Saturday, July 13, 2019

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT?


Two Photos of The Sands, Mary River, Gympie
Two Photos of the Scottish Mine, Gympie


Please bear with me.  I may have lost my mind completely the way I’ve been digging around in the deep, dark crevices and recesses of it trying to find something about which to write.

What I’ve found since the fossicking commenced is quite amazing.  If not for my age, I feel positive, with my adeptness at digging, if I applied for a mining job I’d be hired immediately.  No résumé required; no questions asked. 

No doubt I inherited my Scottish great-grandfather’s genes - as in DNA...not his Levis Strauss blue jeans. 

From the late 1800s through until his untimely death in 1918, my great-grandfather worked at Gympie’s Scottish Gold Mine, the headquarters of which were in Glasgow, Scotland.  At the time, the mine was classified as being the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

My great-grandfather, on any normal day, never worked underground.  On that one particular Wednesday he was called into work for an extra shift to replace a co-worker who failed to turn up because of illness.  Unexpectedly, a giant boulder broke loose.  It landed on my great-grandfather and a fellow gold miner.  The boulder killed the latter instantly.  My Nana’s father, at the age of 48 year, passed away 20 minutes after he’d been admitted to hospital.  (I have written about the sad event in previous posts)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
In the 1950s, for fun, as well as in endless hope, many Gympie adults and kids, my brother and I included, panned for gold at The Sands, a shallow, safe Mary River swimming hole on the southern outskirts of town. We loved to rummage around Gympie's mullock heaps, too.

I had not much luck in those expectant activities...a bit like now, trying to find something about which to write! 

At the rate I’m going today I’d have been a brilliant archaeologist.  Obviously, I missed my calling.

During my current digging and panning I uncovered a nonsensical old joke from my childhood; one that has remained hidden for decades in the pitch black corners of my mind – little wonder why! 

It’s a moot point...some would call it a joke; others a phrase or saying.  For the sake of argument, I’m calling it a joke.

My brother, Graham (who could be a bother at times as all brothers have the habit of being; in turn, I was a bother to my brother, I am sure) and I shook our heads, and lifted our eyebrows every time Mum or Nana asked, “Where was Moses when the lights went out?”  “In the dark” is supposedly the answer.

However, in our household consisting of four members the answer was never as simple or clear-cut.

The two quick-witted, hard-working women who raised my late brother and me are to blame for my twisted trains of thought.  Graham and I thought it was a crazy joke.  

Every time they asked the question, Mum and Nana shared secretive side glances and smiles (smirks) as if there was a hidden meaning known only to them; one not suitable for children.

Their highly-amused answer to the “joke” was always: “Under the bed looking for the matches!”  Followed by gales of laughter...from them...not us!

As the years passed, it got to the stage Graham and I purposely refused to laugh, even when we found humour in the joke’s innocent idiocy; or in the inane insanity of our small family unit.

I imagine every family has its odd sayings, jokes and phrases – and, innocently or purposely, stuff some up in the quoting.

George W. Bush was guilty of creating many which were unique unto him. Selflessly, he shared his dictums, not only with his family, but with the rest of the world. 

For example: “He can’t have it both ways.  He can’t take the high horse, and then claim the low road.”  Also: “Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.” And:”The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."

Unfortunately, President Bush’s boo-boos resounded around the world, and caused much amusement as they rebounded. 

Laugh we may - and we do - we should be thankful the bloopers, blunders, embarrassing mistakes you and/or I make don’t have a world-wide audience. 

In my case, I am extremely grateful my audience consists only of my two furry roomies – and, perhaps, readers of my blog! 

When I say something stupid, which is often, Remy and Shama merely twitch their whiskers, before promptly returning to sleep in the hope I’ll cease sharing my thoughts.

To answer the question...last night when the lights went out, I was in bed...not under it.

Spinach-Ricotta Stuffed Pasta: Cook 20 large pasta shells: drain; rinse under cold water; set aside on baking tray. Heat a pan over med-high heat; add 450g sausage mince; cook 10mins, breaking up mince. Add pinch or two of chilli, 3 finely chopped garlic cloves, 1 can diced tomatoes and 2c fresh spinach; cook 3-4mins. Remove from heat; stir in 125g ricotta; season. Stuff shells with heaped tablespoon of filling; spoon over remaining sauce; reheat gently, 5-6mins; serve sprinkled with shredded Parmesan.

