Tales of food, sex and friendship




Archive for June, 2011

Cauliflower Cheese

June 30, 2011


This really is the ultimate winter comfort food. It’s super delicious as a meal on it’s own or as a side dish. As winter rages outside, get tucked up under the blankets, pop on a DVD and enjoy this decadent yet simple dish.

Serve with red wine and a good movie or great company. Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.

1 whole cauliflower, washed and broken into large florets

3 tbsp cornflour

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp hungarian paprika

1/2 tsp chicken stock powder

25 grams parmesan, grated

25 grams Gruyere, grated

Milk (approx 2-3 cups)

salt and pepper, to taste

pinch of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. In a baking dish, arrange florets of cauliflower so they form a single layer on the bottom of the dish. In a saucepan, melt butter and oil and remove from heat before it starts to boil. Stir through cornflour and chicken stock until to becomes a thick paste. While still off the heat, stir in 1 cup milk until the paste has dissolved. Transfer back onto a low heat and add another cup of milk, stirring constantly (I like to use a whisk as it ensures there are no lumps). As the sauce starts to thicken gradually add more milk until it is the desired consistency (I like it really thick and gooey!). Once the mixture starts to boil it won’t really thicken anymore. Remove from heat and stir through paprika, salt and pepper and half of the cheese. Pour over the cauliflower so that all the florets are covered. Cover the dish in aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and a small pinch of nutmeg and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until golden brown. (If you are running short on time you can steam the cauliflower first and then just blast it in the oven for 10-15 minutes until brown.) Allow to stand for 5-10 mins before serving.

Season 3: Episode 4

June 28, 2011

Tom pulled into the underground car park of his apartment building just as his phone started ringing.

Lilly.

He hesitated before silencing the call and letting his voicemail get it, promising himself that he’d call her back later. His head had been all over the place today and he needed some time to collect his thoughts before speaking to her.

He and Lilly had established something resembling a friendship since they’d reunited a few weeks prior. Lilly had been Tom’s college sweetheart and, long story short, had broken his heart years earlier by leaving the country, without him. He had spent too long pining for her and had eventually been distracted by his burgeoning architecture career and, later, by Ana. He and Lilly had touched base a few times since she’d moved back to Melbourne, but his heart had been too preoccupied to invest in a friendship with his ex-girlfriend.

But then, everything had changed. Seeing his fiancée at a function talking to the very man with whom she had an affair made something in Tom snap. All the repressed anger he felt towards Ana had surfaced. For reasons unknown even to him, his immediate instinct had been to call his ex, get drunk and then try to make the moves on her.

To her credit, Lilly had turned him down.

But she hadn’t turned him away and for the last few weeks they’d been hanging out almost constantly, slipping back into that comfortable routine that you have with someone who you’ve known for years and years. Tom found it so easy being with her. He started to question if what he and Ana had was worth all the drama. He still loved her, of that he was sure. But was that enough?

And to complicate matters even more, Lilly had made it quite clear that if things were ever really over with Ana and that if he tried ‘it’ again, she would be quite receptive to the prospect of a – ahem – more intimate reunion.

Tom and Ana had never actually spoken about her affair in detail, both assuming that if they ignored it long enough it would just eventually not be a ‘thing anymore’. Tom had told himself he was fine with it and that he was big enough to just let it be.

You know what they say about pink elephants though.

And now Tom found himself in the situation where he spent more time talking to the previous love of his life, rather than the current one. Both these amazing women had told him, in no uncertain terms, that it was his decision as to what happened next in their respective relationships.

Tom sighed as he picked up his laptop and walked towards the lift to take him to his loft apartment. Lilly or Ana. Ana or Lilly. Even though it was only three pm, he poured himself a large glass of red wine as soon as he walked through the door. The wine hit his empty stomach like acid and he realised he hadn’t eaten a thing all day. He wandered to the fridge and perused the limited contents: Half a block of Gruyere, a wedge of Parmesan (if he cut the mould off, it was sure to be fine) and a whole cauliflower that, miraculously, still looked remarkably fresh. He sniffed a carton of milk to make sure it hadn’t gone off, poured another glass of wine, and set about making creamy cauliflower cheese – a favourite of his as a kid and a recipe that he knew by heart. Tom found cooking incredibly cathartic and allowed himself to be lulled into rhythmic trance as he watched the white sauce bubble lazily on the stove, hoping that the popping bubbles might magically reveal an answer.

