Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In this place, that is circling all round the sun.



It has often been said, accompanied by an exasperated voice and furrowed brow:

If only there were more hours in a day.

Well, my readers, there are about to be many more hours in my day, for tomorrow, I journey to the U S of A.

I will wake at 4:30 in the middle of the night on Dec 17th. (I reserve the title "morning" for those times when sunlight may be seen and I have had approximately eight hours of sleep, though even then, I detest speaking during or of this time of day.) And after approximately 23 hours of travel I will arrive in Texas at 3:30 pm December 17th.

As you see, my tomorrow will hold approximately 16 more hours than usual, amounting to a rather long and tedious day. (If my math is wrong, just know, that's why I'm not in med school right now.)

I should be packing, but instead I decided to write.

I always leave my packing to the very last moment, under the guise that I like to have as much clean laundry as possible with me, but really, I'm just a through and through procrastinator, and I run off adrenaline. (Also, my husband is on afternoon shift till after 10pm and he's not here to molest me into packing.)

But what I really wanted to write about was this feeling I've been having. This feeling of ennui towards the country, and some of the people in it, that I've been living in. (Now, to be fair, I base my not-liking of Australians based on how annoying their various accents are, and I would expect the same from them regarding mine.)

This feeling has swooped over me like that fog of arrows from 300, I don't feel it everyday, but at the moment, I'm definitely ennui-ed.

I've become someone who sends links to things like this Commonwealth bank commercial to my friends and family back home accompanied by diatribes demanding to know why their advertisements, apparently, focus on the message that Commonwealth bank is an Australian bank and therefore understands the needs of its Australian customers better than these U.S. advertising execs. I don't understand why this is even a selling point when most banks, as far as I know, in Australia ARE Australian not American. (Furthermore, Commonwealth bank has abominable customer service: my husband and I had to switch our home insurance from theirs when we had a ceiling leak that took them 8 months to properly take care of. (I am SO happy we were with AAMI when both of our cars were stolen the next year, huge thumbs up for them.)

Anyway, I've been trying to pinpoint what it is exactly that's pissing me off, and I don't think I'll arrive at a clear answer, but I'll have a go. All I have to compare Australia to are the other three countries I have spent a total of 4 years living in (I won't go into the various U.S. states and cities I've lived in because they were more or less similar to each other for the purposes of my arguments here. I will say however, rural Illinois, thumbs down from me.) and at times even though I was depressed and angry for living so far from my friends in Texas, I always loved those countries. (Ok, Ok, save England... I have a hypothesis that maybe I just don't like commonwealth countries.) But I did enjoy England, it was just too much of a hassle to live in London and commute 2.5 hours one way to some of my classes on the other side of the city. Also, it was too bloody expensive when you're living off the dollar. (And, my adorable boyfriend that I had been dating since high school in Germany also moved to England for university at the same time, but he was now living a very long train ride away, attending an art school with (what I thought at time) lots of art school "sluts" and I grew tired of all the self-created drama surrounding our long distance relationship.)
...

I also think perhaps things are different now that I'm not a "carefree" student like I was in those countries, and I have to actually make my way in a work environment and after two years, it's just getting to be a bit much. In an age when many people in my generation are living at home into their late 20's, sometimes I feel a bit gypped.

At the same time, I think one of the reasons I'm most angry is because I've moved around so much I feel like I deserve a phD in cultural anthropology. I've been through cultural shock so many times, and reverse cultural shock (it's evil bitch sister) an almost equal number. I know what it's like to sit here and seethe over my situation in one place while greedily eyeing the grass on the other side, and then once I'm there speaking non-stop about how things were different where I was before, and suddenly realizing how good I had it.

For instance, I know that here my husband gets 4 weeks paid annual leave and unlimited sick days, yet if he transferred to the U.S. to work for the same company he would only get 1 week paid annual leave and a limit on sick days. I also know that when speaking to friends about our post-college salaries I feel pretty happy with my 23 that I've been getting. (It's apparently a sub-par number considering I'm in a position that requires a uni degree, but compared to the U.S. I think it's quite good.) Then they say things like "oh I don't make much more... I make $27. Later I realized that I was talking in dollars per hour, and she was talking thousands per year, with a Masters degree. Insert, OMG thank God I don't live in that hell-hole moment here.

