Saturday, April 22, 2017

WAVES OF SORROW; OCEANS OF TORMENT; HEROES NOT JUST FOR ONE DAY....





As another Anzac Day...Tuesday, 25th April...approaches dark clouds of sadness descend and hover, refusing to disperse. 

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day

After all the years; after all the wars; the endless fighting, loss of lives, injuries, broken families, humans haven’t heeded history’s lessons.  In blind ignorance they remain.
  
Man’s inhumanity to man continues. Appalling atrocities are inflicted, without guilt or pathos, upon the innocent. 
  
Enemies of civilised people throughout the world, the tyrants, the oppressive despots, the dictators erroneously believe they are above the laws of decency.   

The scrupulous among us, those of our own country and those of our allies abroad are forced to step up to the plate; be first through the door, selflessly putting their lives at risk to make the world a better place - for everyone - no matter one’s colour, culture or creed.    

Our world is drenched in sorrow, with no signs of the suffering abating; no end to the mourning nigh. Instead, the intensity of concern, heartache, negativity, fear and unhappiness increases hour by hour.   

Although uninvited and unwelcome, sadness resides in my heart.  It’s a burdensome demon that refuses to leave.  

I keep questioning why the road to “good overcoming evil” has to be so long.  Why do millions of lives have to be lost along the way?  Why is there no resolution in sight?
    
Human ineptitude and selfish megalomania for starters...need I go on?

Every man and woman of our Defence Force, past and present, are held in high regard as far as I’m concerned.  

A son of dear friends is an honoured member of Australia’s Defence Force. My friends’ son has done three tours of the Middle East.  He is now on home turf, and here he shall remain, based in Canberra, our nation's capital.
  
I believe I have a good imagination, but I can’t begin to imagine what my friends went through when their son was stationed in the overseas’ battlegrounds.  I wouldn’t insult them by saying I know what they went through.  I wouldn’t insult my friends by saying I had even the slightest inkling.
  
I do know every time I talk with them about their son, a lad I’ve not seen since he was a little boy, my eyes well with tears and my voice trembles.  A feeling of pure pride engulfs me.  I’m proud of the man he’s become. I’m proud of what he has done, and continues to do, not only for his country, but for every decent, civilised person throughout the world who desires peace and harmony.  

Our Armed Forces, past and present, deserve our respect.  Not expecting adulation, but certainly deserving of it, they are humble, not arrogant. They should be held in high esteem. They warrant our approval and glorification more than all the so-called “celebrities” and “sports’ heroes” combined.   

May the sacrifices made by those who serve never become lost in the mists of time.  

Our men and women of the Defence Force have my utmost admiration; that will never change.  I wish the attitudes and actions of many humans who occupy space on this earth would change, and change soon.  

Perhaps my wishes and I live in a Fool’s Paradise...

Oh! How I wish my wishes would become realities.  

My wish is for everyone, everywhere, to exist in a moral, incorruptible world; a peaceful, loving world in which no parent’s child goes off to war.  

Humans are dense – blinkered!   

Why are humans incapable of learning history's lessons? 

                                             LEST WE FORGET...



Thursday, April 20, 2017

THE QUEST aka IN A BIT OF A PICKLE





 A frivolous figment of Friday fun....

In Search of Lochinvar

Over the years travelling wide and afar
Trekking life's meandering highway
Defying the ebb stemming the flow
Overcoming hurdles conquering the brae
Wistfully she searched high sought low
         Yes, for him...her Lochinvar

Succumbing at last she wished upon a star
Only to find sorrowful emptiness and pain
In giving her heart a problem arose
Their love for her too often they did feign
How deeply she hurt nobody knows
           Not even him…her Lochinvar

Exploring endlessly it was quite bizarre
If victorious what then would she do
Was it ever possible a life of bliss
Or with tearful eyes would she bid adieu
A doleful smile a lingering farewell kiss
Better still she could preserve him in a jar
     Just himher Lochinvar.

 Sketch and written nonsense by me....of course!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

WORDS FOR WEDNESDAY




The original Words for Wednesday was begun by Delores and eventually taken over by a moveable feast of participants when Delores had computer troubles.

The aim of the words is to encourage us to write, a story, a poem, whatever comes to mind.  
You can use just one of the set of words; or you can use both sets of the words in your creation.  The choice is yours...
If you are posting an entry on your own blog, please let us know so we can come along and read it.

