Category Archives: Food

Sun Kissed In Tuscany.

Behind the brown shutters are windows and doors with bright red frames. Opening these are how a sun kissed morning begins in Tuscany. Closing them after a long and late night spent eating and chatting is how evenings in Tuscany end.

Food that is grown under kiss of the sun makes for a perfect lunch. There’s a flavour that can’t be ignored. And a reminder of how simple one’s lunch can be.

Herbs for the kitchen, grown in the  garden are illuminated by the kiss of the sun.

A healthy glow and contented manner,  the evidence of a sun kissed boy’s day of play.

A house built to withstand the kiss of the sun. Terracotta tiles on the floor and in the ceiling, thick walls of concrete and brick archways.

The kiss of the sun willing a writer to write on. A day spent in the first 13,000 words of a story. A memoir of a long walk and a time leading towards this life now. A time where questions were asked, actions were taken and the leap of faith that happened. The Tuscan sun enabling the needs of all to be met and comfort to the writer when the doubts set in. The power of his kiss is strong. Write, write he assertively guides. Now is the time. It matters not if the written words see me, the light of day. It matters they are written. That the writer writes the story. For her. Her story.

 

*edited to change her to him, my instinct was that the sun is a more masculine energy and a little note from a friend confirmed this. xx

#writingstreak

#day29/31

#writingon

#writingthrough

#writing

#ishibernationcalling

#thewindsarechanging

 

 

 

A Thing That Completes Me.

Did you know it was Dutch growers who cultivated the orange carrot? True. It was a tribute to William of Orange who led the struggle for Dutch independence against the Spanish in the 1500s. Traditionally carrots where yellow, white or purple. It’s not just colourful tulips here!

One thing I miss from Australia is the way they do food. It’s fresh, flavoursome and tasty! We love food in Aussie. Our deliciously migrant inspired cuisine. How many Masterchef series are we up to? It’s also easy to have a little food adventure with local growers. Farmers markets are a real thing. And there are many small scale, big love for organic practices farmers and farmhers doing exciting things. I’ve popped in on garlic farmhers, pasturised chicken farmhers and market garden farmers.

Produce here is a bit bland, maybe it’s because a lot of our produce comes from outside our borders. And humans have developed a taste for ‘out of season’ food. If we are eating berries here in winter, aargh they’re travelling a LONG way. Typically the Dutch aren’t foodies. In all honesty you don’t come to Holland for the food scene. Ok except for the chips and mayo! This is excellent.

I have been perplexed about food here. We have similar topography and climate to Denmark and yet they do far tastier food. The Dutch are growers. Huge growers. In fact they are the second largest food producer in the world. Last year the agri export industry was worth 94.5 billion euros. Punching way about their weight this tiny country, feeding the masses. Remember this country is half the size of Tassie with a population of 17.8 million (Aussie is 25 mil).

Even the markets often sell imports from all over world. I can buy NZ kiwis here most of the year. I don’t obvs because food miles. One of my goals this year was to get better at knowing where my food comes from. During my hikes through Holland I have seen many interesting farms complete with the farm gate, my favourite. By walking across this country I’ve seen there’s a local food movement. I just have to start tapping into it. And how I love the notion of walking across countries, best way to know one and actual most authentic form of slow travel in my mind.

I was super excited when my friend sent me the link to crisp.nl. They’re an online food delivery company whose mission is to sell quality food direct from the growers and producers to consumers. So easy. Simply down load the ap. order and the next night it’s one the door. I’ve only had one delivery but I really noticed the difference in food quality and taste. And the packaging was fairly minimal on the plastic which pleases me greatly.

I did ask about returning the delivery boxes to reuse but as yet that doesn’t happen. It’s a problem in process, hopefully a solution will follow. I think I may also raise the idea of wonky fruit. The fruit the farmers can’t sell because it doesn’t look perfect. I’d be interested in buying that. It didn’t seem a lot more expensive than the supermarket.

