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Showing posts from May, 2021

Caponata: salad or stew?

I’m no vegetarian; I just like eating them (vegetables, not vegetarians). The following salad - or perhaps it is a stew - is based on those small purple eggplants you find in Italian and Middle Eastern greengrocers, and builds on these with sweet-acid tomatoes, earthy pine nuts, and salty brined olives and capers. To make it, I cubed about 750g worth of purple eggplant, placed it in a colander, and sprinkled it with a good handful of salt for an hour, before rinsing it off and frying it in batches in olive oil. Then I drained the fried eggplant on paper towels. Meanwhile, I had fried a chopped onion in another pan and, when almost done, added a dozen pitted and chopped Sicilian green olives, a small handful of capers, a punnet of those mini tomatoes about the size of the olives, a cubed celery heart, and a big handful of pine nuts. I cooked all of this for five minutes or so, adding a little more oil. Then into the fragrant vegetable/nut mixture went the fried eggplant, followed by a t

List folly.

That list was torture. For every song there were ten others as good. Probably twenty. You can't squeeze them all in. Where were Roy Hamilton, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Al Green, Jim Morrison, Chuck Berry, Neil Young (‘Out on the Weekend’ was bumped for something else), and Willie (‘Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain’) Nelson? Where was Van Morrison? (His stunning mindscape ‘On Hyndford Street’ from Hymns to the Silence was in an early draft of the 100.)  Christ Almighty, WHERE WAS RAY CHARLES? AND JIMI HENDRIX? (I tossed a coin for No. 2 - 'Lucky Old Sun' - and Aretha Franklin's version beat Ray Charles'. And where were Randy ('One Day I'll Fly Away') Crawford, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight, Karen Carpenter, Ella Fitzgerald, Ketty ("Love Letters") Lester and Patsy Cline? The obvious top 100 habituees (Rolling Stones, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who and others) are on everyone else's, so they didn't need to be in my inconsequentia

Walls have ears: home-style orecchiette with capers, cherry tomatoes and pine nuts.

Orecchiette pasta are the shape of little ears. The logic in this is that each piece has a kink in it that catches any errant sauce; and it works best, as does most pasta, when the shapes of its accompaniments are similar. This recipe pairs the orecchiette with cherry tomatoes, capers, zucchini, and pine nuts.  Home-style orecchiette: recipe interruptus . Crush a garlic clove and warm it in half a cup of olive oil in a pan over low heat along with a sprinkling of dried marjoram and a small handful of pine nuts.  Dice a zucchini and add it, along with a punnet of halved cherry tomatoes and a couple of dozen desalted capers to the pan. Cook all this, gently stirring, for 15 minutes until the zucchini has absorbed the oil and garlic and marjoram flavours. Then cover it, turn off the stove and go shopping, wash the car, read a chapter of your book, or walk the dog. The flavour intensifies if you allow the flavours to mingle for a few hours.  I walked the dog, the latest in a long line of f

Pea and ham soup: harbinger of winter.

OK, that’s a hackneyed literary term but it had suited the weather.  That previous Saturday had been so warm that when I had peeled off the black armband on Saturday night it left a band of white, like under a wristwatch in a sunny clime. (The armband was worn in the opening round of cross-country running, in honour of former teammate - and sometime reader of this weblog - Tim Thomas, who died last month.) The following Tuesday’s reversion to the worst kind of cold, drippy, endlessly drizzling Melbourne wintry weather conjured memories of the steaming hotpot-and-casserole childhood I grew up in. The thick soups, the fragrant stews, the herbed roasts, and the baking dishes bearing who knew what under that unmistakable hot pastry smell. It wasn't just my house. As I slunk home from school in that unforgettable 60s-into-70s era of post-flower-powered jazz-infused pop, rock and soul - after collecting the printed Top40 (each an ad for 3UZ with DJ cartoon on the back; Allan Lappan for b

Ancient blogger masthead temporarily revived ...

... while I work on a fix for non-working links.  At least comments and links appear to be accessible on this early template.  Please comment - including on old posts - if you can.  I nearly lost the whole thing. Eighteen years of posts almost down the drain. I hate technology. I would like to return to posted letters, or telegrams if it's really urgent.

Extracts from recent readings. And some not so recent.

Extract:  "Cancel culture" has become so prevalent and damaging to free speech one of Australia's top philosophers has set up an academic journal in which contributors can publish under a fake name. ... "I certainly think that recently the majority of threats to freedom of thought have come from the left, and I regret that, of course," said Professor Peter Singer, a professor of Bioethics at Princeton's Centre for Human Values (and former Greens candidate). Extract: Richard Dawkins has been stripped of an award by the American Humanist Association which said that his statements on transgender rights "demean marginalised groups". ... (Dawkins said), "Some men choose to identify as women and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as. Discuss."   Extract: Any brave soul who dares oppose those stalwarts of the left ... are immediately stoned to death in the virtual wor

The Main Street.

In the morning I headed north on the west side of the main street, past empty shops, their faded signage with letters missing like lost teeth. But they were not all vacant. The partial failure of a country town makes its grand buildings look even more impressive, if a little ghostly. Across the road, the Palace Hotel was a retro-excess concrete and brick art nouveau monstrosity, in a good sense. It was one of three or four hotels within a block or two, all of which looked as though they had been in competition when the original owners had commissioned their design. Gold money or wheat mnoney? Bizarrely, on the next corner, the post office (then) , and more recently , was a mock-Tudor red-brick stack straight from a story book. The town hall further along was a cross between a cream brick nuclear power station and an art deco architect's version of a medieval castle. I walked another block. These once-prosperous towns always had at least one furniture store, several clothing stores,

Blog fog.

* Comments and/or links on this weblog are accessible on some mobile devices but not some desktop devices. * On some devices comments are accessible by clicking story headline (this click through is slightly misaligned on my mobile device). * To add to the frustration, my mobile phone was lost on Saturday when I temporarily placed it on the bonnet of my car when pruning a tree in the front garden, after which Tracy backed out and drove off (not her fault; she could not have seen phone from driver’s seat) consigning the device to be crushed under some truck or hurled into a street drain. New SIM is on its way; new (second hand) phone obtained on Monday from Saeed in Walker’s Arcade. * On the upside, the actual fog has cleared here and it is a sunny day. 

Top 100: No. 1.

One of six songs in this top 20 dating from the first half of the 20th century; in this case Hoagy Carmichael's 1927 standard delivered in 1957 by Nat King Cole in a voice as clear and as cool and as controlled as the clarinet in Mozart's concerto in A major. With that comparison Stardust deservedly tops out this 100.