Tuesday, February 23, 2016


History-making female Melbourne Cup Jockey, Michelle Payne aboard winning horse, Prince of Penzance

Graphite sketches of horse and Aboriginal stockman drawn by me
The Central Hotel, Normanton.  It also housed the local TAB
The Purple Pub, Normanton
The Albion Hotel, Normanton
Rugby League great Gene Miles playing for Brisbane Broncos

Michelle Payne, her brother Stevie, along with their dad, Paddy and trainer Darren Weir sure put the "Bushie" on the map with their history-making achievements on Melbourne Cup Day 2015! 

For those not in the know, Michelle Payne was the first female jockey in the history of Australia’s most famous horse race, the Melbourne Cup, to ride and guide the winning horse across the finishing line.  It was an exciting moment, not only for Michelle, her family and trainer, but also for many of us keen spectators, some of whom only follow that one race – the Melbourne Cup.  History most certainly was made on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2015.

Of course, let’s not forget the prince of all princes, Prince of Penzance.  After the horse’s stunning performance on Cup Day he’s more a king than a prince. If there was a throne for horses he’d be perched on it, chewing on a carrot or leisurely munching on a hay stalk; and, perhaps, as a special treat, a sugar cube or two. The Prince certainly deserved and earned royal treatment.

If Gilbert and Sullivan were still alive writing and composing they’d be re-working and renaming their comic opera, “The Pirates of Penzance”. 

There’s a story begging to be told on film about the humble players, the humans and horse alike in the makings of what occurred in the lead-up to and on Melbourne Cup Day.  It’s a heartwarming, wonderful tale. 

I bet Prince of Penzance was happy to be led to water after his gallant gallop. No one would’ve had to make him drink. He’d worked up a thirst and would have happily, without urging, quenched it.

More often than not our Aussie bushies have it hard. They’re a tough lot, but we must never take them for granted.  Everyone has a breaking point. Our bushies are the backbone of our country. Without their hard work - without their dedication to the land -there’d be huge gaps on our supermarket shelves of Australian-grown produce and meats.  Produce doesn’t just magically appear on the supermarket shelves, and yet, I’m sure there are many people who believe it does!

In days of yore I had myriad interesting experiences; challenges I grabbed hold of and ran with. 

One adventure was when, for a few weeks, I stepped in as relief manager at the Central Hotel, Normanton, in Queensland’s Gulf Country - gulf savannah country just south of the Gulf of Carpentaria...in north-western Queensland. There were/are three hotels in Normanton.....the Central, The Purple Pub, and the Albion.  The Albion was just across the road from the Central; and the Purple Pub was just up the road.

The owner of the real estate company for whom I worked at the agency’s Smithfield office in the Northern Beaches’ area of Cairns also owned the Normanton’s Central Hotel.  At the time he owned another country pub in Herberton on the Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland.  Because of my previous experiences within the hospitality industry, in one manner or the other, Ross, my boss, asked me to act as relief manager at the wonderful old country pub in Normanton while the managers went on holiday.

In 1989 only one race meeting a year was held on the dusty Normanton track. Not giving two hoots about dust, crowds from near and afar flocked to the annual event. 
Because the pub sponsored the day’s main race, as its temporary manager, I was an invited guest. It was my job to put the sash around the winning horse’s neck and stroke his nose.  Bronco, State of Origin and international Rugby League player, the great Gene Miles was also a guest. He was far more recognisable and famous than me. On the race day, Gene was representing Power’s Brewery.  Power’s Brewery now CUB Brewery, sponsored the Brisbane Broncos and the Cronulla Sharks, both NRL teams.  

It was a pleasure to meet Gene, a giant of a man in stature (193 cm /6 ft 4 inches), and the winning horse.

It was a fun afternoon. I didn’t stroke Gene Miles on the nose, but I did pat the winning horse on its nose.

Normanton, in the middle of beef cattle country, has a population around 1,300. The town is classed not only as the capital of the Carpentaria Shire, but also as the Barramundi Capital of the North.

These days its main street boasts a statue of an 8.64m salty croc; a gentle reminder of the largest crocodile ever taken from the Norman River.  I bet the barra population (and blue-nose salmon) relaxed and multiplied when old Krys the croc met his match.  It’s advisable not to dip your toes into water - Krys’ offspring, as well as his close and distant relatives still call the river home.

