables to the saucepan, up the heat and fry for about 3 minutes. Throw in the bay leaf and thyme and pour in the reserved rice stock along with another cup, perhaps a little more, of water. Bring to a boil, add 1½ teaspoons of salt then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Chop the remaining parsley leaves. Add the soy milk or cream to the soup, remove the bay leaf and tip in the rice and mushrooms and most of the parsley leaves. Warm through and serve in deep bowls, each garnished with a little parsley, lots of pepper and a few droplets of toasted sesame oil to round things off nicely. [...]

Mandarin skins


(image) Once dried, on the window sill, these mandarin peels will be slipped into a small bottle of tamari and put away in a cool, dark place to mature.

Thick, luscious, salty, citrussy. Like nothing you can buy.

Last year, Kathryn of Limes and Lycopene offered a month long series of posts encouraging readers to gain more energy. This year, for the whole of August, she's revisiting the idea with an eye on your diet.

Each day, Kathryn, or one of a series of guest hosts, offers helpful, practical and, most importantly, achievable ways to get you feeling good about what you eat.

Head on over here to get on board. Invaluable dietary and lifestyle advice.

Required reading this August.



Almost eight years ago, at the age of twenty-nine-and-a-half, I swapped a love affair with cigarettes - sucked back with such delight, such seriousness - for a less-labored daily climb to my second-floor home. By the light of a flickering television, I knitted, furiously, a length of scarf not unlike Tom Baker’s Dr Who might sport, to wrap around and around and around. To hide within. As it lengthened, the stitches became calmer, looser, found a rhythm of their own. Six months later I emerged, smoke-free. The Artist, rather fortuitously, turned up at roughly the same time. At thirty, an astonishingly gifted astrologer lunged for the polished chunk of rose quartz I wore around my neck, cooed and held it in his palm. I felt it almost burning as it fell back into place. ‘He must be dynamic, this fellow’, his tape recorded voice declares, ‘to have captured the eye of a Leonine woman’. He was. He is. I have listened to that recording of my younger self, chattering away merrily with the astrologer, many times since. In between the giggling, I hear forgotten hurts and a voice teetering, at times, dangerously close to tears. Des read me like a book. And I’m thrilled, each time, that he did.I had plans - small ones - of a quivering jelly for this post, one to celebrate the ripening bounty of the neighbours orange tree and, in a smaller way, my 37th birthday. Champagne mixed with freshly squeezed orange juice, some sweetness to tame the sour, all set to soft, shimmering wobbliness with agar-agar. A scientific kitchen challenge. But failure is not be tolerated on one’s own birthday. So we sensibly drank the champagne in front of the fire instead. I’ll stow the idea away for Christmas, perhaps, for warmer weather and other celebratory nights. Simplicity wins out every time. Besides, I know, somehow, you’d much rather this Apple and Olive Oil cake, adapted from that marvellous, wonderful, beautiful Anna Del Conte. In fact, I think you should down tools and go and make it right now. Think of it as my birthday gift to you. Anna Del Conte’s Apple and Olive Oil CakeThe thing that irritates me most about baking is the butter. I have little patience with it anyway, but waiting for butter to soften drives me nuts-o in winter. This moist, delicious cake uses olive oil not as substitute, but in preference to the stuff. I mean, how clever is that? 120g (4 oz) of sultanasFreshly brewed tea500g (1 lb) of apples – about 5 small ones150ml (scant 2/3 cup) of olive oil200g (7oz) sugar2 organic eggs175g (6 oz) of wholemeal (wholewheat) flour175g (6 oz) of ‘strong’, Italian ‘00’ flour2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon1 ½ teaspoons of bi-carb soda½ teaspoon of baking powder½ teaspoon of sea salt Soak the sultanas in enough tea to cover. Set aside to plump for 20 minutes. Peel and core the apples and cut each into small dice. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease and line a 20cm (8 in) springform cake tin. Beat the oil and sugar together until well amalgamated. Break the eggs into a teacup and add them, bit by bit, beating all the time. You’ll end up with a creamy mixture. Set a sieve over the bowl and sift in the flour, cinnamon, bi-carb soda, baking powder and salt. Mix to a stiff batter with a metal spoon – I cannot claim to understand the reasoning behind this, but do so as it is often suggested. You don’t want to go upsetting the baking gods. Drain the sultanas well. Fold through the mixture with the diced apple. This is a very stiff mixture and will be visibly studded with fruit. Scrape into the prepared cake tin, smooth down the top and bake for at least 1 hour – mine took 1 hour and 20 minutes and needed to be topped with foil halfway through to prevent it from burning. Watch it closely and check for doneness with a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake. If it comes away cleanly, your cake is done. I’m completely besotted.Oh I do l[...]

Ten (well, eleven) favourite images


Curry leavesEnoki mushroomsCelery leavesPurple potatoesRainbow ChardTea towel and spoonGreen beansRadishes, for picklingSpring onions and bamboo steamerEggsLook, it was quite hard to pick just ten favourite images and, in the end, I couldn't. Quite.So eleven it is.I seem to take hundreds of photographs for each post...the act of going through them, deleting merrily along the way, has taken a lot longer than initially anticipated. Clearly I have a thing for a) diagonals and b) shadows. Some of the ones I was contemplating were quite obscure. I like obscure. Always have. But, in the interests of keeping this food-focussed, I settled on things you've already seen.Thanks to Vegeyum and Holler for the kick needed. I can de-frag now. With a cup of tea.Ahhh.(Thus that sneaky eleventh photograph of tea.)I know I threatened to 'tag' a few people recently with this one, but it's entirely up to you. Play along (and clean up your filing in the process) if you like![...]

