Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Look what I bought yesterday!

Rather cool don't you think?  You can certainly see me coming in these!  

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Sorry, more graffiti from today's wanderings around the back lanes of an area called Fitzroy.  It's all a bit hippie-ish round there and graffiti, which doesn't appear to be illegal in Australia (see here for Melbourne), is everywhere.  None of these belong to Banksy but I thought I would just show you a few more pieces, just for fun.  I have no idea what some of them are depicting but there is no doubt that it is an extraordinarily skilful art form and they are all one offs so let's just enjoy them for what they are!
And I love this - it's corrugated iron!  

Friday, 25 May 2012

Books for cooks

You would not believe the weather in Melbourne today!  It's real witches on the heath stuff - gusting winds and lashing rain.  Just awful!  We are supposed to be going to a rugby league match tonight, accompanied by The Little Princess, but it's really not weather to be going out with babes in arms, so her mum and I may just stay at home with her!  I could sit and watch her all day, she's just so beautiful!  And that's just not beauty in the eye of the beholder - she really is a beautiful wee girl!

If The Little Princess decides to have a snooze (unlikely) I can spend my evening looking at my latest purchase - a book about cooking with chestnuts.  I love chestnuts and can thoroughly recommend Mr Gaucho's chestnut risotto.  It's delicious!  Anyway, I bought the book at probably the most amazing book shop I have ever been to.  It's all cookery books, old and new.  Books for Cooks is in Gertrude Street in Collingwood and has rooms full of cookery books stacked floor to ceiling.  About 30,000 apparently - and it certainly looks like it!  It's just amazing.
Needless to say there were books on every conceivable type of cookery.  This shelf had lots of good books on dairy and gluten free cooking.  I saw so many familiar titles on the shelves.  I do have masses of cookery books at home.  Seeing so many of them today was rather nice - I have always tended to think of my cookery books as a bit like old friends!

If you are not planning a trip to Melbourne in the foreseeable future then we do have our very own Books for Cooks in the UK (no relation to the other one).  It's an equally enjoyable bookshop in Blenheim Crescent, just off Portobello Road in London.  I haven't been there for years but I am sure it is as good as ever, and it has the added bonus of the testing kitchen at the back of the shop - an excellent place for a delicious lunch or snack.
Today I was absolutely delighted to find an old paperback copy of a Rose Eliot book I had years ago and unaccountably lost!  It has a wonderful recipe in it for walnut pate en croute and I've been looking for that book for years.  So what with that and the book on chestnuts I've had rather a good day - despite the weather!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Autumn again!

When we first arrived in Australia, just over three weeks ago, it was a bit disconcerting to be thrown back into Autumn!  We had just left home where longed for Spring was very much in evidence.  But it's a topsy turvy world down here where the sun shines in the north and water runs down the plug hole in the opposite direction.  

Probably like many people in the UK I rather assumed that Australian weather was just one long Summer's day and although I had heard of Melbourne's reputation for having four seasons in twenty four hours, I took it all with a pinch of salt.  Well I can report that it isn't all heat and sunshine and we are having some very chilly weather indeed.  I have had to send for extra jumpers to be sent from home (cheaper than buying new here).  Winter seems to have come early and I have to say that when staying with old friends down on the Mornington Peninsula last weekend, their wood burning stove was a huge attraction!  I was properly warm for the first time since we arrived!

However, to make up for the surprisingly cool temperatures there are wonderful autumn colours to enjoy.  

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Oh, I do love to be beside the seaside!

Aboriginal art

One day last week we 'did' Federation Square in Melbourne.  It's a sort of piazza which houses all sorts of things - an excellent tourist information centre, design shops, restaurants and bars, various galleries which are attached to the National Galleries of Victoria, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Ian Potter Centre and so on.  There is a big open expanse where people meet and mooch about and occasional markets are held.  If you feel like it you can just sit and watch an enormous screen which shows sporting events - 
and they even provide a deckchair to sit in!
There were various galleries to look round but the one we were drawn to most was exhibiting Aboriginal art.  I know absolutely nothing about this extraordinarily vibrant form of artwork so I am not going to try and write about it here, but these are some of my favourite pieces from the exhibition.
This was my favourite painting, Puntawarri by Dadda Samson.  
Here are a couple of details from the painting.  The colour is just luscious.  I love it!
You have probably gathered that the paintings tell a story.  The exhibition had a short video showing an Aboriginal man painting and telling his story as he illustrated his picture with thick gloopy paint.  

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Yes, I know, more food!

There is a delightful, tiny little shop next to the Coin Laundry cafe down the road from here.  It's called The Little Grocer.  The lady who runs it is a very friendly New Zealander and clearly a good cook.  Her shop was full of wonderful ingredients and things to eat and it was all beautifully displayed.

I picked up this.
We had a delicious supper involving quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) when we stayed with our very special friend in Devon recently.  I hadn't realised it was quite such a super food and so when I saw this packet I thought it looked rather interesting with all the extra bits and pieces included on the top - pistachios and stuff .  The Little Grocer lady told me how to cook it - boil for 10 - 12 minutes and then dress it with olive oil, a little lemon juice and sea salt. She said you can then add all sorts of goodies to make a very delicious salad, bits of cold chicken, roasted vegetables, rocket, chorizo, parsley and other herbs, all sorts of things.  I am going to take this packet home and do some experimenting.  It all sounds too good to miss and it's ridiculously good for you!

I've known about quinoa for a while because our youngest son has sung its praises in the past, so I thought I would do a little more research.

It is the seed of the goosewort plant which is related to spinach and chard.  The pre-Columbian Incas regarded it as a sacred food, calling it chisaya mama (mother grain).  They planted the first seeds of each season in religious ceremonies.  Cunningly, depriving the people of quinoa was one of the means the Spanish used to conquer the Incas.

On the nutritional front, quinoa provides a complete protein, making it especially valuable for those of us who prefer to reduce or completely eliminate animal protein from our diets. It contains all the essential amino acids we need, like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus and iron.  And if you are into statistics apparently one cup of quinoa provides 9 grams of protein which is one more gram than a medium size chicken egg!  I am rather more interested in the fact that once you have cooked the quinoa and dressed it as mentioned above, it will keep in the fridge for up to three days and you can then ring the changes with whatever you choose to chuck in.

Bon appetit!