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????

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Love doesn't always need words......

Just last post I was writing about such joyful experiences...... how things can change overnight.

Our family & friends are coming to terms with the magnitude of the loss of the second beautiful baby of immediate family members in just 10 months.

There aren't words that can adequately describe the shock, the grief, the sadness, the sense of unfairness, the cruelness of it all.

There are many many people who are waking with heavy hearts and will continue to wake feeling this heaviness for quite some time.

It will take time to feel the fog lift.

What has been apparent surrounding this is that we are surrounded by love.  Both within our two families and by the hundreds of friends who have offered hugs in silence as we shared tears- because there are no words.

We don't always need words.

One of my lovely friends who has constantly been sending me little messages of love throughout this awful time from across the other side of the world nailed it when she said... "All that is expected of anyone is their presence and their support. I really don't think that is too much to ask. No one is expected to be able to make it better but everyone wishes that they could."

I cried & cried at this message- at the clarity of it.  

Showing love is what we need.

The presence of love.

Despite the heaviness I feel and the massive sadness that fills my soul at how this could possibly be happening ....a little part of my soul allows room for hope.

The love that surrounds us all is this hope that keeps me going. 

Don't be afraid to show it. 

Love doesn't always need words.


I have been comforting myself by lots of cooking....and the other night I had a hankering for a curry fiesta to warm my heart.  
Saag Paneer (Indian cheese in spinach) is my absolute fave curry and I was keen to make the Paneer which I hadn't done for some time- it is relatively easy and I love the magical process of watching milk turn into cheese right before my eyes.
You just need a little time (& LOTS of milk) before you cook to allow the cheese to drain so allow a few hours before you cook to do this step.


  •  1 1/2 litres milk
  • juice of a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 packets frozen spinach
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tblspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tblspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 whole dried chilli
  • 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds.
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (or a mix of butter & oil will do)

To make the Paneer (1 1/2 litres of milk makes about 200g Paneer) :
Place milk in a pan and bring to boil.  Immediately reduce heat & add lemon juice.
Stir as the curds separate from the whey.
Strain through muslin cloth and place a weight on it.
Leave for an hour or so and cut into cubes.
It should be like firm feta cheese in appearance.

To make curry sauce:
In a pan dry roast the spices till fragrant. Allow to cool & grind. (you can use pre-ground spices but roasting will give a more complex flavour- you won't be sorry at making the extra effort!) 

In a non stick pan add Ghee and saute chopped Paneer cheese till lightly brown and remove (it is not necessary to brown the paneer but I prefer the appearance and flavour).
In same pan add finely chopped onion, garlic & ginger.  Cook on a low heat till caramelised.

Add spice mix and stir through well. Savour the perfume!

Add the spinach and cook through- add a little water if it is too thick.

I blitz the spinach mix as I love a creamy sauce- but this is entirely up to you.

Add the paneer about ten minutes before serving to warm through and allow the flavour to infuse.

Serve with Basmati rice & my lovely Indian potato curry for a vego feast!

Curry comfort!

I have been loving this track......