During my brief stint in Normanton I met many unique, interesting characters – all were bushies - wonderful, honest (but never shy about telling a tall tale), straight-forward, true blue Aussies - black and white.  People I’d be proud to stand beside any day of the week. Folk I’d be privileged to have as friends. They called a spade a spade, but, on the flipside, were mischievous enough to try to convince you it wasn’t!

I loved my time spent in Normanton; and I've never regretted my decision to go there...I had a choice...I made the correct choice. I've a lot of good memories from my Normanton sojourn.

Stuffed Barra: Preheat oven 220C; line baking tray. Wipe dry 4 whole, scaled, cleaned baby barramundi (about 350g each); trim side fins; cut off dorsal and belly fins; trim tails to a V-shape. Cut 2 slashes, 1cm deep in thickest part of flesh on both sides. Stuffing – combine 3/4c chopped pecans, 1c fresh breadcrumbs, 3 chopped button mushrooms, 2tbs each grated parmesan, chopped chives and Italian parley, 1 whisked egg, 1tbs x-virgin olive oil and 1tbs lemon juice. Spoon stuffing into fish; press in firmly. Put on baking tray; brush with olive oil. Bake 10-12mins, until just cooked.

Barra and Vine-ripened Tomato-Spinach Salad: Finely shred 150g baby spinach. Heat pan on med-heat; fry 50g chopped speck/bacon until crisp; remove from pan; add 1tbs x-virgin olive oil; fry 15 basil leaves until crisp; remove from pan. Combine spinach, speck, 100g vine-ripened tomatoes and 50g toasted pine nuts in bowl; whisk 80ml x-virgin olive oil with 20ml balsamic; season; pour over salad. Heat pan, med-high; brush 4x200g barra fillets with a oil; fry skin side down to crisp, 2mins; turn; cook, 2mins until golden and cooked through; arrange salad on plates; top with fish.

Turmeric Coconut Barra: Make paste: place 2 trimmed, thinly sliced lemongrass stalks and 3 trimmed coriander roots in mortar; crush to a paste; add 2tsp ground turmeric, 2tsp ground ginger, 1/2tsp cumin, 3tsp grated palm sugar and 2tbs fish sauce; grind to combine. Heat 2tbs oil in saucepan; fry paste 2mins; add 1 finely chopped brown onion; cook 3mins; add 1c coconut milk and 1c fish stock; simmer. Gently lay 4x180g barra fillets into sauce; cover; reduce heat to medium; poach 8mins; halfway through add 1 bunch choy sum cut into 10cm lengths

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Clockwise from top left: Ivy Flora Hose (Hay)- my grandmother at 16 years. My mother -Elma Flora Hay (taken on her 3rd birthday) and Ivy Hay and Jack (John) Hay on their wedding day (my grandparents).

My mother, Elma - in the off-shoulder dress at age 18 years; top right photo when in her early 20s.
Gympie's Scottish Gold Mine - courtesy of  Gympie Heritage Trails

Following a discourse over the past few hours between Yorkie and me on his blog – “Yorkshire Pudding” - I was reminded of a post I wrote for my blog a few years ago about Gympie, the town in which I spent my childhood and teenage years. The post included a little history about my family, on the maternal side who had been raised in Gympie.  I’m now prompted to write a little further - to move around some of those limbs on my family tree...they need a bit of shaking up - they've been dormant too long!   

One day when looking for something else I stumbled across a very old newsletter called “The Beadle.”  Yellowed with age and crinkled around the edges (not unlike me) the “news bulletin” is dated February, 1918. It was published by the Gympie Presbyterian Church; also known in Gympie as the “Scots Church”. From what I can gather it was a monthly newsletter issued by the church. 

The article would’ve originally belonged to my grandmother – my Nana – Ivy Hay, nee Hose.  Both surnames are Scottish.  Ivy had treasured it throughout her life.

What makes the newsletter interesting and personal to me is a notice therein of the untimely death of my great-grandfather, Robert Hose.

Quote: “We regret to record the death of Mr. Robert Hose, who was killed in the Scottish Gympie Mine by the fall of a rock. He was buried on the 24th, the Rev. W.J. Taylor officiating. R.Hose was just over 50 years of age, and within a few days would have left mining to take up land at Goomboorian.”

Robert Hose left behind a widow and six children; the eldest was 20 years old when Robert died; and the youngest, nine years of age.

Robert Hose was my grandmother’s father – on my mother’s side of the Stuart-MacDonald-Hose-Hay Family Tree.

