Thursday, 27 December 2012

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

A 2012 Christmas Snapshot. Or two.

Early morning visitors.

The cake.  Complete with a Christmas pig.

Glasses primed with grenadine, for a festive drink.

MasterChef apron - I argued the MC stood for Merry Christmas.
Or manic chemist.

Strange lava flow from the roasting pork.

Watermelon, fetta and mint starter.

The table.

The mob.  Shu took the photo.

Last minute texts to Santa?

Monday, 24 December 2012

Wet words

A book I had ordered from Amazon arrived looking like it had fallen in the Amazon.

Happily they are sending a replacement.

There was a sticker on the bag saying that it had arrived in Australia wet.

No idea what happened.

Non-Virgin Chocolate Cake

From our 'Mayan Apocalypse' dinner - the non virgin (de-floured) chocolate cake.

The tubing was to a small bladder under the heart that made it 'beat'.  Bu-bump, bu-bump...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Mayan End of the Year Knees-up

No, I don't believe the nonsense about the end of the world.

Yes, I do recognise a good dinner opportunity when I see one.

Tried to keep as close to the Mayan pantry as possible.

"Non-Virgin?", I hear you ask.  Well it is flour-less you see... 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Santa's Little Helper (& notes)

Why does the end of the year always sneak up on me?  It happens every year, you’d think I would learn.   So, what did we do, see or even learn in 2012?

Margaret continues to work part-time.  She has enjoyed volunteering for ‘Clean up Australia Day’, ‘Tree Day’ and ‘Open House Melbourne’ with the family.  Thoroughly enjoyed the amazing Napoleon Exhibition when it was in town.   Is enjoying our blackberry crop and all is well with the world when little George (see below) is around.  Loves the delight she sees in ‘Uncle Simon’ and ‘Uncle Richard’ and wishes that she could bottle it.

Martin & Roni
Martin & Roni became parents.  Margaret became a grandparent. Lee is in denial and, at best, will concede that he is married to a grandmother .

Martin  has been accepted into Insead Business School (Singapore & Paris) to do an MBA, starting in September 2013.

Richard & Shu
Richard continues to work at a philately auction house but is study editing  at Melbourne University.  Shu continues to progress at the ANZ Bank.  They are buying an apartment, working on Sundays at Shu’s dad’s bottle shop and planning a trip to Shanghai in the New Year.  They are both enthusiastic members of Toastmasters.

Simon is studying  urban design at RMIT and also working as a barista at Gloria Jean’s Coffees.  Enjoying being an uncle.  Earlier in the year he won tickets to six concerts at the Recital Centre and has enjoyed taking different people along to see them.  Also went to see Coldplay perform earlier in the year.

Lee continued his battle with the possums, continued with his new job with the company that bought the company that bought his company and his alter-ego terrorised the internet with various writings, some of them rhyming.  He delighted one and all with his culinary exploits, on Halloween especially, and he is currently planning the appropriate meal for the end of the world, Dec 22nd, according to the Mayans.  The garden is an oasis, thanks to his TLC. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

It's a tough life...

Young George had a little jaundice after he was born so got a session under the sun lamps.

Took it lying down.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Garden shots

The front yard, near the gazebo.

A gift from a neighbour, moving to a flat; Ceres, maybe.

The wisteria on the back trellis, after one year.  

The vegetable garden - nursery section.

Broad beans, garlic, leeks, shallots.

Baby Shower - 29/9/2012

Margaret, Lee, Simon, Shu, Roni, David, Martin, Romilla, Sachin (peeking) & Russell.

David learns that not all interesting toys are electronic.

Martin & Roni

The fine art of fairy bread manufacture.

Mum, Roni & Martin.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Bastille Day Dinner

Margaret's table setting for the meal.

Fleur de Lis serviettes

The centre piece: a small statuette Martin brought back for me from Paris,  a bottle of brandy, a few red, white & blue things and a small replica gargoyle from Notre Dame.

Initially dinner was going to be for three.

Then five.

Then six.

Then eight.

All that changed was the main: had been planning a French Café style steak and triple cooked chips.  Not too happy doing steaks properly for eight people at once so went to Plan B.

And so, the meal:

Pink fizzy drink (The Arrogant Frog brand, I couldn't resist.)
Musette de Paris CD on as mood music. (Stereotypical French piano accordion music)

French Onion Soup.
◊ cooked 2kg of sliced, sauteed onions in the slow cooker for 6hrs.  Will definitely do that again.

Boeuf Bourguignon
◊ Made at lunch time and put in the hay-box for the afternoon and then into the oven when the potatoes went in.

Potato Dauphinoise
◊ Nothing different here, potatoes, onion, garlic, cream & milk baked until crisp on top and soft in the middle.

Green Salad
◊ With French Dressing, of course.  Proper vinaigrette, home made.

Tarte Tatin and cream.
◊ Used Golden Delicious apples and had enough for a double layer of apple crescents (cut into eighths).

Cheese platter was abandoned due to lack of interest.


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Clever Little Google! Sneaky Little Google!

