Tuesday, December 26, 2006

T'was the Night After Christmas in Whoville...

Some of you may (or may not) have surmised that I am a BIG fan of the Grinch --ok, if you weren't hanging out with me in Squarebanks during the holidays yonks ago then you wouldn't know this, so TOUGH!

Anyways, every time I've watched the original Grinch cartoon (circa 1963) I've always hoped that maybe, just once, the Grinch would WIN. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the holidays and I love getting folks presents that are quite unexpected... But really now! Can't the Grinch win just ONCE????

DISCLAIMER: when Dr Suess passed away, we held a wake for him in our favorite pub in Squarebanks; so there! I'm not a Grinch (shhh, don't tell my dad, he'll be so embarrassed!)

So, like... what would it be like if the Grinch were to actually win?

The following is best read using Boris Karloff's voice in your head:

Oh, wait a sec: if you want to link or re-post this, then you've really, really, really, got to make sure you tell folks where it came from:

This Is An Alaskan Dave Down Under Original Poem! Please accept no substitutes! Ok, I lie... my wife wrote it... (really!)

Now you can turn on your Boris Karloff voice in your head:

The Night after Christmas

Twas the night after Christmas and Whoville was rocking
With the kind of wild party that brings people flocking.
The noise and the booze, all the singing and dancing ...
The racket and rumpus, the shmoozing and prancing ...
Would drive to the point of starting a riot
Any poor fellow who just fancied quiet.
And you already know who was sane by an inch:
Poised on the brink was the poor old green Grinch.

By nine in the morning even Max was vibrating
With the jackhammer jollity; it’s not overstating
That not even Max could endure so much ‘cheer,’
No matter how snockered one became on Who beer.
And by two in the P.M., oh, Maxie was worried,
For the Grinch looked so manic; the beast who’d been buried
Beneath fudge and tinsel, and the charm of a child
Had clawed back to the surface ... and my, he was wild!

All the popping and bopping, the preening and prancing,
The swinging and zinging, and -- oh, the break-dancing!
Were more than the Grinch could guess how to endure ...
And then, all at once, he envisioned a cure,
For there by the Christmas tree, flat on the floor,
Was one lonely present. A forgotten chainsaw.
And the Grinch had no sooner set eyes on that tool
Then he said to himself, “Grinchie, you’ll been such a fool,
To think you could bear all this ruckus and humbug,
This rumpus and dumpus, this scampus and scumbug,
This noise, noise, noise, noise, that these Whofolk call ‘fun,’
While the stores are all closed and you can’t buy a gun --
There isn’t a fowling piece (nor even a pheasant),
But one of these idiots forgot his best present!”
For under the Christmas tree, left on the floor,
Wrapped up in red ribbons lay a brand new chainsaw:

All shiny and sharpy, all toothy and jagged --
Just begging for gasoline! So, out the Grinch swaggered
With a light, empty gascan and a bag full of quarters,
To the gas station downtown, with a brain full of slaughters ...
There wouldn’t be any Who left to make noise!
They’d be peacefully absent, the Who girls and boys.
The Who-guys and ladies would be quiet as the snow --
And Cindy-Lou Who’d be the first one to go.

For the Grinch could envisage the headlines tomorrow,
When no Who in Whoville survived to feel sorrow --
Here was a task to which the Grinch felt quite equal
(And MGM’s already contracted the sequel):

Wee-whooie! On with a recipe:

Here is my pineapple glazed ham recipe...

What you knead:

1 ham --wasn't that a surprise...
1 large can of sliced pineapple
1/4 to 1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

What you due:

Open the can o' sliced pineapple, and drain the juice into a saucepan. To the saucepan add both sugars and simmer over low heat until it just starts to thicken, but is still well pourable.

Put the ham in a large roasting pan, and adorn it with the slices of pineapple. Secure the pineapple slices to the ham with toothpicks. Pour the glaze from the saucepan over the ham, cover, and then bake in a low, low, low oven (275 F, perhaps) for 3 hours.

For serving, make sure you ladle the pan drippings over the sliced ham and also over the pineapple slices.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Chocolate Lovers Rejoice!

On with the holiday recipes:

I've received a couple (ok, one... ok, ok... NONE) of emails asking what a "panforte" is. Hmmmm, let's see... "forte" means "strong", and "pan" means "pan", so I guess it translates to "a strong pan"?

No, no, I'm joking! If you like nuts and chocolate, then this is for YOU.

One Continental Panforte

What you kneed:

130 gms (a bit over 1/2 cup) macadamia nuts --note: I use cashews since they are a LOT cheaper here
130 gms chopped walnuts
130 gms slivered (not silvered) almonds
150 gms (2/3 cup) chopped, pitted, dates
180 gms (3/4 cup) sultanas --raisins are dried red grapes, sultanas are dried white grapes; you can use raisins if you like
250 gms (1 cup) cooking chocolate --you know, the kind for melting
60 gms (1/4 cup) desiccated coconut
125 gms (1/2 cup) flour
125 gms (still 1/2 cup) cocoa powder
125 gms (really! still 1/2 cup) icing sugar
60 gms (1/4 cup) butter
125 gms (gosh, still 1/2 cup) apricot jam
75 mls (1/3 cup) cherry brandy (leave a shot or two for the cook)

What you due:

Chuck all the nuts, fruits (sultana counts as a fruit here), coconut, flour, cocoa, and icing sugar in a bowl. Mix it all together.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler. (If you don't have a double boiler, then here's a neat trick (came up with it myself): put the choc and butt in a metal bowl, place the bowl over the top of a pan of boiling water. Duh! One instant double boiler! You can paypal me whatever amount you'd like for that tip.) Add the apricot jam and cherry brandy to the melting mixture and stir well.

Once the double boiler stuff is melted, then add it to the bowl of dry stuff and mix thoroughly.

Grease (butter) and line* (wax paper or grease-proof paper) a deep cake dish (or pretty much anything that'll go in the oven) and bake for 30 mins in a 150 C (300 F) oven.

When you pull it out, it'll seem moist and sticky but will firm up upon cooling.

Once it's cooled (at least two hours), pop that baby out and slice it up! Oh, it'll keep for weeks if you so desire (yeah, right!).

*you really don't need to line the dish, once it's cooled, just float it in a sink of hot water for a minute and then it'll slide right out.

This sucker weighs over 3 and a half pounds! Chocolate, nuts, brandy, etc! Ahhhhh, I'm not responsible for any increased waistlines... You've been warned.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Holy Holiday Updates, Batman!

Wow! I wasn't going to update over the holidays, but I've noticed quite a bit of traffic on my site (sight) --ooooo, ain't I funny?

I've got so much to tell you, but I'm also in the middle of "doing" dinner --that means I'm cookin' grub for the clan-- so this'll be another quickie (sorry, ladies).

Forshadowing: Barrosa trip, 1000 year drought, holiday fun, holiday food, dave doing dumb things while growing up (or at least the years passed, don't know about actually "growing up").

But for now, I'm gonna paste in a soup recipe since I'm in a hurry. Oh, I do have all the holiday food stuff ready to be uploaded, just gotta clean the kitchen first... could take a bit...

Here's the soup recipe I uploaded to the forums the other day:

I made a soup last night, and everyone loved it so I thought I'd share it with y'all.

Take the water from a can of chick peas (I was making hummus and couldn't waste it, lemme know if anyone needs to know how to make hummus), and combine it with a can of coconut milk in a saucepan. Slowly simmer it and add the following:

a pinch of cayenne powder
a pinch of ground white pepper
a squirt of lime juice
two pinches of coriander powder

Keep it on very low heat till it's simmering.

Shred a little bit of fresh cabbage. Toss the shredded cabbage into your deep fryer (always use fresh oil when deep frying) for 1 to 2 minutes, remove from oil and drain.

Pour the soup into bowls (duh), and top the bowl with the fried cabbage.

This isn't a joke; it's really good!!!!

I will post over the holidays... Often... orphan... frequently... (just a little humour (humor) from Gilbert and Sullivan)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Just a quickie

I tried to upload this post yesterday, but blogger was jacking around, sigh... Here goes try number 23.

Just thought I'd share a couple of pics from the Barossa Valley before I go downstairs and chow down for mum-in-laws b-day dinner feast.

She wanted cold cuts, cheeses and salads for her b-day meal here. I'll put up a pic soon of the spread.

But now, a pic or two from our Barossa trip.

Now THAT'S a winery!

Turn around and you see this:

Pretty cool, eh?

More soon.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Giant Sucking Sound

Cut to the chase! Promised story time with unkie dave.

As regular readers will have surmised, I spent most (all) of my formative years in Alaska. Heck, I even spent a few decades (many) there afterwards cus I loved it so much. You will also have noticed I've biked in some really horrendous conditions.

Oh, wait! Note for new readers: Biking to me involves the kind of bikes which have foot rests that go up an down and circle round and round.

Anywho... It was late spring (end of May) up in Squarebanks and myself and a friend were out riding mountain bikes (we were roadies too). My friend worked at All Weather Sports and was also one of my fencing students. I didn't do much winter riding with him, but a lot of spring and summer riding.

Back to the story: We had ridden up and around Ester Dome all day (3 times maybe? didn't count, something like 6000 vertical feet of biking) and were on our way back along the Equinox Marathon trail when all of a sudden (gasp!) we spied a wooden, hand-painted trail marker leading off into one of the many swamps.

We were both very familiar with melted bogs and thawed tundra, but never-the-less just had to give it a go! Maybe we should have thought about the sign... "Goldstream Drainage Trail #8"... through the soggy tundra... in a low-lying area... But our brains weren't working after 5 hours in the saddle so we rode down the trail.

Any of you know how deep bogs are? Any of you know how deep pools are in the tundra? Hah! I do! The bikes quickly bogged down, and there was NO way of riding along the trail (we later found it it's a winter snowmachine trail, NOT a summer trail). Since it kinda paralleled the railroad tracks and headed in the general direction of where we wanted to go, we continued.

Hmmmm, bike on shoulder, every step sinking knee deep into mud, and skeetos (mossies) all around. No worries, it was about to get worse. Before it gets worse, I need to explain the title "A Giant Sucking Sound": Ever had your feet sink into soft mud to your knees? And then when you pull the foot out there's a "sucking sound". After about a 1000 or so steps, life becomes one giant sucking sound...

Then we reached the ponds (it gets worse at this point). 2 or 3 hundred yards of interconnecting pools. All just recently melted and 2 to 5 feet deep. For those of you who don't know how cold it gets in the interior of alaska, let me tell you that ponds and pools deep freeze completely solid by mid-december and then freeze some more over the next few months. They melt from the top down! The last bit of ice is at the bottom of them. The ice doesn't float to the surface cus it's frozen around and through all the weeds at the bottom. I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP!!!!!

