Hungs Wide World of Shorts

Pic by Warrigal
Pic by Warrigal

Lillie approaches from the Vulture Street End, Boycott pads up, its bowled him, Boycott’s off stump knocked out of the ground, no shot offered, can you believe that……”, the lounge room roars into action, grown men cry, dogs bark, people flood the street tossing hats in the air rejoicing, backs are slapped, beers are poured, babies are conceived, this is summer this is cricket, this is heaven, their best batsman bowled without offering a shot, life doesn’t get any better than this, ah yes, cricket where the only thing better than cricket is more cricket.

Yes cricket, the one true national game. Forget your football codes cricket is life and life is cricket. Understanding cricket is easy. Get more runs then they do, simple. Nothin’ too hard bout that. And yes the culture, the joy, the atmosphere, its quasi-religious and coming from an atheist that’s saying something.

As a kid growing up in Wollongong all my mates played cricket and for me batting, bowling or fielding I couldn’t care less, just playing the game was all I needed. Weekends were cricket in the juniors Saturday morning, Grade in the afternoon. Sunday morning surf then when the nor’easter came in cricket in the park with me mates. Mum had to come and get me for tea as the sun had set ages ago. She’d call out from the street “Mark, get home, it’s as black as, tea’s on the table, how can you see that ball anyhow?”, “But Mum, a century beckons”, I always wondered why mum called me Mark when my name’s Hung, anyway some thing’s are a mystery.

My Dad, an Englishman tolerating us colonials, would get the bus to the bottom of Bulli Pass then from the roadside would hold up a sign “SCG”,

Pic by Warrigal
Pic by Warrigal

someone would always pull over and give him a lift. I was too young to go along at first but then my initiation came, the SCG, the hallowed turf, the smell of the freshly cut grass, the crowd, the banter between the Poms and the Aussies, always witty, never violent or abusive and supporters of both sides could sit together and barrack for their team. Mum would pack ham and mustard sandwiches and Dad would shout an ice cream, bliss.

Then as a young man going to the test with my mates, eskies full of beer, pies and hotdogs, hot chips and seagulls. Doug Walters would stride out and the crowd would erupt, “Dougie, Dougie” we’d chant. If he got a boundary the noise was deafening, all of us would rise as one, “You bewdy”. Then tragedy, Dougie caught in the covers, “Poms can’t field, how’d they catch that “.

Then as I aged a bit more and the Hill disappeared and my brother-in-law, Brad, and I would sit in the stands. One birthday, which falls in January, somewhere between the 4th and the 6th, hint hint, we went to the SCG and watched India play, Azzarudin, mate, me and Brad wanted to make him an honorary Aussie, he was brilliant. But it was against the Poms that was best, the old dart, the mother country, those were the days.

Tutu and I moved to Adelaide in the eighties and loved it. 15 minutes to the oval, no rain, 5 days of heaven. Saw the mighty West Indies, Adam Gilchrist, V.V.S Laxman, Wasim Akram and the graceful Brian Lara. In the first few years here, Tutu would bring books to the game to read but it gets hot in summer, 40 plus, so now she drops me at the Oval and goes on a spending spree on my credit card, I mean am I a winner or what.

So for those that don’t understand cricket, don’t worry. Just pretend you like it or compromise like Tutu and read a book, enjoy the fresh air, the sun, the community, being as one with total strangers, the total boredom, applauding your opponent for good play, all of these things are cricket and oh yes check the scoreboard occasionally.

Chris Gregory’s Chicken

bbq chicken
Pic courtesy Taste.com.au

Here’s a conversation I had many years ago with a blogger by the name of Chris Gregory. He sent me this email about how he prepared chicken, a meat I love.

 

“I meant brine it to make it kosher. To be kosher the meat can’t have any blood in it, so they put the butchered meat in a salt water solution to make sure.

Okay. Cell walls are permeable, so you put the meat in the salt water, the moisture in the cells is wicked out. But because the meat is immersed in water, the solution maintains equilibrium, and moisture flows back into the cells, until everything is as moist and saturated as it can possibly be. Then, when you take it out of the brine, the moisture is locked in there, making the flesh as moist as it can be.

The other advantage of this is that you can infuse the meat with flavors by just putting stuff in the brine, like pepper, pineapple juice, ginger, whatever. It helps preserve the meat as well, and it means it’s already seasoned. And very, very succulent. It only really makes sense to do this to poultry and pork (fish are better dry cured, usually). But it really improves poultry and pork, which is bred to be way too lean these days and dries out easily.

I’d cut a chicken in half then put each half in a separate ziplock bag with a third of a cup of salt (kosher salt if you can get it, but preferably something with no caking agent) and a quarter of a cup of brown sugar. Fill with water, then put the bags in the fridge overnight. You could also use orange juice or pineapple juice instead of water, but reduce the sugar. Whole peppercorns are good too.