When the meal was ready he sat on the couch and thoughtfully ate through several bowls, pondering his situation. He eventually came to the realisation that he’d known what he wanted all along and that he couldn’t keep on pretending anymore. For one thing, it was totally doing his head in, and for another it wasn’t fair on Ana or Lilly. He picked up his landline, dialling the number from heart.

“It’s me. Can you come over now? We need to talk.”

***

He buzzed the front door to the apartment complex open thirty minutes later and waited anxiously by the front door, propping it open with his foot. He suddenly realised that he was exceedingly nervous, his stomach flip-flopping everywhere. What if she’d changed her mind and didn’t actually want him?

He could see the lift doors slide open and she stepped out, her eyes on the ground and her arms wrapped around herself protectively.

She stopped in her tracks when she saw him. Their eyes locked, knowing exactly what the other was thinking. They ran to each other and embraced, holding on as though their lives depended on it.

“I was such a fool for letting you go the first time,” she whispered softly into his ear, before kissing it gently and sending tingling waves of pleasure through his body.

He held her tight inhaling her familiar scent, all his feelings of anxiety dissipating, and knew that he’d made the right decision.

Edible Teacups

June 23, 2011


These are super cute little treats perfect for kids (or grown-ups!) birthday parties. Sure to impress both the young and young at heart.

Makes 14

1 x packet of white and pink marshmellows
1 x  packet of chocolate freckles
1 x packet tick-tock biscuits
1 x packet of musk lifesavers
1 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tbsp water

Carefully cut lifesavers in half. Combine water and icing sugar so that it forms a thick paste. Holding a tick-tock biscuit colour side up, put a small dob of icing in the centre of the biscuit. Place a marshmallow on top of the icing. Spread another dob of icing on top of the marshmallow and stick a chocolate freckle on the icing, sprinkle side up. Take one of the lifesavers you cut in half and carefully dab a small amount of icing on either end. Secure the lifesaver to the side of the marshmallow to form the handle of your tea cup. Repeat until you have used all the biscuits or until you have the amount you need. ENJOY!!

Season 3: Episode 3

June 21, 2011

Mia pulled the door to the Pilates studio closed behind her and double-checked to make sure it was locked. She let the winter sunlight melt over her skin, closing her eyes for a second to bask in it. Originally from Singapore, Mia felt the cold much more than native Melbournians. She often wondered why she had chosen this city as her home, given that most of the year she spent hunched inside a huge jacket waiting for when it was going to defrost enough to wear a t-shirt. Still, she did love this place, and occasionally – like today – Melbourne would surprise her with a day of glorious winter sunshine.

She walked slowly down the back streets, avoiding the Saturday throng of people meandering from one coffee shop to another. She had no plans for the rest of the afternoon or evening and was planning on keeping it that way. She thought she might sit in their back garden with a book to soak up some of the late afternoon rays, then perhaps a gin and tonic, DVD and sleep?

Perfect, thought Mia, stretching like a contented cat as she walked home.

Pondering over which movie she felt like watching, she didn’t notice the man dressed in dark denim and sunglasses round the corner. He was concentrating intently on his phone and wasn’t looking where he was going either. Mia yelped in surprise as she walked headlong into him, almost tripping over. He was carrying a Tupperware container, which looked as though it may topple out of his hands, but he managed to save it with a skilful balancing manoeuvre.

“Oh I’m sorry… Mia?”

Mia blinked, the sunlight momentarily blinding her. She knew that voice.

“Johnny?”

He laughed. “Yeah, sorry, wasn’t looking where I was going.”

