The Blue House

A weekend away with girlfriends is something to look forward to. The anticipation of being unfettered and unencumbered by the needs of anyone else is certainly something to be savoured. To be surrounded by friends who know your story, who understand ‘where you are at’, who get your eccentricities, your likes and dislikes, who are aware of your good and bad qualities and yet despite all that; they still want to go away with you. (Either that or they are too polite to disinvite you.)

We met when our (now fifteen year old) babies were merely a few weeks old. From that we formed a Mothers Group. Meeting each week reassured us that we were not alone in this journey called ‘motherhood.’ As time went on, some of our number moved away, changed goals and directions and eventually in the end; four of us remained.

To this day, we still meet for coffee and breakfast once a fortnight. That is not a feat to be sneezed at. The mind boggles at the changes we have experienced throughout these years. The birth of more children, the heartache of no more children, moving away, returning, losing loved ones, sharing the joy and torment that is parenting, grieving the loss of loved ones or of changed relationships, learning more about ourselves, not always seeing eye to eye, laughing our asses off, crying our eyes out, complaining, sharing, oversharing but loving each other regardless.

Whether it be serendipity that we met, a fluke or part of some greater plan; I cannot say. But I am grateful to know each one of these beautiful women. Our annual weekends away are a time of fun, heart to heart discussions, good food, laughs, relaxation and reflection.

This year we booked The Blue House in the beautiful Blue Mountains village of Leura. It is a sweet wee cottage just a mere 15 minute walk from town. The house is set in a delightful old school garden and yes, it is actually painted blue. We found it charming, warm, clean and full of welcoming and thoughtful features. Each and every one of us particularly loved the combustion fireplace and the thoughtfully organised kitchen, full of every utensil or dish you could possibly need. (Not that we really cooked on this visit.)

Two meals were eaten at the consistently good Red Door Cafe in Leura. Their salmon in butter dish and their roast pumpkin and fried egg brunch dish are so delicious that I order one or the other every time we eat there. And the coffee is darned good too.

We visited Josophan’s for their amazing chocolate, ice-creams and bags of cooking cocoa; watched movies snuggled under blankets, devoured piggy platters of assorted cheeses, dips and suchforth, we sipped good wine, took winter walks, experienced great shopping be it clothing, homewares or food; and ate seriously good Thai takeaway. What else could a woman want? Maybe just an extended visit next time? Two nights is just never enough and there’s nothing wrong with being a little bit greedy.

The Red Door Cafe

Josophan’s Fine Chocolates

Logan Wines

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Gluten free macadamia and lemon shortbread

Christmas baking. Those of us who reside in this sunburnt country love nothing more than turning on our ovens in thirty plus degrees heat and ninety plus humidity. If you can’t ‘hack’ it, stay out of the kitchen us hardcore bakers would say. Every year I try a new spin on the classic shortbread and this Yuletide season, I decided it was time for a little bit of Australiana. A dash of ‘yeah mate’, a teaspoon of ‘good on ya’ and a sprinkling of ‘g’day.’

The macadamia nut is indigenous to Australia (sorry Hawaii, it was ours first) with a mild flavour and creamy, buttery texture. These ovoid tree-grown kernels pair beautifully with citrus. I would have loved to used the wonderfully zingy lemon myrtle, another native ingredient but sadly, I hadn’t ordered it in time. Hence, good old lemon rind had to suffice.

By all accounts this is a ‘little ripper’ of a combination and one that I am sure any good ‘sheila or bloke’ would be happy to find in their Christmas stocking. Have a ‘beaut’ Christmas and a ‘bloody’ Happy New Year.

MACADAMIA AND LEMON SHORTBREAD

WHAT YOU NEED
250g butter, room temperature
2 tsps finely grated lemon zest (approx the zest of 2 medium sized lemons)
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 3/4 cups plain gluten free flour (for non gluten-free shortbread use the same amount of plain flour)
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 tsp fine salt
60g macadamias, very finely chopped

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 170C.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and sift the flours and salt together into a bowl.
Cream the butter, lemon zest and add the sugar gradually (I used a mixer), beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Work in the flour gradually until the mixture is just combined.
Add the macadamias and give the mixture another quick mix.
Knead the mixture lightly in the bowl for a few minutes to bring it together.
Divide the dough in half, roll each half out to a 3-4 cm log. Wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for half an hour to an hour.
Slice the logs into 1-2 cm thickness, depending on your fancy, place 10mm apart on a baking tray and prick each piece all over with a fork.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and straw-coloured. (Regular shortbread will be quicker to bake, probably only 15-20 minutes.)
Cool down on wire racks. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 20-25 pieces.

