Friday, January 30, 2009

6 random thoughts

random thought number 1.
新年好!恭喜发财!
Happy New Year! May you be happy and prosperous.

I've been sitting at home under the aircon and watching Kylie Kwong's My China on the ABC. Despite the heat it's made me hungry for Chinese food. Steaming bowls of 面 (noodles), fried 饺子 (dumplings) or lovely 包子 (buns) like the one Kylie's eating here, full of sweet sticky pork or swimming with green vegetables cooked with lots of rice wine and pinenuts. Or the lovely pastries that they used to make outside my block of flats in Xian, full of pork mince and spring onions and deep fried - never really worked out what they were called. Breakfast of champions. I miss China, I hope I get to go back soon.



random thought number 2
It's still hot. No - really. This photo is of the footpath buckling in the city centre. I have even heard from a friend in Berlin that our heatwave has made the German news. Four days down, seven or so to go. But at least it gives us something to talk about. Total strangers, those colleagues with whom you have an un-easy relationship, people at the bus stop - you now all have something to talk about. But there's a lovely breeze blowing now and I predict good nights sleep for all.


random thought number 3
Since my post last weekend on the dangers of the flag, I have encountered lots of radio or print media editorials or current affair shows on the trend of flag waving, and the particularly bogan-esque tendency of the prodigy of the nouveau riche to tie them around their necks and wear them like a cape. Knock it off you National Front hoons.

random thought number 4
My baby Antonius Pius caught his first rat today. He saw it high in the camellia and shook it down. Apollo was most intrigued by this and sat at the base of the tree wondering when the next one was going to fall out. They're cute. It was less cute when the rat made its way indoors.

random thought number 5
I am sick to death of people complaining about the power going off. It's a billion degrees people things are bound to struggle, 30 years ago none of would have had air conditioning and we all got by. I'm sure ETSA are not turning off the power just to spite us.

random thought number 6
I still fancy some Chinese food... ... ...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

you utter, utter bastard

Somewhere, back more than 100 years ago in my family's history some bright spark sitting in the cool of Aberdeen decided to move to Australia.

Why? Why I ask you would a northern European submit themselves to this type of heat? Famine and pestilence aside.

When I woke this morning at 5.30am it was

32/90 freaking degrees.

In my bedroom.

In the dark.

This is un-human. Bonnie Scotland, all is forgiven. Plleeeeeasssseee take me back. Either that or I'm moving to Hobart. Pronto.

Monday, January 26, 2009

spot the difference

Last night as I was falling asleep, like most people I assume, I made a little list of the things I was going to do this morning. It ran a little like this.

1. Wake about 6am. Feed and medicate the cats
2. Ride my bike uphill (either towards Flinders University or Springbank depending on mood), to burn off some of the cheese I've eaten this weekend.
3. Return home and head down to bunnings. I put up some bamboo blinds my mum lent me to shade the pergola of afternoon sun while some plants grow. Found out last night that the sensor light loooooovees them.
4. Return home, sweep and mop hard floors, vacuum rugs in preparation for guests this afternoon.
5. Put meat onto marinade and prepare topping for pavlova
6. Make myself clean and greet guests with warm enthusiasm.

........ ok, in reality it went a little like this.
1. Wake about 6am. Feed and medicate cats.
2. Return immediately to bed and fall asleep again until a little after 9.30
3. Take bamboo blinds down. They can wait until next weekend.
4. Marinade meat
5. Mop the floors and close the doors to rooms that have a rugs
6. Currently making strawberry sauce for the pavlova. Still in my tracksuit pants and t-shirt with amusing slogan.

Guests due in about 1.5 minutes. Haven't swept outside yet either, which probably needs doings.

Hell, these people went to university with me. They've seen me look far shabbier around 5am on a Thursday morning. Ahhhh.... how times have changed. The hour I now rise is the hour I used to arrive home.

Car pulling in the drive way. Gotta go

Saturday, January 24, 2009

delicate sensitivities


Today was a lazy day, a couple of hours volunteer work at the zoo, followed by a long, luxurious sleep and a take-away pizza. Deck chair cinema is on the cards in a couple of hours.

