Friday, March 22, 2019


Sorry about the earworm - but it’s time for a snippet of trivia in case you feel like playing a game of Trivial Pursuit over the weekend...or even if you don’t. Trivia is always fun whether you’re in pursuit of it or not.  Perhaps Scrabble is your preferred game; maybe Monopoly is.   

Whichever, whatever, whenever...I won’t monopolise your time...instead, getting straight to the point. I’ll not pass “Go”, foregoing the $200.00.  I’ll bypass going to jail, to boot!

The English translation of the Italian word “quando” is “when”.   “Kondo” in Ugandan means “thief” or “armed robber”. 

In our present day world when we easily and eagerly, without thorough thought, too often succumb to the latest crazes, “Kondo” has adopted another meaning because of Marie Kondo aka “Konmari”, the Japanese decluttering queen (don’t be conned into believing she is the “Dancing Queen”).

Kondo is the organising consultant taking over the planet, or your house and cupboards.  Kondo is kind of OCD on steroids as she marshals her way through the disorder of others.

My mind needs decluttering. It’s been a cluttered mess since I began decluttering my mess.  Kondo would have a ball with me, assisting in lightening my load, but quando?  Being kept extremely busy elsewhere she’d have no spare time to help me simplify my life and worldly possessions.

Fed up wondering when Kondo would arrive I took matters – and junk - into my own hands.  A brief glance woke me up to the fact I had too much stuff – still do.  What a "fun" job I’ve undertaken.   I'm sure you understand my true meaning behind "fun"!
In so many ways it’s a stressful task.  I’m a masochist!  Parting with books is heartbreaking – almost an impossibility.  My wide and varied collection, which included/includes some from my childhood and teenage years, would put the local library to shame.

Choosing which ones to keep is a challenging, formidable task. Those given away make you weep.

Eeny meeny miney mo, take a book off the row; should you let it go; eeny, meeny, miney, mo; it’s easy to withhold one, while taxing letting others go.  

Similar applies to mementos of various descriptions and sizes. Many have stories of their own to tell...memories attached to inanimate objects; meaningful moments from times gone by that matter only to me.  Some tangible objects are not easy to part with; the memories surrounding them are precious, if only to one’s own self...personal memories, which mean naught to others.

Lately I’ve become a grey nomad, without a caravan.  Perhaps, I’m towing a virtual caravan.

I’m not traversing the country. My route is limited - between home, the Op Shops, the bin of St. Vincent, and the rubbish dump aka tip, refuse facility that refuses little.
Blindfolded I could execute the trail perfectly, even in the dark of night.

A couple of months ago I had an epiphany coming to the realisation I had too much stuff – paraphernalia not being used. The time had come for me to lighten my load. By now one would have thought I'd have learned from Remy and Shama...taken a leaf out of their book.  My two furry best mates travel lightly....they have four food bowls (not all are in use simultaneously), and their glass stein that is in constant use as their water container.

We humans accumulate a massive amount of clobber, objects, thingamajigs through the years. Most of it rarely sees the light of day, or the LED lights of nights.  A lot we can’t see because it’s covered in dust. Even the dust covers on books get covered in dust!  

You’re probably different to me, having wisely already become aware a light load is better than a heavy load when I was still fighting against the sensibility of the reality. 
Sparse is not a farce.

One shouldn’t allow sentiment to have control, but it does. With me it, does... I freely, with no embarrassment, or need of explanation, admit to my of many.

I’m a sook of the first degree - a factor that came to the fore last week when I discovered I’d accidentally given away to one of the local Op Shops a group of books I’d meant to keep. My error made me weep. 

I’m trying to toughen the question! 

Simple Tomato-Basil Soup: Heat a pan over a med-heat; add 1tsp olive oil; add 1 chopped onion and 3 large garlic cloves, chopped finely; cook until just starting to turn golden. Add 7c chopped fresh tomatoes; cook over med-heat, stirring often until tomatoes break down and are soft. Remove from heat; add 1 handful basil leaves; season; blitz in blender until smooth; serve immediately.

Sparse Salad: Preheat oven 260C. Place a rimmed baking sheet in oven (leave pan in oven while it preheats). Combine 1c chopped sweet potato, 2tbs olive oil, 1tsp grated lemon rind, salt, pepper, 240g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved, 2tbs grated Parmesan cheese, 2 large shallots, quartered lengthwise (or red onion), and 295g cauliflower florets in bowl. Spread mixture on preheated pan; bake at 260C 15mins or until golden brown. Combine 2tbs olive oil, 1/4tsp salt, 2tbs chopped fresh tarragon, and 2tbs white wine vinegar in large bowl. Add 155g rocket; toss to coat. Divide rocket among 4 plates. Top each evenly with vegetables; sprinkle over grated Parmesan and chopped roasted almonds or pecans.