This month the words are supplied by me....


This week's words are:-


Week Three Wednesday Words:-
 

Ludicrous
Activity
Rebellious
Sceptical      (or “Skeptical” if you’re in North America)
Acknowledge
Begrudge

AND

Philosophy
Foolhardy
Advantage
Flawless
Discovery
Canopy

Enjoy.....


PS.....Does anyone know who is hosting "Words for Wednesday" during the month of May?    I have no idea....

Sunday, April 16, 2017

SWEETS FOR MY SWEET…AND FOR EVERYONE ELSE!











As it’s still Easter I’m allowed!  I've given myself permission!  With today being Easter Monday I’m being all syrupy with saccharine intentions of sugar-coating everything in range with sweet treats to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. 

I wonder why we have only one sweet tooth instead of a whole lot of sweet teeth! I must remember to ask my dentist next time I see him/her (which will be soon if I devour all the chocolate I have on hand – I have to admit I’m doing a good job of it – I’m not letting the side down)!  

It’s a strange phenomenon – the sweet tooth phenomenon - but it’s one we shouldn’t accept without question - on the other hand, is it really that important?  I'm not going to waste time pondering!

Through my childhood and half of my adulthood I only had half a sweet tooth, if any at all, but now I’m in my the third quarter of childhood/ adulthood (whichever way you or I choose to look at it), I find my appetite for sweet things has miraculously appeared.  

For instance, I’ve eaten more ice-cream over the past few years than I ever did throughout the rest of my life, childhood included. That’s not to say I eat ice cream every day, but my intake has definitely increased from what it was a decade ago...every other day...sometimes every day..............

Of course, I blame my heightened interest in sweets on a particular friend of mine who absolutely adores sweets, chocolates, chocolate cakes, crème caramels, sweet pies, whipped cream, bread and butter puddings, trifles, tiramisu (do I have to spell it out?).  I reckon she has a whole extra set of sweet teeth in a glass beside her bed. She brings those out on special occasions! 

One must blame others...at least some of the time.  The blame burden can become burdensome if not shared around!

And then there’s another friend of mine who’d toss me out of the sewing circle (if I was in a sewing circle, that is) if I didn’t arrive bearing a packet of lollies (candy to those of you beyond the equator) that must include lots of green ones, to be sure!

Furthermore, and most importantly, my wicked actions are in direct defiance to all the “experts” - the pundits who force-feed us mere mortals the wickedness of anything bearing the slightest bit of sugar.  Day after day "they" keep shoving down our throats how immorally debauched it is to eat sweet treats!  What is a girl supposed to be other than defiant?

These recipes are for all of you out there with a sweet tooth or three, whether in your mouth or awash in a glass beside your bed!

Today’s motto; There are times eating sweets beats eating beets. Sweets are streets ahead of meats as special treats.  I won’t repeat it if you cheat a little when it comes to sweets! (Don’t forget to clean your teeth afterwards!)    

We shouldn't beat ourselves up for enjoying the sweet things in life!

Pineapple Ginger Cheesecake: Prepare usual biscuit base.  Beat 250g cream cheese with 200g condensed milk until soft. Gradually add another 200g condensed milk, beating to combine. Add ½ cup fresh lemon juice. Mix well. Dissolve 1 level tblspn gelatine in juice from 450g can crushed pineapple and add to cheese mixture. Fold in crushed pineapple and chopped preserved ginger. Pour into chilled shell. Chill until ready to serve.

Strawberry Mousse:  Purée 1 punnet strawberries and 1 ripe banana in blender.  Add 6 egg yolks and 1 heaped dstspn sugar. Blend again. Scrape into bowl. Beat egg whites until very firm. Gently fold into strawberry mixture with 1dsstsp Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Kirsch (optional). Mix 1tspn gelatine with 3tblsn hot water until dissolved.  Gently mix thoroughly with strawberries. Pour into serving bowl or individual dishes and refrigerate overnight. Serve garnished with whipped cream, strawberries and passionfruit pulp.

