Thursday, March 29, 2012

Summer Harvest ... from cracks in the pavers.

Passionfruit. Glorious purple, spotty orbs of sunshine. Stirred through my yogurt. Churned into sorbet. Spooned straight into my mouth. Its sharp fragrance awakens the senses. 

Guavas, for example are one of those quaint fruit that have a beguiling flavour when eaten or juiced. But ripe guavas sitting in the fruit bowl emits a pretty manky odour. Nasty. No one else seems to like it except me, so often I am left to valiantly battle through a whole bowl of them by myself. They also ripen very quickly so there is no waiting around or savouring. All or nothing, seems to be my battle cry.

Funny little beans. Think snow pea meets zucchini. No idea what they are called or where they are from. Likely from beans smuggled into the country via my Dads shoe. No kidding. 

My Grandfather was a vegetable farmer but my Dad ended up running away to live in the city to work as a bookkeeper when he met and married my Mum.  But there's no denying the green thumb!

There is nothing he can't grow, edible or otherwise. Even when he isn't trying, all manner of flora spring up all over his garden. He has a blueberry bush that bears fruit prolifically - but he doesn't touch the stuff - instead growing it for the grandkids to pick and enjoy. Basil - he manages to get big potfuls thriving all through winter. One plant was so large I mistook it for a bougainvillea. (I know-I clearly did not inherit his knack in the garden!). 

Now, my folks live in the 'burbs, the house probably a little too big and with barely any space for even weeds to spring up, or so most would think. However, I consider my Dad to be the authority on gardening with almost no space. He has something edible growing in every conceivable crack of dirt around the house. 

There are apricot, lychee, guava, persimmon and custard apple trees. In between are tangles of every type of bean and bitter melon, large tufts of lemongrass, shrubs of chillies, ground cover of "Nyoi", a very green chinese herb that tastes not unlike grass clippings -and supposedly very good for cleansing the liver - and masses of galangal. And thats just in the twelve inch crevice that runs alongside the driveway!! 

Out the back there is a huge passionfruit vine that has formed a canopy overhead, just under the clear colour bond roof, a mandarin tree that was salvaged from a neighbour wedged in the corner, amaranth in pots, kaffir lime, spring onions, more bitter melon, mango and papaya trees. Coriander grows in the cracks between the pavers. Really, it is a marvel. Everytime I pop by Mum will heave armfuls of leaves or fruit and waving me off with "aiya! your Daddy grew so much, take it! take it!". It is always gratefully received.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bye Bye, Baby..

My 'baby' turned 5 today. 
We celebrated with no less than 15 of his closest friends! Yes, he does share the love a bit at school. Its one of the things I love most about him.

They devoured:

Fairy Bread
Marshmallow and Fruit sticks
Cheezels (his all time favourite treat)
Zingy Fruit Punch
Pasta Bolognese (yes, it was almost dinner time)
Chocolate Mud-birthday cake
Fistfuls of Party Mix lollies!  

*15 very, very busy little men.
*Big sister running the face painting stand
*Big Daddy controlling the limbo stick*
*Grandad snapping pics for evidence
*Grandma keeping the fairy bread rolling out
*Mama bossing everyone around
*1 happy, excited birthday boy

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nature's Marvels..

In September last year, my love and I travelled to Margaret River to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. One of the things we wanted to do together, as much a symbolic gesture as for the pleasure for it was to hike a part of the Cape to Cape trail. I wondered if I should bother lugging my camera, as it can be quite a weight when I also had to take a decent bottle of water and a day's worth of snacks. "I might regret it if I don't.." Never a truer word was said. 

During our hike I lamented about the lack of wildflowers to photograph and walked for kilometres snapping at rocks and the sky ( yawn ) before sitting down for a snack and rest. When I looked down to see if there were any interesting insects around, I spied this magical, other-worldly looking bloom. Its about 7-10mm long, so tiny that when I stood up, it appeared quite unremarkable. But look at it - a little Angel looked up at me! Isn't she heavenly?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Long Weekend

Our long weekend was about friends and food. We bravely decided to invite 5 other families to come for a bbq and swim (as it really does feel rather selfish to have a pool and not share it!). I asked the other families to each contribute either a salad or starter, so I could concentrate on the main event. 

When I started thinking about what to cook, it occurred to me that I had never roasted pork before -you know, with the crispy, salty crackling and unctuous tender and juicy meat. So thats what ended up on the plate, along fresh applesauce and a gorgeous gravy made from the pan juices deglazed with white wine. 

To cater for non-porkers, I also prepared some vietnamese inspired chicken skewers. A fragrant marinade of lemongrass, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, palm sugar and shallots infused diced chicken thighs overnight and grilled on the BBQ. Finger lick in' good!!

When I have so many tummies to feed I always try to think of no-fuss but still impressive options. So it was no surprise that for dessert I went to my trusty cinnamon poached peaches, which is usually served simply with double cream but this time, I thought it might be nice to have a coconut sorbet alongside. BOY! It did not fail-thanks to Martin Boetz (of Longrain fame)'s recipe for it in last month's "Masterchef" magazine. 

We were so busy eating that I didn't get any photos of anything! Oh well, I suppose I"ll just have to recreate them ;-)

NB The next day I made a killer banana, coconut and raspberry bread and my insightful husband decided some whipped honey butter was just the thing to spread on some warm, thick slabs of it. Comfort food.

How was your weekend?