Friday, 11 July 2014

Winter fruit

An icy snow-bitten wind snaps at the fronds of the Monstera Deliciosa…
The Fruit Salad Plant…
Particularly apt here as its shredded leaves frame a pyramid of limes basking in the winter sun

Where bitter sweet kumquats glow and patiently wait to be marmalade

As a tumble of pomegranates masquerade as camellias

And ever-delicious expats from the tropics grasp at strands of sunshine

as they happily nestle in a rust bucket.

Then there are the South American tree tomatos… tantalising tamarillos,

And the citrus queen

beckoning to be juiced.

And finally the blushing corella pear and the ornamental cabbage flower sit silently in the shade, 
waiting for a hint of warmth.

And all this is just at the entrance to the Café.

If this is what’s on the outside on a bright winter’s day in Sydney,
Imagine what lies within?

Frannie xx     

© 2014 Francesca Muir

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Dance by the light of the moon

 “And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,


They danced by the light of the moon.”
Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussycat

Frannie xx     

© 2014 Francesca Muir








Friday, 20 June 2014

Getting my feet wet

Dipping my toes in…

Always tentative and somewhat nervous – though of what I have no idea
Crashing in, it swirls around my ankles
Glistening bubbles chattering away at my toes
A momentary gasp. Cold!
But then the ocean and my feet part company
And we are left on the sand…
Damp and invigorated.
I step closer to the deep
Then step back again
Waiting … waiting…
Waiting for the next wave

Frannie xx     

© 2014 Francesca Muir

Friday, 13 June 2014

Our world....

Some days I am so lost for words I have to leave it to others... 

Frannie xx     

© 2014 Francesca Muir

Friday, 6 June 2014

Greek roasted vegetables - aka Briam!

This hearty Mediterranean vegetarian dish is a weekly favourite in our house. 
And as it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare, I love it even more!
Known as a Lader or Lathera dish (from the Greek Lathi meaning oil), 
it’s simple, peasant-style cooking and an absolute classic!
It’s traditionally made with potatoes, aubergine and zucchinis, but I mix it up a bit depending on what vegetables I have in the fridge at the time.   
No need to go out and shop for this one!
This dish is perfect with roast lamb, chicken or pork or on its own, which is how we eat it. 
I used:
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes grated  - discard the skins
  • tiny tomatoes cut in half
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 carrots 
  • 2 courgette
  • red capsicum
  • fresh corn
  • 1/4 of a cup olive oil (Greek of course)
  • 6 French shallots (only because I had them!)
  • 2 cloves of garlic - chopped
  • handful of fresh parsley and thyme chopped
  • dried oregano
  • fresh basil 
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
Simple peel (or not – I generally don’t) vegetables and cut into chunks. 
In the bottom of a baking dish put a layer of the tomato sludge and season.  
Mix the vegetables with the rest of the tomato, herbs, olive oil and 
seasoning and layer on top. 
Cover with foil, seal and bake at 200C for about an hour.  
 Uncover, toss well and put back into the oven for another 40 minutes or so until deliciously brown.
Just serve with feta cheese and crusty bread to soak up the juices.  
Frannie xx   

© 2014 Francesca Muir

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Gypsy in her soul - an update

Peggy is a petite brunette without a trace of grey in her hair despite her 92 years.  She is generous to a fault and a glorious free spirit with a pied piper attraction for children and animals. She has a wicked sense of humour, sharp eye for detail, doesn't miss a beat and she sees everything and through everyone especially when it comes to shonks and charlatans. 
I've seen grown men cower when Peggy unleashes her fury for she doesn't suffer fools and is tireless and magnanimous when it comes to righting the wrongs in this world. 
Peripatetic by nature she travelled widely in her "youth" (in her thirties and forties!)

She doesn't need a watch to tell the time; knows exactly when it's going to rain; has a sixth sense about world events (much to her husband's frustration); knows exactly who is in the street by their footsteps or the sound of their car door closing and has an affinity with birds and animals that goes beyond belief and comprehension.

Stray and not-so stray animals and "wild" birds in the neighborhood gravitate to Number 135 and they know when to come knocking - for not everyone who lives at Number 135 is an animal lover (even though he shops almost daily for various packets of bird seeds, biscuits and heart and liver for "Peggy's people"!)  They seek her out at various hours of the day, never once over-lapping so that they each have her undivided attention.

For 18 years, at the same time every day, Peggy has been feeding her favourite Kookaburra from her bedroom window.  Over the years Peggy has been introduced to all the family - first the mate, then her babies and in turn their mates and their baby birds.  Over the years they have come and gone - but the one constant daily visitor has been "Peggy's Kookaburra" as it has become affectionately known.  

At the same time every day - 4pm - the Kookaburra would fly onto the windowsill and gently peck on the window.  So trusting were they of each other, the Kookaburra allowed  Peggy to stroke her as she ate from Peggy's hand. They would have long conversations about the weather and other pesky birds such as the Minors and Starlings noisily waiting in line for their turn for food from Peggy's hand.  If Peggy wasn't in the bedroom at 4, the Kookaburra would fly around the house until she heard her voice and then she would give her loud Kookaburra laugh - demanding immediate attention.  

Whenever Peggy went on holidays the Kookaburra fended for herself. We always knew when Peggy was coming back because on the day of her return, the Kookaburra would sit on the power lines opposite her bedroom window from early morning - waiting - and never once did Peggy not come home that day.

A month ago, Peggy was poorly - she was bed-ridden with a blinding migraine - sadly, something that is becoming more and more a daily occurrence.  
At midday Peggy heard her Kookaburra  tapping on the window and despite her headache and intolerance to light, Peggy lifted the blind and opened the window.  It was too early for dinner, so Peggy gently asked her what was wrong as she put her hand out to stroke the bird.

The Kookaburra turned around and climbed into the palm of Peggy's hand; tilted her head to one side, looked longingly at her, gave a deep sigh and then very peacefully died.  
An 18-year friendship came to a very beautiful and fitting end.  
Kindred spirits, "Peggy's Kookaburra" now lies under the lemon tree in  her back garden.

Today Peggy still feeds birds daily from her windowsill at 4 pm, but now it's cockatoos who are even more demanding and very argumentative.  But they listen attentively to every word and when they have been fed - Peggy politely tells them they have had enough.  
They look at her disbelievingly, as if to say, "Is that all you have for me?" and then obediently fly off until the next day.

I know all this because Peggy has been my neighbour for 13 years. 
Peggy is as extraordinary as she is beautiful with the heart of a lion and gentility of a butterfly. 

She is a rarity and the last in a long line of Romany Gypsies, which might just explain a few things. 

I am blessed to know Peggy and her gentle husband. 
You know, just sometimes the very best things in life are right next door!
Published January 12,  2012

Post script June 1, 2014

VALE Darling Peggy 
... may your gypsy soul soar with those pesky cockatoos and may you and your beloved kookaburra herald the dawns together with love and laughter. 
We will miss you more than you will ever know.

April 1921 - May 2014

Frannie and Alexandra xx

© 2014 Francesca Muir


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