Friday, February 29, 2008


Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.

Albert Einstein

Art from cribfx


Thursday, February 28, 2008

I, Too, Sing America

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

Langston Hughes

Food Integrity

Just as champagne now only refers to a sparkling wine produced in the regional area of Champagne, Parmesan (as in cheese) will only be able to be used by cheese produced from the regional area in Italy.

When the champagne controversy first hit I thought it was rather pathetic and silly - I mean who buys "sparkling wine" for a celebration? And the removal of Burgundy and the like for other wines seemed just as silly. Mind you, their replacement names had a lot to do with the formation of that opinion.

Anyway, I have grown and developed and educated myself a bit more and I now, I think this is an important decision and one that should be wholeheartedly supported. As I increasingly research food and food producers I really do appreciate that those who have a point of difference - whether it be a special recipe, a quality standard, or whatever - should be admired and celebrated for itself.

Just because you can copy it doesn't make it right, or as good. We don't accept it in other forms of production - be it cds, clothes or watches, so why should food be an exception?

Lets face it, it's an abomination to all forms of decency that "spew cheese" in it's green containers and located on a shelf can be sold as Parmesan - and , in my limited world or food research, more people than not think that this is a true representation of a real Parmesan.

So now I begin to contemplate what an alternate name would be ... haven't come up with anything yet but I know I will live with it :-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Made Me Smile

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

Mark Twain

Photograph by Spencer Tunick

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Age of Miracles

Just been watching "Women's Murder Club" on tv and I saw the MOST amazing thing - so amazing I just had to run to the computer and blog it.

One of the lead characters (second from right) had a date with an African American man. No he wasn't a psychopath or any other form of social misfit - in fact his character was that of an EMT who had just done a rescue of some sort. No he wasn't married or pimping around. No mention was made of his brown-ness and her whiteness.

And for anyone who thinks I have lost my mind in thinking this is a big thing, I ask you to think of other examples of interracial dating in prime time American television when the race wasn't a part of the storyline, there wasn't use of stereotypes and the woman is white. Yes there have been instances of women of Hispanic or Asian appearance dating African Americans but a white woman! English and European television has portrayed mixed race couples for years so those shows don't count.

Could it be possible that in the 21st century, American television is finally beginning to really portray social norms?

Keeping the Beat

Keep pace with the drummer you have, however measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau

Wax Printing by Guo Daping

Red Flowers

Random Garden Shots

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nine O'Clock And All Is Well!

Okay so I am tired and can't get to sleep - I am just too excited. I am in such a good space at the moment.

I have so many paintings on the go (six actually) my fingers and my muse will drop from exhaustion. I have a friend who will help me get a portfolio together in the next few weeks and I already have spoken to a gallery manager about organizing my first exhibition in 2009 - I just need to take the portfolio to her.

I have new recipes swirling throughout the spaces of my mind. The Food Miles Project is going very well.

My garden is growing.

I feel healthy and invigorated.

My spirit is joyous. I feel like dancing for no reason at all.

Oh, and when I dream, I fly :-)

Art by Jose Ventura


The highest reward for man's toil is not what he gets out of it but what he becomes by it.

John Ruskin

Painting by Paulette Insall

Found Money

There was a considerable error in my pay last fortnight but, looking at this as a chance to have a default savings plan for a fortnight, I figured I would just have a tight budget and make it up next pay. My tight budget has well, been tiiiiiiiiight but I don't have to do the $21 Challenge so it's not that bad :-)

Anyway, as an aside, I just rang and checked the balance on my salary sacrifice account - the balance has to be zero for protocol reasons in a few weeks. The bank told me my balance was some hundreds of dollars above what I thought it should be. I thanked them and hung up. I pondered ... surely not. I looked up an old statement, and it became more possible (I really should look at those things more often). I rang back, spoke to someone else and went through some transactions .... yes the balance is correct.

I don't usually make this sort of mistake and I am chuffed. And no I am not about to go out and blow it :-)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Maya's Thoughts

Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the road which lies ahead and those over which we have traveled, and if the feature road looms ominous or unpromising, and the road back uninviting-inviting, then we need to gather our resolve and carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that one as well.

Maya Angelou

Girls Night Out

We finally got together last night - a group of six this time.

Food was 'bring a plate' and, if I do say so myself the table was particularly bountiful! We started with two sorts of dips (a delicious tomato, cashew and parmesan offering with crackers, and Miss R made a salmon and avocado cob loaf dip). This followed through to the banquet you can see in the photo.

Whilst some of us had a walk around the garden make room for dessert, Miss B and Miss S just "threw together" the individual pavlovas which were served to us with all of the professionalism and pizzazz of silver service wait staff :-)

As you would expect there was lots of conversations - some happening at the same time - with a range of topics being touched upon including orgasms, pregnancy, trailers (yes the sort that get towed), bands of the 80's, home made pavers, dogs and our own amusing anecdotes from various aspects of our respective lives. And please don't mention the broken cork in the non-alcoholic sparkling wine bottle! There was the inevitable belly laughs galore :-)

It is such a powerful thing when girls get together - and I am ensure guys have the same feeling when they have a boys night out - to laugh, to 'be', to be accepted, to be able to bounce ideas and fears and dreams off like-minded friends.