I really admire young start ups that seek to create something with meaning. Here they are trying to build a business based on supporting local farmers. I had contact via whats ap with then prior to my delivery and after. It was so personal, so positive and so tech convenient. Lol. I wish I had the energy of these entrepreneurs. Yeah this little find, this way of purchasing food, of knowing the farmer it is surely one of the things that makes me feel complete.

Tell me a little story of something that completes you if you like, if you have time. It’s actually is a nice way to smile inside and I’d like to know you a bit more. :)

#writingstreak

#day24/31

#justkeepwriting

#wontgiveup

#evenwheni’mblank

#showingup

 

 

 

Multi Layer. Is It The New Multi Task.

‘Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable’ ~ Mary Oliver

I’ve deadset found a key to a door. A door into some serious kitchen flow. For a while now I’ve wanted to get back to basics. Into some serious low waste, budget conscious, healthy from scratch eating. We eat well but there is room for more from scratch and less waste. And I think the key for me is layering. The type of layering I’m finding by working through a style of cooking.

Now I’d love to cook a range of cuisines but as a cook my skills are not capable of that. And I am lucky in that I have a partner who can do this. But I do want to be less boring. I want to be able to go to the pantry or fridge and have options. Tasty options. Healthy options. I also have a family of six to feed. I don’t want cooking to be a chore but something more. Something where my creativity and passions are happily at play.

I often think about meal planning and then fall at the first hurdle because getting six cookbooks out is overwhelming. It is not and never will be my style. Pleasing six people is overwhelming with modern cookbook recipes. And we’ve moved and changed so much in the past years that I’ve lost my rhythm in the kitchen and where to go for local ingredients (also there’s the language thing and the hormones, that peri-meno thing never helps). But it’s about stepping into the right door though isn’t it. The one that is built and waiting for you. Your personality, your skills, your interests, your tastes, your style, your confines and basically your timing.

Enter my new kitchen challenge – to cook Roman food. Food that is centuries old. A cuisine that’s often described as peasant food. Highly flavoured, peasant food. Alleluia peasant is the opposite of fancy! Perfect for someone who wants to make beautiful food from scratch without the finicky fuss. Without the need for technical knowledge. This sounds like me. It’s my version of fancy! And this is my time. I’m ready, I need it. So I walked in through the front door, the door that beckoned me. The challenge to cook through the bright red Rome cookbook.

Any cuisine has basics. Herbs, spices, ingredients, pastes, dishes that compliment each other. Take the pesto I made last week on my first cooking day. We had it on crackers and bread. The following day I had it with my egg. Today I added it to a focaccia with leftover roast chicken from last night for the boys for lunch. And tonight the last of the leftovers were added to a pasta for the vegetarian and her vegetarian friend. This is a staple. Easy to make and can also be frozen in ice-cubes and bagged for further use! Pesto chocked full with herbs and veg. Pesto that went four ways, in four meals. Pesto flow.

Last night we ate roast chicken and the bones were added to a stock pot with veggies and brewed today to produce stock. Literally a 5 minute prep and then it sat on the stove brewing without any needs for hours. My eldest son often calls me a witch with my herby salves, so it does suit me to be brewing. A jar for risotto later in the week and the rest frozen in 300ml reusable containers for future use. Boom. Massive saving in buying stock, eating unknown ingredients, food waste and packaging. Kitchen flow.

I did not set out to become a better cook when I started writing this month. But as always when I write daily my world expands, I expand. Perhaps it is because I notice more. Perhaps it is because I get to express my real self so this flow continues in other areas of my life. The key to this door is definitely the honing in, the focusing on what’s important. I have tried to be political in the past with the issues I care about but I’ve found it spirit crushing. I am far better working away in my everyday life to create change and expressing myself from this place.

From the beginning of this writing challenge I’ve really focussed only on what I need to be focussed on. And also by ignoring the doubts when they creep in. Actually stopping to recognise the triggers of these creepers, the thoughts, the people and the habits that contribute to them.  And then I stare them out. I choose excitement over fear, seeing wildflowers rather than things, intuition over the noisy world, embracing flux over stagnation and good busy over idle thinking. I want to be excited about life! I am excited about life. I want to be surprised by what I am capable of finding in myslef. I want cycles of layering. Layering one thing that matters with another thing that matters.  You wouldn’t go out in winter without layers to keep you warm. Why risk wasting life without the ‘good’ layers.