Brandied Syrup Dessert Cake: Grease 20cm cake tin. Beat 185g butter and ¾ cup castor sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add 3 lightly beaten eggs, beating well after each addition. Sift 1.5cups SR flour. Carefully fold into mixture alternately with 1-2tbls milk. Stir well. Place into prepared tin. Bake in 170C oven for 35-40mins. Allow to stand in tin a couple of minutes.  Turn out on rack to cool. When cold, return to tin. Pour over the syrup, a little at a time, allowing it to soak in.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Brandy Syrup: Bring 1 cup water and ¾ cup sugar to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer until syrupy and reduced to half a cup. Add ½ brandy and 1tblsn lemon juice. Stir well and cool. Assembly: Remove cake from tin. Carefully split the cake through the middle. Sandwich together with whipped cream and chocolate curls. Decorate with extra whipped cream and choc curls. Sprinkle icing sugar over the top, serve and enjoy!

Citrus Grilled Pears: Melt ¼ cup butter in pan. Add ½ cup brown sugar, stir. Add 4 large firm but ripe pears, peeled, halved, cored and cut lengthwise into 6 slices. Add pear slices and 4-5 tspns fresh lemon or orange juice to pan. Cook until pears begin to release juice and syrup forms. Turn slices frequently. Make a couple of hours ahead.  Stand at room temperature. Gently re-warm when ready to serve. Serve with crème fraiche or mascarpone. Crème Fraiche: 1.5 cups heavy cream, ½ cup buttermilk. Pour cream and buttermilk into large sterilized jar with lid. Add a little sugar and vanilla to taste if you like. Shake well and allow to rest at room temperature for 6-8 hours or overnight. Chill for 24 hours before serving.  Top with dollop of crème fraiche and crumbled amaretti biscuits. Serve pears with a Botrytis Semillon or Brown Brothers Noble Riesling.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

EASTER, BIRDS, BUNNIES AND MEMORIES....





Similar to Christmas, Easter is a time for reflection.  For many, Easter is a time of sorrow and a time of joy; both are seamlessly intermingled.  Easter stirs different emotions within different people. 

In Western Christianity Easter is preceded by Lent, a period of fasting and penitence. I’m hopeless. I always forget to do either until it’s all over. By the time Easter arrives it’s too late - I’ve done neither.  I think I must have lent my memory to someone else and, like a loaned book, it’s not been returned to me.

The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday, as we know; but, don’t bother telling that to the two palm trees out the front of my little abode.  Regardless of what the day of the week, month or year it is they drop their fronds whenever they feel like doing so - Palm Sunday or any day - it matters not to them! 

Easter Saturday or Holy Saturday is sometimes known as Silent Saturday. Again, try telling that snippet of information to the kids impatiently waiting for Easter Sunday to arrive! 

On the whole, to children, Easter means chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate – and more, please.  In their excitement as they expectantly count the hours and minutes until the Easter Bunny is due to arrive (or the Easter Bird, as it was when I was a kid) Silent Saturday can, indeed, be extremely rollickingly boisterous. 

Early Easter Sunday morning, between 6.30 am and 7 am I’ll be at our local bakery picking up the Hot Cross buns I ordered a few weeks ago.  From the exclamation made by the assistant answering my phone call, I was the first person here on the hill to place an order for Hot Cross buns.  The early bird not only catches the worm, but the Hot Cross buns, too.

When I collect them on Sunday morning they’ll still be warm having not long come out of the bakery’s oven; then I’ll race back home to have a couple of tfor breakfast – with lashings of butter and a thick spreading of raspberry jam, and a mug of freshly-made Lavazza coffee.  My mouth is already watering just at the thought! 

I know for many Good Friday is the day for Hot Cross buns, but, for me, the only time I purchase Hot Cross buns is on Easter Sunday mornings...and I only buy those made by the bakery.  (I am a creature of my own quirky habits and traditions – a willing creature)!

While at the bakery I won’t be able to stop myself.  I’ll grab a couple of their delicious Vanilla Slices, too.  I’m easily led!

I’ve enough chocolate of various descriptions in my fridge to sink the “Titanic”.  No icebergs needed here.  The amount of chocolate in my fridge (all dark chocolate) will do the job!  

To top it off...to add to my supply, delivered to my mailbox yesterday (Thursday) was a parcel from Randall, my ex.  

Yes!  You guessed correctly...more chocolate!   Whoohooo!!  

I dare not mention the three boxes of Connoisseur ice creams I bought at my local IGA supermarket yesterday morning along with the extra four double-dipped Cherry Ripes that had my name imprinted on them. Hey! They were on display at the check-out.