I had heard about things that you could do with Google Images - notably dropping an image into the search box and letting Google Images look for matches.  Said to be a good way to identify those long forgotten buildings in your holiday happy-snaps.

Tried it with the photo of Martin & Roni, above.

Google Images found no matches as such but was able to recognise the poster on the wall behind them.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Three Boys and a Girl

Martin & Roni

Our three sons - Simon, Richard & Martin.
Inverse relationship between height & age.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Blooms Day Dinner

June 16th, Bloom's Day.  
The day on which the story in James Joyce's novel 'Ulysses' takes place.

A good enough reason for a themed dinner.

Starter: Pumpkin & Gorgonzola Tart; served with a dressed rocket salad.
At one point, Leopold Bloom stops for a Gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy.  That's the Gorgonzola connection.  I found a potato and Gorgonzola tart recipe which enhanced the Irish connection but, as I want potato in the main course, have opted for pumpkin.

Main: Pork Loin Chops with Colcannon and Guinness Gravy.
Colcannon is like an up-market bubble and squeak: potato, cabbage, bacon medley.

Dessert: Banbury Cakes.
Flaky pastry with a currant and ginger filling.
Again, Leopold eats some, feeds some to the ducks.

Coffee, vanilla fudge & Irish Cream.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The World's Most Misunderstood Health Food

Graphic by KaiThePhaux.

I have to give a 'persuasive' talk that 'sells' a product or an idea for a course I have been doing.  No sense in choosing some thing easy, is there?   So, for you personal amazement, I give you a sneak preview of my talk.

The World’s Most Misunderstood Health Food.

Good Evening,

It is entirely fitting that, in the week when the Northern territory Coroner found, finally found that Lindy and Michael Chamberlain were innocent of the death of their young daughter, Azaria, that I should be standing here before you.

I, too, am here to right a great wrong, to right a terrible public perception of guilt and derision that hangs over a product that has been grievously slurred by large pigeon-breasted women in floral frocks in mother’s clubs across the nation.

I refer to that iconic breakfast food (Uncovers box) – Froot Loops!

And, yes, I sense your mirth, I sense your feeling that this is a comic presentation and not one of great substance or worth but I intend to prove that Froot Loops are a serious contender for the designation of being the Health Food of a Nation.

Certainly more worthy than an ice-cream.

I will start by showing you how much better they are than other perceived health foods and then I will show you how they contribute to nations emotional wellbeing.

Would any among you argue that honey is not a healthy food?  And what of dates? Dried figs? Or indeed any dried fruit?  Do these all not get the public acclamation of healthy foods, commendable foods, foods fit for our dietary attention?

And yet they all have more sugar than Froot Loops.

Think about that (pause)…

And who would argue that milk, cheese, eggs, meat, fish, oats, sardines and ice-cream, the aforementioned iconic Health Food of a nation, are not healthy and yet they all have considerably more fat than Froot Loops.  Oats, the sustaining cereal of the wild Scots and well recognised as a healthy breakfast, have six times the fat content of a similar portion of Froot Loops. 

And I am not differentiating between good fats and bad fats here,  just fat.  Froot Loops have a mere 1.5% fat in total.

And what of iron?  That essential mineral for the healthy transfer of life-giving oxygen around the body?  Do normal cereals - oats, wheat, corn, rice – have more iron than Froot Loops?  No.  Do green vegetables have more iron than Froot Loops?  No.  Does meat have more iron than Froot Loops?  No, it doesn’t. 

Yes, that surprised me too but the only meat that has, weight for weight, more iron than Froot Loops is liver and, if you are like me and indeed most normal people, liver is not a big source of dietary iron in your life.  My own homemade chicken liver paté excepted, of course.

Consider the following list:  (recite slowly) Pineapples, bananas, cherries, watermelon, figs, raspberries, persimmons, pomegranates, apples, quinces, melons, pears, peaches, plums and grapes.  They all have something in common.  Yes, granted, they are all fruit.  And they all have less vitamin C, weight for weight, that Froot Loops.  And I also grant you that Froot Loops are not up there with the citrus heavy weights when it comes to Vitamin C but, as you could see from the list, it is no slouch either.

And let’s not forget folate, that essential element for the prevention of Neural Tube Defects in new born babies.  Now, I wont try and list all the folate levels here.  Just let me say that in a database I have of compositional data for 822 different foods, 784 of them, that’s over 95%,  784 of them have less folate than Froot Loops.  The 35 food that contained more folate than Froot Loops included nettles, liver and turnip greens.  Again , not the biggest movers at the express checkouts across the land.

And surely there is a sweet irony that a hollow cereal will play such a telling role in redressing a tubular deficiency?  Actually, have you thought about this, they look like little inner tubes, don’t they?  Perhaps they have a better claim to be called LifeSavers than that well know confectionery?  A confectionery that has considerably more sugar than Froot Loops and no folate what so ever.  Some Lifesaver!