Stuffed Mushrooms: Preheat oven 190C. Arrange 18 large button mushrooms, stem removed on sprayed baking tray. Melt 1tbs butter over med-heat; add 1/2c diced onion and 1tsp minced garlic; cook 3-4mins until soft; remove from pan. Add 240g Italian sausage mince to pan; cook 5mins; breaking up meat.  Combine sausage, onion mix, 120g cream cheese, 1/4c grated parmesan, 1/2c shredded cheddar and 3tbs chopped parsley; spoon mix into mushrooms. Melt 2tbs butter; stir in 1/3c panko crumbs to coat. Sprinkle panko crumbs over mushrooms; bake until tops brown, and mushrooms are cooked.

Kale Stuffing: Place ½-inch thick slices of 350g ciabatta bread in a shallow baking dish; drizzle with 1/2c milk; sit 30mins, gently flipping for even soaking. Warm a pot over med-high heat. Add 900g Italian sausage mince; cook, 10-12 mins. Stir in 1 chopped onion, 1/2c finely chopped celery, 1c finely chopped parsley and 3 finely chopped garlic cloves; season.  Cook until onion and celery soften. Add 700g coarsely chopped kale leaves, 1/2c water; cook until kale wilts. Break bread into bite-sized pieces; place in bowl; add sausage-kale mix; add 1-1/4c grated parmesan, 2tbs chopped basil, 1tsp chopped sage, 1tsp chopped rosemary; season. Gently toss to evenly incorporate; season. Spoon stuffing into baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, in preheated 175C oven, 25-30mins. 

Monday, July 08, 2019

THE RHYTHM OF LIFE...MELODIES OF THE HEART...CLOSE TO MY HEART....







Where do I begin....and where do I finish?  I’m afraid my list is endless, but I will try my best in giving you some of my favourites.

Concierto de Aranjeuz by Rodrigo…by classical guitarist Julian Bream (or any other, for that matter)

Although the person who introduced me to this magnificent piece many years ago turned out to be the biggest jerk around – and I kicked him to the kerb - I must, not even begrudgingly, thank him for drawing my attention to this exquisite guitar concerto by Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo...written in 1939.

Clair de Lune by Debussy….

From the days of my childhood (when I learned to play it on the piano) through to this day...I have loved Clair de Lune.  My feelings are unlikely to change. When I listen to this beautiful music masterpiece I imagine drifting across a calm, peaceful lake in a punt, with me dressed in a long, flowing white flimsy dress, with soft green embroidery embossed in the fabric, while trailing my hands in the cool waters...a warm sun shining in a blue sky above....a gentle breeze blowing.

Dancing With the One You Love…The Amazing Rhythm Aces
It brings back haunting memories of special, happy times.

A Soft Place To Fall…Allison Moorer

One of the most sensual, romantic songs...on the soundtrack of the wonderful movie – “The Horse Whisperer”...adapted from the equally wonderful book...a story close to my heart....

The Last Farewell….Roger Whittaker

I’m always reminded of one, unexpected, romantic night sitting on the deck around the pool on Hinchinbrook Island after the guests had retired for the evening and being serenaded by a certain someone who was to play a special role in my life for a couple of years. He played guitar and had a wonderful singing voice. Our first “date” and a sure-fire way to win a girl’s heart!

The Closest Thing To Crazy…Katie Melua
Just because….

Always On My Mind…Willie Nelson
Special moments…too many to list...a beautiful, beautiful song..

Spirit….the whole CD by Willie Nelson

The first time I heard the whole album it immediately resonated with me…I was going through a difficult time and somehow it helped.

West Texas Heaven…the CD by Kimmie Rhodes (Same comments apply as above and I always play the two CDs together…or rather, one after the other!)

