Wednesday, June 23, 2021



The truth is...I’ve not had a bath in over 20 years.  Calm down!  Calm down! There’s no need to get your nappy in a knot!  The reason is simple...I don’t have a bath tub, only a shower recess!  

My car has been sluggish starting lately.  I know!  I should use the key, not kicking.  I have been using the key, but it still groaned and moaned, not eager to hit the trail.  Before my car dug its tyres in and refused to start completely, I linked up the battery charger.  Luckily for all concerned that did the trick. 

After the battery was fully charged I thought about attaching the charger to me.  I need charging as much as my car battery...probably more.  With the help of chilly mornings and a warm bed, getting out of said warm bed on said chilly mornings is difficult for this old bird.  I drag out the inevitable as long as possible.  If it wasn’t for the thought of the freshly-squeezed orange juice I’d enjoy once I’d risen, it would be easy to remain undercover under covers until the first burst of spring when then, and only then, I’ll chill out.  Meanwhile, I’ll keep the chill out, be sluggish and keep warm, undercover of the covers, away from the madding crowd, my way.

It’s my right to do so until the rite of spring.  It was good enough for Mr. Stravinsky, so it’s good enough for me. Maybe then, and only then, I will, like Nijinsky, or Nureyev...or, more appropriately, Margot Fonteyn... do a flying leap and spring out of bed in the mornings.  I’ve enough crosswords, cryptic and general knowledge, to keep me occupied until spring has sprung. 

If I’m missing in non-action it’s because I’m purposely dodging and missing the action,

Not only do I and my car battery need charging, my NBN/Telstra connection shut down yesterday for a few hours!  The Telecommunications industry (what an oxymoron!) needs a swift, firm kick up the butt.  This is, after all, 2021, the so-called “modern era of technology”!   I pay my bills before time.  I expect reliable service in return.  How naive I must be.  It’s not much to ask, in my opinion. Putting it politely, such interruptions are extremely say the least.

It’s just as well I’m not a social beast.  At times I’m a bit of a beast, but because I’m not social I do my utmost not to scare the locals. 

If my battery isn’t fully charged it doesn’t really matter. I’ve no immediate, or long term plans to run or swim marathons.  I’ll sit watch the Olympics via TV, with my feet up.

Seeing we’re a century on from the Roaring Twenties, and are presently experiencing the Raging Twenties, maybe we could create an engaging, up-dated version of The Charleston, while, also resurrecting some of the fashions of the 1920s.  However, because I’m in my Ranting Seventies, I’ll endeavour to be unflappable, which will be difficult to achieve, and maintain, when my NBN connection refuses to do what it is supposed to do.

Like with the Olympics, I’ll watch the fun from the side-lines in the hope of catching the Great Gatsby’s eye. 

These days if I tried to kick up my heels, Charleston-style, I’d end up flat on my back, or full frontal on my front! That’s the truth!  Bye!  I’m off to have a shower...and, that’s the truth, too!


Pecan Orange French Toast: The night before: In a large bowl, whisk together 5 medium, lightly beaten eggs, 2c full-fat milk, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp freshly-grated orange zest and 1tsp vanilla. Dip French bread slices into egg mixture – (now for something could use thick slices of raisin toast, if desired...just for fun). Place in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread; refrigerate overnight. In the morning: Preheat oven, 175C. In small bowl, combine 1/2c butter, melted, 1c light brown sugar, 1tsp orange zest, 2tbs orange juice, 2tbls maple syrup and 1c chopped, or whole pecans.  Spread mixture over bread.  Bake in preheated oven until golden, about 40-50mins.  Let stand 5mins (you can remain seated) before serving.

Kumara-Cauli Soup: Cut 1 cauliflower head into 5cm chunks; cut 2 medium, peeled kumaras into 2-1/2cm chunks; finely chop 2 garlic cloves; chop 1 large carrot and 1 large onion, Reserve 2cs mini-cauli florets. Heat 2tbs olive oil in saucepan. Cook garlic, onion and carrot over med-heat until onion is translucent; add kumara and large cauli chunks, along with 2lts vegie stock, salt and 1 bay leaf.  Bring to boil, cover; lower heat; simmer 30mins. Discard bay leaf. Add 1tbs chopped thyme; remove from heat. Puree in blender until smooth.  Adjust seasoning; add reserved cauliflower florets.  Return soup to med-low heat; cook until florets are tender, about 10mins.