Tonight's movie is The Castle, chosen no doubt as it is the Australia Day long weekend. Australia Day (26 January) marks the date in 1788 when the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay, marking the start of the colony of Australia. I think a lot of Australians think Captain James Cook was there. Captain Cook 'discovered' Australia, but Captain Arthur Phillip was in charge of this little voyage and brought with him the kind folk who would colonise Australia (which in those days pretty much meant roughing up the Indigenous population and killing off a lot of fauna and flora. I should expect there was a lot of sweating too).

These days there's much discussion as to whether this is the most appropriate day to celebrate Australia, or Invasion Day as it is called by many Indigenous, and non-Indigenous, Australians. Many think that ANZAC Day, 25 April, is a much more appropriate date for our National Holiday. It marks the landing of allied troops on the beach in Gallipoli, Turkey, during WWI and is very, very much part of the national psyche. If push came to shove and I had to remove a public holiday from the calendar, I would say ANZAC Day is a more appropriate day to celebrate.

This issue aside there is, perhaps, a worrying trend developing with Australia Day. People seem to have gone flag crazy. On their fences, on their cars, draped from every available space.

And it scares me.

To me a national flag is something that flies over government buildings - The Lodge, Parliament House, the ATO etc. It also is a national identifier in the military, so you can work out whose aircraft carried to torpedo and whose not to, or at events like VE Day, as a marker of national successes on the champs du guerre.



However when the average person on the street starts waving one, it makes me uneasy. I think of nationalism, imperialism and jingoism. Frankly I think of Berlin in the 1930s. It's saying 'my country is better than your country' . This attitude can only lead to no good. Would the recent violence at the Australian Open between Serb and Bosnian supporters have got out of hand without flag waving? The Australian flag also made regular appearances at the Cronulla riots, one of the most ugly and shameful events in Australia's short history.


(if you're in this photo, you are a moron)

Surely there are other ways to celebrate what's great about Australia. Invite the next door neighbours round for a snag and an open and frank discussion about foreign policy. Take a bat and a tennis ball down to the beach and start a game of cricket. Have a garage sale and donate the money to a charity overseas where they're not as lucky to have the options that most people in Australia have. Stay at home and count your blessings.

Am I being over sensitive about this issue? Has the display of these type of national symbols changed in their meaning or strength? Or are modern day Australians so far removed from the dangers of these ways of thinking that we're not aware of a dark, dangerous mood that's swelling up from beneath us? Is it my Boring History status that helps to me recognise where this type of behaviour has led before. Should I be afraid? Very afraid?


Thursday, January 22, 2009

pointy things for all around the world

The last 24 hours have offered a diversity in visitor locations previously unseen on BHG:
Adelaide, Australia (more than one, probably me mam)
Sydney, Australia
New Kensington, PA, United States
Nepean, ON, Canada
Hixson, NT, United States,
Brisbane, Australia
Brighton, United Kingdom
Nashville, TN, United States
Oldham, United Kingdom
Cairo, Egypt
Sevilla, Spain
Nauplio, Greece
Singapore, Singapore
Central District, Hong Kong
Palembang, Indonesia
Frome, United Kingdom
Bayonne, NJ, United States
Helsinki, Finland
New Delhi, India

This is a nice cultural mix. Maybe it's people gooogling sticking GWB with sharp things.....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

four greatest words on earth

Align Centre
Grease. Two. Cake. Tins.

Not one. No, no. This recipe is for TWO cakes.

Hurrah

Lemon Syrup Cake
2 2/3 cups plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
6 large eggs
2/3 cups heavy cream
zest two lemons
210g melted butter, cooled
(for the syrup)
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
juice of the aforementioned lemons

Getting it to-geth-ar (to be said in the style of a gansta rapper)
  • Preheat to 200C and butter and flour TWO cake tins
  • Sift the flour, salt and baking powder ensemble
  • Rub the zest into the sugar til it's aromatic and gorgeous and then add the vanilla
  • Add the sugar to the eggs and whisk until thick and combined
  • Fold in the dry ingredients, pour into the tins, smooth out and bake for around 55-60 minutes
  • If they get a bit brown on top early (as mine did) cover them with a little foil cubby house
  • Once the cakes are in the oven make the syrup. It's tricky. Put everything in a saucepan, stir til combined, bring to the boil. cool. Testing - isn't it?
  • When the cakes are done cool on a rack before turning out.
  • Pretend the cakes are someone you don't like. Your boss, your best friend's boyfriend, the outgoing US president, and stick them all over with a skewer and slowly brush (don't pour) the syrup over
  • Bask in their glory and your brilliance.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

settle petal


Some of you may be familiar with the BBC2 program grumpy old women (and it's brother in law grumpy old men).

