Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Eggplant, chickpea & ginger curry


OK, I promised to share this recipe with you and so now I am finally going to live up to my word. I did warn you that it isn't very photogenic. However, I can reassure you that it is truly delicious.

Eggplant, chickpea & ginger curry
(Adapted from The Vegetarian Cookbook, by Charmaine Solomon)

Ingredients
2 large eggplants
1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
4 cardamon pods
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 large tomatoes, roughly diced (or half a can of diced tomatoes)
vegetable oil


Cut the eggplants in half, brush them with oil and bake them in a medium-hot oven for about 45 minutes, or place (skin side up) under a medium-hot grill until the skins begin to burn and the insides go all soft and mushy. Remove and scrap out the flesh with a soup spoon, then roughly chop it up.

While the eggplant is baking (etc), cook the chickpeas and cardamon pods in a pan of boiling water for about 30-40 minutes, until really nice and tender. (If you are using canned chickpeas, then still boil them with the cardamon pods for about 20 minutes. it will make them nice and tender and infuse them with the cardamon flavour). Drain, rinse and remove the cardamon pods and any loose skins that are floating about.


Place the grated ginger in about 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium heat for a few minutes and then add the spices and stir for another 30 seconds. Add the eggplant flesh, tomato and salt and stir to combine. Turn down the heat and cover the pan. Leave it to cook for about 20 minutes.


Add the chickpeas to the eggplant, stir to combine and cover again. Leave to cook for another 30 minutes (or eat it straight away if you are too hungry to wait - the extra 30 minutes does make it yummier, but it is far from essential).

Serve over rice with a side of dahl or a mushroom curry.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Friday - tea for one


This afternoon P came home a little early and whisked Lily off for a walk to the park (and the local Farmers Shop) so that I could have a little rest. Before he came, Lily and I made rock cakes (from Jane Brocket's recipe).

I haven't had a rock cake since primary school, when they used to be sold in my school canteen. I must say that these ones, with their delicious fresh nutmeg and lemon zest, are a bit of a cut above the ones that they sold back then.


Now, I am off to enjoy my 'tea for one' and a bit of another lovely Jane on DVD.

I hope that you have a lovely weekend.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Blog reading list

After some months of wondering why my list of blogs wasn't reflective of my actual list of blogs, I did a little investigating and fixed things up a bit.

It has now been properly updated. Apologies to those that were strangely absent for so long. It was not intentional.

Please let me know if I have (once again) inadvertently left you off. (Feel free to do so by email - cristy dot nopod at gmail dot com - if you are feeling shy).

Op shop treasure



There is an op shop (thrift store) near Lily's dance class that I often pop into if we have a bit of time to spare in the area. It is small and really well laid out, making it is really easy to cover in quite a short space of time (even with a toddler in tow). I also generally find one or two things that interest me - a bit of fabric, a jar of buttons, some childrens' clothing...

The other day I popped in with only a few minutes to spare and emerged with some of my favourite finds ever: a gorgeous wooden chest (in which I plan to lock up all of my sewing bits & bobs); a funky ice bucket with matching tongs (that makes me want to host a cocktail party); a cute little bottle/vase; and a little fondue set (perfect for chocolate fondue). I also picked up a cute little basket (as pictured in the gardening post below) and a skein of wool that Lily insisted on coming home with... All up it was quite an exciting little shop.

While we are on the subject of op shopping: the other day I stumbled across a fabulous blog devoted to op shopping in Canberra - I op there I am - ACT. And I note that Zoe is a contributor too. Must be good.

Friday, 19 June 2009

A place for children

image from here.


[Update: Sarah Hanson-Young has made a statement that details exactly what took place last Thursday.]