So in some ways I know that these lifestyle factors are different, but who wins? Which place is better? I'll know I'll have to live in both places post-school to really decide, I just hope I don't hate myself if we move over there for a few years to figure it out and then I realize we had the better deal over here.

I really must pack now... so I'll leave you with this half-finished stream of consciousness and this lovely bumper stick that I've recently seen:
and say, why thank you, I will leave this stinking red-sanded pit (hey it was 105.8F today!) to celebrate the holidays with my family and friends in a climate that is more suitable to such festivities.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Avocado Ice Cream

Jaime Oliver's Avocado Ice Cream

I love limes! (Sonic Cherry Lime-Aid anyone?)


However, I'd never juiced one before.


Place your sugar, lime and lemon zest and juice, and 2 vanilla seeds with their pods into a pan.


Make dangerously hot, yet tasty, syrup!



Grab your Ice Cream Maker. (Mine is pictured below, her name is Laine.)



Blend your syrup and avocados together. It is unnecessary to have a real ice cream maker, you can simply put it in the fridge and whisk every 30 minutes until frozen.



Sadly, despite it's beauty, its flavor is definitely reminiscent of Playdoh. (I've always been an adventurous eater.) I think I fall firmly into the category of salty, not sweet, avocado enjoyment.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Recipe for Inducing Diabetes


Also known as Blackout Cake.

This version is based on one from a famous Brooklyn bakery.

Step One

Sift your dry ingredients ('cept sugar) into a bowl:
plain flour (450g)
unsweetened cocoa powder (165g)
bicarb soda (2 tsp)
baking powder (1 1/2 tsp)
salt (large dose! you don't want diabetes without hypertension!)

Should look kinda like this:


Step Two

Mix until thick but still grainy:

Sugar (600g caster sugar)
vanilla seeds (from 1 pod)
buttermilk (284ml)
eggs (4 large)

Then beat in the vegetable oil (250ml).

You can use a food processor, but I like using a whisk,
it makes me feel all colonial.

The secret ingredient, I might add, was the 4 eggs which my lovely neighbors gave me from their chickens :) My advice when accepting eggs of dubious (read: cross-cultural French and Italian marriage) origins is to crack into a bowl first to make sure it's all ok in there.

Will look kind of like this:

Check out those real vanilla seeds in there!!

Step Three:

Combine the two bowls of ingredients in the biggest bowl you can find. Until just combined, don't go crazy.

Will look like something that, were it in a giant vat, I might try to take a swim in, only to drown to my glorious, chocolate covered, death.


Pour into 2 butter-greased 25 cm cake tins lined with circles of baking paper. I didn't have 2 cake tins so I used 2 cheesecake tins of differing diameters....

(Hey when the urge to bake a $22 dollar cake arises, I don't back down!)

If you use 2, 25cm tins it should take 40 mins in a 170C oven to cook. Mine were done at 30 minutes and 40, respectively.

Meanwhile, make the filling:

Sugar (300g caster)
Corn flour (4 tbsp)
pinch of salt (again, don't be stingy!)
Vanilla seeds (of 1 pod)
750ml whole milk

As my husband would say:
don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.
I got the real stuff.

And please do: shake well.
Bonus: the leftover milk goes very well with the finished product.

Put all your filling ingredients in a pan (including the milk, but here are shots of before and after the milk)






















Put your vanilla pod in there too. Put it on medium heat, let it boil, NEVER leaving it's side, always wisking. Once it boils, continue to wisk for 2-3 minutes until it has a custard consistency. Turn off heat, remove vanilla pod, then drop this much expensive Lindt chocolate into the pan (200 g, 70% cocoa):


Once the chocolate has melted, tip into a large dish so that it cools quickly. Resist the urge to give up and eat the whole thing. I recommend having a stand-by chocolate custard on hand to eat while you make this cake. It ensures you can make it through successfully, and

preps the pancreas for the sugar intake later.



Once cakes are done, cool completely on wire racks. Then cut each one into 2 (horizontally) to make 4 rounds. It was only with the grace of God that I managed to do this. (And the recipe helped too, these cakes are much more substantial than any other I've made.) Spread the filing in between each layer and again on top.








"That's the best cake I've ever tasted." - The Hubs

And for the more astute of you, with 900g of pure sugar, it damn well should be!

It has no butter though, so it's pretty healthy, right?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

anyone know of any job leads?

My contract ends in one week.

Bachelors of Psych.

