Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Eleanor Powell
Rogers & Astaire from "Shall We Dance". She eventually accepted his invitation

“There are many, many crazy things”….the opening lyrics to a song, the title of which I borrowed for this post.  I’ll return it as soon as I’ve finished with it.  I very seldom borrow, but on the rare occasions I do, I always promptly return what I’ve borrowed.

 "They Can't Take That Away From Me"

There are many, many crazy things
That will keep me loving you,
And with your permission
May I list a few?

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that  
No, no - they can't take that away from me.
The way your smile just beams
The way you sing off-key
The way you haunt my dreams
No, no - they can't take that away from me

We may never, never meet again
On that bumpy road to love
Still I'll always
Always keep the memory of...

The way you hold your knife
The way we danced until three
The way you've changed my life
No, no - they can't take that away from me
No, they can't take that away from me

The song was co-written by the legendary lyricists and composers, George and Ira Gershwin; two brothers who left a legacy of memorable songs and musical shows. Songs that will remain long after I’ve ceased treading the boards!

This particular song – “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” - was originally performed by Fred Astaire when he sang it to Ginger Rogers in the 1937 film, “Shall We Dance”.  Rogers didn’t accept his invitation in that instance, but from then on she did.  I think she might have been a little jealous of Eleanor Powell, one of Astaire’s dance partners.  Powell was a brilliant dancer in her own right, known for her expertise as a tap dancer.  Eleanor Powell was one of my mother’s favourite dancers.  Powell and the actor Glenn Ford were married for 16 years.

George Gershwin died from a brain tumour two months after the film “Shall We Dance” was released; he was only 38 years old.

However, after that one time of declining Astaire’s offer to dance while on a fog-engulfed deck of a ferry (the rocking of the boat probably put her off, more than Astaire’s offer) Rogers accepted Astaire’s future invitations; and what a grand pair they made. They co-starred, danced, loved and laughed together in 10 films.

Later, other greats such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett and Sarah Vaughan, to name only a few, put their stamp on the song; not by stamping on it by their feet, but by their voices. 

Frustratingly and unfortunately, there are many, many crazy things going on in our world today. With your permission may I mention not a few, but one?

An article and survey conducted a few weeks ago by the “Sunday Mail”, - a Queensland newspaper that, obviously, is issued on Sundays – was based on take-away foods. The article was about the cost of takeaway foods as against home-made versions of similar tucker. 

It doesn’t, or shouldn’t, take the mind of an Einstein to figure out home-cooked/prepared is cheaper; but it became apparent in many cases the mind of an Einstein is required for some; for too many, sadly.

The question asked was whether the surveyed participants believed buying takeaway food for the family is cheaper than doing the cooking one’s self.

The answers given by most floored me. They declared it probably depended on how many people were being catered for. Many of those surveyed believed if catering for a crowd it would be cheaper ordering in!  

My mouth fell open in disbelief!  How can people be so dumb?  I find it incredible there are people who think (and act) this way.
Perhaps I was brought up in a parallel universe; maybe I’m still living in one. I quite like it over here, by the way. I intend remaining where I am.

I’m no Einstein, but I can’t, in my wildest, craziest moments imagine catering for a crowd by ordering from a fast-food outlet instead of preparing the food myself. (Be assured - or be warned - I’ve had more than my fair share of crazy moments; and no doubt will have a few more - I hope I do).

I’d be still paying off the loans if that was the practice I’d adopted when I threw dinner parties and the like. 

As well as wandering aimlessly around this parallel universe with purpose in mind, I must be old-fashioned; making me an old-fashioned, old wanderer who prefers doing her own cooking when catering for a group of friends.  Once upon a time I entertained frequently at home.  I was always hosting dinner parties, luncheons etc., and more times than not for groups of six or more guests.

I no longer host dinner parties or parties of any description or size; I gave up doing so around five years ago; but I know, emphatically, I could cater for a group far more cheaply doing the job myself from fresh produce prepared in my little, not fancy kitchen, than grabbing a pile of take-aways from Maccas, KFC and the like. I won’t let them take away my dollars!

Without blowing my own trumpet (I don’t own one…so it’s makes trying to blow one very difficult), my homemade food would be a lot tastier and far healthier, too. 

Anyway, even if I had a trumpet to blow I’d be off key. I can’t whistle a tune – not Dixie, nor even a Gershwin melody! 

Back in the early Nineties when I was cooking at Lorikeets’ Restaurant in Glenden a young couple with a toddler purchased all their meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – seven days and nights a week from the local takeaway shop!

Towards the end of the husband’s pay period he'd run up a credit with the shop owner. Each fortnight on pay day he’d settle what he owed, only to begin his take-away cycle all over again. Not a healthy habit to get into whichever way you look at it.  

I’ve often wondered what happened to the young family and their children…I imagine they added to their brood. Bringing up kiddies on take-away food…junk not the way to go.   

I wished someone had taken the wife-mother aside to set her straight on a few important facts of life.  The sad thing is, the children most probably perpetuated the bad habits they learned throughout their childhood.

Once in a blue moon take-away is okay. Please don’t misunderstand me.  I love a good feed of fish and chips once in a while; not that I treated myself accordingly for a long time, now I come to think about it!   

I’ve only ever had one McDonalds; "burger", and probably only twice have I had their chips/French fries.  As for Kentucky Fried chicken – in my life I’ve only ever had it three times. The third time was in 1996 or 1997 and after taking one bite I tossed the rest away. It was inedible.  An oily mess of gross-tasting nothingness!

I admit I do enjoy a good hamburger, but only if made by a individually-owned local vendor/store owner. 

Even then, I can’t remember the last time I had one.  It would have to be seven or so years ago. Time to get my act together and treat myself to a feed of fish and chips, to be followed a week or three later by a well-made, healthy burger from the same shop.   

Husband and wife team, John and Margaret who own a local take-way store here on the mountain make wonderful fish and chips, and burgers.  It’s so long since I’ve entered their shop they probably think I’ve died!  Actually, I ran into John in the supermarket a couple of years ago and he said similar words to me!   I must…I must pay them a visit!!

I can’t imagine catering for a crowd, or raising children on take-away food. No wonder people complain all the time about being broke!  For God's sake, it's time they woke up to themselves!

Forget about being able to afford to feed the madding crowd - I couldn’t afford to feed myself if I only ate take-away (take-out for the folk in the Northern Hemisphere)!

Junk food should be taken away from kids before the kids are taken away!