So, here we find our two intrepid bikers. Bikes hoisted with both hands over their heads, wading through waist to chest deep water which was very very very very cold. Don't forget the ice on the bottom of the ponds and the routine slipping and falling from said ice while trying to keep bike above head (the head went underwater routinely).

Can we say, "FUN?" Wee-Hoo!

Oh, the other "giant sucking sound" was from our private parts... testicles ran and hid up into the abdomen, and the pissers shriveled to sprout size. Go ahead, try to picture this!

We eventually found firm ground and gingerly re-mounted the bikes (get your head out of the gutter) and rode back to town: 7 hours, 6000 feet of climbing, two shriveled dingies, and four cold testes. Ain't life grand?

Food Time!

Getting back to my holiday feast:

Pineapple Coconut Pie

This comes to you direct from Tonga! Very nice place, me likkie.

Pie Crust: to make it simple, just use a graham cracker pie crust. You can make your own, but by this point you'll be pretty busy. Oh, if you need me to tell you how to make a pie crust from scratch, then you'll just have to wait till next post.


What you need:

2 cups (473 mls) whole milk
1/2 cup (118.25 mls) unbleached flour
1 cup raw sugar
1/4 tsp (1 ml) sea salt
3 beaten egg yolks
1 tbsp butter (NOT margarine)
1 cup grated coconut (you can use dessicated if you are in a pinch)
1 1/2 cups fresh minced pineapple
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (but not from my tree!!!!)

What you do (for the filling):

Heat the milk in a thick bottomed saucepan till it just simmers, then whisk in the flour. Remove from heat (that means turn the gas off!) Whisk and whisk and whisk it some more! Add the sugar and sea salt. Whisk in the beaten egg yolks, butter, coconut, pineapple and lemon juice. Whisk and whisk (I like typing "whisk'). Simmer on very low heat (or in a double boiler) for a minute or two while whisking (your forearms get strong!)

Pour the mix into your pie shell. Let cool.

While it's cooling, make the Meringue Topping:

What you need (for the topping):

3 egg whites (SEE! the same number of egg yolks!!!)
4 tbsp raw sugar
a dash of vanilla

What you do:

Ahhhh, mix egg whites, sugar and vanilla. Beat (use an electric mixer, otherwise your hands will get very tired) until stiff peaks form. Spread the meringue topping over the pie, keeping care to bring it right to the edge of the crust --you can make cool designs in the topping at this point, FUN!

Bake that sucker at 180 C (356.03 F) for 10 minutes (600 seconds).

Let it cool.

Eat it.


For those of you (my six or seven regulars) who checked in last night aussie time, you may have noticed a post up there about 10 times...

Ummmm, I can say sorry, eh? We still don't have broadband access in our area and there are times when the dialup refuses to connect to some overseas sites, like blogger, or any secure server like my banking and finance sites. Sooooo, I really had no idea whether it ever went up (or how many times).

Anyways, it's all fixed this morning --it's friday morning here, and the post looks like it should.

There'll be a story later, but I've got a food tip to tide you over till I get back to my holiday feast recipes:

Dave's food tip #42,657

Use extra virgin olive oil on your bread instead of butter or margarine. Your arteries, heart, and waistline will thank me. Oh, and put some good herbs on too, most of the common ones are very beneficial to your health.

Randomly Randomised

Several good things about having an "owwie" on my foot (read last post):

1) Boatloads of sympathy from everyone --note to self: milk this for all it's worth!!!

2) Don't have to drive everyone everywhere.

3) Don't have to cook.

4) Get to lay around and read all day.

5) Don't have to do a bunch more gardening.

6) Don't have to rig up piping for reclaiming water from washer.

7) Got a present early! Actually, this was the second early pressie!

Several bad things about having an "owwie" on my foot:

1) Getting really tired of folks asking me if I'm alright.

2) Wifey-poo is driving the car... scary!

3) Have to eat someone elses cooking.

4) Getting very very fat and lazy.

5) Don't get to play in the garden.

6) Washer wastes a lot of water till I get the new piping rigged.

7) One (two) less things to open on the 25th.

I guess it all evens out, eh?

Oh, did I mention that it bloody-well HURTS!
I'm sure you're aware that I'm joking on a couple of those: wife can drive (sorta), and those two are in the kitchen making one of their specialties which is darned good.

Oh wait, lemme tell ya about the two early pressies.

I GOT THE ULTIMATE FOOD PROCESSOR!!!!! WEE-HOO!!!! It does everything (and boy do I mean EVERYTHING) and it even has a blender on the side.I knew I was getting this for chrissie (that's aussie slang for christmas) cus I got to pick it out and I also got to pay for it.

So why didn't it get wrapped and put under the tree? The day after we brought it home (I still need to pick out a name for it, any suggestions? It's so cute.) the regular blender died --it was old. So instead of naught (not) having a blender for a month, we decided to install the New Food Processor. I don't think a day has gone by when it hasn't been used, damn I love that thing! I want to kiss it, fondle it, and whisper in it's ear (oops, wasn't supposed to type that).

This sucker mashes, slices, dices, chips, processes, blends, grates (3 different grating blades!), and even makes dough. I'm very very happy. How in the hell I ever lived without it I'll never know... No, my two trusty, expensive, custom chef knives have not been retired, just not used as much (they both told me they needed a break anyway --oh, that reminds me I need to get the grind stone hooked up in the garage and sharpen one of them) as they used to be.

The other early pressie is a cheesemaking book. Now, I have cheese hoops and mats and have made a few cheeses; mainly ricotta (buttermilk and goats milk), yoghurt cheese (fake cream cheese), and milk cheese (quick and easy and tasty) in the past, but nothing extravagant.

How did I get this? We were on our way back from the Barossa Valley the other day (still gotta tell you about that) and we stopped in Angaston --ok, Angaston is technically in the Barossa, so sue me-- for photos and noticed a little cheese shop. I, of course, had to go in... wife followed. We left with a goats milk rind cheese, a wedge of jarlsburg, and a wedge of bleu. All made, of course, on the premises. Have you ever had fresh apples and bleu cheese together? No? Well DO IT!!! Your taste buds will thank me.

Anyways, I asked the girl behind the counter where they get their rennet and she told me where and also pointed at the cheesemaking book. Needless to say, I bought it (the book, not the girl).

Small world: the girl behind the counter recognised us. She lives in Nurioopta (in the Barossa) and drove by us on her way into work as we were videoing and photoing some historic stuff at the turn to Angaston. Note: this type of thing happens to us a lot. Why? Well, ask me and I'll write a post about me wifey and I and why we sorta "stand out" from normal folk. Oooh, nice runon...

So the cheese book was supposed to go under the tree which has been up for over two weeks now. I had picked it out, and bought it, so it wasn't gonna be too much of a surprise. Well, I really had a hankerin' to flip through this morning as I was lying about with my foot propped up and iced down... I had no idea where it had been hid, but since I'm getting loads of sympathy it miraculously appeared with my lunch tray. Wee-hoo!

Hmmmm, now I just need to rig some type of cooling unit for the garage and I can make complex cheeses.... hmmmm...

I do have a good story lined up for you. It involves me, bikes, alaska, and dumb things. I was gonna type it today but I'm getting lazy (see number 4 up at the top of this post), so you'll just have to wait.

Ok! Food Time! Wait a minute, this whole post seems to be about food... oh well, no worries here:

I was going to give you more of my holiday feast recipes, but I really don't want to hobble down the stairs and then hobble back up and then hobble down afterwards. Soooooo, how's about this:


Cress is going to be included here since it's grown on the windowsill in the same length of time as sprouts.

Back to sprouts. I've settled on growing (and eating) fenugreek sprouts and mung bean sprouts. They are both very easy to grow and are ready in 5 to 7 days.

Here's what you do: put the seeds in the bottom of a clean glass jar and fill with water. Use either an old nylon of your wifes or cheesecloth to cover the top, use a rubber band to fasten. Let it stand in the dark overnight. Strain the water out in the morning, and rinse and drain again. Put the jar back in the dark cupboard. Rinse the seeds/sprouts daily. You'll know when they are done, trust me.

Don't put too many seeds in initially, the sprouts really do increase in volume. You'll find out, just do it.

Some people only use sprouts in salads... pitiful fools... Last night the crop of mung bean sprouts ended up in a prawn stir-fry. Be creative!

Cress is different. Put some potting soil in a small trough on the windowsill, make sure you you've got some drain holes and something to catch the water --I just use an old tupperware type thingy with some holes in the bottom with the upturned lid underneath. Liberally sprinkle the cress seeds on top of the soil, water well. If you are in a dry climate, the cover with a damp paper towel for the first night or two.

The cress will start growing in a day or two, no worries. Keep the soil damp. In a few days the cress thicket will be an inch or so high, and it's ready to crop. Just use scissors to shear the cress as close to the soil as you can: try to get as much of the stems as you can.

Cress has an odd, mildly peppery flavour... kinda piquant (ooooooh, dave knows big words), and brings out the flavour of other fresh herbs. It's great with tomato(e). A cress and tomato(e) sandwich is very very good, trust me.

I promise this won't turn into a "food blog"! Honest! Hey, I have great stories to tell you and I've still gotta tell you what happened here on friday night last... It was... Interesting...

Oh, wait! Did you know that nasturtium leaves finely chopped are great in salads and have a strong peppery flavour (flavor). The leaves are a very powerful condiment and a good addition to a fresh salad. Another great thing about nasturtiums is that they grow pretty much anywhere, they self-seed each year, have nice flowers, and are a nice ground cover. Go on out to your garden, or local park, or back woods, or wherever you see them growing and try a leaf! I'm not joking! Really!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Aaaaaaiiiiigggghhhh!! Me broke me foot... wah, whine, sniffle...

And who says kids have all the fun?

Did it happen when I was scrambling off the roof (had to fix the drainage from the evap AC) via a tree? No! Did it happen going up and down the ladder while putting in the new irrigation PVC pipes? NO!

Did it happen when old dave jumped up the retaining wall (only 1 metre high) that old dave jumps up all the time? Yup... Waaaahhhh! I'm getting old... whine, sniffle...

It's a hairline fracture of the second and third metatarsels (sp????) in me right foot (as opposed to the wrong foot). Well, at least I think that's what those bones are called. How do I know they are both fractured? Ahhhhh.... I've done this injury before (does that surprise you?) and I really know the difference betwixt a bruise of them and a hairline split of them.

A cast does nothing for this type of split (so I've been told). So it's heel walking for a month, ice regularly, immobilisation, elevation, anti-inflammatories, and walking with a crutch --fortunately I've me lion's head walking stick a bunch of my fencing students gave me yonks ago (it's a good story!)

