Saturday, May 30

a good larf

Chatting at home with Simon last night about a colleague who is going through the family court at the moment reminded me of the drama that is seperating one life unit into two. It also rekindled a memory of the depths ex partners can go to to seek revenge on a spouse, to try and equal the pain of the heart. This story is funny and despite the agony at the time i did manage a very good larf.

The crux of the amusement stems from the fact that my ex husbands name is Simon and my then boyfriend (now my husband) is also named Simon and that additionally, my surname is X and my boyfriend (now husband) also has the surname X. My ex husband has a different surname.

The circumstance that i found myself in is that i recieved a letter from the government stating that a certain department had been trying to contact me, unsuccessfully, by phone and had also twice sent someone around to my house to 'interview' me. I had remained uncontactable, hence the letter and would i please call this department for an interview about my current living arrangements.

???
So i call.

The woman who is in charge of my 'case' informs me that they have had an 'anonymous' tip off that i am in fact co-habiting with someone yet recieving extra government allowance allocated for people parenting solo. Could I please confirm that my ex husband had moved back into the house. What the!? That sounds horriffic! NO!

I tell her that but she also informs me that the tip off has included details about a vehicle being seen frequently at the house etc and being there for a few days. I say 'well my ex husband drop the kids off every week but he doesnt even come inside the house and that this tip off is a bit of a mystery to me coz there is no way on earth we are back in a relationship together'.

She asks me a few more questions... my mind is racing around trying to figure out who on earth would make a 'tip off' like this; that my ex and i are back together...its ludicrous! Nuts. A really awful notion! The only person who i think would make a tip off about me being in a relationship (and hence 'concerned' about co-habitation with another man) would be my ex husband but he is the one being tipped off! Im confused. Then the lightbulb goes off. I ask her a few questions about the names she has in front of her...

Is the reported name of involved person Simon? "yes"
Is the surname reported X? "yes"
I tell her that Simon X is not my ex husband, despite the name, that he is my boyfriend and the name of the person doing the tip off would be my ex husband Simon? "Umm I cant reveal that."

I tell her that what has happenned is that someone in the department has seen the names involved and become confused and has assumed that the boyfriend is the exhusband and the ex husband is the boyfriend. It gets really special here as the natural effect of such confusion is that the ex husband has now also implicated himself inadvertently as a co-conspirator in this 'defrauding'. He has, by his own doing, sent the goverment dudes around to his place to answer the same questions i am getting and go through the burecratic nightmare that was required to prove his innocence! Priceless. Boy , did that woman and i have a belly laugh on the phone that day. I really, really would have loved to have been a fly on the wall the day the ex realised what a totally botched job he had made of his attempt to make life difficult for me.

There was no defrauding on my part. Sleepovers dont count. I could have told him that. Ahhh, revenge gone wrong. Sweet enough for me.

Friday, May 29

Haiku Friday


post me a comment.
two micro-loans up for grabs
just two get the gift.

i will draw the winners randomly on 1/6/09

Thursday, May 28

Duxelle and Extract

i didnt want to put you off by telling you in the post title that its another mushroom post. This is what happens when you're into seasonal and local and you blog and you have a short mushroom season and a spot which is prolific. Sorry. Now you know, read on or exit at your leisure...

I should make this post four on my 'what to do with a glut of seasonal produce' posts!

You cant eat as much fresh mushroom as you can pick ( tell me- im not a huge mushroom fan but put me in a forest with thousands and I'll come home with kilos). So we have eaten them in sauce on pasta, fried on toast, stuffed and baked them, we have frozen some fresh and frozen some whole and dried heaps. What else?...we've still got kilos left (and we're planning on another picking this weekend??)


Enter Antonio Carluccios recipes for Mushroom Extract and Wild Mushroom Duxelle (dook-SEHL). A duxelle is a mixture made from minced or roughly chopped wild mushroom sauteed in butter with shallot, garlic, fresh bread crumb, and herbs. I think the duxelle looks particularly beautiful when made with these red pine mushrooms (saffron milk caps) as the colour contrast with the herb looks incredible. I hope they defrost just like this!


It is excellent to freeze and is used as an addition to soups, stuffings, sauces and to fill tarts and to top pasta. Did i say it freezes well? I cooked up about 4 pan loads of duxelle for the freezer, packed into small containers and we did eat a bit along the way...


The extract was simple. Cover chopped mushrooms with water. Bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and add bay leaves, pepper corns, dried porcini, a splash of soy/sherry and cook for 40 min. Strain and squeeze solids, return liquid to pan and and reduce further until liquid is 1/2 to 3/4 in volume. Viola. Bottle. This will keep in the fridge for a while ( how long? im not sure) and can be frozen. I will use this for soups, sauces, stuffed mushroom, anything where i would add stock, actually Im chucking it around the kitchen a fair bit, anywhere i can. It can also be used as a condiment .



That might be my bloomin' lot.
* unless someone can tell me what else to do with a mushroom to preserve it other than pickling them!

Tuesday, May 26

kale karma


I'm not normally a violent person.
Until now.

I dont spray with organic pesticide.
Maybe I'll start. Maybe a kale isolation unit could resolve the problem. I used to just 'remove' offending pests.

I can overlook the holes in the outer leaves of the cabbages, who needs the outer leaves? And why dont they eat the chard? We have plenty of that.
But oh the kale, NOT THE KALE!
My coveted Tuscan kale...
That pushed all my Tarantino buttons.

i have a [reocurring] dream..

well its a bit of a nightmare really. I have it all the time and have done for the last five years. Its a kind of nightmare to start with but the ending is great! I always wake up happy and at peace. I had it again for the second time in the week last night. Its always the same theme but I havent had a recurring dream sequence like this since i was a kid.

