It’s been a long time since the last time I posted anything. The past year has been a frazzled blur. Returning to university and being in the classroom as a student teacher after 25 years has probably been the hardest thing I have ever done. Without the support of The Italian, my two boys and a very helpful neighbour, I could not have done it. A lot of things got neglected this year so that I could focus on my studies and teaching practise. The house has not been the cleanest, the laundry pile was forever sky high and there always seemed to be things that were slipping past me, but that I let go because I’ve learned to prioritise. Meals were often rushed affairs and baking is a distant memory. I missed watching the boys compete in their sporting events and did not attend assemblies and morning teas with other mums. The boys, although disappointed aren’t worse for wear.
But, now as I write this it is finally all over. I am thankful that from somewhere deep inside I found the staying power to see things through to the very end, even though there were days that I felt like nothing more than throwing in the towel. I hope I have set an example to my own children that staying the distance is important and that giving up is never an option no matter how tough things get. All the hard work has been worth it, because the cherry on the cake is that I have been one of the few students who has managed to secure a full time teaching position for next year. I am thrilled to bits and after I get the house in order and get through the ironing and sort out my study and the piles and piles of paper and can begin to focus on the year ahead and start preparing myself for my very own classroom.
I hope to be more active on my blog and breathe a little life back into it. I hope you will stick around and check back from time to time to see what the new year brings. With Christmas around the corner (can you believe it?) everyone will be frantically planning their holidays and menus. I have no idea what we will do yet, except that I would like to have a typical Aussie Christmas…which means seafood and salads. I have already started to look in my cookbooks for inspiration.
Talking about inspiration, I have been following Straight into bed Cakefree and Dried for some time now. It’s one of those blogs that if you are gluten free (and even if you aren’t) you need to subscribe to. Naomi Devlin does a fantastic job of sharing gluten free recipes and even runs classes at River Cottage in Devon, UK. If I lived there, I would be attending her classes at the drop of a hat! Anyway, I meant to be hosting the November edition of Go ahead honey it’s gluten free, but of course with all that was going on it was impossible to pull off. I did take photographs though. Photographs of beautiful, golden pumpkin that was roasted to sweet perfection and served alongside a roast. Pumpkin is one of my most favourite vegetables. I love roast pumpkin and sage risotto, pumpkin fritters are a favourite from my childhood memory bank and cooled roast pumpkin often features as a salad with baby spinach and roasted pumpkin seeds. I thought that with Christmas just around the corner you might like to share the vegetable side dishes you think you will be serving up. My offering for the Go ahead Honey it’s Gluten-Free will be roasted pumpkin with sage and garlic. Since it will be warm here over Christmas, we will certainly be eating salads, so mine will feature in a baby spinach salad with either roasted pumpkin seeds, or perhaps with crumbled gorgonzola and toasted walnuts. That sounds delicious doesn’t it?
To make the pumpkin is too easy. Simply cut into wedges and cut the hard outer skin off. Then drizzle generously with good olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh sage leaves and chopped garlic, some sea salt and black pepper. Pop it into a hot oven and roast until golden, and just cooked through. There is nothing to it. Eat alongside your favourite roast or wait until cool and serve with baby spinach leaves and some nuts as a lovely salad.
So, how about sharing your ideas here? Do a post on your favourite vegetable side. Send the link to your post to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do a round up right here at My Mezzaluna ready to share with the world in time for Christmas. I can’t think of anything nicer to do this time of year…the perfect gift. Mention your participation in Go ahead Honey it’s Gluten free and link it to this post at My Mezzaluna. I will feature your recipe and link it back to you. Send me your links and and a photo by the 15th of December 2013. This way we are all sharing a little love and vegetable inspiration for the feastive and otherwise table.
The Italian and I have taken to visiting Farmers’ Markets on Saturday mornings. It’s something our dog also looks forward to. We feel like an old couple going off with the dog and filling up our senses with the most beautiful sights, sounds and smells of the ever more bustling markets. So far we go most often to what is probably the most popular, Subiaco Farmers’ Market which is held on the grounds of Subiaco Primary School. Here we stock up on gluten free breads for the week ahead, locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, beautiful gluten, nitrate and preservative free pork sausages from Spencersbrookfarm, beef sausages and recently Osso Bucco from Gingin Beef Farm all from free range animals with no additives of any kind. This kind of food certainly makes a difference. Not only to the animals, but ultimately to our own health not to mention the superior taste.
