Friday, 26 August 2011

Sushi in Sydney?

We'd arrived in the big city. A city full of harbours, boats, iconic bridges and the Opera House. We were ready to EAT! Kids in tow, we wandered around Bondi in search of three things: 
1. fulfilment,
2. nourishment, 
3. flavour
Sushi is a funny thing, there are no smells to entice you to it's little corner. With sushi, it's a need. To eat fresh, to feel full and to get the olfactory senses absolutely ZINGING - with wasabi! Well, in my humble opinion anyway. The Sushi Train beckoned, the little old ladies tirelessly slicing, rolling, pinching and wrapping. I sat with my mouth nearly to the floor in adoration of the array of delights that were running past me. Yep, running on that train. You've got to love it. There is 'tobiko', the bright orange flying fish roe; 'soramame', bright green broad beans that just pop; and of course many variations of sushi, all of which look appetising. But how to choose, you've just got to put your hand out and grab one off that train!
I chose what looks to be a crispy fried prawn, wrapped in rice & seaweed with lettuce and I think pine nuts, slathered with the divine Japanese Mayonnaise (I could nearly drink this it's so good!). It goes down whole. Maybe a bit extravagant of me, must slow down....
The world outside of the Sushi Train became a blur, a mutation of dulled sounds, as 2 dear friends and their children dined like Queens. I took another plate of the same dish, this time 'dabbed' with wasabi. Wow, I love that hit of the Japanese horseradish, it's like a little thrill for the senses for about 10 seconds then, as quickly as it hit, it is gone. Leaving peace and satisfaction.

As we all sat watching a movie later that day, I relished the time with my beautiful friend, that I have known for 10 years. She will always have a most special place in my heart. We had our babies together, we went through break-ups together. We have sat and held hands while the other has cried their heart out; until we were spent. We've laughed until we cried - my friend's laugh a great big guffaw that makes people turn around; mine a high pitched giggle that I cannot contain once I get going.
And, while our visits may only be yearly, we pick up right where we left off. Just like the sushi train!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Daughter dearest

She arrived home to spend some time with family. The youngest and sweetest is leaving the family nest and heading to the west. Land of big skies and big mines. 
Up early to get ‘things’ ready. Cake tins, measuring jugs, pots and pans, the oven is on and recipe books cover the bench top. It’s time to celebrate and what better way do we know than with food! Food helps us to celebrate and it helps us to grieve. This ceremony encompasses both. Western Australia is a long way. It’s 4 hours in a plane, which the same as London to North Africa.
Memories are being made while the sugar and butter are mixed to ‘pale and fluffy’, family histories are sifted through the fine flour and added to the mix to create a strong but light bond. Flavours are added, pertaining to the cook and the occasion. Orange cakes are one of my favourite; they remind me of the warm sunny days of childhood. This cake is more complicated - a layer cake for the intricacies of this complex family.
The chicken and vegetable soup is already on the stove, bubbling away absorbing warmth and love. It’s what will start the meal, a soup to warm the hearts, to soften the palate. The middle course will be a beef stew, cooked on low heat for hours, as the liquid reduces and the flavour enhances. I love slow cooking. To create something slowly and simply, patiently over time is so rewarding.
People come and go in the house, commenting on the aromas that tickle their olfactory senses, prepare stomachs and minds for the big evening event. I am merely an observer, listening in to the snippets of conversation that thread this family together. To them, they are living life, doing what they do. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Mid-winter blues

My young man was getting sick. Mid winter blues had hit the house. Wan faces, cold wind wrapping it's icy fingers around our house, our hearts. We wallowed for awhile, stayed in bed, turned up the heaters. Closed in, walls down. After some time I realised I just had to tell my brain to let the rest of my body and soul know it was time to PERK up! Home-made chicken soup was on the menu and chocolate chip cookies (for the sweet tooth treat when the blood-sugars plummet). Diced the veges to add to the water and chicken carcasses for the stock and let it simmer, topping up as necessary. Decided a tiny bit of star anise would be nice - but not too much as I find this herb can be way too overpowering, so I literally picked off a 'petal' and threw it in the pot. The stock had an overnight stay in the fridge and the next day I lovingly scraped the fat off the top. Popped it back on the stove and added a few more goodies...cauliflower, spring onions, noodles, soy sauce. Served it up in big bowls to the young man who gulped it down as fast as his oesophagus would allow. 

What is it about home-made chicken noodle soup that not only restores our health but our faith? For me, it's about getting back to basics. It's about cooking with love, and cooking for the ones you love. And, of course, self-love, which had been severely lacking. It's nice to have it done for you but oh so rewarding to nurture oneself, especially with food.

We were both better by the end of the day. I felt I had absorbed love and soul nourishment. I'm sure young man felt the same but articulated it differently - "Mum that was awesome, thank you!"