It starts with me in a situation; a party, a dinner, a household moment where i am back in a relationship with my ex husband. The kids are usually involved in the dream but always in the 'backgroud'. The main component of the dream at this stage is the sinking feeling im experiencing at the realisation that i am not happy and feel that the rest of my life is a death sentence and i have to share it with this man. Its the re-expereincing of the real life feeling i had the day he moved back into the house after we decided to get back together after a seperation of six months. Dread. Despair. Heavy. Hopeless. Stuck. Dark. Misery. Anger. Death. So i revel in these emotions in the dream a little before the good bit arrives when i realise that Im no longer sharing my life with this Si but the new version, Mark II; the one that actually fits! The new Si usually walks into the dream room as i have this realisation. This moment marks the pinnacle of the dream.

My heart soars, my despair and dread lift and a feeling of pure joy and love rise up in me when i become aware in the dream that I have done the hard work, that those emotions belong to the past and that I am no longer bonded to a life of misery and 'smallness'. That expansiveness and hope are now a part of my living vocabulary. Then I wake up. Smile. The nightmare has gone...

I really love having this dream.

Monday, May 25

crabapple verjus


VERJUS: (vair-zhoo)

1. the tart, fresh, non-fermented juice of unripe wine grapes, crab apples or other unripe fruit. From the French, vert (green) + jus (juice); sometimes called verjuice.

Thats what my Larousse told me. Fantastic, coz crabapples have been weighing on my mind and stressing me out! Since my visit to Olive and Popeyes and coming home with trays of glorious figs and a huge bucket of crabs, Ive been wondering what to do with them. There's not a huge amount to do with such a tart fruit. I've done the crab jelly and we've still got monster loads of paste from the quince harvest... but we are running out of our home made chardonnay verjus. Thats always the deciding factor for me: will I use the end product??? Its all very well and good to make heaps of stuff, but...


So when i discovered that from medieval times, crabapples have been used for making verjus, well i was mighty happy to have found a worthy use for the 10 odd kgs of crabs that have been sitting in the pantry just a little too long and hoping not to end up as compost fodder.

Verjus is a useful kitchen liquid, its much less acidic than vinegar or lemon juice and has a sweetness that adds a mellowness to savoury dishes and desserts. I use it in vinigarettes, to deglaze a saute pan; usually from duck and its a staple in risotto. Ive never used it as a drink mixer but apparently if you just add campari and soda... It keeps forever and unlike vinegar and lemon juice can be used alongside wine in cooking.


The process of making verjus is similar to winemaking -- pick grapes(crabs), crush, press, rack, and bottle. But instead of being stretched out over the course of 12-18 months, since verjus does not need color extraction, fermentation, or barrel aging, the production is straightforward. And, unlike vinegar, which has grape juice or wine acidulated by an introduced culture, verjuice is simply crushed, unripe fruit juice. The grapes used to make verjus are the grapes which have been removed when they are just beginning to ripen in order to strengthen grape vines and allow them to produce full flavored fruit.

But i had crabs, so here's a recipe for Crabapple Verjus.

10 kgs of crabs, washed and with majority of stems removed. Stems can be kept on but you have to be careful not to press too much as they will change the taste of the final product. Additionally if you use a food processor to make a mash then they will have to be removed.

Quickly blanch crabs in boiling water to make pressing easier (stems are more easily removed after blanching)


Press crabs in a wine press if you have one. If you dont have a press then you need to use a food processor and reduce the crabs in batches until a fine pulp is reached. Strain the mash or pressed juice into a bowl with a lip using a muslin/cheesecloth and or a fine sieve and paper/muslin.


Pour juice into sterilised bottles, adding 10% of grappa/vodka of the storage bottles volume, to the mix. I really didnt want to use potassium sorbate to stabilize the juice and prevent fermentation so i opted for the addition of 10% alcohol instead (Maggie says I can!)


If you can ensure the sterility of the containers and the juicing process and know the acidity and sugar levels of your juice then no preservatives (alcohol or potassium sorbate) will be required. However, the presence of sugars and yeasts in the juice will most likely result in a fermentation of your product. This is ok and you can bottle after this process (generally 2-3 days) but a secondary fermentation may also occour. This is ok too, as you will then have methode champenoise verjus (some verjus in the medieval literature report fermented stuff) but its generally an unferemnted (non-alcoholic) liquor.
This volume of crabs made about 1.5 litres of jus.

Friday, May 22

Stretch It- the container challenge


In lead up to World Environment Day i thought a challenge was in order. Inspired by the deliciously funny post by Katrina at Kale for Sale I thought that it's the kind of post i really love reading; amusing commentary on someones life challenge to step outside the comfort zone and do something a little unusual in the name of saving just a little bit of plastic stuff from its disposable lifecycle. Katrina writes about her self consciousness and inner musings as she walks the footpath with her big red plastic bowl to transport home her takeaway chicken.

The idea behind Stretch It is that by sharing ideas and experiences about how to generate some small changes, push the social boundaries, redefine the norms of acceptability which surround dispoable... we reduce our fear by encouraging interesting and amusing alternatives to food and goods transport, from supplier to home. This way we can share the humiliation and exhiliaration around and have a good laugh along the way. I find that knowing someone else is doing something, that i share the pain makes a challenging behaviour more palatable and I learn from the ingenious ideas that others have that i never thought of.

