Sunday, March 29

nutty dinner

so you have eggs; lots of them from a bloger swap, a chunk of stale rye thats been driving you nuts and a whole heap of newly gathered walnuts from under, around and on the trampoline. A neglected walnut tree can be just as productive as a neglected quince tree. Tip: Dont peel walnuts from their green casing if you're about to go out anywhere special. The staining is so impressive it will rival a 20yr roll your own tobacco habit.

Also, there were people coming for dinner.

Pappardelle alla Pangrattato e Noci

Eye-tal-yan for pasta with crumbs and walnuts.
I love this style of pasta - a definite lack of wet tomato or cream sauce, just oily, crunchy and very very tasty.

Quick and easy. well sort of...once everything is ready...ha! Make the pappardelle using a recipe that utilises lots of eggs, I always make pasta when i have a glut of eggs, and cut to thick ribbons and hang until ready to cook.
I use a Jamie Oliver recipe (500g '00 flour and 10 eggs makes enough pasta for 4) Mix until smooth and elastic. Cover and sit in cool place for 1 hour to let proteins do their thing before rolling out, I used a pasta machine. Hang pasta where you can (i use the clothes drying rack) or toss in semolina flour and keep moving it about so it doesnt squash itself and end up back in a solid. Here's a reality check if it all seems a bit too 'nice'...

Smash bread in manner to which you are accustomed until you have about 2 cups of chunky crumbs. Fry in about 4 tabs of olive oil until golden. Add 3 cloves sliced garlic, 3/4 cup chopped walnuts and cook for about 5 minutes more. Then add handfuls of chopped flat leaf parsley and about 1/3 cup grated parmasen cheese and salt and pepper. Toss through well drained pasta and add more olive oil to make mixing easy.

Olive oil, cheese , garlic and walnut heaven. Did you know that a straight from the tree, freshly shelled walnut is pale, soft and a little chewy?

We pigged our way through this and salad and white wine and then topped up the guts with scoops of Maggie Beer Burnt Fig Honeycomb and Caramel and a Vanilla and Elderflower ice cream . Earth Hour happenned in there somewhere.


Leftovers were good too.

Saturday, March 28

furry friend

I got the biggest shock this morning. Yanking open the back door, i marched out, my head down, intent on getting to the vege patch in record speed to do a quick round of watering before the bean woke up. I rounded the verandah, looked up and came face to face with a rather large male koala. Theyre not uncommon around here and we hear them in the trees all the time but we dont often get them in this close to the house and this beast of a boy wasnt in the least bit concerned about my abrupt appearance. He just sat there and looked at me, blinking and moving his head around appearing to take in the view. So i scooted back inside, let B2 know what was going on and to come look and grabbed the camera. His torso was lovely and brown and furry but his butt end was a very patchy white and grey. Must get a bit worn after years of tree hugging.

Friday, March 27

Haiku Friday

sitting still, thinking.
watching life pass below me
things hum, the phone rings.

Thursday, March 26

One today

I nearly missed it! Taurus Rising has been around a whole year.
The best thing about blogging, what i love most, is the record of our time. Thats why i set myself a goal to blog daily. Not only can i look back and read my thoughts and feelings and reflect on where i/we have been on such an exquisitely microscopic level, but that there exists a wonderful 'album' of photographs to remind me of the time that's passed and where my thoughts and interests have wandered. Thats the icing on this blog adventure, that besides the development of a lovely online community and sharing thoughts, experiences and goals (life), there has been a rekindling of my love of photography which i have not indulged since my teens. I suppose blogging has given me a focus, a new lense. The powerful and evocative memories provided by the visual capture and the scripted timeline of my evolving self is priceless. Im definitely banking on Blogger and the internet not 'going down'. Thanks for being a part of this exciting journey and all your lovely, supportive, funny and insightful comments over this past 12 months. In spite of the highs and lows, well because of the highs and lows, I'm lovin it. Thanks for sharing.

fur coat fun

Si had an old fur in the cupboard, a leftover from european relatives long gone. I love the cool softness of fur so the coat got 'unpicked' and now lives on the couch as a warm throw. B2; the almost vegan (go figure) and i often 'wear' it as a blanket at the computer in cold weather; it still has arms! It reminds me of a very amusing product I saw on tv in the states, The Snuggie , that had me rolling about in fits of laughter. Thinking our recycled version is one up from the snuggie. We wear it inside out so the fur touches your skin. B1 wont touch it and gives it a very wide berth. The bean loves it.