Breathless…the CD by Kenny G

Every time I play this CD reminds me of wonderful weekends I spent in a little cabin right on the foreshore at Rose Bay, Bowen, looking over the turquoise water out to Gloucester Island. Bowen has some of the most beautiful beaches in Queensland, if not Australia. I have very fond memories of those times I spent at that cabin, which was called “Laguna”.

London Homesick Blues…Jerry Jeff Walker

This always reminds me of a good friend who introduced me to some excellent music. He and I spent many hours listening to, recording and sharing music...and sharing great conversations.

Me & Bobby McGee…Kris Kristofferson, harmonica by Jackson Browne...to say anything more would be redundant...

Sunday Morning Coming Down…

Loving Her Was Easier...All of the above by Mr. Kristofferson – comment covers each and every one! 

Defying Gravity & One Endless Night…Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Still Feeling Blue….Gram Parsons

Streets of Baltimore…Gram Parsons

You Still Move Me…Dan Seals

Meet Me in Montana...Dan Seals and Marie Osmond

All That Glitters....Dan Seals

I Could Go On Loving You….Kieran Kane or Alan Jackson

Kickin’ Back in Amsterdam…Kevin Welch

You Needed Me…Ann Murray – If I could sing...I would love to have a voice like that of Ann Murray

A Bushman Can't Survive...Tania Kernaghan and Lee Kernaghan (sister and brother)

The Universal Soldier….Buffy Sainte-Marie

Dark End of the Street…The Flying Burritos Bros

We Must Believe in Magic...Jack Clement

When I Dream....Jack Clement

I've Been To Bedlam.....Jack Clement

Stardust...Nat King Cole

Annie’s Song....anything by the wonderful John Denver

I love the Blues...I love Bluegrass...I love
rock...classical...opera.....jazz...folk....Native American/Indian....New World...Celtic...bagpipes....country....

See…I warned you! I could go on forever and ever and a day...and I almost have...I have a lot more!


Wednesday, July 03, 2019

THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT!



Diane Cilento with then husband, Sean Connery
Diane and Paul Newman in "Hiombre"




My first foray into the hectic, but fun hospitality industry was in 1969.

As well as my full-time day job conducted from Monday to Friday, I waitressed, at night, in an eatery in St. Paul’s Terrace, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.  

“The Pelican Tavern” had been built by the owner-chef, Mr. Kyriol Wypow.  In the 1920s, as a young man, Mr. Wypow escaped Russia (Kiev, Ukraine) because he didn’t like the way life was heading after the Russian Revolution. He made his way down through Romania, Greece and Turkey, ending up, at first, in South Australia, before choosing Queensland to be his final destination. 

He married an Australian lass, and together they settled in the Brisbane suburb of St. Lucia.  Their next door neighbours were Sir Raphael and Lady Phyllis Cilento, both leaders in medical research et al. Also, they were the parents of well-known actress, the late, Diane Cilento (who was once married to Sean Connery).  Mr. Wypow, as I always called him, was Diane’s godfather. It was he who urged her to go further afield...to venture overseas...to expand her career.


 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael_Cilento
 http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cilento-phyllis-dorothy-12318
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Cilento

One evening at the Tavern a group of happy diners arrived prepared for a pleasant evening. When presented with menus, they asked if they could delay ordering because a tardy friend was yet to join them. I said it would be fine, and left menus for them to peruse. Like a dignitary of high rank, their mate arrived almost an hour later, offering no apology. 

Orders were taken; promptly prepared, and served.  Empty plates were cleared from the table at meal’s end.

Readying to depart, the group pooled resources to settle the check.  

Of course, in every crowd there is always one who chooses to buck the system.  The cocky straggler kicked up a stink.  A show pony, loudly he declared he wasn’t going to pay because of the lateness of his dinner - blah blah blah! 

Politely, but firmly, I told the uncouth fellow there would be no dispute; he would pay for his meal, while bringing to his notice he had obviously enjoyed his dinner because not a crumb had been left on his plate.

Standing my ground, I refused to move until he handed over his dough – dough, not of the floury kind.

Relenting, he paid, albeit begrudgingly.