 

#writingstreak

#day21/31

#reallyonly10daystogo

#cookingchallenge

#staringoutthecreepers

 

The Italian Kitchen!

 

Well I did not see this one coming! Yesterday I had to buy a present for a friend who was celebrating one of the special birthdays. She’s a foodie, cooking type person so I cycled into town to peruse the all things in the town’s ‘kitchen lover’ shop. What to buy, what to buy? It’s actually tricky to buy for someone else’s kitchen. So I headed towards the book section. Rather pleasingly they had an English book section. Cook books for her and a cook book for me! Bonus. Double bonus actually, I could feel inspiration brewing, oh and yep there it is – an idea was starting to form and the timing quite possibly perfect. 

I always imagined myself with a French kitchen. But I’ve never quite gotten there. What even is a French kitchen? Maybe it’s lavender I picture! I do have a large tuscan pot of lavender outside my kitchen window. The thing is, I admire country style kitchens but they’re not really my style. And I love the movie Julia and Julia but I wouldn’t want cook most of those recipes. And while I love Latin languages I’ve never had the desire to learn French. 

In our house my husband is the resident chef. He loves to cook and frankly, he is so utterly gifted when it comes to creating with ingredients that during quarantine I’ve been happy to sit out the cooking. The problem with sitting it out, because he is always here (quarantine) is that I don’t have any flow in the kitchen because I haven’t been playing in it. Niente. Nada. And of course it’s ace that he cooks and I’m super appreciative of him. But now it’s holidays and while he’s working I have time. And one day he will go back to the office and travel and then I’ll be back at ground zero. Also I love the process of sourcing and buying local ingredients. It’s hard to do that and expect someone else to cook with your finds.

Can I fit in another challenge? Ha ha. Could I cook my way through a cookbook? ‘WHAT’ you’re probably thinking writing, running and now cooking?! But we gotta eat right. The more I started thinking about it the more sense it made. You know my feelings about Italy. True love and all that. And it is absolutely my style of cooking: simple, fresh, flavoursome and seasonal food. And then it hit me.

Why did I want a French kitchen when quite obviously I have an Italian kitchen! There is a monster pizza oven outside my window, a cafetiera on my stove, basil in my window sill, herbs growing outside my window and our cooking condiments of choice are extra virgin olive oil, red and white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Oh and cheese, there’s always parmesan and mozarella in the fridge! And let’s be honest I’d be fine to add pecorino as a staple.

There is one way to get better at something and that’s to practice. Daily if possible. And it makes sense to practice in one style of cooking right. You build your basic skills, your pantry ingredients will suit your cooking and you can use previously prepared pastes etc for future dishes. Sometimes, I wonder why it takes me so long to work something out. Something that now seems so basic, so simple! I feel like eye-rolling myself right now. So yeah before the day was out I think I’d already decided I was going to cook through this new book of mine.

The Book:

Rome. Centuries In An Italian Kitchen. 

By Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi.

Why did I choose it?

I liked that it had pictures and stories of Rome and the history of dishes. More than simple recipes, it’s chocked full of Roman recipes from antipasto to desserts. I don’t always need to think things through to the nth degree. I was drawn to it. I just need to start! This book is my start and it’s focussed. I think in the past I’ve tended to be to broad in my desire to do something. I’m honing in.

The Challenge.

Basically to cook my way through the book. I’ll aim to bake a recipe a day but it’s not like a #runstreak I won’t break the challenge by not doing it daily. In my experience though it’s easier to practice daily so that’ll be my aim. As with any challenge I take it on it’s because our lives or my life needs it. I need to reignite my cooking from scratch mojo in the kitchen.

Today! 