Not put off by the fact that its generally big gun bloggers who start challengers either, I thought why the hell not? we all have to start somewhere and i thought it was a great way to showcase everyones small actions and attempts and foibles at reducing superflous plastic consumption.

Write a post on what you do thats a stretch to your comfort zone, ouside the norm or about something thats been bothering you and some alternatives you've been pondering which you might challenge yourself to do...take a tub to the cheese shop and buy off the wheel, use the wheelbarrow instead of the car, take your ceramic cup to the upmarket coffee shop, whatever and link back here!

Lets Stretch It

Haiku Friday



the Gates stuffed up. Whoops!
technology has limits
nature knows its true

Thursday, May 21

Pumpkin


This is the third post in a series of seasonal recipes to help out with the "Im so sick of this vegetable and what else can I make it into?' moment.

Baked pumpkin with seasonings of coriander, pepper, cumin and chilli and salt. Cant get much better than that. As for pumpkin prepared sweet style...well, remember who won that challenge, it was close I'll concede, but Im sure if there was a god, s/he would have said that pumpkin was definitely not meant to be served cold with sugar in a pie crust!

However, sometimes Im just not up for yet another baked vegetable, and in this house you cant even spice it and shake it up with a different cut of meat!

Last week, the day before market day, i looked into the cold cupboard to find but two vegetables left. Two 'ish' zucchini and a half a pumpkin. What on earth to do? I also found in the door a local Haloumi that i had been meaning to use for a few weeks ever since i failed to fry it and serve it up as a snack when friends were over, and after work Im just not into whipping up hor douvres in between 'sign this mum' and bath time! So, I had an aging haloumi and an old pumpkin and a few 'ish' zucchini. Sounds delish!


Hello! Google and Hello! 'Pumpkin and Haloumi fritters' (Im now over zucchini fritters - generally a good way to get zucchini haters to eat zucchini). Now Im generally not that into frying foods and not that into fritters - they're fattenning and i hate the smell and the feel of smoky oil on my skin and in the house, but these little treasures are so light and so damn quick that i dont have that problem. We have now had them three times and each time i have varied the herb depending on whats in the garden; oregano, coriander and parsley. All three were good.


The best thing about this recipe is that it all gets dumped in the food processor! Not usually my style but when you're just home from work and its your turn to cook- brilliant way to go! So, one processor bowl and one mixing bowl and about 5 minutes later you're ready to cook!

No measurements again, sorry if anyone is not comfortable with improvised cooking, i just used what i had and adjusted the eggs and flour.

A quarter of a Queensland blue pumpkin - big things so that was about 1 kg or so.
1 red onion - could use white, i just like the colour combo of purple and orange
1 'thing' of haloumi
1 bunch of green herb- parsley, coriander, or a handfull of stronger herb like oregano or majoram
Put all through the food processor shredder.
Mix in 1-2 eggs and about a half cup of plain flour. Mix well. Fry in shallow oil until golden - about 3 minutes each side. Serve.


I guarantee if you get to make them once, you'll make them again. Im now planning my life around pumpkin.

Tuesday, May 19

pilfering brilliance

If you havent before dropped by the blog of the lovely elburro who writes at team effort, then i reckon you're missing some pretty impressive stuff. Her post of a few days ago really struck a chord, it was so special; honest, simple yet incredibly insightful, beautifully crafted, articulate and funny. Everything i love in a post. She's agreed to let me re-post it here.

Good Enough=Better
Listening to the radio in the car yet again, I heard some person saying something about the Qwerty keyboard and how it wasn’t as good as the Dvorak keyboard. That the Qwerty keyboard allowed a proficient typist to be 15% more efficient. That the Dvorak keyboard should replace the Qwerty keyboard because of it’s superior design. I was nodding my internal head in agreement until another person cut in saying that it would be outrageous to replace the Qwerty with the Dvorak, that the Qwerty had been invented first, that it was all over the world, and that replacing it would mean retraining X number of typists and reprinting X number of typing textbooks and of course, throwing out all of the existing keyboards. That the Qwerty keyboard may not be quite as good as the Dvorak keyboard, but that it is Good Enough.

Good Enough.

When that person said those words I thought yup, that’s true. It IS good enough, and good enough is good enough. I was glad to finally hear those words spoken aloud, because after I heard them, I realized that those are the words that I should have stitched onto a sampler and put on my wall.

Good enough may as well be my mantra.

I don’t strive for perfection.

I don’t need the newest clothes, the cleanest car, the most well-dressed kids or the latest gadgets and I don’t expect myself to have the cleanest house or the perfect lawn. I’m happy with my first generation ipod, my twenty dollar stereo, a dishwasher that only sort of makes the dishes clean and a 15 inch TV that has to be wheeled out of the closet on it’s squeaky IKEA stand. I have mismatched dishes, a very, very old couch, and a car that leaks water onto the passenger side floor mat after it rains.

When I hang pictures, I’m happy if they’re approximately level, when I plant seeds, I don’t care if they’re not in straight rows.

As long as appliances kind of work, I use them.

I don’t change the lightbulbs in fixtures until every single one of them is burnt out. We sit in dimmer and dimmer light, and I only change the bulbs when the final one pops and it’s pitch black.

When I buy jeans, I would rather wear them a little too long than going to the bother of having them hemmed. (Learn to sew? Echhh…too nitpicky for me).

I let my hair grow well out of any definable style and only get it cut when it looks truly awful, and even though I looooove having hair that swings, and I loooove having style, I don’t love it enough to make regular hair appointments.

I cook great dinners maybe once every two weeks, and the rest of the time we make do with either the usual or have toast.

I start projects and then tire of them before they’re finished.

