Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Looking at their soft place to land
Shama smiling: "Would I do such a thing?"
"No!  I wouldn 't do such a thing, either!" Said Remy

Socksie and Me...I was 3 years old
Besser Block

I’m having one of  "those" days today.  Firstly, I didn’t want to get out of bed, feeling I could stay in there, snuggled up away from the rest of the world and its inhabitants for eternity. 

In fact, for a while, it was impossible for me to move, anyway, even if I wanted to do so. I was pinned down.  No - not by George Clooney!  Don’t be silly – he’s run off with another, much younger woman despite my many previous pleas of “Pick me! Pick me!”  However, instead of shedding tears over his abandonment (lack of acknowledgement), I wish he and his new lady love all the best.  I think they’re a most suited couple; and I hope they have a happy ending…or start and continuation of their life together….but that’s all by the way…and is not of major (or minor) importance in my life.

Back to the reality of today and my inability to leap out of bed earlier this morning; and to the subject of pinning (not pining); and who the “pinner” or “pinners”, I should say, were.  

Remy, my male cat and his sister Shama were the “pinners-downers”! 

I have two cats, Remy and his sister, Shama (pronounced “Sharma” – my derivative of  “Shaman”. Remy’s full title is “Remy Martin”. I named him after the cognac) both are 11 years old.  Like me, they are Scorpios.  They’ll be12 this coming November.  I’ll be turning a little older, but I shan’t go into details at this stage.  Both of my little mates were three days off turning six weeks old when I adopted them.  It was not only their lucky day, but mine, too.

Remy is no lightweight, I can assure you.  When he was a kitten he looked like a fur-coated besser block!  He still does; just a larger block!

Remy, whose dead weight must be close to a tonne, loves to lay full length on top of me for whatever reason known only to him.  Shama often chooses to get into the act, too; although she is of a more petite build.  This morning was one of those times.

Both use me as their launching and landing pad to and from the window sill above my head, behind my bed.  They also think its great fun to utilise me similarly to leap to and from the top of a tall, cane bookcase over to the side of my bed. 

I have a king-size mattress.  There is more than enough room to land elsewhere other than upon me, but that would be no fun for my furry friends.  There is also room enough on my mattress for the three of us, without me having to hang on for dear life; with only two inches between me and the floor! 

It would be bad manners for me to complain. I dare not disturb these two furry, four-legged rascals!  Oh! No!  That wouldn’t do!  Living on the edge can be so much fun, in more ways than one!

Shama, in particular, gets immense pleasure out of landing on me from the greater height of the cane hutch/bookcase off to the right of “my” bed. 

I see the mischievous glint of satisfaction in her eyes seconds before she leaps (the rare times I do receive some forewarning, or when I accidentally notice what is in store for me).  That same glint is playing in her eyes and body language after she’s almost winded me.  With a flick of her tail, she tosses me a grin and proceeds to wash herself as if nothing untoward has occurred.

Am I nothing but a doormat for my cats?

Eventually this morning I disturbed “those who must be obeyed” and managed to drag myself out of bed. Grumbling, they followed.  Actually, the three of us were grumbling; but, unlike me, they’ve aleady snuggled up and gone back to sleep in their chosen spots for the day.   

An evil thought is playing around in my mind – I should go and jump on them…just as pay-back!  I can just imagine the reaction!  It is best I don’t!

They know they’re loved; they know they are spoiled.  They know who the bosses are.  Please note - “bosses” – I’m out-numbered in this household! 

 I would have it no other way; and I know I’m loved in return by them.  They show it every day in so many ways.

I've had a cat or cats in my life since I was a very young child.  "Socksie" was my first cat.  I've written Socksie's story previously.

As the day has progressed I am feeling more sprightly and brighter than my previous introduction earlier this morning.  Perhaps a soothing hot shower will completely turn the tide of feelings and motivation.

In the words of John Denver, “some days are diamonds, some are days are stones”. 

I think what I need is to make some dough and spread the bread around.
Olive Bread: Mix together 750g plain flour, 5g salt, 10g dried yeast, 150g black olives, pitted and sliced, 10g chopped garlic and 25g butter, gently rubbing in the butter a little.  Add 450mls warm water. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Cover bowl and leave in warm place for 30min. Knead again for a couple of minutes. Shape and place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Leave for 1 hour, and then place in preheated 190C oven for 35-40mins.

