Less Hating. More Relating – With Marcella #130, #131 & #132 (of 466)

I’m not hip, and I know it.

In case I didn’t know it, I was gently and respectfully reminded several times recently, while making a decision about a technological purchase. The store I entered was hip. The staff, eagerly ready to help me, were hip.

There use of phrases like ‘people over 40’ and ‘the responsible purchase’ had me wondering if they’d done some kind of cyber, wireless profiling of me as I walked through the doors.

It was fun, though. It’s fun to rub shoulders with the ‘youth of today’ every now and then. It helps keep me keep in touch and keep things real…the reality of being older, that is.

My favourite ‘youth of today’ to rub shoulders with are, of course, my niece and nephew.

A couple of weeks ago, while cooking dinner for them, my nephew made use of a phrase I rather think I’d like to adopt…if only my aging mind could recall it quickly enough in appropriate situations.

In response to the niece’s playful joke at the nephew’s expense, he uttered:

‘Can we have less hating and more relating, please?’

I think we can, don’t you?

Over the years I’ve found that one of the best ways to promote relating and do away with hating, is to eat food. Together. At a table. Right up close and personal. Close enough to hear the munch and crunch and sip and slurp of the potential enemy beside you.

It may be a rare thing to sit down with an actual enemy, but we certainly have times where we sit with someone for whom we’re feeling something less than love. It could be someone we’ve eaten with many times before, but things are currently strained. It could be someone we’ve never eaten with, but we’ve decided to invite them to our table to understand why they’re like they are. To have a little less hating and a little more relating.

A squashy table with some food, some questions and some understanding can do that.

This past month: #130 ‘Veal Scaloppine with Lemon’ with veal purchased from the shop where my nephew is apprenticed as a butcher, #131 ‘Warm Red Sauce’, and #132 ‘Piquant Green Sauce’, with various combinations of family members at various familiar tables.


Growing Up – With Marcella – #129 (of 466)

This past year, while I’ve been on the same land mass as my family, I’ve had the joy of occasionally travelling up to my brother’s to cook dinner for us all and catch up for the evening.

I still feel there’s so much to catch up on…so many days of life and inches of growth that my niece and nephew have experienced while I wasn’t looking, while a sea or two or three and a nation or two or three or ten have separated us.

Every few years I’ve parachuted in and seen them that bit older and wiser and chattier and funnier.

Yet, I think back to the baby boy I held and spent time with for the first four months of his life before I flew away for the first time. Eighteen years later, he’s taller than me, and he’s still so lovely and he makes my heart swell and hurt with love all at the same time. He’s a butcher in the making just now. He’s always been a sensitive, caring soul in the making.

I think back to the little, feisty toddling girl I met for the first time when I traveled back many years ago. She was already a budding actress and a very clever little girl. She could put her mind to anything and do it well. She still can. She loves quiet time. She loves learning. She’s pretty much the same height as me now, and I can’t believe how she’s grown into a young woman already. She knows more about doing her hair and makeup than I do. All while she excels at school.

I’m so proud of them both. I love having more time to see them. Though these days I have to take what time they can give me in the midst of their busy, social lives.

But I’ll take whatever time and hugs and laughs I can get. I’ll take, and give, as many ‘I love you’ s as we can say. I’ll keep enjoying all the cooking and feeding and sitting and taking around a table as we can manage.

Time is short. They are not! They keep growing!

#129 Fusilli pasta with ‘Courgette Sauce with Basil and Beaten Egg Yolk’ with brother, nephew and niece at my brother’s table.

Not Neglecting the Book (Not Much) – With Marcella #119, #120, #121, #122, #123 (of 466)

Forgive me readers. It’s been four months since my last posting of anything regarding my Marcella-n cooking adventures. Not that I’ve been working through the book at any great rate, anyway.

Here are the five that I’ve cooked over these past four months:

#119 ‘Pan-Fried Thin Beef Steaks with Tomatoes and Olives’ (with steak cut and served by my lovely nephew at the butcher shop where he works) – with my brother, my niece and my nephew (the butcher) at their table.

Pan-Fried Thin Beef Steaks with Tomatoes and Olives

Pan-Fried Thin Beef Steaks with Tomatoes and Olives

#120 ‘Sautéed Sea Bream or Sea Bass with Fennel, Sicilian Style’ – cooked for a dear, old friend (the friend took me out for a beautiful dinner that I wrote about here) – with Byron at the table of a kind friend who loaned me her harbour-view apartment while she was away. I didn’t take a photo of the food – but I did take a photo of the view.