A few Saturday mornings ago, the Italian almost lost it, when he saw the beautiful fennel on display from one of the local growers. He waxed lyrical about his time growing up in Italy and buying fresh produce from the markets there. Of course fennel, celery and a bunch of other vegetables that would last us for the next two or three days were selected and carried away in our jute bags. We have become creatures of habit. Once we have our bread, fruit and veg and a bit of meat we get a coffee and enjoy it under the shade of a large tree on the school’s grounds before heading home.
Once home I began unpacking our stash when I noticed The Italian busying himself with lunch. I was not complaining. We have become increasingly aware of reducing our waste and no food in our house gets thrown out anymore. Everything is either eaten or used up in salads or soups or it makes its way into lunch boxes the next day. This day was no exception. He had prepared a lovely clean lunch using up the bits of artichoke in the fridge, some tuna, a simple tomato salad and pieces of the fresh fennel and celery. The boys looked at this lot very sceptically until their dad showed them what they were to do. Along with these tasty vegetables were small dishes of Australian pink sea salt and peppery olive oil (also Australian….I only buy local now) with a dash of balsamic vinegar. The idea is you dip the vegetables in the oil and vinegar mixture into wish you sprinkle the salt and crunch away. It was delicious. Of course you couldn’t eat this way with limp vegetables. The real taste comes from the freshness of the ingredients and I firmly believe the way it is grown…naturally without chemicals that harm us.
This was a beautiful walk down memory lane for my husband, but also an affirmation of a culture that knows how to eat well and healthily. Not only was this a lovely lunch, but I think it would make a great pre lunch or dinner snack for guests instead of chips and dips. Don’t you?
The reason you are actually seeing a post here is because it’s school and uni holidays here in Perth. A much needed break. I have used the past week to catch up on sleep, spend more time with the boys and actually take a few photos of what I’ve been cooking. We had the good fortune to spend Easter with good friends and family and of course that meant lots of eating too. Ever since arriving in Perth, G and I have been eating bits and pieces that we really should have stayed away from. Over Easter it was Colomba (an Italian Easter cake) and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. After being off gluten and dairy for two years I guess we got a bit slack and thought it was ok to try a nibble here and there. Perth also offers quite a few gluten free options. Eating Gluten free burgers without checking if they contain egg or corn and pizza (addition of corn?) or those delicious Nasi Goreng take-aways ( egg!). The result of all this cheating was not what we hoped for. G’s arms and hands broke out in angry red patches, his mood was worse than usual and for me of course the usual symptoms of sore and inflamed joints. All that cheating really wasn’t worth it!
This relapse has taught us that after two years of being off the intolerance triggers, we are no better and may never be able to eat gluten, dairy, eggs , corn and a few other things. This also means that even though life has somewhat changed with me being at uni now, I simply have to make time to make life in the kitchen interesting again without making us sick.
With this in mind I’ve become obsessed with making my own gluten-free sourdough bread. Yesterday I began making my wild yeast starter and so far…nothing! Nothing has happened! I’m determined to make this a part of our lives so I will be reporting back on my GF sourdough experience often. I also came across this delicious egg-free omelette. Yes, you read correctly. An egg-free omelette. The Italian found this fantastic recipe whilst surfing the net and of course it was too good to be true. I’ve made it twice this past week already! The first time for lunch and the second time for a very late breakfast with some grilled bacon.
The recipe calls for chickpea flour, water, salt and pepper and sliced onions. That’s it! Nothing else. I had some left over cauliflower and added that in too. The second time I added in left over broccoli. Clearly this recipe is open to creative interpretation and I’m sure I’ll be adding whatever left overs I have lurking in the fridge. It’s so easy you simply have to try it.
Print and view the Chickpea Frittata recipe.
For your viewing pleasure I suggest you check out the Italian dish (interpret as you will ). Even without understanding Italian, you can see what the dish (sorry I mean cook ) does!
There are no photos for this post. Do you always need a picture to tell a story? I haven’t been posting lately because quite frankly I have not had enough time to wash my face let alone do a blog post.
So here we are immigrants in Perth. It’s hard. A new country, new job, stating uni, new house, new schools, trying to make new friends, find Gp’s and dentists, finding the best places to shop for food and especially gluten free items. The flour mixes are different. I haven’t found Doves’ Gluten Free flour, so my muffins are spongy!
Juggling uni, my school placement with lesson preparation, the kids and all their activities and cooking at least one square meal a day is taking it’s toll I tell you. I went into this thing with my eyes wide open knowing full well that it was going to be a challenge. A challenge it sure is. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge mind you (with lots of encouragement from The Italian) so I guess I’ll just keep thinking of Dory, “keep swimming….keep swimming”.