Wednesday, March 25

much ado about [milk]

i gave a presentation last night, i think i can call it that?? picture a moment where speed dating met a Powerpoint presentation. It was a Pecha Kucha style evening. Each invited speaker had 15 slides to present, 15 seconds per slide, each with auto transition (so no cheating possible) on the topic of Milk. It was the third in a series of 15x15 events hosted by Mulloway Studio and speakers came from all disciplines; an art historian, an events organiser, an actor, an installation artist, a philosopher, an interpretive artist, an architecht, a nanotehcnologist, me and even a milk protein scholar, all gathered together in the vast concrete space that is k2-02; the South Australian School of Art Gallery. Sounds good in theory right?

Somehow I managed to pack an overview of animal welfare, environmental and health consequences of our addiction to cows milk into 3 minutes 45 seconds and still came out somewhat comprehensible. I segued my way from bovine mastitis to nursing caries to greenhouse gasses to breastfeeding rates to maternity leave and around to plastic waste, across to salma hayek and back to unethical dairy farming practices, commercialisation and globalisation at a whirlwind rate. Im thinking that the designer audience probably werent quite expecting what i delivered, especially the tale about 'choco-loco fresh cow colostrum with added organic russian keffir grains'. I mean seriously, how first world greedy, unethical, indulgent and totally OTT is that?

However the take home message for the evening was definitely a questioning about how much dairy we consume, its impact and our complex and compromised relationship we have with the white stuff. It was a good night. Not a reference in sight (that nearly killed me as Im sooo well trained) and Im thinking that I might just take up the practice to have a glass of wine with crackers and cheese before every conference presentation; it certainly lubricated the 'have more fun' vibe, something every dental epidemiology conference can do with!

Monday, March 23


They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand on the edge of the sand
They danced by the light of the moon.

- From The Owl and the Pussycat.

quince and figs

my favourite season for fruit is right about now. i love the evocativeness of both these fruits and their contrasting personalities. Figs when ripe are soft, jammy and drip their sappy sweetness. The quince is firm, furry and floral. For me, their histories, their cultural associations, their scent, their texture, their ultimate uniqueness really draws me in. They're both romantic. My heart skips when i think of them, plotting how to eat them, sniffing in that incredible high note apple and that musty smug. Using them in the kitchen somehow connects me to the past; i feel part of a continuum of tradtion and brimming with life and its possibilities. Im humbled and grateful. Figs i love straight from the tree, a mouthful, stuffed and greedy. Quinces i love to hold and shift their weight from hand to hand and rub through velvet with my thumb. To eat, i love them baked and served with meats.

Sadly we have no fig tree; im going to have to change that soon, so for now i make the most of a few local roadside stalls and the farmers markets. The quince in the garden is fruiting. it looks beautiful, like an overhung christmas tree. It loves neglect. Its rarely watered, never pruned or fed, just surviving on its leaf litter foot warmers. Mediterranean trees love this climate and i love them too! I think this weekend i may cook duck with quince,bottle the current batch and perform the almost obligatory transformation of quince into paste (and eat with a runcible spoon!)

This was a very long and round about way to call out for your favourite quince recipe/ preserving method please...

Sunday, March 22

TV trash

so this is a biggie this post. its almost confessional.
I *heart* The Biggest Loser.
Love it. Hang out for. Hate saturdays. ( well not exactly hate...but..) Its a big deal for a supposed 'intellectual'. Supposedly, there's acceptable tv and then there's acceptable tv (and then theres national radio). Needless to say, I haven't mentioned my tv love affair at work.

When i was pregnant last year i started watching it when my belly became so big and uncomfortable ( 11.5 pounds of baby) that instead of the usual dinner table and conversation fare, i became an uncommunicative couch potato convert with dinner on the mound; bench seating at the dinner table was killing me. What was on the idiot box?...crappy news, black adder does archaeology and...yours truly. I never looked back. I have been forced ( by my own initial sense of shame) to 'deconstruct the love' in order to support the addiction.