Falafel Burgers:  Process 2c chopped parsley, 3 large garlic cloves, 2-1/2tbs lemon juice, 1-1/4tsp cumin, pinch or two of turmeric, a pinch of salt and pepper; add 420g can rinsed, drained chickpeas; pulse until still slightly chunky. Transfer to bowl; add ¼ to 1/2c ground walnuts/pecans/almonds or oat flour; mix to loose dough - firm enough to handle. Form into 4 or more patties, ½-inch thick. Place on lined baking tray; chill 15mins.  For extra crust, heat oil in pan; add falafel; flip once; return to tray; place in 190C oven; bake 30-40mins, turn once. Serve warm on pita or buns, topped with hummus, tomato, lettuce onion etc.  

Mustard-Crusted Beef with Horseradish Cream: Trim and tie a 2kg whole eye fillet. Season with salt and black pepper; then rub over prepared mustard, coarsely chopped garlic and chopped fresh rosemary. Cover and chill overnight. Bring to room temp. Wipe off garlic. Heat oil in pan; add beef; brown all over; place in centre of 230C oven; roast as desired.  In bowl whisk 2c crème fraîche, 1/2c horseradish and grated zest of half orange; season; serve beef as centerpiece when catering for a group.  Freshly-cracked black pepper, herbs and mustard make for a great crust, too.  Anything that your heart desires...within reason, naturally!!   

Cheesy-Chicken Pasta Bake:Preheat the oven 200C.  In salted water boil; add 1-1/2 to 2 cups pastine pasta, or Orzo or any other small pasta; cook until just tender; stir occasionally. Drain into large bowl. Meanwhile, put 3tbs olive oil in pan over med-heat; add 2-1/2c 1-inch cubed chicken breast or thigh meat; cook 3-4mins; add 1c diced onion, 2 minced garlic cloves; cook until onions are soft and chicken cooked through. Add chicken mixture to pasta; add 2 cans of diced tomatoes, un-drained, 2c shredded mozzarella, 1/2c grated parmesan, 1/2c chopped flat-leaf parsley, Italian herbs to taste, sprinkle over some powdered chicken stock; add some cracked pepper; adjust seasonings to taste. Place mixture in buttered/oiled baking dish/es.  In bowl combine 1/2c dry breadcrumbs, ½ parmesan; sprinkle over top of chick/pasta mixture; dots top with small pieces of butter; bake until top is golden; about 30mins.  Adjust the quantities, up or down, naturally, according to numbers you’re cooking for.

Buttermilk Chicken: Preheat the oven 200C. Place wire rack in baking tray; spray or oil. Mix together 2c buttermilk, juice of half lemon, 1tbs hot sauce (Worcestershire or chilli), ½ onion sliced, 5 sprigs thyme, 3 smashed garlic cloves, salt, and pepper, to taste, in a large bowl. Add  8 chicken pieces; well. Cover chill 3hrs or overnight.  Mix 2c crushed corn flakes, 3/4c parmesan and 2tsp chopped thyme together; season. Remove chicken from marinade; let the excess drip off, dredge in corn flake-Parmesan mixture, pressing to adhere. Place on the wire rack in baking tray; bake 45mins until golden and crisp. Again, increase quantities for increased numbers.

Baked Oats Brekkie: Spray 9x13 baking dish. Combine 2c rolled oats, 1/3c light brown sugar, 1tsp baking powder, 1/2tbs grated orange zest, 1-1/2tsp cinnamon, 1/2tsp salt, 1/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans, 1/2c sliced strawberries and 1/6th cup choc chips. In a bowl whisk together 2c milk, 1 large egg, 3tbs melted butter and 2tsp vanilla. Pour dry ingredients into baking dish; spread evenly. Top with 1/2c sliced strawberries, 1/4c chopped walnuts/pecans, 1/6th cup choc-chips and 1 ripe, sliced banana. Pour milk mix over top; ensure all is covered; bake 35-40mins. If you like, sprinkle a little brown sugar over top during last 5mins.

I wrote this article a few weeks ago in readiness to submit in the near future as one of my weekly articles I write for the little local rag here where I live. After reading and being inspired by River's last post, I thought I'd post my article here, too.  I've added a little to my original is the bloated version!

Monday, May 18, 2015


Cane Locos in sugar cane farms around Mackay
Racecourse Sugar Mill, Walkerston, via Mackay
The old, now demolished Commercial Hotel in Mackay, built in 1884; demolished 1978

Dame Nellie Melba's Old Home (restored) at Marian, Via Mackay

A Typical Irish Bar and Grill, Upper East Side, New York
Upper East Side, New York City

Cape Richards (at right)...the far north-eastern tip of Hinchinbrook Island

The Grumman Mallard...came into production in 1946...the one operated by Air Whitsunday was one of the originals.

During our brief overnight stop in Mackay we also paid a visit to my brother Graham. Graham had lived in Mackay since he'd left Gympie around 1964 for the northern spheres.   

Originally, he and a mate from their days when both were lifesavers with the Noosa Heads Surf Lifesaving Club headed north to work the cane fields. Working amongst the sugar cane fields was a dream Graham had held since he was a kid.  Mal, his mate didn’t stick it out for very long. Mal returned to Brisbane, but Graham remained in Mackay until 1997. 
Eventually, after a season or two cutting sugar cane on the many farms around Walkerston, Marian and Farleigh, areas surrounding Mackay, he became a cane loco driver, along with other duties.  

His heart played a major role in his desire to remain in Mackay, too…he fell in love with and married a Mackay girl.  A few years later they divorced, but before that time, they had three children – two boys and a girl. 

Jokingly, Graham always said he was going to marry a publican’s daughter…and he was as good as his word!  So, I guess he was only half-joking! 

The parents of the young lady who became his wife owned the old Commercial Hotel in Mackay.  The pub, which was originally built in1884, was demolished in 1978. Nowadays a Toyota Dealership and service centre is situated on the land where the old pub once stood.

While on this path - you know how much I like taking detours; how much I love trivia and how I enjoy sharing my bits and pieces of, in some instances, probably incidental, insignificant trivia with you…please bear with me for a moment while I take a side-track; another brief stop-over before taking you along with me on my journey north to Cardwell. 

Internationally acclaimed Australian soprano of the early 20th Century, Dame Nellie Melba who was born in Melbourne (she adopted the stage name of “Melba” in honour of that city) spent the first year of her married life living at Marian, in the Pioneer Valley, 24kms west of Mackay.  The Pioneer River runs through the city of Mackay.   

The house in which Melba lived was restored and now stands proudly on the road between Mackay and Eungella, a small township nestled on the edge of the Clarke Range.  Eungella National Park is a popular tourist destination (shy platypus inhabit the streams up there on the range).  Many of the passing tourists on their way to and from Eungella call into Melba’s old house…it’s free to the public.