 Sun-Dried Tomato Bread: Pour 1/4c lukewarm water in a small bowl; mix in 1tspn sugar. Sprinkle 2-1/2tspn dry yeast on top. Set aside to activate. In small saucepan, heat 1c water to 120 degrees.  Add 1tspn salt and 1/2c oil from bottled sun-dried tomatoes. Remove from heat. Add 1-1/2c unbleached flour to the warm water. Stir in yeast mixture with wooden spoon. Continue to stir until dough becomes smooth. Add 1/2c chopped, drained sun-dried tomatoes, 1 large beaten egg, 2tbls chopped chives (and/or basil/oregano), 2 garlic cloves, minced and 2tbl freshly chopped coriander. Place dough on lightly-floured surface; knead for 6-8mins. Add more flour, just enough to make a stiff dough. Place dough into oiled bowl. Cover till doubled. Punch down and let double again. Punch down again.  Place dough on lightly-floured surface. Cut dough in half; allow to rest for 10mins. Shape into 2 round loaves.  Place loaves on greased baking sheet. Cover again until doubled.  Place into preheated 190C oven for 40-45mins. 
Molasses Bread: In a bowl combine 1/2c lukewarm orange juice, 2 eggs, 2tbls honey, 2tbls molasses, 1/2c soy flour and a half cup of whole wheat flour. Sprinkle 1 packet yeast on top; stir . Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Pour out onto a floured surface and add the 1/2c cornmeal and 1tsp salt. Mix together. Slowly add 1c whole wheat flour. Continue to mix in the flour till the dough is slightly sticky. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. Place dough into a greased loaf pan and let rise for 1 hour. Bake at 175C for 45 - 50 minutes.

Goat Cheese Dill Bread: Pour 1/4c lukewarm water into a bowl; add a pinch of sugar, sprinkle 7-8g yeast on top; set aside. In a saucepan, heat 1c soft goat cheese on low until lukewarm. In a bowl, combine the cheese, 2tbls sugar, 1tbl melted butter, 1tsp salt, 2tsp dill seeds, 1tbl grated onion and 1 egg; beat everything together till well mixed. Add in the yeast, 2-1/2c plain flour, 1/4tspn baking soda; continue to mix. Knead the dough for 6 minutes. Place into a greased bowl; cover; stand for 1 hour. Shape the dough; place into a large greased pan. Cover; allow to rise again for 40 minutes. Place bread into a preheated 175C oven for 40 - 45 minutes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Hospital Barge...Gallipoli
Gallipoli Landing
Tyne Cot Cemetry - Belgium
Gallipoli-Anzac Cigarette Card

Abraham Lincoln reportedly said: “I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend”.

Obviously, Lincoln, too, was a dreamer. It would be a better world by far if enemies became friends.

I believed in fairytales when I was a child. I believed in happy endings.  I may no longer believe in fairytales or happy endings, but dreams can be anything you wish them to be.  Reality - that’s another thing entirely, unfortunately.

Anzac Day is Friday, 25th April; the day set aside in honour of our fallen. Anzac Day commemorates Ausies and our Kiwi mates who served and died, side by side, in various conflicts and peacekeeping campaigns throughout the world, throughout the years.

Originally Anzac Day was to honour our Diggers who fought at Gallipoli in April, 1915.  Australia had only just become a nation 14 years before that disastrous landing.

At the time, Winston Churchill was the War Minister.  His plan to send in Allied forces to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula backfired dramatically and tragically.  What was originally meant to be a bold, quick strike against the Ottoman Army dragged on for eight, long months.

Sadly, the landing at Gallipoli, which was a major event in World War 1, was also a major military defeat for our Aussie and Kiwi troops, so many of whom were just young lads.

On 20th December, 1915, eight months after our Diggers landed on what is now known as “Anzac Cove”, our war-weary, defeated troops were evacuated.

From the moment they set foot on the narrow stretch of beach, with its impenetrable, rugged, unforgiving cliffs, our Australians and the New Zealanders were outnumbered; like sheep they were led to the slaughter.

Young Turks killing young Aussies and young Kiwis. It wasn't a game; it wasn't an adventure..it was a tragedy beyond belief....

Far too many young Australian and New Zealand lives were lost, wasted; too many young men were injured, doomed to carry the physical and mental scars for the rest of their lives.

7,594 Australian soldiers and 2,701 New Zealand soldiers lost their lives at Gallipoli. The figures are approximates.  Around 60,000 Aussies and 18,000 Kiwis were part of the larger force.

After the retreat from Gallipoli most of those who survived that bloody campaign went on to fight in the trenches on the Western Front.

The battles fought at the Western Front in France and Belgium – at Fromelles, the Somme, Bullecourt, Messines, Passchendaele and Villers-Bretonneux are remembered to this day, not only here in Australia, but by the French and the Belgians.  The Aussies and the Kiwis are still regarded highly by the people in those areas.  Our courageous, legendary soldiers have not been forgotten.

More than 295,000 Aussie served in that theatre of war; 46,000 lost their lives; 132,000 were wounded.  It may sound fictional…but, unfortunately, it is true…it is a tragic reality.

Sadly, the battles didn’t end at Gallipoli or the Western Front. Battlefields, unfortunately, are still a constant in our lives. Will the world forever be haunted by wars?

Lessons are never learned; wars continue.  Humans are very slow, inept learners. In fact, humans are incapable of learning from their actions; their mistakes.

It is true, and it is very important - we must never forget those who fought and lost their lives at the various war fronts.  However, we  must never forget those who have returned home from fighting on foreign soil, either.

