Sunday, January 24, 2021





Put your laughing gear around this.  It’s Australia Day, 26th January, once again.

Whether you are one of the 25% who disagree with the date and want it altered, or not, enjoy the day...let's Aussies enjoy and love our country...Australia.   

You can bet your bottom dollar if the date is changed there will still be some who won’t like the chosen new date. We don’t all agree with each other all the time, on all things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be civil, or friends.  In a democratic society one is allowed to be an individual – free to be an have one’s own individual thoughts and beliefs.

What I believe, you may not...but that doesn’t make you my enemy or me, yours....I'm just sayin', cobber!

However, enough of far as I’m concerned, we’ve had enough discord lately, everywhere we, there and everywhere...

I’m still a “Happy Little Vegemite”...and, unlike some others, I like to load my toast with lashings of faint, light-handed spreading of the spread for me. individual choice, and taste...

Also, throughout my childhood in the late 40s through the 50s, Peanut Paste was what we/I called “Peanut Paste”...never did we/I call it “Peanut Butter”.  So through The Noughties I shall continue to be naughty. and shall continue referring to the peanut spread as,  “Peanut Paste”. 

Old habits...and tastes are hard to break...I have no intention of breaking these ones.... Forget the ‘spoonfuls of sugar”....just allow me to have spoonfuls of Peanut Paste!

The term has been used in rural Queensland, Australia, as a synonym for peanut butter. This followed pressure from dairy farmers who did not want peanut butter competing with butter for market share.

The product was known in Western Australia and South Australia for many years as peanut paste because, by definition, butter is a dairy product. The same product was available in other states as peanut butter. Manufacturers complained about having to produce different labels for different states and the Western Australian government changed the rules on the use of the word butter to allow for one set of labels.

Every day is Australia Day...for example...a day in 1992...

In a quaint little Suzuki 4WD, with just me for company, I was driving along the 119km winding dirt track between Collinsville and Glenden, up in the Bowen Basin.  There was not another soul within cooee.  

 In a world of my own, listening to the car radio, I trundled along happily.  As I rounded a bend, I got the shock of my life when I found myself eye to eye with an emu at my driver’s side window. It looked at me in equal wide-eyed surprise.  The emu’s head was level with mine. True blue! 

I’m not sure who received the biggest shock, the emu or me!  By the look on its face before taking off at break-neck speed across the nearest paddock, the long-legged bird hadn’t expected its solitude to be rudely interrupted, either.  He’d probably been listening to John Williamson’s “Old Man Emu” on his Walkman!

After pulling into the Emu Beach Holiday Park at Emu Park, a small coastal town south-east of Rockhampton, Central Queensland aka Capricorn Coast, during a trip north with my then husband, Randall back in the early 80s, the first thing I did, as I always did when checking into the various caravan parks, was head off to inspect the ablutions’ block.   (I have written about this particular episode in an earlier post...) 

Upon exiting the building I received a hell of a surprise.  Waiting for me at the doorway was a group...six or eight....of very curious emus.  The long-necked critters were very keen to learn everything and anything they could about me and my travels! 

Over at our campsite Randall was looking on laughing his head off.  He’d been eagerly awaiting my reaction when I came face to face with the group of the world’s second largest living birds...the inquisitive throng of Australia’s largest native birds, which was waiting for me to exit the building!  (I don’t qualify as Aussie’s largest bird...the emu beats me legs down...or up!)

Eungella National Park west of Mackay is an area worth visiting, not only for its beauty but for the numerous animal species who call the area “home”.  

Included among the many rare and unusual creatures is a most unique animal...unique to Australia...the platypus.   

The drive through the Pioneer Valley up to Eungella, high on the Clarke Range is one worth taking.  During one of my visit to the beautiful area when I was living and working in Mackay in early 1998, I had the good fortune to spot a platypus in the waters of Broken River, Eungella National Park. Such pretty, shy little animals they are.