Back on the road again....

Once we hit the highway upon leaving Mackay the only stop I recall we made between Mackay and Cardwell, a road trip of approximately 552 kms/343 miles was when we pulled off the highway at Bluewater, 30 kms north of Townsville.  I slipped the collar and leash over Ruska’s head before taking him on a stroll around a well-maintained parkland area at Blue Water, a few kilometres north of Townsville for him to pay a visit to his first tropical ablutions block.  He calmly went about his business. Ruska was marvellous cat; he took everything in his stride with no complaints.

In Chapter Nine, the previous chapter in this saga,  I had a lapse of memory.  

When Randall flew north to Hinchinbrook Island (weeks before Cyclone Winifred unleashed her fury) I went with him.  Quentin who'd signed the Contract of Sale and was waiting for due settlement of the contract, which would make him the new owner/lessee joined us.  Together we three flew to Townsville airport where we disembarked. We then boarded the Grumman Mallard, the de Havilland amphibian seaplane. The magnificent old sea-faring machine whisked us away north to the waters off from the island's resort.  

Rumour had it the Grumman Mallard was originally owned by the Aga Khan, but you know that everything about Rumour isn't necessarily true; but it makes for a interesting tale...and it could very well have been true...I don't know. However, I admit I was known to spread the rumour!  Why not?  The resort guests loved the story!
Randall remained on the island, returning south to Sunshine Beach/Noosa when Cyclone Winifred began bearing down on the region. 

On the other hand, for my first ever visit to the island I stayed only the one day and night; just a few short hours to have a look around at what was going to be my new home and life before heading back to the coast and my shop.  Quentin flew to Brisbane at the same time and on the same flight.  Randall held the helm in the north; and I held the reins at Sunshine Beach and Noosa Heads.  My trip north had been so brief Ruska barely had time to realise I’d been absent. My friend Irene once again stepped in to take care of my shop for me during by short time away.

As each kilometre of bitument road (Aussie spelling) passed beneath the Cortina’s tyres as we drove north, the closer we came to our destination…and Ruska remained comfortably snuggled either in my lap or at my feet; at times, blissfully softly snoring. He wasn't one for sight-seeing; only for brief periods did he look out the car windows.

We pulled into Cardwell early afternoon. Waiting for us at the foreshore to the right of the Cardwell Jetty was a fellow with a boat.  He introduced himself to Randall and me as “David”. David was employed by Hunt’s Marine in Tully, not only as a boat salesman but as a boat mechanic, too.  His boat knowledge was vast, I learned later.  Hunt's Marine was to become my "go-to" business for all things to do with boats.

Tully, by road, is approximately 44 kms north of Cardwell.  Cardwell is approximately halfway between Townsville and Cairns, give or take.  David had driven south from Tully to meet us, towing the motor boat behind him. He was our transport across to Cape Richards, by sea only 22kms away; but to me, that afternoon, it felt like 220kms.

Randall and I travelled lightly; we only had a couple of suitcases with us bearing clothes and other personal necessities. It didn’t take long to unpack the car and load our luggage onto the boat.  Ruska travelled lightly, too. He didn’t even have a backpack with him.  However, I had packed a cat box to enable Ruska to be safely and securely transferred from the mainland by power boat to the island.

Some of our possessions were still in transit being transported north by a removal company.  As I mentioned previously, everything else we felt wasn’t necessary or was too cumbersome to take to the island was stored in a shed at my sister-in-law’s (Randall’s sister) property on Tamborine Mountain.

Once placed in his cat box Ruska curled up quietly, not making a murmur. I was the one feeling quite apprehensive about the boat trip across waters I'd never sailed upon before.  Sure I'd landed on them via seaplane...but, for me the boat journey was a whole different matter.

I waited by the boat chatting with David until Randall returned from taking our car across and down the highway a little, to be deposited with Bonnie at the small travel agency and resort booking office on the other side of the highway from the Cardwell Jetty. 
Bonnie and her husband Bob generously offered to house the car in one of their garages at the rear of their office. Bonnie ran the day-to-day operations of the travel agency/booking office. The office handled bookings for the resort on behalf of future guests arriving to the area by road, not seaplane. Bonnie's husband Bob, the owner-skipper of the “Reef Venture”, the powered catamaran contracted by the resort to transport “The Reef Venture” transferred the island's guests who had arrived at Cardwell. He also carted provisions etc., to the island, and whatever else was needed for the successful day-to-day operation of the resort.

Without further ado, I found myself powering across unknown waters towards an unknown future.

Not only have I always believed I have a firm grip on reality, but that day I also had a firm grip on the side of the boat!

Having left behind a sense of security from my feet being firmly on the ground of the mainland to be skimming across an unfamiliar sea I instantly felt very insecure.  The knuckles on my left hand turned white from holding on so tightly. I was as stiff as a board.  One arm was securely glued to Ruska’s cat box and the other to the boat.  My heart pounded in my chest. I'm sure I’d forgotten to breathe.  Randall and David, engrossed in conversation at the boat’s helm with David at the wheel, were both totally oblivious to my nervous breakdown at the stern.

Suddenly I found myself engulfed by a new feeling of panic.  My heart, which had already been pounding, simultaneously seemed to pound and stop, if that is possible.   

I called out to Randall…“Randall!  Randall!  I think Ruska has died!  Quick!  Come here!”   I was distraught. Tears began to stream down my face.

Immediately upon hearing my outcry Randall rushed to my side. He, seeing my distress became very concerned.

He sat down beside me.  I’d let go of the side of the boat and was holding on tightly to the cat box with Ruska inside it.

I was dismayed when Randall let out a loud laugh.  It wasn’t like him to be so cold-hearted.

“Honey!” Randall exclaimed with a wide smile across his face.   “Ruska’s not dead!  He’s sleeping!”

The bloody cat!   He's sleeping and I'm having a heart attack, along with a nervous breakdown!

I said Ruska was a good traveller…but come on now…this was ridiculous!!

Apparently, as soon as we’d left the shore Ruska curled up comfortably in his safe haven and drifted off into a deep sleep with not a care in the world.  He wasn’t concerned in the least that he was in a power boat roaring across the deep, dark ocean waters for the first time in his life!  I was the only coward in the county – put to shame by a ginger cat!

Once we crossed Missionary Bay and had pulled into the ramp that led down to where the jetty had once reached out into the sea, a feeling of elation engulfed me. The drama (and humour) of the boat trip was soon forgotten. An odd feeling that I'd arrived "home" came over me.  Hinchinbrook Island welcomed me with open arms; and a wide smile opened up across my face. From that first moment I knew it was where I was supposed to be.