We must never forget our brave men and women who have witnessed despicable atrocities; those who return home only to then have to face another almighty battle. Faced with an intangible war wherein the battle continues to rage uncontrollably as they fight inner demons visible only to them; relentless, covert tormenters obsessively pervading night and day, allowing them no respite; no peace.  Confused and helpless, loved ones look on; in too many instances knowing not what to do.

We should never discount the damage done. We must do everything within our power to help these brave, tortured souls be well again.

When there are some in this world who are so ignorant and insensitive to deny the Holocaust ever happened, what chance does peace have?

And that’s only one example! In a perfect world not even one example would exist.

Dorothy looked quizzically at her Aunt Em when she was told by her aunt to find a place where she, Dorothy wouldn’t get into any trouble. 

With Toto at her side, Dorothy asked ever-loyal Toto if there was such a place -

"Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby; somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” 

Man’s inhumanity to man goes on; it’s never-ending. Nothing changes; it just relocates from one area to another, taking with it its baggage of hate, prejudice and stupidity. In the meanwhile, lives are lost; others wrecked forever. Loved ones are left behind to grieve; children left without a parent.

Churchill (yes – the one and the same - he of the unworkable plan back in 1915) mused:

“If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another”.

I dare to add my version:

“If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material, emotional, moral, honorable prosperity etc;  a society, a world free of hate and prejudice… may humans one day have the courage to sit and listen, rather than stand and fight; may they take time to listen to the words of others; to hear and understand the words, rather than be fascinated by the sound of their own voices.”

ANZAC Day does not glorify war in anyway. 

ANZAC Day reminds us of the horrors of war; of the never-ending folly of man.

ANZAC Day honours the memory of our men and women of the Armed Forces….past and present.

ANZAC Day is in respect of those who gave their all....

Imagine if one day in the future…the near future…it was the past only that we gave honour to……

Lest We Forget….

 A toast to the Aussies and the Kiwis….

Aussie Meat Pie: Cook 500g lean beef mince and 1 finely-chopped onion until well-browned; add 1c beef stock, 1/4c tom sauce, 1tbs tom paste, 2tsp Worcestershire, pepper, 1/2tsp ground oregano, pinch of nutmeg; bring to boil; cover; simmer 20mins. Blend 3tbs plain flour with a little water to make smooth paste; add to meat; bring to boil, stir constantly approx 7mins; cool. Line lightly-greased pie plate with shortcrust pastry; add cool meat; moisten pastry edges with a little water; top with 1 thawed puff pastry sheet; press down to seal edges; glaze with beaten egg; bake in very hot oven, 15mins; reduce heat to mod-hot; cook approx 25mins.

Paleo Anzac Bikkies: Combine 1c almond meal, 1c flaked almonds and 1c organic desiccated coconut. Combine 1/4c honey and 1/4c macadamia nut oil in small pot; heat gently. Mix 1/2tsp bicarb soda with 1tbs water; pour into honey; mix until it starts to froth; pour into dry ingredients; combine; add a little water if needed; form into 22 biscuits. Bake in preheated 120C oven, 30mins.

Kiwifruit Pavlova: Preheat oven 120C. Line baking tray with baking paper; mark 22cm circle on paper. Beat 6 room-temp egg whites until stiff peaks form; add 1-1/2c caster sugar; beat 10mins or until sugar has dissolved; add 1tbs cornflour, 1tsp white vinegar and 1tsp vanilla; beat 1min. Spoon onto circle; shape into circle with high sides. Bake 75mins; cool completely in oven with door slightly ajar. Beat 300m thickened cream and 1tbs icing sugar until softly peaked; spread pavlova with cream; top with a pile of kiwifruit slices, some blueberries and passionfruit pulp.

Kiwifruit Margarita: Blend 60ml tequila, 60ml cointreau and 120ml fresh lime juice with a dash of sugar syrup; add 4 kiwifruit; blend until just combined; add a little ice; blend again; pour into margarita glasses; garnish with kiwifruit. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Well, thanks very much!  Someone could’ve told me Easter is this weekend!  I didn’t notice it sneaking up on me. The penny dropped only after I noticed an oddly-dressed, suspicious-looking hare carrying a basket full of colourful eggs hop by my kitchen window this morning, otherwise, but for the hare, I would still be unaware!  Without a care, the hare was off to a fancy dress party, with not a hair out of place!

Time is rapidly running out, and I haven’t even thought about making my Easter bonnet! I’ll just have to go topless…I mean hatless…over the weekend.

My chocolate Lindt bunny named Clint still calls my fridge his home. Long ago Clint ceased cringing and hiding behind the pickles, chutney and jam jars every time I opened my fridge door. With a glint in his brown eyes he grins cheekily at me when I reach into the fridge.  Every so often he tosses me a wink, too. Clint’s full of bravado knowing I’ll never eat him, but he failed to alert me to Easter’s pending arrival.  I ask so little of him; he could have warned me!  The only job he has to do is keep a keen eye on the contents of my fridge.  That’s not too much to ask, surely!

I might chew off one of Clint’s ears for neglecting to do so.  No…I couldn’t do such a heinous act; I’d choke!  He’s been my “roomie” for the past eight years, give or take; his trust in me is important to me.

