More about Oz than India on this post as it turned out! (Writing therapy!)…but Indian inspirations (and recipes) at the end of this post to remind me/us of better times earlier in 2019…🤞better times will return again soon 🌈 (also see previous India posts if interested.

Where to start about summer on our homefront…Coast or Canberra??

COAST…

Seeing it’s Mother’s Day in Australia today, I’ll start with a few photos from the mid 1980s when we would go camping with our 2 sons near Mollymook Beach…did so for at least a decade. The campsite was at Tabourie Lake, but we would usually go to nearby Mollymook as the beach was (still is) nice and long, plus patrolled by the surf life saving club summer and weekends I think during autumn.

So we’ve been coming to the south coast for a very long time (except for 1996-2000 when we lived in Townsville…Nth Queensland – a previous post) and we’ve never encountered such a hellish new year of bushfires there. It was heartbreaking for so many people up and down the coast. We were lucky our house in Mollymook (we bought a decade ago) survived as did all of Mollymook.

Even though we’re not close to the bush (like we were in our family home in Canberra…photo below), our block is leafy, particularly at the back with many large and small native trees and shrubs, so we spent lots of time doing preparation before the fires hit the area. It all happened very quickly…the day started with clear, blue skies and quickly changed as a cloud of smoke engulfed the beach and within an hour or so the sky was dark and smoky (photos below).

Near Mollymook it never became bright red like happened in Canberra in 2003 (my photos below show what that was like) but further down the coast near Bateman’s Bay and surrounds eg Malua Bay and Rosedale, it was just like Canberra in 2003. So many houses were lost – as at 2/1/20 – seventeen people died with many more injured and 500 homes destroyed.

The first region near us to be affected was Milton (5 min drive from our house) as well as Lake Conjola (a 15 min drive) which was devastated – still is we hear…particularly with restricted travel now, due to the pandemic…

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6685117/own-one-of-david-popes-south-coast-prints/

Not all fire affected regions of the South Coast feature (yet?) in David Pope’s collection; for example, our good friends lost their home in Rosedale (near Batemans Bay), however the profits on sales are going to bushfire recovery up and down the NSW south coast.

The other place we particularly love is Nelligen on the Clyde River as we regularly stop there for a light picnic lunch.

Nelligen – near Bateman’s Bay, South Coast, NSW…

Another in set of David Pope’s posters…being sold for bush fire charity

We were lucky and Mollymook wasn’t badly affected during the bushfires – we just had one scary afternoon and night with smoke and ash raining down including masses of burnt leaves. However memories of the Canberra 2003 bushfires came back to me (particularly once we returned to Canberra in January 2020…see newspaper piece below); the grief/sleeplessness etc (due to a number of health reasons as well) returned so I haven’t been in the right mindset for writing much until now.

Canberra 2003 bushfires…from our house in Theodore on Sth side

Our son returning home early from his p/t job due to Canberra fires 2003

On returning to Canberra from the devastated NSW South Coast in early January 2020, we were once again had fires on the city’s urban fringes – close to homes of family and friends. Fortunately Canberra has learned so much from 2003 fires and no ACT homes were lost. Unlike 2003, we felt safer as we have sold our family home in Theodore (photo below) and now live in an apartment in the inner South of Canberra. However, Theodore is also in the South and is only a 15 min drive along the Monaro Highway (heading toward Cooma/Snowy Mountains) so we sometimes visit old friends who live there. I was a teacher at Theodore Primary School from 1990 – 1995 so made a few close friends over my time working and living there. Here’s an article from the Canberra Times in January this year – 2020…

Article from Canberra Times during the recent bushfires on city’s fringes

The bushfires ended as the end of summer became much wetter/cooler…the photo below on Mollymook beach was taken in early Autumn…

Happier times at Mollymook Beach…our holiday house is 700 m from here

After the bushfires, we came back to Canberra once the roads opened again (via the Kangaroo Valley road rather than the usual way via Batemans Bay…that area was hit badly on New Years Eve) and not long after we were also hit by a massive hailstorm in Canberra! Again we were lucky and our car was in the garage but here’s a photo to show the size of the freakish hail stones…

Photo of hailstones

Canberra in happier times…Spring 2019…Canberra has many waterways

Photo above:

Can you see the little blue wren she’s pointing to in the blossom tree? A common sight in Canberra.

Our Canberra house on Tuggeranong Nature Reserve (1990-2016)…not far from fires in 2003 and 2020
The sunny front garden of our family house in Canberra (1996 – 2016)
Correa Dusky Bells…we had/have these in our gardens in both Canberra and at the coast…I love them!

So 2020 started badly in Australia and now the pandemic, but COVID19 here hasn’t been as bad as in many other countries…as I write this this, our “curve is flattening” particularly in Canberra with no active COVID19 cases for a while now, so restrictions are easing after almost 2 months of following the “stay at home” laws. Who would have imagined a summer then autumn like this!