I love seeing self directed change in people. I love to see the self realisation of the individual, the dawning of an inner strength; moving through doubt and self loathing. Even if its edited 'till the cows come home, im still there saying 'heck, its still a real transformation theyre having'. I really like to see people experiencing the benefits of healthful eating, the benefits of exercise, becoming observant of the slaves they had been to an 'unconscious' life. I know its extreme, but the process is a universal. It parallels somewhat my own dawning about 10 years ago; turning the observer in me into the doer. The realisation that if i put my mind to things, i could achieve. For me it was transforming the puff up the hill into a 10 km run. The day i became 'that woman' pounding the pavement with the double jogging pram and two kids and two whippets in tow (but firmly attached) and not the drive by woman observing the woman on the pavement running with the two kids and two dogs , i finally knew that i could steer my own destiny. That was my moment. Thats why i love this cheesy, feel good reality tv show. Im watching 'me' become 'me'.
Im finally learning to embrace my love, starting to declare it openly, just not yet at work. But im getting there.

But Im sure im not the only one with a secret reality tv show addiction...

Saturday, March 21

domestic microagriculture

could you...would you?
Need protein? want a source of meat thats low impact, low expenditure and low in use of water, kilojules, time,and effort? Its a free range, low impact, SLOW protein source we all have available and its incredibly underutilised; wasted even. Sounds great in theory. Just how green are you willing to be?

Folks, we're talking escargot.

Its simple. Gather 'stock'. Isolate for a week from its normal environment. Provide a daily feed stock of meal/bran and finish of with a salt bed to 'defoam' and 'viola' 7 days later you've got a lean, clean, primed and plumped, ready to go high protein source of ...rubber!

I may be writing about it but there is no way on earth im doing it. Yet. Gimme a bean anyday. For now, at least i know how.

Friday, March 20

love is...

annuska appearing at our door, matching oven mitts on, bearing a gift of hot comforting porky stuff; delicious caramelised aromas wafting, bread in a bag, a half hour chat, a hug, a smile, a laugh. You yourself were not well. Ahh, chorizo delivered by a beautiful spaniard! What more could one ask for...
It was superb.
Thank you, you lovely one.

Haiku Friday

Life. it ebbs, it flows.
suspended in time. breathing.
walking out the door

Image: Pinky girl

Tuesday, March 17


after much ado and many moons, the PV has landed on the purpose built roof. Although the studio sits facing the same sunny direction as the house, the pitch of the house roof was just a tad steep for solar, something akin to 70 degrees and the house sits further down the side of the valley thereby sitting in more shade. After much deliberation we decided to start with just a 1kw system; 6 panels. By our calculations, using past power bills, we will cover on an annual basis nearly 3/4 of our total electricity usage. With three of us away during most week days and the house having no significant electric heating or cooling devices, just the passive solar design and night storage heating for the winter months and and solar water heating, we're hoping to feed the grid during the day at twice the rate of our off peak night time use, thereby neutralising our electricity costs which are courtesy of wind generated green power. We have placed the panels such that there is room for 12 more in an aesthetically pleasing layout (most essential!) if we decide to go for broke. Im looking forward to the 'fire up' (sparky required) and watching the meter feeding the grid... my PV viewing pleasure.

Monday, March 16

Travelling Gnomes

Saturday saw us the happy hosts of a bloggy visit from 'the Gnomes' of Mad Gnomes fame. They came bearing garden gnome gifts, the reason for the drop in. How lucky are we!? Five dozen eggs, yup, five, a bunch of sweet chillis and some lovely shiny eggplants, mini white ones too! So we waved them in, plied them with coffee and cake (well only a small piece) Veggie did some child minding while we chatted until her arm fell numb.

Then we toured them outside to the top garden to witness the apples being plucked from the tree for a fair swap (and some rather humbling garden showing of the cold winter beds). Somehow, i always feel like i get the better deal with Veggie swaps. I forgot to take happy snaps, so its food pics instead. What to do with five dozen eggs...a huge tortilla de patatas to take to a party. Four dozen to go.

