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Showing posts from March, 2015

2 p.m. update.

The whole thing has gone on for well over two years, after the 'blackest day in Australian sport' circus, starring a cast of glowering bureaucrats, politicians and sports administrators. During the two years, the letter writers just didn't go away, like those 4 a.m. mosquitoes you'd like to swat but can't make yourself wakeful enough to do so. Not to mention the social media twits. 'I have torn up my ticket,' they proclaimed. 'I no longer wish to be associated nor identified with such an organisation.' Pomposity meets verbosity. 'I will never attend another game. Nor will my children.' A bit harsh. What if they were to change their mind? 'I do not want my children exposed to such a culture.' 'I am no longer a follower.' 'I have written to the board expressing my dismay.' What, as well as a letter to the editor? Some people had nothing better to do than sit around the house writing sanctimonious lett

Rock'n roll heaven.

Thanks to Ilana of Inner-FM who played our four-track request on her fabulous Saturday night show Rock'n Roll Heaven on which she plays all the legends. Our set ended with greatest bluegrass song of all time, Bill Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky , performed by Mr E. Presley. Thanks Ilana.

Countdown continues: the top ten vegetables of all time.

NO. 9: ASPARAGUS Although commonplace now, the semi-mystical asparagus still provokes sighs of pleasurable anticipation when served to grateful diners. People go to any lengths (pardon the pun) to collect this delicacy, even risking encounters with snakes and traffic, as Donaldo Saveiro observed: Robust ladies in rubber boots, carrying sticks to ward off vipers, can be seen constantly patrolling the highways and backroads here in Umbria from March through June in a perennial search for wild asparagus ( asparagi selvatici ) that grow along the roadways, so fond are the Umbrians of spaghetti alla boscaiola and tagliatelle con salsa di asparagi . - La Vera Cucina Italiana , Macmillan, 1991 Unceremoniously chopped into pasta is one thing, but chefs are often tempted by the long, delicate slenderness of the asparagus spear to over-design. I was once served twelve asparagus placed radially on an oversize white round plate. A cherry tomato sat in the centre and black drops of some kind

Countdown: the top ten vegetables of all time.

A panel of experts commissioned by Mr Kitchen Hand has come up with a definitive list of the world's top ten best-loved vegetables. The panel was plied with pizza and red wine during a marathon session behind locked doors before announcing the results. We commence the countdown at No. 10, below. The Top Ten Vegetables of All Time NO. 10: ZUCCHINI . Zucchini is the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of the vegetable world. Boil the hell out of it and you'll serve up a bland vegetable with a slightly bitter aftertaste - and you'll never cook it again. But treat it with the respect this green marrow-like vegetable deserves, and it turns into a completely different article. Marry zucchini with fiery flavours, barbecue it after marinading it, or stuff it with ... just about anything. Cheap, easy to cook, and widely available, the zucchini deserves its place in the Top Ten, despite the reservations of some of the panel. Steamed zucchini. Sounds innocuous, but makes a great sid

He wasn't Irish.

I've posted the following recipe before, but it bears repeating. It works well at this time of year in Australia when, during the cooler days of early autumn, thoughts turn to casseroles and stews. While today is forecast to reach 28 degrees, the sky is slate grey and the wind is whipping drizzle across the city, where sentimental workers are right now lining up at pubs and bars for Guinness. Irish stew. Roughly slice two large onions; cut four large potatoes into rounds as thick as the head on a pint of Guinness; chop four carrots the same way. Place lamb forequarter or neck chops in a large pot with alternate layers of onions, potatoes and carrots. Add water to just cover; add salt and pepper and plenty of chopped curly-leaf parsley. Bring to boil, skim and simmer 90 minutes. Cool and chill overnight. Next day, remove fat before reheating. Serve with barley, colcannon or simple mashed potato. Colcannon. Some consider this more delicious than the actual stew and they c

High Noon.

Sometimes you can't help overhearing conversations. Even one-way ones. Occasionally the one-way ones are even more interesting, because having to imagine the unheard replies makes you listen even closer. It was late morning on a warm, overcast autumn day. I stood at the checkout queue by the customer service desk at the Rye store of one of the two major supermarkets. While I waited I daydreamed out the front window towards the beach across the road. A voice behind the service desk brought my attention back inside. It was a middle-aged staff member, talking on the phone, obviously to the store manager. She looked flustered. "A customer is coming to see you. She was here about an hour ago. She bought about six bags of shopping," the staff member was saying. "She rang the store a few minutes ago. I answered the phone. I've just hung up. She wants to bring it all back." Pause. It was the manager's turn to speak. The staff lady again: "Everyth

Why was the broom so short?

This city is obsessed with coffee, that milky, jittery, machined addiction made by poseurs who call themselves baristas. Just look at our major waste problem, the environmental disaster that is disposable take-away coffee cups littering the inner city. Disposable was supposed to mean single use, not throw it on the footpath or out the window or leave it under the train seat or on the park bench. They're everywhere. And now, the disposables are carried in a disposable cardboard multi-cup carrier. Insane. Aside from all that, no drink should ever be taken from cardboard or that abomination, polystyrene. Ban the lot of them. Hot drinks should only ever be drunk from porcelain or glass. All those inner urban Green-voting hipsters should live up to their 3Rs mantras. Reuse, recycle ... or recant, pretenders. That brings us to the superior drink, tea; drunk by the silent minority – perhaps even majority – and appreciated for its loftier qualities, its more subtle pleasures. While cof

Anyone lost a fire hydrant?

It was just a slightly complicated garden if you were visiting, but if you had to work on it, it was a jungle. I was working on it, first time in years. "Mow the lawn," was the brief, but that was just shorthand for tidy the garden after forty years of neglect. And 'lawn' was a metaphor, albeit a possibly unintended one, unless she was being ironic. Language is difficult. The canopies of some of trees were just about down to the ground so it was hard to get the mower underneath let alone myself, being six feet tall. I kind of laid flat and pushed it under like one of those roller trolleys mechanics use to slide under cars. Other sections of lawn were dotted with various rampant ground cover plantings that had wandered from the areas intended to be covered. I went around these and erred on the side of mowing as much of them back as possible. Half an hour of lawnmower gymnastics and the air was thick with dirt. There hadn't been a lot of grass at many points.

How memory works; and summer's best pasta dish.

It used to be said that humans can remember up to seven digits easily and it got harder after that; hence the original exchange-based seven-digit telephone numbers. You used to be able to remember the numbers of family and close friends without resorting to that exquisite 1950s Bakelite/plastic relic, the teledex. Yes. I can prove that. Given that the 04 on today’s phone numbers is a given, that leaves eight digits to be recalled. Yet Tracy cannot remember her own phone number ... let alone anyone else's! And I'm not much better. QED, which is an old expression roughly translated into today's language as I told you so. That figure - seven - occurs in more recent research, once again undertaken exhaustively across a control group of five, which showed that on average home chefs retain a shortlist of exactly seven recipes that they rotate regularly. Of course, beyond the magnificent seven favourites exists an infinity of possibilities with which the home chef occasional