Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Election day.

Late Friday, we were down the coast for the weekend.

Up bright and early Saturday morning to walk Goldie along the beach and get the weekend paper.

Breakfast reading the final election news and then off to the farmers' market - this week at Rosebud, a little further up the coast. It was drizzling and cloudy but expected to clear with the forecast of a fine afternoon.

But first, to vote. We 'absentee'-voted (i.e, out of our home electorate) at a booth in Rosebud. Party volunteers were handing out their respective how-to-vote cards, along with plenty of jolly banter. It's generally a friendly social day and often volunteers for one party will take over handing out an opposing party volunteer's how-to-vote cards while they take a break. The House of Representatives ballot paper was manageable enough but the Senate, with something like seventy-odd candidates, must have been three feet by two in size. Something to do with minimum type or something. I had to fold it about ten times to get it into the absentee-voter envelope. (Mathematical minutia: that is impossible. You cannot fold any piece of paper, no matter how thin or how large, more than seven times. How do I know this? Or more to the point, why do I know this - my head is full of useless facts.)

Then, a bit of a treat: an early lunch - midday - outdoors at the Blairgowrie cafe - no sign of Frank the fat dog - where the sun at last broke through and everyone was peeling off jackets. Again, several seasons in one day. Open sandwiches and then a massive piece of the most decadent cheesecake: a thick crust of crumbled ginger snap biscuits beneath a rich, creamy and totally delicious real cheese filling and on top, a layer of choc-dusted white chocolate which must have been a quarter inch thick. A squirt of raspberry sauce and a huge blob of double cream on the side. And two forks. No way one person could get through that, it was the size of an iceberg. The lady who runs the cafe makes it herself.

Well that killed the appetite for the rest of the day.


Dinner was something I had tried to replicate from a childhood memory. Sausage meat with spring onions and a dash of paprika mixed through and formed into a loaf, placed into a baking dish, sprinkled with a packet of chicken noodle soup, surrounded with a cup or so of uncooked rice, half a litre of boiling water poured over the top and placed in the oven to bake. Water topped up a couple of times as the rice takes it up.

It turned out just as I remember, the rice goes all gelatinous and chicken-y and the meatloaf yields quite a lot - no wonder it was a favourite on the childhood dinner table with seven children to feed. And the leftover meatloaf goes in next day's sandwiches with tomato sauce - yummy.

Then, tuned into the election telecast, live from Canberra, with a result sooner than expected.

Mr Latham conceded, graciously, just before ten. At around ten thirty, Mr Howard came to the podium at the Wentworth Hotel, shushed the crowd and waved down the applause like a favourite uncle at a family wedding, then hemmed and hawed a little before delivering a humble but magnificent speech. No arms punching the air, no gloating.

We do like our politicians to be ordinary, knockabout blokes - and women. Along with Mr Howard, the star of the night for me, on the Channel 9 panel, was Amanda Vanstone - Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs - who is about as down to earth a politician as you're likely to find. She is verbally brilliant, someone in one of the papers dubbed her the 'panel smackdown champion' for her quick-witted repartee and no-nonsense manner.

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