Wednesday, June 16, 2021

I AM WOMAN...HEAR ME ROAR!

 




As the name depicts..."Smithfield Shopping Centre", north of Cairns



The whole mountain community, including those dwelling in the valleys below, heard me roar a couple of weeks ago, I’m sure.  My apologies if I put the fear, not of God in those in the surrounding areas, but the fear of a raging old banshee. 

The wailing, raging, hoary, roaring old banshee was me.  My soaring roaring turned the air purple, scaring the white cockatoos away. They’ve not been seen or heard since.  I ruffled their tail feathers so much I think they’re still en route to Western Australia with not a backward glance.  

Much louder than that of an agitated boar, my roar almost blew off the back door!

I love a tasty, hot pizza straight from the oven.  Once upon a time in a land not far away I used to prepare pizzas from scratch, but nowadays I’m not as industrious. 

It’s not worth my going to the effort just for me so I travel the easy route by purchasing Aussie-made thin-crust frozen pizzas. When in the mood for a pizza I add more fresh toppings, of choice, (no pineapple!) until my pizza looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Once it’s to my satisfaction, into the oven it goes.

And then, I pace a virtual piazza awaiting the golden, melted cheese-covered pizza to emerge from the oven, with my assistance, of course. 

Ahhh....back to the other day....an aroma akin to an Italian trattoria filled the air as I removed my carefully loaded (topped) pizza from the oven.  The cheese had melted perfectly.  It was golden ...oh, so deliciously temptingly golden! 

Easing the pizza from the tray onto a plate, I drooled at the thought of what lay ahead.  My delectable lunch was only a moment away...an inch or three away. 

Uh-oh!  Oh! No! A disaster of Titanic proportions lay ahead in my immediate future.

“The best laid plans of mice and men (and women)...often go awry,..” 

Wham! Bam! No thank you, Sam...or Lee!  No pizza for me! 

With the help of my wayward elbow, onto the floor the whole kit and caboodle went!  Plate and pizza smashed into pieces as I roared in despair at the disrepair far beyond repair. 

Scooping up the debris, my growling continued while into the garbage my lunch went, untouched by human hand; uneaten by roaring human.  Not a skerrick did I savour. 

My disposition from the demolition was not fit to be shared. I sulked my way through the afternoon.  The two bananas I ate after my angst had dissipated slightly had to suffice as a substitute lunch.  I was in no mood for food.

Years ago, back in the late 80s when living at Yorkeys Knob, the northern beachside suburb of Cairns, I worked in a real estate office situated in the Smithfield shopping centre during the day, and moonlighted at night, cooking and serving, in a small pizza eat-in/takeaway joint.  For a brief period in my life I was a “pizzailo”.  The owner of the business had two other similar outlets; one in Machans Beach, and another in Cairns proper.

I can imagine how entertained my customers would’ve been if my performance of the other day had occurred after I’d extracted their pizzas from the oven. 

A word of advice...it’s not the best way to keep patrons entertained while waiting for their meals. It wouldn’t be the best way to keep the owner amused, either. 

Luckily for me, when disaster struck here, my two furry rascals were the only witnesses to my distorted face and loud, prolonged bellow. I think they ducked for cover under the covers, thankful it wasn’t their lunch I’d destroyed. 

Guess what I’m having for lunch today...after I’ve carefully removed it from the oven. Oops!

 

Pizza Dough: Preheat oven 240°C. Put in a couple of pizza stones, or 2 large baking trays, to get really hot. Mix 400g plain flour, 1x7g dried yeast, 1tsp salt and 1tsp caster sugar in bowl. Make well in centre; add 2tbs olive oil; add about 225ml water to bring together as a dough. Tip onto floured surface; knead 1min, just until smooth. Leave to rest under the upturned bowl while preparing toppings. Roll out one ball at a time, to about 25cm diameter. Stretch and press dough with fingertips until it’s about 30cm diameter; indent slight thicker crust around edge; repeat to make 2nd pizza. Spread each with tomato sauce base; add toppings of choice. Drizzle with a little oil; rest 10-15mins. Slide pizzas onto preheated bases, still on lining paper to help lift them easily. Bake 10-15mins until base is golden and crisp.

