Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Jack & Jill
Jack and Jill didn’t go up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Although, perhaps they oughta
Jack had mischief on his mind
That's why Jill followed behind
To see what she could find
Reaching the top Jack looked around
And much to his surprise he found
Jill already lying on the ground
The Saga of Bo-Peep
Little Bo-Peep has had no sleep
She has no clue when she’ll get any
Because when Bo-Peep left home
Absentmindedly she forgot her comb
Now she has tangled hair of mahogany
Jerry Had a Little Clam
Jerry found a little clam
When the tide was low
And every time that Jerry looked
On a rock he surely kicked his toe
Humpty Dumpty's Dilemma!
Humpty Dumpty had a lot of gall
Humpty went looking for a brawl
And when the crowd left
Humpty became quite bereft
Finding himself all alone
And all he could do was groan
Sunday, October 28, 2012
In 1864 Australia’s first cookery book was published. It was written by the audacious Edward Abbott. Born in Sydney, Edward Abbott, when still a small boy, moved to Hobart with his family. His father, Edward Snr had taken up a post of Deputy-Judge-Advocate – which was a bit of a mouthful for one so small; so, I guess that’s why Edward Jnr called Edward Snr, “Dad”.
Edward Abbott, Senior, (1766-1832) was a soldier and public servant. Born in Montreal, Canada, Abbott Snr ended up in Australia in 1799 after a stint in England recuperating. Abbott had been here earlier in 1790.
After a few hectic years in Sydney; some of which included his opposition to Governor William Bligh (yes...he of the Mutiny on the Bounty saga);and a few more in England - a long, long story - he returned to Sydney.
Abbott Snr., then sailed on board the "Emu" for Hobart Town,in Van Diemen's Land (now known as "Tasmania") where he arrived with his wife and three children in February 1815.
Who knew that emus could swim! But then, I suppose with those long legs of theirs emus could walk across Bass Strait at low tide; perhaps, the Abbott family hitched a ride on the emu's back!
When of a suitable age, Edward Junior became a clerk to his father aka "Dad" in the court until 1824. Fifteen years later in 1839, Ed Jnr., founded the “Hobart Town Advertiser”. He was its editor and publisher until 1842. Edward then became a landowner on the Derwent River. Actually he set up camp on the banks and surrounding area of the river. It’d be a difficult to own and operate land in the river! He was a busy boy, our Ed! His cook book combined recipes of the Old Country with techniques from the developing colony down under.
Back in England many who purchased the handsome, leather-bound volume shuddered when they saw kangaroo recipes leaping off the glossy pages! Scratching their heads, they tweaked their imperial moustaches and pulled at their mutton chops. In the meantime, their harried cooks sweated in the galleys wondering if they had a cauldron large enough in which to scald an emu before its plucking! Added to their quandary was trying to locate a frying pan broad enough to fry an emu egg or two. After much deliberation, it was decided numerous omelettes were better options by far for the families’ breakfasts.
Not deterred by the book’s peculiarities, curiosity overcame its readers. In overwhelming wonder, they continued to turn the pages, many of which depicted brilliant colour-plates illustrating the exotic, unusual recipes therein.
After greasy fingerprints and flour particles (and the odd emu feather) were removed, the books were strategically placed onto shelves in the elegant libraries of the stately homes; rooms of opulent grandeur, additionally embellished with sculptures, paintings and ornate furnishings. There the books sat, never to be opened again until a century or so later when the National Trust stepped in.
That’s my take on it; but, it doesn’t mean it’s true! The parts about the book being the first of its kind in Australia and written by Edward Abbott Jnr, and the tale about his Dad are factual; the rest – take with a grain of salt!
Way back in 1864 Ted shared his asparagus recipe with readers. Our ancestors enjoyed the succulent green shoots long before we did. Those of us who grew up post World War ll only knew the canned variety because all the fields of asparagus had been cultivated for the visiting American forces. Fortunately, over the past few decades fresh asparagus has returned to our green groceries, and onto our plates; plates of the porcelain kind, that is; not those colour-plates in Ed’s cookery book!