I really wish this happened from climbing around and scrabbling on the roof while cleaning gutters or maintaining the A/C or something like perhaps falling from a tree while chopping some over hanging branches cus of an impending wildfire (it came to within 10K of us last night)... But no, it was one of those "duh, I'm dumb!!!" type breaks...

Ah, wait, the codeine is kicking in... mmmmmmm... ahhhhhh... sigh.... bliss....


What's that????

Oh, yeah... a recipe...

Ok, take the previous herbed spud recipe and substitute large chunks (one inch cubed) of butternut pumpkin in place of the spuds. Also, use melted butter (NOT MARGARINE CRAP) in place of the olive oil. Oh, yeah, use some fresh chopped rosemary too. And, uh, go easy on the sea salt... Oh, wait! Don't pepper them either!

Yeah, that'll do it...

trust me... grin...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Barossa Bound

This is just a quickie to tide you over till we get back. Where are we? We are up in the Barossa Valley up north of town. It's me first time here, but I do know the Mclaren Vale region quite well as that's right outside our doorstep.

I've got some great stories to tell, and also some funny stories from the clan house down here from the other day, so stay tuned cus I'm hoping to have it up on wed or thurs.

Meantime, here's a quickie recipe for you:

Herbed spuds (potatoes)

Dice up the spuds (just scrub, don't peel em), and put them in a bowl. Pour in a good amount of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, dried oregano, dried tarragon, dried basil, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme. You can add a little bit of fresh lemon juice if you'd like. Mix well (just use your hands, it's quick, easy, and you get to lick your fingers afterwards).

Spread evenly over a large oven pan and bake at 190 C (375 F) for an hour or so until the spuds are done to your liking --after 45 mins take a spatula and turn them and spread em around again to dredge up more olive oil and herbs).

When they are done: eat them!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Happy St. Andrews Day

And a merry ole St. Andrews Day to all! Ah, does anyone know what the Scots celebrate on St. Andrews Day? I sure don't! If any of my 5 regular readers would care to enlighten me, then that'd be cool. Yes, you read (red) it write (right): I have what appears to be 5 regulars! Wee-Hoo! Oh goody for me... and all that crap...

Maybe it's an ego thing... I'll have you know I thought for sure I'd get some comments two posts ago about me introducing myself to a strange guy as "the guy he slept with last night". Oh, well, guess I'll just have to try again. No, I'm not gonna link to it, you'll just have to scroll down a bit and read some.

It has come to my attention that I've been neglecting my childhood up in the frozen north. Actually, none of you mentioned it, but I have more comments when I relate an amusing anecdote from my youth as opposed to other stories --Translation: y'all think it's funny when little dave tried to kill himself!

So, in an effort to amuse you, I'll tell you a story about myself and my hatchet...

One year for my birthday (Yo! Dad! Send me something this time, I know you're reading!) I got a hatchet. Sooooo very cool... imagine little dave around 8 or 9 or 10 or 11 with a hatchet... ooooooooh, aaaaaaaaaah.

Now, I realise that some of you in a big city in the lower 48 might consider this an "inappropriate gift" for a kid, but if you were in Alaska during the gold rush then you'd understand that this was a big thing. Sorta like a kid in Montana getting his first hunting knife (I had one at 5). Anyways... On with the show.

I still have all my fingers and toes, both hands, all three feet, and my four eyes. Obviously, I didn't hack anything off... BUT I SURE DID TRY!

My brother, myself, and a few friends liked to build tree forts (I was a role model for calvin) in the back woods. They were pretty elaborate workings: multiple levels, special footholds for climbing up, railings, pine boughs for camouflage, lots of coiled rope, buckets of nails, hammers stolen from dads garage (oh shit, the old fart is reading this... BORROWED!) piles of waste boards for building other levels... Well, you get the idea: we had fun.

One piece of indispensible gear was good, solid hiking boots. The reason for this was that when you stepped into the inevitable ground wasp nest your foot wasn't totally covered with stings. We always dispensed with the indispensible hiking boots cus we figured you could run faster in sneakers after stepping in the wasp nest holes. Hmmmm, perhaps some bored PHD student could do a study about which method produces less wasp stings... I don't think I'll volunteer.

I digress (as per usual), so back to the story:

The other piece of 'must have' gear was my hatchet! Since it was my hatchet I got to wield it. It was mainly used for hacking through branches on big ole pine trees so we could build a cool fort. It was also used for hacking roots, dart boards, walls, toy cars, carpets, doors, and anything else a ten-year old could think of. But it's main purpose in life was to clear branches.

Foreshadowing: does a ten-year old boy ever think to sharpen his hatchet? Do I really have to answer that?

Spring comes around and on the very first day that the snow is off the ground little dave decides to go into the woods himself to start making a tree fort. Little dave finds a big ole climbing tree and proceeds to climb to a decent height (to a ten-year old). Little dave straddles a branch, surveys the "lie of the land" and decides where this summers' tree fort will be. He takes a BIG backswing with his hatchet and attempts to drive it with all his might into the branch just in front of him.

Before I tell you what happened, you'll need to know that the hatchet spent the winter buried in the snow in the yard and was rusted up and very very dull from a few years worth of use with no sharpening...

What happened was that the dull, rusted hatchet rebounded off the branch, right back onto the face of little dave, and hit his right eye socket (fortunately the hatchet was single bladed and only blunt, hard, cold, solid steel on the non-bladed side).

Little dave falls backwards, slides off his perch on a branch and proceeds to bounce off various branches on his way to landing flat on his back --somewhere along the way he dropped his hatchet. Side note: this would have made a great shot in a movie!!!

Little dave awakens on the ground and notices he's rather scraped, bloodied, and bruised. He quickly looks around for his hatchet (little kids HATE to lose cool things) and is relieved when he finds it laying right next to his head, blade side up. Wee-Hoo!

Whoopsie, little dave is all dirty and bloody so he goes over to the creek and quickly washes up before heading home.

Scene cut to when little dave gets home

"Oh My God! What Happened To Your Eye?!" shrieks mom.

"Huh? What?" Little dave finally looks in the mirror and sees the most tremendous black and blue bruise quickly swelling up all around his right eye. "Ummm, I don't know..." stammers little dave with the ripped jeans, bloodied shirt, other bruises everywhere else, and clutching his hatchet in the hand that's not swollen up.

Gosh, did I have a fun childhood or what?

On with the food, I have another recipe from my holiday menu for you:

Banana Jam

This is SOOOOO easy! Y'all are gonna wonder why you didn't think of it before the islanders. Yes, this recipe comes to you direct from Papua New Guinea.

We are just now recovering from last years typhoon that wiped out our entire banana (banana is so fun to type!) crop. Bananas used to be around $2 a kilo (a buck a pound) and you could sometimes find really ripe ones for 50 cents a kilo... After the typhoon, they shot up and peaked at $15 a kilo, and I've just seen $8 a kilo recently.

Anywho, if you are going to have a south pacific island holiday feast, you will need to make banana (fun to type) jam. So here you are:

Bananananana (oops) jam:

What you knead:

10 (ten) bananas
3 cups ( 711 mls) raw sugar
juice of two lemons (use your own lemon tree, not mine, thanks)

What you due:

Slice the bananas. Chuck them and the sugar and the lemon juice into a saucepan. Heat it up while stirring very frequently (owefen). When it's simmering nicely and becomes red-tinged, then it's done! Hey, presto whammy: banana jam. Jar it up or use it now. It makes a great ice cream topping and is also very good on toast. Many many uses for banana jam there is (I can sound like yogurt (yoda) too).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Guy Fawkes Down Unda!

Ha! Didn't that title fool y'all? I'll bet right now everyone in the US is busy googling the name Guy Fawkes. What? You're not? Damn, oh well... I guess I'll fill ya in.

In 1605 AD (Before Dave--The "A" is just a typo) a bloke named Guy Fawkes was arrested for trying to blow up the English Parliament on Nov 5th, 1605, BD. He didn't succeed, but there is a sort of unofficial holiday for either "Guy Fawkes Night" or "Bonfire Night".

So, now you know... But why/how do I know this? Cus the Most Wonderful Woman In The World (my wifey-poo) was born the day before on the 4th of Nov --yes, she is now 401 years old but doesn't look a day over 250. It just MIGHT have something to do with me being able to see in the dark and those two little scars on my neck that don't heal... Feral yellow eyes at night, geesh, doesn't everyone have those?

"Dave, just tell us the 'supposed' relevance of Guy Fawkes and today's post, thank you." Ah! I heard you think that.

Burning down Parliament requires fire. A by-product of fire is ashes. The Ashes Test Series is going on right now down unda (that's aussie pronunciation of 'under'). The Poms are going down in FLAMES!

Now do you get it???

I can take solace in the fact that in the previous Ashes up in the Old Country the Poms got the sh*t kicked outta them in the first test, then battled back and won the Ashes for the first time in yonks. Go POMS!

Since 99.99% of my readers are in the USA, I figure this has been a great lesson in what's happening in the rest of the world, eh?

No story today but I will share with you my Yuletide and New Year Holiday menu with you. In fact, each post from now till the 22nd of Dec, BD (I'll be busy cooking after that) will have a recipe from the menu.

So, without further intellectual wanking from yours truly (that means I'll shut me trap), here's the menu for my Holiday Feast:

Remember: a recipe from something of the menu follows, so read on:

This is in no particular order, I've still got to organise it on a day to day basis. Oh, everything is homemade from scratch.

Holiday food:

Panforte (type of a christmas cake)

Polynesian Lamb Spare Ribs

Cinnamon bread (2 or 3 loaves)

4,5 or 6 loaves homemade white bread

Polynesian Ham

Pineapple Pie

Pineapple Sherbet

Pineapple Topping --for the ice cream

Banana Jam --for the ice cream

Homemade Ice Cream --for the above toppings to cover

Charlotte Rouse

Pineapple-Coconut Pie


Roast Chook

Roast Pork Leg --persian style seasonings

Lots of Stuffing

Candied Sweet Potatoes

5 types of Gravy

Guacamole dip

Chunky Mild Salsa

Hot Smooth Salsa

Apricot Cobbler (at least 2)

Herbed Potatoes --oven roasted

Sushi Platter --6 or 7 varieties


Herbed, Buttered, Pumpkins Chunks

Waldorf Salad

Potato(e) Salad

Beef Roast --seasoned with either egyptian or morrocan herbs

Advokaat Cheesecake --Advokaat is a liquer made from brandy and egg yolks

Baked Cheesecake --either strawberry or blueberry, freshly picked

Tzatziki dip

Homemade Corn Chips

Homemade Potato(e) Chips

Green Beans and Red Capsicums (bell pepper) with bacon and nuts

Champagne with strawberries

Garden Greens Salad

Marinated Onion and Cucumber Salad

Champagne (case)

Sherry -one bottle for cooking

Beer (2 cases variety of types)

Red Wine (one cask)

White Wine (one cask)

Tequila, White Curacuao (triple sec), lime juice --for margaritas

Sake (1 or 2 bottles)

Advokaat (one bottle)

Brandy (1 or 2 bottles)

Aaaaannnnnnnnnddddddddd........ Today's recipe is....


