Sunday, June 28, 2020

THE JUICY BITS...HOW SWEET THEY ARE....HOW SWEET LIFE CAN BE...IF WE LET IT BE....










The faceless, nameless “they”...they, who appear to be everywhere, often say to anyone who bothers to listen;  “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” 


The proverbial phrase is supposed to encourage optimism, positivity etc. 

(The people of the world certainly need bucket-loads of the latter, at present, particularly if some continue to act like brainless idiots.

History...the good parts, and the bad parts, can’t be erased; should not be erased; neither the good, nor the bad should be erased. What purpose would doing either, serve?

We are taught...or, at least, most of us are...from a young age...to learn from our mistakes; and, as we progress in life we should be aware enough to learn from our mistakes. It is human to make mistakes. I certainly have made more than my share of them throughout my life...and my life is not yet over.....

Also, we should continue to learn from the good we’ve done, and do, in our lives...that, too, should continue.  In my humble opinion, the above are the most sensible lessons to follow.

The ignorant fools who are...in this country, and elsewhere throughout the world...defacing statues, and/or knocking them down, are proving they have not learned a thing from history...not the good...not the bad. Those fools are too foolish...too ignorant...to realise how foolish...how ignorant they really are.  Each and every one is a joke of the highest order.  Their actions leave much to be desired...very much)


I admit openly and honestly, I haven’t always followed the rules, or phrases, or what “they” tell me to do.   Some things don’t, and won’t change.....

When life...meaning....when my little lemon tree springs into life, and shares its bounty with me...I don’t make lemonade.

Instead, I take the lazier, but healthier route.  I juice my lemons every morning along with oranges and/or other citrus fruits I have on hand at the time. I’ve written about my juicy squeezing previously...my apologies for repeating myself.  What a juicy life I lead!

My lemons aren’t lemons, though. There’s nothing defective about them.  They are perfect, yellow containers of juicy juice.

Sadly, the season is now at an end. My generous tree is preparing to have a well-earned rest until next year.  Only a couple of small, green fruit remain on its branches, ripening slowly, but surely.  Come September, as I always do each year, I’ll spread fertiliser around its base. I’ll then wait patiently (impatiently) for its next bountiful, juicy crop.  Of course, in the meantime, my fruit bowls will bear fruit, even if they don’t actually bear the fruit.  The fruit will be store-bought.  My life would be unfulfilled if it wasn’t filled with fresh fruit!

When I was a kid I never had to be forced or cajoled into eating fruit.  I’ve always loved fruit of all varieties.  Such fun it was raiding our loquat tree, which grew in one corner of our front yard, and the mulberry tree up the back.  Purple fingers and lips were always dead giveaways we’d been feasting on mulberries.  Plump red strawberries, planted by our mother, also grew in our garden when the season was right for strawberry runners to run free, and produce.

While on the subject of fruit....the mention of fruit, particularly citrus fruit has turned my thoughts to my late brother...

One Sunday when my brother, Graham was around 12 years old, he and his mate, who lived next door (whose father was one of the local Gympie cops)...had a sneaky feed of slightly under-ripe Poorman oranges, believing them to be Valencia oranges.

The lads nicked the fruit from a tree around the corner and down the road a bit...if you know what I mean!  The tree was in someone else’s backyard. 

“Stolen fruit is the sweetest!”  The fruit they gobbled wasn’t so sweet, though. Both lads ate a lot of it, too...more than their fill. Forbidden fruit is desirable, but unlawful.  The consequences for falling prey to both must be faced!

That very same night my brother was raced off to hospital to undergo an emergency operation to have his appendix removed. Eating an abundance of under-ripe, stolen, forbidden fruit had stirred things up inside him quite a bit.  The pain he felt struck hard and fast.   

An immediate appendectomy was necessary.  His inflamed appendix was disposed of, post haste.

Being the "little sister", so often I was the prey...the victim of my brother's teasing, and boyish sense of humour....put on this earth solely for his entertainment!

I made the most of the time my brother spent in hospital, incapacitated.   Finally, for once, he, the tormentor, was at my mercy; the worm had turned. ..in my favour!

Helpless, unable to escape my childish high jinks, in his infirm state, he was my captive.  How I loved making him laugh!  Acting the clown, I had so much fun.  (Hospitals, churches, meetings and other such places where one is supposed to be sombre and behave one's self do that to me).

