I’m sitting here, porridge to the left, tea to the right, working on an assignment for Uni about craft. The importance of craft. Because it is so fundamentally important, to me, to society, to our lives. I feel privileged to be able to write about this. I feel very passionate about this because when I’m in a state of craft, making things, projects on the goer, I feel the best. I feel l like I’ve been for a run (note I haven’t been running in about six years so that’s probably quite inaccurate). I can say this because at the moment I am not in a state of craft. I haven’t crafted in weeks. (Though I did make biscuits at 11pm last night just because). I feel at a loss when I’m not making, like I’ve lost a limb. But I’m thinking about something big. A lofty project. Spring is here and I want to craft again. Crafting makes me feel connected. It refreshes me. It inspires me to keep creating. It makes me happy. And that is especially important. Because you should do what you love and what makes you feel full and good. Actually, all I really wanted to say was that, in the middle of research for my assignment, I found the quote, above. And I really, really like it. It is from a great article by Teleri Lloyd-Jones, Assistant Editor of Crafts Magazine about the role and value of craft today. Go read. And keep on creating, always.
The sun is beaming from a big blue sky but just a few days ago it snowed. Like super amounts of snow on the mountains all around us. Its very pretty but brought a chilly blast. That always calls for one thing: comfort food. Besides, it will be summer and salads and lots of fresh summer bounty soon so, are you with me for one last hurrah of wintery comfort food? Yes? Good.
I bought my pasta from a speciality food warehouse but it was not expensive. The bag I bought was 500 grams so you could make this meal at least three times from it. As for the capsicum, I’m beyond pleased to say that they are $1.30 at my local veggie shop. I love this time of year! If however you can’t get your hands on a capsicum, swap it out for some other veg, even canned corn would work. The capsicum adds a nice dimension with its sweet crispness that I like and peers well with the subtle smooth kumara and savoury tuna.
Kumara and Tuna Stuffed Pasta Shells (conchiglioni)
Approximately 20 jumbo pasta shells (conchiglioni) (about 130 grams total)
500 grams of orange kumara (sweet potato)
185 gram can of tuna, drained
2 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of chives, chopped finely
12 a red capsicum, chopped into very small cubes
500 gram jar of your favourite pasta sauce
2 handfuls of baby spinach
About 60 grams of tasty cheese (this will depend on the size of your dish)
Salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add your shells. Boil for about 10 minutes or until just cooked. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, peel and chop your kumara into 3cm chunks. Place in a medium sized pot. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil for about 6 – 7 minutes until cooked and tender. Drain, and allow the kumara to steam dry.
Add your pasta sauce to a medium sized pot (I used the kumara pot, no need to clean). Bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the baby spinach, cover and set aside.
Tip your kumara into a big ceramic or glass bowl. Add the milk and butter and stir. Leave for a moment to allow the butter to soften. Mash the kumara until creamy. Add in the tuna, chives, capsicum and stir well, breaking up any lumps from the tuna as you go. Taste. Season with salt to your liking.
To assemble: you need to find a baking dish that fits all of your stuffed shells. Either guess, or do some rough maths by assembling the empty shells in a dish. Pour the pasta sauce into your chosen dish. Using a teaspoon, stuff each shell well with the kumara mixture and place into your dish on top of the sauce. Continue with all shells – they will be snug in the dish. Grate over the tasty cheese generously. Bake for about 20 minutes until hot through and bubbly.
Do you know what love is like, Rose? It’s like having a sky, a whole sky racing inside you. Four seasons’ worth of sky. One minute you are soaring and then you are all thunderclouds and then you are deep with stars and then you are empty.
The Midnight Dress is hard to write about, good books are like that. I’ll try and sum it up in one breath. Its about Rose who moves around a lot with her drunk of a father. They wind up in a north Queensland town, a tiny town. Rose makes a friend, vivacious Pearl. The girls need dresses for a parade, an old tradition. Rose recruits Edie, seamstress and rumoured town witch to make her dress. At the end someone goes missing. But its kind of not about those things. Its the story of Edie. Its the story of Pearl. And its the story of Rose and how she falls in love with the mountain and being free. There’s three reasons why you should read this book. Firstly, Foxlee can write prose like nobody’s business. The amount of times I stopped in awe of the language, the words on the page. Its like listening to bird song. Its wonderful. Secondly, the way the stories are told is fresh and fascinating. We get snippets of the ending at the start of each chapter but you won’t guess what happens until the last pages. Thirdly, if you need (like me) a complete vacation, somewhere astronomically far away, like the moon, this book delivers. The backdrop of northern Queensland is absolutely stunning and stunningly told. I felt like I was there. Not just pouring over delightful travel photos or postcards of far away smiling beaches but there on the mountain, under the heavy blues sky, in Edie’s house with torrential rain hammering the roof.
The place they found is in both their minds, she knows it, that place where the shadows of leaves tremble on the walls and the sunlight fills up their skin to the brim and the night rolls in as huge as the ocean.