Interested in research, autism, education, and everything else :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ikea

After a bit of cleanup: (Still out-of-control, but slightly better.)





Before Trip to Ikea:


After Trip to Ikea: My new vanity and desk so that I can move my permanent residence of crap from the kitchen table into the back bedroom.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I am an Electrical Bogan



I present you with my evidence. Now, this is a new set-up, and, hopefully, a short lived one, but here it is:

Exhibit A: The old-ass computer that has an "un-legit" version of Windows on it that prompts me every 3 minutes to turn myself in, or whatever. (Purchased by my husband, who swears he didn't know it wasn't going to have real windows on it even though he bought it under questionable circumstances, and even now a half-decade later is sad when I speak of it's eminent death in a less than solemn manner.)

This computer is on it's last legs. The internet also stops working every 15 minutes,with the only option being to reset, which is unappetizing.

If it doesn't die soon, I will kill it.

Exhibit B: My dearly beloved HP laptop. 3+ years old. With a 500+ repair bill due the screen just "not working" for no recognizable cause. Unwilling to pay that price, I realized that I have a "perfect" solution!

Exhibit C: Monitor from old-ass computer plugged into beloved HP: works great! Esthetics: Not pleasing. Functionality: internet better, doesn't shut off, but no more printing will happen in this room for a while as I can't be bothered to switch the monitor (or the printer cord) to and fro.

Exhibit D: I may, or may not, be eating some McVities chocolate covered, wheat containing digestive biscuits. Bogan? Perhaps not. Admissible evidence? Most definitely.

and finally, Exhibit E: my filing that's I've been hoping will disappear while I'm at work.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A bit about my week

So I went to the doctor last Friday, and was ordered to take this week off.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: (States a list of complaints.)

Doctor: Right, you'll need to take next week off work and then we can reassess, and here's some medicine that's highly addictive, try not to take too much of it. Only 3 days worth in fact, and take 1 tablet instead of 2.

Me (Dazed and a bit puzzled, yet slightly amused) : Are you sure?

Doctor: Are you listening to me?! You're not going to work next week! And you're coming back to see me on Friday and I might do some blood tests! Shazzam!

Me: Yes, Sir!


So... I've had the entire week off work. I'd like to think I put it to good use. Here are the things I've done:

Went to the Medicare center and got my new Medicare card because my dirty immigrant interim version had expired. Almost wasn't able to get it because I don't carry my visa around with me, but then I explained how my new card was sent to our last house, where another dirty immigrant now lives and he obviously didn't forward it. She bought my story, and low and behold, somewhere in their system this American was eligible for a full-fledged Medicare card.

Also got $100 back from doctor visits throughout the year while I was there. Shazzam!

Booked in for my Taxes (2 year's worth!) for this afternoon. Went around and found end of year statements for the bajillion different employer's I've had during that time span. (Next on list, American taxes.)

Watched my beloved laptop of 3 years die. Took it in to a Clinic for electronics. Currently waiting on quote for parts but all I know is that my LCD screen is shot, I'll need a new one, and I'm contemplating taking what I'd spend on that and putting it towards either a Sony or a Mac.

Made a great chicken salad with real live (or dead) fresh fruit and veggies!

Got blinds in our 3 bedrooms installed. No more newspaper window coverings for us!

And finally, but quite pitifully, confronted my fear of sitting at a desk top and wrote this blog entry in the haunted back study in our house.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

'Twas the last night of October

A pumpkin was purchased,
Redback cobwebs were found










Candies were nestled in a bowl by the door,
Christmas Santas abound










Cupcakes were made,












dyed-orange, and iced with great care.










And while no trick-or-treaters came,
We still did our thing,
dressed in animal masks,
and watched Halloween.
With some friends and some cheer,
which reeks oddly of beer,
we celebrated All Hallows' Eve.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Decorative Gourd Season!



The following writing is by Colin Nissan, and is orginally located here.

I had to post this because it made me laugh so hard. Harder than I think I've ever laughed about something written. My pleasure was doubled when I read it out loud to my Australian husband who just... didn't get it but all the same thought it was funny that it was so funny to me.

IT'S DECORATIVE
GOURD SEASON, MOTHERFUCKERS.