As one does, they exchanged pleasantries about the weather and life in general before an awkward silence kicked in. Johnny looked about nervously and Mia chewed her lip.

“What are you doing now?” asked Johnny suddenly.

Mia blinked. “Um, nothing. I’m just on my way home.”

“Come to a party with me.”

“What? Now?”

Johnny grinned. “Yeah, the house is just there.”

He pointed to a gorgeous weatherboard cottage a few doors down. Creeping foliage coiled around the front porch posts and hung lusciously over the entrance.

“But I’m not invited,” Mia protested.

“Trust me, it’ll be fine. The more the merrier.”

“Whose party is it? Someone I know?”

“No,” said Johnny simply. He wasn’t giving anything away.

Mia realised that she didn’t know any of Johnny’s other friends outside of Willow and Ana. She had images of bikini clad girls stoking a barbeque and splashing in a paddling pool, even though it was winter; Ageing hispters standing around and looking bored, drinking obscure Scandinavian larger.

“It’s going to be filled with girls young enough to be my daughter, isn’t it?” said Mia sarcastically.

Johnny winked. “Oh, you have no idea. Come on, it’ll be a blast.”

He grabbed her hand before she could protest and pulled her along. Mia groaned inwardly. Why did she do this to herself?

Johnny rang the doorbell and waited, flashing another smile at Mia. She heard footsteps barrelling down the hall and the door swung open.

“Uncle Johnnyyyyyyyyyy!”

At first Mia didn’t see who had spoken, but she dropped her gaze a few feet and was greeted by the site of a little girl who was dressed in a purple tutu, purple tights and sparkly purple shoes. A purple and silver tiara rested crookedly atop her chestnut curls and she brandished a wand that was, predictably, purple.

“Happy birthday, sweetheart,” said Johnny, leaning down and scooping the small child up with his free arm.

She giggled, shouting “Put me down! Put me down!” and beating him with her wand.

“Ivy, this is my friend Mia,” he said, resting her on the ground again. “Today is Ivy’s fifth birthday,” he explained to Mia.

“I’m grown up now,” said Ivy seriously, gracing Mia with a deep curtsey. She turned back to Johnny. “Today you have to call me princess Ivy, because I’m a princess.” She indicated to her outfit. “See?”

“Johnny! You made it,” a beautiful, tall woman who Mia took to be Ivy’s mother came striding down the hall, swooping to clear the balloons out of the way.

“You told me you would never bring a date to a five year olds birthday party,” she scolded, kissing Johnny’s cheek then holding out her hand warmly to Mia. “I’m Helen, Johnny’s sister.”

“Oh, I’m not…”

Johnny interrupted. “This is Mia, an old friend.”

He handed the Tupperware box he was carrying to Helen, who looked inside and chuckled.

“Ivy, come and look what Johnny made for you.”

Ivy charged down the hall again, squealing and clapping her hands in delight as her mother lowered the box for her to look at. Nestled inside were little tiny edible teacups – marshmallows resting on cookies, with tiny sugar handles. Mia’s mouth almost fell open in surprise and she glanced at Johnny, who winked at her again.

“I’m pretty handy in the kitchen,” he said as he led her towards the back of the house, stopping briefly to procure two glasses of champagne on the way through.

There were about fifty people gathered in the back garden, all laughing and talking. Children were running wild everywhere, screams of delight and occasionally a few tears breaking up the adult conversation. Johnny was greeted warmly by everyone, and introduced Mia to groups of people whose names she promptly forgot. After Johnny had done the rounds and played the requisite games with the birthday girl, he steered Mia towards a quiet corner, snaffling two chocolate crackles on the way.

“I didn’t even know you had any siblings,” said Mia, in between bites of the rice bubbles and chocolate. She hadn’t had one of these for probably fifteen years.

Johnny shrugged. “I guess you never asked.”

Mia nodded slowly. She was beginning to think there were plenty of things she didn’t know about Johnny.