I had so much fun in the kitchen. It was a slow start to the day because we went to said friend’s party last night. So on the couch in jammies, with a coffee in hand I perused my new book. A book I will be hopefully getting to know very well! I am a visual, photo person and I love the visual journey. Perhaps that’s why I can’t get into podcasts. It’s a bit the noise thing I quite like the quiet, but also I can’t get into hearing people without having previously met them. I actually never have sound on my phone (even for videos) so there is a good chance if we’ve never met in person I don’t know your voice! Am I the only one? It’s my weird thing.

I decided to go with some picnic food. I thought I’d have a bit of an afternoon tea thing with husband and kids. So off I cycled to the local strip shopping street with my list and book. First feel good right here. This street is maybe 750 metres from my house but I don’t often go here. I go to the market or in corona times we’ve found ourselves in the supermarket. This street has many small shops. Specialist shops that really float my boat! Shops selling local produce. And when I say local I mean European. Obviously local local is best but olives aren’t growing in The Netherlands.

These are the things we need to use our energy and our resources to support in the ‘new’ normal. The local shop strip is one of them. There is much I love about village life and I know some of you wanted me to tell you about it! This is it. This a big one. That I can get on my bike and cycle to a shop and buy local Italian Olives, local Dutch cheese, local vegetables and that the line in the third shot is for sour dough. It’s out the door and up the street and no one minds because the bread is so good! And obvs. corona time so only three in the shop at once. No one is in a hurry. No one is up selling. It just exists because it’s normal! Normal to shop local. 

What did I make? 

  1. Seeded Wine Crackers

Making crackers is something I have on my to do list! I don’t want to buy them anymore. This IS going to be my recipe. I didn’t get it right. I didn’t roll the dough thin enough so they weren’t crispy, but the flavour was there. I’ll make another batch tomorrow and the next day until I get our crackers recipe right!

2. Hot Fish Pickle

OMG! This. This is the sort of food I need. Packed full of flavour, herbs and raw veg. I used sardines, fish that’s packed with protein, packed with calcium and PACKED with omega -3 fatty acids. Was so good on bread. Will be so good tomorrow. And sheesh a cheap meal. I mean a tin of Sardines or Mackerel, two euros.

3. Olive, Fennel and Mint Salsa

I had to google how to cut a fennel! I’m used to this one cooked (by someone else). What can’t google teach you?! Husband actually said this was his favourite dish. There are leftovers and I’ll use them in the next few days in a pasta. I have one vegetarian living here so perfect!

4. Walnut (sub’d with pine nuts due to allergy) and Feta Pesto.

Oh this was fun! And soooo many herbs. It’s a staple in Italian cuisine and what you can blitz to make it is endless (what’s in the fridge, spinach, lettuce etc). This was a hit with the kids. And also something to use tomorrow and the day after. I’m thinking with eggs tomorrow morning and on toast for the kids. Or tomorrow night’s pizza.  

5. Ricotta with olive oil and pepper

A bit cheaty! No work just top with olive oil and pepper. SOOO tasty! On toast between the hot fish pickle. On the cracker on top of the pesto. Leftovers will get used in the same way or on pizza ;) 

The entire, made with love feast. I added a Caprese salad (tomato, mozarella, basil, balsamic and olive oil), a zinnia from the garden, some bread and guess what?! Dinner not afternoon tea. 

So do all roads lead to Rome? Perhaps they do for me, right now. I just realised I’m still hiking to from Home To Rome (hiatus due to Corona). OMG how is this for coincidence and a sign that this is my path. So yes! Yes. I will cook my way thought this book! And I’ll learn some Italian, some new skills, get to feel the joy of knowing the ingredients and by gee I’ll (hopefully we’ll) enjoy the eating. 

What’s the flavour of your kitchen?

#writingstreak

#day18/31writing

#newchallenge

#findyourpath

#dailypractice

 

 

 

 

 

Something Light, Something Easy!

 

Some days we need light and easy. And no, not upside down lotus. Simple and easy means different things to different people! And don’t worry the conversation went like this ‘mum, look I can do upside down lotus’. Me ‘ Oh, wow amazing! But don’t do that again please.’ I may run each day but my run streak has plenty of one mile days. One mile being the minimum distance required in a streak. So when I need to I get by on the minimum that is what I run. And it is often, because capacity friends. I’m ferocious with protecting mine.

