Cauliflower, baby spinach, hazelnuts and at least a couple of different kinds of cheese are among the ingredients that I always have at hand in the refrigerator.
In this tech-driven, crazy-busy era, I feel that the mantra: 'the simple things in life are often the best' is particularly appropriate and a relatively good one to bear in mind daily as we rush from one agenda item to another.
In a delicious conversation with ABC Radio National's Margaret Throsby, MasterChef judge and food writer, Matt Preston, mentioned that most people only cook three recipes from any one of the cookbooks they buy; and said that he prefers to see a 'dirty cookbook', meaning a book that is loved and used, rather than sitting pristine on the coffee table. This has always been my philosophy too.
There's something very alluring about an award-winning chef who says "I'm not a natural TV presenter or a travel guide. I'm not a celebrity chef, or wanting to be. I am just a cook from Melbourne who loves his life and all that it encompasses."
For Christmas, my daughter surprised Peter with a gift of two packs of snap-frozen Tasmanian sea scallops, with creamy coloured flesh and beautiful orange coral still attached.
The end of summer is a bittersweet experience for me. In my hometown, Canberra, the weather can be extremely hot and dry, with temperatures soaring into the high 30s (Celsius) and more. Add a scorching wind to the mix and you can find yourself looking forward to winter. But when winter comes, along with aches and pains brought on by the bitter cold, I am yearning for summer again.
Oh, how I love the early morning ritual of watering the strawberry patch. After showering the plants, I check for those stealthy snails that have made their way into the garden overnight to take massive bites out of the fruit. I pull out any weedlets (my word for baby weeds), lest they invade the entire bed. Then I watch dozens of bees flit to and from strategically-planted lavender bushes to lamb's ears, and seaside daisies, and on to the freshly moistened flowers of the strawberries. It may sound silly to you, but watching this small but nonetheless glorious event makes me sigh with joy.
'Eat your greens too, darling one,' I suggest to my Peter in a gentle, mother hen fashion. Sometimes he forgets about them and then they've gone cold, which seems to give him the perfect excuse to push them to the side of the plate.
The frosts have come earlier than usual this year and I was fortunate enough to have plucked the last of our basil and baby tomatoes from potted plants in the courtyard before they felt the cruel bite of winter.
'If it's work, do it fast. If it's food, eat it little by little', says a Filipino proverb. Perfect, for that's exactly how I like to savour these bite-sized morsels of Inihaw na Baboy or grilled pork skewers with banana ketchup.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.