May 14, 2013

19/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More hope. More love. 

Grey skies and cooler Autumn days arrived this week. Just in time to fit with slow days spent indoors.
My Dad had to have further surgery and there were some tense hours waiting, waiting, waiting. Then there were waves of relief, love and gratitude when he was out and recovering in bed.  It's tough watching someone you love struggle with illness. It sure is one way to remind you to live in gratitude, and to cherish each moment. We are very grateful for all those who've been thinking of us this week.

Each day Dad thanks us for being there with him and for all we've done and we respond that we're so thankful for all he's done for us and the merry-go-round of gratitude happily goes round and round. 

Slow quiet days followed Dad's surgery and knitting, reading, drinking tea and quiet conversation became the daily rhythm.  It's been nice to come together as a family and support each other.  

  More on knitting. I've found the perfect sized needle for my very basic knitting skills and I haven't dropped a single stitch. Bored with scarves and not quite being confident to progress onto anything further than knit one, knit one! last winter I turned to knitting blanket squares for the charity Wrap With Love (well to be correct I only managed one square last winter and you need twenty eight squares to make one blanket, oh dear!). As for this year I've already completed one square in a week and my sister has joined in and we're knitting a blanket for Dad.

Knitting always reminds me of one of my creative friends Liz, who can turn her hand to anything crafty. She's tried to advance my knittings skills to no avail I'm afraid, and it's not because of her lack of teaching skills. I was thinking of Liz as I was knitting, then later in the week she texted to say thanks for sharing with her a food blog I thought she'd like, and a little while later I walked past these gorgeous bunches of Lizzy's (pictured) and smiled and thought of what a lovely friendship we have. 

And speaking of lovely creative friends, Jess and co over at The Hunter Woman are reflecting on what they're grateful for each day this week. 

What are you grateful for this week?

Linking up with Maxabella for 52 Weeks of Gratitude.

May 07, 2013

18/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More hope. More love. 

This week I'm grateful for love. 

For being loved, for sharing love, for knowing what love feels like. 

For being courageous enough to let love in.

For those 3 simple words 'i love you' floating to and from.

 For knowing a little deeper this week that what matters most in this life is how well you love yourself and others.

Linking up with Maxabella for 52 Weeks of Gratitude.

May 05, 2013

Happy Greek Easter (and Red Greek Easter Eggs)

It's Greek Orthodox Easter today and one of the most important celebrations in Greece. The importance for me really is the connection to family, my childhood and my nanna. I grew up listening to mum and nanna speaking Greek and I didn't, and still don't, understand one word (ok maybe I know two Greek words but that's it unfortunately!). And whilst now I often think how strange it is to have close family know a language that I don't it also feels very normal to me because that's just the way it's always been in my family.

My nanna very much felt Greek, even though she arrived in Australia in her early 20's and spent more years of her of life in Australia than Greece. She had a strong Greek accent, a strong connection to the church, her family and always called her friends that weren't Greek her "Australian friends" (this always made me laugh!).  I have vivid childhood memories spent with her. Mostly of her strong love for us, her kisses, our girls shopping trips out to the city in Sydney where we got spoiled with treats, and her way of showing her love for us through food. Pastitsio, Kourabadies and the delicious honey biscuits- Melomakarona's are strong favourites from my nanna's kitchen.

For years I've wanted to keep family traditions going, and this year decided it was the year to try my hand at making Greek Easter eggs. Whilst I didn't get the chance to make them with nanna when she was alive I had asked her for the instructions years ago, now stored in my memory. With my memory a little help from the back of the red dye pack and the internet my sister and I made them a few weeks back and celebrated when it was the 'western' Easter and we were all together.  

One of my favourite parts is the clinking of the eggs whilst saying Christos Anesti! (meaning Christ is risen). It's a game I imagine little kids love called tsougrisma. It's very simple, each person grabs an egg and taps it with another player. If you crack your opponents egg you are declared the winner!

Christos Anesti!

For easy how to  instructions take a look at Porcini ChroniclesThe red dye can be picked up from most good Deli's. Or to make your own plant based dyes have a look here.

May 01, 2013

Nourishing Recipes: A Simple Carrot and Orange Soup Recipe

It's the last night of April and by the time you read this it will morning and the first day of May*.  May brings with it the confirmation that we're inching just that little bit closer towards Winter. A time to nurture, build immunity and gather energy in preparation for the colder months ahead.

In May I'm usually wandering in parks and gardens in search of autumnal leaves flashing their colours just once a year; pulling out woollen knits (that aren't scratchy around the neck- a constant battle each year), trackies and hoodies (a must for comfort!), a large collection of scarves and gloves to take up residence, once again, in prime position in the cupboard; and thinking about warming soups and stews and the nights spent indoors in cinema's and bookstores sipping on that late night cup of hot chocolate with friends. This year I'm not so sure how much of this I'll actually be doing as I've moved and it's more tropical and so far there's been no orange or red leaves in sight. I'll have to wait and see what Autumn and Winter patterns emerge.

Two things I am certain about in May though are birthday celebrations - my sisters, and numerous other Gemini friends  and good times in the kitchen cooking and baking warming foods like soups, stews and crumbles.

Autumn is a favourite season of many a food lover and with it's abundance of fresh produce I tend to agree. My love affair with pumpkin is well under way. Other Autumn favourites starting to appear I'm keen to fill my basket with are carrots, onions, fennel, sweet potato for soups and apples, pears, rhubarbs and lemons for desserts.

I made this warming soup a little while ago when I had an abundance of carrots. It's perfectly matched to the season - warm, nourishing and your digestion. If you can source organic vegetables.. do it. Once you try a really good organic pumpkin you'll never want to eat anything else. I hope you enjoy x

What little comforts keep you cosy as the weather turns cold? And your favourite Autumn foods?

Carrot and Orange Soup Recipe

5 carrots
1/4 pumpkin
1/4 brown onion
2 garlic cloves
2 inch piece of ginger
2 tsp ground coriander
1 orange
1 tbsp coconut oil, or extra virgin olive oil
4.5 cups of water or stock
fresh coriander
optional: goat's yoghurt

Rinse and lightly scrub carrots. Roughly chop carrots into smallish pieces. But not too small 2-3 inches. Rinse and lightly scrub pumpkin, keeping the skin intact (only if organic otherwise discard skin). Roughly chop into 2-3 inch size pieces. Dice onion and garlic.  Grate ginger.

Heat oil on medium heat in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, carrots and pumpkins. Sweat* on medium temperature with lid on until vegetables start to soften and glisten around edges, about 10 minutes. Add 4.5 cups of water, bring to the boil and simmer gently until vegetables are really soft - 20-25 minutes. Remove and add juice of orange. Blend to desired consistency. Serve in a well loved soup bowl with coriander and yoghurt if desired.

Serves 2

*Kitchen note: How to sweat vegetables.

Sweating vegetables is a great technique for drawing out the flavours of vegetables in soups and sauces. All you do is chop vegetables into evenly sized pieces (no need to be pedantic about the size here!), heat a little oil over medium heat and add vegetables for about 10 minutes, or until they soften and start to glisten. You don't want to brown the vegetables.

*Inspiration: Rebecca from Pomegranate and Seeds wrote a beautiful post april ends which inspired me to think about the end of one month and the beginning of another.