I do sometimes look with envy at a perfectly trimmed hedge or at a person who wears accessories as a matter of course, but it’s with the same sort of envy that I have when I see a perfectly executed triple back somersault off the 7 Meter tower. I would love to be able to have those things or do those things or be that kind of person, but not enough to do anything about it. It’s a sit in my chair in idle wishful thinking kind of envy that quickly passes.

There’s a whole lot of effort that goes into taking something from good enough to perfect, and most of the time, I don’t think that whatever it is warrants that kind of effort.

I used to feel a titch bit uneasy about my attitude, but after hearing the keyboard man, it occurred to me that maybe I’ve had it right all along. If there were fewer people clamoring for the iphone, or trading their big screen TV’s in for bigger screen TV’s and if we all thought that last season’s bathing suit was good enough for this summer, there would be less waste, less production, and less energy usage.

Maybe we don’t need more.

Maybe what we have is good enough.

She's so damn fine.

Monday, May 18

so they look awful...


but they taste and smell divine. What to do with an excess of wild mushroom after you've given kilos away and eaten as many fresh as you can? You dry them. Perfect for soup, stock and risotto. 4kgs of mushroom now rest in a 8ooml jar after spending the night on trays on the wood heater.

Here's an excerpt from a piece on 'Hunting' in the Adelaide Review by Roger Haden, Gastronomy lecturer at Adelaide University.

"Over the years, wild fungi have had a bad rap, while the white button version known as “the cultivated mushroom” (Agaricus bisporus) has become the mono-cultural mushroom of choice. Now, thankfully, the meatier “large flat” and the more fragrant Swiss Brown have appeared on the scene. Yet nothing commercially grown comes close to the variety of flavour and texture of the wild species. The “piney” flavour of the very common Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius delisiosus), which grows plentifully under older stands of pine trees, is indeed delicious (it’s the most popular wild mushroom eaten in Catalonia).


Once you’ve been on a hunt with a mushroom fanatic you’ll see how easily recognisable the edible varieties are. Moreover, what great fun it is to forage after this sometimes elusive prey. After a good shower of rain at this time of year, the fungi emerge in all their glory".

The adventure continues.
Im very addicted to this new behaviour. What is incredible is that we have discovered a very public place where the mushrooms are growing but no one else is picking them. Thousand of them, all walked past, kicked over, squashed underfoot. The damn things sell for $30 kg in the markets!
Crazy.

Sunday, May 17

chicken soup for my soul

Thats how i sold the extra day away.

I was determined to have it. The idea of time alone to wander and look and think and be was just too tempting and being in Melbourne for work anyway made the extra time affordable. I cannot remember the last time I chose to be alone like this; eat alone, travel alone, explore alone, maybe never. I didnt call on friends to spend time with. I really wanted to be by myself, to be able to enjoy this free time on my terms.

I woke early, used the hotel gym and packed my bags, stored them and left. I walked across town through city gardens, passing groups of people doing tai-chi with swords, without swords, runners, dads up early with small children walking dogs, cycling their kids tandem to yoga. It really reminded me of Europe; busy inner city full of family and life.I walked down Brunswick St, one of my favourites, got a paper, found a coffee shop and sat reading for an hour and a half, eating my Florentine eggs, sipping latte and feeling very very content.

When I was done sitting and reading I walked for hours. Browsing shops, transversing suburbs, looking, listening and enjoying the freedom of my pace. Tired but smiling I arrived at the Japanese Bath House, worn out from five hours on the move and in a small amount of agony at having to walk past the Books for Cooks Shop, which looked soo inviting but Id run out of time. My reason for a layover in Melbourne. I knew that after walking so long i would really appreciate lounging in a huge hot bath. So i stripped, showered, scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and sank into that steaming deep, dark, hot pool, shut my eyes and drifted for an hour enjoying the snippets of conversation from other women and the gentleness of time. First time I had bathed without friends too. Solo bathing is very different, you cant hide behind conversation. You do all your nakedness in silence. I had looked forward to this too.

So feeling soothed, clean and just a little bit floppy, i dried and changed into the sweet smelling Kimono set provided, consciously slowing down everything i was doing, rested some more on tatami matting, sipped tea and then sucummed to an hour shiatsu massage. Chicken soup for the soul indeed. Being alone with my thoughts, my self, my inner monkeys whilst adventuring was so good. Liberating. I cant believe it took me to nearly 40 to discovery the joys of such time. Maybe its only now i have the confidence to make the time, possibly the resources to have such time. To not feel guilt at asking for leisure time and leave the responsibility of children behind for a moment.

So the Bloke is now enjoying a well deserved lie-in with coffee, and a snooze no doubt, and I have to work out how to deal with my mega morphed carbon footprint from all those work induced air miles.

Friday, May 15

work

this work trip has been challenging. I have been travelling around the country doing interviews with medical staff who work for and in aged care facilities. Doctors, registered nurses and carers who have been involved in a pilot project I have been evaluating on better management and treatment techniques for better oral health for residents in aged care, by way of group interview. Its the culmination of a life time of work of my colleague who passed away a few months ago, so its been wonderful to do this implementation and get such fantastic feedback that the pilot has been incredibly successful and the outcomes for residents have been transformational and improved quality of life for them like the carers couldnt have believed. However, despite such wonderful results from this work, after two work days in aged care facilities for high care residents...Im very certain that i do not want to spend my last days or years in one of these places AND I HAVE EATEN A FEW MORE CREAM BUN THINGS THAN I WOULD EVER EAT IN A YEAR! Been very busy in the hotel gym, morning and night! running, running, cycling, cycling.