A bit of trivium to amuse, and then, promptly forget! “Trivium”…singular for “trivia”! Don’t get me started! I love trivia; bundles of trivia. Trivia is fun. Why my brain is riddled with so many trivia is a conundrum! No wonder my head feels heavy at times!
Roasted Asparagus Soup: Place 900g trimmed thick asparagus spears on paper-lined baking sheet; roast 10mins in 230C oven; turn spears; sprinkle with ½ sliced onion and 2 garlic cloves; roast 10-12mins. Less cooking time if spears are thin. In blender, blend 1/2c warm veg or chick stock with 1 heaped tablespoon raw cashews and 1/8tsp white pepper. Select several of the best-looking spears; remove tops; set aside for garnish. Cut remaining spears into pieces; add to blender along with onion and garlic and 1-1/2c stock; blend until smooth. Heat in saucepan; pour into bowls; garnish with grated lemon and reserved asparagus.
Wok-Seared Chicken & Asparagus: Heat 1tbs toasted sesame oil in wok over high heat; add 700g fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces; cook, stirring, 2mins; add 455g chicken strips; cook, stirring, 4mins; stir in 1-inch pieces of four shallots, 2tbs minced, fresh ginger, 1tbs oyster sauce and 1tsp chilli-garlic sauce; cook, stirring until chicken just cooked through. Stir in 1/4c shelled, salted, coarsely-chopped pistachios; serve immediately.
Beer-Battered Asparagus: Dipping Sauce: Combine 1/2c mayonnaise, 1tsp lemon juice, 1/2tsp zest and 1/4tsp pepper in bowl; chill, covered, until ready to use. Whisk together 1c plain flour, 1tsp salt, 1tbs finely-grated lemon zest and 1/4ts pepper; add 1c lager; whisk until smooth. Heat 4c vegetable oil in deep saucepan to med-high. Cut 455g trimmed, medium asparagus into 3-inch pieces; submerge spears into batter; let excess batter drip off; transfer spears, one at a time, to oil; stir gently to keep spears from sticking together; cook 2-3mins; keep warm in oven on paper towel-lined tray.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Everything in moderation; that’s the plan! I won’t, and don't tell porkies; there’s no point going down that path. I have no desire or need to do so. I’ve nothing to hide or feel ashamed about. There have been times in my life when seduced by the mood of the moment, and by the contagious company of others, I’ve drunk too much (alcohol, not water or milk), but I caused no harm to anyone. I was the one who suffered the hang-overs; nobody else. If there is any “tut-tutting” and rolling of eyes happening because of my remarks, reflect upon the old saying about he or she who casts the first stone etc., etc,. and so on and so forth!
Nowadays, for me, it’s a drought between drinks. Water and coffee are still high on the list, of course. Don’t worry, though - I’ve not turned into a wowser! In the words of Buddy Holly …“That’ll be the day!” A sip or two once in a blue moon, and oft times not even then is more the case with me these days.
I always have a tipple on Melbourne Cup Day – that’s a given; and if the mood takes, I’ll even dare lash out on my birthday! Damn birthdays! They’re a clear sign of getting older! I received a shock the other day when I realised that I’m no longer 35! See what sobriety does to you! I might have to reconsider my habits!
Another reason for imbibing infrequently is these days I don't entertain as often as I once did. I used to entertain a lot, but I ceased doing so a couple of years ago. I've done more than my fair share of catering for others over the years, both for personal pleasure and professionally. However, if and when I do cater for friends; or am being catered for by them it's never a "dry argument", if you know what I mean! I could never have a luncheon or dinner party without a few bottles of good wine; and a Frangelico, Grand Marnier or Drambuie or two to complete the picture. (Substitute your own personal preferences)!
A couple of months ago I did celebrate some very unexpected, exciting news with friends. I unscrewed the top off a bottle of quality red, which I enjoyed without one iota of guilt. In the meantime, my hosts contentedly sipped on their white wine. They, too, showed no remorse between sips. We were not a remorseful trio.
It’s not every day that I get asked for my permission by the State and National Libraries of Queensland and Australia, respectively, for them to archive some of my writings. It was a momentous moment worthy of celebration to my way of thinking; and it’s not often I sit way up there on Cloud Nine! I always thought I might go down in history one day – but not that way! I’m not as infamous as Ned Kelly, after all! My wicked, wicked ways have all been in vain! I should’ve tried harder!
Moderation applies to the intake of food, too. There’s little I don’t enjoy or eat, but I do try to exercise some restraint. "Some" perhaps being the operative word. I have to be honest and admit there are times I succumb to my lack of will power; and all restraining flies out the window; it doesn't matter what window it is...it's not always the kitchen window. The others have their turn, too!
A stranger, an elderly woman I’ve never laid my eyes on before reprimanded me the other day because I bought a bottle of homemade guava jelly at the “Green Shed”. I'd not eaten guava jelly in years; and I love fresh guavas. The "Green Shed" operates up here on the mountain upon which I dwell every Sunday morning. Local growers sell their supposedly "organic" produce to all-comers.
Lordy! Lordy! I was told by the stranger in no uncertain terms that I was buying a jar of sugar! Oh! For goodness sake! Taking things to extremes is a bit over-the-top, in my humble opinion - an opinion I intending sticking to! It’s not as if I came home and devoured the whole jar in one sweet mouthful; although, if I had that would have been my business, and my business only; nobody else. Up until now as I write, I’ve spread a mere morsel on one piece of toast only; and that’s no porky!
And then, to top it all off, as I got into my car, the stranger, not one to give up, then began to enforce her eating philosophy upon me! She told me that she only ate raw foods; the way "God intended people to eat"!
It was then I snapped. That was the proverbial "straw"! I'd heard enough of her self-righteous sprouting.
My retort was; "Well, God intended me to enjoy everything...so I do!" I turned on the ignition and drove away, leaving her standing with her eyes agog, mouth open, and a plastic container of raw food in her hands.
I talk to anyone; anywhere; any time; but I hate being lectured!
Perhaps I should revert to the teachings of my childhood and abstain from speaking to strangers!
My mantra: Enjoy life; enjoy the good things in life; enjoy everything in moderation. Whatever floats your boat – just don’t go overboard! However, never curtail your enjoyment of the good people in your life.
Pork Mince Pies: Heat oil in pan; brown 1.5kg pork mince and 2 finely-chopped onions over high heat; stir in 2 diced carrots, 100g peas and 2 potatoes, diced; season; toss in a little thyme. Add 300ml stock; bring to boil; add 100g gravy powder mixed in 80ml water; bring to boil; reduce heat; simmer 20mins; cool. Fill individual pie ramekins; cover with rounds of puff pastry; crimp edges to secure; brush with beaten egg. Bake in preheated 200C oven until golden; serve hot with tomato chutney.
Sweet & Sour Pork: Cut 350g pork fillet into 5x1cm strips; place in bowl with 1tbs soy sauce and pepper; stir to coat; stir in 2tsp cornflour; set aside. Drain 1x440g can pineapple pieces in natural juice; set aside juice and fruit. To make sauce: mix together 1tbs each cornflour, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar, 2tbs dry sherry, 2tbs tomato sauce, 3tbs salt-reduced soy sauce and reserved juice. Set aside.
Cook 140g egg noodles in boiling water, 3mins, or according to the packet instructions; drain well; set aside.
Heat wok until really hot; add 1tbs sunflower oil; swirl to coat wok. Add pork; brown 1min; then stir-fry over high heat, 3–4mins. Remove pork with a slotted spoon; set aside. Heat 1tbs oil in wok; add 80g baby corn, quartered lengthways; cook 1min; add 1 julienned carrot, 1/2 red and 1/2 green capsicum, cut into 1-inch pieces, 1 chopped garlic clove and 1tbs finely-diced ginger; cook 1min. Sprinkle over 5tbs water; let steam, 2–3mins. Add sauce mixture, stir well; bring to boil. Add pork, noodles, pineapple and 300g bean sprouts; heat through, stirring and tossing. Add 4 spring onions, diagonally sliced and 1tsp sesame oil.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
In fragile silence I sit melancholy reminiscence
Questioning when where how our love went astray
Suffocated by the harshness of yet another day
An emotional wasteland pondering the rudiments
Life unmercifully relentless in its pursuit of me
An endless chase masquerading as hope and dreams
Haunting taunting shadows a tormenting banshee
A twilight zone of love's pain of unheard screams
Where to flee
Caustic angry words spoken treasured time wasted
Lost forever in the outer perimeters of my memory
Wishing to mend bridges instead feeling alienated
Misery embroidered on my heart its secret territory
Love’s affection passion desire imperative to living
Eternally lost helpless in heart's barren wilderness
Controlled by desperate despair powerfully unforgiving
Emotions carelessly tossed asunder alone and aimless
Poem written by Lee
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Life is awash with contradictions! Constantly we’re force-fed contradictions. Consciously or not, there are even times when we readily we accept more!
On the one hand we’re told not to laugh at our own jokes; and then on the other we’re told to laugh at ourselves!
We’re advised to keep a stiff upper lip; then we’re told to release our emotions! “Let it all go…let it flow!” (I've tried and tried to stiffen my upper lip, but I've not been able to find a lotion or cream that stiffens said lip. A tick latched onto it once; that little blighter not only caused my lip to stiffen, but to swell to triple its normal size, as well. I supposed I could try Botox - but then it would be better to stiffen both lips, wouldn't it?)! Is there no end to this train of thought?
It’s written: “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”. Why, then, do we spend our lives studying, learning, observing, researching and absorbing in an effort to gain wisdom in all things? If, at the end of a life spent expending such effort nothing is achieved, why bother?
Napoleon Bonaparte advised: “The best way to keep your word is not give it”! Was he trying to confuse his enemies? He not only confused his enemies, but his mates, as well.
Mark Twain told us to never put off until tomorrow what we can do the day after tomorrow just as well! By taking his advice that could make the day after tomorrow very busy!
Who was the illogical idiot who, in an unguarded moment, uttered out loud this thought - “Sometimes you have to let go of the one you love to find out if there is really something there”? I note that whoever wrote or said these words chose to remain anonymous. That was a logical decision!
It’s understandable why Confucius was named “Confucius”. He composed confused sayings! For example; “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart”. One thing of which I’m certain; my whole heart always goes with me everywhere I go! I never leave any part of it behind! It take the whole lot with me. Where would I leave said piece – in the fridge; under my pillow; on the table?
Here’s another one of Confucius’ ditties: “Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth, must wait very, very long time”! Should that be “velly, velly wong time?
Confuse-Us also said: “A cannibal is person who likes to see other people stewed”!
The world is a large cauldron full of confusion; Confucius certainly added his share of ingredients to the pot!
Voltaire wasn’t confused 300 or so years ago when he vehemently declared: “I hate women because they always know where everything is!”
How right he was! You’ll get no contradiction from me!
And then there are the current-day academics; those who get government grants to do researches - they have far too much time on their hands! A while back I read the following report:
“After much research academics found that by switching to organic produce such switching could help us live longer as well as keeping us healthier and slimmer – fruit and vegetables grown without artificial fertilizers etc., can extend one’s lifespan - by 25 days for men and 17 days for women!”
My! Oh! My! That’s worth consideration!
Confused Mashed “Spuds”: Cut 1 cauliflower into pieces; cook to well done; drain well; quickly pat dry; puree hot cauli with 1tbl softened cream cheese, 1/4c grated Parmesan, ½tsp minced garlic, pinch of salt or powdered chicken stock and pepper until almost smooth; garnish with chopped chives and butter pats.
Mediterranean Lamb Stew: Chop 500g lamb, 1 onion, 1 large red capsicum and 2 small hot chillies (or crushed chillies to taste). Heat 3tbl x-virgin olive oil in casserole; add lamb; seal; remove to bowl to keep the juices. Add more oil; fry onion 2-3mins; add capsicum and chilli; cook 4mins; season. Return lamb and juices; add 2 bay leaves and a splash of Worcestershire; add 1/3-1/2 bottle dry white wine; keep heat high; reduce wine; add 1 can chopped tomatoes; cook 6mins; reduce heat; cover, simmer 1hr. Add 1 can drained chickpeas; cook 30-45mins.
Beef Stew & Dumplings: Pat 1kg beef, cut into 1-inch pieces, dry; heat pan; add oil; brown beef in batches; set aside in bowl. Fry 3 large sliced onions and 150g sliced bacon; cook 6mins; add 3 carrots, cut into chunks, 200g halved button mushrooms. Add 3tbls flour; cook 3mins, scraping bottom of pan; add 2c beef stock, 345ml beer, 2tbs tomato paste, 1 can diced tomatoes, 2 bay leaves, 2tsp mixed herbs, 1tbl brown sugar and 1tbl Worcestershire; bring to boil; cover; cook on low heat, 1-1/2hrs. Dumplings: Combine 50g melted butter, 1 egg and 50g grated cheese; add to 100g S.R. flour, 1tsp baking powder;(add some mixed herbs, if desired); add a little water if needed; roll into 8 balls; place on top of stew 15mins before end of cooking; cover; cook 15mins or so!
Friday, October 12, 2012
Why? Oh! Why? Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!!
As you can see, I decided to make a change...it has been said that a change is as good as a holiday! Don't believe everything those anonymous "they" tell you!
So here I sit...it's Saturday morning and I thought I'd do a bit of fiddling around with the layout/template of my blog. How silly can I be? Very...is the obvious answer!
In the process of altering the template...I lost all comments...all the comments generously written by you good people, my blogger friends...every single comment - from when I started writing my blog up until this very minute!
And, I'm not a very happy chappy, I can tell you!
I'm more than frustrated! I'm angry. I'm disappointed! And I'm bemused! Why, just by changing the look of one's blog, are all past comments are lost? It doesn't make sense.
To top it off, I can find nowhere where it allows me to revert to my original template; the one I was using just before I changed to this current one!
Grrrrrrrrr!!!! I should have known better...and left well enough alone!
I think I might pour myself a glass of red! At least it will match the new background on my blog...and my face!
Sunday, October 07, 2012
Be warned! That person driving around in my sparkling white Audi A4 I espy every time I go out will rue the day if I ever catch up with him! And as for that other fellow; the one I spotted yesterday driving my glistening new silver-grey Audi A8 Coupe , my second car for special occasions, he, too, will rue the day if I nab him Could it have been Christian Grey?!!! As for me - I’ll rue the day I stop daydreaming!
One day when we were kids, my older brother, Graham and I were lucky we didn’t rue the day we fired arrows at our grandmother’s “Bombay Bloomers” (the nickname given to ladies’ generously-sized, unflattering briefs made with flesh-coloured interlock fabric back when I was a kid). Not that our grandmother was a woman of liberal proportions; she wasn’t. She was tall and slim. I’m perplexed as to why she favoured panties of such vast dimensions. Maybe the size permitted breezes to flow freely; ideal, cool attire of largesse that prevented the wearer from expiring. Summers in Gympie are hot; however not as hot as Bombay.
My brother and I had been reprimanded by Nana. What we’d done to raise her ire, I can’t recall. No doubt, we deserved her wrath. Our pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears; she would have no part of our nonsense. Nana told us to go downstairs to play; and to try to behave ourselves while doing so.
Spying her bloomers on the clothes line under the house, we decided to vent our frustrations on the overblown not-so-brief briefs! Being fans of Robin Hood we always had our trusty bows and arrows at the ready! We never knew when they might come in handy. Like expert archers, we shot arrow after arrow at Nana’s unattractive, baggy knickers. With each strike, we gleefully growled: “Take that, Nana! Take that!”
Graham and I were ignorantly unaware Nana stood watching through the palings. In amused silence, she chose not to interrupt the enjoyment we were having wreaking vengeance upon her bloomers. Chuckling, Nana retreated back up the stairs, without even get her knickers in a knot! We were lucky she had a good sense of humour, otherwise we would most certainly have rued our actions. Years later, Nana divulged what she’d witnessed that morning; we shared her laughter. The story became a part of our family’s folklore.
I doubt there are many who haven’t lived to rue a thoughtless action or careless statement. I’ve rued a few, and then some. However, I do always try my best not to be rude, even if there have been times I’ve been confronted with and affronted by the rudeness of others.
There is little, if anything, to be gained from such behaviour. More than often, the gratification is instant, shallow and fleeting. Sometimes I’ve failed in not being rude; and, afterwards I’ve rued the times I was rude.
The lady whose bloomers we bombarded with arrows that hot summer's morning taught us to mind our manners; to treat others how we’d like to be treated; that it’s best to take a deep breath and walk away, rather than live to rue a blue that may ensue.
It’s best to eschew a blue, it’s true; than it is to pursue a blue that you may eventually rue!
Our grandmother passed on many sage words; wisdoms I’ve tried to adhere to throughout my life; and long after her passing. Of course, the operative word is "tried". I've not always been successful in my efforts, but then, on the other hand, there are many times that I have been successful, too.
It may appear to some that I didn't show respect that morning so many, many years ago; but, at least, our Nana gleaned humour from the actions of my brother and me. She appreciated the innocence behind our harmless childish moments of revenge.
Roux: Heat 4tbs pan drippings and/or butter over medium heat; add 6tbs flour all at once; whisk vigorously. When mixture thins and starts to bubble, reduce heat to low; cook 3-4mins; stir occasionally. Roux can be used immediately to thicken room temp liquids. Cool roux to room temp if thickening hot liquid. Tightly wrapped, roux can be refrigerated for up to a month. Break off pieces; use as needed.
Tasty Cheese Sauce: Heat 2tbs butter over med-heat; stir in 2tbs flour; cook, stirring, about 1min; add 1/4tsp salt and dash of pepper; gradually add 1c milk. Cook over low heat, stirring until thickened; add 1/3 cup sharp cheese, 1/2tsp dry mustard and a dash of garlic powder; cook, stirring until cheese melts.
Seafood Gumbo: Cut okra into ¼-inch slices; enough for 6 cups; bake 10mins. Coat large heavy-base saucepan with oil; cook 1-1/2 coarsely-chopped onions until translucent; add 1c sliced celery, 8 finely-chopped garlic cloves, ½ green bell pepper, chopped, and the baked okra. Add 5tbs roux; mix thoroughly; add 6 roughly-chopped tomatoes; bring to boil; add 10-12c quality seafood stock; mix thoroughly; cover; bring to boil; cook 20mins. In separate pan, sauté 500g shelled prawns, 1min; then along with 2 or 3 cleaned sand crabs, chopped into chunks, add to gumbo; cook 10mins; add slices from 1 lemon and chopped shallots. Serve with rice.
Bombay Chicken: In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine: 1-1/2c yoghurt, 1/4c lemon juice, 2tbs each chilli powder, paprika and olive oil, 1-1/2tsp salt, ½ to 1tsp cayenne, 1/2tsp each ground ginger and garlic powder, 1/4tsp ground cardamom and 1/8tsp ground cinnamon. Add 2kg bone-in, skinned chicken thighs to bag; turn to coat; refrigerate overnight. Coat grill with oil or spray. Drain and discard marinade; grill chicken, covered, over med-hot, 10-15mins on each side. Serve with mixed fruit-flavoured rice.