We have committed to not let it take so long to get together next time so stay posted :-)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

My Destiny

My will shall shape the future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man's doing but my own. I am the force. I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze. My choice, my responsibility. Win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny.

Elaine Maxwell


Thursday, February 21, 2008

RIP Cricket

It's the beginning of the end. There is nothing more to say ...

Things I Miss

Things I miss about Western Australia (based on the logical assumption that family and friends are a given):

  • Vistas from one edge of the horizon to the other and the domed sky above
  • Fields of ripe wheat or barley blowing in the breeze
  • The grey-green of the native plants
  • The smell of the land
  • The sparkling light

Things I don't miss about Western Australia:

  • Flat land that goes on forever
  • The heat and seemingly eternal sunshine
  • The lack of green-green
  • It seems to never rain

Yes I appreciate the irony ...

Wednesday Cooking

It was the morning after the night before (yes I did stand-up on Tuesday Night) so I wasn't going to do anything too taxing - although remembering to bring the camera out of the car was in the too hard basket :-)

So our menu was:
Steamed Ginger and Spring Onion Sauce
Fresh Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Hanoi Beef Noodle Soup (a variation on Beef Pho)

Steamed Chicken with Ginger and Spring Onion Sauce

500 ml Chicken stock
3 x 2 cm Fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 clove Garlic, thinly sliced
4 Chicken breast fillets, skin removed, trimmed
2 tablespoons Spring onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Finely julienned fresh ginger, extra
2 tablespoons Soy sauce
2 tablespoons Peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon Sesame oil

Pour the stock into a wok. Add the ginger and garlic, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. Lightly season the chicken breasts with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Line a bamboo steamer basket with baking paper and place the chicken breast on the paper, making sure the breasts aren't touching one another. Depending on the size of your steamer basket, you may need two steamer trays, or you may need to cook the breasts in two batches. If you don't have a wok and bamboo steamers, you can use a saucepan and place a metal steamer tray over it. Cover the steamer and place it over the wok for 10 minutes, or until the breasts are cooked through. To test, touch the chicken to see if it is springy. Remove from the steamer, transfer to a plate and cover with foil for 3 minutes (leaving the chicken to rest allows the flesh to relax, resulting in tender and moist chicken). Slice the breast across the grain. Scatter the spring onion an extra ginger over the chicken breasts. Pour the soy sauce over them.In a small pan, heat the peanut oil and sesame oil until hot, but not smoking. Carefully spoon the oil over the chicken and serve immediately. (Okay, confession time, I didn't have spring onions and forgot to make the sauce but it was pretty good anyway).

Fresh Spring Rolls

Filled with chicken, noodles, cucumber, red pepper (capsicum) and carrot. If you want a complete recipe just ask :-)

Dipping Sauce With Ginger (Nuoc Cham Gung)

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/1 T sugar
1 t chili paste
¼ C fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 T fresh lime juice
¼ C fish sauce
2/3 C water

Whisk together ingredients in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Let sit at room temperature for a few hours to allow flavors to blend then use or refrigerate.

Hanoi Beef Noodle Soup

2 onions, unpeeled, halved, and studded with 8 whole cloves
3 shallots, unpeeled
5 cm fresh ginger, unpeeled
3 litres water
500 g beef soup bones
2 pieces star anise
3 cm stick cinnamon
1 t whole peppercorns, crushed
1 T salt
450 g rice stick noodles
2 T fish sauce
450 g beef steak
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced crossways
450 g bean sprouts
2 limes or lemons, cut into 8 sections
4 chilies, sliced crossways
Fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
Fresh Vietnamese mint leaves

Stir fry the onions, shallots and ginger until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Place into a large stockpot.
Add the stock, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns and salt to the stockpot. Bring the mixture to the boil over medium heat, skim the scum from the surface, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 2 hours. Meanwhile, soak the noodles in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large saucepan, bring water to cover to the boil and add the noodles. Drain immediately, rinse with cold water, and place in serving bowl. Remove the beef from the stock, making sure these are tender.

Thinly slice the sirloin or flank steak into thin stir-fry strips and set aside. Season the soup with fish sauce and continue to cook over low heat. When the meat is cool enough to handle, slice the beef shank into uniform slices the same size as the sliced raw sirloin or flank steak. Discard the bones.

To serve, place a portion of noodles in a soup bowl and layer the beef on top of the noodles. Then place onion slices and bean sprouts on top of the meat. Ladle the hot broth over the ingredients. Garnish with several slices chilies and fresh coriander. Pass the extra onions, bean sprouts, fresh chilies, lime sections and basil on a platter. Season with additional fish sauce, if needed.

Settling for Less?

People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.

Andrew Carnegie

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happiness Is ...

I suspect that the happiest people you know are the ones who work at being kind, helpful and reliable - and happiness sneaks into their lives while they are busy doing those things. It is a by-product, never a primary goal.

