Thursday, July 21, 2016

IT’S NOT ONLY ABOUT THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING...



"Lady" One of the Resort's Wallabies
Bronnie
"Cheers!" From Me!
Resort Staff Outdoor Dining

All Aboard the "Reef Venture"!




But it sure does help. It does make things a lot easier on others, as well as upon one’s self. 

In the mid-Eighties my staff and I were living a unique existence working on a tropical island in Far North Queensland where the “only footprints on the beach were our own”; or those of our resort guests; and those of the wallabies with whom we shared the island.  The wallabies often enjoyed strolling along Orchid Beach and splashing in the shallows under the light of the moon.  They didn’t mind getting their tails wet in the waters of the Coral Sea.  Like we mere humans, they, too, enjoyed the freedoms offered by island living.

The resort’s brochure advertised “max – pop - 30” (as in “maximum population 30...not Max’s Pop); and that was on a busy day.   The resort’s 15 cabins were equipped to house four persons, but in the majority of instances couples chose to visit the island.

Did I say “working”?   We did work - of course we did - but one would have to search high, low, wide and far to find a better place to work.  Similar would’ve had to be done to find a workplace offering as much fun while working. 

My staff numbers varied between 12 and 16, depending on the season.  The staff enjoyed a special time in their lives; shared experiences and friendships like none they would’ve chanced to do if they’d remained on the mainland or elsewhere. 

A couple of bad apples tried to upset the apple cart, but they were sent packing, or were taught certain facts of life, and told to pull their head in.  On a whole, those who worked at the resort on Hinchinbrook Island were great. I’ve mentioned previously some have remained my friends to this day. As with rotten apples - one or two bad ones don’t ruin the whole carton.

Each time I think about “Ann” (not her given name), a young lass who worked for a while in housekeeping I can’t help but smile; and I still sometimes shake my head in wonder.    

21 years of age “Ann” was a Mackay girl. She was the daughter of a friend of my brother.  She was in search of a job so I offered her one.  “Ann” was nice, quiet type of girl, but I, along with her workmates, soon learned never to say the words: – “How are you?” to her. 

When we foolishly asked the question, the floodgates gushed opened.  There was no holding her back!  Her reply flowed freely.

For one so young she had every ache, pain and ailment listed in medical books in a dedicated medical library! 

How she got out of bed each morning was the eighth wonder of the world!

It was painful - and boring - listening to her woes.  Her workmates and I soon learned not to ask.

Talk about “Sorrowful Sam” – compared to that young woman Sam had nothing to regret or be sorrowful about. “Ann” had every base covered.   

Even after she became romantically entwined with a fellow co-worker her attitude didn’t alter.  How he put up with her moaning (from her aches and pains) was also a wonder.  However, he was a simple soul who helped out in the ‘field’ on the maintenance side of things.   (Their pairing didn’t continue after they both left the island.  They went their separate ways).

The young man concerned was more of a “go-fer”; and boy, did he go when he drove the resort’s Toyota ute, the only vehicle on the island.  He almost wiped out a cabin, once...Cabin No. 15.  He only knew two speeds – stop and go like a bat out of hell.   

Almost every day, if not every day, I told him to slow it down, not to rush madly into everything he did, but my words of advice never sunk in. I’d given up advising him or suggesting he slow down, so “told” him I did.

Whenever he drove the vehicle along the jetty to meet up with the “Reef Venture’ in order to off-load provisions, gas bottles etc., everyone held their breath. We cleared the deck and stayed well out of his path.  Poor Bob, the skipper of the “Reef Venture” feared that one day he’d end up with the ute on board his boat!   It never happened, thankfully.  How or why it didn’t still amazes me!

Maybe I was suffering from interstate jet lag.  I’d arrived back to the island around noon after being away for a week or so attending tourism conferences/trade shows in Sydney and Melbourne.  Early that evening I suffered a premature senior moment.

Most of my staff, other than the chef and his kitchen-hand, was gathered together in the staff-room enjoying their dinner.  Much laughter and conversation flowed around the table.  Finding them captured in the one room, it was a good opportunity to catch up on what had occurred during my absence. I stood at the doorway chatting pleasantly with my crew when “Ann” turned up.  She was running a little late for dinner, but that didn’t matter.

Not thinking, I asked her how she was – as one does.  I should’ve known better. I did know better....but in a moment of weakness...

Out of Ann’s line of vision, Bronnie, one of my staff, began acting like an insane, out-of-control flapper, waving her arms around, contorting her face . Her efforts would’ve given Lon Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces a run for his money.  Her berserk miming attempts were meant to inform me to not venture further.  Bronnie’s frantic warning signals were too late.  “Ann” was on a roll.  There was no stopping her.  In detail, she told me about all her aches and pains.  I never again asked after her well-being. I learnt my lesson the hard way. 