The rest of the afternoon passed in beautiful blur of sunshine, champagne and birthday cake. The edible teacups were a hit with the kids and Johnny had already given out the recipe to at least six other people. Johnny made Mia feel so at ease and she could barely believe this was the same womanising heartbreaker she knew.

Or, thought she knew. She gazed intently at his profile, wondering if she actually knew this man at all. He looked over and caught her staring. Mia didn’t drop her eyes. A sexy smile spread slowly over his face.

He leant forward and put his mouth close to her ear. “Want to get out of here?”

Mia felt shivers of anticipation run down her spine and nodded wordlessly. She didn’t trust her voice to behave.

“Let me just say goodbye to Helen and we can disappear,” he said.

Mia took the opportunity to go into the kitchen and get a glass of water. The champagne had made her lightheaded. She could hear two people in the living room, talking.

“Did you see the girl with Johnny,” a voice said, disdainfully. “I wonder if she knows he’s slept with most of the women here. Even the married ones.”

The other women gasped. “No!”

“It’s true. He’s even tried his charms on me. I said no, of course.”

“Of course!”

“I mean, I’m happily married, but you know what people like him are like. They’ll try it on with anyone.”

Suddenly the wonderful giddiness of the champagne dissipated and Mia came crashing back to reality. Of course. That was the Johnny she knew.

“Ready?” she spun around and saw Johnny waiting, their jackets over his arm.

“I’m… um… I have to go.”

Mia grabbed her coat from him and rushed out the front door.

Johnny stood there staring after her. Two women peered their heads through the door of the living room. He recognised one of them as a horrible friend of Helen’s who flirted outrageously with him whenever she saw him. He’d had to firmly turn her down on several separate occasions. Obviously in a terrible marriage and looking for some kind of escape. She eyed Johnny coolly and looked pointedly at her friend, before they withdrew their faces from the doorway.

Johnny took out his phone to call Mia, but hesitated.

That’s it, thought Johnny. That’s enough. This is too exhausting.

He pushed his phone back into his pocket, frustrated. If they couldn’t even hang out together without having a fight it was never going to work. His shoulders sagged and he started the long walk home, pulling the collar of his jacket up to shield himself from the cool evening air.

Apple and Pear Crumble

June 16, 2011


This is such a great, easy winter dessert that is actually really healthy. It’s impressive enough to serve at a dinner party, but also quick and easy if you’re tucked up at home with a good book and feel like something a little indulgent. You can make a single person serve by using 1 apple and pear and cutting down the amount of crumble mixture.

Serve with hot custard, ice cream or cream. Serves 4-6

3 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

3 large green pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 tbspn honey

1 tspn vanilla extract

Juice of one lemon

1 cup wholemeal flour

1.5 cups quick oats (or normal rolled oats that have been roughly chopped)

1/4 cup LSA or finely chopped almonds

3 tbspn butter, melted

1 tbspn brown sugar

Powdered cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a large mixing bowl put the sliced apples and pears, lemon juice, honey, vanilla and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss through so that all the fruit is coated.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, oats, chopped almonds, butter, sugar and add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg for good measure.The mixture should be quite dry still at this stage.

Transfer the fruit into a medium sized ceramic making dish, making sure that you don’t put the liquid in – you don’t want to fruit to be too wet. Transfer the remaining liquid to the crumble mixture and stir it through. If the mixture isn’t moist enough (it should be sticking together in clumps) then add some more melted butter. Cover the apple with the crumble mixture. Put aluminum foil over the top of the baking dish, putting a couple of decent holes in the top to allow steam to escape and making sure the foil isn’t resting on top of the crumble. Cook for 35 minutes, remove foil completely and cook for a further 10 minutes. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

 

 

Season 3: Episode 2

June 14, 2011

There was no light peeping through the cracks between curtain and wall as Willow opened her eyes. This meant one of two things: It was either still really early and she could go back to sleep or it was a miserable day and there was no sunshine. A quick check of her alarm clock informed her it was the latter. Eight am and miserably overcast. Sitting up in bed, wrapped in her warm covers, Willow peeked behind the curtain to ascertain just how wintery it actually was out there. The trees that lined the street were furiously licking the grey sky and the ground was sodden. She could hear the swoosh of cars as they drove through the puddles of water that had formed on the road overnight. She groaned and lay back in bed, pulling the covers closer around her. It was just so typical that the weather was like this on her day off.