A Cheergerm Adaptation of a Margaret Fulton recipe.

Cooking Notes: Gluten free shortbread can be delicate creatures so please handle carefully when rolling and cutting. When adding the flour to the mixture, I pop a teatowel over the mixer to stop the flour ‘floofling’ (an exact culinary term) all over the joint.

Go here for some other Christmas shortbread variations:
Ginger shortbread
Cardamom, cinnamon and brown sugar shortbread
Pecan and vanilla shortbread
Cranberry chocolate and pistachio shortbread


Gluten free blueberry muffins

Throwing stuff out is not my jam. Minimalists, let me spare you the pain and avert your eyes now.

Not only do I love to collect, I also struggle with sorting through and throwing out the accumulated tangible items of life. This includes my clothes, knick-knacks and kitchenware but my biggest challenge is anything that belongs to our boys; be it toys, items of clothing or books.

I detest waste (who knows when it may come in handy?) but I also attach an immense amount of sentiment to such objects. Each precious article reminds me of our curly-haired, chubby-thighed little boys in Bonds t-shirts. How could I get rid of the wooden medieval castle or the Schleich animal figurines thoughtfully chosen together? But what I find most difficult is the books. Ahh, the books.

Every book I pick up has been read thoroughly, over and over during those early years. Each of them reminds me of sweet smelling freshly washed heads, snuggly pyjamas, weary nighttime little limbs softened and curled against me. They listened and looked and recited along with either myself or the Yak as we read to them. As often and whenever we could.

Trying to sort through the boys early childhood collection was my very own personal nightmare and I admit to keeping more than I should have. The classic books remembered from my own childhood had to be retained. The Giant Jam Sandwich, The Bad Baby and The Elephant, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, The Tiger Who Came to Tea and The Story About Ping.

Nor could I give away the many Hairy McLary’s, The Gruffalo, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Peepo. (To name but a few.) Lovingly packed away for now, my hope is that they will be read to future possible grandchildren (if I live that bloody long). If not, they will hopefully be rediscovered by our boys when they get the wonderful job of clearing out the crap once we have shuffled off this mortal coil. Lads, you are welcome.

This recipe is slightly tweaked from the marvellous Gluten Free Girl blog. Her feelings and experimentation pertaining to The Science of Muffin Baking, mirror my own. As all of us who bake gluten free know, it can be tricky to enjoy a lovely tender bake without using a nut based flour. I don’t like a big, overly sweet and cakey muffin and these little fruity beauties have a lovely soft crumb, are hydrated (I am trying desperately to avoid a certain ‘m’ word that I hate) and are a divine accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee. Kid 1 loves them enough to hog the whole lot. (He will hopefully remember these muffins lovingly as he sorts through the mountains of inherited flotsam and jetsam.)

GLUTEN FREE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

WHAT YOU NEED
260 gf plain flour (Bobs Red Mill 1 to 1 gf flour blend is my current fave flour blend. I do not get paid to say this!)
2 tbl psyllium husk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbl baking powder
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup buttermilk (I have used soy milk and regular milk as well but buttermilk provides the most tender muffin)
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil (I use grapeseed or rice bran oil)

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 210C.
Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin liners. (I brush a little bit of oil in each one to assist the muffins in not sticking.)
Whisk the flour, psyllium husk, sugar, baking powder, bi-carb soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.
Add the blueberries and toss them in the flour mixture. This flour coating helps them to not sink when baking.
Whisk the buttermilk, eggs and oil together thoroughly.
Pour the wet ingredients into a well in the dry ingredients and and very gently, fold the ingredients until everything is combined.
Fill the muffin liners equally.
Bake the muffins for five minutes at 210C then lower the heat to 180C and bake for another 15 minutes. The muffins are cooked when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and place the muffins onto a wire rack to cool.
Eat them.

Recipe slightly adapted from the following blog. This is a great post involving all things muffiny and gluten free. Go have a read.

https://glutenfreegirl.com/2016/10/how-to-make-a-gluten-free-muffin-mix/


Ginger and almond slice, gluten free

Kid 1: Do you want a hug Mum?
Me: (Suspiciously) … um why?
Kid 1: Are you having a bit of a hard time at the moment?
Me: Ummmm…why do you ask?
Kid 1: Are you going through some kind of mid life crisis? I saw those tablets in the kitchen and it says that they are for ‘hormonial’ problems.