Rabbi Harold Kushner

Macauleys Through A Wet Windscreen

Ralph and Julia

Guess who is Australia's Sexiest Woman (after Jen Hawkins) ..... no not me, is Julia Gillard!

Yes the guru of all that men think is sexy, the (in)famous Ralph magazine has decided that our Julia is a Silver Award winner.

Okay so Ralph is focussing more on the sexiness of her power than her body, her personality or her mind, and Julia is apparently not taking things overly seriously but it was enough for Miss K to ring and let me know first thing this morning and for this MG to do a happy dance.

You go girl :-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Unknown Species from the Deep Discovered

Mysterious creatures from the deep have been discovered in waters off the east Antarctic land mass.

Scientists from around the world cruised waters in three ships and trawled at depths of 2,000 metres.

Voyage Leader Dr Martin Riddle says during 20 days of sampling they collected thousands of animals.

He says up to 25 per cent of them are previously unknown species.

"We saw giant worms, giant crustaceans, giant spiders, glass-like tunicates," he said.

"In other places things scraped bare and barren by iceberg scour so a huge diversity of life, very colourful, very rich, far exceeding any of our expectations."

Dr Riddle says the scientists specialising in cold water fish, had never seen anything like it.

"They had fins in various places, they had funny dangly bits around their mouths," he said.

"We were working on the bottom so they were all bottom dwellers so they were all evolved in different ways to live down on the sea bed in the dark so many of them had very large eyes, very strange looking fish."

The specimens have been sent to universities and museums around the world for analysis.

Further details and photos from the ABC.

Upcoming Photo Challenge Themes

Just a reminder that the photo theme for this week (to be posted on Friday) is 'symmetry'.

These ones come courtesy of Photo Theme for Thursday:

To be posted by 29 February - Emotion
To be posted by 7 March - Food

If anyone wants to nominate themes for the weeks afterwards (or has found a site with good themes) then just holler :-) This applies to everyone, not just those taking the photos....

And again, all welcome to come and play :-)

Gallows, Yesterday

Yah! I Am Not the Only One :-)

Yes I have found someone else who eats local - well took up the challenge for a month anyway. ABC reporter Kim Honan has even diaried her experience (long live the ABC) :-)

So what have I learned from this trail blazer - lots. Firstly I have been calculating on 100 km but I can actually look at 100 miles (160 km) so that gives me a couple of more options that I has sort of been considering - like a cheese factory 154 km from home that makes a regualr cheddar. Secondly she has mentioned a number of suppliers that I can follow up with including a chicken producer based near Stuart's Point and a Dorrigo yogurt. Thirdly, and most improtantly, this CAN be done. Yes it takes work but it is possible.

Other considerations raised by Kim are :
  • The 90% rule. If I get it right 90% of the time is that okay? It would certainly be helpful for buying rice, bread and legumes. If I am going to do this "forever" as opposed for just a set-period challenge, it would probably be practical but how much of the integrity of the process if compromised....
  • Many local producers use ingredients from outside the 100 mile zone due to unavailablity of the produce locally. And example was a honey flavored yogurt - the yogurt was all local but the honey wasn't. The way around this would be to apply the 90% rule but I am not totally sold on that yet.
  • Yes you have to ask a million questions about whether ingredients are "really" local. It gets tiring and some people get an attitude. Many folks really don't have a clue, or care.
I do have an update on sourcing local produce but as I have a few more leads now, I will save that for another post....


Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that gives value to survival.

C.S. Lewis

Monday, February 18, 2008

My New Favorite Gem

I heard an interview about Tanzanite this morning. Tanzanite is noted for its ability to appear alternately sapphire blue, violet, and sage-green depending on the crystal orientation. It is found in a very small area of Tanzania. Obviously I googled it so I could look while the interview was happening - so glad I did. Now I need to continue the research :-)

Another New Blog!

The Accidental Parent has been launched! Don't forget to drop by and say hi to Miss P :-)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow
of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went
down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy bosom turn
all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Langston Hughes (1922)

Image by Aaron Douglas - The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1941)

Note: I always imagine someone like Paul Robeson reading this poem

Great Minds....

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.

Hyman Rickover

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Strange Fruit

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Lyrics by Lewis Allen, made famous by Billie Holiday (and a myriad of other artists)

Theme For English B

The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you--
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it's that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It's not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me--we two--you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me--who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records--Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?

Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white--
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me--
although you're older--and white--
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

Langston Hughes
(1902 - 1967)

Photo is of Bessie Smith

A Sonata in Red


Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.

Mark Twain

Friday, February 15, 2008

Shower War

Not that I am blabbing, well yes I am, but a certain male of my acquaintance is sure that a woman takes 30 minutes in the average shower.

Now, as a 3 minute girl (including shampoo and conditioner) I dispute this but I am not being heard.

So, how long do the women of your household take in the average shower? And can we divide the ages into 'teenager and below' and 'older than teenager'?

My Painting of the Day

Blue Hair
Matisse 1952