Where but in Australia can one be enjoying a leisurely lunch only to be interrupted by a kangaroo trying to snatch a ring off one’s finger?  Cape Hillsborough Resort is where!   

I was enjoying a pleasant lunch with a friend, when, unawares to me, a huge roo sauntered up behind me. The ill-mannered roo took a fancy to a ring on my right hand.  He was determined to have it, the cheeky devil!   You can imagine my surprise, I am sure, when I felt a tug at my hand!

The roos at Cape Hillsborough are massive and many, with no table manners!  They think they own the place. They are not to be messed with. 

The wallabies on Hinchinbrook Island believed the resort’s dining area was theirs.  There are no kangaroos on Hinchinbrook Island, but the wallaby population make up for their absence.

Mr. B, the Wallaby was the leader of the pack.  He had balls, even if he only had one. He lost a ball in an argument with a car on the highway at Cardwell when he was a joey still in his mother’s pouch.  He didn't go nuts over the loss, though.  After losing his mother, and his ball, Mr. B had a ball living on the island.  

Mr. B was a star of stage and screen...literally.  At one point in his career he'd been flown to Melbourne to appear (star) on a national television variety show!

Only in Australia...any day of the year....anywhere....

Vegemite-Cheese Scrolls: Pre-heat oven to 220C. Sift 3c self-raising flour and pinch salt into bowl. Rub in 50g cold butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Using 1-1/2c milk, stir in enough milk to make a soft dough.  Knead on lightly-floured surface. Roll to form a rectangle, roughly 40cmx25cm.  Spread vegemite over the dough using flat knife.  Sprinkle over 1c grated cheese. Roll up dough starting from long side first. Cut 10x4cm pieces from the roll. Place pieces close together, cut side up, on a greased baking tray.  Sprinkle grated cheese over top. Bake 10-15mins, or until golden.

Peanut Paste Crunchies: Preheat the oven 200 C.  Cream 1/2c white sugar and 1/2c firmly packed light brown sugar with 1/2c butter and 1/2c crunchy peanut paste until light and fluffy.  Beat 1 large egg and 1/2tsp vanilla extract into the mixture until smooth and well blended.  In separate bowl, combine 1-1/2c plain flour, 1/2tsp salt and 1/2tsp baking soda.  Gradually, blend flour mixture into creamed ingredients.  Using lightly floured hands, shape dough into 1-inch balls; place balls 2-inches apart on paper-line baking tray.  Dip a fork in flour each time and press on balls.  Dust each flattened ball with additional white sugar, if desired.  Bake for about 7mins, or until lightly browned around edges.


Thursday, January 14, 2021





Acrylic painting by me of Ghost Gums

Family trees – often they make it difficult to see the forest.

 Some folk go to extraordinary lengths, out on a limb, to dig up trunk loads of information; multitude limbs to root out their ancestry.  With the intention of learning about who went before them they branch out in every direction, pouring over clusters of data. Nothing is left swinging.  Persistent in their searches, their interest is perennial.  Their assiduous, dogged determination to discover everything they can about their lineage - from where it stemmed – is unyielding. 

Tirelessly the seekers stalk sites in search of answers, barking out questions.

 In the wee small hours off they lumber to slumber, only to wake a few hours later to begin digging again, feeling renewed like an evergreen.  Their curiosity remains perennially fresh. 

At times the deadwood is tossed aside or ignored, usually for good reason.  Most families, whether they like to admit it or not, have a skeleton or two hidden away in their silky oak, pine, mahogany or cedar cupboards.  There’s no point selling the cupboards on Gumtree.  Skeletons are adept at finding somewhere else to hide.  It’s a haunting thought, but they will remain to haunt...if you allow them to do so.   Perhaps there’s a spray available that eradicates skeletons.  Termites may be the answer. They could be coerced into embracing a liking for bones instead of wood.

My family tree is non-existent these days. Deforestation occurred years ago.  I’d better tread carefully, or I’ll be blamed for global warming!  