The original jetty that had stood for many years had been demolished by Cyclone Winifred’s wanton, indiscriminate fury.  It no longer existed.

The previous manager of the resort was still on the island.  The intention was he would remain with Randall and me for a couple of weeks to show us the ropes as we settled in.  He put me off-side from the moment I stepped off the boat onto the island. He didn’t come down to the waterfront to greet us upon our arrival. And when we finally did meet, he was very off-hand.

David, who'd skippered us across the sea helped unload our luggage and also helped carry it up to the main building housing the dining/restaurant/kitchen. I had Ruska in my care. David then said his goodbyes before returning to Cardwell where he hitched the boat to his vehicle, and then drove to Tully by road towing the boat behind.
We set ourselves up in one of the guest cabins where I made sure Ruska was settled in with no escape routes. I didn’t want him roaming out and about in his unfamiliar, strange new surroundings. On Ruska’s past behaviour I really had nothing to be concerned by leaving him alone in the cabin; but I didn’t want him wandering about at will outside unchaperoned.  Having conducted a brief reconnaissance of the cabin, and after having a snack and a drink, Ruska found a comfortable spot on the bed.  Purring his furry ginger head off, he promptly went to sleep!   

Ruska the Wonder Cat! 

Randall and I then left him, knowing he'd be fine. We walked along the track leading down to the main building into a new world; a new life. 

In previous year the resort closed for the month of February to enable maintenance work to be done and for staff members go on holidays; no guests bookings were accepted.   

February, 1986, in particular, regardless of the island policy wasn’t conducive to hosting guests because of the lashing received from Winnie late January-early February.  Before any guests could be welcomed a new jetty had to be erected; the old one was at the bottom of the ocean turning into a new reef.   Elsewhere further repairs needed urgent attention. Also vegetation that had been damaged by the cyclone required clearing away; much work awaited and required our urgent attention.

We’d decided the construction of a large brand new timber deck to surround the in-ground pool with solid, set-in timber tables to complement it was imperative.  The situation of the original surrounds of the pool were not, in anyway, inviting to those wanting to go swimming, let alone wanting to just lounge poolside. A new deck was amongst our top priorities.  We wanted it completed before we reopened the resort to the public.  We'd set the date for re-opening - 8th March, 1986; about a month away. Time was of the essence.

The manager we were replacing had also been one of the original five shareholders of the resort. All were a group of mates, based in Townsville, who’d formed a consortium. 

When Randall and I arrived on the scene his wife and two young children had already returned to the mainland, to the home they owned in Townsville, where they waited for him to join them once everything was in order on the island.

He, the previous manager, was more than a bit of a smart-arse, and as I said earlier, I’d not taken to him from the outset, but I kept my feelings to myself (and Randall during our private moments together).  There was no need to rock the boat. He was only going to stay a couple of weeks or so, and then he’d be out of our hair. He was similar to one of those people I referenced in my previous post…a know-all.  But, every time we asked him a question about the running of the resort, etc; normal questions necessary to learn everything pertinent to the running of the resort he skirted around the issues, never giving a straight answer.  Suddenly his knowledge deserted him.   It was easier to ignore his petty behaviour. We gave up asking him any questions. 

Randall and I weren’t stupid.  We’d operated our own businesses; together we’d managed a restaurant in Noosa, amongst holding other positions in our working lives up until that point.   We had faith in their abilities.

At the completion of his couple or so years working for the New Zealand Mission to the United Nations, followed by his brief stint with the British, and an even briefer stint working on the fringes with the Cambodian Embassy within the auspices of the UN - he left the latter because he was disgusted at their callous, light-hearted reactions to the images that came through of the atrocities perpetrated by Pol Pot – Randall made a 180° turn and became bar manager of  O’Brien’s Bar-Grill in New York’s Upper East Side. The bar was then situated on 83rd Street and York Avenue. Randall remained in that job for a few years before he returned to Australia.  During the summer months, he managed their sister bar and grill on Long Island. Currently there are other Irish pubs/grills in New York bearing the name “O’Brien’s”, but the “O’Brien’s Bar and Grill” Randall was employed by back in the early to mid-Seventies no longer exists.

There was much for us to do before the resort reopened, ready to accept guests, so we let the ex-manager go his maudlin way, while we went about ours, our way. 

In only a matter of days, less than a week after we set foot on the island, the ex-manager did, literally, go on his way.   

Without notice, fanfare or farewell, he up-rooted and left long before the pre-arranged and agreed-to date for his departure.  Randall and I shed no tears over his unheralded, premature absconding. He’d been taking up space; we were better off without him.  After he left we discovered many files/documents were missing.  We didn’t pursue him or the missing files. We had more important issues to address.
We didn’t mourn his departure.  Actually, if my memory serves me correctly, I think we celebrated it over a few drinks that evening!

With him out of our hair, we moved from the guest accommodation into the small managers’ house at the base of Cape Richards itself with views of the ocean and beach on both sides.  Again, Ruska didn’t kick up a stink.  I think he’d known the cabin was only a temporary measure.

Randall and I were free to get stuck into what needed to be done, our way, without any hindrance from someone who didn’t want to be there any longer and who had been acting like a petulant child.

Before leaving Noosa we’d spoken with a few tradies we knew well.  Amongst them one was a neighbour of ours. He introduced us to one of his mates.  Both with talents we needed in the plumbing, electrical and construction areas. Ron, another we asked had built our deck on the Elanda Street house.  We knew his work was impeccable. Ron had a very good name in the Noosa area; he was a perfectionist at what he did.  

We asked if they’d be interested in a working/paid “holiday” on the island. Three of those we put forth our offer to jumped at the chance for an island adventure. Without hesitation they agreed to pick up their tools and join us on the island the moment we said the word.  

We said the “word”, and almost before we could say “Bob, the Builder”, the three Noosa fellows landed at the resort ready and eager to get to work. We had faith in their abilities.

The staff that had been on the island before our arrival and before the resort closed down because of Cyclone Winifred and the necessary renovations etc., were no longer on the island.  Some had taken the opportunity to take holidays with the intention of returning at the end of their vacation; others took the opportunity to leave the island permanently.

Along with Randall, me and the three men from the Noosa area, Quentin, the new owner/lessee of the resort and its surrounds sent us two of his men to assist in the physical construction work etc., that needed to be done. As well as those two, he sent us his  head man on the construction side of his civil engineering company. 

