Wednesday, May 23, 2012

play with your food

I wish I could say I love it when my kids make a creative mess, but I can't.

I'll admit it, it makes me a little stressed. It seems as though it always happens the hour before dinner. There will be homework, pens, pencils, crayons, dominoes, books, whatever takes their fancy strewn across the table.

Tonight was no exception, in fact tonight it was a bigger mess than usual. The mess was (of course) a good mess, a map of Terreria. For that hour a huge sheet of cartridge became an imaginary world containing rivers, rocky terrain, hide outs, and underground mines. Kudos to my enthusiastic husband for taking a computer game and translating it to paper and keeping Phoenix off the laptop. He was making it easy, sitting with Phoenix in his lap, taking turns drawing and colouring.  Just nice.

Where there is pen and paper and drawing it is difficult to keep Beatrix away. She claimed her little corner, too.  Then more than a corner, then she's still working on it when everyone else has moved on to something else.  Probably go back and work on it tomorrow, too.

Here is where this story of play spilt over into food, it's always about the food with us isn't it?

The table being the colossal mess that it was, we could have either stalled dinner and cleared it up (and risked a thick-set polenta) or we could pour it out onto chopping board and eat it right there. That's how my mother tells us she and her family did when she was little in Italy. Kudos again to Aaron for suggesting that tonight.

I didn't take much convincing, and it was pleasantly like my mother describes the experience. We stood around the chopping block eating hot creamy polenta with mascapone and parmasen, bubping elbows and laughing and chatting. Aaron and I had spicy Italian pork sausages, and there were some lovely beef ones for the kids.  We also had Broccolini and Chinese broccoli sautéed in garlic to go with it all.

But the before-dinner activities had put us in mood of maps. We lay out our rivers and hills in polenta, a rain of parmasen covered the moors, and we were giants wielding sausages, claiming victory when we'd eaten away our section of polentenous terrain. And they ate it all, kudos again again!

If you'd like Beatrix's sure-fire recipe for the polenta we had, it's here. I wish I had the recipe for the love, the laughter, the pure joy of family we had.  I'd sure share it around if I did.

tools of the trade 1I  tools of the trade 2III  the whole world curl a wild hexagon appears calm in the storm pour leave a little the first stone is cast lines are drawn let loose the dogs of war Sweden always wins

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I like it white with one

Just before I married I lived in a warehouse (my studio actually) with my partner.  I've written a little here and here about that time in my life. Today's post however is about the wall in our shared kitchen at that studio.

Because this was a shared space there were comings and goings, visitors, students from the art classes run there, the artists in residence like myself, five of us in fact lived in this wonderful place. The wall over the sink and bench space was scrawled with the many ways we each enjoyed our tea. We always knew how to make someone a cuppa because it was right there, even if you'd never met them before then.

My love of tea was born here, at this place. Many an afternoon were spent  sipping tea around the most wonderful table, it seated 20. It was made from timber found in the studio, we all loved this table. I learnt that making someone a tea instantly made your home warm, inviting, and a place where chat would flow freer.  Maybe that makes me a bit of a tea junkie but did anyone ever refuse a tea when they needed to talk?

Since that time I was introduced to irish breakfast tea by my husband's Uni friend, she and I were like sisters. We drank tea, ate toast, and chatted all things china, vintage, thrifting, fashion, and shoes. She's been away for several years now, but whenever I have a Twinings Irish breakfast I think of her and miss her.

I went through the earl grey stage at University, a little like people do when they smoked Alpine cigarettes.  I am so earl greyed out that I cannot even stand the smell  worse still if a stray bag has permeated the regular tea tin.

Today I buy fairtrade black tea, I am not adverse to herbal tea I just don't really like any store bought ones. I'd rather steep some peppermint leaves or squeeze some lemon and honey or grated ginger.
I think I'd like a wall like the one we once had, it would be a little like not needing to ask a persons name again for the eighth time.

I'd begin my wall with how we here like ours.

  • Me white with one, I need the energy.
  • My husband likes it black with one.  (What he needs the energy for, no one knows.)
  • My oldest daughter went from white with one to black with one like her father.
  • My son likes his white and sweet.
  • My second daughter likes hers white slightly sweet and with a straw of course it barely tastes like tea by then.
  • My youngest daughter (based on today at least) likes hers with grapes and a fork. Why I don't know, but boy did she enjoy it.

On the weekend I like to make a little bigger deal of morning tea. Today's was served with a mixed grain loaf (I'd baked first thing this morning after discovering an empty bread bag) and some yummy jams.

How do you like yours?

cooperation i cooperation ii morning tea - the spread hidden tiger "it's really cold now!" autonomy succulent gentlemanly luminal

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Even if it's a bit burnt

thanks for everything, tess

I bake because...

  • I love the gathering of ingredients. 
  • Unravelling the folds of my worn flour bag since I used it last.
  • The feel and softness of the flour.
  • I love the peaks the flour and sugar make as I pour and weigh them on my yellow scales.
  • I'll never forget making impressions with the back of a spoon when I was little, being amazed at the perfect smoothness of it in the mound.  
  • The delight my little one expressed today when she pressed her hand into the flour, her perfect tiny hand print complete lines made me smile.
  • I get to use the measuring spoons and green Pyrex I took from my husband's mother's house when we were sifting through her things.
  •  I wonder  how many beads of yeast make a tablespoon, hundreds maybe thousands.
  • The wait for it all to begin it's work, for the froth to bubble up from below the shiny surface, the beginnings of the leavening process are taking place, there is science going on in my bowl.
  • Kneading, many hate it but I love it. I can see my father's strong bakers hands as he'd plait his loaves, and line them up on worn floured boards.
  • I love the scatter of flour on my bench, it makes me happy and content that I am making bread like I have seen being made so many times.
  • I don't even mind the waiting.
  • Having something that was before heavy and dense, turn into something light airy and aromatic is magic.
  • The warmth that fills my kitchen, the aroma that fills the air and street as it cooks is amazing.
  • The best part of all is the eating of it hot, the lashings of salted butter,
  • The flock that comes to gather at my block for their piece.
  • I remember eating warm fruit loaf at nine pm when  my father would come home from work, makes me realise now that he was sharing his love of this process with us.

That is what makes me want and love to bake.

well used, well loved sugar and coco 250 grams count them mum's jug new beads impresssion ii impresssion i little hands make light work a memory dusting swirl