From the pantry (and the fridge)



All this talk about pantry-lovin' has got me thinking as the wind whips wildly around the house.

Stir-fry of smoked tofu, greens, spring onion and shiitakes.

All in my new favourite bowl.

The beetroot greenery, blanched and squeezed, carried the Ketjap Manis (how I love it) best. The pink water left behind was rather good, sipped, while waiting.



Each day begins with a small, quiet ritual. A pot of tea is brewed and sipped silently, usually over my current reading. Sometimes the tea is green, but mostly it’s black, a strong brew steeped in a chipped ceramic teapot covered in a patchwork of blue and white butterflies; a beaten silver jug of soy its partner. It is a ritual worth waking early for. Coffee in the morning makes my heart pound against my chest in a deeply unpleasant way. Tea, however, soothes as it steeps. Rooibos tea is grown, exclusively, in its native South African soil. Thriving in scrubby, tufted rows of green, it becomes a deep cedar red once dried. Caffeine-free and low in tannin, it boasts a swathe of health claims but, being something of a skeptic, I cannot vouch for all of them, antioxidant properties aside. What I do know for certain is that it is good. Surprisingly, rooibos is never bitter, no matter how long it is left to brew. Perfect in the summer, served in tall, frosted glasses with sprigs of mint and curled slices of lemon. Cooking a pot of grains in rooibos will increase the antioxidant qualities, yes, but more importantly, adds a certain, mysterious something to the final dish, not unlike a light, herbal vegetable stock. A whole lot quicker to make, too. This dish of amaranth and brown rice, cooked in a red bath of tea, sits comfortably on the more esoteric side of ‘healthy’ cooking but its virtues are matched perfectly by its creamy, versatile nature. Once made, it has a variety of possibilities, limited only by the cook’s imagination. Small sesame-coated balls of the mixture floating across the surface a bowl of adzuki bean soup are perfection, but these are also rather good when formed around a half teaspoon of the exquisite Japanese chutney natto miso, or a small piece of salty-sour umeboshi plum. Enough to make you glow from the inside out. A Macrobiotic diet will do that to you. Ah, I wish. Amaranth and brown rice cooked in rooibos tea – feeds 2Based on an elegant and minimal, but rather fabulous recipe from the pages of Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen. This has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan, so gently, gently with the heat. A heat diffuser is essential, I think. 1 ½ cups of strained rooibos tea¼ cup of amaranth (or hulled millet)½ cup short-grain brown riceSea salt1 small clove of garlic, crushed2 tablespoons of tahini1 tablespoon of tamari½ tablespoon of unsalted butter or pale sesame oilPalmful of leafy herbs, chopped (parsley or celery leaves are ideal) Pour the rooibos tea into a small, heavy-based saucepan. Tip in the grains and add a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover with a tight-fitting lid. A heat diffuser, set between pot and flame, is best. Simmer, lid untouched, for 40-45 minutes. Rest, off the heat, still covered, for 5 minutes. Stir through the remaining ingredients. Cool, then roll into sticky marbles and, if you like, coat in sesame seeds to float in a bean or lentil soup. Or, shape into larger patties and fry to golden brown in little olive oil or, as we often do, eat, simply as is, with a pile of greens. July’s edition of Click, a food photography event, highlights coffee and tea, substances so entwined in our daily lives that they, rightly, deserve an event all of their own. The image, right there at the top, is my entry. Bee and Jai have, very kindly, asked me to sit upon the judging panel this month. Entries close on the 30th of July.[...]

Melbourne Meatless Meet


When? Saturday the 26th of July

Time? 12.30pm

Where? Lentil As Anything

(The Convent at Abbotsford)

and, later...

Handsome Steve's House of Refreshment

More info? See A.O.F. and Ed for more details

See you there?