Miti is a coconut dip from Fiji. The miti that I make is a variation from a traditional recipe tailored (or seamstressed) for ease of use of westerners. Oh, I have made it the traditional way, but it takes a while and (as you can tell from the menu) I'll need to shortcut where (wear) I can.

What you need:

1 cup (237 mls) dried coconut
1 tbsp (15 mls) fresh lemon juice (if you don't have a lemon tree out front then snag a lemon from the neighbors lemon tree)
1 fresh red chilli (chili) finely minced
1 small (small) onion, finely minced
1 1/4 cups (296.25 mls) boiling H2O (water)

What you do:

Chuck everything into a bowl. Let it sit for 2 to 4 hours. Strain the liquid into a bowl. Then take the leftover solids in your hand and SQUEEZE the heck out of them to extract the rest of the juice (do this over the strained liquid --you'll figure it out).

You can toss the SQUEEZED solids, or use them in a stir fry, or freeze em, or add em to rice while cooking the rice, hey: whatever.

The resulting liquid makes an awesome dip for dave's special homemade corn chips (stay tuned for that recipe).

Oh, you can use lime juice instead of lemon, they both work grate (great).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giggle, giggle...

Hello again dear readers, without whom I'd just be a voice shouting alone in the woods --ummm, I'm kinda close to that anyways... But since I like the woods and shouting and getting away from people I guess that's no bad thing, eh?

Hey! We got some more rain yesterday afternoon and last night. Amazing! The official amount in town was a whole whopping 1.4 mm (about 1/16th of an inch) but I think in our area of the hills we had FOUR times that --I get excited over a quarter inch of rain now, wee-hoo.

It was also a great show of thunder and lightning. Unfortunately we are in for a very bad fire season cus the lightning strikes were (at one point) 1000 per hour and they touched off 60 bushfires. CFS was ready though (country fire service) and the strikes were taken care of quickly. CFS wasn't able to do much burning off this winter (not much rain so it was too liable to set things alight) so the fuel load is pretty high this fire season.

That's my quota for current affairs today --whoops, wait a sec: The Ashes start tomorrow morning... GO POMMIE BASTARDS!!! GO BARMY ARMY!!!

Now that's it... oh, wait, one more: GO ALL-BLACKS!!!!!!!!!

Now that I've thoroughly confused you US folks... onto Story Time with Unkie dave.

This occurred shortly after the previous post of "day in the life of dave". It involves fencing.

Oh, before I start I need to tell you something. I have a quirky sense of humour, I'm very very good at puns, and one-liners seem to spring into my head at the precise right moment. Actually, most thoughts seem to spring unbidden into my head and then they are gone again.

Ok, back to the story which hasn't started yet:

This happened the first time I went to the US Nationals. Uh, the sport was fencing (in case you hadn't guessed). I'd actually qualified several times in the preceding years, but this was the first time I had both the money and the time to go. I usually had lots of time but was generally short on the money.

Anywho, I'd qualified for six events fairly easily at the Alaskan qualifiers --I won't bore you with the details cus I'm sure you aren't interested. The year previous I had won the AK State Champs in epee (yes, I can proudly say that I'm a State Champion in a sport), and was 2nd in both foil and sabre; so qualifying next year was easy (any time I couldn't come in the top six in a major tourney in AK meant I was having a really really really bad day).

The trip down to the lower 48 took 14 hours (including transit time and plane transfers). I got to the hotel late at night when everyone else in the room was crashed.

Oh, yes; the Hotel... There were 4 of us staying in a room with two double beds and the hotel had a special for us fencers so it was only like $20 a night each (actually, they wanted $80 a night and didn't care how many were there). I knew one person in the room (woman, former fencing student of mine), but the other two I was clueless about (two blokes from the east coast, friends of hers).

The 3 of them arrived the day before I did and had been fencing earlier in the day, they also had to be up early for an 8 am event, whereas mine didn't start till 2 pm so I didn't care how late at night it was when I got to the hotel.

I was expected, no worries. The night staff checked me in (again, I was expected) and I collected my key. Now, the plan was that MaryAnne and another bloke would split one bed (double bed, no worries), and me and the other bloke would split the other (double bed, no worries).

Something you need to know about fencers: they travel with lots and lots of equipment and at night it's usually strewn all over the place so it's dry for the next day (I'll talk about the smell some other time).

I get to the room, open door and notice the three of them are sound asleep; 2 in one bed, 1 in another. There's fencing bags and duffel bags all over the floor of the tiny hotel room. Fortunately, I can see in the dark so I found an unused corner to silently put my stuff, undressed to my skivvies, and crawled into the open spot in the bed with only one person in it. I didn't wake anyone!

Remember: I was expected!

I fell asleep instantly (massive jet lag and all) and when I awoke in the morning the room was empty and a few fencing bags were gone. Ok, cool, they made their start time.

I amble down to the hotel restaurant and eat everything in sight (I'm good at that) and head to the venue at 1000 am to check it out. The convention centre was only a 15 min walk from the hotel, but since I didn't know the city yet I took one of the free shuttles the USFA had organised.

When I walked into to main fencing area I was astounded by how many people were there. GREAT! 48 copper fencing strips, all had overhead scoring lights, elevated strips for the finals, very, very cool.

I found MaryAnne and her friends, she was also with all the other Alaskan fencers there (even though she had been gone for two years we still considered her one of us). People were warming up (or cooling down), checking weapons, stretching out, taking strategy, and BSing.

MaryAnne started to introduce me to the two guys who we had the hotel room with (they three of them were friends) but I recognised the guy I split the bed with and went up to him before MaryAnne could introduce us.

I put out my hand to him, smiled all friendly-like, and said loudly, "Hi, I'm dave. I'm the guy you slept with last night."

His jaw dropped a mile... silence descended all around our little group... then, after a moment or two, everyone started laughing and laughing and laughing.

I swear to you, I had not even thought of saying anything like that, it just blurted out.

One of my best moments!

Food time (I think this is my favorite part).

What we are having for dinner tonight:

Yeah, yeah, yeah sure... roast chook and rice don't sound special... Well, read on:

The chook is roasting in a basting sauce of pineapple juice, brown sugar, coconut and tarragon. There's also pineapple chunks on and in the bird.

The jasmine rice is cooking with the following additions: wild rice, peas, pineapple chunks, pineapple juice, bacon, turmeric, and oregano.

I'll be making a sauce/gravy out of the pan juices from the chook to serve over the chicken and the rice.

See??!!??! Isn't that easy? And tasty!

by for now, off to check on the rice...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ah, yes! Concerning me!

Where to begin... let me see... It has been pretty busy here at the clan house. Summer is coming along and I've got a sh*tload more to do in the garden. The house doesn't take care of itself, and with The Most Wonderful Woman In The Entire World sick and down for the count I've been busy taking care of mum-in-law too (frail 80 year old).

My posting has been, shall we say, not as prolific as I'd hoped... That doesn't mean I've run out of stories or recipes, it's just means there's been more pressing business to attend to.

Damn, how the hell did I ever find time to work?

I know that folks in the US are busy with Thanksgiving day preparations, so there may not be much blogging going on nor many readers (hey, like *I* have any???) but I'll put something up anyways... It, of course, has something to do with me in Alaska while I was growing up (still haven't grown up yet, if anyone's asking). I'll get to the Aussie stuff later...

A Day In The Life

This was back in 1990...

Wake up at 600 am... shower, shave, etc.

Shovel down as much brekkie cereal as I can, get ready to leave at 7 am

7 am: Strap 30 pound fencing bag to backpack, put on winter bicycling gear (-25 F on a warm day), head out of door on mountain bike at 715 am with 35 pounds on back and ride a few miles in the cold and snow to the U.

8 am: On the racquetball court playing for 1 1/2 hours at full throttle; diving for everything, slamming into walls, and hustling back to the middle after every shot.

9:30 am to 1:00 pm Teaching two fencing classes in the gym, foil and epee. Ummm, this is harder than it sounds...

1 pm Lunch (and lots of it --still at U).

2 pm to 430 pm: either snowboarding (if it was warm; above -15 F) or biking on any trail available (note, coldest winter biking: -58 F)

430 pm to 630 pm: Dinner. Ummm, eat everything in sight; still at U.

7 pm to 10 pm Fence at the fencing club for three hours with no breaks --foil, epee, or sabre; all comers, no worries.

10 till midnight: have a liquid supper at the pub --still at the U.

midnight: ride home through the snow and ice with the fencing bag strapped onto the backpack.

1 am: fall asleep till 6 am to get up and do it all again...

Ok, food/recipe time:

Seafood Bisque

A bisque is a creamy soup, just in case any of you were interested.

This'll serve 4 folks.

What you need:

500 gms (one lb) raw, unpeeled medium prawns (shrimp)
1 Basa fillet --250 gms (1/2 lb) of any raw white-fleshed fish will do
1 raw, cleaned, squid tube --8 to 10 inches
water (H2O)
1 tbsp dried mint
1 1/2 tbsp dried tarragon
1 pinch turmeric
some flour, sifted
200 gms sliced shrooms
2 handfuls raw broccoli flowerettes
olive oil

What you do:

Peel the prawns, and put the shells and "head" in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan filled with water (H2O). Set prawn meat aside. Boil the prawn-shell water for about 45 mins (it'll smell really really good). Set the pan aside to cool for a bit.

While the prawn-shell H2O is boiling, quick fry (a wok works best) the sliced shrooms and broccoli in a bit of olive oil with half the mint and half the tarragon till they are done to the consistency YOU like (some like em soft and squishy, some like em hard and crunchy). Oh, keep the veggies moving regularly. Set cooked veggies aside.

Slice the squid tube into rings, about 1/4 inch wide. Cut the basa into chunks about 1 cm square, and chop each shelled prawn in half. You can do this while frying the veggies.

Quick fry all the seafood in a wok with a bit of olive oil, the rest of the mint, and the rest of the tarragon. This should only take 2-3 minutes, make sure you stir regularly. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE SQUID OR PRAWNS!!!!!!

Take a potato(e) masher to the saucepan that has the boiled prawn-shell water. Mash down the "heads" of the prawns to extract even more flavour (flavor). Strain the prawn-shell water to get rid of the shells and return it to the saucepan.

Sprinkle in the turmeric and stir. Put saucepan back on the stove top and bring it back close to the boil. Sift in the flour while whisking until you have a creamy texture. Add the veggies and seafood. Heat for a few mins while stirring.