That’s this year’s update on Clint, my Lindt bunny. 

Because Clint’s lived with me for so long we celebrate his birthday only; but I have noticed he manages to keep a low profile over Easter – just in case, I suppose.

I guess I’ll never discover what Lindt bunnies taste like because if I did buy myself another one it, too, would end up keeping Clint company in my fridge. I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to eat it, either.   Maybe that’s what I should do; buy a mate for Clint.  If I do I’ll definitely check what sex it is, though; otherwise I’ll end up with a whole tribe of chocolate bunnies in my fridge

Have no fear, Clint….I’ll stick to Cherry Ripes. They won’t look at me accusingly as ‘m devouring them. 

My late brother, Graham knew how much I loved Cherry Ripes; he always gave me a bundle of them instead of Easter eggs at this time of the year. He NEVER gave me chocolate bunnies! For Easters evermore I’ll continue cheerily chewing on Cherry Ripes; and, naturally, warm Hot Cross buns on Easter Sunday morn.  I placed an order for Hot Cross with the local bakery to be picked up by me early Sunday morning.  I know what I’ll be having for breakfast when I arrive back home.

I’ve had many memorable, enjoyable Easters; and then a few not so memorable or enjoyable.  Fortunately the former outweigh the latter.
I catered for hordes of Easter brides when I worked within the hospitality industry.  What is it about Easter and weddings, I wonder?  Could it be the full moon?  No matter there is some who deny it to be so; the full moon can affect our behaviour in the strangest of ways. 

It affected me one Easter many years ago.  My first marriage was conducted on an Easter Thursday evening.  However, I did my own catering for our small wedding reception.  See, I told you the full moon affects us in mysterious ways.  I also handled the catering for my second wedding; but I can’t blame the moon’s fullness because we married five days after the full moon.  Still on the subject of Easter and weddings…the following Easter, a year after my wedding, my brother Graham married on the Easter Thursday evening, too.  Easter weddings must have been catching in our family!

Hmmmm…I don’t plan such a drastic step this Easter, I assure you…just in case you were wondering.

Once upon a time in days of yore I’d prepare an elaborate spread for Easter Sunday lunch to share with friends and/or family, but I no longer do so.  I ceased the habit four or five years ago. It’s not that I’ve become mean; just lazy; plus it costs too much to entertain nowadays.  Selfishly, I’d rather treat myself than everyone else.  I used to spend a fortune; and I enjoyed the whole catastrophe; the planning; the preparation; decorating the table; setting the scene – all except the clearing away of, and the cleaning up of the catastrophe that remained after my guests had departed!  At least I’m being truthful!  I deserve an Easter egg, perhaps two, for honesty.

Because I’d not noticed Easter’s stealthy approach until I saw the derring-do hare this morning, I’ve made no extravagant plans for the weekend. My only set-in-concrete scheme is to forge through my ample stock of Cherry Ripes – taking no prisoners! 

An open, casual invitation was extended to me earlier this morning to join some acquaintances at a local café on Sunday afternoon. Live music will be on offer along with coffee and tasty treats.  I’ve left my decision whether I will attend or not open as well.  I’m not in the mood to make a commitment.  If at the time I feel like joining the group on Easter Sunday, I will…if not, I won’t!  The latter is most likely.

I definitely won’t be venturing out on the roads to travel far afield over the next few days. I’ll leave that activity to everyone else.  I’m sticking close to home.  After all that’s where the heart is, as well as my Cherry Ripes; and my cottontails! 

I do feel tempted to revert to a childish childhood practice.

Not only did I speak, think and reason like a child, I also believed in the Easter Bird (Santa and the Tooth Fairy, too; as well as handsome princes, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson and Audie Murphy) as only a child can.

Forget the Easter bonnet!  I’m going to fill my gardening hat with grass cuttings to see if my attempt at nest-making lures an Easter Bird out of the trees and shrubs.

If I spot a hare I’ll dare to snare it; and if it has already returned its fancy-dress costume to the hire shop, I’ll then dress it up as an Easter Bunny fit for a fair.  Don’t despair - the hare won’t care. I’ll do it with flair, I swear.

My menu is already planned for Good Friday…Smoked Cod with lashings of cheese sauce and various steamed vegetables; or…it is open for change…I might prepare the recipe below, instead. 

I’m not an overly-religious person. I don’t go to church; and haven’t done so since I was 16, other than for weddings (again!) and funerals.  These days I try to give both a wide berth.  And I’d rather hold my own personal beliefs than to have someone preaching down my throat.

As child I attended Sunday School every Sunday, along with my brother, Graham. Off we’d trot dressed in our Sunday best; Graham always about 10 paces ahead of me.  He didn’t want his mates to see him walking with his little sister.  Big brothers!! 

I’m glad Sunday School was part of my early learning years. That’s the way it was when I was a little girl; it didn’t do me any harm.