What was I supposed to do?  Ignore them?  The Connoisseur packs of four were on special...half their normal price!  Again...what was I supposed to do??

Over the weekend, somewhere along the way, I do expect to see my landlords’ daughter, her husband and their three little kids, all of whom are expected to arrive on Easter Saturday for a couple of days, staying up at “The Manor”.   They’re live in Brisbane - so they won’t be travelling far to get here.

I shan’t be an Easter “Scrooge”...I’ve enough chocolate to share with the kiddies.  I always have special treats for them when they pay a visit to enjoy the mountain air.

Once again, I won’t disappoint them!  The joy on the face of a child is worth a pallet load of chocolates!

Every Easter when I was a teenager, as soon as I could escape from work on the Thursday afternoon, along with a couple of girlfriends, who were excited as I was, off to the coast we’d head.  

Like an Olympic sprinter, faster than Usain Bolt, I’d race out the office door, bag already packed.  A weekend of sun, sand, surf and record hops (no bunnies required) lay ahead!

Easter 1997 I was managing a highway motel in Cardwell.  The motel’s pool was situated out front of the units, on the highway side of the property.

On the Thursday prior to Good Friday I was tending to the motel pool, a regular chore. 
I heard strange murmurings, not the familiar sound of traffic travelling to and fro along the Bruce Highway. 

Looking up, I was surprised to see a band of people walking down the side of the road...not on the footpath, but on the highway itself.  The peaceful mob was headed in the direction of the town’s centre, a few hundred metres south. 

The group, it appeared, was made up mainly of Cook Islanders, all of whom were dressed in humble, flowing robes. Leading them was a member of their group steadfastly bearing a large, heavy-looking, wooden cross on his back. 

I stopped what I’d been doing, and watched them walk by.  Smiling, they acknowledged my presence.  I returned their goodwill gesture.

A few days later, once again, I was outside fiddling around at the pool, cleaning the filter, checking the salt concentration level etc., while letting Pauly, the Creepy Crawly do his chores on the bottom of the pool.

A cream van pulled into the kerb.  Out jumped about six Cook Islanders, all of whom, I discovered, had been members of the re-enactment of Christ carrying the Cross.

With beaming broad smiles they pressed their faces up against the high, wire fence separating the property from the footpath.   I went over to them. 

The happy lot asked if they could collect some of the coconuts from the coconut palms bordering the interior of the fence line, offering to pay for the fruit aka drupes.

Telling the men they were welcome to as many coconuts as they could gather, I said;

“Go for it!  They’re all yours – on the house! I don’t want payment.” 

Further encouragement wasn’t necessary.   

In a flash, a couple of the lithe fellows, as supple as Olympic gymnasts, scaled the trees dropping the coconuts down to their mates who, sans hard hats, waited bravely below to catch the dropped crop. 

How wonderful it would be if everyone was as happy as those Cook Islanders. Peace and harmony would rain on everyone’s parade all year long...not just on their Easter Parade.

A world dominated by happiness...cherish the thought.  How wonderful it would be to cherish the reality....

If a Vegan Easter is your plan – here are couple of ideas for you. If not, I’ve added a couple of others that aren’t vegan.  I'm eager to please all tastes... 

Enjoy your Easter weekend...and whatever it is you choose to eat  

Of course, it goes without saying, (even though I am saying it) - chocolate is mandatory!

Vegan Easter Pie: Slice 300g mushrooms; finely dice 1 large red onion; crush 2-3 garlic cloves. Cook onion in little olive oil in pan; add garlic, then mushrooms; cook 5-10mins. Add 200ml veg stock, 1tbs balsamic glaze, season; add small bunch of thyme. Simmer gently, 15-20mins. Blend 1 can cannellini beans with 1tbs olive oil to a thick puree. Grease 2 pie dishes; line with 2-3 layers of Filo; brush each layer with oil. Spoon in puree; smooth down; top evenly with wilted spinach; top with mushrooms. Scrunch up sides of pastry; brush with oil; cook in oven, 25-30mins. Serve in pie dishes or unmold.

