Sunday, May 30, 2010

Words in the winter wind

Two men I have loved all my adult life are two men I will never meet.
The first of these is a love I learnt of from my first real love. He sent me a poem which made me both cry and smile and which, even now, after hundrends (if not thousands) of reads, I still discover anew each time:

Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town
(E. E. Cummings)
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did


Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain


children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more


when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her


someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream


stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)


one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was


all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.


Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

The second is a man I discovered accidentally, flipping idly through a library book in a thirteen-year-old angsty haze. He was simple and yet profound. The way we often forget life is:

 Winter Trees
 (William Carlos Williams)
All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.




The Red Wheelbarrow
(William Carlos Williams)
so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

*Poems courtesy of FamousPoetsandPoems.com

Friday, May 28, 2010

Donut touch my cake!



So I innocently wandered onto Citrus and Candy earlier this evening, thinking to have a bit of a browse and drool before dinner. And that's where I fell victim to her cooking wiles, overcome with the desperate need to bake her Apple 'Donut' Cakes. Dear Lord! If I am to ever commit a crime so violent it leads me to death row, I will be sure to ask for these as my last meal.
The recipe calls for buerre noisette, or brown butter, which gives the cakes an incredible moorishness. When they come out of the oven they're rolled immediately in cinnamon sugar, hence the donut reference. The sugar combined with the beuatifully crisp top is absolutely the most perfect smile-inducing moment. And the apple - well it's a fruit, so that makes them healthy, right?
My mother, who usually complains that my baked goods are too sweet, sheepishly asked for a second one and gobbled it down like a little girl with an ice-cream cone.
I somehow restrained myself to one. Well, I tried to...      

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I do(n't)

My grandad brought my nanna her morning cuppa in bed every morning of their married life. It was a ritual that lasted from their honeymoon, right until the day she died.
My mother and father, as much as they yell and scream at each other, always go to bed and chat about their day. They discuss the weather, politics, and their children. I know because I would listen to them at night when I was a kid.
My friend, Kao, is planning her future in tandem with her boyfriend's, even though they've only been together seven months, and even though he's been on the other side of the world for the last five of those. She says she's sure because everything she wants, he is.
I've had love on my mind a bit lately. Between my aunt and uncle's rocky marrriage, friends saying 'I do' for all the wrong reasons, and a dodgy proposal by a friend desperate for an Australian Visa I guess I could be a bit cynical about the whole thing. But I'm not. I'm a romantic at heart, convinced that love - real love, not the stuff in movies - really does exist.
See, the thing is...well, I guess it's that if I don't believe, if I give in to the relentless notion that the heart-exploding, swept-off-my-feet, can't-breath-without-that-person love doesn't exist, then why play the game? And what about life without that comfortable, trackpants-and-no-make-up, cleaning-up-my-vomit, sharing-denture-cream, worn-in love. It's not worth the sacrifice, the energy, or the hurt. It's not worth saying no to a second helping of cake, watching movies I know I'll hate, waxing, shaving, bleaching, or tanning. It's not worth being polite to his obnoxious sister, dirty-minded father, or self-righteous mother. The whole relationship game becomes pointless. And so does everything that goes with it.
When my friend, let's call him Harry because it's suitably British, 'proposed' to me (whilst we were playing scrabble no less) I started thinking about what would make me enter into a fake marriage. How much cash would it take me to say yes? And the answer hit me immediately - none. I just wouldn't do it. It's not a matter of the illegality of the situation (although I'm sure that would have been the next issue), or the complete and utter rediculousness of the idea. It's simply about a promise.
Again, I'm a romatic. But I'm also a traditionalist, and firm believer in honouring your word. When you stand there and pledge forever, that's exactly what you're pledging - forever. Not 'until my visa comes through'. Not 'until I find a better offer'. Not 'until I get sick of you/you get fat'. Forever. For me marriage doesn't have an out, there's no escape clause. And I refuse to enter into it with anyone who believes there is. Because when (if) I do get married it will be forever, good or bad, for better or for worse. The poor sucker is stuck with me (and I with him) until death finally drags us apart.
I don't believe things can't be worked out. I don't believe there's a better option. If you once loved that person enough to promise them forever, then forever it is. And if you're not sure you can hang out til forever then for goodness sake don't get married. Don't do it to hide your sexual persuasion, or to please a pushy parent, or just because all your friends are doing it. And certainly don't do it just to get a visa. I mean, really? There's all sorts of problems with that.
I'm sure I probably sound like an uptight cow, preaching about the values of good old-fashioned Christian love. But I'm not. I'm just a girl who honestly believes that there's a guy out there just waiting to share forever with her. I guess you could say I believe in the Disney moment:
 Do you believe in happily ever after?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Of pie and pears