When Willow padded downstairs a little while later the house was empty and quiet, the others having already gone out. She opened the fridge and surveyed the contents for breakfast options. She salivated at the thought of poached eggs with wilted spinach on fresh sourdough. Perhaps with homemade hash browns on the side. Sighing, she realised that this dream would only eventuate if she actually went to the markets. She made herself a coffee and sat at the kitchen bench, weighing up the pros and cons of this venture.

Pro: Fresh eggs.

Con: Possibility of seeing The Italian.

Pro: Handmade butter on still-warm sourdough.

Con: Possibility of still being attracted to The Italian.

Pro: Necessary ingredients gathered that would enable a day of cooking, undoubtedly a favourite pastime in weather such as this.

Con: Possibility of being charmed yet again by The Italian and ending up in bed with him. (in different circumstances definitely not a con, but she did have her pride to think of!)

Her stomach grumbled. She drained the last of her coffee and, in a moment of intoxicating bravado, made the executive decision that today was the day to face her demons. She couldn’t hide from The Italian forever, after all.

In an out and out display of how completely over Carlo she was, she deliberately put on her least sexy outfit: Jeans that were fashionable around the time that Will Smith was still known as the Fresh Prince and a jumper that Madonna, pre revival, would have been proud of. Catching a glimpse of herself on the way out, however, made her scurry back inside and get changed. There was really no excuse for those jeans. Finally, settling on the Melbourne uniform of skinny black jeans, jumper and coat, she left the house, umbrella under arm.

***

The sun had managed to peek through the ominous storm clouds and small shafts of light were ricocheting off the tops of buildings as she strode from her car to the entrance of the markets. She walked with purpose, shopping trolley bouncing haphazardly off the uneven paving stones, daring anyone to mess with her. Although she felt calm and confident, she conceded it might be wise to keep to the sections she knew there was little chance of running into him. His father’s stall was in the far left corner, so Willow stuck to the top right. All the stall owners there still knew her, and she was met with cries of “Where have you been?” and “We’ve missed you” and offered gifts of silverbeet, oranges and fresh herbs tied up with string. These were, of course, a few of her favourite things.

She was deep in discussion with one of the fruiters about the perfect picking time for granny smith apples when he saw her.

“Willow?”

His face broke into a wide grin. “I thought it was you. I would recognise you anywhere.”

Willow’s knees went a little weak and her heart started beating a bit faster. This is exactly what she’d been afraid of. He looked as good as ever. Better even, if that was possible. His thick, dark hair had grown and fell casually over his forehead. Long lashes framed his eyes, which were set off by the navy jumper he was wearing, the sleeves rolled up to reveal muscular, tanned forearms. How he managed to get a tan during Melbourne winter was beyond her. She murmured a greeting, unsure of exactly what her voice was going to do, as he leant in to kiss her cheek. She couldn’t help but inhale his spicy, warm scent.

“Can I talk to you?” He took her by the hand and pulled her away from the crowd. “In private?”

Once again, Willow found herself powerless in the presence of this man, and allowed herself to be dragged along to a quiet corner of the markets.

“I have been a fool,” he said to her, clasping both her hands and looking deep into her eyes. “I realised after you left that day that I’ve never met anyone like you.”

He paused to gauge her reaction, pulling her closer when she made no move to escape.

“I want to start again, to make amends for everything that happened. Will you let me do that beautiful Willow?”

His voice had dropped to a throaty whisper and she could feel his warm breath on her face. Maybe they could start again? Maybe she could make him as happy as he’d made her? Maybe…

Someone bumped into Willow from behind and she was awoken from her daydream. What the hell was she thinking? This guy was a skeeze who had used her in the worst possible way. And why, all of a sudden, had he decided that she was the one for him? Unless…

“She left you,” Willow said, a smirk slowly forming on her lips.