Calzone: Place pizza stone – if using - in bottom third of oven; preheat oven 230C. Cook 240g pork sausage, removed from casing, over med-high heat until brown; break it into crumbles. Add 1 diced green capsicum and ½ red onion, diced; cook until tender; season; remove onto paper towel to drain. Section off ¼ of dough. Flour surface; roll dough into 8-9 inch circle. Place on a piece of parchment paper. Spread about 3tbs ricotta cheese onto circle half; leave a 1-inch border. Spoon ¼ of sausage filling over ricotta; sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, Layer on pepperoni slices, more cheese, and sliced olives. Fold over the dough so curved edges line up to make a semicircle. Pinch edges together to seal. Repeat process. Cut 3 slits into top of each to allow steam to escape.  Brush egg wash over dough. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. With paper underneath, transfer each Calzone to the stone, or place on large baking sheet; cut off any paper that hangs over, and then into oven. Bake 12-14mins, or until golden. Rest 10mins; cut in half; serve with marinara sauce for dipping.  

 

 




Sunday, June 06, 2021

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE....DON’T MAKE ME GO!

 

A view to the west as I drive to the local supermarket

The hang-gliding area just around the corner and along the road a bit from where I live...why would I want to travel down to the hustle & bustle of the Gold Coast when I'm surround by such beauty and tranquility?


Sun setting in the west...rural township of Canungra in the valley below





It was a chilly morning, and there I was, snuggled up in bed, warm and comfy, trying to ignore the emerging day, with no desire of stirring, or recognising its persistent presence.  My two furry bed mates were nestled as close to me as they could physically be. (In case you have the wrong idea...my two bed mates are furry, four-legged felines...not humans in the need of a shave.  Sometimes they do believe they are human, though!) 

Hoping I wouldn’t move, both were content with my decision to remain in cosy repose. They would’ve been happy if we’d continued cuddled together for the rest of the day.   

My mind was torn in two.  One side told me to remain in bed, warm and snug with my two mates; the other side was nagging, telling me I needed to go to the supermarket. A battle royale raged within.  Finally, the nagging side won.  I surrendered... much to the frustration of my two bedfellows who had been enjoying the pillow talk...or, should it be,  “pillow miaow”?

Normally I venture out to the newsagency and IGA as early as possible, arriving shortly after both have opened their doors.  And, that dear folks, with me being the hermit I am...the reclusive recluse by choice....is my wild social life....my weekly trip to “the shops”.    ‘Tis the way I like it.

One cannot help but think...no, believe...there are certain times when things happen for a reason...

Because of my reluctance to crawl out from the warm comfort of my bed that particular morning, I was more than a tad tardy. I hit the trail almost two hours later than usual.  At the newsagency Gavin, Jan and I shared a cheerful, nonsensical chat, accompanied with laughter, making it a lively start to my delayed outing. 

From there onto IGA I went to stir up the always friendly, helpful staff.  The newagency is next door to the supermarket, with a small coffee shop in between...in the same complex.

At IGA’s fruit and vegetable section I ran into...almost literally...a lovely young woman from Canungra, a small town, to the west, a few kilometres away in the valley below.  The very nice young woman was blocking my path, and I, hers...so we struck up a friendly stand-off at the impasse. High Noon, it wasn’t.  A lengthy, sunny conversation ensued. She was a lovely person, and still is, I am sure.  It was a very pleasant meeting which was meant to be.  If I’d arrived to the store at my usual time we wouldn’t have met, which would’ve been my loss. 

Further along the store, after chatting up a storm as I went (I really am not such a “gabby” person...really, I am not! But it was a morning filled with joyful attitudes and smiles)...at the far end of the supermarket I came across a most delightful couple...Sue and Bob, who are around the same age as I am.  We’d never met before.  Until then we’d probably never set eyes on each other.  They, of course, being married, had set eyes on each other before that morning. Sue, Bob and I enjoyed a fun, interesting conversation...the details of which I shan’t go into - suffice to say much laughter was shared. 

At the check-out a further pleasant episode awaited me.

To my surprise, and hers, standing behind me at the check-out was Cathy, the kind person from whom, almost 19 years ago I adopted my two furry mates. Our paths hadn’t crossed since that very special day so long ago.  Hearing me tell the check-out lass the meat in my order was for my cats, not for me, and hearing my name mentioned, Cathy put two and two together. She took the punt I was the “Lee” who had visited her all those years ago.   

