St.Patrick Dinner

Ireland beautiful wilderness

Green Pasta à la Thaï

For Hot January

While my families and friends suffering the extremely cold weather in Canada, US and UK, in Australia we too, tried to endure the extreme heat. For the last three days, the temperature has been in the 40° Celsius (107° Fahrenheit) in Melbourne. I was not the only one suffered, but my little garden also, despite my effort to rise early in the morning while still a little cooler tending to the garden, my flowers and herbs wilted from being burnt by the fierce sunlight.

For the first time in my life, I attempted to paint the fence at the front of my house, which also suffered through the weather. The job was too small for the trade men, which they could not afford the time but the hourly rate was too high for a pensioner like me. Without any experience, I decided to buy a can of paint and a brush then set out to paint! I thought I was doing so well in my careful way until my neighbour came by telling me some simple things as: “Stir the liquid harder and right down to the bottom of the can…” and “Load the brush with lots of paint…” In another word: “Do it properly, woman!” Which helped.

“Hibiscus” Oil on canvas

But even as I chose as late as 7PM to paint the fence, the last couple of days were impossible. The weather was still hot (35°) and paint won’t stick! So instead, I was content to capture the pretty hibiscus flower on the canvas before they wilted. It was even too hot to eat and salad has been on the menu daily. However, tonight I am going to make “herb” pasta sauce with the beautiful fresh herbs I picked this morning before they all get demolished in the heat or by the hungry insects.

Pasta Sauce
Dinner tonight

A bouquet for my table from the unused herbs, which gave the whole room a lovely fragrance.

Bon appétit!

Count Your Blessings

It’s the third Christmas since the day my beloved husband died (990 days to be exact). Although each day had been as long as an eternity yet, it seems as though he only passed away yesterday. This year I am learning to appreciate time on my own, I am also learning to be happy facing the misery of being left a widow instead of, running away from it as I did the last two Christmas

I learnt to count my blessings, and that I did not have to plan a big Christmas dinner for anyone, and definitely counting my blessings that I did not have to shop with thousands of other shoppers. I smiled watching how people rushing around buying as though the shops would be closed for weeks and not for just one day. Anything but to do with the real spirit of Christmas: Shouting the insults at one another, fighting for a spot in the car park that already full. So many dramas that being put into one day of the year for families to connect or to disconnect? And if Christmas comes once a month, would families have enjoyed each other more without too much effort? We’ll never know.

Perhaps I envied those, who have families gathering around them?  Who had to get up on Christmas morning and in a hurry to get “things” done? Perhaps I should have felt guilty that I did not have any worry making sure the family Christmas dinner is up to the usual expected standard; like the turkey might be too dry? Or the pork is not crispy enough? And what happened to the pudding?  But instead, I did not have to rush out of bed, and then I took my meditating time wandering through my herbs garden, listening to a birdsong,  picked some fresh herbs to make a creamy omelette that would turn into a soft fluffy scrambled eggs for breakfast. How perfect! Not to mention the aroma of my favourite freshly brewed organic coffee, just the way it should be on Christmas morning and I better get used to it.

Well, like a bear, I decided to hibernate this Christmas, in the luxury and abundant quietness, away from the hustle and bustle of the festive season, allowing not, the crowded loneliness and the loud misery affecting my soul. I am counting my blessings indeed, for a lovely Christmas morning, totally alone. And yes, I did turn my phone off just for Christmas.

“Christmas Roses”

A Dinner Of Herbs

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;

Remember me to one, who lives there,

For he once was a true love of mine…”

With green mint, cool parsley,  sweet basil, and sunny thyme made a perfect dinner of herbs added with refreshing coriander and common chives, all from the garden herbs box you built for me on the deck.

“…Where I may sit and rightly spell. Of every star that heaven doth show, and every herb that sips the dew. Till old experience do attain, to something like prophetic strain…”

A cracker of herbs

Parsley that you can smell with your heart and rosemary for remembrance of you and of love, while sage gives me the wisdom and courage to change the things I can. And thyme! O thyme of sweet aroma, for my cup of tea.

A bouquet of herbs
A soup of herbs

In Fremont

Tin roofs in Fremont

It’s a lovely suburb just north of the Aurora Bridge. This is my fourth visit to Seattle and Fremont is like an old friend where I feel very comfortable wandering around many up hills and down dales streets. And I am never tired of looking out to a vista of mountain ranges on the far horizon, sometimes catching a faint view of the snow-capped  Mt Rainier, which is always an awesome feeling!

View of the city looking from Fremont
Mt Rainier, almost in hiding

At the local grocery, as always staff and manager are so helpful to help me finding the right stuff for my cooking, which for today I plan to make my version of fish cakes, simple and easy. My way of cooking is that I am not fuss for complicated recipes. As long as the ingredients are fresh and wholesome then I am happy. The less time spent in the kitchen is the better.

I love these mushrooms
My favourite cherries

My simple fish cakes that I made for my English family over a couple of weeks ago in Haslemere were a success so I hope my Seattle family will enjoy them as well. Though I can never guarantee they will taste the same since I’ve never follow any recipe but use what ever is available.

Fish cakes for dinner anyone?

Exotic Foodie

Asian market found in a large Asian community 20 minutes away that took me to Asia without having to travel far. It’s a place that always busy any day of the year and restaurants; one after another serving traditional Asian cuisine from Vietnamese, Chinese to Cambodian and Laotian, each with its authentic specialty. One can have a feast here without having to pay an abominable price.

After lunch, my friend and I wandered about passing many fresh fruit and vegetable stores that full of mouth-watering herbs and the sweet aroma was so inviting, I thought of a dish that I would prepare for a summer lunch next: “Green mango salad with fresh succulent prawns”.

My iPhone was used for these snapshots to whet your appetite.

Photo by Thai PeckPhoto by Thai Peck

Photo by Thai Peck

Bitter melon
Bitter melon
Australian grown durian $30 a Kg
Australian grown durian $30 a Kg

Photo by Thai Peck

Photo by Thai Peck

Watermelon $2 each
Watermelon $2 each

Photo by Thai PeckPhoto by Thai PeckPhoto by Thai PeckPhoto by Thai PeckPhoto by Thai peck

Foodie Inspiration

A trip to the market gave me the urge to do some cooking to share with friends and neighbours.

The luring of lovely fresh produce reminded me of the days when I would try so often a different new recipe, and my husband was then my taster and critic… He might have been a little bias but how lovely that we sat down and enjoyed every morsel together.

Memories! Oh, memories!

Lately I have lost my inspiration in cooking as well as my appetite and seldom cooked. Today I paid a visit to my favourite market and found that joy of cooking once more.

Here are some photos to whet your appetite.

Vegetable at Prahran Market
Vegetable at Prahran Market

Photo by Thai Peck

Photo by Thai PeckPhoto by Thai PeckPhoto by Thai Peck

My favourite greens
My favourite greens
Green mango salad
Green mango salad
Spicy meat balls
Spicy meat balls
Special clafoutis
Special summer pudding

Photo by Thai Peck