Mama's Unplugged...

IMG_0006I know it's been quite a while since I've posted anything. I'm not sure what started it. I think I began with a modest spring clean that just gathered momentum, spurred on by the desire to live differently. Somehow quieter.

I got rid of a lot of my stuff. Culled the embarrassing number of a 'certain kind' of black dress and gave my  high heels to charity so that others might suffer the way I have. I ditched the bloody wicker baskets all over my house and even thinned out my bookshelves. I tossed toys and tearfully gave away my children's tiny clothes.

Then, when the house finally felt spacious, I turned on the 'time wasters' in my life. I wanted my days to feel spacious too. I closed my Facebook account. Instead of writing here, I wrote poetry and recipes and plans for the garden.

I spent time in the vegetable patch. Desperately trying to tame the tomatoes that threaten to take over the entire garden. The vines hang heavy with fruit, we pick kilos, trying to save them from the mouth of my lovely girl. She wraps them in fresh mint leaves and devours handfuls.

The zucchinis have taken up the call and given up a bounty of fruit. What to do with ten thousand of these babies? Fritters, salads, muffins, cakes and slices. With lemon, mint, feta, and chocolate. They've forced my creative hand and yet they're still producing new growth everyday!

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With my days expanding I baked bread and made fresh pasta. I make meatballs with the kids and made sauce from the tomatoes grown outside the kitchen. No basil yet? That's ok, we'll add chilli and fennel seeds to the meat and pick some oregano from underneath the stairs. We find one with a love heart mark, my son squeezes me tight and he smells like fresh herbs. It's all about slow pleasure and anticipation as it bubbles away for the afternoon. By dinner the boys will defy their biology and consume mountains of fresh spaghetti slathered in the rich sauce. We talk about girls and ebola.

How strange it is to be a kid these days....

 

IMG_1475I read mountains of yoga books and meditate everyday. Suddenly there seems to be so much time for nothing. I feel still inside, like this moment is all that requires my attention. I walk around my house. The aquaponics is bubbling away, ready for new seed. By summer we will pick greens and golden beetroot for salads. I've planted heirloom tomatoes and cucumber.

I sit with the chooks. We have beautiful new hens but they're still learning the ways of our bossy Squirrel (weird name I know! She's the boss). She pecks and pushes them all around. The eggs are warm and chalky and fit beautifully into my palm. Nothing makes me happier than pushing through the rosemary and finding a half dozen for breakfast. I no longer watch the news so the only soldiers I see are smothered in butter, awaiting their delicious fate.

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I'm amazed at how this land I own can still surprise me. I take my shoes off and walk barefoot at dusk. I am aware of every step, the softness of the lawn compared to the rocky earth as I get closer to the bush behind our property. I check for snakes, none to keen on that kind of surprise! I find a bumper crop of tomatoes hiding down the hill. I threw old clippings here last summer and they've fought their way to fruition. I tuck handfuls of the little gems into my pockets and then fill my hat. This would cost a packet at the farmers market!

Sometimes I think about that young girl I used to be. All long hair and heels, heading off to this or that, champagne in hand. The latest clothes and seventy pairs of shoes in her wardrobe. I marvel at how I ended up in this quiet life. More amazing is how happy I am, elbow deep in dough or cleaning out the chooks. Curling up with three gorgeous children that I (somehow) haven't damaged.

I realise that it's all for them. That somehow they gave life to this new me along the way. I couldn't boil an egg at twenty! Their love has transformed me into this mama I've become. Not fodder for social media or gossip, but a full person, living a full creative life. Many thanks to my small people.

I am thoroughly saturated in simple joy.

(and I've no desire to post it on Facebook)

 

Smoked salmon and potato cake with greens

IMG_1785 There are the days that begin harried and rushed, the toast lands butter side down and my daughter can't find her homework. Everyone yells and runs and the clock seems to go faster than all of us.

Breathe.

And then there is the weekend. Slow, lazy mornings, small feet hide under blankets for just a little longer, books are brought to bed. The start of the day calls for a celebratory brunch- no reason other than to pause with gratitude. The coffee machine churns out espresso and chai, hot chocolate for the small one. One by one they surface and I am greeted by their messy hair and warm hugs. Everyday they grow. I'm so happy that I somehow wound up here, amongst this kingdom of riches, right in the midst of my kitchen.