Last Monday, feeling the need to cook for as many people as possible (I know, who get's that craving?), I invited Miss V over for dinner.
Being fluey, I'd been craving chicken soup for a good week and had bought a lovely chicken for just that purpose. I hadn't really thought much past the chicken though, so I ended up low on ingredients for the soup I had in mind - a Thai-style ginger-filled broth. So I bunged the chicken in a pot, threw in some vegetables and a few seasonings and hoped for the best. Entree done.
Now, my family are huge carnivores. Growing up I remember nights involving meats-other-than-beef were savoured only once a week. I'm not a huge meat-eater. My cravings for roast lamb kind of foil any vegetarianism ideas I've ever had, but I don't need meat every night - once or twice a week usually satisfies the carnivore in me. So in an effort to reduce my family's meat intake, and save myself from beef overload I've hitched us to the Meatless Mondays bandwagon. This meant main for the night was vegetarian, which much excited me. I pulled out my tried and true Spanakopita recipe, made by a real Greek lady on SBS's Food Safari and used by me at least once a month, always to rave reviews.
Being a cold night I decided to put a bit of a twist on the typical Greek salad for the side, and threw some tomatoes, olives, red onion, and baby cucumbers in a a fry-pan to get some heat under them, then tossed through the fetta at the last minute. I'd already marinated the onions in caramelised apple balsamic and that, with the juice from the tomatoes, was enough to make a nice warm dressing. V caught the foodlove and decided to photograph the yum for all to see:

Dessert. So impressed by my efforts! Does that make me sound obnoxious? If dessert was placed in a ratio of effort to tastiness I'd say it would look something like this 1:5000. Or maybe this:

I couldn't find any bowls big enough to sit them how I wanted to, but I still think they looked alright. What exactly are 'they'? Let's call them Spice Poached Pears with Orange and Pistachio Cream. In reality they're just pears poached in red red wine with a chai teabag thrown in for flavour. My mum hates cream so I used 250g of cream cheese and about 5tbsp of icing sugar with 1/3cup of orange juice to create a fake orange cream, and then sprinkled each dollop with a good serving of crushed pistachios. (The cream was so good we had it the next night with a dodgy pizza shop dessert and it improved it no end.) When the pears were done, I added some Nebbiolo Verjus - purchased from here (as was the apple balsamic) - with the pan juices to create a delish little syrup to spoon over the finished dish. Soooo good.
Did I mention while dinner was cooking V taught me guitar? She's giving me lessons which I'm so excited about. I'm going to be a rock star (in my dreams)!
  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The lurgy

My flu has finally cleared up and, for the most part, I'm feeling a lot better. Except for the cough. I joked to a friend that I sound like a walrus on heat. So in an effort to avoid becoming Seaworld's latest attraction, I headed back to the doctor. He did the mandatory chest-test, checked my glands, and took a throat swab. Today I have to go back and have a blood test, but he's pretty sure I have Whooping Cough. Whooping Cough - or pertussis - is characterised by uncontrollable coughing fits followed by a high-ptiched "whoop" as you struggle desperately to breathe again. The ever-wise Wikipedia informs me that these fits " can occur on their own or can be triggered by yawning, stretching, laughing, eating or yelling". Excellent. As it's highly contagious and can lead to all sorts of other complications (pneumonia, seizures, encephalopathy), if the bloodwork comes back positive everyone I live with has to be treated for it.
I remember having Croup (as my mother calls it) a few times as a kid. Waking up in the dark, struggling to draw in breath while my chest exploded. My whole body would be wracked by such violent convulsions as I coughed that after a few days I would cry in pain, only adding to the agony as I tried to breathe through the tears. I remember being shuffled into the bathroom, mum cranking the shower as hot as it would go, and sitting with me on the bath mat as I inhaled the steam, trying to heat and clear my airways. There was a time or two I would cough so badly mum and dad would bundle me off to the local hospital where I'd be shuffled into the humidcrib for the night. With sleep out of the question I would sit reading, the nurses bringing me lemonade and lollies, playing board games and cards with me, until dawn broke and the warmth of a new day warmed my lungs and allowed me a small window of respite.
Having been there with me as a child my mother was immediately sure what was wrong. Stubbornly I denied it, knowing full well the hacking pain in my chest and back each time I coughed could only really be one thing. Even with the medication Whooping Cough usually last six weeks. Six weeks of hacking cough and strangled breathing. And six weeks of chest, back, neck, ribs, all aching constantly from the exertion. Needless to say, today I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself. I'm also hoping I haven't infected anyone else. I have no idea where I picked it up, but Whooping Cough is something I wouldn't wish to share with anyone.  
Fun note: My cousin suggested I make the best of the next few weeks and contact the BahaMen. Turns out I do a damn fine 'Who Let the Dogs Out'. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Alastair McLeod's nuts