The View

The View

#121 ‘Tuscan Peasant Soup with Cabbage and Beans’ – with Peter and Sonja at my table.

I felt the need of something green!

I felt in need of something green!

Shazzameena following Marcella's instructions!

Shazzameena following Marcella’s instructions!

The soup with the requisite poached eggs and parmesan on top. It really worked!

The soup with the requisite poached eggs and parmesan on top. It really worked!

#122 ‘Spinach Sauce with Ricotta and Ham’ – with Helen and Janet at my table. I forgot to take a photo…but just imagine pasta with lots of green sauce. Very yummy.

#123 ‘Tomato Sauce with Sautéed Vegetables and Olive Oil’ – with my brother, tonight, at my table.

Sauce cooking on the stove.

Sauce cooking on the stove.

I plan to get back to the free-writing prompts tomorrow. If you’ve missed the past three days of 15 minute free-writing stories, take a look back at the past three posts.


Throwing It All Together – With Fridge Poetry and Marcella #105 (of 466)

Continuing with the Writing 201 Poetry Course, we were to use the form of ‘Found Poetry’ – the kind where you take other people’s words and add them all together – the same way one might compose a ransom note with words cut from a magazine.

Though the composition currently being formed upon my fridge, would not pass for a cleverly or thoughtfully constructed piece of poetry, it does have an essence of poetry about it.

Here’s a photo of where we’re at:

What happens when a brother and sister, and various visitors compose a poem one word at a time.

What happens when a brother and sister, and various visitors compose a poem one word at a time.

I was going to type it out here – but I’m just not convinced it’s worth it. Apologies to my brother!

A couple of nights ago, I combined eggs, tomatoes, carefully caramelised onions, parmesan cheese and home-grown basil – to make a rather delicious frittata to share with a good friend.

Just before sliding it onto a plate

Just before sliding it onto a plate

This friend is a regular reader of this blog, but was yet to experience one of my Marcellan creations – being a friend on the other side of the world, as she is.

We enjoyed the sweetness of the frittata and of good conversation. She also dutifully added a word to the poem on the fridge.

On this Wednesday evening just gone: #105 ‘Frittata with Tomatoes, Onions and Basil’ with Janet at my table.

One Day, One Word, One Recipe at a Time – With Marcella #100 (of 466)

My brother was visiting with me last week in my new place of habitation. He will be visiting, as work dictates, from time to time. It has been great to spend relaxed time together, completing a jigsaw, trying to complete a crossword, reading in companionable silence, and sampling the continuing delights of Marcella’s ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’.

On Friday evening, I reached recipe #100 in my cooking adventure!

And the recipe was?

One at a Time

One at a Time

‘Crespelle’ – The Italian version of ‘crepes’.

Marcella has a chapter devoted to these simple, light treats. The chapter only has four recipes in it – the remaining three are savoury dishes where the crespelle are rolled with meat or ricotta fillings and baked. I’m looking forward to making those in the future.

For recipe #100, however, I kept it plain – plain topped with sugar, lemon and cinnamon, that is! Just lovely!

My brother and I have also started a creative writing project on the side of the fridge. We’re using my magnetic fridge poetry set and have set the challenge of each adding one word, each day to create sentences and, eventually, a story. My brother tends to send the sentences in more positive, upbeat directions – while I tend toward darker, more reflective paths. We are inviting any visitors to likewise add a word during their visit.

It’s an interesting discipline, adding one word each day (two with my brother sending his addition by text message when absent from the fridge). We can both, individually, have in our mind where the story will head, only to have that plan foiled (improved?) by the other’s addition.

It’s a magnetic, poetic, refrigerated parable of life really. The words are limited. The combinations and narrative directions are seemingly unlimited. The plans we make are temporary and liable to dramatic change.

This past weekend, after a couple of weeks of ‘hiding’ in the safety of my family, I attended two gatherings of people who, quite naturally, wanted to know my plans for the future. Yesterday was a gathering of Bible College friends from 20 years ago. Today I made my first visit to my home church, since arriving in Australia this time around.

When asked what my plans are, I (and they) had to face the reality that we really only know today’s plans – we don’t even know what tomorrow will bring.

It’s comforting to know that my life’s plans are in my loving Lord’s hands. All he asks is that I take it one day at a time – and not be anxious about that. He’s got it covered!

The recipes, the fridge magnets, the reality of life’s daily changes, all remind me of this!

