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Showing posts from December, 2012

Something in the water.

The first time I visited New South Wales was by river. I swam across the Murray when I was a teenager. Why walk across the bridge when you can swim? I wouldn't do it now; happy to read a book by the bank while the sun goes down. I never read before mid-afternoon. One of those habits you slip into after a lifetime of enforced academic and, later, work-related reading. But I'll read well into the night, light and eyelids permitting. Right now, it was the time of night when the birds in the trees have shut up at last and the only sound was the far-off groan of trucks on the Murray Valley Highway. The book started this way: I had just finished breakfast and was filling my pipe when I got Bullivant's telegram. It was at Furling, the big country house in Hampshire where I had come to convalesce after Loos, and Sandy, who was in the same case, was hunting for the marmalade. All right, that brings me to another curious first. This was the first book I read completely online:

Sixty-one Christmases, and a warm salad.

2012 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the first Christmas celebrated in my mother's house. She and my father moved into the just-built house during 1952, after spending the first eighteen months of their marriage living in her mother and father's house in Ascot Vale; the second half of that period with a baby. West Essendon was a new suburb then, with nothing farther west except thistle and the Maribyrnong river valley. Over the years Christmas lunch attendance grew as six babies followed the first, receded as grown-up children pulled up roots and ventured overseas, and then grew again when they returned and settled down and had their own families. We all thought the annual Christmas event would eventually become a moveable feast, but it hung on grimly in Deakin Street, staunchly defending moves to extricate it to new surrounds, failing only one year during the innovative '80s when some brave pioneer thought a Christmas picnic at Brimbank Park might be a good idea. Not a

Campfire risotto with cream of chicken and mushrooms.

This is the kind of thing that is ridiculed by the purists and loved by everyone else. I walked half a mile to the dusty Foodworks supermarket in the small country town that the river winds through - or should I say the town built around several bends in the river - and bought a tin of cream of chicken soup, a packet of grated parmesan cheese and some fresh button mushrooms. From its wine shop annex, I bought a bottle of Deakin Estate chardonnay. Then back to the river. I set some water to boil over the flame and, in a pan on a cooler part of the fire, I warmed some arborio rice in olive oil. When  the water bubbled I carefully and gradually poured some into the rice, interspersing it with white wine. I opened the tin of cream of chicken soup and folded the contents through the simmering rice, once again gradually. Its aroma was so good I was tempted to eat some of the salty, chickeny ooze straight out of the can. (I actually did this as a child - canned soup concentrate is delicio

Christmas carnival quiz.

My sister is two years and six months in the photo, taken by my father one hot January day in 1966, with date and location written on the back. Question: which Melbourne CBD building hosted this rooftop carnival? The fragment of building in the background may give a clue. Or not. Take a wild guess in comments below. Answer in a couple of days.