Explanation: sitting on our kitchen bench top sat an assortment of herbal tablet remedies addressing ‘certain women’s issues’, including that ‘raggedy-arse no good delightful condition of pre-menopause.’

Me: (Despite the exclamation marks in my mind, out loud I calmly said) Well, I guess I kind of am.
Kid 1: Oh, that’s badly timed with you going through a mid-life crisis and me going through teenage years! (Himself now being all of fourteen.)
Me: Yup, we really should have planned that better.
Kid 1: Do you still want a hug?
Me: Yes, yes I do.

Now that was a damned fine hug indeed.

A close runner up to that hug is this buttery innards-warming gingery slice topped with golden brown nutty slivers. The nuggets of crystallised ginger add wee pockets of chewy surprises that both delight and astound. (Ok, astound is taking it too far but they are bloody tasty.) Indeed, it has become Kid 1’s second favourite homemade slice.

ALMOND AND GINGER SLICE, GLUTEN FREE

WHAT YOU NEED
175g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
225g gluten free plain flour, sifted
2 tbl milk
100g almond meal
1 tsp ground ginger
100g crystallised ginger, uncrystallised or glacé ginger. (It’s up to you!)
70g flaked almonds

WHAT YOU NEED
Preheat oven to 190C degrees conventional (or 180 C fan-forced) and line an 18cm by 28cm baking tin with baking paper.
Beat butter and sugar together using an electric beater until thick, pale and fluffy.
Beat in the egg, then beat in flour alternating with milk.
Stir in the almond meal, ground ginger and crystallised/glacé ginger.
Pat the mixture into the tin and smooth it out evenly and sprinkle with the almonds.
Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool slightly in the pan then lift onto a baking rack to finish cooling. Cut into squares or fingers and eat.

Recipe slightly adapted from the following website:

https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/ginger-almond-slice/0d614e62-250f-45ff-aa4b-c4c161ce186e


Gluten free lemon biscuits

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Winter has certainly hit Sydney. Looking out onto a dreary garden scene, I observe a sun-deprived browning lawn, fallen twigs and leaves from recent strong winds and the remnants of summer herbs. The bright spot in my view is the lemon trees. We are enjoying an abundance of citrus but there are only so many cakes, biscuits and slices you can bake.

My next food goal is to ‘put up’ (as would they say in the old days) some Moroccan/Middle Eastern preserved lemons. In my minds eye, I envisage opening a jar of homemade bottled sunshine to chuck into a slow-cooked tagine or sprinkle atop an autumnal salad. Bathing in a feeling of culinary superiority, wearing muted linen colours, my well-manicured hands clutching a coffee mug in the very latest in ceramic serving ware. Totally ‘Instagrammable.’

Back to reality, I hoist my daggy tracksuits up around my waist. These biscuits are delicate, zesty,  wonderfully easy to make and are much akin to shortbread. Next time (there will be a next time), I will double the recipe.

Gluten free lemon biscuits

WHAT YOU NEED
100g butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbl lemon zest (I used the rind of 1 large lemon)
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour
1/4 cup rice flour

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking tray with baking paper.
Combine the butter, sugar, juice and zest in a bowl and beat until combined.
Sift in the gluten free flour and rice flour and stir until smooth.
Form the dough into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and pinch off about 1 large tablespoon of dough and roll into balls. Place them on the trays, 5cm apart. Flatten them with a fork ever so lightly.
Bake for 15-20minutes or until they start to brown around the edges.

Makes about 18 bikkies.

Recipe from the following website, with a few small adaptations.

http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/26080/gluten-free-lemon-biscuits.aspx

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Leura and Holmcroft

Our brother-in-law had arrived from the UK and after a couple of days hanging in our usual surrounds, we thought it a grand idea to go and visit further afield. It didn’t take long to decide upon the charming village of Leura, set admidst the quintessential Australian bush environment of the Blue Mountains. After investigating accommodation options online until my eyeballs bled, I chose a charming wee cottage named Holmcroft. Staying in another home elsewhere is like trying on a pair of fine, expensive shoes. You get the feeling of another way of life in a place that is different to your own. Yet you are not required to commit to it.

