Soon it will be that way if we don’t get rain - rain that lasts more than just a few minutes. Summer here on the hill has been quite dry. The “wet season” didn’t wet us this season, which was very unfortunate because the few little drops we received whetted my appetite for more.
If this keeps up I’ll be forced to drink my stock of wine I’ve got stored away. I might just have to get pickled.
It’ll be either that or use the liquid contents for pickling because I’m sure some of them, by now, have turned to vinegar. That’s good and not so good, depending on which way you choose to look at it. I might seriously consider the latter option because hangovers are a waste of time, and are not at all enjoyable. I prefer leftovers, instead.
There would be no point pretending I’m Cleopatra and bathe in red wine (rather than milk). Firstly, I don’t have a bathtub here in the cabin, only a shower recess. Secondly, if I bathed in red wine I’d emerge from the non-existent bathtub looking like pickled beetroot!
The bathing in milk has reminded me of an incident that occurred years ago – in the early Seventies. At the time I lived in Toowong, a Brisbane suburb. I was living alone…nothing much new about that. I did have my two furry mates with me – nothing new about that, either. My ginger beauty and Lord of the Manor, Sasha, and my blue-steel stunner, Smocka were my housemates.
One Saturday afternoon I decided I’d give myself a cleansing face mask. I think it probably is the only one I’ve ever given myself. Some probably would be tempted to suggest I should always wear a mask, but that’s their opinion; one I choose to ignore!
Not one to use face creams or lotions, I’ve always relied upon the benefits of drinking lots of water; and ever since I was a child I’ve continued the practice of splashing my face with cold water after I’ve finished showering. A piece of sage advice handed down to me by my grandmother and my mother.
I’d found an interesting mask recipe in a magazine. On the Saturday afternoon to which I refer, having nothing better (or more productive) to do, I decided to spend a couple of hours “spoiling” myself.
Using full cream powdered milk and a dash of olive oil, I followed the instructions given in the article, and mixed the two ingredients together to form a paste.
Once I spread the concoction over my face, the mask quickly set solid like concrete.
Not to be deterred, I followed the instructions to the letter, leaving the mask on for the allotted time, even though I couldn’t move even the tiniest muscle in my face.
Finally, the moment arrived to remove the powdered milk mask – it was time for the long-awaited unveiling.
It has been said often – “Curiosity killed the cat”. Well, curiosity didn’t kill Sasha that afternoon, but he certainly did succumb to its unignorable power.
Much to his delight and interest, Sasha decided to join me. He perched himself on the side of the bathroom sink. Never before had he seen such a sight. It was one too good to miss!
Unexpectedly, to my surprise, Sasha then proceeded to try to lick and chew the mask off my face!
Much to his dismay and disappointment I shoo’ed him away. I was having enough trouble trying to remove the immovable, glued-on-forever mask without his keen interference.
I never did try a face mask of any description ever again.***
It hadn’t made any difference to my appearance. Sasha had a fun time, though!
*** A fib has been told. One Halloween when we were living at Sunshine Beach in the early to mid 80s, my ex and I were invited to a Halloween Party being hosted by good friends who lived in Tewantin. Through a fancy-dress costume outlet in Brisbane I bought a fabulously, horrific, rubber witch’s mask for myself and a truly gross-looking mask for my husband. I made (sewed) suitable attire to match. When the masks arrived I immediately put mine on, thinking Ruska, our the ginger cat (Sasha had became Ruska’s mentor) would get a fright. My mean attempt at humour backfired. Ruska didn’t twitch a whisker – not even the slightest movement! My ego was deflated in a mere second! Poof!”
Forget all of that…let’s get pickled!
Giardiniera (Pickled Vegetables): Bring 2-1/2 cups white vinegar, 3 cups water, ¾c sugar, 5tbl sea salt, 1tsp mustard seeds and 1/2tsp dried hot chilli flakes to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a 4-quart bowl and cool for 30mins. Then bring about 6 quarts unsalted water to a boil in a large pot. Have at the ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. Add 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets to the pot of boiling water; boil until crisp-tender, transfer using slotted spoon to iced water. Then cook these remaining vegetables in the same manner, allowing 4mins each and 2mins for the celery; 1 red and 1 yellow capsicum, cut into 1-inch pieces, 4 carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2inch thick slices, 4 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch slices, 1c large brine-cured green olives and ½c oil-cured black olives. Drain vegetables in a colander and spread out on 2 large kitchen towels to dry. Add vegetables to pickling liquid. Weight down with a plate to keep them submerged. Chill, covered at least 1 day; the pickled vegetables will keep, chilled and covered for one week.
Pickled Garlicky Red Capsicums: Roast 10 capsicums,( mixed colours, if you like), in a pre-heated 205C oven. Line capsicums on a large baking sheet; roast them for 45mins, turning them once or until they’re soft. Once roasted, while they’re hot, throw them into a large bowl, cover with lid or plate, trapping the steam inside. When they have cooled a bit, their skins will be easy to remove. Once the skins are removed, remove the core and seeds and tear the capsicums into strips. Meanwhile you’ve prepared a pickling mix of 3c water, 2/3-3/4c sugar and 1/4c table salt, which you’ve brought to a boil over moderate heat and cooled. Pour this liquid over the capsicums; add 4 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped. Place into a non-reactive container. Chill; covered for one day. These also will keep a week.
Pumpkin Pickles: Peel and cube pumpkin, making 6 cups. Place in colander; set over boiling water. Don’t let water touch pumpkin. Steam until just tender; drain. Simmer 2 cups each vinegar and sugar and 2 large sticks cinnamon for 15min. Add pumpkin; simmer 3mins. Set aside 24hrs. Heat and simmer 5mins more. Remove cinnamon. Pack boiling hot in hot jars then process in boiling-water bath for 10mins.
Beet Relish: Combine 12 cooked beetroot, 1 red onion, 2 cups finely chopped red cabbage, 1 red capsicum (all put through a food processor with large blade), with 1-1/2tsp salt, 3/4c sugar,1-1/2c vinegar and 2tbls prepared horseradish; bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmering for 15mins, stirring often. Ladle hot relish into hot jars; process in boiling-water bath for 10mins..