Can you be a grumpy old woman at 37. I fear that I may be setting a new record. I had dinner last night for the birthday of a very dear friend. It was a small gathering, and excluding myself I really don't like 50% of those around the table. Seriously. One of them was the partner of the birthday girl. She can do better. Much better. The other was an ex-work colleague. When I changed jobs recently one of the most comforting aspects of this was the reduced amount of time I'd have to spend in this individuals company.

Leaving the city I realised the rear light from my bike was missing. Had some 'young person' removed it as a lark? Very funny Sonny Jim, now I need to ride home in the dark. To sooth my soul I stopped off at another great mate's on the way home. Princess made me a cup of tea and we sat down in front of The Bill with her 7 month old and we discussed the GOW syndrome. She too is a GOW it appears. As a result of this we discussed how many people we have in our lives whose company we really enjoy (excluding family). I had 6, with another 5 not resident in Adelaide. 6 doesn't really give you great social options, especially when two have children under 2 years. It's also not heartening that I have almost as many people I care about not living where I do. I couldn't even move to be near them because the all live in different cities (Berlin, London, Newcastle NSW, Newcastle Tyne-upon-Wear and Perth).

Yes there are others, people who I work with now, and I worked with previously who I genuinely like, but with whom I have a professional relationship. I've been burnt by making friends at work (reference last night's dinner) and am rather reluctant to do it again.

oooooo.... I just thought of someone who I left off the list (sorry Opera Boy), that makes it 7. Almost in double figures.....

anyway, there are also acquaintances and friends of friends, but no one I'd ring to come round for fish and chips on a Thursday night.

And so I sit at home with my cats and my cook books, quite frankly rather happy with this scenario.

But as one of these good friends came round today (with her 18 month old, my it's been a child filled weekend). The wee one only ate half his tin of pureed apples, and so I thought this would be a good time to start my new challenge. You may remember that both JC and I realised we weren't daring bakers and so decided to do something of our own. This month it's apple and blueberry muffins, adapted from the Joy of Joy the Baker. Joy always sounds happy, maybe it's her name. Can you be a GOW if your name is Joy?

These muffins are really easy to make, full of fruit and whole grains and therefor are delicious and semi-healthy.

Apple and Blueberry Muffins
1 1/4 cups wholemeal flour
1 1/4 cups oats
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn baking soda
1/4 tspn salt
1/2 tspn cinnamon (I couldn't find my cinnamon so I use some cinnamon sugar I bought once for doughnuts)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used the left over baby food. I also cooked off a slightly less than fresh apple, diced, in some butter to give the muffins bigger pieces of fruit)
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tspn vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup blueberries (I used the whole punnet).

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line a 12 cup muffin tin with papers

In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a medium bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil and egg. Bring the two together and sir until just moist. Add the blueberries and the end and fold through.

Bake 16-18 minutes.

These are delicious. Hopefully the anti-oxidants will help with my GOW syndrome.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

you can never quarantine the past

As the result of a political rant on another site, I have decided to resurrect history weeks. After all, I am the boring history girl.

I think from the post at the above link I have made it fairly clear that I harbour no ill-will towards individuals from any particular country, and that politics and individuals are different things. I would also like to add that AFM managed to name this post, with obscure (maybe) reference to its content, but in a way that described the whole thing. Sir, my hat goes off to you.

This is obviously a sensitive issue, so to show my love to all human kind, the next history week will be American week (Rome week was last, and a long time ago in a galaxy far far away).

I'm not sure when this history week will actually happen. But there will be a full week of posts with a history lesson and a cooking lesson each day.

Now, Roman history is a bit of a forte. I have obvious parts of American history that I know about, Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement, the recent, outstanding presidential election, Martin Luther King Jr etc. mmmm.... I can see now that these are all quite recent.

If you are American, living in America, or in a position to speak knowledgeably about America, I want to know what part of history I should be learning about, and what I should be cooking.

I have one simple rule. No recipes with Coke in it.

You can either post a comment with your suggestions here (I'm happy to google for recipes) or email them to me at boringhistorygirl@hotmail.com.