The bones of Holmcroft wrapped themselves around us. Pressed metal walls and ceilings, wide knotted Kauri floorboards and panels of stained glass panels hark back to the early 1900’s. I stared at the ornate ceilings, imagining those who passed through and have long gone back to dust and dirt. So many unspoken stories embedded into the mitochondria of this building. The spoken and the unspoken, I like to think that we also left behind a tiny part of our own story.

Holmcroft definitely harkens back to a more gracious time. When clocks ticked their steady rhythm, fine bone china clinked and heavy fabricked skirts rustled. The house is plenty big enough, four bedrooms are dressed with good quality bed linen, there are two bathrooms, two comfortable decent sized living areas and a lovely verandah for cup-of-tea relaxing. Mod-cons such as central heating, a dishwasher and an updated kitchen are the icing on this vintage cake. The boys ran out their bottled-up energy in the rambling garden, when they weren’t exhausted from the daily walking.

I happily did very little cooking, unless you can call arranging a piggy-platter of tasty nibbles and opening a bottle of fizzy wine actual cooking? Leura was a pleasant ten minute stroll away and we delighted in the heavily blossom laden trees and beautifully maintained gardens we passed on the way into town.

We ate at a number of restaurants and cafes but my highlight was lunch at the Red Door Cafe. I ordered the same dish on two different occasions, it comprised of a wild rice sage and mushroom rosti, chilli and chive fried eggs, sweet roast pumpkin and all topped with a radish, almond, peach and pecorino salad. Whilst it sounds like a bit of a mish-mash, it was incredibly well balanced and completely delicious. Something to attempt replicating at home for sure.

Josophan’s Chocolates was another solid fist punch foodie moment. The boys scoffed decadent brownies, of which we got a tiny nibble. I also purchased a bag of their magnificent Belgian cocoa and may (or may not) have bought a small bag of their hand-crafted chocolates. (Shhh, don’t tell the children or The Yak.) We ate hearty pies in buttery pastry and very good sourdough at Wentworth Bakery. This sometimes grown-up also managed to sneak away for some lovely shopping moments in the lush boutiques that dot the main street.

We walked, talked and enjoyed the jaw-dropping mountain scenery. Whilst extreme heights has never been my favourite, I found myself panicking whenever the boys went too close to the vertigous edge. I tried not to pass on this new found anxiety to the lads. Judging from the way they happily trekked down the cliff face to the closest point of the Three Sisters rock formation, I seem to have succeeded. (Despite my small tantrum at not wanting them to go and storming back up the path so as not to witness their descent. Another chapter to add to my ‘Fine Parenting Moments 101.’)

We read by the fire, ate, drank good wine and made new memories. Although the absence of our Joanne weighed heavily at times we hope that it was a small salve to Rob’s soul to be elsewhere for a while, just as it was for us to spend time with him.

Speaking of leaving a part of us behind, we accidentally left one boys favourite soccer cap and two other items of my clothing at the house. So I guess the old adage of ‘be careful what you wish for’ sometimes does come true. If that is the case, I would like to throw another wish out there, that we come back to visit Holmcroft again and not before too long.

Holmcroft

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Maple syrup muffins, gluten free

Since moving to the northern suburbs of Sydney and its bush surroundings, a particular bird has become my steadfast night time companion. A birdwatching neighbour assisted me in identifying the resonant hoot of this avian creature. It is the smallest and most common owl in Australia, the Southern Boobook. (Or as I have nicknamed it, ‘The Hoo Hoo Bird’.) It’s voice capacity seems far beyond its body weight, some would say this fact may explain my feelings of kinship towards this evening songbird.

It’s nocturnal call has become a comforting, rhythmical backdrop to what I have dubbed the ‘3 am blues’. Upon waking around that particular hour; every bad thought, hideous possibility and nightmarish circumstance comes to mind. And due to the hour, it feels unbeatable, unbearable and imminently possible.

Too many times to mention has the rhythmic far off call of the Boobook been my lullaby back to the realm of peace and slumber. Lately, this owl has begun to roost very near our house. The closest I have ever heard it. As I write, my eyes droop and my head nods in a Pavlovian response to its soothing call, lulling me to the Land of Nod.

Oh beautiful bird, thank you for your gift of sleep during restless nights of dark thoughts, wakeful breastfeeding babies, anxious parent emotions, vomiting children, snoring husbands, asthmatic lads, grieving nights and wide eyed ‘what if’ overthinking. I wish you propagation, the protection of your bush environment, delicious treats and the continuing joy of your nightly call.

