Tuesday, 24 February 2015


This is a very easy way to dazzle your friends and family! (Well.....if they like smoked salmon that is, then they'll love this.)

Gavlax is simply cured salmon. It has the same texture as smoked salmon and you serve it in much the same way. You need to cure it for a minimum 2 days - longer is better, like 4. And it'll last, well-wrapped, in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks.

I adapted this recipe from BBC Good Food.

Ask at the fish shop for a centre piece of salmon, skin off. For this batch, I had about 700g. At Christmas, I did two pieces (yes - just chucked them in together) of about 500g each. It's not a science.

In the Nutri-bullet or food processor, blend:
  • 75g sea salt flakes (no need to be exact - but it's a fair bit and necessary for the curing process)
  • 75g/ml something sweet - some recipes use caster sugar or brown sugar - I used 100% pure maple syrup and I reckon it was better
  • 1 small bunch of dill (20g)  - just pluck off the frilly bits and leave out the major stalks
  • A good slug of vodka or gin - I used gin
  • 8 - 10 juniper berries - I found dried ones at the green grocer
  • A few black pepper corns
  • Some grated lemon zest
Tip the green sludge into a plastic bag. (Think about recycling the one the fish came in.) Add the fish and squish it about a bit to make sure it's well covered. Roll the bag closed, trying to eliminate all the air you can. Pop it in a small-ish dish so the fit is snug, then weight it down with a few cans of whatever - tomatoes, coconut milk - anything heavy. I can get 5 cans on mine! Chuck it in the fridge.

If you remember, turn it over in a day or two.

After 4 days or so, take it out and slice as thinly as you can (you can see mine is not very thin.... I need new knives...). 

I served it on pumpernickel bread, with a dollop of black caviar (just Lump Fish roe from the supermarket - not the fancy-pants Beluga Fish caviar from your drug dealer!!) and a little dressing made of dill, Dijon mustard and a little more maple syrup or honey - in the Nutri-bullet.

There you have it people. Go forth and cure!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Vicky's Funeral

Vicky was a neighbour from the 'hood. A Greek woman of indeterminable age. She had long hair, smooth skin, a good grip on English and Jesus in her heart. She was devastated when our daughter Jaz died and almost inconsolable when George, our oldest also died, just three and a half years later. She wept at the mere mention of his name and repeatedly asked 'Jesus, why?'

We were all very fond of Vicky. She was a beautiful soul. A seamstress by trade and a perfectionist by nature, the local fancy-pants interior designers kept her busy with custom-made cushions using outrageously expensive fabrics and trim.  But sewing for neighbours often took priority. At the start of each year, she'd take George's school pants in and up and let them out and down each term as he grew. She even whipped up four cushions from let over fabric one week - one for each of the kids.

At Easter, and in spite of my protesting, she'd often slip me $5 or $10 and insist I buy some chocolate for the children.

Vicky's sister lives down the road from us and Vicky would walk past our house - almost daily - to visit her and have coffee, so we ran into her regularly. 'I loooove youuuuu,' was her usual greeting.

Vicky died last week. Turned out she was 79.

I mentioned to our elderly Italian neighbour we were going to the funeral and we'd be happy to take him. 'No, no, no... I no go' he insisted. Hmmmm. There's a story there I'll never know.

The funeral was Friday. It was all Greek to me - literally. Occasionally I recognised a word and realised they'd slipped into English - but it was suspiciously similar - probably had something to do with the singing. The church was spectacular, the bells ritualistic, the incense heady, the day warm - it was very meditative. Sadly, there was no eulogy as we know it - no back story of Vicky, who had never married or had children. A woman who was so generous of heart and probably physically beautiful in her youth - I'd love to have known more about her.

Our neighbourhood Greek Orthodox church.
However, what I did notice in the church, was that all the women - her contemporaries I assume - were all versions of a very, very clear theme. They were all quite short and stocky, most had short hair, much of it blow-waved or permed. Their clothes could all have come from the same shop they were so similar, right down to the fabric and pattern, and even their gold jewellery seemed part of the 'uniform'. It was uncanny.

It got me thinking; do my peers and I also look like versions of the same theme? I was sitting with a couple of them - also neighbours. I stole a glance along the pew - long hair, high heels, make up, tailored dresses - yep. Same same.

Vale Vicky. We looooove youuuuu!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Do you have what you love? Or love what you have?

It's a question I've been contemplating a lot lately.

