The other night I time travelled back to the early-mid Seventies. This I achieved without the aid of any shiny metal thingamajigs or thingumabobs. All that I needed to achieve such a wondrous feat was to watch a recorded Neil Diamond concert. Immediately and effortlessly, before I could say “Jack Robinson”, or “Sweet Caroline”, for that matter, I was transported back to a blissfully happy time in my life.
I thought to myself – no, actually, I said it out aloud; “Once again, ‘I’m a Believer!’ – ‘I Am, I said!’”
One’s mind is a mysterious creature, full of explicit techni-colour memories. Well...speaking for myself, mine certainly is!
Back in the early to mid-Seventies when I lived in Brisbane, not only on a “Hot August Night”, but regularly on Friday nights, no matter what month it was, all through any given year, Margaret, a girlfriend (and neighbour) and I unintentionally and innocently began a challenge to see who could make the best Spaghetti Marinara and garlic bread in the universe surrounding our respective Toowong units; and beyond if any dared to take us on. With nonchalant ease, we slipped into the habit without noticing what was happening; it was easy to achieve; and once addicted, we didn’t fight against the habit; we went with the flow! Who wouldn't?
While sipping (read “slurping”) on “Red, Red Wine” we danced and warbled along to Mr. Diamond. We grew to know him well; and very soon he became “Neil” to us. He didn’t mind the familiarity.
At times, Margaret and I opened a bottle or two of “Cracklin’ Rose”, but only when “Shilo”, who was “Forever in Blue Jeans” joined our mostly exclusive soirees.
Our prowess at preparing Marinara and the best garlic bread soon became a gourmet’s “must devour”; an epicurean delight for the chosen few we allowed enter our hallowed domain. Said permission and admission was not granted often.
And then, Margie, my friend, fell in love with Denis.
Right from the start “It Was a Groovy Kind of Love”. Denis passed muster, and soon thereafter he was inducted into our elite group.
“And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind”, Margaret declared as he began staying the night. She’d feed him “Crunchy Granola” for breakfast.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere down along “Blues Highway” arrived “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show”.
They set up camp under the Camphor Laurel tree out front of our unit block on a few Saturday mornings, but “I Got the Feeling” they soon realised that , even if there was some “Hanky Panky” going on, Margaret and Denis were “Headed for the Future” together.
Defeated, but still disapproving, the Travelling Salvation Show sullenly packed up their gear one “September Morn”, and were soon on their way along “Glory Road”, via “Gitchy Goomy”.
The partnership of Denis and Margaret was never “Love on the Rocks” - they remain happily married to this day. Somewhere along the way they gained four lovely daughters
I’m sure the regular, weekly, abundant ingesting of garlic and fresh Australian seafood, washed down with copious amounts of quality Aussie red wine is the reason for this exceptional phenomenon.
No “Song Sung Blue” for Margaret and Denis.
There are times I miss those wonderful fun-filled evenings, but I have my fond reminiscences to “Rock Me Gently” back into the Seventies whenever the desire takes hold.
I’ve given up looking for a “Solitary Man”. I may not be a “Kentucky Woman”, but I am a solitary woman…and I like it this way.
Tonight…”I Thank the Lord for the Night Time” because today is New Year’s Eve, and tonight I’m going to enjoy a couple of liquid refreshments while I reflect upon the past 12 months; before celebrating the arrival of 2014.
I won’t “Be Dancing to the Party Next Door”, but I will probably do a “Reggae Strut”, if “You Know What I Mean”!
And “When Morning Has Broken” I’ll sing a “Song for You” as I wish you all a very Happy, Safe, Healthy and Prosperous New Year…..”
Seafood Marinara: Heat 2tbls olive oil in pan; fry 250g halved scallops 1min; remove; set aside. Add 3-4 crushed garlic cloves and 1 finely-chopped onion to pan; fry until softened. Add 400g can diced tomatoes, 1tbl tomato paste, 250ml dry white wine (or red, if preferred), chopped basil, oregano, a dash of chicken stock powder, 1tbl lemon zest and cracked black pepper. Simmer 10-15mins. Add 500g green prawns; cook for 1min before adding sliced squid and oysters (or poached mussels in the shell, if you like); cook 1min; stir in scallops and 1tbls chopped parsley. Serve hot over hot spaghetti or linguine with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan.
Garlic Bread: Toasted: Preheat oven 175C. Cut 1x450g Italian or French bread in half, horizontally. Mix together ½c softened butter, 3-4 large garlic cloves, crushed, and heaped tablespoon freshly-chopped parsley; spread over the two halves. Place on baking pan; heat in oven 10mins. Remove from pan; sprinkle grated parmesan over top if you feel like it; return to oven 2-3mins. OR: Make the butter, garlic, parsley mixture as above. Make 1-inch thick slices into the bread; don’t go all the way through. Put a teaspoon or two of the butter mixture between each slice, making sure to cover all of the bread slices. Wrap the bread in foil, leaving a top opening; heat for 15 minutes or so in the oven. Variations: Add Italian herbs, grated cheese or crushed chilli to butter/garlic for a difference
Prawn or Crab, Tomato, Chilli and Rocket Tagliatelle: Cook 500g tagliatelle in large pot of boiling salted water. Cook until al dente; drain reserving about 1tbs of the liquid in the pot; return pasta to pot; set aside. While pasta is cooking; place 125ml extra virgin olive oil, 1/4c shredded lemon zest, 3 peeled, sliced eschallots, 1 large garlic clove, crushed, 65ml lemon juice, 4 ripe, peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes, 2 small red chillies, seeded and sliced, salt and pepper to taste in small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the lemon zest and eschallots are soft. Add 250g raw, peeled king prawns; cook 1-2 minutes. Add 4g butter, cubed…one cube at a time; swirl to amalgamate. Stir sauce through pasta with 1 bunch rocket, stems trimmed. If using 250g cooked crab meat add it to the sauce before stirring through the pasta as above. Serve immediately.