Curried Chickpea Salad: In a large sauté pan heated over med-high heat, sauté 1/2c diced onion in 4tsp olive oil until deep golden and crispy, about 6-8mins, stirring frequently. Add 1/2tsp turmeric, 1/2tsp cumin, 1/2tsp dried coriander, and 1/4tsp cayenne pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic and lightly toasted, about 3mins. Add 2x400g cans chickpeas, drained, 1tbs chopped fresh coriander, and 1tbs lemon juice, or to taste; continue to stir to develop flavours, about 5mins. Remove from heat; season to taste. Cool the salad; transfer it to a container; cover, and chill before serving, at least 30mins. Adjust seasoning and lemon juice as desired before serving.   

Friday, March 15, 2019


I’m sure St. Paddy was still a greenhorn when he came rolling home and gave the dog a bone, or when he played nick nack on the drum, door, shoe, and on the poor old hen.  The hen was just trying to lay an egg, for heaven’s sake!  

Once he’d settled back in Ireland Paddy’s excuse for waving  his staff about (as in walking stick, not employees) was to banish snakes from the top of the hill while fastidiously trying to fast. My walking stick is handy for many purposes other than what it’s meant for, too.  If I come across a snake on the hill I hobble past fast, or backtrack and give it a whack.  

A few fibs surrounded Paddy.  No doubt to glamorise his exploits; to make him appear more interesting in the years before Fake News and social media. By adding a few bells, whistles and colourful streamers to one’s activities and character, the interest of others is immediately aroused.

Delving into historical evidence Ireland never had snakes of the slithering, reptilian kind.  Paddy probably waved his wand around for the fun of it. 

Young Paddy didn’t wear glasses, but he could have been short-sighted.  Optometrists were non-existent in the Fifth Century.

Paddy mistook the Druids, members of the high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures, for snakes. It was the Druids he drove out of Ireland – by foot. No motor vehicles were used to achieve the feat. Henry Ford hadn’t yet appeared on the scene.  The Model A Ford had not even hit the assembly line, let alone the Model T!

On their way to England, Irish pirates battled a turbulent Irish Sea. In a display of grand sailing ability, they managed to dodge the Isle of Man. 

(It’s a wonder in these days of political-correctness, gender neutrality, the #MeToo blustering etc., someone hasn't complained, demanding the name of the Isle of Man to be changed to “Isle of Woman”...or “Isle of Someone or Other”)!

The intention of the brigands of the waterways, other than plundering and looting, was to join Captain Jack Sparrow over a barrel or two of rum, as well as a “Ho! Ho! Ho!” of the jovial, verbal kind.  Unfortunately, having docked shortly after Jack had set sail for the Caribbean, they missed him by “that much”.
Proof timing is everything - even back then in the wild old days - Paddy strolled by with his shillelagh under his arm and a twinkle in his eye the very moment of their docking.

The blustering buccaneers nabbed the unsuspecting lad, and whisked him off back to Northern Ireland. 

Many years later, Paddy became the first bishop of Armagh - and first Primate of Ireland (not of the simian kind)....more about the lad's achievements after my digression below...

My paternal grandparents came from Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland.  My grandma, a lady of orange leanings – it could be the reason why I love oranges so much - switched to green to satisfy her soon-to-be in-laws and their kin.  In the early 1900s the couple emigrated to Australia to begin a new life. They settled in Rockhampton, central Queensland...a town/city that sits comfortably on the Tropic of Capricorn. 

Once comfortably settled, there they had six children, one of whom fathered my late brother and me. I’m an eclectic mix of Irish and Scottish Highlanders. No relation to Paddy, or simians - that I’m aware of... 

Raised by our mother and her mother, our brother and I attended the Scots Church...the Presbyterian Church...when we were children.  We often did go in search of four-leaf clovers...and may have even found one or two...or pretended we did!

Not one to squander time, Paddy put his six years of captivity in Ireland to good use while he waited to be returned to England.

Voices in his head - not caused by smoking shamrocks - told him he should change his habits. Upon release, he headed eastward and once again crossed the Irish Sea to his homeland. 

