First Day of school – eve

We have got the 4 munchkins in bed in reasonable time tonight. The new “school schedule” has been printed up in Vic modern cursive and placed on the kitchen pin board. You know that board that heaves under the weight of newsletters, programs, receipts, vouchers, school certificates, recipes, addresses and phone nos, artwork and other creative things….everything really. The kids seem keen to know in advance what is expected of them. J needs quite detailed instructions for room cleaning otherwise one item or one generic toy will be tidied up, but the rest of the room strewn with boy stuff. The girls like things to look nice, each side of the room matching so we have got it together there so far. But we are all a buzz with excitement. New uniforms are laid ready, shoes polished, hats and bags on the table. We even made an extensive list of possible sandwich fillings. I am almost ready for it…the get up and go. The term I need to walk B to her class so will need to have all 5 of us ready and looking respectable. Nothing a pair of the latest sunnies and some gloss cannot take care of. We’ll see. More to report tomorrow.

Brunch, pickled onions and school…..

I am drinking the rest of my glass of a Margaret River Cab sav cleanskin which is actually very good. We have had a good day today, in spite of frequent overnight wakes from all three girls. A little ray of sunshine has kept spirits buoyant.

After our 9.30 church service up the road we came home and A immediately embarked upon a flurry of brunch activity. Bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, scrambled eggs with home grown parsley, mushrooms in balsamic, tomatoes and for seconds banana pancakes with maple syrup. Oh and freshly squeezed pineapple, apple and banana juice – so creamy – and long blacks for the grown ups. We don’t often do brunch so it was special. It has been a good family weekend.

The late afternoon saw us watching the cricket and tackling a mountain of ironing and naming for school – all those uniforms! We both had some of our latest favourite beer from Mildura Brewery. It is a light beer that has a great hop and sweetness to it, somewhat reminiscent of Pete’s wicked ale I remember drinking with K and J in San Francisco years ago. We also had my pickled baby onions – an experiment on my part. Late last year, or was it the year before, A decided he really liked pickled onions – funny really because it was me that was pregnant. Anyway, we found a few jars we really liked. So I decided last week when we were cooking for my Dad’s birthday that I would make my own. It is so simple.

First by a few kilos of small pickling onion.
Second, ask your eldest child to peel them for you – he loved helping in the kitchen.
Make a simple brine and soak the onions overnight.
The next day make a pickling syrup with vinegar, balsamic, sugar, spices and so on.
Drain onions, rinse and dry and pack into sterilised jars and add hot pickling syrup.
Leave them for a week or so and woahla!

I can see that we will be making them all year.

I finally got around to making a new sourdough starter too this weekend in readiness for school lunches. The kids and I had a long post dinner conversation about good, healthy food for school. J admitted that a lot of his friends did not like the look of his food – nori, fried rice and the more unusual delicacies but he seems fine about it all. His love of good food is strong.

So I will keep go posted about the new year’s lunches and I must share with you my recipe for chilli jam – yum!

Beautiful Bella is 5

Our Isabella has turned 5 today and neither A nor I can quite believe where the time has gone. She has lived in Melbourne, London and now here in the country in those short 5 years. Wow!

I have just survived the party . Other like minded 5 and 6 year olds came to a disco party complete with disco ball, disco doll cookies we made as party presents and all 73 groovin tunes we have courtesy of Bell ( a friend).

I am not sure why I spend so much time planning, preparing, decorating when the party is over in 2 hours and the kids don’t always eat everything. Trying to be practical today I served pasta rather than do the normal range of party food. But some don’t like the pasta sauce, others don’t want cheese and a few refused to eat any. My cake turned out to be a tad frustrating as the first one, yes there was a first and second, was made without any raising agent so I had a solid doughy pancake. The next one was speedy and a little more exciting – a berry ice cream cake with sponge stars for decoration. I turned the remainder of the dud cake into great chocolate truffles.

The kids and I are very proud of our biscuits so I will post some photos for you to see. I am loving my Nigella Lawson cookie cutters!

PS A made a delicious dinner for the two of us last night. Scotch fillet with sweet potato mash, spinach and garlic, grilled courgette and a warm white bean puree. Strong colours and great tastes. I am loving colour right now.

heat, heart and home

This week has been hot. The temperature has risen in leaps and bounds and we have enjoyed the sun and backyard pool so much. It is great to see all of those swimming lessons paying dividends as the kids frolic independently in the pool, while parents sip drinks and read on the grass. What was to be a free form week has ended up being a busy one full of old friends and food….lunches that become afternoons and then evening dinners.

Archetypal Aussie behaviour really. We have had relaxed BBQs with loads of lamb, terrific salads with my favourite leaf – rocket and an interesting array of caramelised balsamic to dress them with.

“A” took the older three on a very long bike ride that ended up at Studley Park Boathouse. I braved the city traffic and met them with a picnic lunch and then watched them paddling in a row boat, while Lily and I had a latte. “A” is by far more adventurous then me when it comes to activity and the kids. My adventures seem to be mostly culinary. We visited Treasure , an old Yum Cha haunt today and had so much fun discovering new dumplings, noodles and steamed dishes. Even Lily, almost 10 months, loved her initiation. The salt and pepper squid was perhaps the most voted for on our table of 6!

But the plans for the last few days may go amuck as the old Peugeot 505 has begun to protest and may now need to see the old city mechanic. We have been so proud of keeping the old car on the road and not conforming to the world and buying some new classy people mover…but maybe this is it. We have had 5 different Pugs in the last 15 years….I cannot imagine life without one. God willing we will be home in 2 days. Ciao.