Graham demanded Mum and Nana not bring me with them to the hospital.  I was having great enjoyment acting the fool, clowning around, making him laugh. 

What a twisted kid I was, relishing the chance to be the teaser for change.  (Perhaps I was the inspiration for the heavy metal band "Twisted Sister" to choose that name for their band!!)

Because of his sore stomach, it hurt Graham when he laughed.  For a brief moment in time when my wounded, bed-ridden big brother couldn’t retaliate, the shoes were on the other feet...mine!  He was my prisoner!  I had the upper-hand.  I was only trying to lighten things up a bit...brighten the sterile, hospital atmosphere!

Aware my time being in control was limited, being able to be the circus clown for a change I made the most of my ‘window’...I made hay while the sun shone, and when the hospital lights were on, too.   

Before long, however, he was once again fit and ready to be the boss on the battlefield of our backyard!   

The bows and arrows were taut and ready; broomstick horses grazed, eager for the charge to begin; the wagons were circled; water pistols were loaded.

Every time I drive to and from our local supermarket I pass by the area where my brother’s ashes were spread..  

Each time I pass by the area that looks down to the valley below and across to the western range, I acknowledge my brother...my loss...and the love I still feel for him...along with the same feelings, emotions, for our late mother and grandmother.  

We were the Four Musketeers.  Together, we faced many hurdles...some were won...some were lost...  

Memories remain...


The curtain is slowly descending on the dying day
Proudly the sun bows giving an encore display
Its cloak of many colours whetting our appetite
As it languishes after a spectacle of brightness
How rapidly the hue changes as we gasp in awe
From blue to grey, merging gently into purple
Tinges of pink, flashes of crimson and orange
A potpourri of colour unable to be recaptured

Birds in final flight safely wend their way to nest
Tools laid to rest men tread wearily on their way
Home before the departure of the fiery gilded orb
A prelude to darkness encompasses land and sea
Afterglow openly teases as we grasp the remnant
Of the dying day in readiness of what lies ahead
Suddenly\engulfed in stillness in sombre light
Moment's depression witnessing a farewell salute
 
Day is replaced as the heavens magicallycome alive
Sparkling phosphorescence dancing gaily above
Quietness descends as the mysteries of night unfold
Thoughts of the past, present, of what may lay ahead
Envelop final lingering moments as sleep takes hold
A new day awaits backstage hidden behind the drapes
Adventures to explore some unknown some the same
Beginning afresh shared with players in Life's game 

 

Steamed Orange Pudding: Grease an 8 cup-capacity metal pudding steamer; line base with baking paper. Using electric mixer beat 185g softened butter, 3/4c caster sugar and 2tsp finely grated orange rind until light and fluffy. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating to combine. Sift 1-1/2c S.R. flour over mixture; add 1/2c milk. Fold until just combined. Spoon mixture into steamer. Smooth top. Secure lid. Place in large saucepan. Carefully pour boiling water into pan until halfway up side of steamer. Cover pan. Place over med-heat. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 1-1/2hrs’ top up with boiling water when necessary. Make syrup:  Combine 1/4c orange juice and 1/2c caster sugar in saucepan over med-heat. Cook, stirring until sugar dissolves (do not boil); then bring to the boil; reduce heat to low. Simmer until thick and syrupy. Remove from heat. Add orange segments from 2 peeled oranges. Remove pan from heat. Carefully lift steamer from water; stand 10mins. Turn onto a plate; spoon over syrup. Serve with cream.

Lemon Roasted Garlic Spinach Dip: Preheat oven 175C. Squeeze excess moisture from 400g thawed spinach. In pan heat 1tbs olive oil; warm 1 head roasted garlic (about 8 cloves) and lemon wedges from half a lemon (wedge half; slice other half). Cook gently until garlic is soft and warm and lemon is breaking down into very soft pieces. In bowl mix 1/c sour cream, 240g cream cheese, 155g Laughing Cow cheese or other soft cheese and 1/3c grated parmesan; add 1tsp smoked paprika, 1/2c mozzarella and 1/2c gouda. Fold in  roasted garlic and spinach. Place in an ovenproof dish; top with 1/c shredded mozzarella, 1/2c shredded gouda, lemon slices and fresh thyme leaves. Bake until topping is golden, about 20mins.  



Thursday, June 18, 2020

DON’T SQUAWK! LET’S WAWK THE WAWK, AND TAWK THE TAWK!















