Monday, July 14, 2014

ballads, bush and broccoli

We played a lovely intimate, acoustic gig at The Owl and the Pussy Cat Theater in Richmond on Friday night, as part of the Leaps and Bounds Festival. We supported Charm of Finches who have just recorded their first E.P. So young and full of grace and harmony and wonderful lyrics. Watch out for them. They will make more and more beautiful music!!
On Saturday Abuelo and I headed for the bush to visit friends, walk a little, roll about on the floor with a delightful 1 year old, sing some songs by the fire and behold the frostiest morning I've yet seen!
It took me a few years to get my head around this Melbourne winter thing....I'm a W.A girl - I'd only ever brushed past woolen under garments in Europe.... now I understand. Layers. Wool. Woollen tights, woollen socks, hat, mittens, coat. Boots. And something to hold the discarded layers when the sun inevitably comes out for a spell. I come from the land of Dependable Weather. In Perth, if the forecast says 19 and sunny, then 19 and sunny it shall be. Not many surprises. Jeans, shoes, shirt. Leave the jacket at home. It's going to be 19 and sunny. No getting caught unawares by the random disappearance of the sun and consequent plummet in temperature. Don't get me wrong. I love this Proper Winter thing. Proper, discernible seasons. (And oh how I have come to love wool with a passion). It has simply been a learning process. Now I know How to Keep Warm. 
So the bush was a delight. Delicate again at last in her green coat and sparkling jewels, not the harsh mistress of summertime, though I love her still when she is brittle,brown and not so welcoming.(No idea why I am referring to 'her' in the feminine - but just go with me.....)There was a lot of mud. Ice on the pond like sheets of glass. Birds hiding in their nests all morning. An abundance of animals an both sides of the highway. Lambs and calves too. I haven't thought of winter as such a plentiful time until now. Plentiful in it's own way, beyond just buckets of rain.. 
...which can also be said of our broccoli crop, looking healthier than ever before. I will share with you my sister-in-law's Broccoli Pasta recipe, which reached new heights of goodness tonight due to aforementioned, generous, fresh supply.It is so easy and delicious and green.

To feed four you will need  -
  • two medium to large broccoli heads with long stalks and leaves too - they are so often neglected!!  
  • cut the florets from the stalks as closely as you can and set them aside. 
  • cut stalks into small chunks and steam them to soften.
  • in a bowl or food processor add the steamed broccoli stalks, 2 or three big cloves of garlic, 6 or 7 anchovy fillets, grated lemon rind, a good lug of olive oil, dried or fresh thyme and chilli flakes - I only use about a teaspoon to save the kids from agony.
  • blend until creamy 
  • put broccoli puree into a saucepan and set on stove to simmer while you cook the pasta.
  • put pasta on to boil, and use the water to add to the simmering broccoli 'sauce' if it is getting too thick, just a little so as not to dilute the flavour.
  • blanch the broccoli florets in the boiling pasta water just before it is ready to drain. 
  • combine pasta, florets, and broccoli 'sauce' and serve to bowls.
  • drizzle with olive oil, and lemon juice or Parmesan cheese to serve.
It's so delicious and so very, very healthy.

May your broccoli be virulent; your knee caps be wool bedecked; your soccer quota be fulfilled; and your hot water bottles be close at hand....

Oh and what other delicious recipes can you recommend for broccoli? We're going to need some variety!

"Buckets of rain
Buckets of tears
Got all them buckets coming out of my ears
Buckets of moonbeams in my hand
You got all the love honey baby
I can stand...."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

keeping away the cold...

Cooking lots of Persian Stews and Italian soups and making most of the warmth of the oven....
Reading (lots of Peanuts) under layers of bedding and hot water bottles.....
Taking in whatever sun there is to be had, with dear friends and a good fire......
Plenty of Silly Business on a city adventure.....
Fun and free stuff to pass the time - Pastello at the NGV.....
'Art' shots know...why not....
Looking forward to the broccoli from the garden, trying to keep the elderly pets warm, planning new knitting projects, playing a few gigs, soaking up the young 'uns and bracing ourselves for another school term.....How are you keeping away the cold?

Saturday, June 28, 2014


On such a cold, rainy, windy day there's not much else to do but drink milo, eat toasted cheese sandwiches, and finish projects. 

My lovely warm socks; washed and on the feet!

And White Tara, well overdue, just a border colour away from completion and soon to be delivered. 

How are you spending this last June weekend?