Serve in a bowl as soup, or over pasta as a sauce. You can sprinkle fresh grated parmesan over the top and toss on a few sprigs of herbs for garnish too.


Hey! Did you all notice: a seafood recipe from me that doesn't use garlic! Course, you can add minced garlic to the frying seafood with no worries...

Oh, almost forgot: this is a dave original recipe.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Nope, no funny or obscure title for this one. Hey everybody: It RAINED here in the Adelaide Hills! Why is this such a big deal? Lemme catch you up...

South Oz is the driest state in the driest continent in the world. There's a lot of farming and dairy down here so when there's a drought it can be pretty rough.

We just finished up the driest winter on record, and are in the middle of the worst drought since records were kept (over 100 years).

A month ago the local reservoirs were at 53% capacity heading into a dry, hot summer. There hasn't been any rain since then so it's a safe bet they are well under 50%.

The Murray River supplies a majority of our fresh water. Since the eastern states (NSW and VIC) draw water from it before it gets to us, we sometimes don't get the flow amount we are entitled to (SA doesn't count to the rest of Oz). In fact, there is now NO flow as the Murray drains into Lake Alexandrina --the Lake then drains to the ocean.

Did I mention the weather service here measures rainfall in tenths of millimeter? Well, they do. For those of you who need to know, a tenth of a mm is 4/1000th of an inch --1/200th of an inch! Last week one of the weather stationed reported a .2 mm rainfall --1/100th of an inch!

Lately the relative humidity has been in the 5%-10% range --like for the last two months.

So yesterday when the forecast was for thunder storms and scattered showers, we all kinda were like, "Yeah, right. We'll believe that when pigs fly."

Yesterday and all through the night, them pigs were flying everywhere!

The thunder and lightning started around 2 pm and continued pretty much unabated till 4 or 5 am. It was dark enough in the afternoon to see some of the lightning. By nighttime we were clouded in up here (we're in the hills) so we couldn't see individual lightning forks, but the "sheet lightning" effect was quite something for quite a long time.

I actually did unplug all the computers cus some of those strikes were pretty darned close. It was very cool stepping out at night in the rain and having sheet lightning all around pretty much continuously.

The next morning, I log on to BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) to see the rainfall over the city and surrounding areas... 13.6 mm. HUH? That's it???!!!?!! One damned lousy half inch...? Well, compared to what we've had lately it was quite welcome. We had to have gotten more up here cus the wok outside has an inch and a half in it --the wok is part of my homemade smoker setup, I'll tell ya bout it later, k?

We are going to need that amount of rain every day for two or three months straight to get the reserviors topped up. Ahhhh, going into our summer... Ain't Gonna Happen!

So were are stuck with water restrictions, which is no bad thing. I wasn't gonna use the inground sprinkler system this year anyways. The areas that I do need to water I use a hose and a beer. Hey, if I'm gonna stand in the yard at night with a water hose in my hand I might as well have a beer in the other, right?

On with the food:

You don't get a recipe today, but I'm going to give you some tips instead.

Three tips:

First: Remember the cinnamon bread recipe I gave you a while back? No? Well, go read it!

Anyways, try this: leave the bread in the oven for a lot longer than you normally would (some of the best things are discovered by accident, light Champagne). It'll be hard crunchy when it comes out. Pop it out of the breadpan and let it cool overnight uncovered. The next day put it in a plastic bad and use it for many many good things:

1) Crumble a piece and top your ice cream with it.

2) Crumble up a good amount of it and line a pie dish with it for a pumpkin pie.

3) Tear off a hunk and eat it with butter.

The list goes on... What you basically get is a crumbly,sweet, cinnamon loaf that has as many uses as you can imagine.

Second: The care and feeding of a pizza stone.

If someone tells you not to get a pizza stone cus it'll crack after a few uses, DO NOT believe her (Yes, Anna, you are still a friend but after 55 years you still don't know your way around a kitchen).

To keep your pizza stone from cracking: Do not soak it to clean it. Do not put it in the oven wet. Duh! Anyone who spent time around a campfire should know that. And for those of you who didn't spend time around a campfire, then I've just enlightened you.

You can use your pizza stone for any type of doughy bread, and biscuits (scones) come out perfect. Just sprinkle corn meal or polenta onto it before you put your dough on it.

Cleaning is very easy: Let it cool first, then wipe off with a damp cloth. Anything adhered to it can be easily scrapped off with a plastic dish scrapper the next day. Don't worry about the staining, after all, it is a porous ceramic stone type thing.

I have two, and every loaf of bread that goes through the oven is done on them (this is almost daily) and of course the most awesome pizza in the world in made here in dave's kitchen.

Third: You can make the most AWESOME seafood stock in the world! It's quick, it's easy, and you can freeze it for later use. You know when you are shelling prawns (shrimp) and you toss the shells and the "heads" in the bin? Do not do that anymore! Save all the "head" and the shells from around the prawn meat. Toss the "heads" and shells in a pot with water and boil for about 20 or 30 mins. Let it cool slightly, then use a potato(e) masher to mash down the "heads" to extract even more flavour (flavor) into the stock. Boil again for a few mins. Let it cool and strain it. NOW you can toss the shells and "heads".

This stock is a good base for soups, sauces, and you can even toss some into a seafood stir fry for extra flavor (flavour).

Ok, that's enough tips for now, I've got many many many more to come.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Making of a Breaking part 4 of 4 (I think)

This is my blog and I can bitch if I want to! Ok... hmmmm... something to bitch about...

politics? Nope, this ain't a political blog besides I'm very happy after the US elections.

religion? Nope, couldn't care less.

The Drought? Nope, our water bill was 1/3 of what it was last year so hats off to water conservation!

The Ashes? Nope, the series doesn't even start for another 11 days, 17 hours, and 10 minutes. Oh, I'm for the poms to kick the butts of the crims --go Barmy Army!

$? Nope, that's covered.

Car? Nope, she's running fine.

Panther? Nope, no maulings lately --at least not of me, and that's all that matters.

Gardening? Nope, I won the looper battle and cooked the snails.

Dang! Nothing to bitch and wine --oops, whine-- about. Ok, I guess I'll just go directly to part 4 without passing go but I will collect the $200 just cus I can.

Makee Breakee Part Quatro

Last we left our intrepid little show-off ice skater he had been fitted with an air cast by a teacher at the school. Remember? I'm not gonna give you a synopsis, just scroll down to part 3, sheesh.

Mom came from work and picked up little dave from the school --no ambulance ride --But don't worry, dave had one in college-- and took the crying little kid (still no pain killers, kids were tough back then) to some sort of Bone and Fracture Clinic type place. Don't ask me for particulars about it, I was 9 years young at the time.

I do remember getting x-rayed, and waiting a bit for them to get done. Still no pain killers, but my natural endorphins and adrenaline were working juuuuuust fine. As long as the break didn't move a fraction of a millimetre then it didn't hurt --It hurt lots of times during the xray.

The doctor came back with the xrays and showed them to me and my mom. Both the radius and ulna were snapped completely through about an inch up from my wrist. The bad thing was that my muscles and tendons had tightened up (I'm one of those people with that lean, wirery type strength) so the broken part of each bone from the wrist side had been pulled towards the elbow and wedged firmly between the two bones from the elbow side.

Setting it was not going to be easy... the doctor said so... I believed him...

Shots... Ahhhh! Blessed painkillers! Salvation! BULLSHIT! I was informed I needed to have TWO (2) shots to kill the pain during setting. A. Shot. Directly. Into. The. Marrow. Of. Each. Bone. The needle seemed a tad bit long... and scary... and long... and thick... Did I mention it was very long?

I mentally braced myself, gritted my teeth, and thought it couldn't hurt as much as breaking the bones did. As the first needle slid into my arm I turned away. As the needle pierced the marrow of the first bone I felt PAIN much worse than the breaking of the bones. Ummmm.... OUCH. Oddly enough, the pain went away after a second or two.

I glanced over as the doctor was preparing the second shot... Another long, scary needle... I turned away... took several deep breaths... mentally prepared my little brain for the utter anguish of the needle stabbing into the marrow of the second bone... I told the doctor, "Ok, I'm ready for the second one."

"Oh, too late, I already did it."

Woo-hoo! I was so numbed up from the first one that I didn't even know the second had been done! COOL! One happy little kid, I tells ya.

Now comes the setting. I remember it cus I was there! Actually, since every single iota of any sensation that even thought of resembling pain had been removed from my arm, I was quite fine watching the procedure.

A nurse had to help. My upper arm was flat on the table with my totally numbed forearm sticking straight up (hmmmm, my wrist and arm sure do look funny all broken like that...). The nurse held my humorous (upper arm) and elbow joint with all her weight and held onto the part of my forearm closest to the elbow, while the doctor pulled up on my hand and wrist with all his strength to un-wedge the broken tips of the bones from each other. I couldn't feel a damn thing! Hmm, I wonder what that odd grating sound is... thought little dave as his wrist and hand moved moved up. Hmm, I wonder what that odd grinding sound is... thought little dave as the doctor lined up the broken bits of bone.

It took the doctor and nurse over five minutes. They were both out of breath, sweating heavily, and trying to get the circulation back in their hands afterwards. I later learned it was one of the hardest sets he's ever done. Hey, I'm famous for something!

I ended up with a cast that went almost to my shoulder and totally encased my hand except for the fingers. He said normally he wouldn't put on a cast like this for this type of break except that mine was pretty severe and he wanted it totally immobilised.

I got EVERYONE in class and most of the hockey team to sign the cast, little kids love signing someone else's cast.

A week later I had Doug (older brother) help me lace up my skates good and tight so we could go skating, cast and all --my parents still don't know we did that so don't tell em!

Food time!

Snails with Rosemary and Wine

Note: this is NOT a French recipe for an escargot dish. If you've had escargot in the states, I can guarantee that it's not this. This I got from the island of Crete.

What you need:

1 kg snails
½ cup red wine
½ cup flour
½ cup olive oil
salt, pepper, rosemary

What you do:

First, you need to prepare the snails:

Put the snails in a big bowl filled with water and leave them there until their heads come out (30 to 45 minutes) and clean them thoroughly. Throw away all the snails whose heads have not come out. Put the snails in a saucepan half-full with water and when the water comes to the boil, add 3 tbsp. salt and half a glass of vinegar and boil them for 10 minutes. Then throw the water and wash them very well with cold water.

You can then use the snails for many different recipes.

Here's what you do for the rosemary and wine recipe:

Salt the snails, flour them and cook them in hot oil for 3 minutes, with their openings facing the pan. Add the rosemary, salt and pepper, stir them and 2 minutes then add the wine. Let them come to the boil and they are ready to serve. Another option is to prepare a batter, using flour, salt, pepper, oregano and garlic (optional), fill the snails’ openings with this mixture and fry them in the oil and rosemary.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Making of a Breaking part 3

Greetings again fellow passengers on the good ole Earth.