A useful, frugal sort of soup


Seedlings of flat-leaf parsley, planted at the tail end of summer, have, halfway through winter, become forests. Which is a stroke of luck, really. It’s the one thing that I seem to be able to grow rather well. Other things – the pennywort I wanted so badly; the stubby bushes of rosemary that will not even try – are moving at the proverbial snail's pace, but the parsley, it is unstoppable. Lush forests of greenery that sit close to the back door so that I can slip out, feet un-shod, to grab a handful or two as needed. It’s enough to make a trainee kitchen gardener feel inordinately proud. A mountain of parsley went into this soup, a wise attempt to harvest just a little of this year’s prolific crop. Incredibly delicious it is, though the sum of its parts may not initially suggest much. Ladled into shallow soup plates, this becomes quite sophisticated. Understatedly elegant and deeply herbal, in a deeply nourishing sort of way. Honest, restorative, iron-rich. Frugal winter food. A soup to make you feel like a gardener, even if you’re not. Parsley soup – feeds 2To use anything less than a forest of parsley is to miss the point. This must be vital, green and herbal. You’ll need a whopping 300g, a generous ½ lb or so, to suffice two. Adapted from The Cranks Bible. 2 very large bunches of flat-leaf parsley1 small onion, roughly chopped6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped2 tablespoons of butter (or olive oil)2 small potatoes½ teaspoon of good veg stock powder (optional)Sea salt and pepperBest olive oil, for drizzling1 heaped tablespoon of smoked almonds, chopped (optional) Cut the parsley leaves from their stalks. Place the stalks in a large saucepan and cover, quite generously, with cold water. Throw in the onion and half of the garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Roughly chop the parsley leaves. Scrub the potatoes and chop them into chunks. Stew the potatoes and garlic in the butter gently, stirring from time to time, for 15 minutes. Add the parsley leaves and stir slowly through the garlicky potatoes for a minute, maybe two. You want it to collapse a little. Measure out 3½ cups of parsley stock and pour it in next. Stir, then add the stock powder. Simmer, covered, until the potatoes crush easily against the side of the pot – 10 - 15 minutes should do it. Season to taste. Cool a little before blending until velvet-smooth. Serve with a thread of good, spicy olive oil and the almonds, if you’re using them. Holler is hosting this month’s herbal edition of No Croutons Required and this bowl of green is my submission. In other news, I’ve been watching Posh Nosh over here and laughing very loudly. Required viewing for anyone who claims to love cooking, I reckon. Richard E. Grant at his absolute best.Thanks, Grocer.[...]

Blood oranges


Ate three, over the sink, for lunch.

Bloody good.

Looking up, listening


The beauty of waking to rain lies in the listening. There is no more delicious sound to be had, tucked up, dry and warm. Blowing small ripples across the surface of my tea, thawing fingers frozen solid by the cold, I watched the rain fall from a grey sky in silent gratitude last week. Winter inspires introspection, and close skies, well, they make looking down rather than up easier on the eye. Earth squelching beneath socked and booted feet; the profusion of green that thrives in this damp cold; a small scruffy dog leading us across the park – there is much to look down on during this season. My neck, however, was developing a crick from the weight of a low, skewed gaze. With the rain that gaze shifted upward, to the cold, dripping sky. Clearly I have not been looking up enough of late. Rain, in a dry continent, changes everything. Sunday: Football. Sherbrooke lies in the Dandenong Ranges, a place of steep, rolling hills and small-scale daffodil farming on Melbourne’s fringe. A rectangular field of mud sits atop a steep hill there, too. Drawn by the promise of a little bushwalking, we plunged into a triangular sloping patch of tall trees and scrubby undergrowth on the other side, an hour before play got under way. Wind rushed way up high through the bending branches of slender eucalypts, a lonely, haunting sound deep in winter, one I love. Later, the sky changed dramatically as Oscar played, much better, I am pleased to report. There was bright sun and a small kiss of almost-snow on the wind. Back turned on the action, I watched two kookaburras settle themselves, feathers bristling, on waving branches. Wild. Graceful. A young magpie sang out, announcing their arrival and the dog, clown that she is, balanced on her tiny hind legs to leap at them, barking. Their disdain for her futile attempts made us giggle. Listening. Hmm. Should have listened more closely to the little voice that said, ‘too fussy’ – you know the one, surely - when approaching a recipe from what is, this winter, my favourite reading. It was delicious, oh yes, but used every pan and all my patience to produce a dish that was scoffed in seven minutes flat. Sheesh. This got me thinking. About formal, fussy dining and the kind of multi-pan, showing-off it involves in home kitchens. Frankly, I can’t be bothered. Better to serve a simple dish cooked well and wow them with a sauce good enough to make them look up and engage, if only to refill their plates, at least once. Yes, please.Why re-invent the wheel? Walnuts are exquisite right now. From Claudia Roden. TeradotA chunky, robust Southern Turkish sauce from Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food. Perfect for dipping crisp, raw veg in to and slathering on falafels. You can make your own, and sometimes I do, but it’s just as easy to go out and buy a good dry falafel mix and doctor it with huge handfuls of finely chopped coriander and parsley. 2 cloves of garlic, choppedCoarse sea salt1½ cups (about 125g) of shelled walnuts, chopped4 tablespoons of tahiniJuice of 2 fat lemons1-2 tablespoons of boiling waterLarge handful of chopped parsley Pound the garlic with a good pinch of salt for 30 seconds, add the walnuts and continue pounding to make a chunky paste. Blend in the tahini and the lemon juice, then the boiling water, stirring well until smooth. Stir through the parsley and thin with a little more water if you like. Or, whack the first 5 ingredients in a food processor and whiz away, stopping just short of a smooth paste. You may need to add a little warm water to get things moving around the blade nicely, but you want some texture here. Stir through the parsley. Keeps well in the fridge, but bring it back to room temperature before eating. Serve wi[...]

