Search This Blog

Monday, April 26, 2010


That teapot is crying out for a tea-cossie!

Yesterday was Anzac Day, the day we remember the sacrifices made by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp in war so it seemed a good time to make a batch of Anzac biscuits and explain the meaning of the day to the kids. My version differs slightly from the traditional biscuits made by mothers, wifes and sweethearts and shipped to the boys on the frontlines during World War I. I have replaced the plain flour and bicarbonate of soda with self-raising flour as I'm not a real fan of that weird aftertaste bicarb sometimes leaves and I have also reduced the amount of sugar other than that the recipe remains the same.

Anzacs biscuits were the first thing I really mastered in the kitchen when I was little and I used to love making them as much as I loved eating them. We made a bit of a ritual of it yesterday with a pot of tea and our old china and between us we polished off nearly the whole batch!

ANZAC Biscuits

1 cup self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons golden syrup
125 grams butter


1. Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F.

2. Grease or line baking tray with baking paper.

3. Melt butter and golden syrup together in a small saucepan over a low heat.

4. While butter is melting mix dried ingredients together in a large bowl.

5. Add butter and syrup to dry ingredients and stir to combine (I sometimes use my hands to do this towards the end to make sure that everything is really combined). Test to make sure that mixture will hold together if not add a few drops of water.

6. Take teaspoon amounts and roll into balls then flatten and place on prepared baking trays.

7. Bake for 15-20 mins or until golden. Sometimes they can be a bit chewy which is nice but if you like a crispy biscuit cook a little longer so they go a deeper brown but keep an eye on them so they don't burn!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Melbourne Belongs To Me

Originally uploaded to Flickr on August 30, 2009by Leigh/J/M

'This is where I belong,' he told himself. 'I belong to London and London belongs to me...'
London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins

Recently I have been reading a number of books that explore the notion of place and belonging. For Inspector Montalbano there is no place like his fictional home of Vigata, Sicily home to his favourite restaurant the Trattoria San Calogeno and the rock beneath the lighthouse where he goes to think with a bag of chickpeas and pumpkin seeds he buys at a stall on the way there. For Mr Josser in 'London Belongs To Me' it is Battlebury and Sons where he has worked all his adult life and for Holly Golightly in 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' life is a never-ending search for a place that makes her feel as safe as she feels at Tiffany's.

So what is it to belong to a city? Do I belong to Melbourne? Does Melbourne belong to me? In his essay Novel and Place writer James Bradley talks about the fact that many writer's views of a city have been coloured by their own childhood memories. My earliest memories are indeed childhood ones when we would come to the city to meet up with my aunties and cousins in one of the many department store cafeterias that existed at the time (Coles, Myer, Waltons etc). As we got older it was movies in Bourke and Russell Streets often followed by lunch or a snack at the London Inn, an incredibly atmospheric little coffee lounge where we would invariably have grilled tomato, cheese and bacon.

As a teenager I started coming to the city on the train with friends and I remember Mum making us recite the city grid from the station so we wouldn't get lost, 'Spencer, King, William, Queen, Elizabeth, Swanston, Russell, Exhibition, Spring'. We didn't bother much with the grid going the other way as there was an unspoken rule that we would stick to Bourke and Collins Streets. When I finished school I went to university in Melbourne and since graduating have always worked in the city. Over the years I have seen the city grow to the south and the west and have delighted in the growth of laneways as places to explore food, fashion and art. I love the intimate feel of Melbourne, its nooks and crannies, its mix of edwardian, art deco and contemporary architecture. I love the fact that it is still a city on a human scale defined by the wonderful Hoddle grid. So yes I think I can safely say, 'I belong to Melbourne and Melbourne belongs to me'.

Que Sera Sera...

I love the fact that my children are still fearless (unlike their mother). Last weekend we went to visit my sister and her family. While we were there we went down to the beach (tidal river to be exact) where my brother-in-law and his friend had a surf ski. Both kids jumped at the chance to climb aboard especially Bella. Honestly, I have never seen anyone pick up a skill so quickly and there was much talk about how much Bella would enjoy Nippers.

Now we live closer to the mountains than the sea so regular attendance at junior surf-lifesaving school is unlikely but it did lead me to wonder, how much influence does where we grow up have on what we are exposed to and grow to love? If I had not grown up in the country would I have had my own horse and spent many happy hours at pony club and gymkhanas? Probably not. If I had grown up in the city would I have started dancing earlier and kept going longer? Maybe. How do I know that I'm not a fantastic skier if I've never been to the snow?