Thursday, June 26, 2014


  Winter Solstice brought the chill factor. Now there's nowt to do but knit like there's no tomorrow, make lots of Persian Stews, drink Chai and arrange songs.
Socks and Beret Raveled here.
What's keeping you cosy?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Outside all day

A perfect Melbourne winter weekend. Crisp, clear-skied, warming sunshine, windless, long weekend. Happy Birthday Lizzie (Is it the Queen's birthday today really? What does she do on her birthday? Sleep in? Order pizza with her best friend? Drink wine with the family? Get a bit tiddly?......), thanks for the day off.
I love weekends where we go inside only to get another bowl, or meal ingredient, or to add or remove a layer of clothing. Yesterday we went to market, bought veges and croissants, then went home and ate breakfast outside in the sun. Then we dug in the garden, played soccer, cricket, made a fire, read books, knitted, chatted to our neighbour who arrived on his 'donkey' to throw us chocolates. The radio was on in the back shed; the football commentary. Just like our childhoods. To a tee.

All the backyard activity did us no end of good. We sleep better, unwind. Life has become so busy, so much running about, so little time spent in the sun, on the grass. How did that happen? So for the last two days we have barely been inside. Last night we pulled the outdoor table into the shed near the fire and ate dinner out there, prolonging the day, before coming inside for baths, books, sleep....

 And today, out in the bushlands just outside the city, close to home, with the roos, frogs and the cockatoos, ducks and kookaburras. One or two other people riding by but for the rest just us, in the roo flattened grass perched on a ridge overlooking bush and damn and green hills. Watching the kids romping in nature, investigating rocks, mud, tree, slopes; climbing, rolling, whittling, sloshing, running, cackling. Abuelo and I leaning back with cups of tea, casting 'This-is-pretty-f*****-good isn't it' looks at each other.

I felt momentarily a little afraid of all the roos out there, so many of them, watching us, then leaping away ahead of us. Enormous creatures some of them. Muscles like weight lifters. So many of them and just four of us. Walking quietly out of their way so as not to scare them!

We have a few favourite spots. Just as our parents did. Days spent in the bush, with a few snacks, binoculars, pocket knives, magnifying glass,  pencils, paper, the newspaper, a fire if the location allows....walking along tracks, listening, discovering. I hope our kids remember these things and choose to share them with their kids. I hope there are plenty of places like that around for them; vast, quiet, clean, respected, safe, close at hand.
Salami and olives; home-grown.
On a sock roll. Apparently I knit things in threes or fours...
Citrus trees = great satisfaction.
Winter greens.
A man and his donkey bearing chocolates.
The author wishes to state that Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines have been temporarily amended....
That winter sun.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Hello June

I'm very happy you are here June. I know you will probably turn on some mighty cold weather but that's OK because it's good for sleeping and great incentive to finish pairs of socks. Abuelo is pretty happy with his. My but they are SOFT. I really should knit another pair for him so he can take these off and wash them....The newly cast on socks for me are with wool I bought from Suse, some years ago. I want to see the difference between pure wool, and wool/ nylon blend. Will they stay up? With they be as squishy?? Such riveting questions I know, but valid for future sock comfort....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


For some reason I haven't been able to upload photos for a couple of weeks. I suspect my dinosaur of a computer is to blame. Oh well. Here are some photos of May bits and pieces. What a lovely May you have been. All that unexpected warmth and sun. So busy I have been that to just catch your rays on bicycle trips from A to B has been a daily treat. I have lots of teaching work! Music, music, music; singing, piano, guitar, ukulele. Lots of fun. Lots of planning. Good for me. Very Grown Up.

I have been knitting a good deal, late at night, with a cup of tea, when I'm not reading (right now - The Twelve, by Justin Cronin, sequel to The Passage; apocalyptic, virus mutates humans into Zombie-Vampires , Brave New World Order stuff - not my usual choice but so compelling, my word!. Knitting socks for Abuelo - my first attempt, fun and frustrating.And a beret for me that turned out too small but fits Bella perfectly. So just an excuse to knit another, in gorgeous smooshy Malabrigo Worsted. 

We went for a long Sunday drive. To get out of the city. To see some trees, something green all over, space, horizon, baby lambs, eagles. Abuelo drove us all the way out to the Strathbogie Ranges. I'd never been out there before. It's so beautiful. I felt completely smoothed out by it, even if initially slightly overcome. The hills and valleys laid out in the sun, winding white gravel roads, everything soft and peaceful, bucolic. I stood on a hill over-looking glorious farmland and day-dreamed us running down to such a river with the kids, with buckets and wild herbs...One day I hope we can live that big little dream. The kids won't be kids by then. But they might still frolic a bit for the sake of it, with their own kids perhaps!

Despite it becoming very wild during our busy May, the garden is offering produce; our first lemons and oranges, garlic, nettles (which in the past we have removed but I now plan to harvest because they make you live forever don't you know!), broccoli, leeks, lettuce and the gift that keeps on giving - Cavelo Nero, which we eat by the kilo daily. I would like there to be more time for digging and weeding and planting. It will come. Winter will arrive. June will slip on over in her dark dress with her icey fingers, and send us inside for days of drawing and knitting and board games but she will let us out now and then to dig around, make a fire...

What are you knitting, planting, adventuring out to?