Orange Olive Oil Cake: Trim 1cm from tops and bottoms 2 med-oranges; quarter oranges lengthwise. Bring 6c water to boil; add oranges. Bring water back to boil; drain. Repeat boiling process twice more with fresh water. Put oranges, 1c sugar, and 4c water into saucepan over med-high heat; cook; stir often, until sugar dissolves and orange rind can be easily pierced with a fork, about 30mins. Remove pan from heat; let cool to room temp. Preheat oven 176C. Grease 9” round cake pan with butter; dust with flour; line base with paper.  Whisk 2-1/2c plain flour, 2tsp baking powder, 1tsp baking soda and 1/2tsp salt; set aside. Remove orange quarters from syrup; remove any seeds; put oranges into processor; pulse until chunky puree forms, 10-12 pulses. Add 1-1/2c sugar, flour, 1tsp vanilla and 4 large eggs; process until incorporated, about 2mins. Add 1/4c plus 2tbs x-virgin olive oil; process until combined. Pour into pan; bake 35-40mins; cool 30mins. Whisk 1/4c orange juice and 1/4c icing sugar to make thin glaze. Remove cake from pan; using brush glaze over top and sides of cake; cool completely.  Garnish cake with flaky salt, if desired. 



Wednesday, June 16, 2021



As the name depicts..."Smithfield Shopping Centre", north of Cairns

The whole mountain community, including those dwelling in the valleys below, heard me roar a couple of weeks ago, I’m sure.  My apologies if I put the fear, not of God in those in the surrounding areas, but the fear of a raging old banshee. 

The wailing, raging, hoary, roaring old banshee was me.  My soaring roaring turned the air purple, scaring the white cockatoos away. They’ve not been seen or heard since.  I ruffled their tail feathers so much I think they’re still en route to Western Australia with not a backward glance.  

Much louder than that of an agitated boar, my roar almost blew off the back door!

I love a tasty, hot pizza straight from the oven.  Once upon a time in a land not far away I used to prepare pizzas from scratch, but nowadays I’m not as industrious. 

It’s not worth my going to the effort just for me so I travel the easy route by purchasing Aussie-made thin-crust frozen pizzas. When in the mood for a pizza I add more fresh toppings, of choice, (no pineapple!) until my pizza looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Once it’s to my satisfaction, into the oven it goes.

And then, I pace a virtual piazza awaiting the golden, melted cheese-covered pizza to emerge from the oven, with my assistance, of course. 

Ahhh....back to the other aroma akin to an Italian trattoria filled the air as I removed my carefully loaded (topped) pizza from the oven.  The cheese had melted perfectly.  It was golden ...oh, so deliciously temptingly golden! 

Easing the pizza from the tray onto a plate, I drooled at the thought of what lay ahead.  My delectable lunch was only a moment inch or three away. 

Uh-oh!  Oh! No! A disaster of Titanic proportions lay ahead in my immediate future.

“The best laid plans of mice and men (and women)...often go awry,..” 

Wham! Bam! No thank you, Sam...or Lee!  No pizza for me! 

With the help of my wayward elbow, onto the floor the whole kit and caboodle went!  Plate and pizza smashed into pieces as I roared in despair at the disrepair far beyond repair. 

Scooping up the debris, my growling continued while into the garbage my lunch went, untouched by human hand; uneaten by roaring human.  Not a skerrick did I savour. 

My disposition from the demolition was not fit to be shared. I sulked my way through the afternoon.  The two bananas I ate after my angst had dissipated slightly had to suffice as a substitute lunch.  I was in no mood for food.

Years ago, back in the late 80s when living at Yorkeys Knob, the northern beachside suburb of Cairns, I worked in a real estate office situated in the Smithfield shopping centre during the day, and moonlighted at night, cooking and serving, in a small pizza eat-in/takeaway joint.  For a brief period in my life I was a “pizzailo”.  The owner of the business had two other similar outlets; one in Machans Beach, and another in Cairns proper.

I can imagine how entertained my customers would’ve been if my performance of the other day had occurred after I’d extracted their pizzas from the oven. 

A word of’s not the best way to keep patrons entertained while waiting for their meals. It wouldn’t be the best way to keep the owner amused, either. 

Luckily for me, when disaster struck here, my two furry rascals were the only witnesses to my distorted face and loud, prolonged bellow. I think they ducked for cover under the covers, thankful it wasn’t their lunch I’d destroyed. 