A couple of brave off-shoots from the sturdy limbs of the “Tree” branched out from Scotland and Ireland to seek a better life in Australia in the mid to late 1800s.

My great-grandmother, a wee Scottish lass named Flora Stuart MacDonald” (of both Scottish and Irish heritage) married Robert Hose, a tall, dark-haired, handsome Highlander. Robert sported a ginger moustache. One of Robert Hose’s daughters was my grandmother, Ivy Flora Hose.

Down the track a bit, Ivy married John Hay. John, more commonly known as “Jack” was also of Scottish heritage.

My grandmother was in her teens at the time of her father’s fatal accident.

When my late brother, Graham and I were children Nana often told us the story of the day her father tragically died from the unfortunate accident.  Nana’s father normally didn’t work underground, but on that fateful day Robert Hose was called into work to cover for a miner who had called in sick.

That last morning before he left for work at Gympie’s Scottish Mine (at the time the Scottish Mine was the largest gold mine in Australia, if not the Southern Hemisphere), while he was shaving, her father playfully chased our grandmother around the house, waving his soaped-up shaving brush at her.  Filled with happiness she ran around the room trying to escape his playfulness. She cried out through her laughter; “No, Dadda, no!”   

He left for the mine and that was the last time Nana saw her father alive.  At least the final moments they shared were happy ones.

Nana’s older brothers used to spin a few tales when the siblings were young (as all older brothers seem to have the habit of doing). Her brothers tried to convince Ivy that the MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory were discovered by a wandering relative.

Of course, the name “MacDonnell” was not the spelling of their mother’s maiden name…”MacDonald”.  Our grandmother, always an avid reader, was wise to their attempts at trickery!

Upon starting school, my mother, Elma Flora Hay was asked by one of her teachers where she’d gotten her rich, auburn hair from.  Confidently and a little haughtily, the five or six year old Elma Hay replied: “From my grandfather’s moustache!”

Where else, indeed!

My mother had beautiful auburn hair and sparkling blue eyes…a true Irish colleen! Her mother, my grandmother had deep chestnut-coloured hair and blue eyes.

On 17th February, 1919 - Elma Flora Hay was born.  Elma passed away in 1974...at the far too young age of 55. In the photos shown above, in the off-the shoulder dress, she was 18 years of age.

I'm the only survivor of my small family unit. My mother, my Nana and my brother, Graham have all passed away, leaving me to wave the flag. I am the only one left to care; I cherish the memories; memories that will disappear into the universe when I depart this world. There will be no one else left to care.

When my brother and I were children we’d harass our Nana night after night around bedtime (and at other times) to tell us stories of the “olden days”; she willingly obliged.

Nana told wonderful stories of days gone by.

Gympie has a rich history about the gold mining days.  Queensland’s treasury was in dire straits with only about nine pence left in its coffers when prospector, James Nash discovered gold near the Mary River in 1867.  Nash’s discovery ‘began one of the wildest rushes in Queensland history’ it has been recorded.

The Bank of Queensland had closed – and then the boom started...at the goldfields of Gympie, saving the state of Queensland from financial embarrassment and record unemployment.

I’ve always regretted that somewhere along the line and over the years before Nana’s passing in 1976 I’d not recorded her many interesting reminiscences onto a more permanent file other than my own memory.  It was one of those things I always meant to do, but never got around to doing.  A familiar tune.....

Take heed; let it be a lesson to each and everyone of us for the sake of our future generations. The stories our elders have stored away in their minds are worthy of recording, no matter how simple they may appear to be to our untrained ears. Myriad stories need to be told and recorded for posterity. The tales they have to tell are all part of our history. The stories may seem minor and insignificant, but mostly they’re much more than they may appear to be.

We find it so easy to pick up autobiographies by strangers; biographies of people we will never meet or get to know. Hungrily we pounce upon books of fiction, and yet many amongst us are not interested in what went on in the lives of our parents and theirs before them and so on. There is still so much to learn about our forefathers…from our parents; their parents and their parents. We shouldn’t bypass these gems of information.

My brother and I would sit in silence, open-eyed as Nana told us stories of emus poking their heads through the kitchen window with the hope of stealing the silverware. The cutlery was always hidden away out of reach of the prying eyes and beaks of the cheeky, curious emus.

An Aboriginal woman, called “Emma” used to hover around my Nana’s childhood home at Goomboorian, a rural area north-east of Gympie.