To add to the family stress and grief Tony’s father, Nelson, passed away on the 18th March – he was 90. Here’s a photo (below) taken last year…in recent years Tony and I often took Tony’s father out for lunch in Canberra…sometimes to Antica Ricetta (as in this photo). The funeral was held just the day before pandemic restrictions came in force in the ACT and NSW ie no more than 10 people allowed at funerals. The funeral was still kept small as social distancing rules had already been established. It was a distressing time, made worse for everyone by these difficult but necessary restrictions.

Another reason, along with my fractured foot, that I haven’t been in the right mindset for writing much in recent times! Tony also had a fractured wrist at the same time!…fractured when he fell down a wombat burrow at the coast (my injury is so boring it’s not worth writing about!). I then drove home to Canberra for the funeral with a sore/swollen foot not realising it was fractured at that time! When the swelling etc got worse I then went to the Dr then had an x-ray…fortunately “just” an undisplaced fracture but still 6+ weeks in a moon boot.

Tony and his father, Nelson, last year – 2019…before our awful summer/autumn

NOW ONTO INDIAN INSPIRATIONS FROM OUR TRAVELS EARLY LAST YEAR – 2019...more information; history etc. in my previous blog posts on India last year

Taj Mahal – Agra – February 2019

Jaipur – “the pink city” of India…due to the colour of the historic architecture

We stayed at 4 different Oberoi Hotels around the “Cultural Triangle” – organised via Luxury Escapes

The photo above might appeal to children…talking with them about the importance of elephants in the Indian life and culture…perhaps see Indian elephant photos in previous posts.

TAJ MAHAL – SPOT THE DIFFERENCE GAME for kids…and maybe adults…from a book I purchased from Paperchain, Manuka, Canberra – comparing architectural icons from around the world…have children take turns to spot a difference…the child who spots the most is the winner (there are 20 differences); of a draw if 10 each of course although bonus points could be given for correct use of architectural feature eg. Minerat

NOW TO THE RECIPES:

INDIAN RECIPE:

Paneer & roasted vegetable salad (Paneer is a very popular firm cheese in Northern India where many people are vegetarian)…from Indian Family Cooking (see front cover image in my previous Indian post)

600 heirloom carrots (or small/baby carrots); 1 bunch of baby beetroot (or I use 2 larger beetroot chopped into chunks); 2 tbsp canola oil; 1 tsp black mustard seeds; 1 tsp ground ginger; 1/2 cup whole blanched hazelnuts; 5 1/2 oz paneer, cut into large bite sized pieces; 2 tbsp plain Greek yoghurt; 1 tbsp horseradish sauce; juice of 1/2 lemon; 1 tbsp roughly chopped dill; good pinch of sea salt; drizzle of honey (to taste); 2 cups watercress or other fine salad greens.

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Put beets in a roasting tray and drizzle over half the oil. Rub them with the mustard seeds and ginger and roast for 25 minutes. Add the hazelnuts and allow them to toast with the beets for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, gently heat up the remaining oil in a skillet, add the pieces of paneer and fry, moving them around often, until they are golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels while you make the dressing.

Whisk together the yoghurt, horseradish, lemon juice, dill, salt and honey in a small bowl.

Remove the roasted beets and toasted hazelnuts from the oven, then toss with the paneer, watercress and dressing.

INDIAN SPICED LAMB CUTLETS from my book “What Katie Ate” by Katie Quinn Davis…purchased from National Library of Australia – p106

16 lamb cutlets (preferably French trimmed)…we sometimes buy a bulk pack from Costco and freeze into smaller portions

Lemon wedges to serve

INDIAN SPICED MARINADE

1/3 Cup olive oil; 1 tablespoon garam Marsala; 1 teaspoon ground cumin; 1 teaspoon dried oregano; 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped; 1 handful flat leaf parsley (very finely chopped); 1 handful mint, v finely chopped; finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

MARINADE: all ingredients in a bowl, season with S&P and whisk to combine; spread over lamb and place in a dish to marinate in fridge for 6 hours or overnight if possible.

Cook on a grill pan or BBQ (Med/high heat). Cook in batches allowing 2 min each side for medium rare, or until cooked to your liking. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

They go well with smashed baby potatoes (P160 of same book)…I add some turmeric infused olive oil and also a green salad – in this book couscous and chickpea salad is recommended as well.

South coast inspired recipes:

At the end of the awful bushfires and before the pandemic began we had a window of opportunity for a visit to one of our favourite restaurants – Tallwood in Mollymook (near the beach). The photos below show 2 plates from that evening. We came home and made a similar crispbread recipe which we found on the Net…it was simple and turned out really well. We also found a similar pumpkin recipe on the Net …it goes well with the cutlets in recipe above.