Sunday, September 16, 2018

POETRY MONDAY...(or every day).....



 
Promises....

I shall lavish you with jewels to match your sparkling eyes
Said he

I shall profess my love for you through the waking hours
Said he

I shall  walk beside you showering you with scented flowers
Said he

I shall tenderly embrace you every morning at sunrise
Said he


At each day's dawning I shall celebrate my love for you
Said she

I shall caress and bestow you with ardent passionate kisses
Said she

Everlasting my love for you is a love so deep nothing else eclipses
Said she

Around you my arms lovingly will enfold at every morning's debut
Said she


 
Together hand in hand we will run along the beach like carefree children
Said they

At night we shall name the evening stars encased in our love's delirium
Said they

Romantic love we will make in rain showers shrouded by a grey atrium
Said they

Consumed by our passionate desire as if by a sensual seductive siren
Said they


Your smile I adore, your inviting lips about you I will change nothing
Said he


I shall see life and beauty forever through you awake and in dreams
Said she


I will love you forever for you I would cross oceans fight raging streams
Said he


We shall spend timeless hours immersed in our warm tender loving
Said they





Poem by Me.....

Thursday, September 06, 2018

RAPACIOUS BEHAVIOUR IS NOT AUDACIOUS – IT IS UNGRACIOUS...




I am aware that  “hate” is a harsh word, but here I go.

I hate greed...greed in its many guises; guises that fail miserably at disguising greedy behaviour in all its repulsive forms.

Base greed, impure and disgusting is on display at its lowest and ugliest level every time we see media footage of break and enters; of hooded, masked low-life dimwits who are far too cowardly to show their face as they leap counters grabbing what is not theirs; greedlyraiding cash registers; of staff and shop owners being terrorised.  

The gut-churning actions are examples of greed at its worst perpetrated by lazy, ignorant wastes-of-space who are too dumb to get off their bums to earn a living and live a decent existence.   They are leeches who live off the blood, sweat and tears of others who have personal pride. Bums who assault and rob from those who care how they lead their lives; persons who care about how they treat those around them.

 “Respect” is a powerful word.

Having worked in the hospitality industry for years often I experienced, first hand, greedy patrons.  In particular, witnessing the way ill-mannered gluttons behaved when they came face to face with a buffet, turned my stomach.  From their actions, I swore they’d never seen food before in their lives. 

Staggering back to their table under the weight of plates piled higher than the Empire State Building, unable to wait to begin gobbling the food, so they could race back and do similar all over again, was not a pretty sight, I can tell you!

Hot food, cold food; food that didn’t go together...it mattered not what they heaped on their plate. Greedily, they took as much as they could.  

Food, glorious food! Terror alert!  Quick - take a load of that; a pile of this! Someone else might get more than they did! Steal the lot!  

To make matters worse, it became a competition to see how much food they could put into their mouth in one go. 

The image of one particular diner gorging on a buffet at a venue in which I was cooking back in 1997 has, unfortunately, remained embedded in my mind.

More than once he’d been back to load up, but when he noticed the buffet tables and bain maries were being cleared away to allow for the arrival of myriad, deliciously-tempting desserts, with food dangling out of the side of his mouth, I swear, he began to have a panic attack.  

Chewing and slobbering, grabbing his plate that still had food on it he raced, at break-neck speed, back to the buffet to see what else he could scrounge. 

Was a famine to begin the next day, or was he readying himself to hibernate for the winter? Did he know something I didn’t?  

There was no fear of leftovers that evening, not with him present. 
 
He almost fainted when the wide variety of desserts arrived.  

Regrouping - another race was on!  Off he flew!

When I was cooking at the Town & Country Hotel-Motel, Collinsville, up in the Bowen Basin, the rich, coal-producing area,” Happy Hour” was popular with our regulars, but never as in-demand as it was for one particular couple -  both of whom reminded me of garden gnomes!

