The Chef’s granddaughter

My grandfather wrote the recipe book, The Chef.  I’ve written about this in another post.  I’m sure from him that I love to cook.

I find cooking relaxing.  Being in the kitchen is never a chore for me.  Chopping, dicing, slicing, stirring, tasting, all wonderful sensory experiences.  Nothing pleases me more than cooking up a feast and watching people enjoying their meal.

I have a library of recipe books.   My favourite and most frequently used ones are by Donna Hay, and some very old Women’s Weekly recipes, yes, a few over 30 years old.  I love cooking Italian influenced meals, for their vibrancy and flavours, so naturally I got Jamie Oliver’s latest book for Christmas as a gift.  I enjoy cooking his recipes too for the simplicity.  I have a few Nigella Lawson’s books but I dislike watching the contrived approach to cooking so much, I bake or cook from her books only occasionally.  My son, a teen at the time, finding me always in the kitchen, once told me I was the Nigella in the family “without the porn”!  I recently discovered Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes and love his approach too.  Yes, I am a hoarder of recipes.  If I lived another dozen lives, I still would not have gone through them all.  IMG_2956.jpgI even collect recipes when I’m in a plane!

One of the hardest challenges for me being on the road so much is that I miss cooking my own meals and when home, there’s hardly enough time.  The upside, of course is, I do get to enjoy some lovely meals while travelling and will share a few with you that I’ve enjoyed around the State.  thumb_IMG_3871_1024.jpgPoached egg with salmon on potato rosti with Hollandaise sauce and caper berry.  Best breakfast ever enjoyed at The Pumphouse, Kununurra, far north of Perth.  It is my favourite restaurant in this region that sits on the site of the old Ord Pump Station on the Ord River.  The dinner with a magnificent sunset, is pretty amazing too and I’ve shared pictures of this in another post.thumb_IMG_1029_1024.jpgThe most memorable breakfast I’ve ever eaten was by the banks of the King River, after sleeping under stars in outback Kimberley.  Bread toasted over an open fire, the smell of eggs and bacon frying and a side of freshly caught barramundi with nothing but salt and pepper to season it.  It set the bar high.thumb_IMG_1616_1024.jpgA far cry from eating out is the paleo inspired breakfast I cook for the family on a Sunday with a glass of freshly squeezed apple, celery, lime and ginger juice.thumb_IMG_0831_1024.jpgOr for lunch, one of the family’s favourite curries is a recipe from Donna Hay (Lemon Lime Coconut Chicken).   A Thai inspired curry that is absolutely delicious and takes barely 15 minutes to make.  thumb_IMG_0808_1024.jpgMy children have never been to India so when they were younger whatever I cooked up and presented as Indian food, got me by.  They were my biggest fans, my version of a biryani being a favourite.  (It’s not really a biryani, more of a pilaf!).  I’m not good at cooking Indian food.  I know this.  I know the taste and what it should be.  I never seem to get it right.  Now that Perth has a proliferation of Indian restaurants serving more authentic food, I’ve noticed my children prefer to eat out when I offer to cook Indian!  Hmmmm

I recently stayed at a B&B in Collie, a lovely property owned by an elderly couple.  Being out of town on an evening when the weather was atrocious, she offered to cook me dinner.  I sat alone downstairs enjoying this delicious meal that was set out all fancy with real silver cutlery, linen napkins and all.  I think I paid $20 for this.  The apple pie with the crusty coconut, demerara sugar and vanilla topping was sublime.  A far cry from a hasty grab of something from a petrol station bain marie in the Wheatbelt.  So naturally, I took a picture to send my son.  “Enjoying dinner”, I texted him.  The fancy setting did not escape his eye.  He responded, “Dinner date with Dracula?”

As I said before I love cooking Italian.  I love the vibrancy and taste of various regions.  I enjoyed watching the show when it was on TV and cooking the late Antonio Carluccio’s recipes.  And more recently I’ve developed a love for Silvia Collaca’s recipes and show.  My Italian cooking leaves a lot to be desired.  I tend never to stick to a recipe but that’s the joy of cooking for me.  A recipe is just a place to start and the deviations are fun.thumb_IMG_1443_1024.jpgItalian sausages cooked with capcicums, chillies and dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with crusty bread is a quick and delicious meal to take to a pot luck dinner with friends.thumb_IMG_0961_1024.jpgMy go to comfort food is an Indian beef stew with vegetables and pasta, a recipe that evokes childhood, with nothing else to season it but salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamon, slow cooked, of course.  I’m not sure where the recipe came from but I recall our cook making this.  I used to yearn for it and one day, closed my eyes and evoked the memory of it.  Without a written recipe, and with the cook and my mother long passed, I knew exactly what went into the stew and it is as authentic as it came from the kitchen in my family home.thumb_IMG_0177_1024.jpgThen there’s the best time of year.  Christmas.  Where all my dreams come true.  I love to experiment.  This was a little shot of peppermint candy cane milkshake I made a couple of years ago.thumb_IMG_1302_1024.jpgBut I’m not as creative as others in making up recipes, like this one I found in 2016 somewhere along my travels!

All this food is making me hungry, but it’s just green tea today for me.  Oh why! did the word prompt come up with this on a detox weekend!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dancer

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The words voluminous, ethereal, clouds remind me of her.  She was my father’s youngest sister, her memory, forever synonymous with ballroom dancing.  My earliest memories are of a black and white photograph with her seated on the floor leaning on a chair, a cloud of dress around her, her profile framed in the hairstyle of the late 1940s.  Rita Hayworth comes to mind.

My father always danced across the room in ballroom strides with an invisible partner, when he talked about her.  How light she was in step.  How beautifully she moved.  Grace on air, he would say.  He admired her dancing with unabashed pride.  She and her husband were the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of their day.  They toured dancing tournaments in Asia and won numerous prizes.  I believe they also owned a dancing studio.

I met her only a few times in my lifetime.  She was petite, birdlike.  A champion ballroom dancer.  I know little else about her.

What I do know from my father is that she was a living cloud, who floated across our family horizon with brio.

I did not inherit her agility, her grace, or her posture, so I keep my two left feet firmly on the floor, and let my fingers tap to the music of her memory.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird