Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chocolate Boycott

I heard a story a couple of days ago about the use of slave labor in the production of cocoa beans. I was hoping it was a very sick joke but apparently it isn't.

Cote d'Ivoire (the Ivory Coast - a country in Africa) produces something like 85% of the world cocoa beans and this is resting on the back (no pun intended) of boys aged 12 - 16 years who work as slaves - having been kidnapped and sold from neighboring countries. So all that sweet goodness, it is produced with the sour taste of slave labor.

I am aware of women and children being traded as sex slaves but feel somewhat powerless to become involved in this. I am aware of the use of slave labor in Asia - particularly in the production of rugs (which I never buy) so again I feel somewhat powerless.

The chocolate slave trade is something I can do something about. The best advice is to only buy chocolate that has been certified as 'fair trade'. Looking through the various brands available in Oz, the only one I can really find is Green and Black - a somewhat new player to the market. Please let me know if there are others that guaranteed to be slave labor free.

I find it ironic that I find out about this perverse trade in the year that we celebrate William Wilberforce's work 200 years ago.

If you don't believe me, please Google something like chocolate and slavery. The proof is there. And if you can, join the chocolate boycott...

October 26

Yes Bandana Day (run by Can Teen) is getting close! Can Teen is set up to support teenagers with cancer, and those who have had cancer. Check out the website for more - they are an excellent organization!

I have been collecting (and wearing) their bandanas for years now - they are definitely the coolest available. And the new designs for 2007 are just blowing me away - guess how many of the happy faces I will be buying :-)

The Question....

In this painting by Edvard Munch called The Scream, is the guy screaming or is he covering his ears to protect them from someone else's scream?

Camelia Cottage

I have been out and about today and popped into Camellia Cottage, the nursery in Fernmount. It isn't the biggest nursery that I have ever been to but it certainly has everything I need - and the gentleman who owns it can take orders for anything it doesn't have.

I should have asked for the guys name so I could pass it on but if you make it to the nursery, well, you just can't miss him. Not only is he genuine and friendly, he knows everything there is to know about the plants you are buying - and freely passes on this information to you. From potting tips, to placements to variety selection, this guy is a font of knowledge that doth overflow :-) (my poetry attempt for the day ha ha ha).

In a world where the big guys run the show on volume and mega stores and you are kinda on your own, this is one nursery that has full and complementary customer service. And this service doesn't cost a penny more than the big stores. The gentleman even carried my plant selection around for me!

I am Nigella

Found this cute quiz - What Kind of Flower are You?

My result is that
"Many people think you are just a little bit odd, but you consider yourself just a little eccentric. You find new experiences exciting and fulfilling."
Sounds about right :-) Let me know your results...

Global Carnival Time

Yes the Global Carnival has hit Bellingen.

Now as I have been 'recovering' from night shift I haven't headed down there yet but I have the schedule so I am planning to spend an hour or two there today.

Nonetheless I must confess to spending time on the front porch yesterday listening to the concert being held as part of the festival. An eclectic mix of music that was absolutely incredible.

As well as the live concerts (Irish, Polynesian, you name it) there is a amazing range of circus performers, a Dharma tent (including meditation, mandalas and chanting), a comprehensive children's program and a candle procession.

I have also noted the flood of visitors to town - a more colorful group you will never see! There are tie dyes and rainbows and dreadlocks and peaceful, happy people! For those who think hippy-dom is dead, just swing by here and prove yourself wrong. It is a very very place to be.

I must confess that I didn't really appreciate how awesome the carnival actually was and next year I will be getting a weekend pass and camping on the oval with what seems like thousands of others.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Quick and Easy Tortellini

Another tragedy has befallen my household - I couldn't buy gnocchi today. Obviously having gnocchi for dinner is a thought that has occurred to others this weekend because neither of my local food stores had any in stock. Sigh ... I couldn't get any of the right potatoes so making my own wasn't an option ....

It proved very difficult to come up with something I felt like eating so this is the throw together I ended up with. I bought (yes I didn't make it, shows you how slack I am today) some spinach and cheese tortellini. I made a white wine and cream sauce - chucked in some mushrooms, cheese and English spinach. Topped with cracked black pepper. Ten minutes from start to finish :-)

Maybe not the healthiest dish I have ever created but it didn't taste half bad :-)


Does anyone else remember Magnoplasm (it draws stuff out eg splinters, pus whatever)? I remember it so fondly from childhood. It was warmed gently on teaspoon and then placed over the wound (which was invariably was a Guiness World record sized splinter - the most tragic case ever - that I wouldn't let anyone operate on - well that's my memory anyway) and in the morning the problem was solved. It always worked.

I thought they had long since stopped making the stuff. So many of the 'tried and trues' make way for more glamorous versions of medications ... sigh. Anyway, one of our residents had a jar. Apparently my face lit up in a strange way when I saw the little tub of magic ;-)

The only thing with this stuff is that it doesn't smell 'grey'. Now I can't explain it anymore than that but my memory nose tells me that Magnoplasm used to smell grey. Now it doesn't smell of anything. Is that important, not really sure.

Anyway, it was a lovely memory moment :-)

The Bread of Life

I went in to work early last night. For some strange reason our resident's are convinced that I am invincible in the kitchen and as one of the gentlemen wanted to cook a roast for the first time, it was 'obvious' that I was the only staff member capable of helping him :-) I love flattery - and any invitation to cook with or for someone is just an easy way to make me smile.

So I went and 'helped' make roast lamb. My 'help' was to show him how to stab the beastie and plug in rosemary and garlic. Oh and I made a cauliflower and broccoli cheese, and the mint sauce. Otherwise he cooked the meat, roast pumpkin, onions, sweet potato and garlicky, buttery roast potatoes. I didn't do any of that.

While we were throwing this together, one of the other gentleman brought to my attention that we needed to use up some olives. Now I wasn't convinced that they needed using up but I respected his integrity - and the fact that someone has actually listened to one of my 'reminders' on using food and not throwing it out.

In a moment of inspiration I remembered a recipe for "Tomato, Olive and Rosemary Flatbread" in the "good taste" magazine I had bought an hour or some earlier. There was a moment of shock when I tried to convince him that yes, you could make bread without a breadmaker but he was willing to give it a go. So while the roast was cooking I zipped back to the store and got some yeast and bits.

I made the first loaf (just to prove it was easy) and a combined effort produced the second. Imagine the pride and the lift of my heart when I was tentatively asked if we could also put cheese on top of the second loaf. Yippee, again they have listening to me :-) Rae's life lesson number 41 "If you are making you own food you change it to suit your own tastes"

Anyway, here is my loaf and the recipe that was used. I don't pretend this is a recipe I 'invented' (unlike everything else I posted) but it was quick, easy and entirely satisfying.

Tomato, Olive and Rosemary Flatbread

1 sachet dried yeast
1 t sugar
3/4 C lukewarm water
2 C bread flour (or plain flour if that is what you have)
1 T semolina
1/2 C semi sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 C kalamata olives, chopped (we used the sliced black ones we had in the fridge)
Fresh rosemary leaves
Crystal sea salt

Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl. Set aside until it starts to bubble and foam (5 - 10 minutes). Place flour in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture. Using your hands, mix to combine and then once it forms a 'lump' knead for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. The recipe suggested that the kneading take place on a lightly floured bench but I hate cleaning up the mess so I just used a big bowl and kneaded int here. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about 30 ish minutes). Punch down the centre of the dough. Place the dough on a flat tray that has been lined with baking paper and sprinkled evenly with semolina. Push it out to form a sort of oval shape (or anything else that takes your fancy for that matter) until it is 1 cm thick. Put the olives, tomatoes and rosemary on top and press gently into the dough. Cover with clingwrap and sit in that warm spot for another 15 ish minutes until it has doubled again. Take off the clingwrap. Cook in a 250 degree oven until golden (around 12 minutes). Sprinkle with salt and serve. Best eaten on the day.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Key

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song

Maya Angelou

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Corn Fritters

I have found a new recipe for corn fritters and, being bored of 'the usual', decided to give them a whirl.

2/3 C self raising flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
2/3 C water
4 corn cobs with corn cut from cob
1/2 onion, finely diced or minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil spray

Mix the flour, egg and water to form a batter. Whisk thoroughly and set aside for 10 minutes.
Add corn, onions and season to taste. Cook about 1/3 C patties on medium heat for about 5 minutes each side or until golden brown.

Variations: I was really pleased with these but if I wasn't a vege I would recommend some crispy bacon to be added to the mix.

Variation 2: What about adding some curry flavors and serving with a raita on the side.

Variation 3: The original recipe called for lots of coriander but as I am not a fan, and was concerned that there would be 'too much' green I left it out. Obviously I could have used parsley instead.

Serving 1: Serve with a green salad

Serving 2: Serve with a tomato, basil and avocado salsa, even with some spicy wedges

Serving 3: Serve as a burger

Brother G's Garden

No I am not the only green thumb in the family - in fact my brother is blowing me out of the water! His latest email proves this :-) And yes he can cook too :-)

Hi the vegy garden is all planted and things are starting to grow, very exciting.

The list goes

Arugula; Beetroot, chioggia; Cabbage Mini; Capsicum seven colour mix; Capsicum mini sweet; Capsicum mixed Italian fryers;Carrots Baby; Carrots Western Red; Celery Stringless; Chilly hellfire mix; Cucumber Lebanese mini muncher; Eggplant Listada di granda; Eggplant Black Beauty;Lettuce Flame;Lettuce Mesclun mix; Lettuce Rouge d hiver; Lettuce provencal mesclun mix; Onion Creamgold; Onion Red; Spring onion red; Parsnip; Pak choy; Pea Purple podded dutch; Pea golden podded;Radish French Breakfast; Tatsoi; Tomato Hungarian Heart;Tomato Amish Paste; Tomato Cherry Roma;Tomato Siberian; Tomato Sugar Lump;Zucchini Black Beauty; Basil Sweet; Basil ornamental;Basil Lettuce leaf; Fennel Florence; Bean Blue lake; Bean Flageolet flangaro; Bean Sex without strings;Bean scarlet runner; Sweet corn baby- popping; Sweet corn honey and cream; Pea dwarf snow;Kale; Asparagus;Rhubarb; Pepinos; Cape gooseberry; English spinach;Brown onions; White onions; Artichokes; Broccoli; Parsley flat and curly;Kol rabispan;Lettuce oak leaf; Lettuce cos; Mizunaspan; Chinese cabbage;Potatoes ruby;Potatoes Nadine (from sprouted bought ones);Water melon sugar baby;Pumpkin japspan.

I also have in some green manure crop that is budgie mix at the moment I think that is mainly white millet, and jap millet that are up but there is linseed plain canary and a bit of panicum in it so time will tell what comes out of it.

On that soil and health web site I forwarded to you look for a book called soil fertility naturally is by a guy called Masanobu Fukuoka its 227 pages long heavy reading but what an eye opener. It made me question a lot of what I always felt to true and made me realize just how far we have gotten away from nature. If you have time have a look as there are some great little lines in there like, When the farmer forgets the land to which he owes his existence and becomes concerned only with his own self-interest, when the consumer is no longer able to distinguish between food as the staff of life and food as merely nutrition, when the administrator looks down his nose at farmers and the industrialist scoffs at nature, then the land will answer with its death. Nature is not so kind as to forewarn a humanity so foolish as this.

I realize we have no control over nature, we cannot create nature all we do is pull it apart to analyze some thing that we can never put back together again. He gave the example of a mirror which we break to see what it is made of. We still have all the parts but when we try to put it back together again it will never work like the original.

Have a read if you have time

Vian Sora

Thanks to g/f G I have been introduced to this incredible woman and her paintings.

Vian Sora is an Iraqi artist who is producing the most amazing work. This painting is from 'Legends of Baghdad'

Baghdad, moments in time, mystical, mythical, lost, but never forgotten. Captured beauty, confined within, seeking to break from tragedy, to be revealed within.

I commend this to you....

It's A ....Basil!

Yes I had given up on the basil seeds I saved from last season but yesterday .... well there was a leaf. Okay it isn't even worth a photo - it can't be more than a millimeter or two across but there is life! And we all know that where there is life there is hope :-)

To Die For A Cause

It is with trepidation that I have been listening to the radio today - just waiting for the troops in Burma to open fire.

I have come to work tonight somewhat 'relieved' that monks have 'only' been bashed and/or carted away. What relief there was in this has gone with the ABC reporting that the worst has begun

Reports from Burma say at least three monks and a civilian have been killed by security forces in a crackdown on anti-government protests.
A source from inside the military says two monks were beaten to
death, while another was shot as he tried to wrestle a gun away from a soldier. Soldiers have released tear gas in various parts of the city of Rangoon and a western diplomat says up to 300 people have been arrested, including about 100 monks.
Buddhist monks have been leading peaceful street marches for the
past nine days in the biggest pro-democracy demonstration since 1988. The military junta used force to put down that uprising, killing about 3,000 people.

Tears are an immediate reaction to the situation.

I know that death and destruction are ravaging a lot of our world - not the least in Darfur and Iraq. My tears are for Burma and for all of those facing atrocities and other forms of injustice.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I love jasmine. The beautiful simplicity of the flowers, the combination of he darkest green foliage through to the delicate pinks and then the creamiest of whites. But most of all I love the fragrance.

When I came looking for the house I now live in I was followed by the fragrance - it came to me in dreams and at the weirdest moments. Now that I am here I understand. My neighbor has a jasmine out the front of her house - and I am sure she must have one out the back - so at this time of the year I feel I am swathed in jasmine.

It is through the lounge and my bedroom, it wafts through the bathroom. It is everywhere and I am in heaven :-)

The Breakfast of Champions

I have returned to stir fry breakfasts. They are delicious and nutritious and there is an infinite number of variations. Today's was honey soy with garlic, ginger and chili. I added mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, onion and baby corn.

What a way to start the day :-)

Taking A Stand

Getting riled about various issues is easy. Talking a stand is harder. Especially when you life is literally on the line.

I have been following the protests by the monks in Burma. The started over a week ago. A peaceful protest over the ruling military junta. They expressly asked for the regular population not to join them for fear that the military would open fire and innocents would be killed.

This request has been ignored and thousand upon thousands are not only marching, but are protecting the monks as they walk. You just have to know that the junta won't put up with this for much longer and people are going to die - and perhaps worse.

It sounds glib to say I admire the integrity of each and every individual marcher but words are all I have.

I think of Nanushka (Nan Whitcomb) and her poem (doing my best to remember the words) "There are many causes for which I would die but none for which I would kill".

Whatever your form of prayer is, please add the marchers of Burma, their families and their friends, to your list today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gay Free Zone

For those who have missed the news, there are no gay people in Iran. So please cancel all of your prayers, white light, positive thoughts, concerns and passing thoughts. There is no problem.

This is my sarcastic post for the day.

What Sort of People Are We?

Yesterday Amnesty International reminded the world that there are some 4 million refugees from the Iraq invasion. Two million of these people are considered to be internally displaced (read "they have no home") and the remaining 2 million are in camps in neighboring countries. About 2000 people are leaving Iraq EACH DAY!!!!!!!

As one of the countries involved in this abomination, I wonder what we are doing about this. The funds provided by "the Coalition of the willing" to run the refugee camps don't even come close to providing the basics - and lets remember that refugee camps are not luxurious - we are talking tents, food rations and hopefully enough pumps to provide fresh water. There are no schools, no medical help (apart from charities), no sanitation as such.

Australia has proven itself of being incapable of rising above the political rhetoric of considering 'Arab' refugees as anything but potential terrorists.

When are we going to take responsibility for the mess we have made in Iraq - if we aren't going to provide refuge for the people who's homeland we have obliterated, let's at least provide sufficient funds for those countries who are providing the succor that we aren't.

If you break it, you pay for it.

Thinking About Thinking

On my current list of Things To Do Before I Die there are two university courses I want to do - a degree in each of philosophy and English lit.

Now the cost of higher education is prohibitive at the best of times - not to mention these courses would just be hobbies. Oh and I live in a regional area so I would assume that they wouldn't be available locally.

Anyway, on my fabulous Radio National they have a program called "The Philosophers Zone" and it has just occurred to me - why don't I just go out and learn philosophy! Okay a uni course would be a great structure but I have a new 'thought' each week (thank you Alan Saunders) - which is researched and argued comprehensively. I could take that, do some extra reading, find some like minded people and .... well I have the rest of my life :-)

So if you ever want to chat about thinking about thinking, then I am your girl :-)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sleeping with Phillip Adams

I sleep at night with an MP3 player attached to my head feeding me Radio National (through the ABC) podcasted programs.

My favorite programs to listen to are those of Phillip Adams. Now I have enjoyed Mr Adams' program for an infinite number of years but I have felt that increasing considerably in the last year or so. Has he made changes to the program, well no, I just feel my maturity is developing.

Phillip is very opinionated, very clever, very funny and very philosophical. I can add witty, charming and well read which kinda makes him the perfect man.

Now, I say from the outset, I don't agree with everything he says but what I admire most is that his opinions are well formulated and are solidly grounded. I think if we were at a dinner party it would be an scintillating debate, not a meaningless argument. And because it is a radio program, his guests are always impeccably selected for the interview - informed, balanced and personable.

He informs me and then I have to consider what to I think or believe and why.

As such I commend to you the world of Phillip Adams.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ms Maya

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.”
Maya Angelou

People Make The World

My world is so sunny and I am appreciating every moment.

On the other hand, one friend needs an important operation and it was postponed at the very last minute - causing unnecessary but significant emotional stress - not to mention ongoing physical pain. Another has found that she has a cancerous mole and is heading of surgery. One friend has been betrayed by one that she loves. Another woman in my world lost everything but her family and her health when her house burnt down last weekend.

I say that my world is sunny not to poke fun or to make comparisons - we all have our seasons of sunshine and shade. I guess I just finds things generally a bit easy at the moment. Meanwhile I have the most awesome women around me who are facing the obstacles of their lives with passion and laughter and tears but most of all with strength - especially at the times they don't think they have any.

Graduation Day

Today one of our young people graduated. I volunteered to make a cake and was given the brief of a very chocolate cake.

I didn't have all of the time I would have found to be ideal but this was the end product. I got 11 different sorts of chocolate or chocolate products into the finished creation. I did kinda stress myself out a wee little bit - I wanted it be be perfect and I was on a bit of a tight deadline, but I must admit I really enjoyed the process overall - I have been planning this cake for 10 weeks! And yes if I had've had more time it would have been perfect blah blah blah :-)

And no I am not a big chocolate fan so I have no idea what it tasted like - but it was all eaten :-)

You can see in the background I also had a pizza production line going - 6 pizzas, two stuffed crust, thee ham and pineapple (apparently they scored a 9 out of 10!), three barbecue meatlovers and one vegetarian (had a pesto and spicy eggplant chutney base and was topped with olives, haloumi and feta).

Spanish Food

I make a point of not mentioning work here but for today, there simply must be couple of exceptions.

Yesterday we had a community lunch whereby all of the available young people cook a lunch for themselves, staff and invited guests. Essentially this turns into a cooking class but I really do look forward to them.

Yesterday I decided we would cook Spanish food. And I had three lovelies cooking with me. One was confident in the kitchen, the other two less so. With our heads down and our tails up - or should that be their heads down and their tails up - we created a magnificent banquet.

On the menu was a Paella (featuring chorizo and prawns). patats bravas (potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce), garbanzos con espinacas (chickpeas and spinach with beautiful spices, Albondigas (little meatballs) and con pollo (okay that Spanish sucks but it is a chicken casserole with paprika, tomatoes and olives). It was delicious as the photo of the Paella demonstrates.

And while it was all absolutely awesome, apparently the Paella was the hit of the day - and so I include the recipe so all can enjoy - obviously being a vege I didn't try any but as there was a HUGE bowl and none left, and many many 'yums', I take it as being good :-)

Paella (for 4 - 6)

250 g chorizo, cut into slices on the diagonal
1 T olive oil
500 g - 1 kg cooked and peeled prawns, tails intact (it depends on how rich you are feeling)
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red capsicum, finely diced
1 t tumeric
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1 1/2 C white rice (if using brown, allow for a longer cooking time)
400 g can chopped tomatoes
2 C chicken or vegetable stock
1 C frozen peas
1/2 C flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 lemon, sliced, to garnish

Slice sausages on a diagonal (should have about 10 slices in total). Heat a large heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage. Once golden, take out and set aside. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic and capsicum. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Add turmeric, cumin, rice, tomatoes and stock to frying pan. Stir until well combined. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until rice is tender.

Remove lid. Stir through peas, prawns and sausage. Cook until heated through. Sprinkle with parsley, garnish with lemon and serve.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Asparagus Days 2

Yes, as predicted earlier, the season has started. So far I have enjoyed copious amount of asparagus in salads (EVERY day), asparagus in my quiche and a saffron and asparagus risotto. Not bad for less than a week's worth of eating :-)

And I still have asparagus soup, asparagus and scrambled eggs, asparagus and pasta, asparagus with sauces, stir fries with asparagus ...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Limes Limes Limes

I am a lover of the lime. I love the tartness. I love the freshness. I love the green. And I have actually got around to getting another kaffir lime tree (yippee the chorus of angels shouted). As soon as I am done blogging my joy I shall be putting my luxury into its pot.

And the joy doesn't stop there. This tree has flowers on it already so I could be liming relatively soon. AND (yes there is more) the nursery is getting Tahitian limes and native limes in in the next day or two. Yes I think my little lime family shall be growing. Now if he could just find me a Key Lime ....

And then there is the lemons - I buy them almost everyday (yes I am a lemon fan too) - I could easily justify the purchase of one of those. And he has lemonade trees - and let's face it, there is nothing like a good lemonade tree....

Sigh, my porch isn't big enough for all of them (nor does the casual spending fund extending to paying for a citrus orchard).

I think I can put three on the porch (yes if I moved the couch I could get them all in but that defeats the purpose somewhat) so I shall narrow the list down to a kaffir lime, a native lime and a lemon tree ... well and a Tahitian lime and a key lime and a lemon and a lemonade and... :-/

Monet and J2's Lesson on Art Appreciation

About 10 years ago Perth hosted an extensive exhibition of the works of Monet. I was just beginning to discover the world of paintings and I had rested my attention on Monet so the timing was perfect.

The exhibition was my first. I was looking after J2 who was about 3 at the time and I had allocated about 90 minutes to take everything in. Now I know better I should have arrived at 9.00 and left at closing time - giving myself the whole day to wander. Anyway, you live and learn.

I wasn't very familiar with some of the works and, having realised that I wasn't going to have time to do everything justice, we gave them only a cursory glance. What I really wanted to see were the works featuring the garden at Giverny. They weren't hard to find.

At one point I was sitting on one of the benches, drinking in two waterlilly paintings, tears welling in my eyes at the beauty, the power, the life, the ....

The paintings were similar to the ones here - one in sunshine, one at sunset. Monet's use of color in capturing the different light was incredible.

Just as I was contemplating a lifetime quest of art appreciation, the adorable J2 looked at the sunset painting, turned her head and laughed "It looks like it is on fire".

That is the essence of art appreciation for me. There is obvious merit in technique, design and the like. But ultimately, for most of us, art is how you see it - how you respond - and does it look like it is on fire.

Spinach and Feta Ravioli

Yes I have been cooking again and I thought I would share....

I was too lazy to make pasta so I grabbed a packet of wonton wrappers. I put just under a teaspoon of a mixture of spinach (wilted and cut finely) and feta (crumbled) onto a wrapper. I rubbed a little water around the edge, grabbed another wrapper, placed it on top of the filling and pressed the two together - gently pressing out air as I sealed the edges.

I cooked the ravioli, 3 - 5 at a time, in a very large pot of boiling water, making sure they have plenty of room to move around. These are cooked for about 3 - 5 minutes or until they look done.

I served it all with a green salad and a mushroom and sour cream sauce.

I am not really sure the photo does it justice, it tasted wonderful - even if I do say so myself :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Wisdom of Maya

love life, engage in it, give it all you've got. love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it” Maya Angelou
So often we are looking to have fun or love or laughs or fulfillment when certain conditions are met and we miss the magic of the moment.

Whether you believe in the Golden Rule, or karma or even The Secret, it all balances out to you get what you give. And suck the marrow out of today because today may be all you have :-)

Chickpea and Pumpkin Burgers

Yes I came up with something new again last night - Chickpea and Pumpkin Burgers or (to use the young peoples phrase) The Forest and Snowy Mountain Delight :-). Just to explain that last one, the 'forest' is the salad and the 'Snowy Mountains' are the burgers topped with the yogurt mix.

It wasn't an exact recipe but I had two cans of chickpeas which I had roughly mashed (some were really crushed, others remained whole), 2 large-ish hunks of cold roast pumpkin (mashed), about 1 T rolled oats and spices - pepper, cumin, ground coriander, paprika and cayenne pepper. This was formed into 7 patties and refrigerated for 30 minutes. I then rolled them in a little flour and cooked them in a fry pan with a little oil.

I also mixed some natural yogurt (Margaret River because I was very fortunate) with sumac which I scooped onto the cooked burgers.

This was all served with a salad made up of fancy lettuce, avocado, fresh asparagus :-), cucumber and cherry tomatoes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Painting of the Day

I have come across this work by Ludger Thuilot. I have no idea about the artist - couldn't even find him on Wiki. Nonetheless, the painting is beautiful and somehow it completely captures my feelings today.

Latest Kitchen Creations

I tried something a bit new for dinner last night.

I grated a big serve of haloumi and mixed it with a handful of finely chopped fresh parsley. I then added an onion and a generous serve of mushrooms that I had softened over low heat with a little butter and then allowed to cool. A twist or four of black pepper and then mix thoroughly. I then poured this onto prepared filo sheets (about six - wet with water not butter), tucked it up like a king size spring roll and baked in a hot over until the top went golden.

This was served with a fancy lettuce, cherry tomato and cucumber salad.

Surprisingly the haloumi melted (and was very stretchy) which was fun as well as tasty. The flavors blended superbly. Definitely a keeper! The young people christened it a "Tropical Mushroom Delight", I called it "Mushroom and Haloumi Roll". Either way I am making it again :-)

I had enough for dinner and breakfast.

Asparagus Days

Spring is in full swing and right now there is only one real thing on my mind - asparagus. Specifically, new season, Australian asparagus. Any day now it will hit the stores :-)

I absolutely adore asparagus but usually only buy it when it is fresh and in season. Admittedly I do buy one or two bunches of the imported (did I say that?) product to get me over winter derth but oh, waiting for the blessing of spring for real asparagus.

Now I know that when I get my first bunch I will blanch it for maybe 30 seconds and include it in a green salad but then the options branch out considerably. It is delightful in a stir fry, there is asparagus served with a plethora of sauce varieties, asparagus and eggs (who needs soldiers - or even tucked into an omelette), a million funky salads (what about with feta and green peas or crispy haloumi and roasted tomatoes), asparagus roll-ups, asparagus soups...

Will I make it through all of the possibilities? All I know is that I shall certainly do my best :-)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Late Bloomer

I need to say upfront I haven't actually seen my real hair color since my early twenties BUT I am becoming increasingly aware that I am a late bloomer - I don't have a grey hair (note the singular). All of my friends have had a grey hair - or in some cases two or three - since their thirties. I am closer to 40 than 30 and I have developed a habit of growing out my roots so I can check. Still not a one.

I was a very early developed with other female changes, and this strikes me as very foreign. Being a late bloomer doesn't sit well.

And then, if I want to get really paranoid, there is the issue of wrinkles (no I don't have a one) but I will leave that for another moment of personal insecurity....

Crescent Head and the Hardship of Working Sundays

Such a hard life .....

Yesterday I had to carry the burden of going to Crescent Head for a barbecue as my working day - with the wonderful A. Yes I understand that you feel my pain :-)

The young people got themselves up without a fuss, the Eski was packed and we were out the door by 9.30 in the morning. We were at Crescent Head a couple of hours later. Now for those who (like me) have no idea where Crescent Head is, think Coffs Harbour, head south then follow the big green signs when you get to Kempsey.

Admittedly the weather was intermittent rain but there was good periods of sunshine. Somehow the bbq got cancelled and we feasted on hot chip and roast chicken sandwiches instead :-) (no I will not mention nutritional requirements)...

We had many giggly moments, I took lots of photos, for most of us we got to go somewhere new, and - dare I say it - it was lots of fun.

Now to be fair there was a couple of hiccups but I'm pretending they weren't there.

Oh, we stopped to buy fresh pecans from a roadside stall on the way home... yes, feel my pain :-)

Girls Night In

On Saturday we had an awesome Girls Night In. I had these semi-regularly before I moved but this was my first since hitting the east coast.

Miss K (as the very perfect host) had the candles burning and her gorgeous house looking perfect. She treated us to home made spring rolls and fresh sushi, followed by Thai beef salad and a fruit platter. And if that wasn't enough, I had my own vegetarian versions (wow!). Miss G bought her daughter, the delightful and sun-shiny Miss B. Entertainment was by the John Butler Trio, Missy Higgins and then a selection of Miss B.

The evening was an absolutely delightful mix of girl talk, women supporting women, silly conversations and Scrabble! (you just gotta know I was doing cartwheels at this stage). Apart from conning in the young people I work with, this is only the second 'person' (it was three against one) to play Scrabble with me on the east coast!!!!

What a perfect evening :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Maya and Books

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. Maya Angelou
I love books. I always have. I read voraciously. I read 'most anything I can get my hands on. In a good week, I will read 4 books. In an great week I will read 4 books and add them to my little library.

It is with great joy that GM and I swap books - she extends my reading range and introduces me to new authors I would never have considered on my own.

It was with heart-bursting joy that some of the young people I work with asked if they could borrow books from me. It gives me no greater pleasure to see them trying to fit in a chapter between doing other bits and pieces of the household routine. Somehow knowing the next generation skill loves reading gives me hope for the future.

I arrived in NSW with 3 'regular' books and 2 cook books. I have had to leave the rest of my 1000+ in storage. I am now proud that in 18 months I have over 100 cook books and 100 other books. And the collection gets updated every week.

Gardening Update

I woke up at the disgustingly early time of 5.45 this morning. Let me explain that, I have been on day shift where I have to get up at about 5.15 am but I am on evening shift today so I COULD have slept until noon if I wanted to but my body had its little routine ....

Anyway .... deciding to make the most of the time, I played in my garden. The tomatoes are in, the mint has been planted, the garlic has been shuffled and the basil and dill seeds are now happily preparing to flourish. I have done a little weeding and everything has been fertilized.

Medicans San Frontiere

It is time to find another charity to support and, after extensive research (gotta love the net), I have decided to pick Medicans San Frontiere (MSF).

There are a phenomenal range of charities out there - from the place that I work to places that build houses or sponsor children or provide food or, well pretty much everything actually. And then you can choose to have a very local group, an Australian group, a worldwide organisation, or one that works in specific countries. You can choose religious or secular organisations. The opportunities are incredible and to choose on over all other options was difficult.

But I did it.

I chose MSF because they are a very credible organisation (my money will actually do something rather than being challenged into administration or whatever), they are non-judgmental on who they help, they can do stuff that I can't, they go wherever there is a need and they also advocate for those that they are helping. For eight weeks worth of consideration that sounds really cliched but it works for me.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


I went to the beach today. I love the beach. I love exploring. I love beach rocks. Today I discovered that if you stand in the water looking for the perfect shot .... well you get wet. It was fabulous.

Anyway, here are todays favorite photos. (yes politics on the previous post and lots of pics of this one - I can send you a slideshow :-))