Perhaps that's the point. If I really wanted to do something chances are I would have done it by now. The story of so many successful individuals is framed by their perserverence in the face of geographical, financial and peer pressures in pursuing their dreams. Sons of doctors who become artists, daughters of mechanics who become lawyers so if Bella is destined to be Australia's next IronWoman I'm sure she'll find a way.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Love My New Blanket

I finally finished Henry's blanket - moss stich throughout with a crocheted edge - and he loves it. Yeah!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Time is of the essence...

I've come to the sad realisation that my camera really doesn't like to do close -ups but it will have to do for now :(

Before I had children I perceived the passing of time very differently. Time until the next piece of writing, next exhibition or next project was due was measured in weeks and months. There were hours and hours to be filled up with reading, sleeping or going out for breakfast. Now my days and weeks have a very different rhythm and even though I get up at 6am every morning (Henry's choice not mine!) there still never seems to be enough hours in a day.

Enter the kitchen timer. It's a godsend when I'm cooking and constantly being called out of the kitchen to find books, scissors, textas, toys but I have also found some other less orthodox uses for it. I first got the idea one day when I was with my mother's group and the children were having trouble 'sharing'. My friend just whipped out a timer, gave it to her daughter and told her that when the timer went off it would be time to pass the toy onto the next person. 60 seconds later - bing! eh voila the child happily passed it on to the next kid.

What strange magic was this I asked myself? Since then I have used it at home to let the kids know when it is time to get out of the bath - bing! and they spring out. It's time for lights out - bing! and the lights are extinguished. It's time for Mummy to leave now - bing! well, it works some of the time. I'm sure that the novely will wear off eventually but until that time I am happy to bow to the wisdom of the strawberry.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Five Faves - Knitting Muses

Spiral Boot Socks designed by Veronik Avery via Tiennie Knits...

I have been doing a lot of knitting lately trying to finish Henry's blanket as the weather continues to get colder. I've started looking online for inspiration for new projects and came across Jane Brocket's great knitty bits post and then decided to visit some old favourites.
Five fave knitting muses this week are:

1. It was Jo Sharp who got me back into knitting. I remember seeing her patterns in the early 90s and realising that knitting could be more than 8ply school jumpers. I think her most recent collection is one of her best.

2. Bonne Marie Burns' Chicknits was the first blog I ever followed way back in 2003. It has been great to see how her site and brand have developed. Bonne Marie's designs are all so wearable ever for work wear.

3. Debbie Bliss - the baby years - I have knitted many Debbie Bliss patterns both for my own children and others. I love the way her designs blend traditional and modern elements and I am a little obsessed with her Cashmerino wool. If I have learnt anything from knitting for children it is that accessories make the most practical gifts - hats, scarves and blankets are all very useful. Garment-wise I like vests for boys (no food, paint, play-doh encrusted cuffs) and ponchos for girls (ditto!).

4. Norah Gaughan seems to me to be ridiculously prolific and yet she constantly comes up with new and interesting ideas for shape, drape and texture.
5. Ysolda Teague/ Veronik Avery are new discoveries for me but I like what I see especially the socks (not that I've ever knitted socks!).

Where do you get your knitting inspiration?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Pear Cake

Yesterday I made a lovely pear cake based on a recipe I found here using pears I got from here. I love the idea of heirloom recipes handed done from mother to daughter and this cake is made from one of those very simple no-nonsense recipes which really only require ingredients you always have in the cupboard crowned by whatever glorious fruit you can lay your hands on.

In keeping with tradition I made the cake with the help of my little sous-chefs (who of course love the licking the spoon part best) and we ate it straight out of the oven accompanied by some fresh double cream.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new...

Originally uploaded to Flickr on October 6, 2007by caryn74

Are you having a lovely Easter? I hope so. I think Easter is one of the best holidays - less stressful than Christmas, lovely weather and lots of chocolate! To me Easter is also about new life, renewal and second chances. You know the theory that ever 7 years your body undergoes a total cellular renewal? Well, I recently took posession of my 6th new body and about time too I say! I really pushed the last one to the limit.

Over the past 7 years my body has carried, given birth to and feed two beautiful babies; slept very little; moved all its possessions twice; waited anxiously while 6 contracts with 6 different job titles were negotiated (even though they were all at the same place!), and agonised over buying its first home. I have faced the true extremes of human experience from the joyous birth of my children to the devastating loss of my parents. What has this all taught me? To be honest I'm not sure yet but I hope that whatever it is will inform the next 7 years which will hopefully be a lot less stressful than those just gone.

Happy Easter!