Every Monday morning the local Presbyterian minister, Mr. Henry - I was raised Presbyterian - came into our classroom and gave us Bible lessons, a practice I believe is a good thing to have happened; again it did us children no harm.  We are, after all, still a Christian country; and I hope and pray the status quo remains.

In these days of political-correctness when so many of the PC crowd jump up and down waving their arms in the air while they dictate to all and sundry (to those who listen - I don’t listen to them…their dribble goes in one ear and out the other with me) that we shouldn’t “offend”, I believe religious instruction in Australian schools is perhaps more important these days than ever before.  

As far back as I can remember…and that’s a long way back…we always ate fish on Good Friday…and it was always Smoked Cod or Smoked Haddock; I’ve continued that tradition.  The few times…I could count the times on one hand…I’ve not had Smoked Cod or Haddock on Good Friday, I’ve prepared and enjoyed a salmon or tuna mornay, instead.  Eating fish on Good Friday was more of a tradition than a religious gesture in our home.   Same applies to me today.

If I still feel hungry on Easter Sunday after devouring all my delicious, freshly-baked, warm Hot Cross buns, I’m tossing up between cooking a roast leg of lamb with the obligatory roasted vegetables, served with mint sauce…I love mint sauce (thanks Adulamite)…or I might roast a piece of pork belly.  Decisions!  Decisions!

Not having an Easter bonnet trimmed and ready is also a deterrent. I dare not go forth and enter the public arena without one atop my head.  What would the locals think?

Too bad what the neighbours and the locals might think - I’m going to have to put aside my reservations about not having my Easter bonnet decorated and trimmed – I can’t allow myself to be worried about what others think – because very shortly I’m going to make like an Easter bunny and hop to it! 

Seeing I’ve just realised Easter starts tomorrow, with my Easter basket in hand, I’m hopping off to the supermarket before it runs out of Cherry Ripes!   Maybe I’ll leave my basket behind, and grab a trolley at the supermarket!

Clint and I wish everyone a relaxed, happy and safe Easter.

Easter Breakfast: Heat grill to high. Trim 8 asparagus spears. Cut 4 slices of sourdough into 12 long, thin “soldiers”; a little shorter than the asparagus; place a spear onto each soldier; wrap tightly with bacon rasher or pancetta. Place on baking tray; season; grill until bacon is crisp.  Soft-boil 4 eggs; serve with asparagus soldiers for dipping.

Good Friday Smoked Cod/Haddock: Preheat oven 220C. Wilt 200g spinach in a little butter; season with black pepper; press out excess liquid; place in gratin dish; place 2x100g skinless smoked cod/haddock fillets on top. Dot with a little butter; spoon over 100ml crème fraîche; add 75g grated Gruyère and 50g grated Parmesan; arrange sliced tomato over the top. Sprinkle with 2tbs dried breadcrumbs; bake 15-20mins.

Easter Vegan Herb-Nut-Coated Cheese Log: Blend 270g extra-firm silken tofu, crumbled, 1/2tbs agar powder, 2tbs water, 2tbs raw tahini, 3/4tbs nutritional yeast flakes, 1/2tsp sugar and 1/4tsp salt in processor until very smooth. Place mixture in heavy-base saucepan; stir over med-heat until it bubbles for a few minutes and thickens. Add 2tbs light miso, 4tsp fresh lemon juice and 1 large garlic clove, crushed. Blend briefly; add 3 large sun-dried tomatoes, chopped and 2tbs chopped green shallots or chives; pulse briefly.  Line a loaf tin with plastic wrap; extend wrap over all sides. Scrape hot mixture into prepared loaf tin. Chill for about 30mins.  In clean processor, process 4tbs chopped, toasted nuts of choice along with 3tbs chopped fresh herbs or 1/4c minced parsley.  Spread this coating mix onto a piece of plastic wrap on the work bench.  Quickly unmold the cheese loaf onto another piece of plastic wrap; roll it up in the wrap; press and shape it into a “log”. Unwrap the log, and gently roll the log in the coating mixture; coating all over; press coating on with your fingers if some areas have been missed; then roll the log up again in the plastic wrap, twisting ends. Chill several hours until firm. When ready to serve, unwrap carefully and  place on serving plate; slice or serve with suitable knife along with crackers, crusty bread and/or pumpernickel.

Wild Rice & Cranberry Easter Salad: Add 1c wild rice to 3c water; bring to a rapid simmer; lower heat; cover; simmer gently until water is absorbed, about 30mins. Just before the rice is cooked, heat 1-1/2tbs olive oil in large skillet; add 3 to 4 minced garlic cloves; sauté over low heat until golden; add 3 to 4 thinly sliced shallots (green and white parts) and 2c thawed corn kernels (or drained can or fresh); sauté just until warmed through. Transfer cooked rice to skillet; turn up the heat to med-high; add 1/3c fresh lemon or lime juice, or to taste, 1/4c to 1/2c chopped coriander (cilantro), to taste, 2tsp ground cumin, 1/2tsp dried oregano, 1/4tsp dried thyme, 1/2c dried cranberries and 1-1/2tbs olive oil. Stir together gently; season to taste. Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle 1/4c toasted pumpkin (pepita) seeds over the top.