My late nights and early mornings are not conducive to youthful good looks either. Goodness knows what I’m going to look like by the end of this year!
My assignments are stressing me out big time. It’s been 25 years since I attended university. We are expected to write academic style essays and assignments. At 47 after spending the last 12 years singing nursery rhymes and reading children’s stories this is no joke. I am struggling with staying in the third person for goodness sake.
Then there is the vague memory of once, not that long ago actually taking photographs for a living. The only things I have been photographing lately are students’ work for my assessment purposes. I cancelled my photography website and my photography Facebook page last week. It feels good to have one less thing to worry about. Now I am wondering do I really need Facebook and Twitter in my life. It seems like an added complication when I am actually trying to simplify my life. Yes, I agree going back to uni and moving to a new country is not simplifying things…but surely you catch my drift?
Since I am not posting that often, visitor numbers have dropped….an indication that posting to Food Gawker works and I am not exactly in the taking- pretty-pictures-of-food-mode.
Would love to hear from you.
ps. If you really want to look at pretty pictures, check out http://stillblog.net
As anyone who is gluten intolerant knows, finding a quick bite to eat when you are ravenous is not easy. There are times when salad just won’t do. Times when you want something a little more satisfying. Something with a little more body, a little more flavourful. The days of grabbing a quick sandwich or wrap or slice of pizza are long gone. Finding an eatery that caters for those of us that genuinely cannot eat gluten is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Perth eateries however are surprisingly accommodating. Let’s take this weekend as an example.
On Friday evening after a week of dutifully cooking the dinner items that were listed on my weekly dinner menu planner, it was time to break free. The Italian had heard from a work colleague about The Angry Moose in Mount Lawley, just a few minutes down the street from where we are currently staying. It’s a burger joint where you are welcome to Bring Your Own Tipple (our tipple of choice was a nice bottle of red wine) Here the burgers take on that comforting home made look and taste and low and behold, are gluten free too! Of course a burger would not be a burger without a bun. The buns were chewy and bready without that glutenous rice texture that many gluten free bread items sport. All in all a fabulous night in a funky family friendly venue where we even watched the Australian Open semi final on a screen. Oh, before I forget the boys enjoyed real fruit sorbet, mango and strawberry respectively that was completely dairy free. Also a welcome and refreshing end to a satisfying and tasty meal.
From one gluten free experience to the next. Yesterday morning, after shopping for school shoes we found ourselves rather peckish in Leederville. There we stubbled upon Snags and Sons. The words gluten free on a sticker near the menu outside caught my attention. Once again we were blown away by this city. A city that caters seemingly on every street corner for those of us with dietary issues. We decided on the Gluten Free Toulouse sausage Snag which was served on a gluten free bun (again a master mind of just the correct blend of gluten free flours to make it crusty and bread like ). Crispy bacon, buttery avocado slices, caramelised onion and peppery rocket all combined perfectly in yet another homemade-like satisfying experience. If you are South African, a snag will remind you of a Boerewors Roll. Only this one is totally gourmet with all the delicious add ones. I am seriously loving this place.
I hear that there is a pizza joint in Leederville that does gluten free pizza. We’ll have to try them out sometime.
Apart from giving you some easy cooking from scratch soon, I will regularly be sharing eateries where you can find gluten free food in Perth, WA. In the meantime feast your eyes and go and check these places out if you can.
Happy gluten free living!
I cannot help but feel that much of my life was on hold while in the Middle East. Since peering into crystal balls is not a speciality of mine, my only regret is that we did not come to Perth 10 years earlier. It is almost unbelievable how pleasant it is to be here. Many may say we are in the honeymoon phase, however I prefer to believe that life is indeed good. The weather, the people, the drivers even the various government departments we have had to deal with are just so civilized. So organised and courteous. From organising bank accounts, medical cards or my Working with Children Check, everything just works. The people you deal with are courteous and things are just unbelievably easy. I am pleasantly surprised!
Of course we have had our fair share of stress too. Looking for a property to rent has been pretty stressful. The system is you look for a place that interests you on the net. You then send an email to the agency expressing your interest in viewing the property. You also call the agent. Some properties have “open days” with a 15 minute window where you and 30 other people scuttle through the house to see if it is suitable. Other times you will view a house alone at a time arranged with the agent. A spanner is often thrown into the works when a property you may want to view is rented out even before you can see it or as in our case you may find a house, but the landlord is totally against you having your dog! Faith has played a big role of course. For every disappointment I believed it was because there was something better planned for us. Indeed there was. This week we finally found a lovely family home with a gorgeous garden and best of all the landlord was kind enough to allow our pooch! Now we just have to hope that our container will be cleared through customs in time for us to move in on 1 February and that Zulu, our Poodle survives quarantine.