These gluten free muffins are on steady rotation in our household. The recipe doesn’t contain any refined sugar, only maple syrup which gives them a floral, caramel flavour. They are tender, not too sweet and are best eaten on the day (or day after) they are baked.

MAPLE SYRUP MUFFINS, GLUTEN FREE

WHAT YOU NEED
350g gf flour (see cooking notes)
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs (70g)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
2 tbl maple syrup extra for glazing

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 200C (or 190 fan forced.) Place muffin papers into a 12 hole muffin tin. Spray lightly with baking oil to ensure easy removal.
Sieve all the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs then add the buttermilk, maple syrup and grapeseed oil and stir well.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Spoon the mixture into the muffin papers and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven onto a cooling rack and using a pastry brush, brush the extra maple syrup over the top of the muffins whilst they are still hot.
Eat them.

Cooking notes:
In regards to gluten free flour for these muffins, I like to use a blend and this will change depending on what I have on hand. The two blends that provide a lovely, tender muffin are: A. 150g chestnut flour and 200g plain gf flour blend such as the Orgran brand. B. 100g Bobs Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour and 250g plain gf flour.
If you don’t have buttermilk you can make your own by adding 1 tbl of lemon or vinegar to 1 cup of buttermilk and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

Maple syrup muffins original recipe link

The call of the Southern Boobook


Vegetarian lentil shepherds pie

Our two lads will happily eat standard veggie fare such as corn, carrots, peas, broccoli and potatoes. If you asked them, they would vehemently deny eating (much less admit to enjoying) eggplant, zuchinni, mushrooms, fennel, onion and capsicum. However, they regularly eat these vegetables in curries, vegetarian Mexican bean dishes, veggie lentil pasta dishes, meat casseroles, burgers, bolognese and more.

Whilst eating, they sometimes ask ‘Mum, what’s in this ?’ When I tell them ‘eggplant’, they are not deterred from continuing the inhalation process. I am sure this has something to do with the leafy matter being ‘hidden in plain sight’ and not easily identifiable. On the flip side, they run screaming from the room when confronted with beetroot, brussel sprouts, parnsips or sweet potato.

This hearty winter dish is all about the fifth flavour of umami (or in other words ‘deep savouriness’), provided by the mushrooms, miso and soy sauce. These flavours and textures, combined with some slow cooking, are completely satisyfing. I cannot promise that it will convert the most adamant of carnivores but our lads love it and in fact, have said they prefer it to my meat version of the same dish. (A declaration at which many sheep breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing.)

Make, eat and enjoy; knowing that neither sheep nor shepherd was harmed in the making of this pie.

VEGETARIAN LENTIL SHEPHERDS PIE

WHAT YOU NEED
4 tbl olive oil
1 medium onion finely diced
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
3 medium carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 medium sized red pepper, diced
1 large eggplant, diced
1 large zuchinni, diced
2 cloves garlic
3 large flat mushrooms, diced
2 tins brown lentils, drained
1 tin crushed tomatoes
250 ml vegetable stock
1 tbl oregano
1tbl gluten free soy sauce
1 tbl miso paste
Salt and pepper to taste

Mashed potato topping
1.5 kilos potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup milk
50-100g Butter to taste (add as much as or as little as you like)
Salt and pepper
50-80g Parmesan for grating on top

HOW YOU DO IT

Lightly oil a large baking dish.
Sauté onion, chilli, carrot, celery and red pepper for five minutes. Add the eggplant and zuchinni and sauté for another five minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the mushrooms and cook for another five minutes. Add the lentils, tin of tomatoes, veggie stock, oregano, soy sauce, miso and another cup or so of cold water so the whole mixture is covered in liquid.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cook for up to one hour until all the liquid is evaporated and the veggies are tender. (This can take more like 1 hour 15 minutes.) Check for seasoning.
Whilst the vegetable mixture is simmering make the mashed potato topping. Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender then drain them. Quickly pop them back into the saucepan and cook on a low heat for a minute or two. This will evaporate any remaining liquid and help to make a more fluffy mash. Remove them from the heat.
Warm the milk then add this and the butter to the potato mixture and mash until light and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.
If cooking the shepherds pie straight away, preheat the oven to 180C.
To assemble the pie: Place the vegetable mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth flat. Dollop even spoons of the potato mash over the top of the veggies. Flatten the mash with a spatula then drag a fork through the top. (This uneven texture helps the potato to brown.)
Sprinkle the Parmesan over the potato and bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden brown. (If the top hasn’t browned enough, I often turn the grill on to medium for five minutes or so to help the browning process.)
If you are heating up the shepherds pie from the fridge, bring it out for half an hour before baking and it will take around an hour to heat up to piping hot.