It’s Veally Easter: Preheat oven 200C. Brush 800g frenched veal rack, (6 cutlets) with oil; season well; roast 20mins. Combine 3/4c fresh breadcrumbs, 1tbs chopped parsley, 2tsp chopped fresh rosemary, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 lightly-beaten egg yolk and 1tbs seeded mustard. Remove veal from oven; reduce heat to 180C. Spread 1tbs seeded mustard over veal; firmly press breadcrumb mix into veal; roast 30-40mins.

Cherry Ripe Slice: Crush 1pkt Marie biscuits; combine with 125g melted butter, 3 chopped Cherry Ripe bars and 200g can condensed milk; press into slice tin; chill. Melt 250g chocolate; pour over chilled slice; set.  Yummy!

Cherry Ripe Choc-Cheesecake: Grease 24cm round spring-form cake pan. Process 150g plain chocolate biscuits until fine. Add 75g melted butter; process until combined. Press mixture over base of pan. Place pan on oven tray; refrigerate, 30mins. Preheat oven 160C (140C fan-forced).  Melt 200g dark chocolate. Place 1c (200g) drained morello cherries on absorbent paper. Beat 500g softened cream cheese and 1/3c caster sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth; beat in 2 eggs, one at a time. Gradually beat in cooled melted chocolate; stir in 1x150g chopped Cherry Ripe bar and the drained morello cherries. Spread filling over biscuit base in pan; bake for about 50mins. Cool in over with door ajar.  Chill cheesecake, 3 hours or overnight. Serve topped with whipped cream; dust with cocoa powder; scatter extra morello cherries over top.  Triple Yummy, yum!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Sunshine Beach
Noosa Heads and Noosa National Park

Jewfish/Mulloway...The One That Got Away..
Bream...Ones That Didn't Get Away
Tailor...Another That Didn't Get Away
Access from the beach to Happy Valley, Fraser Island
Portion of Ocean-side Beach on Fraser Island
Jetty at Cape Richards, Hinchinbrook Island
Smoked Mullet
Mango-Avocado Salsa
Again...No Explanation...There Never Was!

Obviously after Billy Ray Cyrus paid a visit to the barber!  

However, that’s not the kind of mullet I’m writing about today.  The ocean-dwelling kind is my prey, not Billy Ray.

Many folk knock mullet, but freshly-caught or netted sea mullet is hard to beat.  Similar applies to any freshly-caught fish, in my opinion; whether it’s highly-revered Red Emperor, Coral Trout and other prized fish; or the much-maligned lowly mullet.  Ill-informed and misplaced snobbery presents its contrary presence at every turn. Snobbery of all types sticks in my gullet. 

I admit I never buy mullet.  It’s not a good “keeping” fish.  It’s best eaten soon after catching. Similar applies to tailor.  Freshly-caught, bled and cleaned tailor is excellent eating, but like mullet tailor is best eaten the day of catching.  If not handled correctly both mullet and tailor become very "fishy"; and are not, in my opinion, good eating.

When, in early 1979, my husband (now ex) and I swapped city life for coastal living and the pleasures it had to offer, we mutually decided we’d take a month or two holiday time before settling into our new life on the Sunshine Coast. We wished to take advantage of our new (but familiar) surroundings for a little while; to spend time catching our respective breaths.  Both of us had been working long, busy hours in the city.

I’d worked for the one company for 14 years, from 1965 through to 1979. During those 14 years, in total, I had only approximately two months off from work. It was of my own choosing.  I was never much of a “holiday-taker”; plus my job was very interesting and all-consuming. 

Before returning to Australia in November, 1974, my ex, Randall, had been living and working in New York City. Almost 10 years to the day in late November, 1965 ge'd left our Aussie shores . Randall and I  originally met as teenagers in 1963; our relationship, compared to that of many of our peers, was unconventional, to say the least.  And, in this present story, I’m saying the least about those chapters of my life, for no other reason than it’s not the core of this story. 

Approximately 18 months after his return from the US Randall and I married in a simple, but relaxed, happy civil ceremony at his parents’ home one Sunday afternoon with only a few immediate family members and close friends present.  They weren’t going to miss out on a good party; and they weren’t disappointed!

Just a little background…you know how much I like to give a background to the real-life characters in my tales.

Almost immediately after our arrival on the coast we were ready for the next stage in our lives. With spare time up our sleeves; a sea breeze on our faces; sand between our toes and salt-spray on our bodies we chose fishing as one of our temporary pastimes. Before leaving Brisbane we’d armed ourselves well with 12-foot surf rods, Alvey reels and all the tackle necessary to catch a fish.  The only things missing were the bait and the fish! It didn’t take us long to remedy the situation.

We studied the tides; the moon phases; when  the best time to catch a fish was (preferrably more than just one fish); and we went on reconnaissance missions to find the most fruitful – “fishful” – spots.  We found a great spot at the mouth of the Maroochy River; on the northern side of the river mouth.  The next most important thing on our list was to choose the right bait.  For about a week we’d fished our chosen area with little success.  To our annoyance, a young fellow who fished a few yards from us, every afternoon, reeled in fish after fish; beautifully, glistening silver bream.