Emma played with my grandmother and her siblings when they were children.  The children adored her, and in turn she loved them. The kids teased her good-naturedly and relentlessly as children do. And from what my brother and I were told, Emma gave as good as she got.  

A long time before the politically-correct brigade came to town; many, many years before “political-correctness” became the catchphrase, Nana and her siblings would teasingly call out to Emma - “Emma-Emma-Black Bum! Emma-Emma-Black Gin”; and then they’d run in all directions, giggling, enjoying the challenge they’d set – day after day. Emma would chase them around the yard, laughing all the way. There was nothing nasty, vindictive or racist in the children’s chants;  Emma took no offence at their teasing,  name-calling.

With her long, brown skinny legs, Emma was faster than they were; a fact that they loved, and one of which they were aware. The children and Emma enjoyed the chase; the harmless fun and games.

Yes...Ivy, our grandmother had many stories to tell; and she told them to my brother and me often.  Elma, our mother, had quite a few colourful ones of her own to tell!

And, Gympie...well, Gympie has a fine history....

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Old Val will be paying a visit again on 14th February.  St. Valentine’s Day is this coming Sunday for the unaware; uninitiated.  Don’t duck for cover. Don’t draw the curtains. Open your doors and hearts to what he represents. His intentions and actions are heartfelt.

Val will climb aboard his white steed, shining armour in tact. The rust will have been scraped and polished off, never to be seen by the naked eye; or even clad eyes for that matter. Val doesn’t like making a spectacle of himself.

With Cupid’s arrow in his scabbard and Cupid’s bow over his shoulder he’ll be ready to take aim in less than a moment’s notice.  Be sure to have your door, mind and heart open to him.  He’s a good old bloke who never means anyone harm. His aim is direct, but his arrows are as soft as his heart. 

St. Val is a kindly fellow who indiscriminately spreads love and happiness wherever he roams.

In truth, he hangs about throughout the rest of the year, every year, not just on the day set aside in his honour, St. Valentine’s Day.

A special day had to be set aside because many among us have short memories.  We forget all too soon.

St. Valentine’s Day is Val’s unique way of jolting us into realising love is in the air, as John Paul Young has been telling us in song for years.

St. Valentine pops up on the 14th February every year to remind us that love is all around, all the time. Wet Wet Wet repeatedly inform us of this fact. Do we take heed?   

Bill Nighy tells us over and over again in “Love Actually”. How many times have we watched that movie?  But, shortly after the last scene; too soon after “The End” appears on the screen, once again we’re forget that love is all around.  There’s a simple remedy...all we have to do is open our eyes and our hearts.  It’s pretty easy, really.

St. Valentine’s Day is needed because we fail to remember the importance of love. We humans are at fault, not St. Valentine; and yet, poor old Val who only has love in his heart cops a lot of flak – unwarranted flak!

Businesses cop a lot of unnecessary flak around Valentine’s Day, too.

I wish the grouches who complain about Valentine’s Day being a commercialised beat-up would stop whingeing.  I can never understand why some complain when businesses make money.  I’ve always lived with the belief that was the reason for being in business...to make money; to make a profit!  Without business running profitably what a bloody mess we would all be in. 
Money doesn’t grow on trees, unfortunately.  If it did, I’d be over at the tree-filled, uninhabited acreage across the way from my cabin, daily!   

I often wonder where those who line up at Centrelink with their hands out think the money comes from – a magical, endless hole in the wall or pit in the ground!  So many of them think it’s their due; their right; and too many have never lifted a finger doing a honest day’s work in their lives!  And yet they expect their fortnightly payments from the taxpayers; and they are the first ones to complain about businesses make profits!  They are the ones who whinge about capitalism!

I’m on the Aged Pension.  I wish I wasn’t solely dependent up the pension; I wish I wasn’t dependent upon it in any way whatsoever. I wish I was a self-funded retiree, solely dependent upon me, and I alone...but I’m not.  I don’t feel proud of the fact that I’m on a pension; and I don’t abuse the system. I hate being dependent upon anyone or anything; but, unfortunately, that is how the cookie crumbled for me.  That’s the way it is; that’s life...that’s my life.

Open your hearts! Raid your money boxes! Buy your lady (if you have one) a bunch of red roses; or be imaginative - buy a bunch of specially-created multi-coloured rainbow roses - or have a peer over the fence into your neighbour’s garden when he’s not looking!  You never know what you might find growing there! 