Tonight is cold. Today was cold. And I’m still a wee bit sick. You’d hardly expect me to jumping around in excitement would you? BUT…Even with a day of little no sunshine and a cough which threatens to dislodge both my lungs, today was my favourite day in a long while. Why, you ask (ok, so you don’t really care. Humour me, yeah).
Today Darling mother and I, after a night of craftiness with the ever-fabulous Wabi and friends, headed out to a local food and arts festival. We tried jams and jellies, dukkahs and dips, and a rather delish ice-cream (because it’s never too cold for dessert). We ran into Wabi there as well and she tagged along with us, laughing at my childish excitement all the while. You see, as much as I love food - and as much as I adore free stuff - my real purpose for traipsing around in the cold was to see my very favourite chef in the whole world. Alastair McLeod just happened to be cooking at the festival today!
Who? Alastair McLeod is an Irish-Australian chef, probably most famous for his boisterous bouts on the Australian version of Ready Steady Cook. He is also head chef at Brett’s Wharf, touted as Brisbane’s best seafood restaurant and the place on top of my “must visit” restaurant list. He has cooked at a number of five-star restaurants around the world, and even worked at the Michelin-rated Da Giovanni in Torino, Italy.
But that’s not why I love him. His use of new and fun ways to cook - like today’s five-minute berry sorbet, made using dry ice - and his strong belief in continued learning, mean his food is always on the cutting-edge of foodie fashion. He’s also big on growing the next generation of top chefs, actively involving himself in apprentice education. AND (and this is the best bit) he’s a champion of supporting local food and local producers, believing that sourcing food locally cuts down travel, creating fresher, better-tasting food while lowering our carbon footprint at the same time.
Mr McLeod is passionate about his food, the way it is prepared, and the process the produce goes through before getting to him. He’s also passionate about educating others and creating a food experience revolving around the simple joy of the food, not the snobbery and arrogance which seems to have become a part of the whole foodie culture. And he’s wickedly funny to boot, telling jokes about horse’s appendages and offering us a taste of his nuts (wink wink, nudge nudge), throughout his cooking demo.
His comrade in the kitchen today, Matt Golinski, is a champion in his own right. Mr Golinski also supports the Slow Food Movement and actively promotes the consumption of in-season fare (he claims to only eat strawberries when they’re in season in his local area—imagine going more than half a year without a strawberry!). Throw in his cheeky wit (kitchen condoms for your cheese-making?), and he was an adequate competitor in today’s cooking war.
Wanna see some photos?


Alastair getting saucy. 

Matt talking about perfect potato pillows (aka gnochi)
Dry-ice-assisted sorbet in the making
Doing cheffy things
 Serious face during his (impressive) rant about buying local
Mr McLeod's wild Barra with pan-roasted vegetables and caramlised nuts
 Deconstructed cheesecake and berry sorbet (YUM!)