After than will come Australia week. Oh, as Australia day is 26 January it should come first. But I'm off to see Leonard Cohen at McLaren Vale, so it will all have to wait. I'm ashamed to say I will have to research Australian history just as thoroughly as I will American.

But get your suggestions in, I can't wait to see what happens.

As an aside, if you've read this site more than once you'll know that I harbour deep passion for Joy the Baker and her wonderful site. So Joy, this is wishing you luck for the upcoming results.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

sizzle

i realise it's been a while since i posted any thing edible here. it's too hot to eat, let alone cook. 41 degrees was predicted today, although i didn't see the news, so i'm not sure what it got to.

of course it's a little after 9pm now. the air conditioner's been on for a while and i've cooled down. now i'm starving.

i want cake.

bad.

if i eat cake now i'd never sleep and i'd be miserable tomorrow. if i had any cake that is, which i don't.

you can see the pickle i'm in.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Crazy Cat Days



Some people think looking after kids is hard work. I suspect I know how they feel.

I woke this morning at 5.00am as I normally do. Not because I'm a morning person (far from it) but that's when the feeds start. Thurston (the black one) is diabetic so needs an insulin shot first thing in the morning and then again around 5.30pm. Antonius Pius (the one near the door) has the runs, so he's on boiled chicken meat only. Apollo (at the back) is a greedy little sod.

Really my alarm doesn't go off until 5.30am, but the boys know this and try to get me up as early as possible by playing my venetian blinds like a harp, and dancing the tango on my legs.

Up I get.

Thurston doesn't want to eat, as it's too hot. But he needs his insulin on a full stomach, so there's a battle to get him to eat. All he wants to do is go out. Ever tried to make a cat eat? It's as hard as getting me to pick up my shoes from the lounge.

Apollo's locked in the study to eat, to stop he stealing the rest, and so Tony wants to know what's going on in the study and sits outside the door crying. Door is opened and Apollo nicks everyone else's food.

Finally once they're fed and Thurston's out there's a day long battle to keep the young ones inside, of the dining table, off the kitchen benches and Tony's just learnt how to open the linen press doors and is getting white hair all over my clean tea towels and bed sheets. I've removed poo from the kitty litter at least four times today (Tony's smells VILE and results in dry retching each time) and tonight the litter tray gets replace entirely. Around 5.30pm we re-do the mealtime dance. The sun will start to go down in about an hour and a half. This will result in all three chasing each other endless around the house, pulling table clothes off and trying to scale the security doors like Hillary on his way to Everest.

And I will fall into bed exhausted, and they will continue to dance the tango on my legs until about 1.00am.

Then we all snuggle up together and sleep like babies. Which makes the whole thing worthwhile really....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sheherazde Goldsmith

I wish I were Sheherazade Goldsmith. What a fantastic name. I almost tempted to have a child so I can call it that.

But there's a point to this.

I have recently been participating in a conversation about imperialism and consumerism. And as such it is somewhat ironic that I, without seeing the connection at the time, today purchased a slice of organic life, by the aforementioned wonder woman (who since i have googled seems to be quite well known in some parts of the world, but I had not encountered her before. The purchase is a nasty side effect of me now working on a university campus and therefore having ready access to a bookshop).

This is ironic for two reasons. Firstly this is an obvious Australian-ised version of an overseas book. I can tell because the forward is by another wonder woman, Stephanie Alexander. But the content has been altered for Australian readers (although I suspect the photographs have not).

The second point relates to consumerism. Being a pinko-feminist, consumerism is not something I'm much fond of. And as it's early January, New Year thoughts have been running through my head. So I though I would put some of them down on.....errrrr..... paper.

1. I will get water tanks installed and stop participating on the pressure being put on the River Murray
2. Once I have water I will grow my own vegetables. I'm a crap gardener, but I will try to get better at it
3. I will look into getting a solar hot water service
4. I will eat less meat, and when I do try my best to eat organic, free-range meat
5. I will eat more organic everything, and make a conscious effort to eat more locally produced foods lowering my carbon foot print
6. I will drive my car to work no more than once a month

... and I will report back on it here. So the cyber-gods can punish me for failing to live up to these NYR. I would also like to watch less TV. As such, I'm off now to read my book in bed. Good night to you all.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

failure

I think I need to admit it. I'm not a daring baker.