Being one who loved playing to an audience, with a huff, a puff, and nose in the air, haughtily he announced for all to hear he was from Sydney, visiting Brisbane for the first time.

To impress his point further, he declared: “I won’t be coming back here again!” 

Not missing a beat, with a smile, I responded; “Great!  That’s the best news I’ve heard in ages!” 

Not another word did he utter.

Approaching the exit, he ripped a candle from its holder on a table, and threw it at me.  He missed. Other than laugh, I didn’t flinch.

His companions, embarrassed by his surly, unwarranted behaviour, apologised on his behalf.  The arrogant fellow should’ve been apologetic, not his friends. 

He was a perfect example the customer is not always right.

Entering someone’s yard, and brazenly taking fruit or vegetables from their garden without permission is theft. 

Similar applies to customers who eat fruit from displays in supermarkets, or greengrocery shops with the belief it is their right to do so. It is not. Their behaviour is wrong. It’s offensive. Buy first...eat later. 

Grapes, cherries, peaches etc., aren’t for a customer’s eating at will.  Eating fruit from store display cases is shoplifting.  Pure and simple - in black and white...it’s stealing...no ifs...no buts. 

Putting the pips, after gorging, back among the fruit is disgraceful, disgusting and unhygienic. This crude, ignorant conduct happens far too often.  Too often I discovered this flagrant, sickening behaviour when I had my greengrocery-health food shop in Noosa years ago. It’s crass discourtesy. It’s also not a good look to maul the produce.
  
If I went into the bakery, and took a bite out of a bun or muffin to see if I liked it or not...can you imagine the uproar my action would cause?  

I’m going to open a few olive jars next time I’m in that particular aisle in the local supermarket. I’ll try various olives to see which ones I prefer. With me I’ll take a teaspoon so I can taste-test jams, pickles etc. Try before I buy! 

Not being partial to raw meat, the meat section is safe.  Hold the horses! I could take along a one-burner primus stove. A great idea... perhaps I’ll crack an egg, or two, too...

PS....there were times in my shop I would find an apple...bite taken from it...and the ruined fruit replaced in the display...bite-side down!!!!! 


Pizza Dough: Combine 1-1/2c warm water, 2tbs sugar and 2-1/4tsp active dry yeast in small bowl. Let sit mins. Mix 3-3/4c plain flour and 1tbs salt together in mixer bowl fitted with dough hook. Add 3tbs x-virgin olive oil to yeast. Pour yeast mixture into flour; knead on low speed 10mins. (If mixing by hand, knead dough for same amount of time.) Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place 1 hour. Punch dough down; divide in half. Shape into 2 balls; lightly brush dough balls with olive oil; cover completely with plastic wrap. Let rise 45mins. Preheat oven 230C. Lightly grease pizza pan, or dust with cornmeal; pat each dough ball with your fingers; pat out from centre to edge, leaving outer edge a bit thick; top with favourite toppings. Bake 10-15mins.

BBQ Chicken Pizza Topping: Spread top of dough with quality BBQ sauce. Toss chopped/shredded cooked chicken in more BBQ sauce; scatter over dough; add shredded mozzarella, shredded smoked gouda and some thinly sliced red onion.

Brownie Fruit Pizza: Grease deep dish 12-inch pizza pan; line base with round of paper; butter paper; dust pan with 1tsp cocoa; set aside. Combine 2/3c plain flour, 2/3c cocoa, 1tbs cornflour and 1/2tsp salt; set aside. Combine 1c sugar, 3/4c brown sugar, 1/2c melted butter and 1/4c veg oil. Blend in 3 eggs one at a time; add 2tsp vanilla with last egg. Add in flour/cocoa; mix until just combined; add 1/3c mini-choc chips. Spread evenly in pan. Bake at 160C, 18-20mins; cool completely. Frosting: In bowl, blend 170g cream cheese, 1c icing sugar and 1/2ts vanilla until smooth and slightly fluffy. Spread over base; chill 60mins, or longer. Add varied choice of colourful fresh fruit just before serving. If desired warm 2tbsp jam; whisk to smooth; spread over fruit with pastry brush. Cut into slices; serve immediately for best results. 

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