John aka “Slip” brought along with him his wife, Judy and their three year old daughter, Kaycee.  So, then we were nine; 10 including young Kaycee.  Kaycee was a great little kid, who within a day, if not less, had us all wrapped around her little finger. 

Of course, the number really was 11, counting Ruska into the mix. However, Ruska was content to remain, out of sight, comfortably ensconced in the house overlooking the ocean. Why wouldn’t he?  Ruska was fed morning and night and had no washing up to do. It was all done for him. He had a comfortable bed to sleep on; he spent most of his daylight hours sleeping, undisturbed by pesky humans and, when awake, he had a deck to wander out on to soak up the sun and drink in the views.  His job was to guard the house....with one eye open...some of the time...

On the subject of food, I became the cook.  I prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner for the "crew". In between times, I took care of the office/clerical duties and everything else pertained therein and applicable thereto. Also, somehow I volunteered to be on laundry detail, as well!

And then the Pioneer Unit of the Australian Army arrived on our shores - by helicopter – they couldn’t land on the jetty because we still didn’t have a jetty.

Thunder clouds were forming on the horizon – they, too, were headed our way.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Audie Murphy - Second World War Hero - and Movie Star Cowboy

When we’re young we think we know everything. When we’re old and grey with our teeth in a jar beside our bed we no longer think we know everything - we know we know everything! You know I’m kidding! You do know that, don’t you?  

Maybe you and I don’t know everything, but I know you know you’ve met some who think they know they do.  I know I have.  Be honest! You know you have.  I bet even you and I have had our moments of glory when we’ve been guilty of a similar transgression.  I know I have; that much I do know; and I should know!

Mrs. Weller, one of our neighbours when I was growing up (I’m still in the process of growing up. It’s a slow, long process. I know many of you can empathise) was a simple, gentle soul. She was a person who never uttered a bad word about anyone, you know. 

Her husband’s name was Audie - “Audie” as in the baby-faced Audie Murphy, the Second World War hero and cowboy movie star . 

Audie Weller was neither, but he was a hero in kind; he was a butcher.  The couple had no children, you know.

Mrs. Weller completed all her sentences, or almost every one of her statements with – “you know”…you know.

Most of the time I didn’t know what she was talking about, but she kept telling me, as well as everyone else within earshot that we all did know.  Mrs. Weller never took into account perhaps the listener didn’t know. 
You know, I often noticed some captive listeners nod pretending they knew; perhaps some did know - I don’t know.

You know how frustrating it can be when you’re relating a story about which only you know the details because you personally played a part in the story you’re narrating, and the person to whom you’re telling your tale insists on interrupting frequently,  talking over you, and then practically taking over as if they already know the story!  It’s as if they participated in the actual event and they know more about it than you do!   

How can they know?  They weren’t there!  When I find myself in such a situation I end up shutting my mouth and let the other person continue on his/her all-knowing way. It easier to do so because it becomes obvious what I knew I knew I didn’t know at all. Much easier and more polite than clonking them over the head, you know!

We also have our “those-in-the-know” - the “faucet experts” aka “experts’ – the drips under pressure; those who love to tell us what they know.

You and I know they learned what they know from someone else who learned it from another in the know, and so on down the line until it reaches you and me.  Sometimes it’s all made up just to cover up what they really don’t know!

A current fad that’s being shoved down our throats (because the “experts” know what’s good for us; not, of course, because they’re making a mint from it) is the Paleo Diet aka the Caveman Diet; a diet based on what our ancient ancestors ate.  If Paleo is so great how come the life expectancy of humans nowadays is much longer than it was in said ancestors’ day?

Those-in- the-know who know everything about Paleo tell me I shouldn’t indulge in dairy products. Tough cheddar! I’m not relinquishing milk or cheese for any caveman! He can go wave his club elsewhere!

I’m told to give up wheat, rye, canary seed (I’ve never eaten canary seed; I know I’m pretty chirpy without it), barley, legumes, processed oils, potatoes etc., etc; an endless list that goes on and on.

I’ll have you know I’m not giving up olive oil, either!

One Paleo exponent said he realised how bad an early breakfast of boiled potatoes made him feel, so he gave up having them.  Who has boiled potatoes for breakfast? I don’t know anyone who does.  Do you know anyone who has boiled potatoes for breakfast? 

I know those-in-the-know believe they know, but I also know I don’t have to believe everything they insist on telling me they know.  I do know I don’t have to blindly follow them…you know what I mean.

Rump Steak with Salsa Verde: Using 400g of a variety of tomatoes cut large ones in half; leave smaller ones whole; place in shallow dish. Combine 1tbs x-virgin oil, 25sp red wine vinegar and 1/4c caster sugar; season; shake well; add to tomatoes; gently toss. Salsa Verde: Process until finely chopped 1c firmly packed flat-leaf parsley, 1/2c firmly packed basil leaves, 1/4c firmly packed mint leaves, 1tbs drained capers, 2 chopped gherkins and 1tbs Dijon mustard; transfer to bowl; add 1-1/2tsp white wine vinegar, 1/4c x-virgin olive oil and 1tbs cold water; stir. Oil grill or pan; heat on med-high; season 650g rump steak with cracked pepper; cook 4-5mins each side for medium or as preferred. Add salad leaves to tomato; toss. Serve sliced steak with salsa verde and salad.

Red Lentil-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad: Combine 3/4c al dente cooked red lentils, 1 cup each cooked brown and green lentils in bowl; add 5 spears of cooked broccolini, roughly chopped, 1 sliced endive head, 2tbs x-virgin olive oil, 1tbs red wine vinegar; season; set aside 30-60mins. Place 1/4c cooked red lentils on tray; roll 270g goat cheese, sliced into 6x2-inch slices in lentils to coat; place into baking pan. Halve a ruby grapefruit; separate segments from one half.  Whisk together juice from other half with juice of 1 lime and 1/8c x-virgin olive oil; add segments; season. Distribute lentils onto 6 plates. Just before serving, heat cheese slices 3-5mins in 175C oven until warm, not melting; place on lentils; drizzle with vinaigrette.

Mashed Potato Puffs: Heat oven to 200C; lightly grease cups of mini-muffin tin (either a 12 or 24 cups). Whisk together 2 cups mashed potatoes, 3 large beaten eggs, 3/4c grated Parmesan or Gruyere, ¼ chopped chives or finely-chopped shallots and 1/4c diced cooked bacon or ham (optional); season to taste. Spoon mounds of mixture in each muffin cup; sprinkle tops with some of the grated cheese. Bake 20mins or until set, browned on top and hot through. Cool in pan 5mins, then gently release from the pan; serve immediately with dollops of sour cream, if desired.