There’re no trees or branches blocking forest views in my insignificant corner of the field.  I’m the sole tree left standing. I’m probably more like a shrub these days, than a tall, straight, strong tree.   So far I’ve dodged the chainsaws. 

Branches of my family tree have been lopped back so far there’s no chance of regrowth. I don’t pine about the situation. Content I am being a gnarly, old, sole soul.

 I’m not unlike the Wollemi Pine – I’ve outlived dinosaurs.  There is a saying - “No man is an island”.   I’m a woman, so the saying doesn’t refer to me.  I enjoy being an island, and in no way do I feel deserted.  

“Deserted” is from where the term “desert island” originated.  As they do, people got lazy along the way and dropped off the “ed” at the end of the word.  It’s no secret I love tropical islands having lived on two back in the 80s and early 90s.

Actually, by having no family - no branches – I suppose, instead of being a shrub, I’m a palm, which, in fact, makes me a herb.  I’m herbaceous because palms are herbaceous – a non-woody plant.

There’s nothing wooden about me.  Pinch me, and you’d discover this to be so.  I am fleshy as opposed to woody!  Wouldn’t you know it! 

 My affinity to palms has been long-standing.  Growing in our yard when I was a kid were three palm trees.  We called them “monkey nut trees”.  The truth could be I descended from the Planet of the Apes! Now, that’s a thought upon which to ponder.  

As well as the she-oaks that grew on the foreshores of both Hinchinbrook and Newry Islands, which were my hang-outs for a while, were palm trees.  I never learned how to scale them, but I was proficient at scaling fish – and eating coconuts.

My mind works in mysterious ways.  Don’t question why or how. I don’t have the answers.... 


Salmon with Crispy Coconut Kale: Rinse 1c jasmine rice in cold water; drain. Place in saucepan with 1c coconut milk, 1c water and ½tsp salt. Bring to boil; stir. Reduce to lowest heat, cover; cook 15mins. Remove from heat. While rice is cooking, heat oven to 200C.  Combine in sealed jar, 1/3c melted coconut oil, 1tsp sesame oil, 2tbs coconut aminos or tamari, and 1tbs Sriracha. Shake until emulsified. Place 3 cubed kumara on baking sheet. Drizzle with 1tbs melted coconut oil; sprinkle with paprika. Toss to coat; bake 30mins, or until tender. Place 1 bunch trimmed kale, sliced into strips and 1c coconut flakes on baking sheet. Drizzle with 2/3rd of dressing. Toss until well coated. Drizzle 4 salmon fillets with 1- 2tbs of remaining dressing. Bake salmon and coconut kale mixture during last 15mins of sweet potato's baking time. Don’t let kale burn. Serve over fluffed rice with an extra drizzle of dressing.  

Coconut Fish: In bowl, beat together 1 egg and 2tbs pineapple juice. Spread 2/3c flour and 1-1/2c shredded coconut on separate plates, suitable for dredging. Add 2/3tbs oil to pan set over med-heat. Dry 5 snapper fillets. Dredge in flour; dip in egg; then coat in coconut. Working with 2-3 fillets at a time, add fish to pan. When coconut starts to brown, carefully turn over. When fish is cooked, remove from pan. Add more oil to pan if necessary; repeat with remaining fish.  

Lemon Salmon & Herbs:  Lightly oil a baking sheet. In bowl, whisk 2tbs  brown sugar, 2tbs lemon juice, 1tbs Dijon, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2tsp dried dill, 1/2tsp oregano, 1/4tsp thyme and 1/4tsp rosemary; season. Place 4 chopped zucchinis in a single layer onto baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil; season to taste. Add 4 salmon fillets in a single layer; brush each with herb mixture. Place into 200C oven; cook until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 16-18mins, dependent on fillet thickness. Serve with lemon wedges.


