Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Polenta and goats cheese "cake"

This isn't really a cheese cake but you make it in a spring form cake tin, so I am giving it the honourary title of cake. Avery loved this dinner and even the girls wolfed it down and they can be iffy about onion. I guess the cream and the butter and the cheese help. The onion retains a bit of crunch but you want that with all the creamy cheesiness so don't be tempted to cook it first.

From Donna Hay seasonal diary 2006

1 cup water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup polenta
30g butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
sea salt and cracked pepper
150g spinach
1 small red onion
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup single cream
80g goat's cheese crumbled

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (355ºF). Grease a 20cm springform cake tin.

It also says to line the base with paper, which maybe you could do if you want to be fancy and not serve it out of the tin like I did, but greasing it will be enough I reckon. Save a tree. 

Place milk and water in saucepan.

Forget about it until it bubbles over dramatically and then say to your husband, "oh I meant to do that.". OR bring to the boil.

Gradually pour in polenta, stirring until smooth. Reduce heat and continue to stir for five minutes. Stir through the butter, parmesan, salt and pepper. Oh, and I added nutmeg.

At this point you can lock yourself in the bathroom and eat the buttery cheesy polenta straight off the wooden spoon and then make scrambled eggs for dinner for everyone else. OR you can proceed with the recipe.  

Spread polenta over base of tin, top with onion and spinach. Whisk together eggs and cream, pour over spinach and top with crumbled goats cheese. Cook for 40 minutes or until set.

It says it serves 4 but I think you could easily feed six with a hearty salad and bread. We had leftovers.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Vego for June

We have started having the conversation about eating animals. It has happened later than I thought, Frederique is 9, Una is 6. Up till now they have hadn't had a problem with the idea of meat, easily slipping between cuddling their pet chooks to tucking into a roast chicken dinner. I was vegetarian for many years as a teenager, but went back for bacon around the age of 20 and now eat more or less everything. Anyway, after a few conversations where the girls expressed great concern at the idea of eating fluffy baby lambies, we've decided to go vegetarian for a month. I too have been wondering about the ethics of meat eating again. I am not really opposed to eating meat, but I do want animals to have quality of life, and somehow I don't think simply selecting free range options at the supermarket is enough to ensure this.

I am sort of hoping this might give us a chance to readdress what we eat, when we eat it, how we shop... Our hens were off the lay, and so I briefly entertained the idea of going vegan, but I just don't think I am prepared to go that far, especially with Avery so young and, you know, lattes. Cheese. Lattes.

The girls like chickpeas, lentils, beans and a reasonable range of vegetables and both eat all fruit. There is a nut free policy at school, and we've struggled to find savoury sandwich fillings that they'll eat, but it seems they like broad bean dip with alfalfa sprouts. Getting their lunchboxes healthier and more substantial is one of my goals with this month's trial. Martin deals with his own lunch at work (I am not sure if he will go vego for this - he usually has tuna). I cook lunch for Avery, usually an egg, baked beans, veggie fritters or leftovers, sometimes he has a tuna sandwich. I have a salad or toastie or leftovers or a "snack plate" - cheese, biscuits, fruit & veg, nuts - or, if I am lazy, fruit toast with peanut butter. Which is what I have for breakfast most days too.

Anyway, my rough evening meal plan for this week - seven meals though if we are lucky at least one of these meals will get thrown over for dinner at A Boy Named Sue:

Veggie soup
Beetroot and feta gozlemes with Waldorf-ish salad (with hazelnuts instead of walnuts, since we have some)
Tempeh sausage rolls
Gado gado (hard boiled eggs and steamed and raw veggies with homemade peanut sauce)
Goats cheese, spinach and polenta bake (from a 2006 Donna Hay Diary) with orange and fennel salad
Store-bought sesame falafels, store-bought hummus, flat breads, tomato and cucumber salad

Friday, May 18, 2012

Google Prediction Zeitgeist

Google prediction search
Google prediction search not working
Google prediction search funny
Google prediction search turn off

Why won't my baby sleep?
Why won't he marry me?
Why won't my ipod sync?
Why won't my macbook pro turn on?

Why don't you love me lyrics?
Why don't muslims eat pork?
Why don't I have a boyfriend?
Why don't you get a job?

Are you interested?
Are you being served?
Are you there chelsea?
Are you gonna be my girl?

Why didn't they ask Evans?
Why didn't you tell me?
Why didn't frodo fly to mordor?
Why didn't I think of that?

When did the titanic sink?
When did facebook start?
When did jesus die?
When did alcatraz close?

How far?
How far did I run?
How far along am i?
How far is the moon?

When will the world end?
When will I die?
When will iphone 5 be released?
When will timeline become compulsory?

I don't know how she does it
I don't know where you're going
I don't know how to love him
I don't know what to do with my life

Monday, May 14, 2012

Aurealis Awards

Only Ever Always has won an Aurealis Award! This is an award for excellence in Australian speculative fiction and I way so chuffed to have won it, not the least because I was up against some pretty tough competition. I have a big soft spot for the Aurealis Awards, not least because they recognise books that might get overlooked otherwise. "Truth may be stranger than fiction," wrote Frederic Raphael, "but fiction is truer." And I think that is especially so of fantasy, where there is a breach between the interior and the exterior worlds and one leaks into another, because fiction is about our inner selves and our inner worlds, and the border territories where the inner meets the outer.

I went to the Aurealis ceremony seven years ago when my first novel Undine was shortlisted. I was a newly franked author who was still getting used to being a mother, in fact it was one of the first times I had been separated from Frederique (she came with us to Brisbane but stayed with a friend while Martin and I went out to the awards). I was mildly pregnant with Una, maybe about five weeks, so I couldn't drink...I think I was still learning how to manage social situations without alcohol (a steep learning curve for many mothers I am sure). I was very shy. I didn't win, but I don't recall being particularly upset. Scott Westerfeld won, I think it was for So Yesterday. Nearly everyone seemed to know each other. I remember seeing another shy author in the audience and thinking 'if I was braver I would go and be her friend.' These days I am much braver, I would definitely approach a loner at an awards ceremony. But also thanks to festivals and other writing gigs, and of course Twitter and blogging, I now know have lots of Aurealis-type friends.

I wish I could have been in Sydney on Saturday but the logistics of managing Small Person Who Still Breastfeeds was all a bit much. And of course I would have missed my mother's day morning cuddles and delightfully odd presents. And witnessing Avery discover his inner dinosaur. RAWR, complete with rabbit/Tyrannosaurus Rex hands and a convincing knee crouch and shoulder hunch.

An Aurealis on the eve of Mother's Day, as Carole Wilkinson pointed out on Twitter, is a very nice confirmation that I am doing okay at both jobs (Carole Wilkinson has done a pretty good job at both herself). As I drove home last night through the green hills and the weather, I saw a mother cow licking the head of her calf with a big raspy tongue. And I thought "Happy Mother's Day to us, Mama Cow.' Because she was doing a pretty good job too.