Saturday, May 15, 2010

Feeling good


Yesterday something wonderful happened. My lovely friend V texted me to let me know presale tickets for Michael BublĂ© were opening and wondered if I'd still like to go? YES! was my immediate response and I waited with bated breath all day, crossing all appendages we’d get good seats. It seems, as with Mr Mayer, luck was on our side: Front row. Centre! Suffice to say I’m a very happy girl. Only 273 days to go (not that I’m counting)!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Too cool for school

Two posts in one day. Hurrah!
This is just a heads up for you to check out an awesome blog. Style Rookie is an incredibly witty, intelligent, and rediculously cool blog all about fashion and fun. And the coolest bit. The writer: fourteen years old!
Dear Tavi, if you ever read my blog, I think you're awesome. Can I be you for a day?

Treats for mum



Dear Mum,
Today I'd like to thank you for growing me in your belly for nine months, and then going through the agony of childbirth so I could be here. Thanks for feeding me, clothing me, and looking after me when I'm sick. For teaching me to read, write, and dream. Thank you for teaching me manners, punishing me even when I thought you were being unfair, and explaining the difference between organised chaos and mess.
Thank you for dealing with my small dramas and my big catastrophies. For laughing with me, crying for me, and standing silent when I needed to yell at someone. For the Tuppaware, the sheets, and the spare couch. Thank you for keeping secrets, telling white lies, and turning a blind eye sometimes. Thanks for listening, understanding, and explaining. Thank you for allowing me to make mistakes, and for being there to clean up the mess.
Thanks for the music lessons, the netball Saturdays, and the birthday sleepovers. For the Barbies, the overly-large stereo system, and the over-priced party dress. Thank you for taking the time to help me move house, find my direction, and change my mind. Thanks for helping me learn to sew, teaching me to cook, and giving me the skills and recipes I need to keep me going both in the kitchen and in life.
Happy Mother's Day
Dotty


Darling Mum's Light and Fluffy Pikelets
4eggs
4cups SR flour
3cups milk
8tbsp sugar
4tbsp butter, chopped
1.5tbsp golden syrup
1. Whisk eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar and continue to whisk, adding in butter to combine, followed by the syrup (it will get lumpy, don't worry, the flour and milk will make it all better). Add the flour and milk alternately, one cup at a time, whisking well between additions.
2. Heat an electric fry pan (you can do it stove top but a fry pan seems to cook them more evenly), and brush lightly with butter. Drop large spoonfuls into pan, cooking until the bubbles appear on the top. Flip and cook for a further 60-90secs. Remove, spread with lashing of butter and your favourite topping. Save some for mum.  
 

Spooning

I'm sick. I have some kind of flu. Usually when I get a flu I wait it out and let it get better on its own, which inevitably leads to a trip to the doctor two weeks in and an endless round of medications and return visits. This time I figured I'd be good and catch it at the start, so off I trot to the doctor expecting a pat on the back for being so health conscious. Instead she tells me I'm not sick enough. Not sick enough! So I trudge home and deal with it by downing panadol at every opportunity and emptying tissue boxes with rapid succession. And still I feel sick and miserable.
The miserableness comes less from being sick, and much more from just being cold. Winter is settling in slowly, and as it does the nights become less and less comfortable. I hate winter. Well, not completely. I love winter clothing - patterned stockings, soft scarves, beautiful leather gloves, and lovely jackets. But the cold wind, the dry air, the dark mornings and early sunsets? Yuck.
For me the worst part is going to bed. I hate having to get into a cold bed and lie, shivering, by myself while it warms up. I love having a warm body to snuggle into, to wake up with warm breath on my shoulder. For me, winter is the time when being single means being alone the most. It's the time when I pine for a someone to steal covers from, to keep me awake with their snoring, and to huddle with under the covers giggling about the silly things that happened in each other's days. Winter is the time when, more than anything, I want this:


Picture ripped from a bedding catalogue via Google Images. Was looking for a fantastic artwork but nobody seems to like spooning as much as me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Things to celebrate your life

My friend Wabi (I may have mentioned her once or twice) turned twenty-six today. After a tough year learning to deal with a disease that is stealing her youth, a move back home, and an endless stream of uni assessment she decided she'd rather not celebrate her birthday this year. I totally understand. I wish I could make it all go away so she could enjoy today (and tomorrow, and the next day) without pain, stress, and sadness. In lieu of that, maybe a trip somewhere she can traipse the streets of a foreign town, nibbling on a local treat. Sadly, my pocket is devoid of both fairy dust and gold coins. So instead, a list of things I dreamt of getting her:

A pack of goat's milk Chocolate Donut soaps from Soapopotomus to keep her skin smooth and soft.