Other highlight. Last night I watched the Footy Show after i got in to my apartment. Shower, bed, fell, button, tv, watched. First time ever. Couldnt but stay glued to the show that regularly showcases the biggest mysogynists in Australia who also talk football (yawn)on a regular basis, give lots of airtime to surprisingly articulate and empathic male CEOs who were demanding accountability of their players and refusing to resort to apologising for their demeaning and abusive behaviour towards women. I think we have just witnessed a huge public step forward in football leadership, i dont think we would have seen anything like this level of solidarity and consistency from the media ranks in the past,something has changed with this incident...and a small step toward responsible journalism and away from blaming the victim. The change in language and focus of the leaders of the game showcased, who refused to get caught up in the normal semantic tricks reporting of sexual abuse cases, I found quite incredible and yet believable. Maybe, just maybe, we have witnessed a small watershed...

Wednesday, May 13

rhubarb and a chive update!



its occourred.

my new rhubarb plants are in. Im hoping for a big, bright, showy display right next to the studio. I put the rhizomes down to get a spade and noticed the amazing contrast of the red with with the purple wall. Home found. Decision made. New bed required. So the Bloke made a lush new bed from some great compost right in that space that needed filling.



And Ive put to rest my obsession with planting chives from seeds and, courtesy of the generous donations of Veggie Gnome (garlic) and Olive (regular), am now the very happy owner of a chive plantation!

May they thrive for me as they did for them.

And just coz i can, here's yesterdays mushroom haul; nearly 2kgs and tonights dinner. God, i could have kept picking them for hours except that just would have been uber greedy. A good brush off and some pasta is all thats required.

Tuesday, May 12

Blogging Moments

Its the small things that count..well and the people, the relationship.
Having a blog, embracing it and all the wonderful varied folk who drop by and read it is one of those wonderful post-modern, novel, strange, and all other adjectives you can think of which encompass contemporary life. I have had many situations occour over the last few months where i have had to stand back from a moment, a comment, a circumstance due to my blogging habit, take a breath and go 'yeah, this is my life and i like it and i like blogging'. Explaining blogging relationships to a non blogger is sometimes really tricky.

Meeting up with bloggers, swapping stories, stuff, know what each other has been up to, travelling away from home and wondering if a blogging comrade wants to meet up too, running into readers who recognise you from your blog and introducing themselves 'yes, we know each other, quite well, but not really'.

Its the 'not really' that interests me on an intellectual level and Ive been thinking about this alot recently, as my tradiional friendship group has morphed over the years into something new. As professionals were all doing our own thing, moving where lifes opportunities take us, no longer stationary and available all at once, like we all used to be.

Additionally, at work Im all academic; the teacher, the researcher, dragging around a speciality, a credibility, an international reputation. Online, Im just Kel, my publications and letters and position dont matter. I am my most fundamental passions here; cooking, growing, conscious living, writing, loving, family and having relationship based on all these things. What counts is what i reveal; my life and thoughts and expereince. Its a whole other world. And yes, Ive been thinking about changing professions! LOL

What i find intriguing is the 'depth' which one exposes in a blog, what I expose in a blog.I suppose its just like writing or reading letters. Revealing.

I think what i am getting at is that it's a new frontier (new to those who take it up) requiring a new cognition and emotion to support it. People know you, yet they dont, yet they do! You know them, yet you dont, yet you do! Its a weird one to reconcile. Maybe its just me? Knowing, friendship, how is it defined? As you like it I believe.

Well , Im loving the new connections, the commnuity Im building, the exploration, the sharing, the novelty, the frontier. The way i get to share in such a 3D way; pictorialy, referentially, descriptively. Its such a wholistic communication in some ways. As a medium, its brilliant. Thanks for sharing. Im appreciating the relationship we have, you and me, every so often. I value your time, your comments, your experiences and Im loving this part of my journey. Who else would be interested in fungi Ive found, recipes I've discovered, dramas I've had and insights experienced, but friends of many kinds?

I am looking forward to seeing how my blogging fares over time, where it will be in 10 years time...where I will be in 10 years time...where we will be in 10 years time...how sustainable is 'it'?

Monday, May 11

Saffron Milk Caps


Lactarius deliciosus. Delicious.

I was going to let the bloke try these on his own, better to lose just one parent than both, but the waft of the smell of them frying in olive oil and garlic after Id been out for a run, with no lunch behind me, threw my caution to the wind.

I didnt eat this beauty below which looks so sweet, but is so terribly bad for you. I merely took a pic of this newly emerged Agaric Amanita muscaria .


We found the saffron mushrooms around the periphal base of a group of pines, on a sloping site and tucked flat in the grass, not really in pine litter at all. If you weren't looking for mushrooms you would have walked right on over them. But we were on the hunt and two weeks after a good soaking and sunny days was bound to have encouraged something up! Being on the side of caution we picked only about 6 or so and we Googled them when we returned by looking through images of orange coloured mushrooms. We found an incredibly useful website for identifying Australian fungi.

Saffron Milk Caps or Red Pine Mushrooms
Concave cap with concentric circles - check
sticky and viscid when wet - check
crowded decurrent gills - check
squat orange stipe which is often hollow - check
Oozes a bright ornage latex ( milk ) when squeezed - check

They cooked longer than a normal mushroom to remove the slightly grainy and faint bitter aftertaste but tasted a little like chicken. They had a really nice flavour, and for me they werent too complex (mushroomy) or woody.