Now, I am sure a lot of you are thinking “what about the colours?”.  Certainly they were an issue.  Once.  Not any more.  When I first met Froot Loops, and I blush to recall how many years ago but will admit that I am talking double digits, Froot Loops were artificially coloured.  Tartrazine, Brilliant Blue, Green S, Sunset Yellow, Allura Red – all coal tar colours and all recipients of the hyperactive finger of scorn.  Maybe rightly, maybe wrongly, this is not the talk to debate that, but how many of you realize that Froot Loops are now coloured with things like turmeric?  Paprika?  Carmine?  Chlorophyll?

That’s right, Ladies and Gentlemen, Froot Loops are now coloured with some of those amazing super foods that are so praised by nutritionists and cutting edge advertisers for their antioxidants, polyphenolics and free-radical mopping up constituents.  These are new age Froot Loops, Froot Loops that will soak up free-radicals faster than they will soak up warm milk.

And I could go on and on here, showing how the compositional perfection of these little rings of goodness stacks up against other more recognised but less credentialed foods.  You just need to read the label to see that they have the essential B vitamins – Thiamin, Riboflavin and Niacin – that they have other minerals, such as sodium and zinc. 

Granted their level of fibre is not high, a mere 2.4%, but still respectably higher than the levels found in most fresh fruit and vegetables.

Finally, before I move on from the compositional virtues of Froot Loops, let me just point out that they are made with a mixture of corn, wheat and oats.  Have you not heard dieticians extol the virtues of a varied diet?  Here you have a medley of cereals in one small doughnut of virtuous pleasure.

But enough of the physical attributes.  I also want to point out their psychological benefits.  Did you notice how you all laughed when I told you the topic of this talk?  Each and every one of you benefitted from a wave of health giving endorphins washing through your body when you laughed.  This sort of warm and fuzzy benefit is usually only received from new babies and small kittens.

And look at kids, the ones with enlightened parents, look at the way the kids light up with delight when they have Froot Loops to eat.  It is as if instinctively they realise how good they are for them.  And if they are not eating them as a cereal, they are making a necklace with them, stacking them up in piles, trading them, using them as edible currency in Fantasy Land Monopoly.  They are a source of constant pleasure and give an enhanced learning experience.

So, in summary, Ladies and Gentlemen, I commend Froot Loops to you.  They have been grievously maligned over time by ignorant but well-meaning critics but the current new-age Froot Loop, is the super food of its time.  They are packed with nutrition, run rings, nay loops, around other so called health foods, they taste good, and they are fun.

With such credentials, how can they not be a super food?

Thank you.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A slight change of plans...

The possums have found a new path to the tamarillos.

(I have visions of them singing "Is this the way to Tamarillo?" in surprising baritone voices.)

So I have harvested them all. 

The tamarillos.  Apparently I am not allowed to harvest the possums.

So, will try poaching them.  The tamarillos.  Forget possums for the remainder of this post.

Will also try dehydrating some.  Who knows; quinces were unexpectedly magical.

Will also try a tamarillo chutney tomorrow.

Others will be sliced, sprinkled with sugar and eaten.

Had an avocado, tamarillo and onion salsa with lunch.  Not bad.  Needed some roast pork.

Anyone nearby who would like some, let me know.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

A Long Weekend Menu

Okay, here’s the plan:


Slice and marinate meat for beef jerky.
Make Lemon Tart for Sunday dinner.

Starter: Black Pepper Prawns
Main: Tandoori Lamb Loin Chops with salad and pappadums
Wine: Traminer Riesling
Dessert: Poached Quinces with ginger and yoghurt.


 Put beef jerky in dehydrator.

Starter: No, better not.
Main: Home-made spinach & ricotta cannelloni.
Wine: a sparkling Shiraz.
Dessert: Lemon* Tart & Cream.

Monday (Queen’s Birthday Holiday)

Try not to eat all the beef jerky.

A ‘Jubilee’ Dinner
(requested by the UK elements.)

Starter: Almond Soup
Wine: Chardonnay.
Main: Roast Beef, roast potatoes, various vegetables.
Wine: Shiraz.
Dessert: Queen of Puddings (of course!).

Tuesday to Friday

Heart Starter: Short black.
Lunch: Something light.
Main: Something poached.
Dessert: Ahhh…I don’t think so.

Stay tuned for a post-weekend update:
as Robbie Burns was known to say, the best laid plans
of mice and men and, indeed possums, ‘gang aft agley’.
* First post had lime instead of lemon.
Error picked up by external quality auditor.
Corrective Action Report initiated.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Meanwhile, below the tamarillo...

Garlic, leeks & shallots in the front block.  Remnants of  parsley & silver beet in the back.  Broad beans earmarked for the back block.  The last of the basil in the tin pot, a bath of mint in the distance.

 Turnips, swedes, beetroots in the back block.  Salad bits in the front.  Tubs have rhubarb, garlic, cabbages, garlic chives, herbs.

Back block has salad things (will have sapphire potatoes once seed potatoes are available), front block getting its turn with green manure.  Sage in the front pot.  Snow peas in the bin closest to the wall.