I thought I'd share my beloved's favourite brunch recipe. I'll make sure I put him to work in the yard to wear it off!

Smoked salmon and potato cake with greens.

serves 4

4 large desiree potatoes

1 small red onion

handful chopped sage

1 T olive oil

1 T ghee

½ cup greek yogurt

1 T chopped chives

½ lemon

pinch salt + glug olive oil

100g smoked salmon

spinach or rocket leaves to serve

* Grate potatoes and squeeze excess moisture out in a clean muslin cloth.

* Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and cook off onion until soft.

* In a mixing bowl, combine potato, cooked onion, sage and a pinch of salt.

* Heat same pan again, with ½ T ghee and ½ T olive oil. When pan is hot, add potato mix and flatten down evenly with a spatula.

* cook over low heat for 8 minutes then flip the whole thing out onto a board (be careful). Put the other half of the ghee and olive oil into pan and cook the other side by sliding cake carefully back into pan. Cook for another 8 mins.

* Mix yogurt, lemon juice, pinch salt and glug of olive oil in a small bowl.

* Arrange spinach leaves on a plate. Flip cake out onto a large board and cut into 8 wedges. Serve two per plate over greens, divide salmon between 4 and top with sauce.

* Serve and send all men out into the yard for a good mornings toil. :)

 

 

Mamas musical fruit

IMG_1732 Do you remember being 10 years old and there was something that all your friends ate that your mum wouldn't buy. For me it was space food sticks, which were like real astronaut food! 

(and tasted like chocolate flavoured candles.)

Anywho for my kids it's baked beans. Ever read how much sugar is in a tin of beans? I might as well give them a donut on toast. I think they smell weird and don't even start me on the ones with those weird sausage things inside.

I'd rather eat a candle.

Mama's Beans

1 chopped onion

½ chopped red capsicum

bunch coriander stalks (use the leaves somewhere else)

1 T sweet paprika (use hot if you like it spicy)

1 t ground coriander

1 t turmeric

1 T worcestershire sauce

350ml tomato passata

2 x 400g tins white beans

1 435g tin refried beans

* Cook onion, capsicum and coriander stalk over med heat until soft.

* Add dry spices and cook for one minute

* Add passata, refried beans, worcestershire and stir until smooth

* Drain and rinse white beans until water stops foaming and runs clear. Add beans to sauce and enjoy with toasted sourdough spread with danish feta.

Michelle xx

Ps. Blame the dog :)

 

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Slow food

Slow Food

It's four o'clock and already the children are inquiring about the impending mealtime mystery. "What's to eat?".
In the absence of dinner time smells, my brood start to get ancy. The possibility of starvation is unlikely but it an almost primal unease that settles over the house. What if mum hasn't organised anything? What if she's taken the day off or worse than that.....Takeaway! I think I have the only children alive that complain bitterly at the very mention of the word.
It's true that it's crept up on me. The pantry is quite bare and I'm afraid Mother Hubbard is ill prepared! The vege crisper is an empty box and the fridge has a few spicy sausages and not much else. The girls have donated some fat eggs, the tomatoes are teeming and garlic is always a given. Add some flour and a little work and we will eat.
I'll pour a nice red first, it's ok, we have time. The kids and I will talk homework and gossip whilst I work the dough. Afterwards, we will both need a rest. Have a little cheese if you must and don't mind the clock, it's a little lazy anyway.
I've the good fortune to own a pasta machine. I like the rhythm of it, the hum. I'm disappointed when it's all done and the kids can hear the TV again. A few minutes in a boiling pot and it's ready for the sausage ragu.
The kids are happy and the table is loud and full. There is an absence of "No talking at the table" rules  and more than one child speaks with there mouth full. It's ok, we have time for grown up starched tablecloths later and quiet tiny morsels. We have so much time for this and yet I am aware that these manic mealtimes will not last forever. One day the noise and the spilled drinks will be sadly missed.

Michelle xx