Carlo looked uncomfortable. “No, we… I… decided that…”

Willow extracted herself from his grasp.

“You’ve had to move out of her house, which doesn’t suit you because you can’t exactly take girls back to your parents place, can you?”

Carlo was shifting from one foot to the other, his eyes darting around looking for an escape. “No Willow, you know that is not true. What we had…”

She cut him off, her voice calm but sharp. “What we had was a night of sex at your girlfriend’s house while she was out of town on business. That’s all.” She took her trolley and smiled at him, pityingly. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have shopping to do.”

Carlo watched bewildered as she melted into the crowd, her shopping trolley bobbing merrily behind her, his mouth opening and closing like a goldfish.

***

Willow stood in the kitchen triumphantly slicing granny smith apples and pears, still relishing in her newfound power. Almost predictably, Destiny’s Child’s Independent Women had shuffled its way on her iPod and was blaring through the speakers at the moment that Ana and Mia walked through the door. They could smell melted butter, caramelised sugar and baking fruit, which meant only one thing: Willow was making crumble.

“How was your day?” asked Ana, uncorking a bottle of Italian wine that she was astonished to find in the fridge. For months now there had been a moratorium on all things Italian, so she was pleasantly surprised that it seemed to have been lifted overnight.

Willow smiled and her eyes twinkled. She got out the glasses and, over piping hot bowls of apple and pear crumble with custard, regaled her friends with a wonderful tale of one woman kicking butt.

Hearty Vegetable and Bean Soup with Miso Stock

June 9, 2011


What better way to start off the winter season than with a hearty vegetable and bean soup! The miso stock and hint of lemon give it a gorgeous flavour. Feel free to add bacon or ham if you are carnivorously inclined.

Serve with fresh, warm sourdough. Serves 5

2 tablespoons miso paste

About 1 litre water

1 teaspoon beef stock powder

1/2 tablespoon honey

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red chilli, finely chopped

2 potatos, peeled, diced

1 sweet potato, peeled, diced

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 zucchini, diced

1 cup green beans, chopped to desired size

2 large handfuls of silverbeet, chopped into slivers

1 tin cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

juice of 1 lemon

White wine (optional)

Parsley, basil, pepper and salt to taste

In a large pot put about an inch of water and heat. Mix through miso and beef stock until dissolved and add onion, garlic and chilli. When these are cooked through (about 5 mins) put in all the veges and fill up with water. Add the honey, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper. Add a generous splash of white wine if you have some lurking in the fridge. When the mixture has warmed through taste a bit of the liquid to make sure it has enough flavour – if not, add some more miso and/or stock. Add the canellini beans and cook until potato is soft (about 20 mins). Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with black pepper and fresh parsley before serving.

 

Season 3: Episode 1

June 7, 2011

It was Saturday afternoon and Ana was sitting in the kitchen, consumed by her thoughts. She absently took a sip of the tea in front of her only to realise that she had neglected it for too long and it was now stone cold. She grimaced as she swallowed the mouthful and tipped the rest down the sink. She felt restless and anxious. Couldn’t focus. The tight knot in her stomach was so disturbingly familiar, that she couldn’t even remember how it was to feel Normal. Whatever that meant.

Tom was being weird and distant. Had been for days. Since the night of the function, he wouldn’t look directly at her when he spoke and he was spending too many nights at the office. Ana was sure that it was so he could avoid her, but when she’d tried to talk to him about it – to explain for the hundredth time that she didn’t know Marc had hired her – he brushed her off, saying that she was reading too much into things.

“I’m busy with work,” he’d said. “Just chill out. Everything’s fine.”

Chill out? How on earth she was meant to chill out, Ana didn’t know. She felt as though the best thing that had ever happened to her was slipping through her fingers, and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do to stop it. If she didn’t know better, Ana would have suspected he was having an affair.