Markets and breakfasting


The Oriental Grocer, whose freezer, this week, delivered the prettiest wheels of sliced lotus roots and more bright green edamame pods, is by far my favourite market stall. Tightly-packed shelves teeter with produce from the four corners of the globe, all the while jostling for your attention with the freshest of coriander, large, crisp heads of wombok and colourful chillies, bunched like tiny, hot bouquets. Long smooth garlic shoots, as wide and solid as a pencil nearly tempt me each week. Nearly. Next visit, perhaps. I wish I knew what to do with them. Let’s see what can be rustled up for those for lotus roots, first. This recipe I know to be a sensation. Challenged by A.O.F., the past week was spent, rather happily, eating gluten-free. In the process of noting each meal, my style of breakfasting – a vague hunger seems to set in only after 9am – obviously requires a little work. Predictable slices of toast or rice cakes punctuate most mornings, interspersed with the odd small bowl of muesli. Porridge sits too heavily, alas, and smoothies, that other unthinkably-easy breakfast, are too cold mid-winter. Lacking imagination, clearly. So, I’ve been playing with morning food and one of the more interesting thoughts, found while flipping wistfully on a Saturday morning, was a dish of fresh Medjool dates served with a sliver of mild feta cheese and toasty almonds; a simple, elegant idea from Nadine Abensur. It’s wonderful. Unexpectedly so. I wouldn’t suggest you eat this regularly – cheese at breakfast is a little over the top - but if you, like me, prefer to eat a little (and later) in the morning, then this may just grab you. Makes a lovely, if not slightly odd lunch, too. A couple of years ago, we meandered through a Parisian market, looking for fruit to satisfy the familiar traveller’s need for fibre. One stall holder coaxed us over by pitting a fat, fresh date and stuffing it with the smallest, sweetest, milkiest walnuts I’ve ever tasted. I audibly gasped. He grinned. Naturally, we bought handfuls of both. Merci beaucoup. Take three or four fresh, plump dates per person, slice each along its length and discard the pit. Toast some sweet walnuts, pecans or almonds in a dry pan until fragrant and, while warm, stuff each date with two nuts. Cut a slice of feta, a mild, creamy one, and stuff a little of it, too, into your date. Arrange on a plate, drizzle with honey or agave syrup mixed with a tiny, carefully measured droplet of orange blossom water. Rich. Blissful. Indulgent. But not the stuff of everyday breakfasting. Lord, no. Still, the question remains. I need ideas, suggestions and inspiration, people, to get out of this silly self-made breakfasting rut.Any ideas?[...]

Pudla: Pancakes on Parade


Every freezer contains, within its cold depths, a bag of peas, lurking way up the back. Grasp about in the dark and you’ll no doubt find other long-abandoned edibles worth retrieving, or perhaps dumping, in the process. Much as I like people - really, I do - there are days when being alone, at home, is much needed. Digging around in the freezer and standing in front of the pantry sighing can yield surprising results. The sort that make stepping out into the fray irrelevant. Discovering a very icy bag of green peas, still sweet despite their lengthy hibernation, made me ridiculously happy this weekend. Besan or gram, a buff-coloured flour made of chickpeas, may not be an ingredient native to your panty, but that may change once you’ve tried Pudla. Egg-less, dairy-less pancakes, Pudla traditionally belong to the cooking of the mango-shaped state of Gujarat in western India. Some cooks liken these to crepes, but that’s not quite right – there’s a certain magic that eggs, milk and refined white flour weave that cannot be equalled by besan alone. I don’t envision serving these sweet, though you, of course, with a little tweaking, may. The batter is best when spicy and served as a quick, simple dinner or lunch to my way of thinking. There’s much that can be made with the flour besides; a veritable wealth of gorgeous recipes await the remainder of your stash. Serve piping hot, straight from the pan, with an array of chutneys, salsas, relishes, pickles or some thick, strained yoghurt; whatever your fridge holds. I made a winter salsa with a prized tamarillo and an avocado, but don’t go to great lengths here. That would simply defeat the purpose. You don’t want to have to go shopping. I may never leave the house again. Pudla (chickpea pancakes) with ginger and crushed peas - feeds 2-3 From Madhur Jaffrey. I’ve made these a lot this week. Exactly how many times, I’m not willing to share. It’s a little embarrassing. These will not turn out to be perfectly round – each will take on its own, odd shape and that, for me, is part of their charm. 1 cup of frozen, shelled green peas2 cups of chickpea flour (besan/gram)1 teaspoon of ground cuminGood pinch of ground turmericGood pinch of chilli powder1 teaspoon of sea salt2 cups of waterA large thumb of ginger4 spring onions, finely slicedA little olive oil, for frying Cook the peas, in their frozen state, in boiling water according to the packet instructions and drain well. Lightly crush with either a fork or a potato masher. Sift the chickpea flour, spices and salt into a roomy bowl. Make a well and slowly trickle the water into the centre, whisking in a little of the dry mixture from the sides as you go. There must be no lumps. Lumps are bad. Grate the ginger and squeeze the resulting juice into the mixture, whisk well and stir through the peas and spring onions. Rest, at room temperature, for 30 minutes. Warm a frying pan over a medium-high heat and drizzle in a little oil. When hot, pour in a ladle of the mixture and cook for 2 minutes. They should be golden underneath. Drizzle the uncooked side with another dribble of oil before flipping and cooking for a further 2 minutes. Eat hot, straight from the pan. Tamarillo and avocado salsa My beautiful almost-mother-in-law Barbara often serves rosy-hued poached tamarillos for dessert. They are truly a sensational winter fruit. I’m indebted to Stephanie Alexander for the idea of using tamarillo in a salsa. This is rather good. 1 tamarillo1 ripe but firm avocado2 spring onionsScrap of garlic, crushedA little sugarSea salt and pepperOlive oil Cut a small cross in the pointed end of the tamarillo an[...]