It’s an understatement to say English is a complex language. It masquerades under a multitude of guises. 

I’ll try my best to write wot I mean out right.  Having started this train thought, it’s my rite of passage to explain!  


See…sea…what I meen…ummm, mean? 

After this you might be left with a thoughtful and solemn mien if you understand the following.  You’ll see what I mean…..

“Word” is pronounced “werd”, not “ward”, or “wawd”.   “Word” doesn’t rhyme with Ord, the river in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. 

“Nerd” is “nerd” – why, then, isn’t “word” spelled/spelt… “werd”? 

“Heard” the “herd”?  

Blindly following the herd, many presently are shouting and hustling to be heard - part of the herd to be heard, solving naught.  

Instead of being rabble-rousers causing trouble, perpetrating violence, making matters worse, they ought to lay down their “sawds”. 

Why isn’t “sword” pronounced with the emphasis on “sw” as in “sweet”?

Hear me say…“Here I am!”

Please bear with me as I bare my thoughts; not my soul, nor sole…my thorts…“thawts”.  

If “bear” is pronounced “bair”, and not “beer”, why then is “hear” not “hare”, or “hair”, instead of “heer”?

“Dear” is “deer” - not “dare”, or “dair”.  Should “dare” be “d-ahh”?  “Are” is!  Why isn’t “are”, “air”, not “ahhh”?  “Hair” is “hair”.  Air is “air”, which makes sense because “air” is as it appears, even though air can’t be seen – not in any scene, so don’t tie yourself in a knot if you can’t see it.

 “Coup” is “coo”.  Due to no fault/folt of its own, “coup” lost its “p”; its right to be pronounced as written, and its right to sound like “ou” in “sound” and “couch…ouch!
Hey! After the coup they flew the coop in a coupĂ© knocking over a bale of hay in the process!  

Said” is “sed”.  

And it is said that “shed” is shed, not “shaid. 

One is “wun”; “won” is “wun”.  “Won” doesn’t rhyme with “on”…“wan” does.  How can that be?  

“Two is “too”, and “to”, too!   (I sound like a train running beside a lane. I’ve popped a vein, I think!)

To make peace before I sat down to enjoy a piece of steak, I threw a slab of teak I’d used as a stake through the bushes before the usher saw me. He’d be sore at me.

As I did that, I spotted the “toff” from over the way fill the horse trough with worter/water.   His chilled only child lives down Childers way with his own two children.  

The father lives farther away, but he holds the reins. He reigns; but the kids don’t let him rain on their parade.

They produce the farm produce. They’d never desert the land for dessert, or when drought causes the ground to be like a desert – even if some are of the thought they ought.

The buck does stop with them.  Dear me! The buck skids to a halt when it spies the does on the deer farm nearby, and then it does a bolt. 

About to sow seeds, Joe saw the sow escape the pig pen. Joe was close to the door, but he forgot to close it.  

A dove dove into the shrubs to escape the sow.

 “I thought it’d already sown its wild oats,” Sue, sewing by the sewer, said to Stu.  On her lap were a shirt she’d sewn, and her phone.  Before beginning to sew she made a stew.

Confused yet?  I am…and I’m the one telling the tail…tale!

I’ll wind up now.  I have to close the windows.  A strong wind has begun to blow across the bow, and my bow has fallen from my hair...oh, yeah!

If I cood, I wood wound my wound tightly with a bandage, but I can’t because my aunt would taunt me, and start to rant.


Beef and Barley Stew: Season 1.5 to 2kg chuck or round steak, cut into suitable-sized cubes. Add 1tbs olive oil to large, heavy-based pot; heat over med-high heat; brown beef. Add 300g thinly sliced mushrooms, 8 large carrots, cut into pieces, 6 minced garlic cloves, 4 or 5 potatoes cut into pieces, 1 or 2 sliced celery stalks, 1 or 2 chopped onions, 6c beef stock, 1c dry red wine, 1/4c tomato paste, 2 cans tomatoes, 1tbs Dijon mustard, 1/4c Worcestershire sauce and 1or 2tsp mixed herbs or Italian herbs; stir in 3/4c pearl barley; add 1 or 2 bay leaves. Cover; reduce heat to low; simmer on stove top for a couple of hours until cooked through and full of flavour.  Remove bay leaf/leaves before serving.

