On my mind this week:
It's been a long time since I've written to you and gosh what a pleasure to sit down while my baby naps her long middle of the day snooze and my son merrily walked to school this morning backpack on, lunch packed ready for his busy day ahead. I may have cleaned his face by linking my thumb just before we greeted the crossing lady as I noticed vegemite and tooth paste speckles. The kinds of things I thought were mortifying as a child and now here I am. He too was mortified by my actions and yet isn't that parenthood? Mortifying our children one day at a time while loving them fiercely and wanting them to turn their best face to the world?
Anyway I digress. Out of lockdown and our lives have been whipped into a frenzy of Christmas catch ups and postponed birthday celebrations. Breathless, snatched chicken sandwiches and fruit platters and sunshinee playgrounds with children running and laughing and arguing and scrapping their knees. As overwhelming and hyper speed inducing as it has been I have loved it so much.
On the first day out of lockdown my sister and I snagged a table at Kisume in Flinders lane for what became the most delicious Japanese feast and violet cocktail adventure. I put on my best pressed dress and Lucianne wore white lace. The wait staff were enthusiastic and rusty, we were served our first course twice making it very apparent how much time everyone had spent in tracksuit pants rather than black wait staff getup. So much joy to be had.
In the return to something resembling normalcy I realised that I needed to turn off a part of myself to get through. Almost as a means of self preservation my brain seemed to forget that I was a person who loves real human company, listening to stories told from the pink face of the person who experienced them. I love a dress up and hearing music for real played on the street by a busker while I run (as I usually do) late to something. We have been out of lock down for what feels like a long time but is really only a couple of months and my heart is slowly getting into the swing of things. We put up our Christmas tree and as my son put up the last decoration, a laminated picture of his face with a red cardboard and cotton wool Santa hat on his head, he exclaimed "This house looks FANTASTIC!" I have to say that while in previous years I have been able to stick to my tasteful, bed bath and table purchased thoughtfully arranged rose gold and white baubles, our tree this year is a riot of odd decorations, rainbow coloured lights with a hand made paper love letter to Santa perched jauntily in front of the star at the top of tree (written on office paper with a grey lead transformer drawn on the front). In short it looks wonky and weird and a total mess but I love it all the more. If you need to dig deep this year for your Christmas spark after everything we have been through (and the looming shadow of Omicron) feel free to listen to this week's episode of Suggestible in which I forced James to sing (or more accurately yell and grumble) his way through Baby it's cold outside. I mostly did it for me. Couldn't breathe from laughing so hard. Snorted on the podcast and I regret nothing. If you would like to add it to your Christmas rotation please find the single here or on the latest episode of Suggestible.
Credit to The Weekly Planet Posters for this album cover.
Something to read:
This week I finished reading First We Make The Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson and what a book. If you are someone who suffers from anxiety or love someone that does this book is most definitely for you. Sarah shares really practical strategies that helped her while telling the often heart breaking, inspiring story of her life living with OCD, bipolar disorder and clinical anxiety. She is a force to be reckoned with and a self proclaimed nomadic, adventurous spirit of a human with a colossal mind and a whole lot to do and say. Her more recent book This One Wild and Precious Life is also magnificent and speaks to the urgent need for action on climate while also calling us to re-wild our lives to find greater purpose and meaning. Powerhouse doesn't cut it for this woman.
Something to watch:
This week on Suggestible I spoke about Our Zoo. It's a glorious TV series based on the true story of George Mottershead who dreamt of creating a cage free zoo in a tiny village in 1930s post war Britain. The story is told through the eyes of his four year old daughter June. The Chester Zoo still exists today and is counted among the top 10 zoos in the world and, with over 11,000 animals and 400 species, it is the most visited wildlife attraction in Britain. Unlike other zoos that owe their existence to philanthropists, explorers or big game hunters, Chester Zoo was the brainchild of one working-class man with a dream he had nurtured since he was a boy: to build a zoo without bars. The story of how creating this zoo helped George cope with his PTSD and also changed the life of his family is a joy to watch. I gulped it up in a few nights. A very easy thing to consume and a lovely anecdote to the news cycle at the moment. My favourite moment is when he brings a very tired looking camel home to live in the garden of their tiny terrace house because he couldn't let him be put down.
Something to cook:
So on a previous episode of Suggestible I mentioned the wonderful artist Alice Oehr and her drawings. She has created a cookbook called Recipes with Friends that is just that. A collection of all her friends tried and true favourites and this week I made it because we had friends FOR DINNER. And wine. And laffs. And it was such perfection. I made this recipe for my friend who is a pescatarian and it was unbelievably scrumptious. Lick the plate clean kind of level here.
So here it is for you to enjoy. Highly recommend a pop over to Alice's page if you are in need of a lovely Christmas present for a cook in your life. This is only one of many recipes I plan to try from her book. The illustrations by Alice of vegetables dressed up in top hats and moustaches is worth the visit.
By Simon Harris
Notes from the Chef: I think the reason everyone likes my prawn pasta is because I'm heavy handed and generous with all the flavours (my kind of human). I basically took an existing recipe and added twice as much garlic, wine, parsley and prawns. Allow 5 - 6 prawns per person and go for fresh linguine if you can. I usually have a warm crusty loaf of bread on the table to soak up the goodness (did this and can 100% recommend). My advice is to always use good butter, olive oil, good wine and read the recipe through before starting (advice for life!!! Harder than it sounds).
400g fresh linguine
20 - 30 prawns (I bought deveined green prawns, tails still on)
4 garlic cloves, grated
4 garlic cloves, sliced (this is A LOT of garlic but worth it see not above do not skimp!!)
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried chilli
1/2 cup white wine (then pour yourself a glass)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 butter (this I think is the key to EVERYTHING)
large handful parsley, chopped
Add the prawns, grated garlic, salt and half the oil to a bowl. Place in the fridge for the flavours to mingle for an hour. When ready heat the rest of the oil in a pan over medium heat and add prawns and all their marinade. Cook for 1 minute on each side and transfer to a plate. Set aside.
Add the sliced garlic and chillli to the pan and fry for about a minute. Now is a good time to put your pasta on. Make sure to bring it to a good boil and add a pinch of salt.
Turn the heat down and add the lemon and white wine the the frypan, stirring occasionally, until it's reduced by half - about 3 minutes. Add the butter and cook for another 5 - 6 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Put the prawns back into the pan with all their juices, and toss them through the sauce. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the drained linguine with a tablespoon of the cooking water. Toss it all together, then add a tonne of parsley and sprinkle generously with salt. Serve it up to your pals. Shrieks of delight ensue. Promise.
And that's it from me this week! Look out for our recap pod of And Just Like That (the new Sex and the City TV series coming out on December the 9th) in your Suggestible feed. We're going with the name And Just Like-gestible. Sheer genius obviously. Love to you and yours. And a Merry Christmas season.