Thanks so much Mad Gnomes, the time just flew! and we are dreaming of the rasberry canes with much anticipation. Ohh, yes...

Sunday, March 15

current indication

this recipe for pork belly and chorizo stew posted by haalo gives a pretty good indication of exactly where my emotional state is at. Its comfort food of the highest order. pig pig and more pig (i rarely eat pig and then only if theyre happy housed neighbourhood piggy wigs). The problem with feeling like indulging in such a porky extravaganza (besides the hip load, look at all that fat!) is that after spending hours creating; i do like to stand at the pot for said stewing hours with wine in hand and just poking the mixture every now and then, is that i effectively have only made dinner for two. The two never meat eating children (*sigh* how did that happen?) still need to be fed. Ive tried removing the meaty bits, but ive never got away with it. Would someone make this and get back to me...just how fabulous was it?

Thursday, March 12

blogs and truths

Ive been struggling the last two weeks with some pretty personal health issues. Issues that have left my blogging mojo pretty frayed. Its been hard for me. I blog because i like to write, its my diary. It started this way, just for me. It was a genuine shock when i recieved my first comment and it dawned on me that people actually might pass my way! I know. Doh. Its a public blog... Im bog into honesty, i like to tell it like it is and i like others doing the same. Im a no holds kinda girl. Not much shocks me , not much scares me but i also wear my heart on my sleeve. So its been hard for me to keep these issues away from the blog but becasue they are so personal im just not sure how much to share; to open myself up for public comment...maybe not quite so ready for that right here, right now despite my intense desire to just spill. So, Im just going to say, bear with me while we get back on our feet; i'll take the pressure off myself and hopefully when the clouds have lifted, I'll be back with the old mojo in tow.

Tuesday, March 10

apple, blackberry and frangipane tart

Taking a good pic of a half eaten pie at night time without lighting is tricky and i couldnt guarantee there'd be any left when the light was better in the morning. This tart was good. I mean really good. I love it when i can cook like this. 95% local ingredients (sugar definitely not from here). Blackberries picked that day on our walk and apples from our trees, home ground raw whole local almonds, and all else local biodynamic or organic fare. Its loca love in a tart.

Frangipane is one of those wonderful things in life, like basil and tomato or hazelnut and chocolate. I first discovered it big time in croissants aux amandes. If you havent tried one, they're heaven in a heart attack. Full of artery clogging butter but soo delish and a great way to use up old, stale going cheap croisssants. Stuff them with frangipaine and bake and serve with coffee on a weekend when the kids are away and you've got the paper and a sunny spot...I digress.

So, to hand were apples and blackberries. The blackberries were probably the last of the season, so many dried on the canes and wasps hovering closely ( so close i did get a jab in the palm when i grabbed a fat purple berry and its passenger, but not enough to swell) and apples, well we're still picking...bucketfulls. Im going to bottle most this weekend and am thinking maybe a cider??? But for now, with those two , its gotta be desert, right? I had both almonds and walnuts in the pantry but i figured a traditional almond frangipaine was the way to go.

Pastry - your choice. I used a cream based short crust, blind baked for 10-15 minutes after resting the lined case in the fridge for 10 min. This prevents it shrinking in the oven and its insides spilling out.

Apples - i used about 5 apples and simmered them in water for about 10 minutes to soften.

Blackberries - probably used about 1 cup fresh; frozen would be fine. Actually any other fruit or berry combo is fine. Use whatever you have to hand. This works well with anything; quince, plum, pear...

125g/4 oz butter
125g/4 oz sugar.
2 eggs -lightly beaten
150-200g almond meal
vanilla extract- 1 tsp or seeds from 1 pod
Cream together butter and sugar and then add the eggs slowly to combine. Add almond meal and vanilla and mix thoroughly and pour into cooled pastry case. Top frangipane mixture with fruit. Bake 25 minutes in 180 oven. Serve with cream or ice cream.

Its a good thing we had friends over to help out with consumption. You definitely dont want to be eating this type of food too often. Tonights desert; chilled whole apples. Penance.