Lemongrass, ginger and coconut


Sun steams through the windows at the back of the house and, with it, sharp wintry shadows fall dramatically across the desk. Only a small corner of sun and warmth this, so the resident animals settle themselves snuggly around my feet, snoozing. Wild winds – dramatic and exciting – blew through the house this week, through every door and window that could be prised from creaky, neglected hinges. The act of blowing out the dank, recycled air was long overdue. A musky breath of Japanese incense curled around the kitchen as the house, and my thinking, sprang back to life. Does the season in which one is born dictate the sort of holiday one craves? Not the classic hammock strung between coconut palms for me, a babe of the colder months. Give me cold, give me cosy fires, give me brisk walks and blanketing snow. Yet the food of balmy climes captures all of my imagination. A friend’s email arrived describing, in the course of things, a dish of such sweetness and exotic perfume that I wondered, aloud, if we here in Australia are hard-wired to the exotic foods of our South East Asian neighbours. Slipping a kaffir lime leaf into a mug of freshly boiled water, waiting for the citrus scent to rise, this must, surely, be true. James Oseland describes an Indonesian technique of bruising and knotting stalks of lemongrass to impart flavour in much the same way as the French use a bouquet garni. The fragrant, crushed stalks make a winter kitchen, indeed any kitchen, smell incredible. A gingery, coconutty Malaysian and Singaporean breakfast specialty, Nasi Lemak translates literally as the less than appetising ‘fatty rice’. Fatty here simply describes the rich, sumptuous nature of the dish. It is far too good to be saved for breakfast alone. Served with a vaguely Indonesian (and Very Addictive) quick pickle of vegetables and little dishes of crispy things, this is a surprisingly fast and deeply satisfying meal. P’raps I am a warm weather girl after all… Quick cucumber and carrot pickle feeds 4-6 Vaguely Indonesian, these quick pickles, stained yellow from a smattering of ground turmeric, are tangy and moreish. The green chillies have only the merest hint of heat to them, but half a green capsicum (pepper) could be substituted. Unfortunately the best use I can come up with for a green capsicum is the compost heap… 1 large carrot1 cucumber, same length as your carrot3 golden shallots, peeled2 long green chillies1 tablespoon of sea salt1 clove of garlic, crushed½ cup rice or white wine vinegar2 tablespoons of palm sugar or caster sugar½ teaspoon of ground turmeric1 tablespoon of mustard seeds¼ cup of macadamia or light olive oil Peel the carrot and cut it into thin matchsticks. Slice the cucumber lengthways, scrape out the seeds using a teaspoon and cut into batons. Slice the shallots and green chillies into rounds. Place all in a bowl, toss and set aside. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the vegetables. Toss well, then rest while you prepare the rice. Remainders will keep, well sealed and refrigerated, for a few days. Nasi Lemak (Lemongrass, ginger and coconut rice) feeds 4-6 Adapted from Oseland’s wonderful Cradle of Flavour. A small tin of coconut milk is just that – as small as you like. Remember that ‘light’ coconut milk is simply the full-fat stuff diluted with water. Like the homogenization of milk, it’s something I can do, quite simply, myself. 2 cups of basmati or jasmine rice1 small tin of coconut milk3 stalks of lemongrassA large thumb of fresh, juicy ginger, peeled1 ½ teasp[...]

Reasons to be Cheerful


a seam of yellowThis month’s edition of Click!, brought to you by bee and jai of Jugalbandi, features Yellow as its theme. Yellow, more specifically, for Bri. With the help of the wider community, bee and jai are banding together to raise funds for Bri's battle with cancer. They have very nearly reached their target. Accordingly, that cheerful seam of yellow, there at the top, is my entry. What could be more cheerful than bunches of organic rainbow chard for $1.99 each? I’ve arranged (well, alright, plonked) them in jars and vases around the house. Those impossibly bright colours are perfect fodder for The Artist. The garden is bustling with the noisy, energetic antics of a family of brightly-breasted parrots, who have, just this week, discovered the bounty in the backyard trees. Flickr. It’s my new (old) favourite toy. There’s a tonne of work to plough through, and way more to come, but the task itself is cheerful enough. Those nice people at Mealopedia have been sifting through and highlighting some older posts, things I had (very nearly) forgotten. A project, something else very nearly forgotten - something offline, you know, out there in the real world - has been reactivated. Yesterday’s salad of very thin shavings of celery (those tender, pale, inner stalks), fennel, witlof and two wee turnips made a startlingly good lunch. Dressed with teeny, tiny capers; the last of the hazelnut oil and a few fresh walnuts, toasted and broken up. To top things of very nicely, it’s raining. Finally. Soakingly. I feel like dancing.Many, many reasons to be Cheerful, don't you think?[...]