I found this article very distressing. Essentially Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, brought her 2-year-old daughter into the Senate Chamber yesterday evening, because she wanted to spend a little bit of time with her before she was flown back to Adelaide, and the toddler was thrown out by the Senate leader because it was time for a vote. Naturally the poor little girl screamed as she was handed to a staff member and shut away from her Mum. That image alone brings tears to my eyes, but what upsets me the most is the attitude of those people who are claiming that what Sarah Hanson-Young did was 'inappropriate' or 'a stunt' (I'm talking to you Barnaby Joyce).

People keep saying that she didn't have to bring her daughter into the Senate chamber. That she could have used the childcare centre or asked her staffers to look after her. But that isn't the point. She didn't bring her in because she had no-one else to care for her generally. She brought her in because she was in the middle of spending a small amount of one-on-one time with her before they were separated and was only given a few minutes warning that a vote was about to take place. There wasn't enough time for her to get back to her office to leave her daughter with her nanny and get back to the vote on time. So she basically had three choices: miss the vote, leave her 2-year-old alone, or take her in for a few little minutes. Surely she made the best choice in the circumstances?

I can see how it might happen that the Senate President decided to enforce the formal rules of procedure (although it is odd that he chose to now, when this kind of thing has happened before without incident), but what I can't understand is the level of nastiness that was displayed in the public reaction to this incident.

We have developed a really sick culture in our country where there are tons of places that children (especially small children and babies) are not welcome. Parents who enter these places - places of work, places of study, particular restaurants, movie theatres, etc - are simply expected to leave their children behind. In other words, children are expected to simply cease to exist out side of the home. This isn't the case in other cultures. In many places in the world children are welcome in most places - more than welcome, in fact, celebrated. In contrast, many people in Australia treat them like a bad smell. It makes me sad.

This separation of the world into an 'adult' (MALE/PUBLIC) world and a children's (FEMININE/PRIVATE) world is not only extremely damaging and unfair on children but it is extremely damaging and unfair on parents. For (mostly) female parents it means that they have a stark choice between being with their children or working - resulting in many women unwillingly dropping out of the workforce and others feeling constantly torn between their desire to be with their children and their desire to keep their jobs etc. AND for most fathers it means that they miss out of the majority of their children's lives. Wouldn't the world be a nicer place if we could break down those divisions a little more?

The comments on Mia Freedman's blog about this issue make me feel so very very depressed about the woeful state of feminism, equality and children's rights in this country:

This was the one that made me the most sad (especially the last line):
"Utterly unacceptable to bring your baby into Parliament. You are a politician, for God's sake, a public servant, should not you be concentrating on your job for which you get paid out of our tax money (very well at that).

I don't care for mothers' attitudes of being a saintly, superior being who deserves a very different treatment as long as they hold a baby in their lap. I could not bring a baby into my bank office. WTF? Pay for a childcare (oh wait, don't they get a special childcare centre anyway?!), ask your husband to stay at home, just get by like the rest of the population do. Bad, bad idea.

Mia, I don't care for any baby's need to suddenly have a 'face to face time with their mother'. If that's the case, quit your job or see your child during lunch."
This one is just untrue (Lily goes into P's work all the time - for very short stints of time), but says it all really:
"I think its unacceptable to bring your child to work. If you want to be a working mother, then you need to arrange someone to mind your baby. You can not have both. You can not work and have your baby with you, unless of course you work for yourself. She earns enough money and has no excuse. A workplace is an inappropriate place for a child. Most people would never dream of bringing their children to work."

BUT This one is FANTASTIC! Thank you Lorena:
"Slightly off topic; but I generally find that there is an anti-children feeling coming from society in general.
I have 2 children under 5 and I can't count the number of times that I have walked into a restaurant and had to put up with dirty looks or disparaging comments, because I had the audacity to take my boys out. Why shouldn't I be allowed to take my children to a restaurant, a shopping centre or a workplace without being made to feel like a pariah?
It seems that as a mother, the only places I should be seen with my children are at the park or at home like a good little housewife.