There’s no way though, she thought, her anxiety peaking again. Not Tom.

She glanced at the clock, glad that Mia and Willow were due any minute, hoping that they would arrive brimming with culinary inspiration. In an attempt to draw Tom out of his shell, Ana had decided it would be a good idea to throw an informal dinner party tonight. But, best laid plans… Johnny had phoned earlier with an incredibly obtuse reason for why he couldn’t make it, and Ana still hadn’t gotten a straight answer from Tom as to whether he was even going to turn up.

She sighed and put the kettle on again, more for something to do than the desire for another cup of tea, before deciding that 5:30pm was a perfectly reasonable hour to open a bottle of wine.

Half a bottle of a delicious Pinot Gris later and still no sign of the others, she decided that cooking was perfect way to occupy her mind. She surveyed the contents of the kitchen sceptically: A few tins of beans, miso paste, some limp celery, potatoes that had seen better days, and something in a bowl that resembled a green hedgehog. Willow usually did the grocery shopping – she knew about little tucked away places that the others didn’t even realise existed – but since the Italian grocer had broken her heart, the poor kitchen cupboards had been seriously neglected.

After some deliberation, she discarded the furry mammal carefully, topped up her glass, and set to work creating something from, literally, all the other food they had in the house. By the time Mia and Willow arrived home the house was filled with the smell of hearty vegetable and bean soup, and Ana was full of Pinot Gris.

***

Much to Ana’s surprise, Tom turned up about half an hour later, full of warm smiles and hugs for the other two girls. He turned his cheek when Ana leant in to kiss him so that she ended up smooching the air and nearly falling forward.

“I don’t think you need any of this,” he said jokingly, holding up the bottle of Chablis that he had bought.

She looked at him, hurt, but he was already busy asking Willow about how her school term was shaping up and what she thought of the new state government’s approach to education. Ana fumed silently, but dedicated herself to final dinner preparations. Now wasn’t the time.

“Let’s eat!” she said, more brightly than she felt.

Tom’s phone rang as he sat at the table and he jumped up to answer it, moving immediately to the other room and pulling the door behind him. She could hear muffled laughter as he spoke to whoever was on the other end. He returned a few moments later and didn’t meet her eye.

“Who was that?” she said, not meaning for her voice to sound as accusing as it did.

He reached for a piece of bread. “Work.”

“On a Saturday night?”

“Yes.”

“What did they want?”

Tom stared at her.

What am I doing? thought Ana. The filter between her brain and her mouth had diminished significantly with the third glass of Pinot and she knew better than to get into such a stupid fight after she’d had a few drinks.

“Why?” he asked after a long pause.

Ana shrugged and picked up her figurative shovel. “It just sounded awfully friendly for a work call.”

He put down his spoon and rolled his eyes. “What, you think it’s another woman? That I’m having an affair?”

Ana dropped her gaze. “No.”

“Because really, Ana, I think you’ve got the charter on affairs in this relationship, don’t you?”

The room was silent. Willow and Mia shifted uncomfortably in their seats, keeping their eyes well averted from the duelling couple. Ana gently folded her napkin and stood up from the table.

She spoke to Tom quietly, her voice trembling, close to tears. “Decide how long you want to punish me, Tom, and let me know. I can’t keep doing this forever.”

She turned and left the room, walking slowly upstairs. Tom hung his head and made no move to follow her.

Spicy Salsa

June 2, 2011


The perfect dip to spice things up a bit (either intentionally or unintentionally!). If you like your food hot then this is the perfect dip for you. You can adjust the temperature by changing the amount of jalapeno and tabasco you put in.

Serve with corn chips, fresh vegetable sticks and a side of sour cream.

3 large, ripe plum tomaotes, seeded and diced

3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

8 green onions, finely chopped

4 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons tabasco (or other hot sauce)

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor, pulse the tomatoes, green onions, garlic, jalapeno peppers, and coriander to desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in the lime juice, hot pepper sauce, pepper and salt.  Refrigerate for 45 minutes before serving.