Every afternoon, without fail, they arrived on the dot of 5 pm; and left promptly at the stroke of 6, after having had more than their share of the abundant, free bar snacks. 

My offerings of bar snacks, which were served throughout “Happy Hour” were always plentiful, varied and delicious. 

Spending very little money during their on-the-dot afternoon visit, the couple only ever had one drink each while they greedily stuffed their faces. 

Their behaviour didn’t go unnoticed.

Fed-up with their blatant, miserly greed, one afternoon, for the fun of it, I decided to bring “Happy Hour” and bar snacks forward an hour.  

Upon arrival at 5 pm, the couple got the shock of their lives.  Their mouths fell open, but not for the intake of food.   

Tsk! Tsk! For them to have missed out on their daily free feed was a tragic disaster! 

My purposely not-so-subtle hint managed to hit home, though.  It was the last time they partook in “Happy Hour”; no more feeding at the free trough for them
. 
It doesn’t take much to amuse me – then or now!   (I'm the clown in my own circus)!

Stuffed Mushrooms: Place rack in centre of oven; preheat oven 200C. Remove stems from 10-12 large mushrooms; chop stems finely. Heat 2tsp olive oil in pan; cook stems, 5-6mins, until reduced by about half.  Combine half block cream cheese, 1/2c packed chopped spinach, 1tbs minced garlic, red chilli flakes, to taste, 2 finely chopped shallot stalks, cooked mushroom stems, salt and pepper.  In bowl, combine 2tbs breadcrumbs, 1tbs grated Parmesan, 1tbs finely chopped parsley and 1/4tsp granulated garlic. Arrange mushroom caps on baking sheet; spoon filling into cavities; sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over each; drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake until mushrooms are tender and filling is heated through, and golden on top, about 12mins.
  
Spinach Balls: Preheat oven 204C.  Drain 300g drained steamed or thawed frozen spinach; set aside.  In pan, heat 2tbs olive oil; sauté 1/4c finely chopped onion until translucent.  Add 2 chopped garlic cloves; sauté until fragrant.  Add spinach; toss to combine.  Remove from heat; place in a bowl; allow mixture to cool slightly.  Add 2c herbed breadcrumbs/panko, 1c grated parmesan, 6 beaten eggs, 3/4c soft butter, salt, pepper, 1/2tsp chopped thyme; toss until well combined.  The mixture will be wet.  Scoop mixture into heaping tablespoons; roll into balls.  Place on a greased baking sheet; bake 25-30mins or until the balls are golden.  

Kumara-Avo-Bacon Bites aka Sweet Potato Avocado-Bacon Bites: Preheat oven, 200C. Bake 4 thick-cut bacon rashers; drain; dice. Increase heat to 218C. Line 2 baking trays with foil; brush with olive oil. Cut 2 unpeeled kumaras into ½ to ¼-inch slices.  Arrange slices in single layer on trays; brush tops with olive oil; season; bake 20-25mins, until gold underneath. Flip slices over; roast further 8-11mins, until golden. In bowl, combine 2 avocados, diced, 1tbs fresh lime juice, 1/4tsp salt and 1/2tsp smoked paprika, or cumin; mash lightly, leaving slightly chunky; set aside. Transfer kumara slice to serving plate; top each with dollop of avocado mixture, chopped bacon and chopped coriander; serve warm or at room temp.


Parmesan Sun-Dried Tomato Palmiers: Lay sheet/s of ready-rolled, thawed puff pastry out on a well-floured board; and then sprinkle evenly with drained, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely, grated parmesan, finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves and plenty of black pepper.  Carefully roll up both of the long sides of the pastry until they meet in the middle. Brush the area between the two parts of the roll with a little egg; push the two parts together so they stick. Chill whole roll/s for at least 30mins.  Heat oven 200C.  Remove the pastry roll/s from fridge; slice into roughly 1cm-slices with a big sharp knife. Carefully place slices on baking tray/s lined with non-stick baking paper; brush tops with egg.  Bake 10-15mins until palmiers are puffed and golden. Cool slightly on the tray;  serve warm.




