Friday, January 15, 2010

zucchini carbonara

zucchini carbonara_1104, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

I don't cook dinner often, but last night I was quite excited to cook for Hayden with some of our very own produce. I finally plucked this big old zucchini from the garden, and decided to give it the Jamie Oliver treatment. He calls it Courgette Carbonara. I call it Zucchini Surprise.

zucchini carbonara_1107

I started by chopping my enormous zucchini into little rectangular blocks. I fried up chopped onion and bacon, then added the zucchini to the pan.

In a separate bowl, I mixed up one egg yolk for each person (2 in this case) with a dash of cream and a good handful of grated parmesan cheese.

Then I mixed a load of cooked pasta in with the veggies, and stirred through the creamy cheesy egg mixture. A spoonful of the pasta water added a bit of starch, and the whole mixture looked shiny and delicious.

zucchini carbonara_1191

Ready to serve and eat!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


kitchen garden 1, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

reaching for a longer, fluffier robe this morning instead of my usual light cotton wrap, I thought about the changing seasons and reflected on the best and worst of the growing season which is coming to a close here in the South West.

The summer here is baking hot and parched; so different to the conditions we had back in north Queensland where we had more heat in fewer hours, and absolutely no water restrictions (in fact it was more likely, in Townsville, that I would need to protect my plants from the destructive force of a tropical deluge in January / Feb). Learning to cope with longer sunlight and much less water required a real change in my approach.

failures and lessons learned:

Next year I’ll do more to protect my tiny seedlings from the sun. The sun can so easily - in a single hot afternoon - scorch and kill the little green leaves of growing plants such as baby basils, rockets and chives. I was glad to learn that tomato and zucchini plants are tough even when tiny, but I’ve got to do more next time for the ones that aren’t.

composting. Hm. A non-event this year. One of my aims for the coming autumn-winter period is to set up my compost heap properly, and to get it going well. I’m wishing for a big (meter cubed?) wooden box with a hinged lid. I may have to set about fulfilling this wish for myself.


I was happy with my haul of cherry tomatoes. The basil plants and the rocket were more a mixed success; but I was very happy to confirm the companion planting book's prediction that basil plants would keep the houseflies away. I now have pots of basil at every doorway - being pretty, aromatic and functional.

kitchen garden 2

The rocket I did harvest was really delicious and tender. I lost a lot of the rocket seedlings during a one-off 36˚C day back in October, but those I did manage to save grew prettily - under cover, naturally, from that point on - into tasty peppery leaves.

The mint and parsley I transplanted into pots near the house grew well; I planted rosemary and sage in a garden bed near the house (and I started to develop a secret plan to eventually convert that entire bed into a dry garden … shhh don’t tell our landlords). The apricots from the tree were really tasty but I can’t claim credit for those, the tree having stood in its same spot for many years. Now that I know the apricots are worth it, I’ll do more to protect them from the parrots next year, even though it is pretty funny watching a parrot trying to take off with an enormous apricot wedged in its beak. I was proud of the apricot jam I made. I gave myself one big Farmer’s Wife Tick ✓ for that.

kitchen garden 3

on the whole:

I think I understand more now what the summer sun is capable of, and I’m ready to continue learning - piece by piece if necessary - which plants can handle it and which need to stay whimpering in the shade. So I’ll say sayonara to carrots and spring onions in the veggie patch but welcome back the sage, rosemary, tomatoes, basil, zuccini and parsely next year.

Monday, January 11, 2010

kitchen still life

kitchen still life 2, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

this afternoon I sat out on the verandah in my hammock and watched the afternoon light turn the cobwebs on the verandah posts golden. I daydreamed about writing sad songs set to the background of this aging homestead, this tired countrification, but in the end what I came up with was this. This photo of the sad country afternoon.

I haven't encountered any howling country music here in the south west. Maybe it's time I made some, of my own.

Christmas lights

Christmas lights, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

I know, it really is time for these to come down. But for the last couple of years I've felt motivated to document, somehow, the arty-crafty effort I put into Christmas. So that's what I'm doing here. Decorations, the Tree and other crafty efforts are things about which I have strong, and quite particular feelings come over me. Every year. Even this year, when I felt quite low and lonely in the lead-up to Christmas, I still felt motivated to make a bit of special effort.

What I was going for was pretty understated and, I was hoping, arty. I was happy with the way the lights casually strung themselves along our longest window pane.


Olives, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

yes, I really did label this post "growing our food".

I am determined to one day eat these two olives - or at least one of them. Hayden can have the other, if he likes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

sightseeing at Cape Leeuwin

Shane and Kirsten visit_0761, originally uploaded by &Naomi.
You know that kicky little tail on the bottom left-hand corner of Australia? Cape Leeuwin is on the underside of that. We drove down there while Hayden's sister Kirsten and her boyfriend were with us for a post-Christmas visit.

Shane and Kirsten visit_0786 There is a picturesque historical lighthouse down there where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern one. It's a bit of a tourist sight to see the two oceans meet - though to me it just looked choppy.
Shane and Kirsten visit_0802Shane and Kirsten visit_0785

Friday, January 1, 2010


Beach Planting, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

I usually make one a year. And I usually keep it. This year, I'm resolving to do everything I can to make our life in Bunbury better: happier, funner and more fulfilling.

And I'm thinking that the plants in this photo might actually play a part in that. As part of getting into Bunbury life, I want to learn more about what the conditions here mean for plantlife and gardening - specifically, the Summer heat, dryness and salty wind. To date, my main inspiration is the public plantings along the dunes, the sight in these pictures being - to me - much more beautiful than the thirsty, pansy English flowers that have been planted all around our house. Those English plants are beautiful - in England. Here, we have different light - more of a harsh glare, to be frank. The mingy greens of the foliage and the flaccid pinks of the English flowers do not look great here. And they need a lot more water than what I can provide.

There must be a way to create my ideal garden - restful, beautiful and low maintenance - from plants which are well suited to the conditions here. All it will take is a bit of research, a bit of thought and a BIG change in attitude.

Beach flowers 9