Gosh, what's been happening here in my little corner of Oz since yesterday... Not much actually. Oh, wait. I got a telephone call that I would like to share with you...

*ring* *ring* *ring* ring*

me: I guess I'll answer it this time...

me: Hello?

telephone marketer (TM): Hi, is this the so and so household?

me: Well, since there are several of us with that name who live here, then I guess so. May I ask who's calling (dripping some serious sarcasm)?

TM: I'm so and so with foxtel digital (cable tv company), and I talked to you at your door a few weeks ago.

me: No thank you. Goodbye. *click*

Here's what I really wanted to say:

*ring* *ring* *ring* ring*

me: I guess I'll answer it this time...

me: Hello?

telephone marketer (TM): Hi, is this the so and so household?

me: If you don't know who you are calling then you are either trying to sell me something I don't want or trying to take money that I don't have (Note: I've actually said this before to one of these persons).

TM: I'm so and so with foxtel digital (cable tv company), and I talked to you at your door a few weeks ago.

me: No you did not you lying b*stard. I have a sign that specifically says No salesfolk, No religious callers, No charity collectors. And I know for a fact that no one in this household talked to you. Do not ever call here again. *click*

Now, that may sound cold and callous, but we give to many different charities and we buy lots of stuff from local merchants. The sign is up on the door cus otherwise you'd be answering the door ten times a day! I'm serious. The door to door canvassing is a plague down here and the telephone marketing is even worse.

There's a list you can get on nationally of a "do not call with marketing bullshit ever" and I'm going to have our phone number put on it.

I really am nice... HONESTLY!

Alright, I know you are all waiting for part 3 so here ya go:

Makee Breakee part troi (3)

So by now you've figured out that I liked to skate, would skate anywhere, didn't mind the bumps and bruises and sprains that come along with being a kid, and generally had a good time (note, nothing has changed...)

Scene: After school. Older kids (the 5th and 6th graders) were on the hockey rink practicing (pads, helmets and everything) and my older brother was there too since he wanted to be on the hockey team.

Dave is skating on the frozen field next to the hockey rink --this was sooo cool. Once it got cold enough, the school would plow the snow off one of the play grounds and make a huge circular rink by running the hoses on the frozen ground for a day or so. A couple of days later: poof! Instant second skating rink. 3 foot high snow berms and good ice.

So I'm skating around there, it's dark (hey, it's Alaska in the winter time) and there's only a two other skaters there. They both happened to be cute girls. Little dave was way too shy to talk to them, but he sure did try to show off! Remember, I was pretty good. After a while of skating around doing a few lame tricks, I thought of a great idea (I'd have done this whether they were there or not!): I'll get up a bunch of speed and jump over the snowy, icy berm around the pond and land in the soft snow!

I know, you are jealous of the cool ideas little dave gets (they get better as he gets older, stay tuned).

First try: cleared the berm, landed and rolled in the soft snow and came up giggling with a big ole grin on my face! FUN! Gonna do it again.

After about ten times I found I couldn't get as far into the deep snow outside the icy berm as I would've liked. Sooooo... using my skate blades I carefully scraped out a tiny ramp at the base of the icy snow berm.

"I'll clear ten feet for sure with this!" thought little dave.

Skate around to get lots and lots and lots of speed... hit the little ramp at 1000 mph... my feet went straight forward out from under me (picture charlie brown trying to kick the football pulled away by lucy) and I land flat on my back on the hard, knobby, icy snow berm. Actually, my back landed second cus I must have tried to put my left arm out to ease the landing... My forearm hit first about two inches from my wrist and it landed flat onto an big ole hard icy knob.

Ahhhhh, it hurt. A. Lot.

Ok, calm down... you can skate home (1/4 mile) and mom will take care of it cus it's just a sprained wrist.

Little dave attempts to skate across the rink to his backpack, stops after 10 feet, sits down on the ice and SCREAMS in utter agony.

The two girls still didn't come over, but Doug (older brother) and the rest of the hockey team on the other rink did and they called for the coach. Coach looks at my arm, goes inside, and comes out with the teacher most experienced in first aid (he also happened to by my teacher). Mr. Randazzo carefully fits an inflatable splint on the arm to immobilize is for the trip to the hospital. At least, that's what I think happened since my memory is a bit hazy about the specifics --it HURT. It was the worst pain I had ever experienced in my 9 years of living (I've had worse since then, stay tuned).

Coming up next: part 4 --the hospital (not for the first time either, as you know).

Food time!

Yeah, yeah, it's another mushroom soup recipe. But hey, I like shrooms and I like soup. If you don't wanna read it then you don't have to.

shroom soup

What you need:

600 g fresh shrooms --rough chopped
fresh basil
fresh oregano
fresh tarragon
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp lime juice
2 pinches ginger powder
2 teaspoon dave's olivemite
1 tsp mashed/prepared ginger paste*
1 small onion --minced
3 cups milk

*this, to me, has a high "duh" factor: Peel a few inches of ginger root, finely chop it, then put it and a bit of white wine vinegar and olive oil into a food processor. Process till smooth and put it in a jar. Then (this is the hard part) put the jar into your fridge till you want to use it. Otherwise, you can go to a grocery store and purchase the processed oil, preservative laden, stuff.

What you do:

This is pretty darned easy: chuck all the ingredients EXCEPT the milk into a large saucepan and simmer on low temp till the shrooms are "cooked down" --about 15 mins on low temp. Stir when you need to.

Let it cool, then put it in a blender and add the milk. Then, ah, press the button marked "blend". Pour the mix back into the pan and heat on low heat, stirring every once in a while so the bottom doesn't burn.

It's very yummy!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Making of a Breaking Part 2 of ?

I figure that my many many readers in the US may need a wee little break of fun reading stuff after the voting and lead up to the tuesday elections --as I'm typing this I have no idea what's going on, just hoping that the good guys and gals win.

That's it for political crap! On with the show --cus the show must go on!

I'll give you a weather report here down under --in the driest state in the driest continent-- blue skies, not a cloud in sight. Bit of a southeast breeze, not particularly warm at 23 C (74 F), but I'm still sitting here in shorts and a tank top (singlet for those of you in the UK or Oz).

The black panther beast from hell is out on patrol... I can tell that from the screams emanating from the elementary school playground next to us. I just hope he doesn't bring any wounded ones back again --it's a bummer caring for the sick and injured ones he finds... Oh, I jest! The little kids love playing with (running from) him... really, they do!

How's about I get back to my story? Would you like that? Of course you would... --all due respect to Mr Rogers--

Makee Breakee part Zwei (dos) (2) (@#&) (two)

Back to ice skating as a youngster. If you missed part one, just scroll down to the previous post. It'd be kinda lame linking to it. You've already found that I liked to ice skate (figure skates), was good at it, had quick reflexes, had no fear, and was not very bright --gosh, some things never change!

Where did we ice skate? Heck, more like where didn't we ice skate would be a better question. I'd skate to school on the neighborhood roads (hard hard packed snow, very close to ice).

We'd go down to the canal by the lake behind the house with snow shovels and clear off a section of it to skate on. We were dedicated! A 9 and 10 year old skating through the neighborhood while carrying snow shovels to clear off a big chunk of the canal just so we could skate! This was when it had frozen over enough to be solid, but the school hadn't flooded the rinks yet.

Did you know that during the Fur Rondy events in Anchortown they used to have the car rally race on the ice at Sand Lake? It was SO COOL!!!! Imagine this: cold, ice, winter, frozen lake, bulldozers plowing out a rally race track on the lake behind our house. PERFECT for skating on, especially since the race cars really really really polished the ice!

We'd get together and have a sorta roller derby late at night on the course on our ice skates --loads of fun, especially since there were huge snow berms everywhere so if you went down you just slid into the snow barriers. Ah, yes, FUN times!

They stopped running the race on the lake yonks ago... MAJOR bummer. But we had fun and didn't kill ourselves (if I killed myself then you wouldn't be reading this).

We'd also line up our hockey sticks (yes, I had a hockey stick and figure skates... it worked!) about a yard apart (in parallel, not series) and see how many we could clear. Great fun, except when you landed on a stick, then you went down rather fastly.

Another way to fall fastly was to skate through the roads after they'd been graveled... if you weren't careful it could really hurt.

Between jumping the hockey sticks and skating on the graveled roads I acquired quite the list of injuries, none of them major though. I'd jam a wrist every now and then and then carefully skate home and mom (rest her soul) would have a look at it, give me a tut-tut, put an ace bandage on and slap an ice pack on it. Mom was the cure-all for jammed/sprained wrists.

But what happens when mom can't fix it and how did little dave hurt himself so bad that mom couldn't fix it? Stay tuned for part 3!

And now, more Food --you may have guessed that food is one of my favorite (favourite) things--

Eggplant Parmesan

This is a great one for you vegetabletarians, heck I love it too and I'm a carnivore. The big canine and incisor teeth towards the front of my mouth were (in my opinion) only made for one thing: the ripping of meat off of bone. But I do love me some veggies too!

What you need:

1 eggplant
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
pinch of sea salt
a few grinds of fresh peppercorns
1 litre tomato(e) sauce (for those of you outside the US, you'd want what's called "tomatoe puree" --if you use "tomatoe sauce" then you'd end up using what the folks in the US call ketchup (catsup) BLARF) --ain't internationallity GREAT!
a handful fresh oregano, finely chopped
a handful fresh basil, finely chopped
a bit of fresh thyme
fresh grated mozzerella cheese
fresh grated parmesan cheese (for those of you in the US: NOT the CRAP that comes in a green canister made by crap (kraft))
olive oil for frying

What you do:

Slice the eggplant into 1 cm thick slabs (around a half inch), then cut the skin off each slab (you'll figure out how to do that). Beat the egg and milk together. Dip each piece of eggplant into the egg/milk mix, then dredge through the breadcrumbs. You'll end up with a plateful of raw, breaded eggplant slices (10-15 depending on the size of the eggplant).

Heat the olive to a very hot temp in a wok (a half inch of olive oil in the wok should be fine) and deep fry each piece. I usually do 3 or 4 at a time. It only takes a minute or two for each side so don't overcook them. Set them aside to drain on paper towels.

While they are drying, combine the tomato(e) puree with sea salt, ground pepper, oregano, basil and thyme.

In a large baking dish, place 3 or 4 of the fried eggplant slabs in the bottom. Pour in some of the seasoned tomato(e) puree, then sprinkle with the shredded mozzerella and shredded parmesan. That's one layer complete! Layer up till you are out of eggplant (you should get at least 3 good layers) and then finish with more mozza and parm.

