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poetry, cabbages & cream

A big thank you to local poet Kathryn Boorman for coming into the belly kitchen today and sharing stories of living and travelling in Vietnam and Cambodia, and especially for reading her beautiful poetry.

The local poets’ group aint called Dangerously Poetic in jest – have a look at the powerful piece below – it starts with fried chicken, and ends with painful words and memories that (yet again) had Kathryn in tears when she read them.


Chuc Mung Nam Moi  - Happy New Year 2008

by Kathryn Boorman ©


Phung takes me to her family restaurant.
In the kitchen there’s a cage
crammed with scrawny chickens –
beside a bucket of feathery hot water.
For Tet, the main course is grilled chicken
squashed flat on the plate, wings in full flap
head back, beak open in a silent scream.

Across my mind, Kim Phuc runs screaming,
her arms like wings
Trang Bang in 1972
napalm has burnt off her clothes.

In Ho Chi Minh City
at the American war crimes museum,
her photo screamed from the wall.
A man with no hands offered me her book
there on the cover she ran to the camera
he took my two hundred thousand Dong
with his wrist stumps.

In 1972, we marched in protest
then in our lounge rooms, watched
stricken Vietnamese faces
in black and white-
lit up a joint-
while Kim Phuc’s skin
fell from her flesh.

Phung smiles, serves me chicken and rice.
I stare at the blind eyes above the mute beak
and bite into a wing.
It is too tough
it is
too tough.

© Kathryn Boorman 2009

[please do not use without Kathryn's permission]


Kathryn will soon lead a tour group to meet the friends she has made in Vietnam and Cambodia.

For more information:

Kathryn will also be teaching creative writing classes through Dangerously Poetic is the poetry group website, and the next event is the launch of Bev Sweeney’s poetry book, Pirouettes and Prayer. Friday 19th Sept 7pm St Martins hall, Stuart St, Mullumbimby You do not need to be a poetry writer to attend, just a poetry lover.





Lots of citrus and cabbage family members of all kinds at this time of year, and also maybe a time when we can indulge in a little cream, or the richness of macadamias.  After all,  in the depth of winter the temperature even drops below 15C!  (Just put that in to torture people who have to deal with seriously cold weather for months on end – but when you are used to the heat, even our mild winters can make us run to a hot filling dish).


This is an experiment and a compromise, trying to get the freshness of salad but not the full raw hit that can be a bit much in winter.  I love coleslaw, but seldom make it.  It is of course  great as a side dish, in sandwiches, keeps well, just as good the next day.  I’ve since made a version first cured and then dressed in a mustard/lemon vinaigrette, that one is best cured longer with less salt and sugar, as it doesn’t have the lovely richness of macadamias to balance the salt.

I had macadamias & lemons, so this is a



serves 4-6

shred half a white or savoy cabbage (probably red is fine too)
cure in a mix of sugar, salt and lemon juice (equal quantities, about 1 tbs each for half a cabbage, or a bit more),

leave for at least 30 minutes, massaging/mixing occasionally
squeeze, drain, keep a bit of liquid in case you want to add to salad

(opt) do the same  cure in a separate bowl with some thinly sliced onion

meantime make a food processor dressing of macadamias, olive or macadamia oil, mustard, lemon juice

roughly tear a few herbs, dill is great

mix, check for taste, maybe add lemon or curing liquid




This one was born from a hankering for moules a la creme, a French classic, simple mussels in a cream and herb sauce.  All the recipes call for white wine, which I just don’t drink much in winter.  And I had some lovely local creme fraiche, so I used that instead of cream.  Mussels are one of the healthiest, most sustainable types of seafood you can eat.

1 Kg mussels

2-3 tbs creme fraiche or to taste

untreated lemons – 1 or 2 depending on size – juice and zest


1/2 roughly chopped onion or 2 shallots

roughly chopped herbs eg parsley or chervil


open mussels in own juice, remove and filter liquid.

In the same pot, soften onion in butter, add lemon juice

Add mussels, some cooking water if you want more liquid, lemon zest, mix just long enough to reheat

add herbs, creme fraiche and pepper

eat with lots of good bread


love and chocolate covered cabbages,

Sister T


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