BY COLIN NISSAN

- - - -

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get my hands on some fucking gourds and arrange them in a horn-shaped basket on my dining room table. That shit is going to look so seasonal. I'm about to head up to the attic right now to find that wicker fucker, dust it off, and jam it with an insanely ornate assortment of shellacked vegetables. When my guests come over it's gonna be like, BLAMMO! Check out my shellacked decorative vegetables, assholes. Guess what season it is—fucking fall. There's a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant fucking squash.

I may even throw some multi-colored leaves into the mix, all haphazard like a crisp October breeze just blew through and fucked that shit up. Then I'm going to get to work on making a beautiful fucking gourd necklace for myself. People are going to be like, "Aren't those gourds straining your neck?" And I'm just going to thread another gourd onto my necklace without breaking their gaze and quietly reply, "It's fall, fuckfaces. You're either ready to reap this freaky-assed harvest or you're not."

Carving orange pumpkins sounds like a pretty fitting way to ring in the season. You know what else does? Performing a all-gourd reenactment of an episode of Different Strokes—specifically the one when Arnold and Dudley experience a disturbing brush with sexual molestation. Well, this shit just got real, didn't it? Felonies and gourds have one very important commonality: they're both extremely fucking real. Sorry if that's upsetting, but I'm not doing you any favors by shielding you from this anymore.

The next thing I'm going to do is carve one of the longer gourds into a perfect replica of the Mayflower as a shout-out to our Pilgrim forefathers. Then I'm going to do lines of blow off its hull with a hooker. Why? Because it's not summer, it's not winter, and it's not spring. Grab a calendar and pull your fucking heads out of your asses; it's fall, fuckers.

Have you ever been in an Italian deli with salamis hanging from their ceiling? Well then you're going to fucking love my house. Just look where you're walking or you'll get KO'd by the gauntlet of misshapen, zucchini-descendant bastards swinging from above. And when you do, you're going to hear a very loud, very stereotypical Italian laugh coming from me. Consider yourself warned.

For now, all I plan to do is to throw on a flannel shirt, some tattered overalls, and a floppy fucking hat and stand in the middle of a cornfield for a few days. The first crow that tries to land on me is going to get his avian ass bitch-slapped all the way back to summer.

Welcome to autumn, fuckheads!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Vegemite, Marmite, and Vegemite Cheesybite

I love them all.

I fell in love with Marmite in 2004 when I studied in England for a year. I tend to get really excited about foods that I know a large portion of the population hates the taste of. So of course, I went and got some marmite and it was love. So much so that I would occasion to wander around my boyfriend's English university asking his house mates if they wanted to have some marmite toast with me. Surprisingly, the answer was usually no, with the excuse that they didn't actually like marmite! (Thus demonstrating the love or hate drama with the product in the U.K.)


This relationship is not rivaled in Australia, with most Australians actually liking Vegemite. At least most that I have met save one investment banker who spoke of his detest while his colleagues made toast with Vegemite on top every morning in the office. So much Vegemite toast that I, as the mail room clerk and general office minion, had to go pick up 4-5 loaves of bread each morning for the month that I worked there. (Rest assured that if you do your investment banking through Macquarie that your money is being handled by well-fed and well-dressed men and women who shall never lack for a cookie or a bite of toast.)

My love of marmite was once extended to the point that I made a marmite recipe. Marmite pasta to be precise. With a simple, yet flavorsome sauce of only butter and marmite. Hey, I was a college student, and it beats Ramen. Plus, it's more worldly.


This photo was taken while I was having my wedding makeup done. Our photographer found one of the 10 jars of Vegemite my husband brought with us to Hawaii to share with our American guests, and decided it would make a nice photo. Surprisingly, none of our guests would even taste the Vegemite due to it's smell. Fortunately the rations were used up by the Australian guests who had neglected to bring their own supply, and took delight when they learned of our stash. Tim Tams (which I detest!) were much more popular with our American guests.


Regarding the latest edition of the yeasty extract family, Vegemite Cheesybite (as newly christened): this stuff is delicious! It's actually reawakened my yeast extract desires. (Is that a weird sentence?) I can really give or take Vegemite, but this 2.0 version I crave. It's creamier, cheesier, more like Marmite, and a bit less harsh than the original.

And yes, I have considered the fact that I may have a B vitamin or folate deficiency, but I'm cool with that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What I did on the long weekend....