Better still...walk along his garden path, knock on his front door and ask politely if you could, perhaps, have a small bunch of flowers for your loved one.

Chocolates won’t go amiss for your miss, either; or perhaps just a kiss.

Don’t worry! You fellows aren’t forgotten. You’re not left out on the limb; alone like a shag on a rock.

Men might not appreciate roses, but there are bunches of edible blooms available, even gluten-free ones to accommodate all desires. 

A fancy frame around a photo of his dog could do the trick; or maybe a bottle of Cognac with his own snifter (brandy balloon; you know the ones with a wide, bulbous bottom. I don’t mean a Kardashian)! And, by “snifter”, I don’t mean you should buy him a new nose!

Maybe give him something in leather. Not you, silly!  Okay! Okay! Whatever floats your boat! 

Take him out to dine; you pick up the tab; or prepare a romantic dinner for two at home.  The menu doesn’t have to be outlandishly elaborate. Load your stereo or whatever music-playing equipment you have with tunes to your liking and his to set the scene and mood.                                                

Dine by candle light, then he won’t notice if you’ve made a blunder or two; just scrape off the burnt bits.  

A gift doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; but if you’re fortunate enough to have a couple to spare, it’s no one else’s beeswax how much you choose to spend on your loved one. That, in my opinion, is a private matter between you and her/you and him.

It’s not about how much money is spent.  None needs to be spent at all; a loving, caring gesture is free.  The thought and the love are what matter most of all.

As I inferred previously, I don’t believe Valentine’s Day is over commercialised. I hope businesses do well out of the day. Everyone benefits if businesses boom.  I say “Good on them!” if their tills fill and refill.

I hope Valentine’s is a fruitful time for all operators in the business of catering to the romantic whims of the public, in whatever which way.

Money makes the world go ‘round...so does love.  Let us not forget it.

Share a smile -even if you make just one person’s day worthwhile, it is worthwhile. (Remember to put your teeth in first)!

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

Prawns-Scallops in Ginger Butter: Bring 80ml dry white wine, 175ml veg stock, 1tsp freshly grated ginger and 1 minced garlic clove to a gentle boil in pan; add 1 small carrot and ½ leek, thinly sliced. Simmer 5mins on low heat. Add 10 scallops and 150g, peeled, deveined king prawns; add 110g butter, cubed. Cook until butter melts and seafood cooked; season; sprinkle with chopped chives.

Chicken Valentine: Preheat oven 175C. Flatten 2 boned chicken breast halves until about ¼ to ½ inch thick.  Combine 1/4c cream cheese with minced garlic and herbs. Spread half on each chicken breast; top each with basil leaves; then top with 2 slices prosciutto on each and 1tbs chopped oil-packed sundried tomatoes on each. Roll up; secure with toothpicks; season. Heat oil in ovenproof skillet; brown chicken, seam side down first, until slightly golden; place in oven; bake 40-45mins, until cooked; remove to cutting board; discard toothpicks; let sit 15mins before slicing the chicken.

Red Velvet Valentine Brownies: Heat oven 180C; line square tin with paper. Chop 200g dark chocolate and 135g milk chocolate. Set aside 150g for topping. Put the rest in pan with 185g diced butter and 275g brown sugar; heat until melted; stir occasionally. When melted put into bowl; cool slightly. Clean pan; melt rest of chocolate; set aside. Stir 3 eggs, one by one into melted chocolate; add 2tsp or so red food colouring until mixture is deep red colour. Sieve over 85g plain flour and 40g cocoa powder; fold to combine; pour into prepared tin. Pour the melted chocolate onto brownie in 4 evenly spaced lines; create a ripple effect. Bake 25min; cool in tin 10mins. Beat 150g cream cheese, 1tsp vanilla paste, 50g icing sugar and 50g softened butter. Cut brownies into squares or heart-shapes; spread with frosting; chill; pop a cherry or strawberry on top. 

Valentine’s Vegan Panna Cotta: In medium pan, heat 1-3/4c full-fat coconut milk until very hot; add zest of two blood oranges; let steep 30mins.  Then add 4tbs evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar) and 1/2c blood orange juice; bring to a simmer; remove freom heat; whisk in 3/4tspn agar agar powder. Place back on heat; cook over low heat, stirring frequently, 5-10mins, or until agar agar is totally dissolved. Let cook for a few minutes; pour into 4x177ml (3/4 cup) ramekins. Cover; chill until set. For sauce: Using 2c fresh or frozen raspberries, sprinkle berries with 2tbs sugar or evaporated cane juice and 1tbs blood orange juice; let stand 5-10mins. To serve; spoon the raspberries and juices over the top of the panna cottas. Alternatively, you can unmould the panna cottas onto plates and top with the sauce; serve immediately.