Cover (very very important to cover this) and bake for 45-60 mins (2700-3600 secs) at around 195 C (385 F).

Let it cool for a few mins before serving, otherwise the cheese could blister the top of your mouth.

Serve with fresh, homemade garlic bread and a fresh salad w/vinegrette dressing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Making of a Breaking Part 1 of ?

Dangnabbit! I thought summer was supposed to be here. Where's the 100 F temps? Where's the roasting hot sand at the beach? Where's the cool, refreshing dip in the ocean? And when the hell is this drought gonna end?

Those questions were all asked by me to myself as I sit here in shorts and bare feet in 72 F temps wondering whether I should chop some wood for the furnace to be on tonight... Oh I am turning into such a wuss! Do you know I used to take the trash out barefoot at -40? I used to wear a tshirt below freezing... But now? I think my blood has thinned out a wee bit since I've been in a land of endless summer (I really don't think there's a winter down here, but most aussies will disagree with me).

But, then again, maybe I'm not such a wuss. I wore shorts all "winter" long down here when everyone else was in jackets and scarves. These folk would have a BIT of a hard time if they had to go through a real winter. But hey, that's why they're down here! Duh, it makes sense!

Even though it's cooled off for a day or two, and it's overcast, there still ain't no rain! Damn! The barking job is coming along nicely, but I'm getting tired of doing the bucket brigade thing for the garden. We really do need it to rain for about a month straight, then the reservoirs might get up of 50% full --yeah, right... that won't happen anytime soon.

For those of you going into winter up north (and for many of you your winter is already there), I'll make sure I send some of our summer sun your way if you send some rain and snow our way? Deal? Ok, itzza deal! And whena Portagee maka deala, then itzza deala (from The World In His Arms, 1952, very very good movie).

Since I'm starting to babble, let's get straight to story time! This'll be a multi-parter since I'm sure many of you read at work and can't take the time to read a long post (even for me, it's long).

Here we go:

Part 1 of ?

As many of you may (or may not) know, I grew up and lived in Alaska for a long time. I was there before the pipeline was thought of. Yes, I was a true sourdough! Now, I'm just an ole sourpuss. So back off and let me grumble... Ok, I'm done grumbling now.

Back to the story, this is from my elementary (my dear watson) school days and it spans a few years --see, I told you it'd be long. Actually, it's some specific highlights over a few years all tied together with a common theme: Ice Skating!

Ah yes, ice skating... what little kid in Alaska didn't ice skate? None that I knew, that's for darned sure. And what little skater in Alaska didn't own a pair of hockey skates? None that I knew of, that's for darned sure... Oh WAIT, that was me! I had figure skates --wee-hoo! I was pretty damn good too. So good that my mom (rest her soul) would buy me custom fitted skates every two years. And boy did I use those things! I could out skate most of the hockey guys (and gals). Fun times...

I remember signing up for broomball during recess. When the teach saw that I had figure skates he wouldn't let me cus he thought the toe claws would ruin the ice --dumb ignorant bastard! But whatever, I wanted to play so I was goalie. I was very very good.

Have any of you heard of broomball? No, let me fill you in: The "brush" part of the "broom" is actually very stiff, about as solid as wood (it's close to using a hockey stick). The ball is about softball size, and it's an inflated, thick, hard, rubber ball which gets very very very stiff and hard when it's cold.

Did I mention no pads, helmets, or anything else like that?

Do you think that in todays litigatious society and PC and play nice in the schoolyard that this sport is still played? Only in inbred communities would be my guess.

IT WAS FUN! I could outskate most everyone else, but there I was in goal. Not a net like a hockey goal, just some painted lines on the board around the main rink.

Hmmmm, jammed fingers, black eyes, fat lips, bruised knees and elbows... Yup: all part of growing up on the ice! Wee-hoo. I had fun. We even got to play a couple of games against other schools (third graders were all of us) at one of the big rinks in town. That was very cool.

I was quick and had very good reflexes, --I did manage to stop a few with my face, it's a skill I tell ya-- so I did make a good goalie. Damn I shoulda been a hockey goalie... Course, if I did I wouldn't still have my good looks but I'd be richer.

Ok, nuff about broomball... I didn't break any bones or tear any ligaments playing, so the fat lips, jammed fingers, and bruises everywhere don't count.

See, part one is more of "setting the stage" for things to come... The four main points you should have got out of part one is that little dave could skate, he could skate very well, he really enjoyed ice skating, and he had no fear.

Part 2 coming soon to a blog near you...

Now for the Food

Shiitake and Seaweed soup

This isn't spicy at all, and makes for a nice, soothing cup of soup with lunch. If you want it hotter, there are several ways to do that*.

What you need:

20 gms dried shiitake mushrooms
1 sheet dried yaki nori (seaweed)
1 litre (4 cups) of H2O (water)
1 glass sherry
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp chilli (chili) powder
1 tsp light miso paste

What you do:

Soak the shiitake shrooms in the water and sherry for about an hour. After they are soft, you can shop them into whatever size pieces you'd like.

Bring the water and sherry that the shrooms were soaking in to a boil, put the chopped shrooms back in, along with everything else. Note: for the seaweed sheet, tear it up into small pieces over a DRY cutting board, NOT over the steaming broth.

When it's hot (just boils), it's ready (a few mins max).

There's lots of stuff you can add for various flavours (flavors), but this is a good starting point.

*ways to make it hotter:

1) add more chilli powder (duh)
2) add chili flakes
3) soak some dried thai chillis in with the shrooms and boil them up in the broth too --this'll be pretty hot.

If you've made it too hot for your guests, then put a dollop of fresh cream in each serve of soup.

This is a good base to experiment with different spices and herbs, so get creative kiddies.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Holy Silver Iodide, Batman!

Well, darn it all... if only we had some bloody clouds to seed, then it would be great. But, alas, no, we don't. For those of you naught in the know: Australia is in the middle of the worst drought since records were kept. I happen to live in the driest state in the driest continent on the wettest (liquid) planet in the solar system (there's a lot more out there, but it's kinda frozen and relatively inaccessable to us --although if you put the billion dollars a day that's funneled into an unnamed Persian Gulf country then we'd have been harvesting the ice in the solar system yonks ago).

But, as usual, I digress... So how are we at the ole clan homestead dealing with the drought? Several things, and this is why I've been pretty damned busy this last week --I'm sure you noticed the lack of posts perhaps? But have no fear, I've got a multi-part story time for you and loads of recipes so there should be a post daily this coming week (fingers, toes, eyes all crossed).

Ok, back to drought stuff:

There are several ways in which I've been keeping the garden going and still EASILY abiding by the water restrictions (which are pretty wussy restrictions anyways).

I don't use the in-ground sprinkler system --hose and bucket instead. I've found that the sprinkler system is for lazy folk and it doesn't do nearly as good a job and wastes a sh*tload of water.

Don't overprune the shade plants --this should have a serious Duh Factor to you gardener types.

Plant things that have a root system that binds the soil and traps nighttime dew.

Don't water the apple tree... WAAAAAHHHH!!!! This years apples will be very small and kinda bitter, so I'm not even gonna bother watering (I mean extra watering, BTW) the tree or harvesting the apples. But that's ok! For one thing, it gives the parrots, rosellas and lorikeets something to eat in the middle of the summer (they are very pretty). And I know a good market garden outside of Hahndorf where I can get good, inexpensive apples anyways. Soooo, this year the apples are for the birds (I'm so eco-friendly).

And the one that's been taking up a helluva lot of me time: Barking. Oh, not the dog type variety... Barking the garden. This means a completely thorough weeding session (how do those damn things grow in a drought?????) before putting the bark down. Why bark? Barking traps all the moisture so your shrubs, bushes, herbs, roses, etc can utilize the night dew without having to over water the place. Aaaaaannnnndddddd, the oil leeching out of the bark KILLS grasses and weeds!!!!!!

Oh, a word about weeding: this is the weeding job from HELL. I didn't design this garden --good gawd it would be different if I did--so it's an actual pain in the *ss to get to a lot of it. Roses are planted hither and thither with bushes and shrubs; and the whole thing was done with sandy loam so the cooch grass and the kikuyu grasses from the lawn have put out runners and infested it all. Blech.

I do most of my herb growing in pots and baskets just cus the layout of the rest of the place sucks the big one.

Do any of you remember that I've got a multi-part story time coming up? For you newbies (all 23,456 of you) I try to post an amusing anecdote from my youth and it usually involve me: getting hurt, doing really dumb things, or scaring myself shitless. Today there will be no story time though... I've got a great (it involves all three things --weehoo!!!!) one coming up that I'm spreading over a few posts this coming week. So STAY TUNED!!

Oh, yes, a recipe... If memory serves me right, I last talked about sourdough starter. So today I'll give you a use for the sourdough started all million of you have had in your garage. Your welcome.

Coming shortly: a young dave, ice skates, pebbles, jammed wrists, ice, babes, broken arms, hockey sticks, ice, needles, shovels, ripped clothing, casts, ice, embarrassment, cold, winter, ice, bulldozers, bruises, snowplows. How's that for a teaser?

But first, Food!

Sourdough Biscuits (scones for you in the UK)

Well, last time I told you all about making your own sourdough starter, and since it's been 3 or 4 days (try over a week dave), your starter should be just about ready for use.

There are many things you can do with sourdough starter, but I'll only give them to you in dribs and drabs --that's so you keep coming back to visit and leave boatloads of comments!

One thing you'll find with sourdough, the bread takes a lot longer to cook than other breads. So make sure you've got a firm grasp on the nuances before you make stuff from sourdough for guests.

Dave's Sourdough Biscuits

I am taking credit for these, since, well, ummmmm, this is how I make them! If I've somehow stumbled upon someone else's recipe in my kitchen experimentation, then tough!

What you need:

1 1/2 cups (355 mls) plain flour
1 tbsp raw sugar
2 tsp baking powder
dash of sea salt
2 tbsp softened butter (not melted!!!)
1 cup sourdough starter
some flour for your rolling pin, board, and hands

What you do:

Combine the first four (4) ingredients in a mixing bowl (actually, any kind of bowl it'll fit in will work). Toss in the softened butter and cut in using fork tines until the mixture has a cornmeal texture.

Pour in the sourdough starter and stir to combine. Using your floured hands (no fingers please), work the dough till it's a nice "doughy" texture. Oh, BTW, even if you don't bake this is a pretty darned easy one, no worries.

Roll out the dough on your cutting board to about 1/2 an inch thick (a bit over a cm). Cut with a 2 inch cutter --NOTE: if you don't have a cookie cutter, then just use an upturned water glass, that's what I do-- and put them on an ungreased baking tray.

For those of you who are real chefs... I cook mine on one of my pizza stones, works great!

Bake at 200 C (392 F) for 20-25 mins (remember, sourdough takes longer than regular dough).