I have had to take my children to work. I have a boutique and my childcare options for the day were not available to me so I armed my kids with a backpack full of food and another backpack full of clothes and popped them in my office with a tv and a dvd. It was hard , but I didn't have a choice. Fortunately, I'm the boss, so I didn't have to face the humiliation of having my child thrown out as this poor woman experienced.

One more thing - I remember when I did fall pregnant. When I let people know, I was made to feel embarrassed. The general consensus was, that I had let the team down because I was looking at not being available for about a year and then afterwards (as a male colleague eloquently put it) I was a 'waste of a perfectly good position'. It seemed that once I had a child my priorities would no longer be with my job, but spending my time at the park or in the kitchen(!).
I quit that job - more so because I was working with a bunch of assholes than anything else. But I agree with Mia- we need to be supporting our mothers, not shaming them."
Andrew Bartlett has a great post about this, which puts it nicely into context (i.e. that this is far from the first time that a child has been in the Senate Chamber - which completely undermines all of the claims from people that this was 'clearly a stunt'). He also points out that voting is a mere formality. No debate takes place and most Senators spend the time talking loudly amongst themselves anyway - making the whole 'distraction' argument even more ridiculous.

There is also a nice post on this over at LP - which features this fabulous comment:
"If she didn’t have a child, the vitriol would all be directed at how “barren” she is…

If she left the child at home, the vitriol would all be directed at how she “neglects” her children by putting career first…

If her husband did all the child-rearing, he would be a hero. If she did all the child-rearing, well that’s just expected because it’s what nature intended, everybody knows that — what does she expect? A medal?

Isn’t it great how, as a man, I am free to criticise a woman for every aspect of how she raises her children? Or doesn’t raise them? Or has them? Or brings them to work? Or doesn’t? And then, I can also complain that as a heterosexual white male I’m oppressed and and endangered species."

Potato & rosemary pizza


Now that fresh tomatoes are a little harder to come by - and good fresh tomatoes even more difficult - we have a new Friday-night-pizza staple: potato & rosemary pizza. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical at first. The whole carb on carb thing seemed a bit much, but oh.my.goodness. it is really very yummy. We have crazy amounts of rosemary growing in our backyard and always have potatoes in the cupboard and tomato paste in the fridge and so this is a very easy dinner to throw together (we make our pizza dough in the bread machine).

The pizza in the photo above has spinach pesto on its base. It was nice, but I actually preferred the other one that we made sans spinach. The rosemary had more of a chance to shine in that one. We also added some artichoke hearts to it, which were really good. Artichoke pesto would make a good base actually...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Fresh start (in the garden)




With the arrival of the frost I decided that it was time to rip out the last of our tomato plants - despite their valiant efforts to keep producing fruit. And so Lily and I went along to the garden shop to buy some bulbs and silverbeet seedlings and then, in a lovely moment of winter sunshine, we ventured outside to do a little digging and a little planting.


It was such fun to watch Lily plant all of the bulbs. Our springtime display should be interesting, to say the least, but it was amazing to see that she really knew what she was doing without any help from me.


Some before and after photos:



Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Sunday


On Sunday we went along to the 2nd birthday party of one of Lily's friends, E. I made a little doll (based on Emily's - Inside a Black Apple - pattern) and a batch of cinnamon scrolls (recipe below). I was feeling all proud of myself for bringing along homemade goodies, but totally undid it all by gorging myself on the scrolls. I really have no self-control around cinnamon!


Lily had such a good time. The sun was shining and so we spend the morning outside on the grass. E got a trampoline for her birthday and Lily spent most of the party jumping on it. They also had bubbles, which are always a hit.


It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning.

What did you do on the weekend?