Friday night: #100 ‘Crespelle’ with my brother at my table.

In the Bosom of My Family – With Marcella #95, #96, #97, #98 & #99 (of 466)

I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting on ‘bosoms’. That’s the figurative, not the fleshy, kind – though residing now in a warmer climate does give one continual pause for such fleshy reflection.

In the days before my departure for the other side of the world, I was in attendance at a conference where the speaker was teaching from John’s Gospel. He made the heart-warming observation that when Jesus spoke of he and the Father ‘being one’ it was in the realm of the language of ‘being in the bosom of’ – that is, in close and warm relationship. He went on to remind us, that as followers of Jesus, we were included in this warm, familial embrace.

My heart was warmed. It still is.

This morning I awoke, still reflecting upon bosoms, and the song ‘Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham’ popped into my head! I know! Where did that come from?! And what did those lyrics ever really mean to this young child singing them?? However, after three repetitions of this incomprehensible line, it moves on to these clear words…

Oh, wonderful love! So high, you can’t get over it. So low, you can’t get under it. So wide, you can’t get around it. Oh, wonderful love!”

My guess is that the start of the song was meant to cause my soul to ‘rock’ (take joy?) in the comfort that I’ve been included in God’s family. I can certainly ‘rock’ a lot in that wonderful love!

This past couple of weeks, I have been experiencing the safe, warm, reliable love of my family’s embrace. We are no ‘Leave it to Beaver’ kind of family. But we have certainly been learning to love and understand one another better as the years have passed. My family is very good at welcoming me back every couple of years – into their fold – and coping with my ‘I’m not coping with changing countries’ issues that I have for the first week or so. They’ve been coping with this for 17 years, which makes them pretty wonderful.

It has been my delight to cook for them over the past week or so. Up till now they had been merely reading of my ‘Marcellan’ cooking adventures. Now they have tasted them – with (mostly) enthusiastic responses. The thing about cooking for family, rather than guests, is that you get honest feedback!

A Table Set in Oz

A Table Set in Oz

I have also had the delight of eating my Mum’s Roast Lamb Dinner! We enjoyed that together as a family on our belated ‘Christmas Day’ together (on the 24th January). I can heartily recommend a belated Christmas Day! We experienced none of the giddy heights of unrealistic expectation – and the crashing disappointment of reality – that often come with the real Christmas Day. We just enjoyed the day in a relaxed, pressure-free way. It was great! We’re thinking of doing it again next time!

Having introduced my family to the delights of ‘Risotto’ (my father had eaten it in pre-packaged, microwaveable form before and agreed that Marcella’s was a great deal better), and the comfort of a Frittata, I have reached 99 recipes!

I plan to cook recipe number 100 tonight for my brother and I to share. Feel free to make guesses as to what that recipe might be!

Over the past couple of weeks: #95 ‘Asparagus Salad’, #96 ‘Risotto with Parmesan’, #97 ‘Frittata with Pan-Fried Onions and Potatoes, #98 ‘Sauteed Mushrooms with Olive Oil, Garlic and Mushrooms, and #99 ‘Risotto with Bolognese Sauce, at some good, loving, Aussie tables.

Crowning the Year with Goodness – With Marcella #93 & #94 (of 466)

Last night, I prepared a table for some of my dear friends.

A Feast of Friendship

A Feast of Friendship

I also prepared some food…in case you were wondering if the small bowl of cranberry sauce (in the picture above) was all that was to be shared among my guests. I went with Nigella Lawson’s Feast cookbook for inspiration and instruction, preparing a turkey with accompaniments.

Big preparations in my little kitchen.

Big preparations in my little kitchen.

The food was delicious (thank you, Nigella). The friendship was even more so (thank you, Lord). Before we tucked into the food set before us I took a short moment to recognise and thank the friends around the table for their patience and love for me over what had been a challenging year. They weren’t the only friends who had loved patiently – but they were the ones who could come that night, and reasonably fit around the table!

I then took another short moment to thank the Lord for his goodness. A lyric has been going around in my head, based on Psalm 65,

“You crown the year with your goodness.

You answer us with awesome deeds…

Praise the name of the Lord.

Oh my soul, sing his worth!”

For all this year’s ups and downs, the Lord has been so good to me. The friends he has given me have been a big part of that goodness.

This time a week ago (Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day) I was with some more friends – more gifts of God’s goodness. We shared a peaceful meal of leftovers at one of their homes, with a starter of Marcella’s ‘Swiss Chard Torta with Raisins and Pinenuts’. Delicious (and more-ish) food (and company).