Guess what I’m having for lunch today...after I’ve carefully removed it from the oven. Oops!


Pizza Dough: Preheat oven 240°C. Put in a couple of pizza stones, or 2 large baking trays, to get really hot. Mix 400g plain flour, 1x7g dried yeast, 1tsp salt and 1tsp caster sugar in bowl. Make well in centre; add 2tbs olive oil; add about 225ml water to bring together as a dough. Tip onto floured surface; knead 1min, just until smooth. Leave to rest under the upturned bowl while preparing toppings. Roll out one ball at a time, to about 25cm diameter. Stretch and press dough with fingertips until it’s about 30cm diameter; indent slight thicker crust around edge; repeat to make 2nd pizza. Spread each with tomato sauce base; add toppings of choice. Drizzle with a little oil; rest 10-15mins. Slide pizzas onto preheated bases, still on lining paper to help lift them easily. Bake 10-15mins until base is golden and crisp.

Calzone: Place pizza stone – if using - in bottom third of oven; preheat oven 230C. Cook 240g pork sausage, removed from casing, over med-high heat until brown; break it into crumbles. Add 1 diced green capsicum and ½ red onion, diced; cook until tender; season; remove onto paper towel to drain. Section off ¼ of dough. Flour surface; roll dough into 8-9 inch circle. Place on a piece of parchment paper. Spread about 3tbs ricotta cheese onto circle half; leave a 1-inch border. Spoon ¼ of sausage filling over ricotta; sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, Layer on pepperoni slices, more cheese, and sliced olives. Fold over the dough so curved edges line up to make a semicircle. Pinch edges together to seal. Repeat process. Cut 3 slits into top of each to allow steam to escape.  Brush egg wash over dough. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. With paper underneath, transfer each Calzone to the stone, or place on large baking sheet; cut off any paper that hangs over, and then into oven. Bake 12-14mins, or until golden. Rest 10mins; cut in half; serve with marinara sauce for dipping.  



Sunday, June 06, 2021



A view to the west as I drive to the local supermarket

The hang-gliding area just around the corner and along the road a bit from where I live...why would I want to travel down to the hustle & bustle of the Gold Coast when I'm surround by such beauty and tranquility?

Sun setting in the west...rural township of Canungra in the valley below

It was a chilly morning, and there I was, snuggled up in bed, warm and comfy, trying to ignore the emerging day, with no desire of stirring, or recognising its persistent presence.  My two furry bed mates were nestled as close to me as they could physically be. (In case you have the wrong two bed mates are furry, four-legged felines...not humans in the need of a shave.  Sometimes they do believe they are human, though!) 

Hoping I wouldn’t move, both were content with my decision to remain in cosy repose. They would’ve been happy if we’d continued cuddled together for the rest of the day.   

My mind was torn in two.  One side told me to remain in bed, warm and snug with my two mates; the other side was nagging, telling me I needed to go to the supermarket. A battle royale raged within.  Finally, the nagging side won.  I surrendered... much to the frustration of my two bedfellows who had been enjoying the pillow talk...or, should it be,  “pillow miaow”?

Normally I venture out to the newsagency and IGA as early as possible, arriving shortly after both have opened their doors.  And, that dear folks, with me being the hermit I am...the reclusive recluse by my wild social weekly trip to “the shops”.    ‘Tis the way I like it.

One cannot help but, believe...there are certain times when things happen for a reason...

Because of my reluctance to crawl out from the warm comfort of my bed that particular morning, I was more than a tad tardy. I hit the trail almost two hours later than usual.  At the newsagency Gavin, Jan and I shared a cheerful, nonsensical chat, accompanied with laughter, making it a lively start to my delayed outing. 

From there onto IGA I went to stir up the always friendly, helpful staff.  The newagency is next door to the supermarket, with a small coffee shop in the same complex.

At IGA’s fruit and vegetable section I ran into...almost literally...a lovely young woman from Canungra, a small town, to the west, a few kilometres away in the valley below.  The very nice young woman was blocking my path, and I, we struck up a friendly stand-off at the impasse. High Noon, it wasn’t.  A lengthy, sunny conversation ensued. She was a lovely person, and still is, I am sure.  It was a very pleasant meeting which was meant to be.  If I’d arrived to the store at my usual time we wouldn’t have met, which would’ve been my loss. 

