Sunday, August 26, 2007

Smell of Spring

Last weekend, I stepped outside and smelt spring. The sky was the same (grey and clouded), the temperature chilly and unpromising, but something smelt different. It was spring. And now a week later it seems to have arrived, along with these gorgeous magnolia blossoms.

These are in the garden of the nice neighbours. The other neighbours I could quite cheerfully thump, as they have started home renovations which involve loud saws going off at the click of 7.30 am. Plus demolition of their garage and roof, right next to my washing line, for the past seven days, nonstop. The dust and rubble flying everywhere has left me unable to dry any washing outdoors, even on weekends. I am less than thrilled by this, as you can imagine.

Perhaps I need some chocolate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

To Market (Again)

Interesting to see this article about farmer's markets in today's Age.

The whole family toddled along to the Boroondara one on Paterson Reserve on Saturday morning. It isn't anywhere near as attractive as Collingwood Children's Farm, being simply a damp oval, surrounded by busy roads with the sound of the freeway in the background. It feels somewhat outrageous to be charged the same $2 entrance fee for this locale which decidedly lacks the charm, views and animals of the other. However many of the stallholders are the same.

Figman enjoys these excursions, although his experience was soured this time by a table of elderly ladies passing judgment on the PB's attire. Granted, he'd left her jumper in the car, but she was warmly dressed and held to him in a Baby Bjorn. He spent the rest of the visit muttering about what he was going to do to the next geriatric who tut tutted him about his parenting skills.

I was busy being irritated by the number of people who let their dogs poke about the produce. When I am mentally preparing a dish of roasted vegetables, I don't like to picture some giant Dalmation's snout next to the cauliflower, as happened on Saturday. I realise that farmers have dogs and this probably happens on the farms, but I don't see it, and that makes all the difference. (F would point this out as I chased cats off our vegie patch, screaming "get off" at the top of my lungs. But I am somewhat deranged while pregnant.)

But I managed to get some lovely olive oil, apples, local hazelnuts and a range of crisp, fresh vegetables at good prices. Very sadly, the Buxton trout stand wasn't there, so I tried another variety. The rainbow trout looked handsome in the package, but once peeled turned out to be mushy - not firm and flaky. So it was just as well that I had in mind a recipe that didn't require optimum fish flesh.

I'd ripped a Karen Martini recipe from the Sunday life magazine a few weeks ago and pinned it to the fridge optimistically. My slightly altered version made a lovely post-market lunch, mushy fish and all.

Smoked Trout and Spring Onion Pasta

Cook 500g of wholemeal linguine in salted boiling water. Drain and keep warm. Dice four cloves of garlic and gently fry in olive oil. Add half a teaspoon of chilli flakes. Then a splash of chardonnay vinegar and 8 diced spring onions. Gently stir in the skinned, boned and flaked fish. A squirt of lemon and toss through the linguine.

Yum. A bowl of this and the weekend papers, and not even grumpy old women or nosy dogs can ruin a market for me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Astoundingly Easy Lentil Tomato Soup

You know, there are those gorgeous recipes that I bookmark from the internet. I have files full of them but I never ever get around to making them. (Heidi Swanson's Triple Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peppermint Filling from 2003, I'm looking in your direction!) They look divine, I suspect they'll taste incredible, but the time-consuming aspect means that they might get made in about, say, ten years. While the children weed the front garden and I loll about in a hammock. Yup.

And there are those simple recipes that you spy on someone's site and instantly think: that's what I'll make for dinner one night. Granted, it has been some time since I saw this recipe for Tomato and Red Lentil Soup on Vicious Ange's blog, but the other evening, I was gazing into the cupboard wanting to throw something quick together and this came straight to mind.

Because I am lazy, I skipped the red lentil stage and went for a tin of brown lentils, but I happen to think that it improved the texture, as the carrot was only cooked briefly.l It all came together so quicky in fact, that Figman looked somewhat astounded when I put the bowl in front of him and asked "Did you cook that?". He was puzzled because he hadn't seen me making it and yet here it was, in all it's heartiness.

Astoundingly Easy Lentil Tomato Soup based on Vicious Ange's Tomato and Red Lentil Soup

Dice and fry one large onion and four or five carrots in a large pot. Add curry powder to taste. (I used an organic one which has to be the most feeble curry powder I have ever come across in my life. Hence I cannot give a measurement). Drain one tin of brown lentils and stir. Add two tins of chopped tomatoes and a litre of chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes.

When serving, I also like to add chunks of cheddar. There is nothing like eating a wholesome vegetarian soup and thinking how good you are being and then coming across a nugget of molten cheesy goodness.