Tastes better than it looks!

Tastes better than it looks!

In between these feasts (not forgetting the lovely Christmas Day lunch with my ambassadorial friend and her family) I sat with another friend and my housemate, enjoying Marcella’s ‘Pork Sausages with Red Wine and Porcini Mushrooms.’

Now, on the first day of 2015, I sit alone, but content, having eaten a gorgeous leftover turkey sandwich. I feel very ready for this new year – more ready than I’ve ever felt in past years. I look forward to seeing how the Lord crowns this coming year.

On St. Stephen’s Day: #93 ‘Swiss Chard Torta with Raisins and Pinenuts’ with Anne, Ian and Stephanie at a friend’s table.

The night before the night before the New Year: #94 ‘Pork Sausages with Red Wine and Porcini Mushrooms’ with Barbara and the Violinist at my table.

My Gift to You – Marcella Hazan

I’ve been waiting for the right moment to give this gift.

To you, my readers, if you happen to be reading this.

The gift is a blog. Not my blog. Another blog. Not just any blog. A blog that contains posts on each and every recipe in Marcella Hazan’s ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’.

But that’s not all!

The gift of this blog, written a few years ago, contains comments from Marcella Hazan herself. A real treat, as she passed away a year ago.

The blog contains posts from a group of nine people that divided up all the recipes in Marcella’s book and cooked and posted each day for just over a year. Marcella often comments on their progress, giving both encouragement and critique. Some of the bloggers even got to meet her near the end of their project.

For those of you who despair at my forgetfulness in taking photos of the dishes I cook from her book – you will also find photos of each recipe they cooked.

You won’t find recipes there. They (and I) believe that you should get our own copy of her book!

I try not to view each post until after I cook the recipe, so that the surprise factor is still there as I cook. Though, occasionally, when I’m feeling a bit uncertain about the recipe, it is good to read their comments and tips.

I’ve cooked 20% of the recipes in the book so far (there are 466 of them, not including the variations). It’s the best cookbook I’ve cooked from.

So here’s a gift well worth opening:

Pomodori e Vino

Happy Christmas!


Recommending – Nigella’s Kitchen

For those of you have been following from the beginning of this blog (I started earlier this year) you will remember my Letter to Nigella.

I still haven’t received a reply to my letter. Though to be fair, she may never have received it.

I am still a big fan – not so much of the woman herself (she has millions of those fans) but of her work. I can highly recommend her cookbook ‘Kitchen’.

I have a red apron, too!

I have a red apron, too!


The Book: ‘Kitchen’ by Nigella Lawson

Contains: 153 recipes (at my count)

I’ve Cooked: 103 recipes so far


‘Coffee Toffee Meringues’ (This was my first recipe and one I repeated several times for dessert for guests. They were very simple to make, could be made in advance of the dinner guests arriving, and were just that little bit more special than ordinary meringues with the addition of coffee)

‘Salmon and Sushi Rice’ (Oh, so simple and great on a big platter in the middle of the table for guests to help themselves. I made this at least six times and then had the slight embarrassment of having four of these guests together one evening, realising that they’d all had the same recipe on separate occasions. It still tasted good).

‘Indian-Rubbed Lamb Chops’ (A good way to make use of ground spices in the store cupboard, taking about three minutes to prepare and having the taste of a good Indian meal)

The List So Far:

The List, Part 1

The List, Part 1


The List, Part 2

The List, Part 2

That’s just a taste!

If you had this book and Marcella’s book on your shelf, I would argue you need no others.





Photo Fail – With Marcella #81, #82, #83, #84, #85 & #86 (of 466)

Number of evenings with guests over for dinner this week: 2

Number of people around the table each of those two evenings: 4

Number of Marcella’s recipes cooked: 6

Number of photos I remembered to take: 0

Photography Memory Failure: 101

Number of recipes that worked and tasted yummy: 6

Total number of guests over two evenings: 6

Number of guests who were great company: 6


Monday night: #81 ‘Pan-Roasted Lamb with Juniper Berries’, #82 ‘Braised Leeks with Parmesan’ and #83 ‘Italian Chocolate Mousse’ with Richard, Stanley and the Violinist at my table.

Tuesday night: #84 ‘Chicken Fricassee with Red Cabbage’, #85 ‘Sautéed French Beans with Parmesan’ and #86 ‘Walnut Cake’ with Steven, Joan and Dawn at my table.