Apparently its a well known mushroom in Europe, here its an introduced species, well regarded but quite scarce, found in farmers markets occasionally. I think that its such an easily identifiable mushroom, you cant realy make an error in mistaking it for anything else. Actually, what gave me the confidence to imbibe was the fact that nowhere in our research did we ever find something like "often mistaken for..." or "easily thought to be something else which will kill you".

So i will return to our spot tomorrow and pick some more for my birthday dinner on Wednesday night! An easy mushroom find for the novice.
*update on saffron milk caps (red pine mushroon) here.

Sunday, May 10

10 things about Mothers Day

1. Mothers Day feels weird. Im not really a big fan of the mothers day thing. Maybe its coz Im the mother side of a split parenting couple so mothers day is not something thats been a seamless event, ive had to help the kids out lest they feel bad about forgetting or not 'doing' something to acknowlwdge it. I tried to let the day slip in the past, before i shacked up again with the bloke and they were devestated. Lesson learnt- even if you're not into it, the social pressures of it may have already affected your kids. Do it for them!

2. It forces me to confront the less than glorious relationship with my own mother, who every year desires a lunch with just my brother and me, no partners and no kids. My mum is one of those people whos' foot swings about whilst sitting and chatting and who wouldnt talk to me for days after the birth of B2, visited and held the baby but wouldnt talk to me, coz i didnt ask her to the birth as i had with B1... Not exactly relaxed and comfortable. Hasn't happenned yet... Avoided the day for another year as she left for Egypt and Turkey yesterday...

3. I love breakfast in bed and it happens but once a year, unless there has been a birth or illness. I love the way the kids invest themselves in the creative task of preparing and offering food. Its full of symbolism and giving and such a wonderful tradition. I used to have to make sure we had all the ingredients for them but now they get themselves organised and can work out a menu from what we have.

4. I have a love/hate relationship with Mothers Day ads for tacky gold jewellery and 'feminine' electrical equipment. Funny, yet not...

5. I never want to be one of those mothers who get wheeled out for the obligatory Mothers Day lunch at the local cafe and then taken for a stroll in the park. Well, maybe by then I will be grateful...

6. Mothers Day ends like any other day..starts with a bang, full of enthusiasm, goodwill and lotsa co-operation ...by the end of the day the kids are back to their normal selves.

7. A part of me thinks a great Mothers Day means not being a mother for the day... peace, quiet, a whole day of self directed pleasures and no interruptions or responsibility...oops

8. How do you work out 'mother priority' on Mothers Day?

9. Despite not being a mothers day 'follower', i have realised that despite that, i have some hidden perceptions about how i think the designated day should unfold. a) i will not make anyone food in the morning. b) i dont have to do any jobs for a few hours c) dinner is optional depending on my desire to create. Ive tried to deconstruct it but Ive just been brainwashed. Where did this only half a day of leisure thing come from. Is there a set of rules for mothers day? My very first mothers day 14 years ago, my then husband pretended to have forgotten...my response shocked me and made him keel over with laughter!

10. Mothers Day is celebrated around the world this second Sunday of May. Has anyone expereinced a mothers day in another culture and how does it differ? Is authenticity a part of the day for you ? Am i just a life long cynic? *sigh*

Saturday, May 9

Autumn Glory


The garden is just looking after itself at the moment and its looking glorious. It changes througout the day and the afternoon is my favourite time. The light on the autumn leaves makes the inside of the house glow gold.

The day got better. Worked the guilt through by doing more work! Ha! Bathroom clean, bedroom dusted. Dinner made and party food prepared. We're going out! B1 and B2 are 'doing' the Bean. Got mah dancing pants ON. Looking forward to a Bedouin tent, groovy tunes and reclining on a cushion or two.

Pass the Kife please...

Work Life balance

its a bit outta whack me thinks. I had thought we were getting pretty good at this but the last few days Ive been a bit crabby, snappy and just a tad cranky. Ive shut up emotional shop. Bunkered in. Overall, all is good, but something is rotten in my home state. No routine due to lots of work travel, kids needing me more when i get home (well as soon as i present through the back door actually), more travel next week (hello Newcastle and Melbourne!) and feeling worn out.

I feel just so busy getting everything done in a day - market shopping dash before work, writing, editing, teaching, exercising, home, washing, kids, bedtime, dinner. blah blah blah. Divergent things which have no obvious fluid connection. Brain in one mode then another, then another. Not alot of leftover time to feed the parents. Im ready to crash when i walk through the door. Snap. How do you fix this...more me time? more us time? More family time? Both? All? Im in bed with a laptop with a sign on the door 'do not disturb' I discovered why it was so quiet when i went to steal the laptop from a sleeping B1. Si had stuck it on. But now im drowning in the guilt trip. How can i be so unavailable yet he's giving even me more?

Crap. Sometimes lifes tricky.

Thursday, May 7

Veggie Trader Down Under

I want this. Now.
Isnt this a really cool idea? I can get quite romantic about the idea of trading fruit and vegetables. Something about it just really appeals to me. The earthy connection, the sense of community and belonging on the planet. The reference point to our fundamental need for fuel and appreciation for what this amazing world offers up to us. Do you ever look at something like a rasberry, maple syrup or a banana and imagine discovering it for the first time, this mind blowing blast of sweet offered up by plants? What a score. How incredible nature is! Ive always done this and had this kind of sensibility. Match that with an opportunity to bypass the indifferent, industrial system of food production and distribution and Im one happy camper.

If only our local communities were a little bigger then maybe this trader idea would be a more viable option. Im really loving the opportunity blogging has given me to meet people and trade food on a small scale this way. Id love to start something like this. Maybe after the PhD....

