February in this part of the world can either be the height of summer, with soaring temperatures and long, dry days, or a time when autumn winds make an early appearance, bringing drizzly weather.
The year Will was born, February was a sizzler… I remember it well, because, Will being Will, he was late. You really feel the heat when you are 9+ months pregnant.
This summer, not so.
It’s definitely been summer, with plenty of summery storms, but the temperatures have been mild. The most you can really say is that it has been February…
…Will’s birthday month.
February birthdays can be a bit awkward. Being only just back at school makes it hard to provide friends with an adequate time frame for party invitations, and lots of families are too busy trying to get back into the swing of things to want to make the effort of a lengthy drive out to the bush.
This year felt like a bit of an anti climax for Will, too, as he had a very expensive Christmas gift that was also supposed to be for his birthday, as well, and many of the relatives that we usually rely on to be part of a family celebration were away on various holidays (one on the other side of the country).
I’ve promised that once the start of year madness has settled down we’ll organise a day at the go kart track or try our hand at some archery again, but for the time being it was just him and us. Our plan for fish and chips at the lake (take-away food is a rare event in our household) was cancelled due to an impending storm, but, since Will has recently discovered calamari rings, Matt decided to ‘do’ some calamari at home for something a bit different.
This might seem straightforward until you realise that prepared calamari is all highly gluten-y and way off my diet. Hey, you say, but weren’t you about to eat fish and chips down at the lake? No, not I. I would have been bringing my own home-made salmon salad to eat while the boys had the fish and chips.
And… only ‘controllable’ gluten products usually make it into our kitchen (into a separate cupboard where only the brave dare go), so this calamari was going to be a Seventy Seven Acre special.
Matt went into the kitchen innocent of any major plan and, after some time turned out a dish that, to be honest, I had to be suspicious of… isn’t it a well known fact that squid has to be cooked incredibly quickly? Well, this took hours!
It. Was. Delicious. Tender. And. Juicy.
And I could eat it. Yay.
So here it is: Seventy Seven Acre ‘Calamari’ a la Matt
You will need…
- squid (one tube was sufficient for the three of us)
- coriander seeds
- black pepper
- chilli powder (or fresh chilli if you prefer, we didn’t have any on hand)
- a decent sized mango (!)
- small red and small green capsicum (peppers)
- olive oil
- white wine (enough to splash)
And so it begins…
- get some squid rings (or a tube to slice up yourself) from a fishmonger who sells it (relatively) fresh – we live about 140 km away from the sea as the crow flies, and about 240 km via a windy road – so we had to take that the squid was fresh on trust – I’ve learned to be wary of frozen products which often have flour around them so they don’t stick together)
- 4 hours (yep, that’s a 4) before you plan to serve it, marinade in lemon juice (about half a lemon freshly squeezed), freshly ground coriander and black pepper, chilli powder and garlic (to taste)
- slice up the mango and add about a third of it to the marinade
- let it all sit for 2 and a half hours (or so, while you head off to do something vitally important)
- roughly dice the capsicum (peppers)
- heat a minimal amount of olive oil in a pan suitable for saute–ing (stainless steel is best)
- saute capsicum, add the rest of the mango
- add white wine to make a very wet sauce
- bring to simmer
- add the (by now well-marinated) squid
- bring slowly back to a simmer and cook long and slow to reduce the sauce (this is the bit that made me suspicious, I was expecting a ‘throw it in and swish it around a few times’)
- Serve with salad of choice.
- And / or rice if you wish.
PS Gran was good enough to make Will a superb birthday cake – my attempts having failed due to a lack of conventional oven and the little convection oven we’ve been using until we can afford to replace the now dead oven in our kitchen apparently being completely unsuitable for baking nut flour based cakes. Sadly. And expensively.
PPS the quote “…a little bit of summer” that I used for the title is actually about winter:
“One must maintain a little bit of summer,
even in the middle of winter.”
~Henry David Thoreau
but it seemed quite appropriate to our summer this year, which has seemed to be only a little bit of summer (although, I have loved our milder, rainier weather this year… really).