1) Relaxed, saw Mao's Last Dancer
2) 3 homework assignments for my makeup course including a 15 page cosmetic chemistry research assignment and 20+ slide powerpoint presentation.
3) Lamented that Rundle Mall wasn't open on Labour day for shopping purposes.
and...
4) Baked!

First was a rhubarb and strawberry tart of my own design, on a sour dough (store-bought) crust, accompanied by mascarpone cheese mixed with powdered sugar and lemon peel. I'd never had rhubarb before but it looked delicious, and indeed it was. Nice and tart but cut by the sweet creamy cheese.



Then it was an eggplant, parmesan, and ricotta bake. The filling had eggs and basil as well. It was sort of like an eggplant lasagna quiche.

Doing one of the eggplant layers...


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mesa Lunga: Restaurant Review

The husband and I went out for our first real meal since we went on vacation in June. This happened a few weeks ago, on a real live Saturday night.

Place: Mesa Lunga, Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar on Gouger Street
Food: Pretty Darn Good
Atmosphere: Stellar

Normally I research the hell out of any place that's going to see any of my money because I'm kind of anal like that, but in this case my husband had made the reservation and "couldn't remember the name or how to pronounce it" so I didn't know where we were going until the night of.

When we walked in the first thing that struck me was the scent of wood and leather. In a really good way. The floors, tables, chairs, beams, everything in the place is solid heavily scented wood. And the wooden chairs are topped with outrageously thick luxurious leather seats. Imagine your grandfather's smoking den. Not exactly the scent you think you're going to get as you walk into a restaurant, but welcoming and cosy nonetheless.

The next thing I noticed is that everyone (except for about 2 private tables) is seated at one long table. (Including a Channel 10 news anchor who was seated directly next to us.)

I normally dread this kind of seating, unless I'm at Wagamama, but it was very well executed. The restaurant had tomato planters placed all along the table, and they were placed so that we were blocked from seeing the couple in front of us, as well as the group to our right. Sounds complicated, but it was really quite intriguing. After we ordered our drinks I realized that the fresh tomatoes hanging over the sides of the planters also had candles placed under them making the scent of warm ripe tomato waft around the restaurant. It was lovely!

On to the edibles:

We ordered the red-wine sangria, which was the best I've had outside of Sevilla, Jerez, or Barcelona. I'd love to go back and try their other versions. Drinks were accompanied by delicious olive oil and vinegar with bread and olives. (Again, some of the best olives I've had outside of Spain, and Spanish olives are my fav.)

For my main I got the Paella. A bit unoriginal you might say, but it didn't have the traditional cray-fish, which I hate to look at. Instead it was a slightly Australianized version with chorizo, mussels, squid, and prawn. Very yum indeed.

Russ got the pizza, which was outstanding. If we go back, we'll try out the tapas menu, which everyone around us ordered and it looked even more delicious.

They also have a bar which is located on the other side of the place where you can order their drinks including sangria pitchers and try their tapas. It's close enough to people watch, but far enough away that it's not noisy or distracting.

Definitely recommend.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My little mouth, my winter lungs, don't tell me now what can not be done. *

I'll tell you what can't be done.

My new job, whilst keeping my sanity. A little insane-ness isn't always a bad thing though, right?

So I've had many, many things that I would have liked to have written about over the past 5(?) weeks at my new job but I haven't had the time, energy, or clarity of thought. I'm not claiming to have the second two currently, but time I do have time tonight as it's one night when I don't have classes in the evenings.

A brief explanation of my job that I'll attempt not to extend into unnecessary detail, whinging, and suicidal ideation. (That's a psych term, look it up.)

I see 14 students a week, 3 students each day except for Fridays when I see 2 students and then have 2 hours of office time. I'm supposed to see each student for 2 hours. 2x3 = 6 hours of "in school" time per day. Students are in school for only 6.5 hours a day, approximately. I have to drive to 3 schools per day, some of which are 50 minutes away from each other.

I've been doing about 300k a week. I have driving calluses on my hands. Actually only on one hand, because with my other hand I eat whatever isn't attached to my car in between driving to the next school and calling my husband or mother to bitch about how crap my life is. (Now don't get me wrong, I'm LOVING having a job where I'm (questionably) using my degree. It's just sucking the life out of me.)