Paddy wandered around Old Blighty for a few years, but the voices in his head were relentless - insistent he return to the Emerald Isle. 

Over there the reclusive, mischievous little leprechauns in their green suits and top hats had become Paddy’s confidants; his best friends.  They’d spent countless hours in search of four-leaf clovers.  Three-leaf shamrocks were of no interest to Paddy and his mates.

Way before the Vikings looted and plundered Ireland in the 9th Century, Paddy and his sprightly little friends sought pots of gold at the end of rainbows. They never divulged their successes to inquisitive others.  Poetic licence applies.   

Happy St. Patrick’s Day - 17th March....

Orange Apricot Irish Soda Bread: Preheat oven, 190C.  Line a baking tray. Add 2c plain flour, 2c whole wheat flour, 2tbs sugar, 1tsp baking soda and 1-1/2tsp salt in bowl of mixer with paddle attachment; mix on low speed; add 4tbs cold unsalted butter cut into 1cm cubes; mix on low until completely mixed into dry ingredients; use your fingers if necessary. In a jug, use fork to beat 1-3/4c cold buttermilk, 1 egg and zest of 1 orange; slowly add to dry ingredients on low speed; mix until just combined. Toss 1c chopped dried apricots in 1tbs flour; mix into dough on low speed until just combined.  Dough will be very wet. Pour out onto well-floured surface; sprinkle with flour. With floured hands, knead a few times into shape of round loaf. Place on lined tray. Cut a small “X” into centre. Bake 45-55mins; cool on wire rack.

Paddy’s Pesto Prawns: Process 2c thawed peas, 1c basil leaves, 6 garlic cloves, 1c parmesan, 1/3c olive oil, 1tbs lemon juice, 1/2c chick/veg stock; season. Cook 454g penne pasta; drain. Heat 1tbs olive oil in pan; add 350g green prawns, 1 sliced yellow capsicum; then 1/2c sliced sundried tomatoes, pasta and pea pesto; toss to combine; heat through.

St. Paddy Sprouts: Preheat cast iron pan over med-heat. Fry 240g bacon until crisp; remove to cool. Don’t drain out fat. Halve or quarter 455g Brussels sprouts; add to bacon fat. Fry until lightly browned, fork tender. Turn off heat. Crumble bacon; add to sprouts; add 1/2c dried cranberries; season; serve hot or cold.

Shamrock Smoothie: Add 2c kale and 1c unsweetened almond milk to blender. Blend kale until smooth. Add 1tbs coconut flakes, 1 small frozen banana, 1/4c fresh or frozen pineapple, 1/4c fresh or frozen mango, 1tsp powdered or fresh ginger, 1/4tsp cardamom and 1scoop protein powder. Blend until smooth. 

Saturday, March 09, 2019


A View of Slade Point

Often I think I must have lived on a different planet to many others. Truth be told - maybe I still do.

Finally, the truth is  revealed! I am Robinson Crusoe reincarnated, after all....the female version, of course. 

During my traversing of Life’s long and winding road, a female I’ve always been; a female I’ll always be.

One moment I was a little girl with long plaits; then, in a flash, I was a 16 year old teenager riding Noosa’s surf, hoping the surging waves wouldn’t rip off my bikini.  My older brother, who, by the way was of the male species – a boy who became a man - was a Noosa Heads Surf Lifesaver in the early to mid-Sixties. 

The years flew by, as is their wont, having not a clue how to put on the brakes.
I matured into a woman.  Some may question the “mature” bit, but that’s okay with me.  Frequently, I question that very fact, too.

With me, nothing has altered in the gender department, but the boobs have sagged; wrinkles and grey hair have showed up; and I’ve misplaced a few teeth. 
It‘s not a moot point – I am a member of the feminine gender.

Sadly, we’re living in a time when truth doesn’t seem to matter; in a time when bullying is rife. Bullying is a popular sport with some. Surely there are more enjoyable pastimes.  How anyone gains pleasure from being a bully beats me.  Obviously, there’s something missing in their make-up (I’m not referring to Maybelline, L’Oreal, Revlon, etc.).  Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem come to mind - replaced by arrogance and cruel intentions.

I believe I have a very good memory; a memory which stretches back to when I was a wee little girl – to when I was a toddler, and before, even.   

To be perfectly honest – cross my heart and all the rest - my earliest memory is from when I was a baby laying in my cot which was set up in the enclosed front verandah of the house I shared with my Nana, mother and older brother, Graham, in Elphinstone Street, North Rockhampton.  My fleeting memory of that day so long ago – of just that one moment – that one my being enthralled by the dappled, coloured, stained glass windows that enclosed the verandah. I'm sure I had not yet hit the one year-old mark at that stage.   

