Settling in

Last week was an odd one. A few weeks ago, I drafted a post about how I’d realised that rhythm was really important to me—my work hours are different every day with teaching, and often from week to week with writing, so it’s almost impossible to find something as structured as a routine. The word rhythm seems far more appropriate.

Moving house, of course, changes that rhythm in small ways and in larger ways. The route I take to get to all my classes is completely different, and often means I need to leave the house at a different time. The places I often found myself writing—whether at home or out and about—are now much further away. It’s both an exciting and disconcerting experience to have to find a new rhythm to settle into.

I realised a couple of days ago that one of the ways I settle into new places these days is to cook. For me, the kitchen is such an important part of how a house functions. Getting to know a new kitchen by cooking in it is a wonderfully settling activity for me.

I spent last week cooking familiar things in the so far unfamiliar kitchen, and it really helped me settle into the idea that this place is home. On Saturday morning my new housemate and I went to the Eveleigh Farmers’ Market and bought some produce to add to the box of home-grown stuff her parents (who stayed with us a few nights last week) brought us from their property, and in the afternoon I attempted to cook a few new things. Somehow, cooking something new in a new place fits with the idea of a new rhythm. There’s something in the potential for this particular new dish to become an old faithful, like the new routes to work will eventually become so familiar.

The weekend’s new dish was baked beans in the slow cooker my Mum gave me. For me (and, incidentally, for my new housemate), baked beans are one of those comfort foods—along with things like porridge, they’re the food I’ll eat when I can’t be bothered cooking, and I need something familiar, tasty and warm. So the combination of familiarity with the new experience of making them from scratch (rather than opening a can) seems an appropriate meeting of experiences.

They turned out pretty well, for a first try. We had them with toast and an egg for dinner last night. Exactly the kind of comfort we both needed after what proved a very busy week.

(Unfortunately, in my haste to eat the beans, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Next time.)

(The original recipe I found here, and added a few things — next time I plan to also add some kind of herb, possibly rosemary, right before serving.)

200g cannellini beans (dry weight)
1 large tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp marmite/promite/vegemite
1 good slug of Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chilli powder or flakes
salt and pepper

Soak the beans overnight.
Boil them for 10 minutes before using.
Add all the ingredients to the slow-cooker. Stir and mix through thoroughly.
Set the slow-cooker to low.
Cook for at least 6 hours (I put too much water in, so I ended up having to cook mine for about 12 hours).
Serves 2 as supper.
Serves 4 as part of a cooked breakfast.

Settling in

These last two Saturdays I’ve wandered around the corner to the local farmers’ markets (I act cool about it, but really I’m ridiculously excited that I live so close and can do my shopping there each week… But more on that in a later post) and come back with a few little things to put in the bare garden. Last week I got baby spinach and chives, this week curly parsley.

I brought my worm farm with me from my last house, and the worms — collectively referred to as The Barries — are settling in nicely. I’m a wee bit fascinated with the worm farm. You put food scraps in, basically do nothing, and out comes this amazing fertiliser. From that fertiliser you grow more food, from which there are scraps, which you put in the worm farm… Etc etc. It creates a neat little ecosystem in your own house/garden.

I’m a bit obsessed with The Barries, if I’m honest. I’ve been known to pick apple cores up off the street and bring my food scraps home from a weekend away to give to them. When I used to work in an office, the other women on my team used to give me their food scraps to take home. I love The Barries. Maybe a little too much.

Anyway, they’re helping me out in the new house, with my new responsibilities as resident gardener. In my last house I helped with the garden occasionally, but I was by no means the decision maker. Now I’m kinda in charge. And I’m sure I’m going to make mistakes, kill things and hopefully imprint into my brain some of the plant names that come so easily to my Mum and my old housemate Erin. Gardening regularly is a new adventure for me (any tips are welcome).

In the last few days the rocket seeds I planted last weekend sprouted, and this morning some tiny, tiny shoots from the carrot seeds are tentatively peering out of the soil. I’ve spent a whole lot of time this morning crouched down next to them marveling at their tiny green-ness. I might just be eating them in a month or so.

Here are the little rocket sprouts. Hello little friends… Keep growing strong, won’t you?