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Asparagus Season

People generally either love or hate asparagus. I love it. I’m about to roast these ones for dinner. I used to always steam them, but a few years ago I read a post that said to roast them in the oven instead. So I tried it and yum — it deepens the flavour and adds a roasty tinge (official cookery term) So these days I always roast them.

Years ago a friend of mine had an elderly aunt who lived in country Tasmania, in the heart of asparagus growing country and, knowing her niece loved asparagus, every year would send her a huge parcel through the post. Seriously, it was a parcel almost the size of a pillowcase, stuffed full of asparagus.

Of course, no single household could get through that much asparagus, so my friend would share handfuls of spears among her friends and we’d have these wonderful asparagus feasts. So many things you can do with asparagus — in soup, in salads, in pasta and risotto dishes, in quiches,  and so many more, but my fave is simply to roast the spears with a drizzle of olive oil and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and fresh ground pepper. So simple but it’s a feast in itself. That’s what I’m doing tonight.

And do you know the “correct” way to eat asparagus (according to my mother, who was drilled in etiquette at a posh private boarding school) is to pick up the thick end in your fingers and eat it bite by bite. Debrett’s agrees.

Are you a lover of asparagus or not? If you are, how do you like to serve it?


Small pleasures

Lockdown has eased slightly here in Melbourne so, since it was a glorious spring day, I made arrangements to meet up with the only writing friend I have within 5 kilometres  and have a coffee in the park to celebrate my finishing the draft of my book.  (Why the 5 kilometres? We’re not allowed to travel more than 5km —about 3 miles— from our home for any non-urgent reason.)

We met at a nearby inner city park, a small green oasis hidden away behind a sea of buildings. As you can see, it’s still early in the season — the hundred-year-old English elm trees are only just coming into spring leaf. It was late in the afternoon — my friend is working remotely, so we met after she’d finished work for the day, but even so, the park was full of people (and dogs) enjoying the relaxed restrictions and the sunshine. Social distancing was practiced and most people wore masks except when eating and drinking.

For me it was months since I’d had a real in-person chat with a friend, so we had a lovely time, talking books and writing and movies and a little bit of politics, and all kinds of other things. We each brought our own coffee and I also brought some yummy little Portuguese custard tarts from a shop near me that specializes in them. Delicious. It was a lovely break, and it made me conscious of the importance of appreciating small pleasures — and I don’t just mean the tarts. (g)

I hope you get to have some small enjoyable moments in your own daily life. And if not Portuguese custard tarts, something yummy to eat.

Wild celebrations

I sent off the book last night — my current manuscript, I mean. It’s a draft, which means it’s the best I can make it at the moment. I need time away from it, time to think of other things before I look at it again, and revise it.

My editor will read it and send me back her comments and revisions. Contrary to what a lot of people think, she won’t “correct” it or make changes, but put comments in the sidebar pointing out inconsistencies, parts that aren’t clear, issues she thinks might be problematic, and any questions she has.

It’s up to me then to revise the book, taking into account her comments. It’s wonderful to have a fresh eye on it: she’ll notice things I’ve missed, or forgotten.

Normally when I’ve sent off a book I celebrate with writing friends, but we’re in serious Lockdown here in Melbourne and I can only have one visitor in my “bubble” and there’s no possibility of meeting at a restaurant, which is what we usually do, because they’re closed for all except takeaway.

The other part of my post-book celebration is truly wild and exciting — I catch up on the housework I’ve neglected in the past few weeks, do my tax, attack some weeds in the garden, attempt for the eighty-sixth time to declutter my house — thrilling things like that.

So, do you want to know how I celebrated this time?  Last night after I’d emailed off the manuscript file (in time for 9am New York time, which is where my editor is) I donned my mask and headed out in the gloom of the night, stood in a dark laneway, knocked on a window, and was handed a flat white box by another masked man. 

Yes, I got a takeaway pizza. Which I ate on my own at home with the dog looking wistfully on. (Don’t worry, she’d already eaten — proper dog food, plus a meaty bone.) 
It’s actually the first take-away pizza I’ve had since March so it is a bit special. (I’ve been watching my weight and avoiding take-out food and trying to eat healthy.) And I love this particular one. It’s a capricciosa, and it has fior di latte (like mozzarella), artichokes, field mushrooms, tender leg ham and olives. It’s one of the few pizza places I know that includes the artichokes and it’s delicious.

I’ll eat the other half of the pizza for dinner tonight — after I’ve celebrated with housework and weeds — they don’t make small, medium or family sized pizzas; just a one-person serving size, but it’s for a hearty appetite. 
Do you love pizza? What’s your favorite?