… The thing is the next day I came home from the library starving and sick of books, and there was a bowl of carrot and avocado salad in the fridge and this cake, and I ate it and I felt a rush of righteous maturity akin to flossing my teeth or getting a pap smear.
We all need that feeling sometimes, don’t we?
Owy spent the weekend in Melbourne, catching up with an old friend after attending the Australian Truffle Grower’s Information Day on Friday. It seems he gave the catching up part a red-hot go as he has returned home very weary and a tiny bit broken. It would be silly to not take advantage of a few kid-free days, but I’m worn out myself from a few days of early rising – 4:12 this morning being the earliest start. It’s amazing how you notice that :12 in the cold and dark of the morning. His turn tomorrow! Yay!
The kids have also been living it up with me flying solo – our regular Happy Hour on Friday afternoon, with my mates Byrd and Jude, and six little boys and a couple of bottles of champagne between us. Stay at home parents are vastly more in need of happy hour than office workers, in my opinion, and it’s become a regular event here. Byrd turned up with a big parcel of hot chips, and I already had some marinated chicken wings in the oven. Because they rock, the kids also gobbled up some carrot and cucumber “stars” – peeled with a julienne peeler and sliced into coins. This process might seem fiddly, but it renders the otherwise horrific edible. Then we had a disco dancing competition to Kool and the Gang. It’s a lot more fun than it might sound.
On Saturday we went to my best friend Katie’s 40th birthday party at a lovely little pub in the Southern Highlands, and the kids got a lolly bag. We spent five hours in the car, including waiting out a huge traffic jam on the freeway after a semi trailer full of pig carcasses had crashed. Fortunately Sage is not one of those kids who realises that “chicken” is chicken, and bursts into tears before embarking on a life of veganism. We passed some particularly handsome cows near Moss Vale and he said how much he liked them. I asked why, and he said “Because they have milk and meat!” Maybe we let him watch the domestic chooks get dispatched too early?
Today (Sunday) involved my nephew’s 5th birthday (big lollybag) and the 6th birthday of Sage’s fiancée, Nyssa (lollybag). Tonight my plan for dinner was to include as many different ingredients as could to combat the ways in which we’d each punished ourselves. Lucky I used to be a dirty hippy once, and I know how to make this shit. Versions change according to what’s to hand; these were tonight’s versions:
chunks of kent pumpkin , baked until a bit sweet and squishy.
bok choy cut in long slim wedges, steeped in boiling water and well drained.
grated beetroot salad – combine the juice of half an orange with two teaspoons of egg mayonnaise and a tablespoon of yoghurt in a jar and shake like crazy. Thin with buttermilk if too thick, but go easy because you want a very light hand with the dressing. Grate three beetroot into a bowl and mix – by hand is best. Top with toasted sesame seeds and thyme.
grated carrot salad – you should make this before the beetroot, btw, because carrot can be disguised as beetroot much more easily than the reverse. I would normally use coriander, but had none, so I used what parsley I could scavenge from the garden, lemon juice and black cumin seeds. Green onions sliced into horses’ ears are very good too, but the leek and garlic already had that angle covered.
quite a plain tomato and red lentil dahl with a moderate amount of coconut milk – one cup of rinsed red lentils cooked in one litre of water with one cup of canned coconut milk, a fat pinch of tumeric, a piece of cassia bark, four bashed green cardamom pods and half a can of tomatoes. Normally I’d add some dried chilli too, but I was going gentle.
a dahl topping made from leek and spices – heat some mustard oil in a frying pan, and slowly cook a cleaned and sliced leek with some curry leaves (I used frozen as I’ve none fresh). Add garlic after a little while, and after a bit push the leek to the side of the pan, heat a splash more oil in the middle and then add about a tablespoon of brown mustard seeds. When they pop, remove the pan from the heat and stir in ground spices – I used one lid of coriander seeds to half a lid of cumin and half a lid of fennel seeds. I don’t know how big your lids are, so you’ll have to be guided by your instincts there. Normally this would go on top of the dahl (and be made with ghee, and a lot more of it) but I was hoping Jethro would eat some.
tahini sauce with umeboshi -this sauce sends me into ten kinds of happy nostalgia. I first had it when I did some Vipassana mediation retreats where we were eating a vegan and macrobiotic diet cooked by a marvellous Dutch/Indonesia ex-Sufi kundalini yoga teacher called Nirvair Kaur who helped me a lot, and it just screams RIGHTEOUS MATURITY to me. It’s also very tasty. Umeboshi may seem a complete wank, and it is hard to find. But it’s not horribly expensive and keeps for a million years. If I didn’t have any, I’d use apple cider vinegar – mix three tablespoons of tahini with half a tablespoon of umeboshi paste, the juice of half a lemon and a glug of tamari and half a teaspoon of maple syrup. Thin with hot water.
gomashio – toast a quarter of a cup of sea salt in a frypan until it “sparkles” (Thank you Sean Moran for that tip). Add a tablespoon of sesame seeds and shake the pan over the heat until you can smell them toasting. Grind in a mortar and pestle, but not too much – don’t let it get dry and powdery. You can store leftovers in a jar in the fridge for a bit.
brown rice – we almost always have brown rice. It’s nuttier and more densely textured, and piss easy to cook in the rice cooker.
Owen and I ate enthusiastically but moderately. Sage wanted a wrap, then wanted rice again, and ended up eating bok choy and brown rice wrapped in a corn Mountain Bread. Fine by me. Jethro turned his nose up at dahl, proudly waved his tiny knife and fork for a considerable period, purposefully handed his pumpkin to Owen and then put lots of carrot salad in his glass of water. We didn’t offer him any beetroot. Situation normal.