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!