When night fell, even though we couldn’t see him, we could hear his squeaky reel. His damn reel squeaked frequently. It’s squeaking added to our frustration because that sound heralded his success in the catching of fish; and showed up, in squeaks, our lack of it!

After a few days we’d had enough off feeling inadequate at this fishing game so we befriended the young chap and began to pick his brain; and fillet the helpful information from that which did not help our cause. 

The young fisherman, willing to impart his knowledge, generously pointed out we were using the wrong bait; or at least I was using the wrong bait for catching bream; and bream were my targets. 

I was there to catch bream.  Randall had more expansive ambitions.  He was after the elusive “big one”.  His dream; his never-ending goal was to hook onto a giant jewfish/mullaway. He was rigged up for the possibility. 

After learning from the young fishing guru chicken gut was the only enticement the bream in the particular area we were fishing were interested in, the next day I switched over to chicken gut; and immediately, I began catching bream after bream. They feasted on it and while their minds were occupied in a chicken bait delirium I hooked and pulled in bream like there was no tomorrow.

The bream that feed off the sand bank at the northern end of the Maroochy River loved chicken/fowl gut.  It was their delicacy of choice. Naturally, it became my bait of choice.

Randall and I were fishing our favourite spot one morning when a couple of boatloads of professional fishermen came by with their nets out in an endeavour to catch mullet.  Myriad mullet were on the run; the wave swells were black with them; and the fishermen were on the run after the mullet that were on the run! 

The pros didn’t care that we had our lines out in the water; they just barged on through, dragging their nets, and our fishing lines with them.  They hauled in a massive load and didn’t even offer us one measly mullet.  We felt that was the least they could have done seeing they’re wrecked our chances of catching any fish that morning.

To catch mullet a very light line is needed, along with either a lure or a very small, fine hook, baited with dough; or by using a cast net.  Jagging is illegal here, and rightfully so.  Although we did try jagging one night; just the once.  Once was more than enough.  Jagging is a very dangerous activity; not for the mullet; they’re too clever; too fleet of scale and gills to be caught by that method. We cast out our line, and it flew back at a rapid, dangerous rate of knots - if it had hit the mark we’d have either lost an eye or two, or hooked onto the nearest power line – kaput – good night!  That one time was enough for us.  No amount of fish, whatever the fish was worth losing an eye; being electrocuted or fined; or all of the above!

Because time was our own for a while until we started working again, Randall and I fished the tides at all the right hours of the night and day.  We soon learned from 4 pm onwards through the night up until 8 am were the best times to catch fish.  Forget the full moon; the three days leading up to a full moon and the three days after the full moon were the productive, conducive times for catching fish, particularly my prey, bream.

During the years Randall and I lived at Sunshine Beach we visited Fraser Island often.

Sunshine Beach is separated from Noosa Heads by the Noosa National Park; Sunshine Beach is on the southern side of the National Park. 

Randall’s aunty lived on the island permanently at Happy Valley.  Ethel lived on Fraser for nine years before moving to Hervey Bay on the mainland across from the island.  

Heritage-listed, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It’s 1840 square kilometers (710 sq. miles) in size.  It’s approximately 120kms (75 miles) in length; width approximately 24kms (15 miles).  It’s permanent resident population is approximately 200, give or take.  Of course, those numbers swell with visiting tourists. Camping in designated areas is the main form of accommodation on the island.  There are only three settled areas; Eurong and Happy Valley on the ocean-side; and on the western, still-water side with Hervey Bay across on the mainland - is Kingfisher Bay Resort.  The resort wasn’t even a twinkle in its developers’ eyes when we used to visit the island back in the early 80s.

Fishing and spending time with Ethel, our favourite aunty, were our aims when visiting Fraser Island. Ethel lived in a three-bedroom home with all the "mod-cons".  Her power was linked to the Happy Valley's store generator; and she had a smoker built-in beside her barbecue on her back paved patio area.

We’d load up Ethel's little Suzuki four-wheel drive and off we’d go along the beach; sometimes up to Indian Head and all places in between.  Other times we'd drive across the island, along its rough, sandy tracks to the still waters of the western side, on a hunt for whiting on low and incoming tides.

On the oceanfront of Fraser Island we’d hook tailor after tailor when they were on the “run”. My 12-foot fishing rod and Alvey reel to which I was very much, and often, attached served its purpose admirably.

Tailor is good eating if handled correctly. It has to be bled and cleaned upon catching.

We used to catch a lot of dart, too.  Dart dart about everywhere up that way, and they’re prolific in the waters of the Sunshine Coast, as well 

Dart aren’t difficult to catch.  They’re inquisitive, gluttonous little devils. Again, if treated properly they’re good eating. We used to smoke the carcasses after filleting (no…we didn’t make “rollies” out of them!). The smoked carcasses were tasty nibbles to nibble on during our Happy Valley Happy Hours on Fraser Island.