A little while later, we left Rockhampton, and the coloured windows, to take up residence in Slade Point, a beach-side suburb of Mackay. There we remained for a couple of years before we relocated to the town of our grandmother's birth and years of her youth, and the town in which our mother had been born....Gympie.   

The year was 1948...and I was three and a half years old. 

Clearly I recall the night at the Mackay railway station – standing on the station platform around 10.30 pm as we waited for the train that was to transport us south to Gympie.

However, among the many, varied memories I have, I do not recall any bullies when I was a child - or a teenager - growing up in Gympie.   

Those were the days, my friends - simple, uncomplicated, carefree.

Our childhood days were spent in the outdoors playing cowgirls and Indians, ballerinas, trapeze artists, Cat Woman and other imaginary heroines, collecting and swapping comics; exploring; learning; being intrigued by the four stages of life of butterflies before we set the beauties free.  Industrious little silkworms fattening themselves on mulberry leaves as they busily spun their lengthy lustrous silk were popular. They were handy trading commodities.  No shoe box went to waste when silkworms were in favour.

Naturally, boys being boys, teased the girls.  When not teasing us girls, the boys played together. Ignoring their juvenile behaviour, we girls preferred our more fun-filled, imaginative activities. We left the boys to their silly games.

From my childhood I remember only one bully...his name was “Albert Bully”.  Albert and I were of similar age.  Throughout primary school we were in the same classes.  Albert lived around the corner, not far from where I hung out with my mother, grandmother, brother and our variety of pets.  Albert walked past our place going to and from school. 

I referred to his parents as – “Mr. And Mrs. Bully”.  Albert was a “Bully”, but he wasn’t a bully; neither were the other kids on the block, new, near, or far. 

In those days of yore, we respected our elders. We called adults “Mr”, “Mrs” or “Miss”. Strange as it may seem to some members of present generations we respected each other, too.  I’ve no memory of bullying playing a role. 

Why is bullying so prevalent - such a popular pursuit nowadays?  It’s something we can do without. I, for one, can. 

Wow!  Many years have passed since I’ve eaten bully beef aka canned corned beef, or Camp Pie.

Unlike bullying, Camp Pie was popular when I was a little girl.

DIY Corned Beef:  Add 3-1/2lt water, 2c salt, 5tsp pink curing salt (not Pink Himalayan salt), 1/2c brown sugar, and 3 smashed garlic cloves to pot. Boil to dissolve; turn off heat; stir in 1tbs allspice berries, 1tbs whole mustard seeds, 8 whole cloves, 1tbs black peppercorns, 2 crumbled bay leaves, 1/2tsp ground ginger, 1stick cinnamon, broken into a few pieces and 2tsp red pepper flakes; chill. Place 2-1/2kg piece of brisket in large container; add cooled brine; weigh meat down to keep it submerged. Seal; refrigerate 5-7 days, rotating once a day. Remove brisket from brine. Discard brine; rinse brisket under cold water. Put brisket in pot; cover with water. Add 1tsp allspice berries, 1tsp whole mustard seeds, 1tsp black peppercorns and 1 crumbled bay leaf. Add more garlic, an onion, carrot and celery, if you like, and a splash of vinegar; bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer; cook 2-1/2-3hrs. 

Corned Beef Hash: Cut 600g potatoes into chunks; boil for 15-20 mins, until tender. Simmer the 2 trimmed, sliced leeks in boiling water 10mins. 350-400g cooked corned beef chunks into bowl with 2tbs tomato puree and 2tsp Worcestershire sauce; stir gently. Mash potatoes with butter and milk; season; stir in drained leeks. Pour 400g baked beans into ovenproof dish; spread corned beef mixture over top. Spoon on mashed potatoes; spread evenly. Sprinkle grated cheddar over surface; bake in 180C oven 30mins.

Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich: Butter one side of each slice of rye. Place 2 slices of rye, butter side down in pan on med-heat. Place a slice of Gruyere on each half. Once rye turns golden and cheese starts to melt, carefully stack corned beef, caramelized onions and sauerkraut on one half; put other half atop; press gently to adhere; heat 1-2mins. Remove from pan; separate sandwich slices slightly and slather Thousand Island dressing in the middle. Press slices back together; cut sandwiches in half.