Wednesday, May 6

chives

No, its not the next installment of my seasonal recipe posts, Im calling out to all chive growers. Are chives really that temperamental to grow from seed? Im on about packet five and Ive had not even a peep. I can grow carrot, beetroot, well everything else Ive ever tried from seed, but not chives. Its driving me crazy. Im planting shallow, about 3-4 mm, covering with light loamy soil, watering and... naught.

H.E.L.P please. Are you having trouble with chives or is it really just me. Does every gardener have their achilles heel and this is mine?

Tuesday, May 5

eco ease

Limits are great things no matter who, how or what you are. Kids love boundaries, thrive on them, the 'experts' all recommend them for ethical and social and emotional development. The problem with modern society is that being a rich Capitalist democracy we have become somewhat used to having no boundaries when it comes to our adult selves. 'Want that? Yup. 'Now?' Yup. Its all ours to be had. The price we pay for having and getting now, all that we want, manifests in many ways. Loss of community and development of cultural narcissism, financial debt, weight gain, ill health, limited relationship, environmental destruction and the list could go on. It used to be just an elite few who could have it all but our insatiable appetite has been afforded to the middle classes the world over.

This post over at the Green Phone Booth today reminded me of my current thinking; that Im loving my self imposed limits of local, organic, sustainable and ethical. I am actually finding life easier as i get older and more conscious about what i purchase. My lifestyle imposes limits to my purchasing and no longer do i find myself caught up in the consumptive habit. By removing myself from it like i have, by having principles which define what i buy, I have removed choice and thereby have simplified life.

We purchase basic goods which we use regularly, those which satisfy our 'principles'; a few local dairy products, mostly organic, organic local fruit and veg, home grown and home made staples, wild or free range organic meats, occasional 'kids' bread (square and soft) which comes in cellophane, bulk organic dry goods, etc etc. and a few condiments which i just cant make (see this exciting news, soooo local amde just a few streets away!). We pretty much stick to these varying them every now and then with something exciting and really leaving the exotic and well travelled for special occasions (not every Friday night!) like birthdays etc. Instant food doesnt really make much of a showing in our place much to the kids chagrin but I have noticed they now eat when theyre hungry not because theyre bored. Eating means work, investment, time and they cant be bothered when theyre not 'STAAAAARVING' and want more than fruit!!!

Shopping at op-shops has really introduced a whole new freedom. (Shoes I do buy new and I wear them out!) Impulse shopping and i are definitely not friends and is generally facilitated by staying out of the shops. So being a tight wad and knowing my limits and loving my boundaries really helps when it comes to navigating the marketplace; makes it easy and stress free. Being 'pov' by choice is liberating, sometimes socially challenging but the bank balance loves it and it means we have money available for experiential pursuits!

Monday, May 4

South Australia bans plastic bags



Sidesplitting and strangely euphoria inducing Tim Minchin in stereo.Turn up the volume. Im going to post this every day until it gets at least 10 views!

My thoughts and best wishes go out to all the shop assistants who will be enduring the wrath of many shoppers who forgot their canvas bags today, the first day of the ban.

Forest Foraging


Ive written before about my love of free food. Foraging is just about my most favouite thing to do, especilly mushrooming. So with some pretty wet weather behind us, quite a few sunny days and a few bloggy reports on fungi sightings we thought it may be a good time to go 'shrooming.

We packed the bean and ourselves into the mobile unit and headed out to the old Gold dggings site at Jupiter Creek in Euchunga in the Adelaide Hills. We know that leaf litter is a favoured spot for fungi growth and had had read online that its not just under pines where they are found here, but Eucalyptus leaf litter too (Funghi of the Adelaide Hills book duly ordered. After trapsing through some beautiful bush we came across a man on his horse, but no fungi to be found anywhere. A week too early??

So we loaded back into the car and headed to another spot where we had found field mushrooms last year. Nothing. Yup, too early. We saw one gathering of fairy toadstools (the classic red with white spot) but nothing edible and non halucinagenic! On our way back to the car we came upon a whole bank of spiky pods mounded beside the sloping path.

Chestnuts!

Not something we see much of at all here, least of all when youre out mushrooming! We parked the boy safely and got to work, gently squeezing nuts out of their urchin homes with our shoed feet and collecting over half a kilo. We enjoyed roasted chestnuts after dinner, squishing their floury sweetness from their skins. Its amazing what you can find out there to eat when you start looking.

Sunday, May 3

One


Oh wow. Today was as glorious as this day a year ago... except the champagne wasnt as good! Blue skies, leaves aglow and lotsa 'lerve', one year old lerve. The bean was one today.

It was so lovely, festive, but the problem with having a baby when you're older is you got loads more friends, so a one year old birthday actually poses logistical problems. Its either a wedding event or something resembling normal. He's got no friends of his own yet, so its a potential political conumdrum. Who do you invite?

So we defaulted to close friends (define that) and family. But, the really brilliant thing about a one year birthday compared to a sixth year birthday is that were still living off the leftover wine for dinner and then some, actually instead of dinner! With a stop and drop 6yo old party, you just 'do' kids but a 'one party' is really for the adults to celebrate the successful passing of a whole year and they bring wine!!!! Go figure. Its kinda weird being back at the bottom end of birthday parties where the kid in question cant even open their own gifts.!




So its cake and wine for dinner. Im over pizza!