In which we make a sauce of Some Deliciousness


E.H.ShepardIsn’t it funnyHow a bear likes honey?Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!I wonder why he does? Sung in a small growly voice, by a Bear of Very Little Brain Winnie-the-Pooh is a stout, greedy sort of bear and honey - dripping, viscous, sweet honey - his infamous weakness. Not that one can blame him, not one bit; in fact it is just that absent-minded greed that endears him to both adult and child alike. I’ve been wandering around the house reading A.A.Milne’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh aloud to myself and the dog, and it’s been hugely, immensely, enjoyable. Read aloud, it matters little that your audience be youthful. Nor, obviously, that one has an audience at all. ‘I can also highly recommend ‘Now We Are Six’; a tour de force of gentle but smart humour wasted on the under 10’s’, said Jo during an exchange of emails. I think she’s on to something significant. Winnie-the-Pooh is far too good to be kept merely for children. Rotund of middle, Pooh one day finds himself stuck in Rabbit’s narrow doorway after a particularly delicious morning tea of honey and condensed milk. In one of my favourite passages, Christopher Robin, Milne’s real life son, is called upon to solve the rather sticky situation. A week of starvation is his diagnosis; Pooh must live on a diet of words alone if he’s ever to leave Rabbit’s home: Bear began to sigh, and then found he couldn’t because he was so tightly stuck; and a tear rolled down his eye, as he said: ‘Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness?’ So, for a week Christopher Robin read that sort of book at the North end of Pooh, and Rabbit hung his washing on the South end…and in between Bear felt himself getting slenderer and slenderer. With one almighty pull and a cork-like ‘pop’, Winnie-the-Pooh, I am pleased to report, is finally freed. Silly old Bear. Simple sugar, which is essentially what honey is, has taken hold of our modern diet and rattled it to the core. Sure, we all like some sweetness, but eating as much honey as Bear does is hardly wise. So, I offer something new for Pooh to try. A sticky miso and honey sauce, just right for dressing up some simple steamed greenery. A much better and more slimming way for a Bear to get his, or indeed her, honey fix. Honey & miso sauce (of Some Deliciousness)Honey (or Hunny as per Pooh Bear’s spelling) is one of those things that I have come to, in small amounts, later in life. Better late than never, I say. Sub in agave syrup or rice syrup to make this vegan. Very Good poured over crisp tofu or, better still, a pile of steamed Asian greens. Keeps well, refrigerated. 1 generous tablespoon of sesame seeds2 ½ tablespoons of miso (dark red in winter; white in the warmer months)2 teaspoons of pale sesame oil1 teaspoon of dark, toasted sesame oil5 tablespoons of warm water2 tablespoons of raw honey, rice or agave syrupDash of rice vinegar1 red chilli, seeded and very finely choppedA thumb of ginger, freshly grated Toast the sesame seeds to a pale shade of gold in a dry frying pan, paying close attention – they can (and do) burn in the blink of an eye. Cool on a plate. Whisk all but the sesame seeds and ginger together in a small bowl. Squeeze the grated ginger in, discard the pulp and whisk again until smooth, then sprinkle over the sesame seeds. If using white miso, you may like to add a large splash, perhaps a little more, of either tamari or soy sauce to balance things out nicely. E.H.ShepardSimona is co-hosting another round of Novel Food.Read something delicious lately? Entrie[...]




‘Tis the season for all things stalky.

A head of celery for a soup of adzuki beans and tiny millet and brown rice balls.

Tender rhubarb, for stewing with rosewater and ginger.

Solstice cake, unwrapped



Solstice Cake.


Unwrapped a day or two early. (Greedy. Always.)

The marzipan dissolves into the texture of the cake, making for a perfect combination of fudge and crumb. Surprisingly, not at all dry. Not one bit.

Sliced thinly and enjoyed with a steaming cup of rooibos tea and Jo, who’s had, one could say, the Week from Hell.


There will be another for the Solstice itself. Am converted, completely, to the wintry joys of a Fruited Cake.

Just no lurid glacé cherries or horrid mixed peel…

Want to join in?

Pop on over to Confessions of A Food Nazi. You have until the 25th of June.

Arame, rocket and eggs


Fine black strands of arame, less than perfect rocket and a yellow, mustardy, garlicky dressing. Two softly boiled eggs with golden yolks, squished on top.

Sometimes lunch experiments work out very nicely indeed, thank you very much.

Raiding the Pantry: Solstice Cake


Stepping into a dark June morning, rugged-up, the cold takes a moment to adjust to. Shivering hands are thrust deeply into pockets. Even the dog, bounding with her usual energy, is a little reluctant to leave the faint light of the hallway. Softly, the door clicks shut. The key is icy, finally found fumbling through layers and swearing under foggy clouds of breath. These days of early winter, with their misting chill hold such delicious promise. Summer has her charms, oh yes – the deadly nightshades; luscious, dripping stone fruits – but it’s winter and the kind of cooking that colder weather inspires that I adore. Stepping in, post-walk, kettle rumbling toward its familiar ‘ping’, I give the fruit, plumping in a fragrant bath of orange liqueur, one last stir. As a greedy child, I stole chunks of tooth-achingly sweet icing from my mothers carefully, lovingly, crafted Christmas fruit cake. It sat on the sideboard each December dressed in snowy, wintry white, adorned with plastic sprigs of festive holly. But the cake itself was too rich, too dark, too adult for my taste. It still sits there in its time-honoured place, though these days the icing is, at last, safe from prying fingers. The cake, well, now that’s another story. Here, close to the bottom of the globe, the pagan roots of the religious holidays that punctuate the calendar sit awkwardly. Traditions really do die hard. Rich, hot food served beneath a sweltering Christmas sky is beyond silly. Icy days and freezing nights on the other hand, make a cake attuned to the contents of the pantry seem worthy of a rare baking experiment. With the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, rapidly approaching, A.O.F.’s Solstice cake event places the celebratory fruit cake squarely in the season to which it so clearly belongs. Sans icing, this fudgy cake is quite something. Heavenly scenting the house as it slowly cooks, just knowing that it’s sitting tightly wrapped in the pantry, waiting to reach perfection, is very nearly agony. Marzipan Solstice Cake – feeds 8-10Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess for both its tinker-ability and comparatively fast maturation. Nigella, Queen of Cakes, makes this with ready-made marzipan, but I made my own for the simple reason that there is already a truckload of sweetness coursing through it and besides, a cane sugar-free version is dead easy. This is hardly everyday fare. You may as well go all the way, I say. 100g (4oz) of sulphur-free dried apricots150g (5oz) of dried pears150g (5oz) of sultanas100ml (scant ½ cup) of Cointreau or white rum250g (9oz) of marzipan (something good OR see below)100g (4oz) of caster sugar100g (4oz) of unsalted butter, softened2 eggs, beaten50g (2oz) of ground almondsZest of 1 lemonZest and juice of ½ an orange175g (6oz) of wholemeal spelt flour If you’re making your marzipan (see below), start it first. Snip the apricots and pears into small pieces with scissors. Soak the dried fruit overnight in the alcohol of your choice and cover, giving it a lazy stir from time to time. Chop the marzipan into small dice and place in the freezer. Next day, preheat the oven to 140 C (275 F). Drain the fruit of any liquid left at the bottom of the bowl (my fruit drank it all – shame, that). Beat the sugar, butter and eggs together in a roomy bowl, followed by the ground almonds, zests, orange juice and flour. Fold through the drained fruit and the frozen marzipan dice and mix w[...]