These are great as the "biscuits" in "biscuits and gravy". They are also wonderful as scones in "devonshire cream tea", and they are great with lemon butter*. I've also put guacamole on them and that tasted great too --well, at least to me it tasted great but I'm a little bit different.

* Don't worry, I'll tell ya how to make lemon butter soon... IT'S AWESOME!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Like Sands Through The Hourglass...

Howdy kiddies! Glad you could all make it here today. I'm hoping that I just might have something entertaining for you this time. Going by how many comments there are, I'd say I'm *perhaps* entertaining one or two of you each post.

Ok, that's cool. I can handle that. Remember, in 2032 I invent a really cool item that transmits your thoughts to your blog (but only the thoughts you want). This revolutionizes blogging and I am hailed by the entire known universe. This is one of the reasons I'm putting my thoughts into the keyboard now for the use of future historians trying to dissect my life.

Blarf! Ok, that bit of crapola is out of the way. Should I bother writing about the worst drought in history here in the driest state in the driest continent in the world? No! Of course not! You'd much rather read stories of my youth in which I actively tried to kill myself...

Which brings us to your second favorite segment: story time with unkie dave.

We are going waaaaay waaaaaay back into the mists of time... back to dave's oldest memory! Not surprisingly, it involves dave hurting himself. This was even before I left my face on the pavement (it grew back, thanks for asking).

My first broken leg.

Do any of you remember having a swing set in your yard when you were a wee little tyke (brat)? Well, we had one back in the trailer court. Yeah, yeah, I can hear the jokes about "trailer trash" now. But this was a different trailer court. The wilds of Alaska were right next door, moose routinely visited, black bear sign abounded (don't step in it), and the wolves of the Chugach Pack could be heard howling.

This story is not about any of the wild critters though, this about me trying to amputate my leg in my own back yard (do trailers have a "back yard"?).

Back to the swing set... I can hear you now, "but dave, how the hell do you break a leg on a swing set without falling?" Ah yes, this was one of those really cool swing sets back before the days of lawyers and personal injury lawsuits and corporate negligence. This was back in the days when kids were allowed to be kids and if they hurt themselves then they learned from it. Ummm, as an aside; I learnt a LOT when I was growing up (and I'm still learning!!!).

Are any of you old enough to remember the swing set apparatus in which kids sat on either side and swung back and forth? No? Imagine a metal pole coming straight down from the top of the swing set (actually two of them parallel lined up longitudinally to the set, but that's beside the point) and a couple of bars perpendicular to that pole with a seat on either end for the little brats to sit on. Oh, there were some frills, like foot posts, and some bars to grab onto and a hard plastic seat on each side.

Now, as the little kids would swing back and forth, the two support poles would move through around 120 degrees... back and forth... rather rapidly... You may be able to imagine what would happen if some dumb little 4 year old (me) had his foot slip as he was leaning forward with all his might. No? You can't? I can... the little kids foot slips forward and wedges the leg it is attached to firmly between the two poles just as they are going from an obtuse angle to an acute one. Can you imagine what then happens to the leg of the kid as centrifugal (centripetal actually) force swings the swing along it's pre-destined arc? I'll tell you what happens...

The leg goes SNAP... and quite quickly too...

That's all I remember except being in a cast for a while and not being able to play on the swings till the damn cast is off, bummer.

My first emergency room visit and I don't even remember the hospital! Oh well, I guess a century or two of hard living will do that to a bloke.

Ok, this was perhaps a pretty lame story cus my memory is hazy, but I thought it had to be told.

Food Time:

I guess before I start with sourdough recipes, I'd better tell y'all a little about sourdough starter. Here we go:

Sourdough starter is a wonderful thing to have and to use. You may notice that the term "sourdough" is used in conjunction with gold miners and crabby old Alaskans. If you wanted bread out in the middle of nowhere, it was (and still is) easier (and tastier) to keep a jug of sourdough starter with you than yeast or baking powder. Also, there's no rising time with sourdough. It does take a bit longer to bake, but with a good bed of coals (or a modern oven) that's no worries.

The best way to get sourdough starter is to borrow some from the cabin down the road. If you aren't fortunate to live in a cabin dwellin' type place, then here's what you do to make your own sourdough starter.

What you need:

1 or 2 small spuds (potatoes), peeled
1 to 2 cups (237 mls) of H2O (water)
1 to 2 cups (237 to 474 mls) of plain flour
2 tbsp (30 mls) raw sugar
a pinch of dry yeast

What you do:

Boil the spuds till they are really really soft. Drain, then mash. Add some water till it's a good slurry. Add the sugar and the yeast and stir. Then add the flour while stirring until you have a thick, soupy type mix.

Put it in a covered glass bowl or jug. Stir it a few times a day for 3 or 4 days, then it'll be ready to use. It'll be good and bubbly and smell damned good.

Coming up next: what to do with the starter... Biscuits!

Oh, yes. I almost forgot: it'll get a wee bit, ahhhh, aromatic... I keep mine in the garage.

You can continue to use the starter pretty much forever. I've been working off the same bowl for over a year now (had to restart when we moved). The trick is to leave at least a cup of the liquid starter in the bowl and then 'top it up'. You top it up with equal parts water and flour, a bit of sugar, and some yeast if you think it needs it.

I really can cook... haven't you noticed yet????

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Prelude To A Mauling

I'm very sorry to disappoint all my loyal readers, but I do feel that I have to tell you I've never been mauled by a bear. Seen lots of bears, but never been mauled by one, so perhaps the title is a little misleading.

However, I have been mauled... By the biggest Mall in the Southern Hemisphere! Ah, yes: Westfield Marion Shopping Centre. We'll just shorten that to The Mall.

Story time with unkie dave is actually going to be about The Mall. Don't worry though, I'll be getting back to my rough, tough childhood in the woods, never fear. This is more about my rough, tough Mall adventures down under. This could get long, as I don't have an outline to work from... I'm not a writer!

The Mall will safely hold over 200,000 people before the fire code folks even start to think it might be a bit crowded. That means the ENTIRE POPULATION OF LOS ANCHORAGE WOULD FIT INTO THIS MALL. Did I mention it's the biggest mall in the Southern Hemisphere? Oh, wait, yes I did, sorry.

The place is HUGE! And noisy! And HUGE! And busy! And HUGE! Did I mention it's the biggest mall in the southern hemisphere? Ok, that's getting old so I'll stop that now.

You can buy anything you want there... ANYTHING! Hell, I even bought ole Rocket Butt there (stay tuned for a future post, ain't spillin' the beans today). You can have oral surgery done there. You can buy a guitar there. ALL banks have a branch there. You can buy naughty underwear there. You can buy a car there. There are 3 bike shops there. You can get really overpriced coffee there. You can eat any ethnic food you can think of there. You can book a cruise to Antarctica there. You can get your car fixed. You can see a lawyer. You can see any movie you'd like. You can buy enough timber to build a house. Ok, I'll stop now.

When I first moved here, we lived in a house one street back from The Mall. It was very handy. Never drove anywhere... you just walked across the street for whatever you wanted.

Now that we've been out in the hills and woods for a while, I've noticed a few things about The Mall. Shall I tell you what they are? Of course I shall:

1) It's noisy
2) It's loud
3) It stinks
4) It's really noisy
5) It's really loud
6) It really stinks

That's just what you notice trying to find parking...

Walking to an entrance is like taking your life in your hands, and once you get inside it's even worse! Good luck when it's crowded! Gaaack, I've never seen so many inconsiderate b*stards before. If you are carrying a box under your arm, I can guarantee that it'll be knocked out by a passerby within 30 secs. Jerks. Getting a shopping cart through is LOADS of fun. I've often thought of putting on dark glasses and walking through The Mall with a white cane. I'd have a friend with me to "guide" me just to give the Maulers a chance to be nice. I'm POSITIVE that the cane would be stepped on and I'd be knocked around every ten seconds.

This past holiday season, The Mall was open all night on christmas eve. I did not go anywhere near it. I was asleep like any sane person would be. I do have a story from a lady I know who works in one of the shops there. She works at the ink cartridge place where we buy ink tanks and laser toner from and she related this to us the week after x-mas.

All stores were open till 200 am, and many of the large ones till 500 am (imagine that, working/shopping till 500 am christmas morning). She closed of the cartridge shop at 200 am and walked 50 yards to a place to get a new telly on sale. She then bought the telly, loaded it into a shopping cart and went through The Mall as she was parked at the far end. SHE DIDN'T GET OUT OF THE MALL TILL 500 AM!!!!

Let me recap: Off work at 200 am. 50 yds to store. Buy telly. Check out. Walk through The Mall with telly in a shopping cart. Exit The Mall at 500 am. THIS IS JUST TOO FUCKING WRONG! She said it took almost 90 minutes from leaving the store with the telly to the far end of The Mall... That also means the other 90 mins to walk 50 yards, pick out a telly, and pay for said telly.

Gee folks: do you think The Mall was just a wee bit overcrowded? I've actually been in there when there were 150,000 people in it and it wasn't anywhere close to that bad. There must have been over 300,000 people there... 1/3 the population of Adelaide was in the damn mall at 200 am of christmas morning!!!!!

You shopaholics would've LOVED it!

I promise that next post will be more ramblings of my youth, should be fun. Oh, and someday I'll tell you the Rocket Butt story...

In the meantime: FOOD!

This'll be one for you vegetabletarians: Cream Of Mushroom Soup.

This'll make up enough soup for four hungry adults to have for dinner, and you'll even have a bowl left over (maybe).

I hope you don't get tired of soups from me; they are easy, they are quick, and they are very healthy (at least mine are).

What you need:

One can of campbells cream of mushroom soup
one can opener
one cup of milk

JUST KIDDING!!!! It's been yonks since I've had soup out of a can.

What you need:

1 kilo (two pounds) of fresh, raw, button mushrooms
one small onion, finely minced
olive oil
dash of lime juice
1 tsp dried tarragon
ground white pepper
a few cups of milk
freshy shredded parmesan (not the stuff that comes in a green canister)
fresh basil leaves

What you do:

Rinse the shrooms and chop em in half (doesn't have to be neatly done). Toss shrooms and onions in a wok with a tbsp or two or olive oil, sprinkle on the dried tarragon and the lime juice. Cook quickly over high heat for 3-5 minutes, tossing/stirring regularly. Set aside and let cool for a few mins.

Add some of the cooked shrooms/onions and some milk to a blender, blend till smooth. You'll probably end up with two blender-fulls. Pour it all into a thick-bottomed pot and simmer for 10-20 mins. Add more milk if you'd like. Stir regularly.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

For serving: ladle soup into a bowl, and then sprinkle with fresh parmesan and a couple of chopped fresh basil leaves. Serve with piping hot fresh bread.