Potato-Brie Frittata: Grab 150g Brie; slice thinly; set aside until later. Preheat oven, 180C. Lightly grease (or spray) 20x30cm lamington pan; line base and two long sides with baking paper; allow sides to hang over. Boil 3 halved desiree potatoes (about 600g). Peel them if you prefer…I never peel potatoes. Cook 10-15mins or until just tender; drain and set aside a few minutes to cool a bit. Heat 1tsp olive oil in non-stick pan over medium heat; add 1 halved, thinly sliced red onion; cook, stirring occasionally, 5mins or until onion softens. Using a fork, whisk together 8 eggs, 1/2c sour cream and 2tbs finely chopped fresh chives; season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the potato; arrange half of the spuds in a single layer over the base of the lined pan; top with half the onion; then arrange half of the thinly sliced Brie over the onion; repeat the layers with remaining potato, onion and Brie. Pour over the eggs; bake in oven, 30min or until golden and just set; set aside approx 30mins to cool. Using serrated knife, cut frittata into squares to serve.

Kidney Bean Casserole: In pan sauté until tender, 3/4c chopped onion, 1/3c chopped green capsicum (pepper), 1/3c chopped celery and 2 minced large garlic cloves. Add 910g drained canned red kidney beans (or a combination of kidney beans, chickpeas, cannelloni…whatever takes your fancy along those lines), 1c peeled chopped fresh tomatoes, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1tbs tomato paste, ¼ chicken or vegetable stock, 1/2tsp chilli powder/flakes, pepper and a dash of hot sauce. Cover; cook 15mins. Spoon 2c cooked long grain brown rice into bottom of lightly greased casserole dish; spread bean mixture over rice.  Sprinkle grated cheese over the bean mix. Place in preheated 190C oven for approximately 15mins…until bubbling and cheese is golden.

One of the Best Smoothies I Know: Blend 1 kiwi fruit, 1 banana, 1/2c blueberries, 1c strawberries, 1c raspberries, 1/2c orange juice and 1c yoghurt or milk. You know what to do next! 

Even if you don't know...I do know that Chapter 10 of my seemingly unending story..."Music to My Ears...To All the Cats I've Loved Before..." etc., etc., will follow this post... 

Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Legendary Radio Show - "Yes, What!"
Bob Dyer and Jack Davey

Fifties' Television

My mother, Elma, 2nd from left, with Joe, Graham's and my father next to her - taken in Rockhampton in early 40s.
My Nana and Grandfather (Grand-Pop) on their wedding day

Mum aka Elma at 18 years of age

Chocolate-Ginger Self-Saucing Pudding
Carrot-Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’m ancient! I’ve been around since radio was king. Since mantle radios sat on mantles.  If there was no mantle the wireless sat on a table or a shelf. We didn’t have a mantle so our wireless sat securely on a sturdy shelf.

Here’s a clue to what an antediluvian I am - I was running up and down the hills of Gympie way before black and white television screens flickered in our lounge rooms. 

Television licences here in Australia were first issued in 1955, but in Sydney and Melbourne only. It wasn't until the following year test transmissions began, stirred into action because of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.  

A piece of interesting trivia is the wife and mother to end all wives and mothers, the now Dame Edna Everage, when she was still the simple housewife from Moonee Ponds, Mrs. Edna Everage aka Barry Humphries, was one of the first programmes screen on HSV-7 (Channel 7) Melbourne.  It takes Dame Edna to poke her nose in!

Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia lagged behind with television being introduced to those states in 1959.  Lagging even further behind were Tasmania, 1960; the Australian Capital Territory, 1962 (the Pollies must have been biting at the bit by that time!); and, last of all, the Northern Territory in 1971...a fact I find so difficult to believe...but there it is!

Finally, in 1959 television arrived here in Queensland. Shiny new sets enhanced shop window displays, enticing the excited public. Nightly, in droves curious locals gathered in front of the shop windows wondering when they’d be able to afford to buy a set of their own.

When they’d gathered together enough pounds, shillings and pence to purchase a television set broadcasts were still limited to only a few hours at night, which made viewing a special event. Stations shut down at 11 pm, signing off with “God Save the Queen”; not the unforgettable Freddie and his legendary band’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, but the anthem.

Radio was king in our home when I was a child.   My mother and grandmother had their favourite shows.

My brother Graham and I never missed an episode of “Jason and the Argonauts”, “The Quizz Kids”, hosted by John Dease, “Life with Dexter” (not Dexter Morgan, the anti-hero, vigilante-serial killer of the TV series) or “Yes, What” with its unforgettable characters; larrikin Rupert Bottomly, the ludicrous Cuthbert Horace Greenbottle Jnr, Ronald George Standforth, Francis Marmaduke Algenon de Pledge, and their recurring guests, Daphne and Mr. Basil Cornelius Snootles. What wonderful names created by an imaginative, quirky, lively mind. Of course, "The Adventures of Biggles" rated highly with my brother.  As a family, we all giggled over "Dad & Dave from Snake Gully", mimicking the droll characters.

Addictive radio dramas such as –“The Caltex Theatre”, “The Burtons of Banner Street”, “Hagen’s Circus”, “Blue Hills” and others commanded our undivided attention. True-life crime stories depicted in “The Colda Police Report” sent chills up and down our spines, but we wouldn’t miss it for quids!

As soon as we heard Jack Davey’s cheery greeting of “Hi! Ho! Everybody” at the beginning of his weekly radio quiz shows silence reigned.  Transfixed, we sat trying to come up with the correct answers to his questions.   

We preferred Jack Davey to his friend and rival, American-born Bob Dyer who first came to Australia in 1936.  However, we did listen to Bob, as well.  Bob and Dolly Dyer’s “Pick-a-Box” was a very popular quiz show, too; one that successfully flowed onto our TV screens in 1957.  Dolly, Bob Dyer’s wife was born in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. They married within two weeks of meeting in 1940 at Sydney’s Tivoli Theatre where Dolly was a showgirl.  Theirs was a long and happy union.  

Bob died in 1984 at the age of 75, followed 20 years later by his beloved Dolly. Dolly, aged 83 died after suffering a stroke on Christmas Day, 2004 in Gympie, my old hometown.

Both Jack Davey and Bob Dyer were the top quiz show hosts of their time.  They reigned supreme for many, many years.

The radio actors and actresses became household names; their voices were as familiar to us in those times as the faces of their television counterparts are today.