Fresh is best, as in all things; and this most definitely applies to tailor; and to mullet. 

I’ve never turned my nose up at freshly-nabbed sea mullet. Not only does it taste good, but it’s also nutritionally very good for you (and me). Mullet are packed to the gills with Omega-3.

One time when I was managing the resort at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island a Bowen couple came to stay for a week or so.

During my “greet & meet” they told me they owned a little corner store in Bowen. They were shy, humble folk.  From what I gathered it was their first holiday in many years.

Whenever new guests arrived, while their luggage was being transferred to their cabins, I’d usher the new arrivals out onto the deck surrounding the pool where I'd sit with at table shaded by a giant fig tree…or inside, if it was raining. Relaxing over a coffee, tea or a chilled juice I’d familiarise my new guests with what the resort/island had to offer.

It was obvious from the beginning the Bowen couple felt ill-at-ease in their surroundings amongst strangers.  There was no reason for them to feel so. Their shyness hindered them. It became my challenge; I made it my purpose to ensure their stay at the resort was as pleasant and memorable as possible.

Early one morning when my late brother, Graham, who worked on the island as one of my maintenance men, tossed the restaurant’s food scraps into the water off the end of the jetty; a practice performed every morning, much to the delight of the local fish, the couple from Bowen joined my brother and me on the jetty. 

I drew their attention to a school of mullet swimming about in a feeding frenzy. I asked the husband if he could use a cast net. He nodded. Conveniently, one was in the nearby shed. I handed the guest the net and stood back out of his way. 

Within minutes "Mr. Bowen" had a haul of mullet.  Immediately we went to work at the water’s edge. Scaling was easy; the scales came off effortlessly in our hands. Other than gutting the mullet, we left the fish whole.  I asked my guest if he and his wife would like to join Graham and me for breakfast…a breakfast of freshly-netted, freshly-cooked mullet.  Without hesitation, they both accepted my invitation.

The restaurant was filled with guests eating breakfast when we walked in. Entering the kitchen with our bounty, I asked my chef to cook the mullet, whole, in butter, lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Graham guided the couple to an outdoor table beside the pool before he returned to the restaurant where I was filling a jug with orange juice, gathering together cutlery, glasses, plates and napkins in readiness for him to take out to the table.

When the mullet were cooked to perfection, I mischievously and purposely carried the large stainless-steel platted adorned with the fish through the restaurant area, amidst the breakfasting guests, at just lower than waist-high level.  I was showing off...and enjoying doing so!  The other guests dining on their regular usual breakfasts of bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes etc., couldn’t miss seeing the delicious fare the shy couple from Bowen would be dining upon.  An enticing aroma filled the air, also!

The diners in the restaurant area looked on enviously from afar while the Bowen couple, my brother, Graham and I sat beside the pool enjoying a breakfast fit for a king and his queen.

It was a special, ice-breaking moment. From that point on the reserved couple no longer felt out of place. 

And I’ll bet the couple never forgot that breakfast, or their holiday on Hinchinbrook Island.

Smoked Mullet: Rinse 2.25kg split, cleaned mullet. Combine 3785ml water, ¾ to 1c salt, 1c firmly-packed brown sugar, 1tbs onion powder and 5 crushed bay leaves in bowl; stir until salt dissolves; add mullet; cover; chill up to 2hrs, or to desired saltiness; longer the soak, the saltier. Rinse fish; discard brine; pat fish dry; place on wire racks in roasting pans. Cover with paper towels; chill until dry; rub 1tsp pepper on both sides of each fish. Soak hickory wood chips in water 30-60mins. Prepare charcoal fire in smoker; burn 15-20mins. Drain chips; place on coals; place water pan in smoker; add water to fill line; place fish on upper and lower food racks; cover with lid; smoke 2hrs or just until fish flakes easily.  

Grilled Whole Mullet with Mango-Avocado Salsa: Preheat gas or charcoal grill to high. Scale and gut 4 whole mullet; drizzle with x-virgin olive oil; season both sides and cavities. Brush grill with oil; place mullet on grill; cook 6-7mins per side. In jar, combine 1c x-virgin olive oil, juice of 1 lemon and season taste; shake well; add 2tsp dried oregano; shake well. When fish is cooked you may remove the skin, and pull away the bones etc; or eat as is.  Pour the oil/lemon/oregano over fish. Salsa: Combine finely-diced large mango, 1/2 avocado, diced, 1/4 red onion, diced, 1 shallot, green part only, finely-sliced, 1tbs chopped coriander and 1tbs lime juice, salt and pepper.

Baked Tailor: Combine 2tbs lime/lemon juice (or 1tbs yoghurt) with 1.5tbs each chilli powder, ginger-garlic paste, 1tsp curry powder, salt, 1tsp cumin and 1tsp turmeric. Apply to 250g tailor fillets; set aside 30mins. Line baking tray with foil; drain fillets; put on foil; bake in preheated 180C oven, flipping fillets to brown equally; brush with little marinade if needed; don’t overcook