Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Shenzhen, Southern China
Warrior Goddess Athena
Exterior of Miner's Lantern Restaurant and Conference Room, Cedar Creek, Thunderbird Park
Cedar Creek, Tamborine Mountain

A local resident of Cedar Creek Lodges, Thunderbird Park...known as "Kooka" both to friends and visitors.
We’re lucky up here on the hill in many, many ways.  For one, it certainly is a beautiful area in which to live. Seeing it through the eyes of others, of visitors to our piece of paradise, we’re very often re-awoken to the fact of how stunning it really is. Again, I’m speaking for myself, of course.  A thump or two is required every so often as I do have a tendency to snooze off when least expected, and in the most unlikely spots. This happened to me at IGA yesterday, but the staff just tossed me into the trolley with the rest of my purchases and pushed the trolley in the direction of my car.  Groaning under the extra load, it automatically knew its way because I always park in the same spot. 

Albeit unconsciously, at times everyone is guilty of taking things for granted, there’s no point denying it.  For example, we become blind to nature and all that abounds within its wide and varied realm; to the (mostly) wonderful inhabitants (of the two-legged variety) who roam this mountain, as well as the many cafes and restaurants dotted here there and everywhere around the place.

Previously I mentioned I was attending a wedding on Valentine’s Day.  Everything went according to plan, even better, I think.  It was one of the happiest weddings at which I’ve been a guest. I’ve a sneaky suspicion I’m not alone in my thoughts. 

When the wedding ceremony, which was held in Brisbane, was over the wedding party and guests ascended the range road to congregate at the groom’s family home to glory at the setting sun; and for the catching of breaths and a “getting-to-know-you” interlude.

The groom’s parents are my landlords, so the gathering of the clans and friends was held on the verandah of my landlords’ home which is just up the other end of this three acre block of land from my cabin.

Tristan, the son and groom lives and works in China, and has done so for the past six or more years.  He teaches English - on mainland China. He and Palas, (his Chinese bride, also known as “Yang” – pronounced “young”) live in Shenzhen. Shenzhen is a major city in the south of Southern China’s Guangdong Province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.  Shenzhen is so far removed from Tamborine Mountain in every way possible.

During the late afternoon soiree here on the property I asked Palas from where she derived her name …seeing “Yang” appeared on the wedding invitation; and is her “true” name. 

Listening carefully to her explanation, I gathered it all came about when she was attending university, studying, amongst other subjects, Ancient Greece when she stumbled across a someone from history who inspired her.

The Greek goddess Athena was also referred to as “Pallas Athena”, as well as “Athene” and “Athina”. Pallas Athena is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, arts, crafts and many other wonderful attributes and is portrayed as a shrewd companion of heroes.”

A far better person/image to aspire to than Kim Kardashian, in my opinion.  

As an aside, Palas is a tiny young woman...I think I could pick her up with one arm, with my other held behind my back...or in front.

At dinner and drinks with my landlords on New Year’s Eve I met Palas for the first time.  At that stage, the young soon-to-be married couple was visiting Tristan’s parents for a couple of days over the festive season. Palas and I got on like a house on fire. She’s a lovely lass.

Attending the wedding on Saturday, 14th February were six members of the bride’s family. It was their first visit to Australia’s fair shores.  Obviously none were Tristan’s students because they didn’t speak English, nor did they understand it being spoken to them.

However, as I’ve found many times throughout my time working within the hospitality industry; also in life in general, happiness, smiles and good manners have no barriers, no boundaries; no guard-protected borders; when and if the above are implemented any language barriers quickly disintegrate.  Sure, lengthy conversations trying to solve or make sense of the world’s mysteries won’t be conducted, but we have enough of those during our day to day lives.  And, too often, such discourses can become tedious and boring, and no matter how long or how in-depth we converse we never do, or will, solve the problems of the world...time wasted.  Such discussions definitely do not have a place during times of joyous celebration.

Not knowing what to give the young couple, who appear to have “it all” (they both are earning a good living doing what they do. Palas works for a company in some kind of executive position; and are off to Paris for their honeymoon) as a wedding gift, I decided that I’d supply the food; do the catering for the “getting-to-know-you” soiree at the family home after the wedding ceremony and the evening’s dining at a local restaurant.

There were about 27 guests (plus a toddler and a three year old). Also a few more friends of the Aussie family called by to partake in the relaxed late afternoon interlude on the verandah.