For a young woman of 21 years living on a tropical island to appear at dinner in the staff-room dressed in fluffy pink slippers and a dressing gown as she quite often did explains her mindset, I guess.  Believing her dress code was inappropriate for an island resort I suggested she dressed to suit - just before she unpacked her wool and knitting needles, fortunately. 

The power of positive thinking sheds a bright light on life; being old before one’s time is wasting time better spent.  Even when the years have crept up...who says one has to act “old”.  I sure as hell don’t follow those misguided, misinformed words of advice.
If you’re asked how you are...tell a porky - say you’re doing fine!


Apple-Pork Ragu Orecchiette:  Add 1tsp olive oil to pan over med-high heat; add 375g minced pork; cook, 5-7mins; break up mass; transfer to bowl; set aside. In saucepan, add 2 chopped, thick slices of bacon; cook until browned and some fat is rendered; add 1/2c diced onion and 3 minced garlic cloves; cook 2mins; add 2 Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored, cut into ¼-inch thick slices and 1/2c dry white wine; cook until wine reduced by ¾. Add 1 can diced tomatoes, 1c chicken broth and pork. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat; simmer, partially covered 15-20mins. Cook 454g orecchiette pasta to al dente; drain.  Add 2tbs drained capers and 2tbs thinly sliced fresh basil to sauce; season to taste; top pasta with ragu.

Roast Pork with Roasted Pears: Preheat oven to 230°C. Heat 1tbs olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 finely-chopped brown onion, 4 slices finely-chopped pancetta and 2 crushed garlic cloves; cook, stirring, 5 mins or until onion softens. Add 1/2c coarsely-chopped macadamias. Cook, stirring, 3-4 mins or until nuts are lightly golden. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add 1/4c toasted pine nuts, 1c dried breadcrumbs, 2tbs finely-shredded sage and1 lightly-whisked egg; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.  Place one, boned pork loin, about 1.5kg, rind-side up, on a clean surface. Pat dry with paper towel. Turn pork over and use a small, sharp knife to make a 5cm-deep cut under the eye of the meat to make a cavity for the stuffing. Place stuffing across the centre of the pork. Roll pork to enclose the filling. Secure with kitchen string, tying at 2cm intervals. Place in a roasting pan. Drizzle with 1tbs olive oil; sprinkle with 1tsp fennel seeds and salt. Use your hands to rub into the rind. Place 4 lengthwise-halved Williams pears around the pork  drizzle with 2tbs maple syrup. Roast in oven 30mins. Reduce heat to 180°C; roast for a further 45mins or until pork is tender and pears caramelise. Remove from heat; cover with foil. Set aside for 15 minutes to rest. Cut pork into slices; serve with roasted pears; drizzle over pan juices; serve with steamed asparagus and baby rocket (arugula) leaves

Beet Cheddar Apple Pizza: Make or buy pizza crust to yield 11x14-inch pizza. Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat oven 230C. Line baking sheet. On lightly-flour surface roll dough to 11x14-inch rectangle, working from centre; transfer dough to lined baking sheet; liberally brush surface with olive oil. Thinly slice 2 peeled small Gala or Fuji apples. Scrub, peel and thinly slice 2 small beetroots. Sprinkle over 3/4c shredded sharp cheddar; top with apple slices; tuck beet slices between apples; top with 3/4c shredded sharp cheddar; season; then sprinkle 1tbs chopped fresh rosemary over top. Bake until crust is crisp and golden, about 12mins.

Cheesecake Baked Apples: Chop tops off and scoop insides out of 6 Gala apples. Cream together 240g cream cheese and 1/4c sugar until smooth; mix in 1tsp vanilla, 1 egg and 1tsp cinnamon. Fill apples until ½ full. Place, not touching, on baking sheet; bake at 176C, 20-25mins. Cool completely in fridge. Serve topped with caramel sauce and chopped, roasted pecans.

31 comments:

  1. I worked with an Ann. If you asked her how she was, you got the full story. Including what she had for breakfast, and how it was sitting. And how long before it was likely to 'leave' her stomach. We learnt to never, ever ask. And bless her heart she thought that we were all heartless and uncaring. She may have been right.
    I suspect that most of your staff belonged to the 'work hard/play hard' brigade. And all power to them. And you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. G'day EC...yes....we were the work/hard/play hard brigade...we were experts...we had it down pat!

      Maybe our "Anns" were related! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  2. Mmm, I had never thought to pair pears with pork, but now that you mention it, it's an obvious pairing Lee. Thank you for a he great recipes as always.