Simplicity and muscle


Two phrases are scrawled through the pages of my journals, wedged between recipes, sketches and ramblings. Strive for simplicity. Strive for muscle. Written in confident, looping letters, these are big ideas which haunt me in the small, quiet hours of the morning. As though the action of tracing the letters over and over will allow them to seep into daily life. But the art of reduction is as elusive as it is desirable. ‘Strive for muscle’ is a phrase borrowed from Francine Du Plessix Gray, found when rifling one holiday among the pages of The Writing Life. Wrangling words, dancing with language – the ‘muscle’ or strength, simplicity if you will, of which Gray speaks is worth striving for. An idea linguistically stripped back to its essence, one that inevitably spills into other areas of thinking. Simplicity. Muscle. Both require courage. Harmony, mindfulness. Lately these have taken a grip on my thinking, edging, as we are, toward the introspective darker days of winter. It’s all too easy to be swept up by the confusion of bells and whistles in the kitchen; to be seduced by long lists of the exotic, the obscure. Time to step back. Time to breathe. Simplicity in the kitchen is about developing intuition and confidence. Listening to the language your ingredients are speaking. How else will they shine? It’s about taking pleasure in small things, like running your fingers through the verdant pots of parsley, beads of water showering your good shoes in the process. Or sipping green tea in the afternoon and watching chickpeas slowly, very slowly, swell in a dish of cold, clear water. Simplicity is washing the dishes by hand because the dishwasher is, sadly, far too complicated. And simplicity is having the courage to place a bowl of homemade smoky eggplant puree on the table with some buttery, slow-cooked chickpeas and happily call it Dinner.Drifting back, nose first, to the musky fug of chickpeas and bay quietly simmering in the oven, I know instantly what is needed. A bowl of herbal, fresh, flavour-lifting persillade to cut through that richness. Simple. Muscular. We ate in contented silence and both agreed it a meal fit for company. Hunks of crusty bread, or soft fresh pita, optional. PersilladeSimplicity is persillade. Parsley, from the garden if you’re lucky, washed and carefully dried, pine nuts from the pantry and a clove, maybe two, of garlic. The zest of a lemon sometimes goes in depending on the sort of lift a dish needs, but essentially this is an intuitive thing. A very worthy, but vastly different, substitute for parmesan cheese. Palmful of pine nuts1 clove of garlic, peeled2-3 large handfuls of parsley leaves, washed and well dried Toast the pine nuts to a pale shade of gold in a heavy based frying pan. Cool on a plate. Chop the garlic roughly, then chop everything together, running your knife back and forth, over and over, until it’s all quite fine. Smoky eggplant pureeNot quite the classic Babaganoush, this is adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s simple, delicious recipe. Her suggestion to serve with a separate bowl of sour cream into which you have stirred some finely chopped fresh ginger and another, smaller, bowl of sliced hot green chillies is Highly Recommended. 3-4 eggplantsOlive oil2 cloves of garlic, finely choppedSea salt2 lemons, juicedTahini, to tastePreheat the oven to 180 C. Trim and quarter the eggplants lengthways. Nestle them in a single layer in a [...]




Well. Of course, no awards ceremony is truly complete without a Thank You, a deep and heartfelt Shout Out to those who are ‘behind the scenes’.

Susan’s friendship, something real and tangible, I wouldn’t have thought possible. We live on opposite sides of the world, in completely different time zones. From the moment we tentatively corresponded with one another, my writing improved. Markedly and dramatically.

Master baker, fellow spice lover and weaver of exquisite, delicate stories, Susan, you never fail to Make My Day.

Not that I'm getting gushy or anything...