I prepared a couple of large antipasto platters; a large cheese and fruit platter; bowls of marinated champignons and artichoke hearts and Chinese pickled cucumbers.  I also made two different chocolate slices (double quantities of ingredients in both recipes).  Enough, of course, to feed the Australian Army and the Chinese Army combined!  What’s new?  I alway over-cater, but I’d rather have more than not enough.  It all got eaten…even if it took a couple of days to do so!

After everyone mingled, relaxed, regrouped, sipped and snacked a while, with our happy mood intact we descended upon a local venue for the wedding dinner – off to The Miner’s Lantern Restaurant at Thunderbird Park we headed. 

Some restaurants/restaurateurs have that special potion – the “it factor” – and some don’t. Some appear not to care too much about their clientele, their diners; their guests, at times treating them as inferiors. This doesn’t apply to Thunderbird Park’s Miner’s Lantern. The service was swift; the staff efficient and pleasant. 

And then there was the food. What can I say?  The food was absolutely delicious!  Without a doubt; without hesitation, the food was brilliant. 

The Chinese guests enjoyed their meals because I noticed their plates at the end of each of the three courses left little evidence of food. That’s a sign of approval, isn’t it?

There was nothing inferior about the fare presented. It was first class. The lamb was the tenderest, most succulent lamb I’ve had in a long, long time.  The chicken must have grazed on the same pastures because it was tender and juicy, too. Don’t let me get started on the entrĂ©e and desserts! I’ll be here for a week if you do! 

I rarely go out at night. Boy! Oh! Boy!  Were my eyes opened!  There was a whole other world going on at Thunderbird Park on Saturday evening!  Of course, it was Valentine’s Day and that would’ve accounted for the crowds, but apparently they were catering for three weddings as well as the romantic couples celebrated dear old Val.

All venues were a hive of activity, a-brim with happy joyous people in celebratory mode.  Obviously, the folk who run the establishment are doing something right. The proof was there to be seen and savoured – it was in the pudding, too!

Apple Pudding: Preheat oven 180C.  Lightly grease 6-cup ovenproof dish. Place 4 large peeled, cored sliced golden delicious apples, 1/4c caster sugar and 2tbs cold water in saucepan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium. Cook stirring occasionally, 10-12mins, until apples are just tender. Pour into prepared dish. Beat 2 eggs until pale; gradually add 1/4c caster sugar; beat until thick. Sift 2tbs each S.R. flour, plain flour and custard powder together over eggs; fold in until just combined; spoon over apples; bake 20mins, until light golden. Dust with icing sugar.

Rhubarb Steamed Pudding: Cook over low heat 350g fresh rhubarb, cut into 4cm lengths with 75g caster sugar and 1tsp ground ginger, 2-3mins; remove from heat. Grease 900ml pudding basin. Cream 125g caster sugar and 125g unsalted butter; add a few drops of vanilla; beat in 2 lightly beaten medium eggs, a little at a time; sift in 175g S.R. flour; carefully fold in. Spoon rhubarb into bottom of basin; pour in the mixture; level surface; butter a piece of greaseproof paper slightly bigger than top of pudding; make pleat in centre; secure over top of pudding; repeat with foil; secure the lot with string. Place in a pan half-filled with simmering water. Cover; cook 1-1/2hrs. Don’t let it boil dry. Invert onto plate; lift off basin.

Baked Pear Pudding: Preheat oven 180C. Put 6 peeled, cored and quartered pears, 4tsp brown sugar and seeds of 1 vanilla pod into saucepan with 4tsp water; simmer 5mins. Place fruit mixture into well-greased ovenproof casserole. Beat together 1/2c butter and 1/3c white sugar; beat in 2 large eggs until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in 1c sifted S.R. flour until well-combined. Pour mixture over pears; bake for about 35-45mins. Serve with custard, cream or ice cream. 

A Long and Winding, Dark, but Tasty Rocky Road: Grease an 8cm x 20cm bar pan; line with baking paper, leaving some overhanging on all sides. Place 50ml Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur or any Irish Cream liqueur (drink the rest while preparing slice), 200g quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped, 20g unsalted butter and 1/3c sweetened condensed milk in heatproof bowl over pan of simmering water  (don’t let bowl touch water).  Allow to melt, stirring gently until smooth. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in 50g chopped unsalted pistachio kernels, 75g roughly crushed shortbread biscuits, 200g mini-marshmallows and 100g roughly chopped white chocolate (throw in some dried cranberries if you wish). Spread mixture into pan; then chill the mix for 2-3 hours until firm.  Melt 50g white chocolate as before.  Drizzle over the set mixture; leave for 3 to 4mins to set; then cut into squares.  Keep in airtight container in fridge for up to one week.