    Oh and BTW .. How are you? πŸ˜„

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have an hour to spare and a pen and notepad, Carol? :)

      Thanks for coming by...and for asking! :)

      Delete
  3. How did you get a picture of me in there?
    'Resort staff dining' top photo, girl on left, looks like me at 25.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The lass sitting at the bottom left in that photo, River...was Bronnie. She was a good kid. I'll tell more about her in a future post. In an earlier post I mentioned Bronnie sadly passed away four years ago at the age of 47...it was a sad time; and those of us who worked with her were devastated.

      Delete
  4. Me again, I've read the post now. I'm guilty of telling people how I am, when they ask, but not always and never as detailed as "Ann". Mostly I did it to annoy my supervisor who was convinced she was far above the rest of us minions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I'm asked how I am I always say I'm doing fine. And, to be honest, most of the time I am! lol

      Thanks for coming by...again! :)

      Delete
  5. That just reminds me of the pain in my knees, my arms my back...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hang on! Hang on a minute, Mr. Ad-Man...let me make a cup of coffee before I sit down and you go into detail!!

      Thanks for hobbling by. :)

      Delete
  6. You are right - she was awfully young to be reacting that way to "how are you?" I had a great aunt (my grandmother's sister), who would do the same. "How are you?" "Well - not so good! ....." And so it always went - I didn't mind hearing it from her, but just had to be careful when to ask and make sure I had enough time to listen. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey there Lynn...She was far too young to have gone on so drearily. I couldn't believe one so young could go on and on. What a dull, boring way to carry on for one of her age...for one of any age! People like that seem to relish in and get great pleasure from moaning and groaning. There's no pleasure in listening to them, though!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  7. Most of my life I have been hale and healthy but once in a while I have felt ill. On such days if people ask me how I am, I automatically say "Fine thanks" and then I suddenly remember I'm not well. They probably don't care anyway. It's just something we say, like "Hello" or "Good afternoon". Why was the name "Ann" in inverted commas? I am guessing this was not her real name. Her real name was probably Lisa as in Mona Lisa or Moaner Lisa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Yorkie...as I put in brackets "Ann" was not the young lady's real name. Mona is a better description! lol

      I, like you, answer similarly when asked how I am, no matter what the weather or whether I'm really feeling under the weather or not.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  8. the pizza and the cheesecake sound wonderful and so unusual; when I was younger I always wondered why older folks talked about their health now I know. ha but when I was young I was never ill nor did I have any aches or pains unlike Ann

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you like the recipes, Linda.

      Even now at my ancient age (a good vintage) I don't go on about things....I just answer that I'm "fine thanks" if and when asked.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  9. I always wanted to see your beautiful country.

    Thanks for visiting. Have a blessed week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gail....I hope some of my posts whet your appetite and one day you are able to pay us a visit. You would be made most welcome.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  10. I had to laugh at your description of this young lady, Lee! I am glad she didn't spoil the atmosphere.Don't you think that when most people are nice, the odd square peg can usually slip into a round hole with a bit of coaxing?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there Jenny,

      Her co-workers helped change her attitude to a certain degree. I think she finally got to realise, to understand there was a whole world out there just waiting to be explored.

      She was a nice lass, but too damn straight and boring for her own good for one so young...particularly in that situation...living a carefree existence on a tropical island. Most would give their right arm to be able to do so and not whinge in the least! lol She was far too old before her time. Even at the age I am nowadays I don't whine anywhere near as much she did in her youthful years. I wonder what she's like now 30 years later!! On second thoughts...I won't ask...I won't wonder! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  11. Oh God, what a strange thing for one so young. I've never met a young person like that ..... but I have met a couple of older ones !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Helsie, I, too, had never met one so young so eager to ramble on about all her aches and pains...probably all imaginary woes. She wore it all like a bloody medal of honour!

      I doubt I've ever met another one since then....thank goodness! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  12. Amazing in some way how 'some' people regardless what age tell you every sorry detail of how they are feeling...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is, Margaret....to be honest I have little patience for it...and it's usually those who have little or nothing wrong with them that are the main culprits!! They wish it upon themselves, I think.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  13. Motivation and hard work does it. Plus the support of the wonderful people around you.

    Amazing photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lux...self-motivations is a good place, if not the best place to start...the rest will follow naturally.

      Thanks for coming by. :0

      Delete
  14. What fun memories! Love the apple recipe!! All sound great! Thank you!!
    Hughugs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Donna...you'll be experimenting with lots of different recipes with your new cooker, no doubt.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  15. A positive outlook definitely helps in life in general...it is not a magic pill, but it certainly makes life a little easier :)

    I wish you a wonderful Wednesday :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Keith...it does help...and I can see no point in groaning and moaning to others. It wastes time...and is a pretty boring subject! lol

      Thanks for coming by...you, too, have a good week. :)

      Delete