Youse* Make My Day


below the nasturtiums, things look otherworldly Though I would describe myself as someone who eschews attention and finds herself regularly opting out of anything that smacks of ‘joining in’ – always have, probably always will – unusually, I find it hard not to pass on some awards that have recently and, I’m sorry to say, not so recently, come my way. My mother would be very embarrassed if I waited a moment longer to pass out and acknowledge the generosity of fellow bloggers who have, very generously, considered Nourish Me worth awarding. But I hate making choices – so many of you write so damn well – and so have limited myself…somewhat. You Make My Day:That it came from Shula of Poppalina is all the more reason to pass it on. Yoga goddess, creator of exquisite handmade things and a woman with a seriously Good Eye, she, without exception, always makes my day. Callipygia of Foodchair draws and writes about food and produce with great subtlety, incredible, breath-taking skill and a wry sense of humour. Lisa. Because everything she cooks – every, single, thing – is exactly what I want to eat. ‘E’ for Excellent:Ricki awarded me this some time ago, and more recently Towser of Melbourne’s Spot4Nosh was generous enough to extent it, too. Thanks, guys! Stephanie. Because I love her. To bits. And because she straddles two writing worlds in an enviably, deliciously good way. Carson of Needle's Edge. Carson blogs and knits from Sydney. Literate, clever, funny, stepping into her little corner of the world is calming and very, very beautiful. Yummy Blog Award!:Vegeyum of A Life (Time) of Cooking awarded this, a woman whose wisdom and gentleness make her yummier than to me than you can imagine. I was floored. Me? Yummy? How lovely! Wendy. You should see what this woman can do with a camera and the wild Scottish landscape. Christina, oh Christina. Teacher, gardener, writer, keeper of family recipes and heirloom seeds. You simply blow me away. Johanna. Because your food, my friend, is so very, very yummy. Blogging With A Purpose:Thanks to Another Outspoken Female of the Melbourne blog Confessions of a Food Nazi. A.O.F.’s is an individual and inspired approach to eating and cooking. Honoured? You bet. Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs. You see, she does all of that, from a vegan perspective no less, but who’d know it? Everything is perfectly delicious. Ricki, I could have given you every single one of these awards, but where, I wonder, would you put them all? Katrina of Kale for Sale. Passion for the welfare of planet and an extraordinarily spare, elegant way with words. In awe, I am, and often. * ‘youse’** is the Australian plural form of ‘you’. Said slurring a little on the ‘se’ part and often used in the phrase, “I love youse all” made ‘famous’ by Aussie boxer Jeff Fenech. (**Not really. But then, I do have a fondness, an affection even, for the way we Australians play with language.) [...]

Roasted Cauliflower, Just So


The dog swapped her slumbering position between patches of sun and shade, spotted belly bared, and the cat, newly svelte and much happier, had even dared to pad silently outside. Beautiful, companionable quietude. Bees buzzed around us and the tiny, tightly furled blossoms that cover the cumquat tree. Illuminated by gorgeous autumn light, they refused to open despite the industry. Surely they must yield soon. With a weekend of rain – glorious, drenching rain - forecast, and cold weather on the horizon, an unexpected afternoon of soaking in the sunshine lay before us. A pot of chamomile tea, a virgin notebook in need of some scribbling and Mark Bittman, for inspiration, by my side. Inside, an entire head of cauliflower waited, patiently, on the kitchen bench. It had taken nigh on a week to tackle, overlooked for the more exotic produce that it had come home with. Poor, lonely, lovely thing. Last year I read rapturous descriptions of the nuttiness, the golden goodness, of cauliflowers, carved up and roasted in the oven. So I tried, wanting to join the Love-In too, but each time that lingering, sulphurous smell would snake its way from the oven to the farthest corners of the house and my heart, again, would sink. I was beginning to think myself a numbskull. Then Mr Bittman seduced me, in the front garden no less, into one last try. Pleased I succumbed? Oh. Yes. Be picky. What you want is fresh, young and whole. The ideal cauli is small and tightly budded; leaves crisp, gently cradling and curling around its precious, pale cargo. There should be no sign, absolutely none, of yellowing or, as revolting as it sounds, browning; just pure, creamy curds. Like a bouquet of pretty, white flowers. A head halved and wrapped in plastic is of no use to The Cauliflower Hunter. You need to employ your sense of smell here - and it must not ever, never-ever, smell like something you wouldn’t like to nibble right there, on the spot. Good eaten outdoors, among the bees, while the sun still shines. Roasted cauliflower, Manchurian-style – feeds 2-4, depending on greed If you scoff at the idea of eating half a cauliflower each in one fell swoop as we both did, then this will make you re-think. Why Manchurian? No idea. Bittman uses tomato sauce (ketchup) which would undoubtedly convince every child in the land to gobble up their veg. Substitute 1 cup, preservative-free, for the homemade tomato sauce and the recipe is that much quicker. 1 compact, perfect head of cauliflowerOlive oilSea salt and pepper1 onion, finely chopped1 x 400g (15oz) tin of chopped tomatoesA good glug of red wine vinegarA good glug of balsamic vinegar2 teaspoons of sugar3 fat cloves of garlic, finely choppedGood pinch (or more) of chilli powder Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Core, trim and break the cauliflower into florets of even-ish size. Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish. Toss with 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and loads of pepper and roast, turning twice, for 30 minutes. Fry the onion in a little oil until soft and beginning to colour. Add the tomatoes, juice and all, followed by the vinegars, sugar and a little salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer briskly for 10-15 minutes, until reduced to about a cup. Puree until smooth. 5 minutes before the cauliflower is ready, heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, and [...]