Many Aussie radio actors went on to great success on stage, television and in film here or in the UK and the US; they included Rod Taylor, Ray Barrett, Peter Finch, Charles Tingwell, Michael Pate, Madge Ryan, Ron Randell, Bill Kerr, Betty McDowell, June Slater and John Meillon, among others. Michael Pate regularly played a "Red Indian" aka Native American in Hollywood westerns.  

Peter Finch caused many a flutter in the hearts of fair maidens in "Elephant Walk" when he starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor.  And he caused tears to be shed in "A Town Like Alice" and the wonderful D'arcy Niland story made into the film - "The Shiralee".

Rod Taylor also starred alongside the stunningly beautiful Elizabeth Taylor in "Raintree County".

By the way, while waiting for my flight out of Mackay airport back to Brisbane after the passing of my mother in 1974, I met John Meillon. He was waiting for the same delayed flight that I was.  A couple of months before that day I’d seen him in “The Fourth Wish” a splendid, heart-wrenching, yet uplifting three-part television drama.  Michael Craig, the British actor and scriptwriter wrote the drama series.

My conversation shared with John Meillon wherein I thanked him for his wonderful performance in “The Fourth Wish” came many years later, long after the days I'd been a keen listener to radio dramas and comedies in which Meillon's star had shone brightly.

Through the television screen we were introduced to a wealth of strangers with whom we soon became familiar. No longer were we being entertained just by voices; now we could put a face to the voice. A whole new world had entered our homes, bringing with it people we’d never expected to have ever welcomed into our lounge rooms!

We loved Lucy.  My brother and I enjoyed raising a “bite” from our Mum, by calling her “Lucy”.  Our mischievous teasing always succeeded. Mum was a natural red-head and her blue eyes would flash with annoyance when we’d start giggling and carrying on like two fruit bats!  She’d huff and puff while telling us to behave ourselves, which made us giggle and tease more.   Knowing our mother’s sense of humour; her sense of the ridiculous, she would’ve been laughing inside. Years later she and I laughed about those times.

Western movies were no longer confined to Saturday afternoon matinees now James Garner aka Maverick; the towering, softly-spoken Cheyenne aka Clint Walker as well as Ward Bond and his Wagon Train played out their adventures in our homes.  Dragnet and Perry Mason showed us how it was done, and Father always knew best. 

Our own Aussie-produced shows quickly began to filter through.  We weren’t going to be left behind.   

“Bandstand” hosted by Brian Henderson was a show never missed in our household, nor was Johnny O’Keefe’s “Six O’Clock Rock”.  During our childhood Graham and I had been surrounded by music.  Mum had been a keen and wonderful pianist, so piano music regularly filled our home.  Nana played piano as well, and so did I.  Our radio was always on, too, so when the television programmes came on showcasing Australian talent singing and performing  the "songs of the day" our eyes were glued to the screen.

Where once we’d gather around the radio as a family to listen to our favourite shows, we now sat in front of “the box” and enraptured by with a whole new set of faces and entertainment.

Bakelite or polished wood radios took a back seat.  Computers and today’s technology were only future dreams and sci-fi movie themes.

There was little money to spare, if any, when I was growing up.  My brother and I, as I’ve written previously, were raised by our mother and her mother, our Nana.

Immediately upon leaving school at the tender age of 14 years, my brother commenced working for Queensland Railways, Soon after Graham started working the first item he bought after saving diligently and rapidly was a new, little gas fridge for the family to use.  Up until then, in the late Fifties, an ice chest held the food that needed to be kept cold. Throughout our childhood our little wooden ice chest did the job required of it extremely well; but like everything in life, its day had come. 

The next thing he purchased was a new, lairy (compared to our old one) dining table with chairs to match.  

Shortly after television sets hit the Gympie electrical stores, Graham bought a set.  We felt like we were the kings and queens of Fern Street, Gympie; the street in which we lived.

As far back as I can remember Mum worked outside of the home. She was the breadwinner; our Nana was the “bread-maker” – the homemaker. 

Our mother was a barmaid, a job at which she was very capable, but it was a job that wasn’t held in high esteem in some quarters back then in the Fifties. However, our mother looked the world squarely in the eye, without a blink; her head held high.  She was always well-dressed and immaculately groomed. She was good at her job and she was rightfully aware of her abilities.  Mum was one of the best, if not the best barmaid in town, and because of her adeptness at what she did she was much sought after by Gympie publicans.   

Our mother was continuously employed.  I don't recall there was ever a time she'd not held a job.  As children, Graham and I never returned from school to an empty house. Nana was always at home to greet us; always ready to learn of our day’s events; ever ready to sympathise, empathise, comfort and advise.

During my working years it was television that took the back seat.  I watched very little TV.  For years, particularly when working within the hospitality industry, my hours were long; extending through the daylight hours, well into the nights; a lot of the time seven days a week.   

Freely I admit, without embarrassment or apology, nowadays I love my TV. 

I have my preferred shows.  Those I can’t watch “on-the-spot” I record to view at a later time.

At the moment, one show I’m fond of is the series “Blue Bloods”.  It’s a cop show based in New York City, if you’re not already aware. Season Five is being shown at present. 

Along with the story-lines, I enjoy the family dinner scenes in “Blue Bloods”.  Each episode has one or two segments of the Reagan family gathered around the patriarch’s dinner table.

Our family wasn’t as large as the Reagans, but we ate our meals at the table, as a family unit.  Sunday lunches, in particular, were always grand affairs.  Sunday lunch was our “Feature of the Week”. The main features at the Saturday matinees had nothing on our Sunday feasts in our humble home.

Nana was chief cook and dish-washer; my brother and I were chief “dryer-upperers”, table-setters and clearers of the table. Mum was chief “clear-outerer”!  Without fail, Mum succeeded in disappearing when the dinner chores needed doing.  It was Mum’s special knack. She’d honed it to a fine art.  We’d tease her, good-humouredly, about her ability to successfully dodge the washing and drying-up.

As children we missed out on very little. There was always ample food on the table and in the cupboards…and in our sturdy, little ice chest.  At all times we had clean clothes on our backs and shoes on our feet – that is, other than when we weren’t running about bare-footed in play!  Graham and I always had a new outfit each to wear to Gympie’s annual show/fair.  Mum and Nana did good by us and for us.

Family memories are important. Mothers and grandmothers are important. They are very special people.

Of my family I’m the last of the Mohicans. 

Graham passed away in 1998.  

He and I were raised by a single parent in an era when single parent households were a rarity; particularly one in which divorce was involved.  Our mother wasn’t a widow – she was a divorcee. However, I don’t think of my childhood as being “raised by a single parent”. My brother and I were raised by both our mother and our grandmother…two good women who dual-parented without the assistance of a male, monetary or otherwise. 