Valentine’s Delight: Fill cocktail shaker with ice; add 3tbs bourbon, 2tbs of a sweet ruby port, 2tbs Kahlua and 3tbs thick cream; shake vigorously for 10secs; strain into large chilled martini glass; gently sprinkle ground nutmeg on top.

More Amore: Divide evenly between two glasses – 30ml strawberry liqueur, 2 large strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced. Top each glass with chilled dry sparkling white wine or champagne. Garnish with fresh strawberries.

Love Is....
A lover’s caress in a moment of despair
A friendly smile when none seem to care
Simple understanding to listen to share
Affectionate devotion a feeling so pure
A melodic inspiration forever to endure
A mother’s enchantment at baby’s first cry
Contentment profound as it suckles her breast
Its grasp of her hand as she lays it to rest
To witness a smile a trembling first step
First words to be spoken tears that are shed
Eagerness and anticipation of what lies ahead
Is a love so complete it can never be compared
The balmy showers of spring
Laying brown dust as they pass
The scent of freshly cut grass
On a crisp clear summer’s morn
Tender green leaves eagerly adorn
Tall trees patiently awaiting
Their debut at summer’s dawning
Gossamer clouds in skies of blue
Sparkling white sands are only a few
Of the loves of life that I pursue
                                                                               Poems by Lee

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


What a dilemma!   

To put it bluntly - I’m in a real pickle! If I could find a solution to my vexing problem I’d be a millionaire; a multi-millionaire even!  And if that were to come to fruition it definitely would be something worth getting pickled over.  The unopened bottle of Glenfiddich sitting on my shelf is safe (for the moment, anyway); however, that’s not the kind of pickled I mean in this instance.

I believe I can trust you with my money-making scheme; one I’ve not yet patented. Because of my immovable faith in our discretion I’ll let you in on my inspirational secret project.  I know you won’t tell anyone.

Surrounding me are piles of empty glass jars...everywhere I look, in every cranny and nook, and in between. I’ve been collecting them for the past year or more.  Cloaked in darkness, garbed in camouflage - even my car is disguised as a bandicoot to put those other night owls roaming the streets during the wee small hours off the scent - I do midnight runs raiding the neighbourhood recycle bins. I’ll soon be known as Ms Steptoe of the Mountain, if I’m not already.  I’ve become an adept creature of subterfuge.

It’s amazing how much grape juice is consumed here on the hill. The hordes of empty wine bottles I’ve gathered will be to my benefit. They’ll serve an important purpose in my plan. If my concept has a positive result the crates of wine bottles I haul home night after night will play a significant role in what I’m endeavouring to achieve. 

It’d be nice if the neighbours recycled a few full ones!  It’s thirsty work that I do!

I’m intend melting the bottles sadly depleted of wine to make handles for the myriad jars in my possession; jars from pickles, chutney, jams and various other product, which are also collected during my midnight runs. ‘Tis a busy life I lead under the cloak of darkness.

My plan isn’t working for me; not yet anyway, but I’ll soldier on. If and when I work out how to stick the handles on the jars I’ll be rich; either that or I’ll have missed the bus on “my moment” in reaping the benefits of my back-breaking efforts because people will have moved onto the next craze. I’ll be left holding the jars and wine bottles - empty wine bottles – dammit! 

That’ll be a jarring experience – one hard to get a handle on!

I find the current fad - one that’s lasted far too long, in my opinion - of drinking from jars very jarring. It’s one of the silliest fads I’ve seen.  I get so annoyed every time I see pictures in magazines, newspapers etc., of jars being substituted as drinking vessels.  I can see no point to the “popular fashion”.  It’s not even unique; everyone and their third cousins are doing it!  If an eatery attempted to serve me a drink in a jar I would politely decline and ask for my drink to be served to me in an appropriate drinking glass.

Everywhere I look drink-filled jars with straws plonked in them have taken over the planet!  I can see no rhyme or reason for them. The jars look clumsy and unattractive.  When I have a drink I prefer to skol from a glass; from a drinking glass suitable to the drink I’m indulging in - not a glass jar. Better still, with a lot of class and practiced finesse, I like to guzzle straight from the bottle. It saves on the washing up - no straws and no jars required!