Berry Coconut Easter Cake: Finely chop 10 medjool dates. Add 4c gluten-free flour, or flour of choice, 1c cacao, 2tbs baking powder, 2tsp baking soda and pinch of salt to a bowl; mix. Slowly add 2c plant-based milk, 1tbs vanilla and 1c water. Be careful the dough doesn’t become too thin; add chopped dates.  Pour batter into prepared 10-inch spring-form pan, lined with paper, or oiled. Bake in preheated 200C oven, 30mins; cool. For the Coconut-Cream: Slightly heat 100g coconut cream if it’s too firm; add 1000g coconut yoghurt, 1tbs maple syrup and some agar agar. (When using agar agar dissolve in water before using; simmer 5mins}.  Add coconut cream to top of baked dough; chill a few hours. Add a variety of berries on top. Melt vegan white chocolate; sprinkle over cake along with coconut flakes.

Vegan Easter Nests: Melt 100g coconut oil on low heat; mix with 3tbs honey and 2tbs cocoa powder to form a sauce. Combine 50g desiccated coconut, 50g coconut flakes and 50g flaked almonds. Pour sauce over; stir until coated. Chill for 5mins; divide mixture into 8 cupcake cases; use 2tbs per case, form into nest shape with back of spoon. Chill 30mins; fill with mini Easter eggs of choice. 

Roast Lamb with Mint-Pesto Sauce: Using the point of a sharp knife make small incisions all over 2kg whole leg of lamb; then poke a slice of garlic into each hole.  Cut rosemary sprigs into smaller sprigs; push them into the incisions too. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Take the lamb out of the fridge 1hr before roasting to allow it to come to room temp. Heat oven 200°C. P lace 1 large red onion chopped into chunks,  3 or 4 whole garlic cloves and 2 carrots cut into chunks in a large roasting tin; sit lamb on top, season well; drizzle with olive oil. Roast 15 mins, then reduce temp to 190°C;  roast a further 1hr 20 mins, or until cooked to your liking.  Don’t overcook. Remove lamb, cover lightly with foil; leave to rest in a warm place for 30-45 mins. (Now’s the time to pop your potatoes and other accompanying vegetables for roasting in the oven). Meanwhile make the pesto sauce. Pour boiling water over 20g frozen pea; leave stand for 1-2 mins. Drain peas; then run under cold water. Once cool transfer to  small bowl of a food processor. Add 1 small bunch of mint leaves only, 1tbs rinsed capers, 12 blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped, 1 small, crushed garlic clove, juice of ½ small lemon and 2-1/1tbs olive oil; blend to a smooth paste. Season; transfer to a serving dish. Strain lamb juices from roasting tray into small saucepan; add any resting lamb juices; heat through. Slice lamb; serve with roasting juices and the pesto.

Bacon-Wrapped Balsamic Glazed Beef Tenderloin: Wrap 3kg trimmed beef tenderloin tightly using twine, tucking in the skinny end underneath the mean so it doesn’t overcook. Place into large bowl; season generously. Mix together 1tbs freshly chopped rosemary, 1tbs freshly chopped sage, ½c balsamic vinegar, 1/4c melted butter, 5 minced garlic cloves, 1tbs coarse mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over top of meat; massage if necessary to cover.  Chill, uncovered, overnight. The day of cooking, preheat oven to 218C. Remove meat from fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Transfer to a baking sheet and place, uncovered, into oven; bake for 20mins. Remove from oven and carefully wrap bacon slices around the meat (you can also wrap the bacon around the meat from the beginning and forgo this step!) Return back to oven; cook for another 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 135F. Move meat to a shallow dish and cover with foil for 10-15mins. Remove twine; slice meat. Serve immediately with vegetables of choice.

 

Cherry Ripe Chocolate Cheesecake: Grease a 24cm round spring-form pan. Process 150g plain chocolate biscuits until fine.  Add 75g melted butter; process until combined.  Press mixture over base of pan. Place pan on oven tray; chill 30mins. Preheat oven 160°C (140°C fan-forced).  Place 1c (200g) drained morello cherries on absorbent paper. Beat 500g cream cheese and 1/3rd  cup of caster sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth; beat in 2 eggs, one at a time. Gradually beat in 200g melted, cooled dark chocolate; stir in 150g chopped Cherry Ripe bars and cherries. Spread filling into pan; bake for about 50 minutes. Cool in oven with door ajar.  Refrigerate cheesecake for 3 hours or overnight. Serve cheesecake topped with whipped cream, dust with cocoa and scatter with extra morello cherries.