This past week was also my first week back as a full time student at university. I completed my first Post Graduate Diploma in Education for teaching high school way back in 1988, and now 24 years later I have come full circle and returning to my original vocation, only this time I am studying for a Post Graduate Diploma of Education in Early Childhood. Doing it again and learning about best practice and all the latest research on teaching young children is certainly a fantastic opportunity for someone of my mature age to learn about teaching in this contemporary age we live in. It’s all very exciting for me!
This year is going to be tough. With me studying full time and being in a school as a student- teacher two days a week, along with all the responsibilities of motherhood and running a house I will be stretched. This is the year where it is crucial for our children to learn how to be more independent, to do chores to help around the house and deal with all the stresses of living in a new country. I have faith that all will be well. As a family we will pull together and as a student I will have to learn how to do some serious planning. Planning is not my strong point so The Italian has graciously offered his services to help with meal planning and cooking when needed. This is good since he is an excellent cook.
So, my first impressions are of an extremely civilised country where people are courteous and aggressive behavior is frowned upon. Drivers drive cautiously, stick to speed limits, slow down and make a space when you indicate to change lanes and never push you out or drive on the hard shoulder. Australians take rules very seriously . Not a bad thing I believe. Perth is a lovely city. It has many, many parks and green spaces which are just lovely. Lots of tree-lined streets and of course lovely clean beaches. The other thing I have noticed is how fit people are here. All around the city you will find bicycle paths and people cycling to or from work or just for fun. I have also noticed that many people change into sports gear and trainers after work and walk home with their backpacks on their backs. The young men sport their biceps (and tatoos) proudly and the young girls are generally fit and healthy looking. Ladies also have quite a quirky sense of dress which I like. People here don’t appear bothered or hung up about their bodies. They are mostly fit at all ages and are not bothered about dress rules. I like that.
Any downside you may ask. Yes. Perth is very expensive. Housing is crazily expensive and so is food. I haven’t had an utility bill yet, but I am sure that is not going to be cheap either.
All in all a great new beginning. I am so looking forward to the future!
Next steps are to find a doctor, dentist, a good homeopath and a good hair salon.
ps. All these pictures were taken with my new toy. A point and shoot. Canon S100. No Photoshop here either! I love that I can carry it in my bag and shoot anywhere. It is so much nicer than lugging my trusty SLR around with me:)
Happy New Year! Tomorrow night this time we will be on a flight on the way to our new life and new home in Perth, Western Australia. Our lives are going to change dramatically. For the first time in a long time we are finally in charge of our own destiny…to some extent. We have purposefully climbed off the expat bandwagon to a “normal” life where we live to the beat of our own drum. It’s been five years of planning and two years of paperwork for our visas. We have visited Perth twice before. The first time to “activate” our visas and the second time for our kids to have school interviews. From the short time we were there we felt a positive vibe. A happy vibe. This is important.
Perth is not as beautiful as the Southern Cape where we have our South African home, but it does have a beauty of its own. It has huge Eucalyptus trees which are just lovely. Of course there are also beautiful beaches not unlike South African beaches. All in all it’s a great place to live. I have never moved to a place with preconceived ideas and have always tried to make the best of every place and find the good things about it. This time it is more serious. We have purposefully made this our home so no matter what, we will remain positive for the sake of our own happiness and our sons’ future.
It’s going to be tough starting over. Making new friends. Finding doctors and dentists. Not to mention a house to rent that will allow Zulu, our miniature French Poodle. It’s all a bit scary. I will also be a mature student. I will be going back to university to complete a second post graduate teaching diploma that will qualify me to teach the Early Years in Australia.That’s from Kindergarten to Year 3. So I will be coming full circle. I began my life after university as a teacher and a year from now I will be returning to teaching. My first profession. I am a teacher at heart. It’s in my blood. I have worked as a freelance photographer for the past few years, but that will be in the past with life in the classroom firmly in my sights. Photography, especially for this blog and a few other ideas I am working on will be purely for pleasure. It’s a relief really.
I hope you will join me as I share my new adventure with you all. If you live in Perth, don’t be shy to say “Hi!”.
I wish you all a blessed, happy, prosperous and healthy 2013.