Bourbon Steak aka Berbon or Bow-bon Stake: Season 4x3cm sirloin steaks; set aside 20mins. Rub steaks all over with Dijon mustard. Place steaks, 2 at a time, in a hot cast-iron pan over med-high heat; add 1tbs butter. Cook steaks until browned, and cooked as desired doneness; remove from pan; set aside. Repeat with remaining steaks. Bourbon Sauce (Berbon Source!): In small bowl, combine 1/3c bourbon, 1/4c soy sauce, 1tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4c packed brown sugar, 1/2tsp each, dried basil and dried rosemary; whisk. Add to hot pan; cook over med-heat for about 2mins, or until slightly reduced. Stir in 2/3rd cup half milk-half cream; cook a couple of minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat; place steaks back in pan; turn to cover – the steak that is; serve. 






Thursday, June 11, 2020

DON’T STOP THE MUSIC...


 





Presently, there is a battle going on here at my desk...between Shama, my female cat, and me.  Shama is insisting on taking over the computer – my computer, by the way, not hers!  I think she believes she has a better tale to tell than I have.  She has a tail...I’m not sure about the “tale”.   Maybe she has a better story to tell...perhaps I’ll let her take over the keyboard next week, but this week I shall retain control!  Who is the boss in this household?  Okay! Okay! I know my place!  It’s not me!  Obviously, I’m a very slow learner if I’m only waking up to this fact now!  Remy and Shama are often snuggled up together on the bed, giggling about my denseness.

Sadly, on 20th March, 2020, at the age of 81 years, country singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, entrepreneur Kenny Rogers shuffled off this mortal coil.  Fortunately, Kenny didn’t pack up his music and take it with him.  He left it behind for the rest of us to enjoy forever more.

After telling “Ruben James”...”Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer”...Ruben, who was unfairly referred to by some as the “Coward of the County”, did the exact opposite to what Kenny advised. 

Alas! Ruben James ran off with “Lucille”.

 “She Believes in Me”, Ruben yelled out at the inquisitive “Lady” next door who was furtively peeking through her curtains.  

“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town”, his constant pleas to his first love, had fallen on deaf ears.  Ruby’s excuse for running out on Ruben was she didn’t like the similarity of their names.  For her, it caused too much confusion.   

Rumour has it she ran off with “The Gambler”.  Very soon those two became like “Islands in the Stream”...with no one in between...

For years, from the late 50s forth, Kenny Rogers selflessly shared his wonderful music with the world; and, more particularly after he embarked on his very successful solo career.  However, he didn’t do it alone all of the time. 

Kenny took a gamble, and shared the stage and recording studios with others. His memorable duets with Dolly Parton and Sheena Easton remain dear to our hearts, especially when he sang side by side with the one and only Dolly. Even though he had told Sheena, “We’ve Got Tonight”... he wasn’t cheating on one with the other.

A memory of an evening back in mid-1995 at Collinsville’s Town and Country Hotel-Motel (now called ‘The Pit and Pony” in honour of the ponies that were once used, many years ago, to venture underground at the coal mine) always brings a smile to my face.

I was the well-patronised hotel’s cook, catering for the hungry hordes’ breakfast, lunch and dinner needs seven days a week. 

The tavern boasted a large public bar, which included four pool tables.  A doorway led to an expansive function/dining room that ran the length of the rear section of the hotel. The room also had a long bar, a further two pool tables, and four or five poker machines.  A small restaurant with seating for around 30 diners was off to the side of the main dining/function area.

Across a driveway at the rear of the building were...from memory....10, maybe 12, motel rooms, and the owners’ accommodation. 

Most weeks, at times twice a week, live musical entertainment from far afield, mostly country music artists, performed in the large room.  Those crowded nights were lots of fun, filled with great music, and happy patrons. 

One evening...I forget who the visiting performer and his backing group were...during one of their breaks, a local likely lad of around 21 years took over the mike.  He was the son of a couple who owned and operated the sole take-away shop up the street a bit. 

Grabbing his moment in the spotlight, the young bloke was prepared to make the most of his stolen moment...and make the most of it, he did. 

Full of Dutch courage, beer bravado, and/or rum spirit, perched on a chair in front of the microphone, the blonde-haired lad commenced singing Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”. 

At first nobody took much notice of him, but then the crowd realised they were witnessing a unique performance.  Unaccompanied, he had the lyrics and melody down pat.  He didn’t need musical backing.  