I tried, really I did. But the recipes are always so long and complicated and need a piece of equipment I don't have and make quantities of food I can't consume. It's not that I don't have the right skills to make them, or that I'm not prepared to buy the gee-gaw that I need, it's just that I run out of time and make the month's challenge in a rush and panic and therefore don't enjoy it. And I enjoy being in my kitchen most of the time.

So after I post this I'm emailing the fine ladies who do a wonderful job running the show and taking my name off the blogroll.

My grate (sic) mate JC came to the conclusion that she's not a daring baker some time ago. So we're starting our own challenge. We're not sure what yet, but next Christmas it will be a gingerbread house.

I'm going to suggest we work our way through the un-made recipes in our 'cook this' folders in our favourites. Or choose a different blog each month and cook something off that (my first votes are for the wonder Joy at Joy the Baker, followed closely by the insanely witty and wonderful Garret at Vanilla Garlic, and then the gorgeous Marilla at Cupcake Rehab. Visit their sites, cook their stuff today is my advice to you). Maybe then we can just pick someone from their blogrolls and do something from there next.

And what's great is that there's no rush or pressure. We get it done when we get it done, and we can pick exactly what we want - although there will be a battle because JC will want sweet and I will want savoury, but I'm sure we'll work that out.

On a personal note, today was not as good as yesterday, but was still pretty good. I was in meetings until nearly noon. Noon people!!! How can my colleagues talk so much! But I feel like I'm getting on top of stuff finally in the new job.

Monday, January 5, 2009

calm and in control



Today was my first day back at work after Christmas, and I must say I went back feeling very wonderful - so no left wing political rants or sledging of national sporting teams today.

No, no. It's all faeries and bluebirds and fluffy clouds today.

I am also gearing up for what will be the first year of what will be (I hope) my final degree. Yes-siree. I am now a fully fledged, dinki-di Masters student, with a big fat thesis staring me out into the distance. That will make it six parchments to hang on the wall, which is a plenty me thinks.

But I have lots of fun things planned, Children's trails around Adelaide. Integrated Wine Tourism marketing for South Australia. Cycle tourism in the Flinders Rangers.

mmmmm....... all seriously delicious.

But my great mate Fifi and her clan are off to Mexico in a couple of months, on short notice, and it's got me feet-a-itching. So I have to do two things. Find a house sitter who is happy to give my cat his insulin injections, and pick where I'm going. Oh, and book the leave. That's three things.

mmmmmm....... seriously delicious!

Friday, January 2, 2009

you made that bed, now LIE DOWN!

It has been revealed on the news in the last 48 hours that Australia may be asked to resettle detainees from Guantanamo Bay, and Kevin 09 is thinking of taking them.

Now, I don't want terrorists running around my country anymore than the next person.

....however....

1. Everyone needs to take their turn at being the next person, and this country's had a pretty good run up until now.

2. If the David Hicks scenario is anything to go by who knows what these people have or haven't done and if any chance of actually finding out has been buggered up forever.

3. The consensus seems to that Guantanamo Bay should be shut down. These people have to go somewhere.

4. Little Johnny Howard was very very keen to jump on the axis-of-evil-burn-down-the-mosque-war-on-those-different-to-us-bandwagon. He was in Iraq yapping at the heals of George W, rubbing his oily hands together and spreading bad feeling through communities (some of which I realise didn't need a lot of encouraging).

So why do Australians now think that they can walk away from the consequences of these actions, waving their hands in the air saying 'hey man, nothing to do with me'. Mr Turnbull, you and your crew wanted this bloody war, so now this is what you've stuck Australia with. Don't blame Kevvie for mopping up your mess.

And obviously there is no way this will turn into an open door policy where anyone can walk straight out of their Camp X-Ray cell straight into a semi-detached in Bondi.

So, do you like to sleep by the window, or the door?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

the problem with australian cricket


Recently I have written several posts about many things:

The total, utter, whitewashing of the Australian team by South Africa in the boxing day test
NYE avoidance techniques
Why Ricky Ponting is a tool (see a trend developing here?)

These posts were witty and erudite.

But &%$#*)&%$ google refused to post them, so I guess you'll never know just how good they were.

Happy New Year to you all. I've spent the day at Semaphore, lazing in the sun and eating schnitzel. Hope yours has been as good.

tralalalala