Monday, July 30, 2012


I never had a burning desire to travel overseas. I lacked that particular gene! I was just a broad who didn’t habour a need to go abroad! As my peers jumped aboard Qantas Boeings or queued for berths on ocean liners to head off to intriguing foreign shores, I blissfully bade adieu from the sidelines, not in any way envious of their wanderlust.

Later down the years I did trip briefly to Singapore, Papua New Guinea and across the ditch to annoy our Kiwi mates. I’ve grappled an apple or two on the Apple Isle, but other than those sojourns, my heart and feet have contentedly and firmly remained planted on Aussie (sorry, Tassie) soil, sand, and, once or twice, in mud; and I’ve not forgotten the time I planted my hands in wet cement; it’s set like concrete in my mind.

The setting for this story is Collinsville.

My employer, Morris Catering held the catering contract with Collinsville Coal, a subsidiary of MIM. I was Chef-Manager of the single men’s mess and accommodation. With the growing number of heads (and stomachs) more storage was needed to house dry goods, etc. I decided a free-standing shed was the answer to my problem. To execute my plan I hired a local handyman. A strange little man, he reminded me of that wonderful British actor of old, Edmund Gwenn aka “Kris Kringle” in the original(and best) “Miracle on 34th Street”. He also appeared in “Lassie Come Home”. Gwenn mostly portrayed kindly, gentle souls in his many movies. The similarity between the mild-mannered actor and my handyman proved to be superficial and short-lived. My “Jack-of-all-trades” became more like a cranky garden gnome than Mr. Gwenn.

When my odd, odd-job-man finished laying and levelling the cement for the floor he headed off to attend to another job elsewhere with the intention of returning the next day after the floor had dried. The plan was that once the shed and the shelves were in place, without delay and further ado, the area would be loaded to the hilt with cartons of dry stores, crockery, bed linen, towels and the like. As soon as “Odd-Job” left to attend to his other chores, I expressed to my staff my life-long desire to leave my imprint in wet cement! I pointed out that we’d never get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but our chance at emulation lay begging at our back door! Like mythological sirens luring innocent sailors, the lure of the wet cement was impossible for us to ignore. Our boss-employee bond was cemented that afternoon; and any future relationship with the handyman was shattered!

“Grumpy” was not amused upon his return the following morning! Mumbling under his breath, but loud enough for all in range to hear, he begrudgingly redid the floor, destroying our artwork forever! Immediately the job was completed, cartons and all manner of other items covered the shelves and the floor making it nigh impossible to espy!

After the shed affair, I shed the odd-job bloke! Some folk just can’t take a joke!

Pickled Pork with Stewed Apples: Stir 1/2c caster sugar, 1/4c cider vinegar and 1/2 cup water over med-heat until the sugar dissolves; bring to the boil; add 3 delicious apples, cut into wedges; cook until just tender; set aside. Place 1kg pickled pork in saucepan; cover with cold water; toss in some peppercorns, whole cloves, 1/2c cider vinegar, 1 cinnamon stick, 1tsp dry mustard, 2tbls brown sugar, 1 whole onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk. Bring to the boil; reduce heat; simmer 2hrs. Drain. Serve sliced pork with apples, syrup.

Apple Coleslaw:Combine 380g thinly-sliced white cabbage, 4 coarsely-grated red apples, half a small red onion, finely-chopped, 1 finely-chopped celery stalk, celery salt, 1tsp finely-grated lemon rind and 2tbs lemon juice. Whisk together 1/4c crème fraiche or sour cream and 1tbl natural yoghurt; add to slaw; gently toss to combine; season.

Sweet Potato-Apple Tart: Preheat oven 200C; line baking tray with baking paper. Cut 2cm border around edge of 1 sheet thawed puff pastry, cutting only halfway through; transfer to baking tray. Combine 300g fresh ricotta and pinch cinnamon until smooth. Spread over pastry leaving 2cm border. Cut 150g kumara into 5mm-thick slices; cut 1 pink lady apple similarly; arrange slices over ricotta; brush with melted butter; sprinkle over 1tbl brown sugar. Scatter over 2tsp fresh rosemary leaves. Bake 30mins until golden. Serve warm.

Apple-Mint Sauce: Combine 6 Granny Smiths with 2/3c sweet white wine, 2tbs sugar over low heat; cook 5mins. Increase heat; boil, covered 10mins; puree; add 3tsp chopped mint; serve warm or chilled with pork.


  1. Hi Lee, something we have in common, a general lack of desire for overseas travel... I have been around Australia 3 or 4 times though.

  2. Hey there, Peter! How nice it is to see you! I hope all is well with you. And I hope Gympie-town is not freezing your butt off! It's pretty nippy up here on the hill! And I know it can get pretty cold up your way...from past experience! :)

    Take good care...thanks for popping in!

  3. Hi Lee,

    I don't travel much, just day trips in my home state of California. My daughter however is currently on a trip to see Yellow Stone Natural Park with her BF's family.


  4. I don't venture far from home, either, Janice. I'm a real home-body. I enjoy my own company and space and I never get bored.

    For a few years, I did move around this state (Queensland) a bit, working in different areas, but this past decade I've become stationary here on the mountain. And I rarely leave has everything I need...except the ocean...but, I guess, one can't have everything! ;)

  5. Ya know, I'd visit Austrailia in a New York minute if it were right across the river but I don't travel well. As a matter of fact I'm pretty sure I'd never survive the trip. And then the trip back, at least, would be comfortable in that box.
    btw, I'd never visit NYC.

  6. I'm similar, Cliff. I'd survive the trip...but I'm not interested in taking it or testing that belief! ;)

    I do think that NYC is a great city, though. My ex lived there for nine years. He loved it...and still does.