Monday, August 27, 2018

LOST FOR WORDS – BUT HOPEFULLY STILL ON THE BALL!




I know this has nothing to do with anything.  Regardless, I shall venture forth.  If I stumble, I shall pick myself up. 

Upon further contemplative thought, what I’m pondering probably is of little consequence in the whole scheme of things, or even in a small part thereof.  

Giving the situation further, further thought, there is no point to it at all. To be honest with you - at this very moment - I’ve not a clue what this post is going to be about.

Good luck to me, then! I ’m flying by the seat of my trackie dacks!  I might still be here this time next week – or the week after - trying to come up with something about which to write. 

While still in my trackies, from out of nowhere, a thought stopped me in my tracks.  It just flickered through my mind proving life and light does exist in the unfathomable, muddled faculty, after all. 

Said sudden cogitation was - do people still play squash these days? 

I remember when squash was the latest craze to hit the populace – when it all started. 

Well, not quite “when it all started”  – that is a slight exaggeration of the facts.  The game was first invented at Harrow School back around 1830.  I know I’m getting older by the day, but, I have to let you into a little secret, 1830 was slightly before my time.  

A resurgence of the game hit like a tsunami in the early Sixties. Squash courts were being erected everywhere.  If you didn’t play squash, you weren’t “with it”.  I guess I was mostly “without it” because the number of times I played the game I could count on one hand.  (I’m not missing any fingers).  

With me, squash never became an addiction like it did with thousands of others.  Some sports’ fanatics couldn’t get enough of the game. 

Squash sure gave one a good work-out, though.  Following a hard fought battle on the squash court, my muscles complained for days afterwards.  Muscles I never knew existed made their presence known.  They weren’t backward in letting me know they weren’t happy, particularly those previously unknown ones in my butt aka bum.  I was not aware I had muscles that particular part of my anatomy until I played squash; or to be more precise, until after a game of squash.  The agony usually made its presence known a day or two later.   

These days hobbling around like the old crony I am, but with my butt still intact, there is no point trying to hide or deny the fact – walking stick in hand - I’d be even more useless at the game.  My present-day interpretation would be a slow-motion version of squash; a 2018 variation of the game.

I could try belting the ball with my walking stick rather than a racquet, and then it would turn into something like – say - indoor golf.    Firstly, I’d have to advise all within close, and not so close proximity, to duck for cover.  

The Mad Woman of Chaillot has nothing on me when I let loose!

These days the only racket in my box of tricks is utilised when I sing in the shower, or along to my car radio as I drive to and from my local supermarket, post office etc.    

Background sounds are necessary to muffle my strangled, off-tune squawking. When they hear me sounding like a squashed galah, even the crows, feathers ruffled, hit the skyway over the valleys below.

My word! Contrary to where I declared I had no idea what I was going to write about it’s become conspicuously apparent I managed to squash in a few words, after all.   

With no concern for my feelings, words rudely muscled their way in. I had no say in the matter.

Sage-Butternut Squash: Preheat oven, 190C. Line baking tray with foil. Toss together in bowl, 4-5c cubed butternut squash, 1/2c chopped shallots, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 3/4c pumpkin seeds, 1/4c chopped fresh sage, 2tbs x-virgin olive oil, 2tsp salt, 2tsp paprika and cracked black pepper. Pour onto tray in one layer, leaving room to brown. If too squashed, use second baking tray. Bake 40-45mins.