Anyway, back to work load. So 6 hours a day in school even though I have to drive between 20-50 minutes to get to each school. It doesn't add up. I'll spare any more explanation except to say that generally my job entails Assistant Principals shooting out from corners yelling at me about something I have no idea about, 70 year old teachers who don't believe in autism and therefore reject every suggestion I make or implement for the child I'm there to see, and bosses who suggest I'm fabricating work hours simply because I wrote down that I didn't have my lunch break one day. (Um, what day DO I have my lunch break?) Well, let me tell you folks, in Australia, that's not legal. I mean, it's totally legal to write down you have had your lunch break on your time sheet when you haven't, but it's not legal to say "I don't have time for my lunch break because my work load is ridiculous." Cause that's not O Hache and S compliant, ya'll.

Anyway, today's incident was someone at a school in a leadership position wanting to know why I hadn't seen Boy 1 very much. Well, I replied, because whenever I come to see him (on a designated day of the week, of which his parents have been notified in writing) he is not at school. Why can't you come see him at another time? She asked. Well, I replied, I have other clients to see, and as noted on my fax to the school if a client (or I) miss a session due to illness or other reasons, it cannot be made up. Let's also note that Boy1 knows in advance when he will be "ill" because his Dad tells him that he won't be making the effort to drive him to school that day. *Insert exasperated face here* On one occasional, he told me he would be babysitting his older brother. (Who is 17 with no impairments, and this boy is 13, with a stay-at-home Dad.) ?

and etcetera.

So flash forward to this morning, when I was making my usually chirpy morning joke to my husband that goes something like this, "well maybe today I'll get in a moderate car crash and I won't have to go in for a few days!!"

Then I spoke to a colleague at a school this morning and she told me that she was hoping for an ankle break for the same reason, but asked me if I thought that was a bit drastic?

No, no honey I don't. I least I'm not alone.



* The most beautiful impromptu music video ever.
(Filmed on a roof in the cold with a banjo and a few French Canadians tossed in for good measure, of course.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dear United States of America,

Once again, I'm feeling disappointed in you. For one of the youngest, and one of the best nations in terms of achievements in education, sport, research, and the level of health care available, you are really starting to turn into an inbred old stick in the mud.

When will you look outside of yourselves and realize that putting some money into the collective pot so that your neighbor down the street who has cancer, with 3 kids and a wife, who can't go to work anymore, and can't pay his medical bills anymore, can get subsidized health care? So that his wife and family can stay in the house they've worked all their lives to have, until this arbitrary C-word came to take it away?

Don't you find it barbarous to turn a blind eye to those that truly need medical attention and cannot afford it? Doesn't everyone deserve a top-notch standard of care?

So what if in some countries the socialization of health care might mean longer waits for elective (not life-saving/necessary) surgery? I say, don't worry about them. The U.S. is not England. Implement the changes into the system, let the chips fall where they may, and then re-evaluate the plan. I'm betting this great nation can figure out a way to minimize wait times. Furthermore, if we can spend billions on an unsubstantiated war with not much to show for it other than thousands of American men and women with broken hearts and broken families (hi soldiers, god bless you), can't we spend on health care, and just see what happens? I think it's a better cause to spend on than war.

There are a few things about the health care system in the U.S. that I personally feel should stay-put. I think doctors should be paid vast amounts. They work their backside's off to get where they are, and I think they should be paid accordingly. I don't think just anyone should be able to get into medical school. I wish that the standard and quality of American care (which I find pretty excellent) should remain, just simply that it be more widely available.

The last time I visited the U.S. after living in Australia where everyone's health is for the most part taken care of, it just looked a little bit heathen. Dirty. Homeless people with infected legs that we all turn a blind eye to. (Now, yes, they might have some mental health issues that are preventing them from seeking treatment, but I haven't seen anything like that in Australia for a long long time. I think most people would go get their infection taken care of, regardless of the state of their mental health.)

So, Dear America, just think about it. I only want the best for you, and for us. I don't like to see other nations look upon you in dismay. I see the faces of American's living abroad who were once joyous, but reserved, about the new president who was in office: maybe, America will be brought up to standard. Now, I see disappointment in the nay-saying and filibustering.

Love,
Danielle

P.S. This was hastily written before going to work today, but I had to get it down. Yes, it probably over-generalizes on everything, but it's how I feel. I will also say that I think that perhaps to minimize costs people with higher, but malleable, risk factors for disease, such as obesity, should have to pay a higher premium or gap for their health coverage so that it's not the system that is covering for things that can be individually influenced. Some people will balk at this, but I think it will promote personal responsibility in areas where it can and should be taken, and alleviate it where people shouldn't have to worry.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup

Or: I poached a chicken for the first time, and it had no flavor.