Monday, March 9

food control

yesterday B1, the bean and i went blackberry picking, dodging the wasps for the last of the seasons pickings (blackberry, apple and frangapaine tart to come). B1 just casually dropped a question into the conversation.

"Mum, if you died, would i get to choose where i want to live" ( yikes, this is my biggest fear in life)

My brain went through about a million permutations of were to begin an answer in about three seconds. Where do i start? So i started with a qualified yes...court would take into account age, school, your wishes, family attachments, ability to provided care, current arrangements...etc. Its not a black and white answer; theres no stratght forward yes or no. She basically said she had a better relationsip with Si than her dad and she would want to live here, in her home with him and her brother and sister, go to her school, keep her friends and be near her grandmother. Fair enough. I said i would make her wishes known and that Si would be only too happy for that to happen.

It led us to reflecting on how her dad chooses to live and how we live and food control came issues came up. He has lots of soft drinks (soda), cakes and biscuits and other fast food available and we dont. The kids can help themselves; no limits at his place, but at home they ask first. Her argument was that if you have lots of 'crap' around you learn to not want it, that you can regulate your intake when its available but if its not around you want it more and so eat it more. All her friends can help themselves, its normal. Agghh. Peer pressure. I disagreed but remembered using the same argument on my mum. I said if you dont eat it very often then why buy it? why have it around ? and that if its there it will get eaten.

Control of children and food is interesting. Over the years i have tried to teach them what kinds of food they need to ask about. The last avocado (might be guacamole for dinner) , leftovers (maybe enough for another whole meal) fruit no need to ask but they invariably do. I just cant imagine a household where they just come and go from the pantry or fridge eating whenever, whatever. Im thinking dinner time would be met with "Im not hungry" or when i go to make dinner the key ingredient which was there, is no longer. Im not a "nevermind, its 6.30 but i will just run out to the shop" kinda girl , i like to make sure they are eating a healthful diet and its also a home economics issue for me too. I do think food control may be more of an issue when you have children who are overweight, i think thats where my zealousness may have come from. Since the girls dad moved they have each lost well over 10kgs and now sit in the healthy range not the overweight/obese for BMI. But am i limiting their ability to develop self control by teaching them to ask? Is democratic parenting in the food realm an ideal or a trap? Do you control food in your house? Why?

Sunday, March 8

stuffs up

first the crone, then nature witch, now me. Blogging mojo = zero. I usually love to write, i love the freshness of a new 'page' an empty space to be filled with some words, but lately the idea of sitting down to creat a post has actually left me physically feeling sick to my stomach. i thought it may have ben the flu and that it would pass, but maybe i just need a break? too much going on...somethings gotta give...all those cliches, maybe its a need to be focussed on the ouside, the physical.. maybe I've just got nothing to say? *laughs* I have been doing a lot of sitting in the garden, just looking, especially just sitting in the sunshine and looking at the water in the creek and trying to breathe my racing mind and heart to slow, a simple meditation.

Despite all my misgivings about feeling compromised with the wordsmithing, thankfully the garden is happily chugging along blissfully unaware of my mojo meltdown. Everything i planted up last weekend has sprouted; my stuffs up!. Its fantastic and i havent needed to water all week as the rains have been so thorough and the morning dew just tops everything up. Im excited about the kale which looks just like cabbage (doh) which is also up, both are onto their fifth leaves, the root vegetables; beets ,carrots and parsnips are looking strong despite their delicate demeanour, the bush and purple beans are streaking ahead ( next sowing i will do some regular grren climbers as the purple one do tend to woody) snow peas and mammoths are travelling a good 6 inches up their supports, the chards are putting in a rainbow appearance and the chives are just peeking through as are the potatoes. This is what it must be like growing in sub tropical conditions! I love it! So my first foray into sowing the whole lot from seed direct has been successful thus far. Like a child, the birth is over, now the transition into adulthood and navigating through the perils of the seed teen years begins.

Friday, March 6

Haiku Friday

Laura Jane, colours
swirl. Shape, form and content grow.
Its not forgotten.