To add insult to insult salads are plonked, in layers, in jars. Tiered desserts are served in jars!  To me, somehow, it’s a being a poseur...in reverse...how perverse!

I elect to keep my jars exclusively for jams, chutneys and pickles etc; never to be used as gimmicky, annoyingly gauche drinking vessels; or for serving salads and desserts.  I find this fad idiotically pretentious.

Once upon a time you’d be sincerely concerned about a friend’s financial welfare if he/she served you a drink in a jar. Similarly, if presented with a drink or food-filled jar rather than a glass or plate as the fare demands in an eatery, it would’ve prompted concerns their doors would soon be closing permanently. A jar could’ve been left on the counter for the generosity of strangers to help keep the doors ajar; a jar not only for tips for the serving staff!

I offer no apologies for preferring to have whatever it is I’m drinking served in a glass...a glass made for the purpose of drinking from (or from a cup or mug if the instance demands).  And I prefer to eat my salads off a plate or from a bowl; and desserts not from a jar!   

And, I know jars are the "In Thing" at the moment, but I'd feel I was insulting my guests if I served them drinks or food in jars.  I've never been one to succumb to the latest fads; to follow the crowd in the craze of the moment...particularly to ones that are, in my opinion, pretty damn stupid! 

I'll continue to beat my own drum; and if that means I'm not keeping up with the latest fads or "the Joneses - I suppose it should be "keeping up with the Kardashians" - not "keeping up with the Joneses" these days - but as I said...I'll beat my own drum...rat-a-tat-tat! 

Now how will I fuse these handles on to the jars?

Chilli-Pawpaw Chutney: Combine in saucepan - 7 black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 1 peeled, coarsely-chopped pawpaw, 2 peeled, coarsely-chopped apples, 2c light brown sugar, 3c white vinegar, 2tsp coarse salt, 3 fresh, deseeded, finely-chopped red chillies and 2tsp grated ginger; stir constantly over med-heat until sugar dissolves; simmer, uncovered, approx 1-1/2hrs or until thickened. Remove peppercorns and nutmeg; spoon hot chutney into hot sterilized jars; seal jars while still hot; chutney will keep up to 6 months.  (And I refuse to call "pawpaws" papayas, too....pawpaws are pawpaws here in Queensland)!

Pickled Broccoli: Combine 2c distilled white vinegar, 2c water and 2tbs pickling salt in saucepan; bring to a boil. Into a 946ml/4c jar, put 4c broccoli florets, 3-4 peeled garlic cloves, 1tsp mustard seeds, 1tsp black peppercorns and 1/2tsp red chilli flakes; pack the broccoli on top. Cover broccoli with the hot vinegar brine; cap jar; cool to room temp. Chill at least 3hrs before serving. It’ll keep 2-3 weeks.

Rockmelon Jam: Prepare boiling water bath and 3x240ml jars. Place lids in small saucepan; cover with water; simmer over very low heat. Combine 2-1/2c peeled, chopped rockmelon, 1-1/2c sugar, 1 split and scraped vanilla bean and the seeds in pot; bring to boil over high heat; cook 8-10mins. Add zest of 1 lemon, 1tbs lemon juice and 85ml packet liquid pectin. Return to vigorous boil; cook 3-4mins, until bubbles look thick. Remove vanilla pod. Ladle jam into prepared jars; wipe rims; seal jars; process in boiling water bath, 10mins. (And a rockmelon will always be a rockmelons to me...not cantaloupe).

Berry Winey Jam: Combine 3c mixed berries and 2c red wine in saucepan; simmer uncovered to jam consistency – about 30mins. After berries break down add sugar to taste; less if using a sweet wine. You can use champagne instead; spoon into jars; chill.  

Banana Berry Smoothie:  Place 1 large banana, ½ cup frozen or fresh mixed berries (add grapes, if you like), 2tsp wheatgerm, 1/2c milk, ½ strawberry or natural yoghurt and 2tsp honey in a blender; whizz...drink...straws optional! As well as not using jars other than for the purposes they're meant for,  I always go for the no-straw option, too!   

If you find your bananas are ripening quickly and you prefer eating bananas that aren't very ripe – slice the bananas into pieces and freeze the pieces in portions to be used for your smoothies at later dates.