The soup itself was really nice due to the corn and leek, but the chicken lacked flavor. I'm guessing that's because A) it was chicken breast which is pretty lean, and B) I accidentally used vegetarian chicken-LIKE gourmet chicken stock instead of the real deal. (Hey I had it in the pantry, and figured the other flavors could carry off the soup. They did, but the chicken flavor was just a bit lacking.) I would make again but probably with a bbq-ed chicken instead.



Serves 4-5 I'd say.

50g butter
2 leeks, washed and sliced
1 liter good-quality chicken stock
Kernels of 3 fresh corn cobs
2 chicken breast fillets (500g total), left whole
salt & black pepper
Handful fried shallots (in a jar, or fry yourself before the rest of the recipe), to garnish
1 red chili, seeded and sliced, to garnish
fresh coriander to garnish
crusty bread, to serve

1. Melt the butter in saucepan, add leeks and cook for about 3 mins until softened. (If you look in your pan and think "damn that's a lot of leek," you're on the right track, they will soften right down.) Add stock and bring to boil.
2. Add corn and chicken to pan and cook over gentle heat for about 10 mins, poaching chicken until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside on plate.
3. Blend soup, leaving some chunky pieces for texture if you like. Return soup to pan. Shred chicken with your fingers and return to pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with fried shallots, chili and coriander. Serve with crusty bread.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Husband Cooked! Using a Recipe!

This is a first. We've been married for 15 months now and I have never seen my husband look at a recipe to cook. Not that everyone needs recipes, but in his case, not using one means we're either having spaghetti out of a can with curry powder added in, spaghetti bolognese using home-made meatballs of questionable quality and flavor (I love you!) or something he refers to as mock-fish. (Small tangent: I've mentioned it before but "mock-fish" is essentially hash browns. I don't know why it's acceptable for him to serve hash browns and only hash browns for dinner when they are labeled as "mock-fish" but when I suggest having a true breakfast with eggs, pancakes and bacon for dinner he makes it clear that this is not a pleasing option. The wonders of a cross-cultural marriage.)

Anyway, this past weekend he took it upon himself to look up two recipes online, print them out, buy the ingredients, and make them. Will wonders never cease! (Oh yes, 15 months of marriage is all it takes for this level of thinly veiled cooking resentment to build!)

In reality, I'm actually very proud of him! His first creation was the following Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Soup, made with those ingredients plus tomatoes and onions. It was delicious!! It wasn't thick and potatoey which is kind of what we were both craving with this cold weather but it hit the spot anyway, which was a surprise. I love tomatoes and chorizo so really, he couldn't go wrong with this one.

Photo: Chris Court
Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Soup Recipe

Next, oddly, he chose a chocolate cake. His first made from scratch actually. So even though it turned out dry I was very impressed. In the end we decided that the mousse recipe for the icing would go nicely on either a made-from-box cake or on top of the fresh pineapple in the fridge because it's luscious and chocolaty, but the cake base itself wasn't a winner. Photo: Con Poulos
Classic Chocolate Cake Recipe

Favorite quote of the evening from him: "I'm sure it will get better if we just leave it in the fridge uncovered."

My husband comes from a group of people who like to refrigerate their chocolate. I find this practice abhorrent on a visceral level. (Can't you just tell by those SAT words I put in there?!)

I understand when it's 115F outside that the need for this might arise, but in the middle of winter I cannot and will not do such a thing. Especially to a chocolate cake that required my asking several times, "are you sure you put the right amount of butter in here" as dry crumbs shot out of my mouth.

We're able to joke about our different preferences though, and he said to me shortly after, "Oh I just like the way it makes a nice dry crust around the outside of cakes when you refrigerate them."

Sadly, he's not joking; he would like a nice dry crust on his cake, but fortunately he compromised and we stored it inside the microwave.

Our Wedding Photo Teasers!





Our wedding photographer was the amazing Frank Amodo. His work was recently published in Pacific Weddings Magazine : those photos in his blog. You can also view his blog through my sidebar because I follow him :)

Here is the link to our teaser page.

http://danielleandruss.amodophoto.com/

If you're getting married in Hawaii I highly highly recommend Frank!