  1. You are so right about looking around us and appreciating our surroundings. glad the wedding was so nice. I thought your gift was a great idea.

  2. Hi Helsie...The platters went over well and everyone appeared to enjoy them. It's difficult enough as it is to buy a suitable gift for couples these days. Tristan and Palas were living together prior to them signing on the dotted line. They have their own unit in China, fully furnished etc. I think mostly they received money as gifts; and they're , too, are not short of a quid...or whatever the equivalent is. Plus my doing the food for the soiree took that load off the shoulders of the mother of the groom...allowing her to breathe easier in that department....she had lots of other things to attend to. The wedding and all that went with it was all organised at this end, because the groom, the bride and her family didn't arrive in Aus until Friday, the day before the event!

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  3. I gather by seeking out clues that you live on or near Tamborine Mountain. Yes? Lovely place. And, lovely wedding. And you act as if cooking for all those people was just in a days work. I could not have done that. But, the wedding sounds lovely and it is nice that you got on so well with the bride.

  4. A perfect wedding in a perfect area with perfect food and perfect guests.
    What more could you want?
    I'm sure Tristan and Palas will have many happy years.

  5. Hello there, Peace Thyme...I cooked in restaurants for many years and during that time catered for many weddings, too. So over the years...past years, I've done a lot of cooking for the masses...many more than Saturday's gang! :)

    And, yes...I do live on Tamborine Mountain. Thanks for coming by. :)

  6. Hiya River...let's hope Tristan and Palas share many, many years of happiness together. His parents have been married for well over 30 that's a bit of a guide...but Palas' parents are divorced, but still get on. Both her father, her mother, sister, stepmother and stepsister attended the they were all a very amicable mob.

    It was a nice wedding...low-key...the best kind. Thanks for coming by. :_

  7. Oh dear - you seem to have been attacked by someone. Shame they can't spell.

    The apple pudding looks very yummy and I might just try that soon. I'm pleased you had a good time at your international wedding!

  8. So I notice, AJ...a mob of clowns with nothing better to do. What wastes if space.

    Thanks for coming by...sorry about the uninvited interloper...but you get those sometimes. There are always a few that turn up to try to ruin a party. Take care. :)

  9. You gave the happy couple the perfect gift, Lee. You gave of yourself, and what could be better.

  10. I hope so, Arleen....Tristan who is not a very demonstrative young man (he takes after his Mum in that department) did give me a very warm and long hug during the proceedings. Thanks for coming by. :)

  11. Wow, where were you back when I got married? LOL! That is a lovely gift, Lee - I can't imagine the work that would have gone into it.

    That's so brave, coming over when you don't speak any of the language. My social anxiety is bad enough when we all speak the same one.

  12. Hey there, RK. When everyone shares a happy, joyous moment (or more), language barriers seem to disappear. I do know and understand what you're saying. The world would be such a better place if everyone could just reach out to each other and toss all the prejudices, hate and bullshit aside...but that, unfortunately, will never happen.

    Thanks for dropping in. :)

  13. that city shot of China is exquisite, must have been a day without smog. we are so cold here it's hard to even think

  14. Hi Linda...Too many people living in that one small area for my liking. There are close to 20 million people living at Shenzhen...a few to many for me! I like the wide open spaces and no neighbours nearby to my doors and windows.

    Here, atop of the raging plateau upon which I live (three villages participate in the raging...Mount Tamborine, North Tamborine and Eagle Heights) there are about 5,500 people scattered around the place, mostly on small acreages. :)

    I do feel for all of you up that way who are experiencing that horrific winter. Seeing the coverage of it on our TV news is enough for me. I don't know how you cope...and it's sticking around for much longer in some areas from what I saw and heard last night. Stay safe...stay warm. Thanks for coming by. :)

  15. Glad the weeding went well! I love that picture of Kooka :)

  16. G'day, OE...yes the wedding did go well, and after all this rain we've been receiving these last couple of days the weeding will go well, too! ;)

    Kookaburras are wonderful birds. I have a family of them that hang around my cabin. They know when they're onto a good thing...along with other native, freedom-enjoying birds I feed them meat scraps every afternoon. I love having them all hanging around.