Mediterranean Quinoa-Stuffed Squash: Preheat oven, 200C. Halve 1 butternut squash/pumpkin; arrange the halves on baking tray; sprinkle with salt and a few drops of olive oil. Cook in oven, 30-35mins. Add a splash of olive oil to a pan; heat to med- temp. Add ½ zucchini, cubed; cook 3-4mins, covered; add 1/2tbs dried oregano, 1 chopped tomato, a handful pitted black olives and 2/3c quinoa to pan. Add 1c hot water; season. Cook 10-15mins until water has evaporated and quinoa is cooked. (Add some drained chickpeas, if desired).  Turn off heat; add 100g cubed Feta. Scoop out the seeds from squash and some flesh. Distribute quinoa mix evenly between the halves.  Sprinkle grated Parmesan on top; bake another 10mins.

Mussels-Butternut Squash Bisque: Heat 2tbs butter in pot med-heat. Add 1/4c chopped leeks, 2 minced garlic cloves and1/4c chopped onions. Stirring constantly, heat vegies until soft and fragrant, 3-4mins. Add 3/4c chopped carrots and 4c peeled, chopped butternut squash. Cook 3-5 mins, until they just start to soften. Pour 3c chick stock, salt and pepper over vegies. Cover; reduce heat to low. Simmer 20-25mins, or until vegies are very tender. Remove from heat; blend in batches until smooth and creamy. Whisk in 1/2c cream. Rinse 1-1/2kg mussels in shell under cold water; scrub lightly to remove dirt and excess film from outside of shells. Remove mussel beards. In pot, heat 1tbs butter over med-high heat. Add 2 shallot stalks, chopped, 4 minced garlic cloves and 1 chopped leek. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until vegies are soft. Add mussels; toss with tongs. Add 1/2c dry white wine and 1/2c chick stock. Cover; let steam 1 min, or until mussels start to open. Stir so the vegetables don’t stick to the bottom and the mussels are on contact with the heat. To serve, ladle soup into 4 large bowls. Top with a hefty spoonful of mussels; drizzle with remaining melted butter from the mussels. Garnish with fresh herbs.

Crispy Duck and Squash Salad: Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Wash 1x2kg duck; pat it dry, inside and out, with kitchen paper, then rub it all over, inside as well, with salt and pepper. Place it in a tray; roast for around 2hrs, turning it every now and then. Halfway through, drain away a lot of the fat from the duck; don't throw the duck fat away. Sieve it and keep the fat (but no meat juices) in a jar in the fridge for a couple of months and use it to roast potatoes

In a pestle and mortar, bash up 1-2 dried red chillies and 1tsp coriander seeds; add 1/2tsp cinnamon and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Scoop the seeds out of 1 large Butternut pumpkin/squash; put them to one side. Cut pumpkin/squash into wedges; place them in roasting tray, drizzle over enough olive oil just to coat. Sprinkle over the ground spices; toss well, spreading the pieces out in one layer. Once the duck has been in the oven for 1-1/4hrs, add the tray of squash to the oven; roast for about 45mins. Meanwhile, rinse the pumpkin/squash seeds after removing any fibres. Season with salt and pepper; drizzle with olive oil. Toast in a dry frying pan until they’re golden and crisp; put aside. To make the dressing;-  put juice of 1-2 limes and zest into a bowl; add the same amount of x-virgin olive oil, plus 1tsp sesame oil and 1tbs soy sauce. Stir in 1tsp brown sugar, 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped, 1 finely grated garlic clove, green parts of 5 spring onions, finely chopped, (finely slice the white part of the spring onions and set aside), and large bunch of fresh coriander stalks, finely chopped.   Reserve the leaves; set aside.  Taste and adjust the sweet-and-sourness and the seasoning. It needs to be a little limey, to contrast with the rich duck

After 2 hours, if the duck is nice and crispy, and the squash soft and sticky, take both trays out of the oven. If they need more time, leave them in until perfectly done. Using two forks, shred the duck meat off the bone; put meat into a large bowl. While duck and squash are still warm, toss with the toasted seeds, half the coriander leaves, leaves from half a small bunch of fresh mint and half the white spring onion slices. Pour on dressing; toss together. Serve sprinkled with the rest of the coriander, mint and white spring onion slices