But, earlier on we did fire up the oven for pizza. All well and good despite the woman driving up the road who dropped in just to check that the house wasn't burning down!
Clock that one up to experience but I am so very glad there are people who are prepared to check. Next time we will fire it up the day before its needed, especially if we use it after we have had such a downfall of rain, and possibly cover it, not aesthetic but practical. Overall, the oven fired up beautifully, but to push out heat and stave off the inherent damp ...well... another day may have helped! Lesson learnt. So between the pizza oven and the electric oven we fed thirty in 3 hours.

I can recomend that if you invest in a pizza oven and you have neighbours close by...invite them to your party. Its pretty smoky fare.

Im knackered. It was fun. We remembered, shed a tear and stopped for a pic at the exact time Jasper was born. The girls, me , Jaspie, Si, Rosie and Bruce, all gathered on the spot where his birth culminated; those who were in attendance (except Lisa, our fantastic midwife) present. The difference... we had a crowd today. Smiling and laughing and looking on.I wish Id take a pic from my perspective, from where I sat. Twenty odd happy people all looking upon this photographic moment at this time of the beans birth, celebrating in rememberance of an ordeal passed. Ive never experienced anything like it. I have to say, Simons bunch of people are pretty special, they celebrate life like a bunch ive never known. No shame, no fear, no self consciousness. Raw emotion. I love them for enabling it. Bring it on. The bean and I had a fantastically, wonderful, memorable, special birth day

Thats the bean offerring my brother his sock. Nice. Biggest fun of the day... My brother and his wife talking to B1 for ten before realising who she was! She has changed...

Saturday, May 2

Pandemic preparedness

As an epidemiologist i have to confess to finding an emerging pandemic quite a fascinating occourrence. However as a planet member, I know that the destruction which a virus can wreak on the population is devastating.

The emergence of any zoonosis is a worying thing. The transfer of a virus from one species to another is quite a rare event and flus are particularly problematic as they mutate very quickly, making treatment tricky. By the time the scientists have developed a vaccine for one flu strain, its mutated to another and being a socially transferred illness, it spreads quickly. So flu shots are rarely beneficial unless youre a medico in a hospital and get exposed to many strains at an intensive level.

So when the Queensland Chief Medical Officer yesterday advised members of that state to start stockpiling food and was promptly contradicted by the Federal Health Minister i wondered what was going on, thinking that some 'other' pressure must have been at work to make Ms Roxon object to such a simple suggestion.
I came upon an interesting article from the food industry which i believe explained MS Roxons 'dont panic' response. This article on food supply shows that Australias urban food supply is one of the most vulnerable in the world. Our reliance upon 2 big guns in food distribution who at best are shown to have only 3 days supply on their shelves, without panic purchasing, and 80% of Aussies get all their food from these distributors. I found this incredible and rather worrysome.

Another article which was very interesting from the Medical Journal of Australia was 'the food lifeboat developed by Sydney University which details energy requirements and energy allowances for general non perishable foodstuff which we should all have in stock in case of a major disaster of any kind. The biggest danger is probably panic buying if you rely on supermarket food! Its an easy to follow read and really quite interesting.

Now Im not one to run around shouting 'the sky is falling' and I think the international response to this emerging flu strain has been incredibly efficient and well co-ordinated and I dont actually percieve a level 6 pandemic being declared due to the diseases timeline. However i am relieved to know that we have just over 2 months food stock in the pantry, just as a matter of intellectual and practical interest.

Friday, May 1

Haiku Friday


My heart runs over,
too much love to comprehend.
I think the dam's burst.

rocket


This is the second post on seasonal cooking to follow up on the Cauliflower post. Rocket is one of those fantastic garden producers, which once planted never really leave a well watered garden. We have rocket springing up pretty much all over the place and i picked this bag weighing nearly 1kg and didnt make a dent in the rocket patch. Its a great easy green that can be used raw or cooked and can be grown easily in tubs, maybe even on a window sill as it has pretty shallow roots. A great patio alternative to silverbeet and can be used pretty much in substitution of, i think. This recipe really uses up a huge amount of rocket, nearly all the 1 kg (i used more than the recipe asked) as it uses rocket in both the gnocci and the sauce. So if you have a heap growing in the garden and are sick of salad and pesto on pasta this is a great one. It uses up more rocket than any other reicpe Ive come across, even rocket pesto, which i also made a huge stash of, but we need something a bit more novel than rocket pesto right? So, not a nut in sight (Ive left that pun alone).

rocket (aragula) gnocci
1 kg floury (baking) potatoes - king edwards, desiree, (uses up those taties too, floury potatoes look whiter, yellow ones are waxier)
salt
250g flour
2 egg yolks
30ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (i never use just 1 clove)
500g rocket leaves
pepper

sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
45ml olive oil
300 gm rocket leaves
500g preserved tomatoes
salt
50g fresh parmesan cheese

Cook potatoes in salted water with skins and while still warm peel and mash by hand. Do not use a food processor as the starchy proteins will be transformed and the consistency will not be what you need for gnocci, more like school glue -ick.
Spread out potato mash and work in flour and egg yolks.


Heat oil and lightly brown onion and garlic. Add rocket that has been quickly blanched (i used the potato water). Drain and add to onion mix. Season and then chop in a food processor until finely processed. Add this rocket mix to dough. Work in, then form dough into walnut size balls. Dry for 2-3 hours (or as long as you can).


Sauce.
Cook garlic in oil then add rocket and tomatoes. Simmer and season.
Cook gnocci in boiling salted water until they float to surface. Lift out as they rise and add to sauce in pan or top with sauce once in bowls. Serve with parmesan cheese.

A magic rocket meal.


The pic is a bit festy as it was taken at night with poor light conditions. It looked a lot better (more edible) than this, but you get the idea.