Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Contrary to the recipe below I actually added some carrot to this batch because I had some nice organic ones in the fridge
When I was growing up there always seemed to be a pot of vegetable soup simmering on the stove. It was always the same recipe, a scotch broth-style soup made by boiling a lamb shank with onions, carrots, celery and barley. Although I still like the rib-stickingness of that recipe I tend to make a lighter version of soup for my family. Our current favourite is an Italian-style vegetable soup with beans and pasta. We usually serve it with pesto (or basil leaves) and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and there are often requests for 'seconds'.
Italian bean and pasta soup
1 leek, washed and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1.5 litres reduced salt chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
400g tin of four bean mix, drained and rinsed
90g small soup pasta
200g green vegetables (broccoli florets or beans or peas)
1. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add leek, celery and garlic and cook until softened.
2. Add four bean mix and tomato paste mixed with stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add pasta and simmer for another 10 minutes if you will be eating soup straight away (if not see warning below!)
4. Add green vegetables and cook for another few minutes until vegetables are tender.
5. Garnish with a small spoonful of pesto and a spinkling of parmesan cheese and serve with crusty bread.
Warning: word to the wise, if you think you will have left-over soup then cook pasta separately and add when serving. Why? Because if you leave the soup standing on the stove or in the fridge for any length of time the pasta will absorb the soup leaving you with a lovely bowl of pasta but no soup!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
On The Town (1949) Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra dance their way around New York while on shore leave.
An American In Paris (1951) My absolute favourite Gene Kelly movie. I especially love the 'ballet' with Leslie Caron. Oscar Levant is a hoot too.
Band Wagon (1953) Broadway meets ballet meets classical theatre! Fred Astaire is fabulous, Cyd Charisse is beautiful and Jack Buchanan is very funny as the producer.
High Society (1956) Although I really love the original 'Philadelphia Story' starring Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart, I also have a soft spot for this version starring Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly.
West Side Story (1961) With a wonderful score by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and choreography by Jerome Robbins this modern Romeo and Juliet always leaves me breathless.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I love everyday objects and the power they have to acquire meaning over time based on how, when, where and by whom they have been used. Over the years I have been continually drawn to them whether it has been in my studies in archaeology or in my work with contemporary objects in the museum where I work. Recently I have been exploring the history of everyday objects a little closer to home as we sort through the contents of Mum and Dad's house. At times this has been a fairly emotional journey but there have been some lovely memories and surprises along the way.
Before Christmas, while carefully packing up my parents 'special' crockery and cutlery I came across this teacup and saucer (one of a set of four matching cups, saucers and side-plates) produced by the Japanese company Noritake. According to the Noritake Australia website 'by the late 1960s Noritake had become a household name and such was its popularity almost every Australian couple married during this period received a Noritake dinnerset as a wedding present'. I'm not sure how Mum acquired this set but it may well have been as a wedding a gift as she was married in 1966. The pattern was produced between 1964 and 1982 and has a very 60s feel to it with its geometric stripes in white, grey and gold complimented by a platinum rim.
Mum was very fond of this set which she always referred to as her 'Noritake', never the stripey cups or the 60s set, so when I came to wrapping it I took extra care. I was by myself in the half empty house waiting for my sister and feeling a little sorry for myself. As I held the cup in my hand I turned it over to see the famous Noritake backstamp then caught my breath - the pattern was called 'Isabella'. Now every morning as I sip my tea from this cup I feel a restored connection between grandmother and grand-daughter.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Yesterday I made these fantastic apricot balls. I call them 'power balls' because they are full of goodness (that's the scientific term). According to the recipe they give you a boost in 'iron, maganese, zinc, phosphorus, copper, potassium and Vitamins A & C'. I have also added some chia seeds so that gives you omega-3s, calcium and potassium too - wow!
Have I convinced you? Here is the recipe based on a recipe I found in a magazine extracted from this book but with a few of my own changes.
Apricot Power Balls
1 cup (150g) dried apricots
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/4 cup (30g) almond meal
1 cup (90g) dessicated coconut
1 tablespoon cold water (or juice)
2 tablespoons wheatgerm
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup (25g) skim milk powder
1. Place dried apricots in food processor and pulse until finally chopped. Add boiling water and soak for 10 minutes.
2. Add almond meal, half the coconut, cold water, wheatgerm, chia seeds and skim milk powder and process until a firm paste forms. It will look quite thick but once you start scrunching it into balls it should come together nicely.
3. Roll teaspoons full of mixture into small balls and roll in remaining coconut.
4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (if you can resist them!)
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Well, it's blue sky and sunshine all the way today! Last night I had a terrible misadventure with html coding and thought I had lost half my blog. It all started with a little experiment in making my photos bigger and my text area wider. How hard could it be? Usually the phrase 'edit html' is something I keep well clear of but for some reason when I should have been heading off to bed I decided to do a bit of tinkering. Big Mistake.
After much frantic googling I finally found out how to retrieve my previous version and all was restored. Having lost the lot momentarily I realised just how much I have come to love this little fella. I have always loved writing and I like the thought that you are out there somewhere reading along with me. I like the fact that writing helps you to reflect on and make a little more sense of your life. I love the sharing aspect of it and am enjoying reading your blogs too so thanks for dropping by and don't forget to leave me a comment from time to time.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Lately I have been obsessing a bit about how to organise myself and the kids in the mornings to ensure that we all get a good breakfast. Cereal or toast with a glass of milk just doesn't seem like enough to keep us all going until lunch time so we have started getting up a bit earlier and cooking our favourite brekkies. These include Green Eggs and Ham (eggs scrambled with pesto or basil oil and served with bacon); boiled eggs with little soldiers; french toast with fresh strawberry sauce and buttermilk pancakes with blueberries.
I know that I am not alone in trying to pull off this magic trick and I recently found some good tips here. I've also found some inspiration in this Epicure article about breakfast in Melbourne. Some of the dishes I'm hoping to add to my repertoire are:
- Brekky Buritto from Las Chicas
- Corn fritters with bacon, tomato relish and sour cream from Mart 130
- Roasted roma tomatoes seasoned with chilli, garlic, cinnamon, brown sugar and white vinegar from Birdman Eating
- Baklava french toast from Demitri's Feast
I might even try my hand at the semolina pancakes with rose jam, pistachios and a sprinkling of edible Persian rose petals!
What's your favourite breakfast dish?
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
On the day in question, we were walking through the 'forest' when something about the quality of the light and the smell of dried pine needles crushed underfoot took me straight back to primary school. I remembered all those recesses spent building little cubbie houses with fallen branches thatched with pine needles. I remembered how proud I was of some of those cubbies and how we used to go around admiring each others before returning to our own convinced that ours was the best of all. I'm glad kids still build cubbie houses like we did.