It’s now winter in Sydney and the last two days have been noticeably cooler. This morning when I was asking Alfie to get dressed for school he said, ‘Do I have to wear a singlet?’
‘Yes, put it on; it’s only going to be 19’, (66F).
When we were leaving the house he asked, ‘Do I have to wear my jacket?’
‘Yes, put it on; 19 isn’t warm’.
As we were walking to school he asked me what I had to wear to school when I was growing up. I said, ‘Well, the winter’s weren’t 19. Often I walked to school in -3C’ (26.6F).
‘Did you have to wear a jacket?’
‘I certainly did’.
‘What else did you wear?’
‘I wore a singlet, then a spencer…’
‘What’s a spencer?’
‘Thermal-type clothing to stop the cold air getting through to your chest. Then I wore a skivvy with a roll-down turtle neck, a jumper that someone would have stayed up all night knitting for me, then woolen stockings on my legs with a woolen skirt, shoes but I would have preferred boots to keep my ankles warm, then a coat’.
‘And anything else?’
‘As we were leaving I’d put my red vinyl coat on and I’d do up every one of those buttons so as not to let the breezes in, then my mother would have my woolen mittens and woolen hat sitting on top of the heater to warm up. At the very last minute I’d put these on hoping they’d keep me warm all the way to school but alas, before I’d reached my own letter box the heat would have left them.’
‘But were you warm?’
‘Not at all. We had to walk quite a distance to school going across roads and through parks and over icy railway lines and we amused ourselves by looking for puddles that were frozen over with ice. Then once at school the bell monitor would ring the old brass bell and then we’d have to go into the classroom where we had to remove our hats and gloves and coats. Let me tell you now, the classroom was as cold as ice and often there was ice on the windows. There was one heater at the back of the room and it was way up high. I think it was gas and it had a metal pull cord that the teacher had to yank (no one else was allowed to touch it), and the yanking business would go on for a good 15 or so minutes while the teacher tried to get the thing to ignite. The yanking didn’t always work so some days there was no heat and there were children in my class who weren’t at all bothered by this. When the heater was working it wasn’t efficient in the least particularly if you weren’t seated directly underneath it.’
‘But were you warm?’
‘No, not at all. The first lesson of the day was always writing. We had to do neat, perfectly formed letters but my fingers would be so numb I wasn’t able to feel the pencil in my fingers so it was a struggle to do lovely handwriting. It took until recess before they thawed out.’ We were now at the school gates.
‘Mum, we’re at school. When you say goodbye to me, don’t give me a kiss and don’t say, ‘I love you’, because that’s really embarrassing’.
‘Okay, but did you like hearing about how I used to walk to school in -3?’
‘Good’, I said as I kissed the top of his head and yelled, ‘I love you’ as he ran towards his class.
This is not a warming recipe for a cold winter’s night but beetroot is now in season and I was inspired to make this by Victoria when I saw her version of Beetroot Hummus on her blog, Flavours of the Sun.
Makes: 3 cups
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Beetroot are in season now so are very affordable and the other ingredients are easily sourced and inexpensive. I have bought beetroot hummus in the past and you pay a fortune for it compared with making your own.
- 3 large beetroot, washed and stalks removed
- 1 x 400g can chickpeas, washed and drained
- 2 tbspns tahini paste
- 2 tspns ground cumin
- 2 tbspns white balsamic vinegar
- seasoning to taste
Pre-heat oven to 200C (400F).
Wrap beetroot individually in foil, place on an oven tray and put in the oven for 1 hour or until a skewer can be pushed into them with ease.
Remove beetroot from oven and unwrap the foil without burning yourself. Rinse under water and rub to removed skin. Trim both ends, cut into chunks and place in a food processor.
Add chickpeas, tahini and cumin and pulse until smooth. Add the balsamic vinegar and pulse to blend. Taste to see if more balsamic is needed. Maybe just a touch more depending on the size of the beetroot. Season to taste.
Store in the fridge and serve with crackers, melba toast or vegetables.