Further along the store, after chatting up a storm as I went (I really am not such a “gabby” person...really, I am not! But it was a morning filled with joyful attitudes and smiles) the far end of the supermarket I came across a most delightful couple...Sue and Bob, who are around the same age as I am.  We’d never met before.  Until then we’d probably never set eyes on each other.  They, of course, being married, had set eyes on each other before that morning. Sue, Bob and I enjoyed a fun, interesting conversation...the details of which I shan’t go into - suffice to say much laughter was shared. 

At the check-out a further pleasant episode awaited me.

To my surprise, and hers, standing behind me at the check-out was Cathy, the kind person from whom, almost 19 years ago I adopted my two furry mates. Our paths hadn’t crossed since that very special day so long ago.  Hearing me tell the check-out lass the meat in my order was for my cats, not for me, and hearing my name mentioned, Cathy put two and two together. She took the punt I was the “Lee” who had visited her all those years ago.   

I had seen a photo of two little kittens on the notice board outside the old, original IGA that is no longer in existence, and immediately popped into the nearest phone box to ring the number shown thereon.  I still have the photo stuck to the wall here behind my computer desk.  A few weeks before my dearly beloved Pushkin had died, and I was still heartbroken over his loss, but the sight of the two little kittens in that photo grabbed my heart.   

I had intended getting only one kitten...the black and white male, who I christened “Remy”; he almost was named “Tuxedo”...”Tux” for short because it looks like he’s wearing a tuxedo. However, I was a sucker the moment the little tabby kitten sitting beside him, turned her little head towards me and looked me straight in the eye. How could I not adopt her, too?   

The tabby princess...diva....I christened “Shama”.

Both Remy and Shama have been together all their lives, and, in mine, for 19 years come 13th December.

Cathy and I were thrilled our paths crossed that morning.  It was wonderful to meet her again, in person.  Once in a while, every other year, I phone, and speak with either her or her husband to let them know my two furry mates are happy and doing well, but, to my knowledge, we’ve never physically seen each other since that day so long ago.  Cathy and I wouldn’t have recognised each other.  It was only because one of the supermarket’s staff members called me by my name that she took notice, smiled and introduced herself to me.   

We chatted up a happy storm, much to the amusement, and interest of the check-out lass.   

Cathy told me Remy and Shama’s mother is still alive.  I think that is wonderful.  How pleased we were our paths had unexpectedly crossed.

Boy! Oh! Boy!  I sure had a story to tell my spoiled rascals when I arrived home...after they finished scolding me and inspecting my purchases, that is! 

It’s nice to share smiles, laughter and friendly words with nice folk.  It’s also nice to stay snuggled in bed on chilly morns....just ask my two furry bed-hoggers! 

If I’d gone out at my usual time I wouldn’t have shared laughter with those folk I was fortunate to meet that morning a few weeks ago.

One cannot help but, believe...there are certain times when things happen for a reason...” 


Winter French Toast: Make 4 sandwiches using 8 thick slices of soft bread (raisin/sultana bread if preferred), and about 1-1/2tbs jam for each. Spread jam to edges; cut each sandwich into 3 strips. Beat together 4 large eggs, 3/4c milk, 1tsp lemon rind and pinch of salt. Dip each strip into egg mixture to coat. Melt 1tbs butter in non-stick frying pan over med-heat. Working in batches, adding more butter as needed; fry strips 2mins per side or until golden. Sprinkle with icing sugar, or serve with maple syrup for dipping.

 Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash: Heat large pan on med-heat; add 4 slices bacon cut into 1cm thick pieces; sauté until crispy. Remove from pan. Add 1 diced small onion and half red capsicum, diced; sauté 1min. Add 1 large sweet potato, diced into 1cm pieces,(approx 4c of cubes), 1/4tsp each of cumin, garlic powder and paprika to pan; cook 10-12mins; stir often. Place lid on pan for last 5mins to soften sweet potato until fork tender.  Add the bacon, along with 2c roughly chopped kale; stir 1-2mins or until kale has wilted. Create 4 wells in the hash; crack an egg into each; cook eggs to your liking. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with chopped shallot; serve immediately.

Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal: Combine 1/2c rolled oats, 1/2c milk, 1/2c water, ¼ to 1/2tsp cinnamon, 1 apple, chopped (peeled or not) and 1tbs maple syrup in small saucepan. Place over med-heat. Stir regularly until bubbling; cook until apple softens and oats thick and creamy. Serve topped with nuts, more apple, dates and/or preferred.