(Bread machine) Cinnamon Scrolls*




Ingredients:

2 teaspoons yeast
3&1/3 cups flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup soymilk
3 tablespoons water
1 egg or 2 tablespoons soy yogurt
1/4 cup margarine

For the filling:
1/4 cup walnuts (ground)
1/4 cup margarine (melted)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
(You could also add 1/4 cup raisins/sultanas, or some finely chopped apple)

Icing:

1/4 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons soymilk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Instructions:

Add of the main ingredients into your bread machine (yeast first) and put it on (pizza) dough mode. When it is done, remove the dough from the machine and knead it for about 5-10 minutes. Let it rest for another 10 minutes and then roll it out into a even rectangle (about 37x25cms). Combine the filling ingredients together in a small bowl, mixing well, and then spread it evenly across the surface of your dough.

Roll the dough starting at one of the long edges and tuck in the edges when you are done. You should have a roll that is about 30 cms long (give or take). Slice your roll into about 12 slices (of about 2.5 cms wide) and place them on a pre-greased oven tray.

Cover the tray with a tea towel and leave in a warm, dry place for about 45 minutes to rise. Then bake in a pre-heated oven at around 175 C (350 F?) for about 18-20 minutes (or longer if you have an older oven). [Remove when starting to brown on top].

Drizzle the buns with the vanilla icing and then eat while still warm and gooey.

(If you have any left over then store in an air tight container in the fridge, but be sure to warm them up a little before eating them. They are nowhere near as yummy when cold.)

*If you don't have a bread machine then you might want to try Anna's recipe over here.

Monday, 15 June 2009

27 months

Dear Lily

Yesterday you turned 27 months old.

Last month was a pretty big month for us. First up, you and I flew up to Darwin to visit Grandma M. and G2. I must admit that I was worried about flying so far alone with you (on three different planes), but you were such a fantastic traveler. You rode happily on my back at each of the airports, chatted away to anyone waiting in line with us, played with stickers on the plane, listened to stories, ate chips (my secret weapon), and then slept on my lap.





Once in Darwin you had a ball. We went to heaps of different markets, where you romped about eating spring rolls, drinking fruit shakes, and generally getting dirty. We swam in the warm ocean and in Grandma M. and G2's pool, and you bathed in a bucket. We fed fish (well, you ate most of the bread that you were supposed to feed them, but they did get a little bit). We went to the local library and read books. And we played at many many playgrounds in the lovely warm sunshine. It was a really lovely holiday. (We also went camping in Kakadu - something that you are still talking about constantly - but I have already written lots about that here).





Back home things have been pretty busy too. You are still enjoying your dance classes. You love to dress up in different outfits each week and to wear your new ballet shoes. You love doing the chicken dance and the 'free dancing'. You also love the musical instruments and the singing. And you particularly love the drama. Last week you pretended to visit Italy and you all made pizza. You came running over to me to give me a piece. The week before you pretended to visit Egypt. While the others were climbing a pyramid you decided to 'explore the tunnels'.






You are also still enjoying going to playgroup on Tuesdays. K. is away at the moment and so my cousin E. has started taking you along instead (along with her daughter M.). We were all a little worried that you would be upset by the change of arrangements, but you were totally fine. You ran all the way to her car, jumped in and said "Bye bye Mama. See you soon." And that was it. You are getting so big.

Midnight went home on Saturday, which was a bit sad. Yesterday morning you got quite upset when you realised that he wasn't with us anymore. So we encouraged you to look on the bright side. Now you can put your teddies on the floor and eat your food at your little table whenever you want. It wasn't much of a consolation, but you did go and get a few teddies to put on the floor. Then you covered them with blankets and asked us to call the doctor. Apparently they were sick.


I am really enjoying your imagination at the moment. You tell us the most amazing stories - often immediately upon waking - and they always have the quirkiest little details that make me laugh. It's so fun to watch your imaginative world grow and to hear all about it. I hope that you will always be so full of stories and creativity.

lots of love,
mama
xox

Monday, 8 June 2009

26 months

[OK, so please just pretend that this was posted on 14 May, because it is now so late that it is too embarrassing to admit how late it is, and most of it was sitting in a draft for the past 3 weeks or so...]