I had seen a photo of two little kittens on the notice board outside the old, original IGA that is no longer in existence, and immediately popped into the nearest phone box to ring the number shown thereon.  I still have the photo stuck to the wall here behind my computer desk.  A few weeks before my dearly beloved Pushkin had died, and I was still heartbroken over his loss, but the sight of the two little kittens in that photo grabbed my heart.   

I had intended getting only one kitten...the black and white male, who I christened “Remy”; he almost was named “Tuxedo”...”Tux” for short because it looks like he’s wearing a tuxedo. However, I was a sucker the moment the little tabby kitten sitting beside him, turned her little head towards me and looked me straight in the eye. How could I not adopt her, too?   

The tabby princess...diva....I christened “Shama”.

Both Remy and Shama have been together all their lives, and, in mine, for 19 years come 13th December.

Cathy and I were thrilled our paths crossed that morning.  It was wonderful to meet her again, in person.  Once in a while, every other year, I phone, and speak with either her or her husband to let them know my two furry mates are happy and doing well, but, to my knowledge, we’ve never physically seen each other since that day so long ago.  Cathy and I wouldn’t have recognised each other.  It was only because one of the supermarket’s staff members called me by my name that she took notice, smiled and introduced herself to me.   

We chatted up a happy storm, much to the amusement, and interest of the check-out lass.   

Cathy told me Remy and Shama’s mother is still alive.  I think that is wonderful.  How pleased we were our paths had unexpectedly crossed.

Boy! Oh! Boy!  I sure had a story to tell my spoiled rascals when I arrived home...after they finished scolding me and inspecting my purchases, that is! 

It’s nice to share smiles, laughter and friendly words with nice folk.  It’s also nice to stay snuggled in bed on chilly morns....just ask my two furry bed-hoggers! 

If I’d gone out at my usual time I wouldn’t have shared laughter with those folk I was fortunate to meet that morning a few weeks ago.

One cannot help but think...no, believe...there are certain times when things happen for a reason...” 

 

Winter French Toast: Make 4 sandwiches using 8 thick slices of soft bread (raisin/sultana bread if preferred), and about 1-1/2tbs jam for each. Spread jam to edges; cut each sandwich into 3 strips. Beat together 4 large eggs, 3/4c milk, 1tsp lemon rind and pinch of salt. Dip each strip into egg mixture to coat. Melt 1tbs butter in non-stick frying pan over med-heat. Working in batches, adding more butter as needed; fry strips 2mins per side or until golden. Sprinkle with icing sugar, or serve with maple syrup for dipping.

 Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash: Heat large pan on med-heat; add 4 slices bacon cut into 1cm thick pieces; sauté until crispy. Remove from pan. Add 1 diced small onion and half red capsicum, diced; sauté 1min. Add 1 large sweet potato, diced into 1cm pieces,(approx 4c of cubes), 1/4tsp each of cumin, garlic powder and paprika to pan; cook 10-12mins; stir often. Place lid on pan for last 5mins to soften sweet potato until fork tender.  Add the bacon, along with 2c roughly chopped kale; stir 1-2mins or until kale has wilted. Create 4 wells in the hash; crack an egg into each; cook eggs to your liking. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with chopped shallot; serve immediately.

Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal: Combine 1/2c rolled oats, 1/2c milk, 1/2c water, ¼ to 1/2tsp cinnamon, 1 apple, chopped (peeled or not) and 1tbs maple syrup in small saucepan. Place over med-heat. Stir regularly until bubbling; cook until apple softens and oats thick and creamy. Serve topped with nuts, more apple, dates and/or cream...as preferred. 



Tuesday, May 25, 2021

I HOPE IT’S NOT TRUE...







I’ve retained a newspaper article which I read a few weeks ago.  Disturbingly, the article’s heading is; “One in three kids don’t like to read...” 

By the way, “doesn’t” should have been applied, not “don’t”.  The blunder is understandable if the article’s content is factual.  Hopefully, the alarming article is an example of “Fake News”.

Added to the article’s dismaying contents, I also heard the ‘cancel-culture-woke bandits’ are outlawing Snow White because the prince kissed her while she slept!  Seeing she lived with seven dwarfs I suppose her reputation will no longer be snow white.  Size didn’t matter to Snowy.  Tsk! Tsk!