We're hoping to eventually embark on that renovation and it does force you to be realistic about your innate style and the way you live.

Not so long ago, my dream was 'minimalist'. Both the interior style and the concept of living with less, with everything in place and a place for everything. Something like this. Ahhh.... the serenity!

And then I woke up.

We don't live like that! We are messy people - all of us. And we love stuff. Not all crap, although there's certainly plenty of that. The books have filled the available bookshelves so we now have a few piles as well (yes, a home for them all is a priority for the reno). We have more art (and I use that term in its most eclectic definition) than wall space - and yes, of course there'll be less walls after the reno so not sure how that's going to work - we may need to be selective, god forbid! And Geoff's collection of music and movies (among the more significant of his 'collections') including hundreds of vinyls, CDs and DVDs, seems to be added to almost daily.

I confess I am a 'What if I throw out those pipe-cleaners and then next week, I need a pipe-cleaner?' kinda chick. And hard to believe, but I loathe contributing to landfill unnecessarily if I can avoid it. I know it would be better to throw out the pipe-cleaner and if we ever need some, buy them then - but I just can't.

In addition, we probably have too much furniture - gorgeous church pews, my grandfather's tool chest, Geoff's antique writing desk, my grandmother's pianola - that we feel some connection with, so that can't go either. Add a treadmill, too many cushions (what is it with cushions???) a penchant for 'objet d'art' and pieces collected from our regular travels  - and you'll be getting the picture. Now just squish that all into a modest (some might say small) abode. Welcome to chaos and clutter!

As my sister-in-law would say, we've lost all hope and are now just praying for a fire!

So, how are things at your place? Are you sufficiently ruthless and detached to have exactly what you love - right now at this moment in history? Or like me, have you had to accept defeat because you love what you have?

Maybe, like most things in life, it's a spectrum and some of us, like me, are hanging in the extremes.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Yes, Constable!

The police had been around to our house.

He-who-I'm-not-allowed-to-blog-about (AKA Geoff) got a card on the front door, requesting him to call.

Intuitively, because there was no reason we could think of, we were nervous.

He called.

Am I in trouble? he asked.

I'll give you a tip, the cop said. If you are in trouble, we don't leave a card and ask you to call.

See - that's good to know isn't it?

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Drive-By

Week two of Sass's new school and she forgot her blazer.

She realised as I was dropping her and Elle off.

I thought she was going to cry. She had Assembly that day and had to have it.

Okay, I said. I'll go home and get it - wait outside the gate.

I drove home, found the blazer and drove back to school. It's about a 15 minute round trip which isn't bad except being late to class is almost as bad as not having your blazer.

I was both surprised and relieved to see Elle had stayed with Sass. In the interests of time and because the 16 year old was there, I checked the rear-vision mirror to ensure there were no cars behind me, put the driver-side window down and threw the blazer in their direction. It landed on the road. I had also checked for on-coming traffic. (See.... very responsible!)

Elle shot out and scooped it up before anything did appear to run it over.

Sort of like this - but bathers and blazers, not a banana skin!

It is a trap; working from home and being so close to school.

Here's what happened on another occasion.

Text from Elle: Mum, I forgot my bathers and I have swimming in PE. Can you bring them up at recess please? x
Me: Really?? I'm working... Oh okay. Can you stand out the front? x

I grabbed said bathers, drove up at the appointed time, lowered the window and threw them at her.

What?? No towel? She howled.

See, here's the problem with modern-day (ie brief) communication; I assumed she had everything but her bathers. As it so happened, she had nothing. Oh well.

Dry yourself with a sock! I offered, as I drove off.

She hasn't forgotten her bathers since.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

What the heck was I thinking?

I went for a run yesterday.

Well, half a run.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson from the recent, disastrous Bike Ride.

Apparently not.

Determined to step up my training for the Run For The Kids, I decided yesterday was the day to aim for 12kms instead of my more usual weekend run of 10km.

It was about 32 degrees when I set off. And as I ran, it seemed to get hotter and hotter. The wind also picked up.

The situation was not improved by my nutritional intake for the day - one strong, skinny latte.

I trudged on.  I stared with envy at passing bike riders' water bottles.

This was ridiculous!

Determined not to make the same mistake twice, and spend the rest of the day in recovery, I pulled the pin at 6.36km - yep, pretty much half of what I'd planned. And even that had involved a few stints of walking.

I called home and ordered an immediate collection.

Maybe I'll try again today.

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...