    Thanks for dropping in. :)

  17. And while on the subject of kookaburras and meat scraps......I just got the shock of my life doing what I do this time every afternoon. With my mind a mile away and a handful of meat scraps, I opened the front sliding door to toss the meat out for my resident "wild" birds when suddenly something latched on to my left hand; and there sat one of the kookaburras with a piece of the meat dangling in his beak; and he just wouldn't move! What glorious moment or five...when I came back down to earth, that is! lol

  18. Talking of service in a restaurant,we know one near here that has great food and not bad ambience but the staff are usually "yeah, why are you disturbing me?" So we have stopped going. But we had friends from out of town who really wanted to try the food so we went, warning them not to expect anything from the service. Actually we had a wonderful waiter who was great in every way. I felt like one of those people who is always complaining ! :)

  19. MsLee - Katfish driving by - Hope Yall are AOK after those nasty storms Dear!

  20. Hi Jenny...Yep...sometimes the attitude of the staff (and management/owners) can be the downfall of a place. Perhaps the restaurant folk finally woke up to the fact. I'm glad you had a good time...finally. Thanks for coming by. :)

  21. Katfish!!!! How wonderful to hear from you. I do think about you and wonder how you're getting on. Here where I live we just received a fair bit of rain and some wind gusts; fortunately no flooding; no damage, but some further north from here weren't so lucky....but it could've been worse. Kudos to the weather bureau, police and media...they all kept everyone constantly up-to-date with what was going on and what could occur. They did a great job.

    Again, so nice to see you, Katfish. Thanks for dropping in...don't be a stranger. I hope all is well with you and yours. :)

  22. I prefer the year f the sheep.
    I see a lot of mutton dressed as lamb around here....

  23. Well, you'd better hide away that blue jumper you were sporting over Christmas, Mr. Ad-Man...or you might see similar when you look in the mirror!!! Just teasing you! :)

    I have to stick with what I was given...I'm the Year of the Monkey!! Thanks for popping in. :)

  24. You are so right Lee, it is easy to take things for granted. Seeing your kookaburra friend there brought it home to me how lucky I am to live by the coast in the best country in the world.. even though I fantasise :) about Paris, Perth is home.

  25. Hey there PerthDailyPhoto...I'm glad you dropped by. A fellow blogger sent me your blog with your post about the kittens and I just had to respond...both to her and to you. :)

    We do live in a wonderful country...the "lucky" country as it is so often referred to, and we must and should never take that for granted.

    Thanks for coming by...please don't be a stranger. :)

  26. Living in a beautiful area such as you do, Lee, is balm to the spirit. Getting out in nature can lift us out of the doldrums, blow the cobwebs away and refresh us in unimaginable ways. As you say, though, when one lives amongst it, it is easy to falk into the trap of taking it for granted. Tamborine Mountain is a beautiful place but I haven't been to Thunderbird Park for about 15 years! I should get myself into gear and drive up to Tamborine. One of these days...

  27. Hi there Robyn...It was the first time I've been to Thunderbird Park in years, too. The last time I went there was shortly before I moved here to the mountain to live, from Gympie. I called in there one day after a visit to the mountain on my way back to Gympie when I was considering make enquiries about possibly finding work there. And that was 13 years ago!!

    I drove down to Beaudesert last visit the dentist. That country drive suits me...hardly any traffic on the hustle and bustle. I have to go back the dentist next Monday for them to fill in the gaps they created last week!!!

    You sound like of these days....if you ever do come up this way for a drive we should meet up for coffee...after I get my replacement fangs! :)

    Thanks for popping in. :)

  28. That's so lovely that you were the caterer and the food sounds wonderful, too. You make me wish I could have been there. :) What a lovely place you live!

  29. HI Lynn...this is a lovely corner of the world. We're close to cities, such as Brisbane and the Gold Coast; and yet far enough away....which suits me just fine.

    Thanks for coming by, Lynn. :)

  30. Sounds like a great time. You're right, it's always better to over-cater than run out of food!

  31. Hi Dexter....Over-catering is a habit I will never break, I think - and I don't want to! :)

    Thanks for dropping in, Dexter. :)