Sunday, January 03, 2021



The sands of time ran out on 2020.   2020 roared by with a loud roar, and down the gurgler it went.  With the New Year under way, there’s something important everyone must remember. It’s important to start a new year off with a positive attitude.  Equally important is to continue the attitude throughout the rest of the year.  I hope 2021 treats everyone kindly.  Gently, gently does day at a time. 

100 years ago... 1921, if you’re counting on your fingers...saw the end of the Spanish Flu.  History does repeat itself, so we’ve been told...I’m sure we’re all hoping similar occurs within the next few months, if not sooner....

By choice, I spent the Festive Season quietly and contentedly with my two best mates, who, like me, are indoor cats (I do sneak out once in a while...they don’t).   

As done in the past, I attended my landlords’ annual Christmas party on the Tuesday night prior to Christmas Day.  The evening was very pleasant.  I spent most of the time chatting with a lovely elderly, 92 year old gentleman.  The majority of the people in attendance I see only once a that particular annual get-together.  The faces are familiar, but in many cases, not the names.  I’m pretty sure no one takes offence when offering their name for the hundredth time!   

Christmas Day, Boxing Day and at New Year my furry friends and I feasted on delicious king prawns – Aussie, of course, as we enjoyed each other's company.  My time was spent on reading, snoozing, crosswords, bingeing on favoured series and movies, snoozing, reading, snoozing, crosswords, bingeing on favoured series and infinitum....Their time was spent on snoozing....

My furry mates were happy with their gifts.  I was happy with the gift of their presence.  

We Three Musketeers have shared 18 Christmases and New Year’s Eves.  They know the words to “Auld Lang Syne” off by heart.  We link hands and paws as they miaow along with me (I don’t miaow...I sing) at midnight every 31st December.  Carried away in the mood of the moment, they drown me out.  Shama is a coloratura soprano; Remy a lyric tenor. Well, Adele can yet, I’m no threat!

2020 was a doozy of a year, wasn’t it?   It threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at us.  A year filled with sadness and concern, it dragged out every moment, but, oddly, the year flew by at a rapid rate of knots. Has the pace picked up now I am an old you-know what?  When I was many years younger than I am now, 12 months took much longer to pass by....or so it seemed.  Now, within a blink or two a year has passed by.

So here we are....having taken our first few steps, or strides, into January, 2021.   

Let’s make “empathy” an operative word for 2021... Let’s add “commonsense”, “kindness”, “good-humour”, and “solicitude” as well...


BBQ Prawns: Peel and de-vein 800g Aussie king prawns; leave tails intact. Mince 1tbs each fresh parsley, thyme, coriander and shallots; crush 3 large garlic cloves. Combine ½ melted butter, 1/4c x-virgin olive oil, 3tbs lemon juice, salt and black pepper.  Add prawns; marinate at room temp, 15mins, or in fridge, 30mins (no longer, or prawns will go mushy). Remove prawns from marinade; discard marinade. Thread prawns on thin skewers; grill on barbie until just opaque, about 2mins per side. Line platter with fresh spinach leaves; arrange skewers on platter; garnish with lemon.

Salsa Verde BBQ Prawns: Preheat bbq to high. Place 1/2c each, roughly chopped mint and Italian parsley in bowl with 1/2c finely chopped pitted green olives, 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 2 finely chopped anchovy fillets, 2tbs finely chopped toasted slivered almonds, and 1tbs salted baby capers; add 125ml x-virgin olive oil, zest and juice of 2 lemons; gently whisk to combine; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle 2tsp oil over a pile of peeled green king prawns, season; toss to coat. Cook 2mins each side on grill or until lightly charred and just cooked. Transfer to a plate; cover to keep warm. Brush 2 red onions cut into wedges, 2 quartered lengthwise witlof (or Cos) and 180g thickly sliced haloumi with 2 tsp x-virgin olive oil; season; cook on grill 2mins each side or until lightly charred. Transfer to plate. Arrange onions, witlof, haloumi, prawns and watercress on a platter. Drizzle with salsa verde to serve.