The photo I posted above shows my mother, Elma (second from the left) holding hands with Joe, Graham's and my biological father. The photo was taken before I was born.  It was the wedding of one of Joe's sisters, Tessie...she married a US was during the Second World War.  The weird thing about this is - I received this photo on 8th April, 2015 from a first cousin on my father's side...the son of another of his sisters. 

You may well wonder what is so strange about this seemingly innocuous thing...this is the first and only photograph I've ever seen of my mother and father together...ever...until this very year...2015!  

I never knew my father, Joe Nicholson.  He and my mother separated when she was pregnant with me.

The first time I ever laid eyes on a photo of my father was seven years ago, in June 2008...but until April just gone, I'd never seen a photo of my mother and father together.  I'm sure if you'd not understand how I felt when my eyes fell on that photo...and I realised what I was looking at....

Nana’s husband, our grandfather, passed away at the young age of 48 years.  I never knew him; he died before I was born.

My Mum and Nana were the two most significant women in my life.  I salute and thank them both – my memories are special – of two extraordinary ladies...who always fought through the difficult times believing there was a light at the end of each tunnel; their never gave into defeat during the hard times; they both taught Graham and me the true values of life. Two women who protected us as best they could - they did well.

If you’re fortunate to have either one or the other, or both in your life - cherish her; cherish them. Don’t hide your love and gratitude away; they shouldn't be kept as secrets. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mums out there....

Stuffed Sirloin Roast: Cut a long pocket in 2kg boneless sirloin roast to each end and almost through to the side. Grease a rack; place in roast pan. Make stuffing; melt 2tbs butter in pan over med-heat; add 1 finely chopped onion; cook 5-6mins; add 3tbs chilli dip; stir until melted; remove from heat. Add 1c fresh breadcrumbs, 1/3rd cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts, 3tbs chopped parsley, 2tsp finely grated lemon zest, salt and pepper. Layer 1c firmly packed spinach leaves inside opening in beef. Sprinkle with chopped blue cheese or feta; spoon in stuffing. Secure opening with skewers or tie with string. Place meat on rack in pan; add 1c water to pan; roast in 180°C oven, uncovered, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2hrs, brushing with glaze for last 15-20mins.  Glaze; combine 3tbs chilli dip/spread, 2tbs lemon juice and 2tbs Dijon mustard. Add more water to pan if pan gets dry. Cook roast as desired. Cover with foil; let stand 15mins before slicing.

Lemon Pork with Roasted Pears: Preheat oven, 200C. Cut 3 or 4 deep pockets about 1cm apart across a 1.5kg piece of scored pork loin. Spread 100g macadamia nuts over oven tray; roast 5mins or until golden; remove and set aside. Process nuts, 1 roughly chopped bunch of parsley, leaves from 4 sprigs fresh oregano, thick strips of rind from 2 lemons, flesh of 1 lemon, pith and pits removed (I’m not lisping) and 2tbs olive oil; process for 5 to 6 seconds.  Spread about ¾ of stuffing down into the pockets, pushing it down firmly. Rub pork skin with half of a cut lemon; then using your finger tips, spread oil and rub in salt flakes over the pork skin. Increase oven temp to 220C. Place pork onto a rack inside a roasting pan; place a little water in the pan. Roast 20mins. Reduce temperature to 190C; cook 40mins per kg of pork. Increase oven temp to 220C; place 4 ripe, but firm pears into baking pan, basting with the juices; sprinkle with 2tbs brown sugar and 1tbs balsamic vinegar. Push remaining suffing into the pockets; cook pork for a further 10mins.  Remove pork from oven; set aside 20mins while pears continue roasting; serve the pork with the balsamic pears.

Raspberry-Whisky Bread & Butter Pudding: Bring 400ml full cream milk, 400m double cream and pinch of salt to boil; remove from heat; add 1tsp vanilla. Beat 5 large eggs, plus 1 yolk and 150g caster sugar in bowl. Pour this onto eggs; stir constantly. Butter 250g soft white rolls, buns or brioche, sliced 1.5cm thick; spread with raspberry jam; layer, buttered/jam-side up in 2lt ovenproof dish; sprinkle over 300g raspberries and 100ml whisky as you go; pour on the custard through a sieve; let sit 30mins; ensure no berries are uncovered. Put dish in roasting pan; add boiling water to halfway up sides; bake in 180C oven, 40-45mins, or until puffy, golden and set on top. Cool slightly; dust with icing sugar. 

Chocolate-Ginger Self-Saucing Pudding: Preheat oven, 180C. Lightly grease 2-litre oven-proof dish. Put 1-1/2c self-raising flower, 2tbs dark cocoa and 1/2c caster sugar into mixing bowl.  Using flat beater, turn mixer to Speed 2; thoroughly combine ingredients.  Add 125g room temperature butter, 2 eggs, 1tsp vanilla extract, 125ml warmed milk and 2tbs finely chopped glace ginger and a sprinkling or two of ginger powder. Turn mixer to Speed 2; beat until combined; increase speed to 4; beat 1min. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Mix ½ cup firmly-packed brown sugar and 2tbs dark cocoa powder together until smooth. Sprinkle over the batter; carefully pour over 1-1/2c boiling water. Bake on centre shelf in oven, 40mins; serve warm dusted with icing sugar.

And as promised – my Mother’s Day gift to all you Mum’s out there -  Carrot-Pineapple Cake: Grate enough young, fresh carrots to give one full cup; strain juice from half a 15oz (400g) can of crushed pineapple.  In bowl, mix 1c plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, ¾ tspn baking soda, 1/2tsp each salt and cinnamon and 3/4c raw sugar.  Add 2 eggs and 5tbs vegetable oil. Mix very well. Stir in the grated carrot, crushed pineapple and ¼ cup of chopped walnuts.  Bake in moderate oven, 175C (350F) for 35-40 minutes; cool before covering with topping.  Cream Cheese Topping: Place 3tbs butter, 3tbs cream cheese, 1/2tsp vanilla (I always substitute the vanilla with fresh lemon juice…add whichever you prefer), 250g (1/2lb) icing sugar; beat very well.  If too thick, ad a small amount of milk or a little more lemon juice. 

This carrot-pineapple cake recipe comes from my “Greta Anna Recipes” book; a book I’ve had since the early Seventies.  Over the years I prepared this cake many, many times; and as I wrote in my previous post, I used to make 12 times the quantities suggested when preparing it for sale in my Noosa shop and elsewhere throughout the years.  It’s a very easy cake to make; and a very tasty one in which to partake!  Enjoy!