A funky jacket to keep her warm through the winter, courtesy of LittleHouses.

A family of Owls to keep her company, and maybe provide some assessment inspiration now and then. These ones are form Brisbane store Nook.

An apple to give to the teacher, or just keep the doctor away. Or even this lovely print from YuliyaArt.

This milk glass candy dish, both to extend her milk glass collection and stash some candy. I found this at Hannas Vintage Stew

A dvd from Amazon to watch with her on a girly night in.
And last, but certainly not least, a hug and a big Happy Birthday. Because even if I can't give her any of these I can send her happy vibes and hope she has had a lovely day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

So Frenchy

Theme nights. I've always found them slightly tacky and just a bit on the ostentatious side. That was, of course, until last weekend. Inspired by a viewing of the incredible Julie &Julia and all the delectable recipes within, my Darling Friends Vodka and Wabi decided a French theme night was needed. And so we set about creating a night of all things French.There was French film - La Vie En Rose - French word use (limited to our very lacking French vocabulary), French music, and French style in the form of stripes and a black beret. 
And then there was the food. My God, the food! The lovely V provided the mandatory baguette and cheese (Brie and Camembert of course) which we ate with gusto, leaving naught but crumbs as evidence of its existence.
For dessert Wabi pulled out the. most. amazing. Orange-scented Creme Brulee I have ever eaten:

You should definitely check it out and perhaps make it for yourself sometime. Don't share it, you'll want it all for yourself. Promise.
And me? I turned to the master for the main. Of course if you're not French and you want to cook French food there is only one person to learn from, and that is Julia Child herself. And so I tracked down her famous Boeuf Bourguignon recipe, along with a side of her Choux de Bruxelles Etuves au Buerre (or Brussels Sprouts Braised in Butter for all us non-French speaking hethans). I swear to you, even if you hate Brussels Sprouts you will love Julia's - they're amazing. Seriously. And the boeuf? WOW! I'm not going to say it was easy. It wasn't. There's two separate dishes within this dish (the mushrooms and the onions) that must be cooked while the boeuf is doing it's thang, and it takes three hours to cook - not including prep time. But so worth it. The meat practically melted on our tongues, and the sauce was an absolute treat. With the sprouts and some steamed potatoes I'd willingly say it's now in my top ten meals of all time. 
You should make it. I know you'll love it. Look how delish it is:

If only you could smell it, you'd rush out and buy the ingredients today. Tres Magnifique!   

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Freefalling

Last night a gentleman took me to heaven. With his hands and mouth he comforted, caressed, and thrilled me for hours. The gentleman was John Mayer. And no, (sadly) I did not sleep with him.
My friend Vodka and I were lucky enough to score front row (!) tickets to his Brisbane Concert. I'm not sure who was more excited, although I would suggest she would be considered more of a die-hard fan - she could guess the song simply by seeing which guitar he picked up! That said by the end of the night I had rekindled my love affair with John (yes, we are on first name basis - he looked at me dammit!), and only wish he was playing again tonight.
Yes, the media have given him a grilling lately, and he may not have the glitz and showiness of say Pink but, putting that aside I would suggest he gives good gig. In fact, the best of gig. His fingers move across the guitar like he is caressing a woman, and (save a tragic drop at the end) Mr Mayer moves around the stage with such ownership of the moment you can't take your eyes from him. And then he sings. Wow. I've spent many an hour trying to come up with the words to aptly describe his voice but, truth to tell, it's impossible. There's a smoothness there that lulls and calms you, and yet an underlying raspiness that's all sex and badness. It's good and evil perfectly combined. It makes it easy to see why the girls love him.
Now of course this magic, while almost totally John-created, also comes in part from his fantastic band. They were brilliant! And I have to give a shoutout to Robbie simply because he looks so very much like one Harold Bishop from Ramsay Street (of Neighbours soap fame, for all you non Aussies and Brits).
We drove home, V and I, thoroughly exhausted and exquisitely content. Best. Night. Ever.
And now, some photo love courtesy of Miss V. He's a bit of a looker.