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Showing posts from May, 2010

More things to do with olives.

Next month the days start to get longer again , I mused as I threw half a cup of flour (too much) into a tear-off plastic bag containing two large veal shanks (whole ones). I added a teaspoon of salt (about right) and the same of pepper, twisted the bag and shook it violently to coat the shanks in the seasoned flour. Too violently. The bag broke at its sealed end. At least I didn't drop the shanks. Our winters are not very cold so I shouldn't complain, of course. But as we head towards June and the house shades almost the half of the back garden, I look forward to seeing the shade recede again. A haze of seasoned flour settled serenely around the kitchen as I warmed some oil in a heavy pan and seared the shanks, rolling them around like logs and then standing them on their fat ends for a last sizzle on the cross cut. Then I laid them down and added to the pan a finely chopped onion, a diced carrot, a diced zucchini and two scored garlic cloves. I shook the pan and lidded it

Rice and olives?

My mother-in-law was here for dinner. She had read the boys about a hundred books, and they were in bed if not asleep, and I made her a gin and tonic with a slice of lemon from the tree. I roasted a red pepper. This was going to be good. It ought to be at $10 a kilogram. Vegetable prices are snaking upwards again, along with water, mortgage rates, council rates, fuel, kindergarten fees, electricity and gas, the latter two receiving a further upward boost thanks to Kevin Rudd’s mining tax that he stole from the thesis of two American academics. All those actors’ bright ideas at the 2008 thinkfest and he steals one from two academics in America. The odds are shortening about Kevin Rudd being jettisoned before the election, and we have a Prime Minister named Julia. I peeled the pepper and set it aside, and put a finely chopped onion and a scored clove of garlic into a large warm pan in which a knob of butter was curling around as it melted, like a daydreaming figure skater. I let the

Streets of your town.

Shopping malls are like airports. Thousands of people pass through them, they're all the same inside, you have to park miles away and they never have good coffee. In fact, shopping malls are arguably worse than airports because when you leave, you go home again instead of somewhere different. On the other hand, no strip – or on-street – shopping centre is ever the same as any other, they attract smaller crowds, you don’t have to park in another suburb or get mugged in the car park, and you are more likely to find good coffee. This series will take you down some of my favourite Melbourne shopping strips. Your list might be different. I haven’t visited them all. * Puckle Street, Moonee Ponds Puckle Street makes this list for one reason: I virtually grew up in it. My mother and father shopped there every Saturday morning of my childhood and I went with them along with any other willing siblings, until we got older and rebelled. I didn’t return until I was sixteen when I got

Moving finger writes; and, having writ, presses ‘send’.

Building the Education Revolution : first, spend billions on libraries, then throw out the books: ENGLISH teachers have questioned the value of a stand-alone literature course in the national curriculum for years 11 and 12 in an "increasingly media-driven and digital society". They could give up on literature and teach jargon instead. They are very good at it: "Key considerations will focus on whether, in an increasingly media-driven and digital society, a stand-alone literature course is the most appropriate focus for the final two years of formal school study and indeed whether the suite of courses proposed is sufficiently forward looking," the association says. "Sufficiently forward looking" ? With language like that, they shouldn't even be in the classroom. ETANSW executive officer Eva Gold said the English courses "tend to privilege print medium" over digital and multi-media texts. Never let a 14-line sonnet get in the way of a 14

1001 Nights.

This is the one thousand and first item posted to this weblog. I would never have known, except that blogger tells you how many posts you've made at the top of the edit page. A thousand dinners were always bound to become a little repetitive; hence regular digressions into observation and outright opinionism. Of course, this blogging thing is just a lazy way to keep a diary. My paper diaries date to 1970. I kept them. They're in a box somewhere, a mixed assortment of Landseer, Folio, Collins, Vane and other types including the old National Bank of Australia notebooks issued to schools in the 1970s. I always wanted to commit events and thoughts to paper. I don't know why. The fear that I might forget? Can't be that. I have a memory like an elephant's. Ironically, I detested writing and hated writing essays at school. Now I enjoy it. But it helps that somewhere, someone might be reading this. So thank you to everyone who visits this weblog. And now for the second

Pass me the map.

The book was printed and delivered in time for the College's seventieth anniversary year launch at a function to which the original pupils of the inaugural 1940 class had been invited. These were among 200 in attendance. They drank beer and reminisced. So I'm away for a few days. For a rest. A rest? We're taking the boys. It won't be a rest. Just a change of scenery.

Baked shells with spinach and three cheeses.

We're eating boats for dinner, boys, I told them. Sailing ships filled with cargo. I hope they don't sink. We fetched the boats from the pantry. They were large pasta shells about two inches from bow to stern. They were 24 of them. I boiled them and drained them and put them in cold water. To fill them, we needed 500g spinach, 500g fresh ricotta, 100g mozzarella, 50g parmesan, two eggs, a good dash of nutmeg and three cloves of garlic. I melted the spinach: took a bunch of it, rinsed it, placed it in a pan with the water it held after rinsing, threw in a dash of olive oil and a scored clove of garlic, put the lid on the pan and heated the spinach slowly until it turned to green mush. Then I mixed the spinach with the ingredients in the third paragraph in a large bowl along with a gust of salt and a gale of pepper. Then we loaded up the boats to their upper foredecks. That was fun, especially for the boys. There was ricotta mixture on the ceiling. How did that get there

Vegetable garden too much for bumbling bureaucrats.

Last month, Darebin Council threatened to fine a local resident for growing vegetables on his 'nature strip' lawn at the front of his property. Get those vegetables off that nature strip! The council was forced into a humiliating back-down but not before a media blowtorch was applied to its intimidating behaviour. Darebin Council's actions - compared with the jargon-ridden 'promises' in its mission statement - demand closer scrutiny. Darebin official policy: "Our goal is to demonstrate leadership in climate change action and environmental sustainability, beyond both the local environment and the short term. We will demonstrate, through action, that sustainable behaviour is practical, affordable and necessary. We will develop policy and programs that foster the ongoing development of a sustainable community." Reality: DAREBIN Council has backed off fining a Northcote guerrilla gardener for refusing to remove a flourishing vegetable patch on his

Let's talk health over beer and nuts.

I had an email from the Old Collegians, who organise events - usually golf, football or wine tastings - that they consider might be of interest to the college community: Dear Old Collegian A happy healthy lifestyle - that's what we all want. As a member of the Old Collegians community, you are warmly invited to the Life Insurance Advisers' Men's Health Forum on Wednesday 12th May from 7pm. Prominent speakers will discuss Nutrition Made Easy, Heart and Kidney Tips and much more. Free on-the-spot blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index tests will be conducted, with a Doctor on hand to discuss results if required. Enjoy complimentary nibbles with drinks from the bar.