Cooking Notes: Don’t feel compelled to follow my recipe for mashed potato if you have your own awesome recipe and technique. You can also make this recipe vegan by using a vegan margarine to mash the potatoes with and not using any milk. Top with a vegan cheese instead.
Another great thing about this dish is that due to its size, there are always leftovers for the next night. You little beauty.

A Cheergerm recipe


Sautéed cabbage

Cabbage is supposedly the latest ‘it’ vegetable, the suddenly fashionable ‘new kid on the block’. It’s in the zeitgeist and cauliflower has been kicked to the curb and replaced with the humble cabbage.

Dear Cabbage, please know that I have always loved you. When you were the wallflower, the last kid picked for handball and the lonely vegetable left sitting on the veggie stand. Eastern Europe stood by you when so many others shunned you. You are delicious whether eaten raw, cooked, pickled and fermented.

Cabbage, I am happy that you are having your day in the sun. Please know that those of us who have always been your stalwart supporters, will still be here when your fifteen minutes of fame finally ends.

SAUTÉED CABBAGE

WHAT YOU NEED
3 tbls olive oil
50g butter
400g red cabbage, finely sliced
400g white cabbage, finely sliced
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup cold water
Salt and pepper
1/2 small lemon

HOW YOU DO IT
Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat then add the olive oil and butter.
Once the butter has melted, sauté the onion for a few minutes, then add the cabbage and stir until the cabbage is well coated with the butter and oil.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Add 1/4 cup of water and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally for around 30 minutes until the cabbage is soft, tender and starts to caramelise. (If you want crunchier cabbage, just cook it for less time.)
Squeeze the half a lemon over the dish and season to taste with salt and pepper and serve alongside whatever your heart desires.

Cooking Notes:
I sometimes add 1/2 tsp caraway seeds with the garlic if I have them.
My hard taskmaster erstwhile editor (aka The Yak) wants me to explain the terminology ‘sauté’. Sauté means to cook quickly in a small amount of fat in a sauté pan or fry pan, over a medium to high heat for a short time.

A Cheergerm version of a dish that has been around a very long time


Turmeric, garlic and sumac potatoes

Our home is an eclectic mix of the old and the new. Vintage pieces have either been collected or handed down. Our artwork tells the story of where we have been, who we once were, where we came from and perhaps where we are headed. The sentimental and the functional work alongside a healthy mix of Lego, too many books to count and endless drawers stuffed full of ‘God Knows What.’ Furniture is chosen for both comfort and design and in some cases, passed down or handed over.

I am drawn towards textural fabrics that provide warmth and please my eye. Our abode is a continual work in progress and our list of ‘things to do’ grows bigger by the day. We are not the greatest of ‘handypeople’ and we work at a snails pace that would (and probably does) frustrate those faster moving people out there. Our home doesn’t suit everybody but then nobody should really ever have to justify ‘home’ to anyone. (Except maybe those of you still married to the 80’s grey and pink decor theme but then, who am I to judge?)

This winter, it feels as if my heartbeat and mind have slowed. I notice the small things. A new crack in a wall, a particularly lovely leaf on an indoor plant or the iridescent glaze on a piece of pottery. The way the light moves throughout the house during the day, alighting on a painting or a section of wooden flooring. I have found great peace and comfort in my surroundings.

Today’s recipe is more of a delicious idea than a recipe. Mum gave me a turmeric plant a little while ago and I excitedly harvested it the other day. I peeled and grated a bulb then threw it into the dinner potatoes alongside some olive oil, crushed garlic, sumac and sea salt then baked them until golden brown. Earthy, slightly tangy with a garlicky hit, the lads loved this little twist on a regular side dish.

strong>TURMERIC, GARLIC AND SUMAC POTATOES

WHAT YOU NEED
1 kilo Pontiac or Desiree potatoes, cut into 3-4 cm chunks
2-3 tbls olive oil
7-10cm fresh turmeric bulb, grated
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp sea salt

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Toss the potatoes in the olive oil, turmeric, garlic, sumac and salt.
Place on the tray and bake until golden brown and tender.
Serve with whatever takes your fancy.

A Cheergerm creation