Thursday, March 5

ode to bloke

sick and tired. thats us. the whole mob. sick and tired. We're all only just getting better. So i travelled home quite late this evening after a looong day and a late work function knowing i would walk through the door not only at 'that time' but under less than optimal conditions. 'That time'is the time we usually negotiate our way through as a couple; dinner prep, post school queries and bath and bed time for the bean. I had a small sense of dread as I neared home after saying goodbye to R who was going home to peace and quiet; her kids being twenty somethings with independent lives. My 'old' tape was playing in my head; memories of my ex husbands parenting style dragging my stomach to places i thought i had left behind. So I really didnt relish walking in the door this first time after leaving S the full gamut of the night time routine, especially knowing he was quite unwell today.

In and of itself its no biggie, but before I met S, he had done no cooking for 25 years, no house duties for 25 years. He lived the traditional model to a T so today may have been a stretch on an organisational level. But, i opened the kitchen door to domestic bliss. Pots steaming on the stove, wine in the fridge, baby bath being emptied by a smiling bloke in black. The only 'noise' was B2 running to the door with a 'hello mummy' and the bean happily playing in his pjs in the lounge. The tape of chaos, tears and lots of stress hit rewind and erase.

I havent stopped telling the bloke just how appreciative i am and how novel this feels. I think i can say he's worked it out.

ps. went upstairs to find my pile of clean knickers and socks folded on the end of the bed. swoon.

with rain

come snails.

just a word of warning for all those of us too gobsmacked by the damn rain to think any further.

Wednesday, March 4

a comment on crunchy food waste

Here was Crunchys report from yesterday on the final week of her no food waste challenge.

1 cup sour cream
12 oz buttermilk
3 jalapenos
1 cup salsa
3 heads of broccoli
1/2 cup black olives
1 head lettuce
1 lemon
1/3 onion
1 cup basil

Im not sure if it sacreligious to pass comment on Crunchy or not, but im doing it anyway. This just needed a comment from me as her role as a 'big gun' in blog land. Now people can fail, im not expecting perfection ( am i?) but this was pretty huge and for all her commentary and knowledge and committment im surprised. Most of that stuff could have gone in the freezer and Im sorry, well, wasting a whole cup of basil...just criminal! I suspect it may have something to do with the size of standard domestic American fridges ( you can get lost in those things!) The last time i commented on her blog i got shot down in flames by her devotees so im doing it here! lol

Im shocked. For an eco-guru, that was a lot of food waste for a week.

Tuesday, March 3

not enough rain

it rained yesterday, sort of...the first sign of rain here in 80 days.
We sat outside the boy and i, on the warmth of the stones, feeling the drops spitting on our arms, our faces, our heads. it evaporated almost as it hit the ground or a limb. But it was the smell, the beautiful dank, sweet earthy smell of the water on hot earth that made me smile and drew the others outside to breathe it in.

its rained again this morning, enough to wet the creek bed and drip from leaves but not enough to fill a tank or ease the pain. the next rain is months away...

Monday, March 2

intentional leftovers

we're a leftover lovin' family here at Chez Pan, its the main reason i bought the Pyrex, so we had a loving home and a display space to store and observe the delights that are leftovers! If we cook, we do extra... extra pasta, extra rice, extra noodle, extra dough, always with manana in mind. its evolved over the years mainly as the vegetaian B2 hates sandwiches and school lunch times (and home lunch times for that matter) began to cause stress. either she would toss the sandwich, bring it home but leave it in the bottom of the school bag or just plain refuse to take it. thats when i started to really take it on board; if i wanted her to eat during the day then she needed an alternative. I must say im a bit over sandwiches for lunch too. So we started making more of the nights dinner so she could take it for lunch and the habit spread. Now we fight over the stuff. yesterday it was the leftover dough to make englsih muffins to go with the eggs and tomatoes for breakfast and this morning we tucked into yesterdays plain rice as rice pudding for breakfast. Leftover pasta can bring the house down on a weekend. B1 made rice for lunch yesterday so last night before i went to bed i added milk so the brown rice could soak in a bit more liquid overnight and this morning added an egg, cinnamon and some maple syrup and zapped it in the microwave for a few minutes. Warm rice pudding for breakfast. YUM.

Whats your favourite leftover??

Sunday, March 1

Haiku Friday (on a sunday)

friday slipped by in
all the excitement last week.
but, now it is here!