Everyone, including the visiting musicians, was held in awe of his rendition, proven by the lengthy applause he received at the end of his faultless interpretation.
The young fellow probably has forgotten that night, and his flawless, entertaining performance....but I haven’t.  

I can still see it as clear as if the spotlight is still beaming upon him... I can still hear his interpretation as if the microphone was switched on....

Some of the best times I've had in my life, to this point in time, were when I lived and worked in Collinsville...the coal-mining town in the coal-rich Bowen Basin, which contains Australia's largest coal reserves.    For me, such fun times will not be repeated, nor will they be replaced....


Addendum:  Prior to working at Collinsville's Town and Country Hotel-Motel, I was the chef/manager, in the employ of the Morris Corporation (aka Morris Catering), who held the contract with Mount Isa Mines.  Mount Isa Mines Limited operates the Mount Isa copper, lead, zinc and silver mines near Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia. as part of the Glencore group of companies.  My job, and that of my staff was to feed the hungry single miners, both in the Mess/Canteen, as well as supply meals to them at the mine..."Collinsville Coal"...plus manage the single men's quarters....accommodation. I had relocated, within the company, from Glenden,  In the early 1980s (a decade before I moved there) Glenden was constructed by Mount Isa Mines to provide accommodation for workers at their Newlands coal mine....and their families.  The town is 30kms from the mine.  

The family of one of my staff members owned a large cattle station between Collinsville and Bowen. When the pit ponies finally retired from mine duty in 1990, they spent their well-earned retirement years leisurely grazing on the cattle station, sharing their stories with the beef cattle   The pit ponies play a very important role in Collinsville's history.




Country Brekkie: Cook 4 bacon rashers, cut into 2-1/2cm pieces, until crisp; drain, leaving about 2tbls of drippings in pan. Add 1.2c chopped onion and 6c cubed frozen hash browns, or fresh potatoes, to pan; stir to coat in drippings; cook 2-3mins. Add 1/4c water; cover. Cook 15 mins or until soft; flip once or twice. When you let the potatoes sit without flipping, they get nice and brown; stir in 1minced garlic clove; cook 1min; season. Make 4 wells in spuds, exposing pan base; crack an egg in each. Cover pan; cook over low heat 8-10mins. Sprinkle shredded cheddar and bacon on top during last couple of minutes; sprinkle with chopped shallots; serve.

Breakfast Quesadillas: Whisk 6 eggs, 1/4c milk, salt and pepper; add ½  green capsicum, diced; stir to combine (If you prefer softened capsicum, sautĂ© in a little butter before adding to eggs); set aside. In a large pan, melt 2tbs butter over med-heat; add egg mix; cook until no longer runny, stirring often; remove to a plate. In same pan, melt 2tbs butter over med-heat. Using 6 soft tortilla shells, place 1 soft tortilla shell in middle of pan. Top with shredded cheese, leaving a ½ inch border around tortilla. Spread eggs in an even layer on top of cheese, followed by bacon and a sprinkling of more cheese, if desired. Place second tortilla shell on top of egg mixture; lightly press down. Heat 2-3min on both sides, or until shell is slightly golden and cheese has melted. Repeat with remaining tortilla shells. Serve immediately. 

Country Oatmeal Cake: Preheat oven 175C. Grease or spray 9″ x 13″ cake pan with cooking spray. Mix 1c quick oats and 1-1/4c boiling water together bowl; set aside. Sift 1-1/3c plain flour, 1tsp baking soda, 1tsp salt and 1tsp cinnamon; set aside. In bowl of mixer, using blade attachment, mix 1/2c (113g) butter and 3 eggs together on medium speed for about 1min.  Add 1c light brown sugar, 1c white sugar and 1tsp vanilla; mix on medium speed until mixture is light and creamy – about 1min.  Add about half of flour mixture while mixing on low speed; followed by the soaked oats; then add other half of flour; mix on low just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Pour the mixture into prepared pan.  Bake 30-35mins until toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.  While cake is baking, prepare topping:  Place 1c light brown sugar, 1/4c cream, 1/4c milk and 4tbs butter in pan over medium heat.  Stir, and bring to boil. Remove from heat; add 1c shredded coconut. Mix well with large spoon.  Spread mixture onto hot, cooked cake.  Place under grill for about 1min until topping starts to bubble, and the coconut begins to turn a golden colour; keep a close eye on it!!!  Serve cake at room temperature...or slightly warm.