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The power of Elvis

It was a busy summer. If I’m honest, I feel a bit worn out. But everyone has some things that gets them through the week. Here are mine.


Tea in my favourite mug, which I bought here. When I drink from it I remember rummaging through the heaps of beautiful pottery stacked outside the artist Susan Crowe’s studio on Hornby Island, each piece decorated with spider webs, fallen pine needles and rain drops. Like some kind of outdoor tea party for grown-ups.

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I’m a big-time mug snob so I care about things that normal people don’t think of. I care that the inside is pale, so the rosey taupe of a perfect cup of milky tea shows its true colour. I care that the tea-colour contrasts beautifully with the blue glaze on the outside. I care that the rim is thin for the right sip-feel and the shape feels nice in the hand. I like that there is no handle. My steely hands can take the heat.

The payoff of being a mug snob is that I get great joy from the perfect cup. It’s an aesthetic catharsis over all the tepid, thick rimmed cups of tea out there. And for a moment I imagine I’m in the country and there’s a pottery studio close at hand.


This song about Elvis which I put on sometimes when I’m driving to the hospital, again. I’m not even joking; it’s my pep talk song. That’s the power of Elvis. And of Gillian Welch’s brilliant songwriting and harmonies. A little sing along on the way to work does me good. Then I put on my big girl pants and walk into the hospital.

Just a country boy, combed his hair

put on a shirt his mother made and he went on the air

and he shook it like a chorus girl

Now that’s self confidence.

Elvis Presley Performing


The simple pleasure of a home-cooked meal. Here’s a new standout recipe that we will be eating a lot of this autumn. In terms of comforting and nourishing, it’s at the top of the charts. Like many good things, it was inspired by a couple of other great recipes.

The other day I whipped up a recipe for Heidi Swanson‘s summer squash soup with zucchini and potatoes. I was thinking it would be nice with some velvety cubes of kabocha squash, which has a melon-like aroma. Brock, who’s palate is suddenly blossoming, remarked that it would be nice with rice noodles. The squash and rice noodle combo was something our friend Liz had cooked up for us, so we knew it was a winner.

Then I wandered off from there. It’s a flexible recipe that you can play around with. Heidi has you top it with cubes of tofu fried in in coconut oil and salt. I think it would be sumptuous with prawns.


Squash & rice noodle soup with Thai coconut curry

  •  2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp red thai curry paste
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 kabocha squash, diced (I leave the peel on – you can eat kabocha skin)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced or micoplaned
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro & plus some for garnish
  • juice of 1/2 lime

Heat the coconut oil and add the shallots or onion, curry paste & chili flakes. Sauté 2 mins, then add the squash and cook until it starts to soften. Add the garlic, stir, then add the coconut milk & stock. Cook for 15-20 mins, until tender.

Meanwhile soak the rice noodles in a bowl of cold water until they are malleable. Drain them and add a few rice noodles to each bowl.

Add the fish sauce, lime juice and cilantro to the hot soup then ladle it over the noodles and let stand 3-4 minutes so that the noodles finish softening. Garnish with cilantro and slurp it up. Serves 2-4 people.







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