Sleeping Beauty’s prince woke her with a kiss, as well, so he will be in trouble...off to the sin bin with him, too.  

Red Riding Hood’s wolf will be pilloried for being secretive for years about being transgender.  

Melons of every variety will be rolling around everywhere because they weren’t chosen to be Cinderella’s carriage.  As for the Cinderella’s handsome prince, he’ll be accused of having a foot and shoe fetish! 

Things are looking pretty grim in the fairytale department. 

My heart bleeds for fairy penguins.  The dear little birds, both male and female, were unfairly stripped of their title a few years ago.  

Big Brother soon will be no more.  Big Sister, or Big Person, will be forced to take his place.  

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. 

Back to the lack of the book-reading problem...often and openly I admit I’m old-fashioned.  I refuse to succumb to digital e-books, or to audio-books.  

For me, a book is made with paper. Similar applies to newspapers. 

 I’ll bet a new e-book doesn’t smell as good as a new book does.  Half the pleasure gained in opening my Christmas and birthday presents when I was a kid was savouring the smell of the new books I received. Always, books...lots of them...were among my gifts. 

There is nothing quite like the scent of a new book. 

Book shelves lined with books are, along with the kitchen, the heart of a home.  How on earth can e-books replace the beauty, and intrigue, of a filled bookcase? 

I believe children should be introduced to books...books made with paper...from when they are very young. 

How sad it is to think today’s Aussie kids...”no longer like books, with two-thirds of all Aussie students saying they disagreed with the statement: ‘I like to talk about books with other people.’  It found 31.5 percent of them said reading was a ‘waste of time’.”

 Oh! Dear! If the above is true, it’s a tragedy.

The article’s content regarding reading habits of today’s children is lamentable. To not experience the joy and quietude of losing one’s self in a bookstore, or wandering the aisles of a library, while slowly browsing book-filled shelves would be missing out on pleasures of living. 

To not lose one’s self in reading the author’s teasing preface introducing his/her story; to not enjoy being teased and tempted by the intention of the author’s words while feeling a book’s cover between one’s fingers; to not hold a book...a hard-cover book, or paperback...is to deprive one’s self of more of life’s pleasures. 

To hold a traditional book...not a cold, digital device...in your hands is akin to holding the author’s imagination, soul and heart.

To quote Eartha Kitt...”I’m just an old-fashioned old girl with an old fashioned mind....”

 

Cauliflower Bites: Preheat oven 230C.  Put 1 large cauliflower, cut into bit-size florets, in bowl or plastic bag; drizzle with olive oil to barely coat; add 2tsp garlic powder, 1/4tsp salt and 1/8tsp pepper; toss to coat. Place on ungreased baking tray; bake 15mins; turn once. Check after 10min for tenderness...not soggy! Remove from oven. Add 1/2-3/4c Buffalo Wing style hot sauce, or preferred hot sauce. Toss florets in sauce; start with half sauce, adding more to taste; return to oven; cook 5mins. Serve with dip of choice e.g. ranch dressing or blue cheese dip.

Spicy Chickpeas: Place 2-1/2c drained chickpeas in sieve; rinse under running water. They should be as dry as possible before placing in 190C pre-heated oven.  Line baking tray with foil; place chickpeas on baking sheet; add 1tbs olive oil. Toss with fingers until they’re evenly coated with oil; spread out to an even layer. Sprinkle with salt. Bake 40min. until golden and crispy. Halfway through baking, shake tray to ensure they cook evenly. While chickpeas are cooking, prepare spice mixture; add to bowl 1/2tsp smoked paprika, 1/4tsp each, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, ground coriander, black pepper, oregano, 1/8th tsp each chilli powder and chipotle chilli pepper.  Cool chickpeas 5 mins; add to spice bowl; toss to evenly coat; serve immediately.

Oatmeal-Blueberry Banana Bread: Preheat oven 190C; grease 8x8 square baking pan. Combine 2-1/4c rolled oats, 1tsp baking powder, 1tsp cinnamon, and1/4tsp salt. In another bowl, whisk together 1c mashed banana, ¾ c milk (almond, if preferred) 1 large egg, and 1tsp vanilla; add to dry ingredients; mix until combined. Fold in 1/2c blueberries, 1/2c sliced strawberries and 1/2c raspberries; pour into baking pan. Bake 35-40mins. Cool 15mins; slice; serve warm, or cool.