I protect it by keeping things simple, by knowing when to back off somewhere to create space somewhere else. It’s a combination of tilting and setting boundaries. Tilting towards where you need to be and setting up boundaries to protect what is important. (Ps setting your own boundaries is not being selfish, it is valuing yourself and your needs).

I learnt early. I almost burnt out as a young teacher doing ALL the extra work. Working ALL the available hours and taking on ALL the emotional labour of students, parents and peers. Now I’m protective of what I give. It was one of the best lessons I ever learnt because there will always be something or someone that wants/needs a piece of you. And there is only so much of us, just as there is only so much time available.

I gave a lot to writing yesterday’s blog piece. A lot of time and a lot of energy trying to word it, reword it once it was posted and some then even more thinking, does it say what I was trying to say?! I wanted it to be helpful, to offer something relatable. Perhaps it does, perhaps it doesn’t but it was yesterday and today is today, so I move on. But I know today is a 1 mile writing day. I am reaching capacity. 

Today I’m just going to get by on this writing steak. Of course I’ll write. That’s the idea of this month long streak (challenge) to work through each day and write, to prove to myself I can. To create something. I knew when I started there would be days it wouldn’t  easy and days where I’d need to be able to give less. My run steak prepared me for that. So I’m going to share a recipe with you. My favourite ‘get by’ (aside from the fruit bowl) snack for the kids.

I’ve shared it before. It’s not the chop up raw veg platter, although that’s on the go in the fridge for lunch wraps, it’s the fruit muffins. I decided when the holidays started I’d make a batch every or every second day as required. And when the kids tire of them I’ll switch to something else. Ideas and recipes for that something else welcome. Must be simple, must be easy and not too many ingredients!

Fruit flavoured muffins!

Ingredients:

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of sugar (I’ve already halved this but I might half it again)
  • 1 whisked egg
  • 1 cap of vanilla essence (optional, I don’t have any so we’re doing without)
  • 1.5 cups of S.R.Flour
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • Desired fruit flavour

How I do it:

First I get it all ready.

And begin. Beat the butter, sugar and essence. Add egg to the side of the same bowl, beat it a little and then combine with the mix (if using banana add here).

Sift in the flour and milk slowly and beat in.

Once mixed stir the fruit through (play with amounts – no rules) we’re using blueberries but apples are a favourite too.

Dried fruit also. I bought some dried apples and sultanas to store in case one day we didn’t have real fruit. You know like it there are only oranges in the fruit bowl! Although they’d work wouldn’t they. Orange cake is a thing.

Pop them in your muffin trays and bake in a moderate 175 degree oven for 15-20 mins depending on your oven. While they’re cooking have a cuppa and wash your bits and bobs ready for tomorrow!I’ve got mine washed, stacked and ready for tomorrow. 

A nice easy writing streak day. These photos were from a muffin bake this week so there was no pressure to bake and write! It was a story I had up my sleeve, no staging required. I don’t roll like that. My photos are life as it is happening. I still have to make today’s batch! It will be banana because there are some old ones to use. Anyway, moral of the story – no one is superwoman/man. No one can get it all done but there are ways to keep it all flowing easier. Keeping it simple, tilting and boundaries work for me. 

Now for the washing? What are your hacks there? Urgh it’s building up here! Something always has to give if you want to take some time to make things. And you thought I wanted the time left over to go cycling didn’t you? LOL. You do know me well, of course I do! But it’s pouring with rain on this side of the world. I can’t complain the garden needs it. So today, with my boundaries firmly in place to protect my capacity I’ll tilt towards the washing, the dreaming up of some new stories for you, the kids, I’ll run my mile sneak out for a quick pedi (I do like nice toes) and I’ll get organised. Hopefully, the weather will be favourable tomorrow for that ride!

 

 

#writingstreak

#day 9/31

#pleasedwithwhereIam

#learningloads