Dear Lily

Today you turned 26 months old. Tomorrow you and I are flying up to Darwin to visit Grandma M and G2. While we are up there we are going to go camping in Kakadu National Park. I think that it is going to be pretty fun.

This month has been all about nursery rhyme medleys, dancing, dress-ups, playdough and Midnight. Well, obviously we have done lots of other things too, but these things have really stood out this month for me.

First, the medleys. While you have been into your nursery rhymes for quite some time, recently you have started to create hilarious medleys of your favourites. You walk around the house (or elsewhere) singing these mashed-up versions - one rhyme slipping seamlessly into the next. I love it. I particularly love it when you also add in little snippets of your own text - lines about mama and papa, or whatever happens to be around you at the time.


Next, the dancing. Again, you have been into dancing for quite some time. You love nothing more than when we turn the music up loud, take you in our arms and dance wildly around the house. You will throw back your head and shake it from side to side grinning like the Cheshire Cat. However, recently we borrowed "Angelina's Ballet Class" from the library and suddenly you were ALL ABOUT ballet. Now every evening you will put on a tutu (sometimes around your waist, sometimes on your head, it doesn't seem to matter) and request that we put on "ballet music" (which, for now, consists of Vivaldi's Four Seasons) and then you will 'ballet' dance around the loungeroom for a good 45 minutes. Papa and I are often asked to join in and we have our own special costumes too.


Not long after taking up this new kind of dance, you asked me if you could do dance classes. It just happened to be the beginning of a new term that week and so we went along to a class to see what you thought. I think that it is probably a bit long (one hour) and a bit structured for you, but you insisted that you loved it and wanted to go back. You also asked me to get you some ballet shoes (despite the fact that your class isn't, actually, ballet...). So the other day we went to a dance shop and bought you some. I may have tried to talk you out of it if I had known how much they were in advance, but anyway... Now you have your own ballet shoes, you funny kid.


In addition to your dance costumes, you have also been dressing up a lot. Once again, this isn't exactly new, but you seem to be bringing a new level of understanding and imagination to it that has been so much fun to watch. You will very seriously contemplate the outfits that you select and then tell us all about them, before going off "to do some shopping", or "to work in [your] office", or "to go to the library", or "take big Ted to the doctor". I love watching you create your own stories and invent tricky ways of using your surroundings to make them work.


The playdough is fairly self-explanatory really. However, it has been a real focus this month - often pushing out drawing and painting for your attention. If you are upset or don't want me to do some work, etc... Papa can generally get you to happily move on if he suggests that you play with playdough. You love to make people and animals with it. Dinosaurs are a current favourite.


Finally, Midnight: Grandpa's dog has been staying with us for the last couple of weeks while he and Grandma are in Europe. You have been loving it (except for the times when you have to wait for my attention...), especially because it is getting us outside a lot more (despite the cold weather). You and he love to go across the road to the ridge and just run around, looking for sticks and collecting random bits of nature. It has been great to see you really letting your imagination run wild over there. The other day you took me over to a large fallen tree and explained that it was your house. You pointed out where all the rooms were and where you did the dishes and stored your food (mandarins, broccoli & tofu, apparently), then you proceeded to 'sweep' it clean with a fallen branch. It was great.



Once again, I have to say that I am loving the so-called terrible twos. You are so full of imagination and curiosity about the world and so capable of expressing yourself and your amazing perspective to us. You also seem to have moved on from those fears that were haunting you a little while ago and have gone back to being your fearless gutsy self, which has been lovely to watch.


I am so looking forward to what you come up with this month.

love
mama
xoxo

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Happy Birthday P



Yesterday was P's birthday.

And so I made him a special dinner: handmade ravioli (stuffed with spinach & feta), followed by orange & almond cake (smothered in maya gold chocolate ganache).




I tried to make it early in the afternoon, but it was not to be... and so we ate a little bit late.

Still it was worth it.

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