Next day wash them off then let them air dry on a rack. Brush with oil and season just before cooking. I’d smoke them, but a charcoal BBQ like a Weber will also do a good job. Or cook them in an oven the usual way.”

The ABC of Cricket

stuart-annd-william-asleep

By Voice

As a young woman, the realization that in order to prosper in the workforce I needed to be able to talk about cricket came as a huge relief.

If you knew the extent of my lack of interest in the sport of cricket spectating, you might find this puzzling.  It’s hard to pinpoint the cause of this militant lack of interest. It might be a female thing; it might be a reaction to my father’s seasonal lack of availability, or to his one-eyed barracking. My father was your archetypal one-sided sports fanatic.  It was quite late in my childhood that I fully understood the role of the other team on the ground. Until then, listening to my father’s exclamations during the endless TV broadcasts, I thought the members of his team were the only actual players, battling blind umpires, unfavourable weather, or worse, the occasional unforced error, in an effort to claim their rightful title of match winner.

In any case, this early disaffection with the game of cricket was only reinforced as a University student, where endless discussion of cricket scores was lumped together in my mind with endless discussions about cars as uncouth “engineer’s talk”.

Fast forward a few years, and the burning ambition to be able to pay for food and rent found me working for a manufacturing company in a largely engineer dominated IT department.  As the cricket season commenced I reflexively turned off whenever the inevitable discussions started. But I couldn’t help noticing that I was spending a lot of time talking to myself, and this was highlighted during a period of relative inactivity for my group, when half the day was spent arguing  about cricket (and the other half perfecting the giant paper ball). It became painfully obvious at a farewell for one of our group, where the others bonded with management over a cricket discussion while I found myself a lonely outsider, that something needed to be done.

So I decided to bite the bullet and follow the cricket. I shamelessly enlisted the aid of a co-worker who had both demonstrated some knowledge of cricket and shown some interest in my company (no doubt confirming in the mind of many engineers reading this piece the dastardly use of feminine wiles by their female colleagues.) Over a coffee break I confessed the reluctance of my resignation to spending endless weekend hours watching cricket on the tele, half-expecting him to recoil in horror. It took me a while to realize the significance of his counter-confession that some weekends he himself had to miss the cricket and that on those occasions he just checked the score intermittently, but was still able to hold his own at work on Monday. Imagine my relief and delight when I realized it wasn’t strictly necessary to know about the cricket. All I needed to be able to do was to talk about it.

Riffing together we came up with the phrase “at one stage there…” as in “at one stage there Australia was 3 for 103” or “at one stage there Warne was 54 not out”. All that was needed was to check the scoreboard once during the cricket broadcast!

The day before the next lunchtime gathering I searched the newspaper for the cricket news. I arrived at work the next day with a few facts printed on the palm of my hand. After everybody had eaten enough to satisfy hunger, and the conversation turned to cricket, I surreptitiously glanced at my hand and announced “At one stage there Australia was 2 for 75.” This was greeted by a number of wise comments, and I was part of the group. Emboldened by this success, I further announced “At one stage there Steve Waugh was 75 not out.” This was met by a puzzled silence and I found myself on the outside once again. Later my ally explained to me that the correct pronunciation of  Waugh is “Waw”. Never having really listened to a cricket broadcast, I had somehow come up with the idea that it was pronounced “woe”. Since at that time Steve (or  Mark?) Waugh was captain of the Australian cricket team, this was a major blunder.

My second big effort was Christmas drinks at the pub, where I arrived unprepared but was thrilled to hear the cricket news being announced on TV, and immediately memorized the first piece of information. Later I proudly announced my hastily memorized factoid, and once again it was well received. Then somebody asked me “Who won?”  Unfortunately I had been so engrossed in memorizing that I had omitted to note this apparently important detail, and my face fell. An employee with all the social grace of, well, a young engineer working in IT, piped up “You can’t be very interested in the cricket if you don’t know who won.” The members of my immediate group, who by this time were in on the joke, were in stitches. I decided to own up rather than look a total moron, and by that time everybody had drunk enough to take it well.

Boxing Day 2008, and a couple I haven’t met yet are the hosts for the post-Christmas neighbours gathering.  The husband greets us at the door with “I was just watching the cricket”.  I have a moment’s panic; since I’ve been working at a small non-cricket oriented company the start of the cricket season has passed unnoticed. But through those earlier years of intensive training in cricket conversation I manage to avoid the crimes of appearing uninterested or asking who’s winning.  I settle on asking the score, and the moment passes safely.

Thankful for this reminder, and with job interviews pending, I search the web and find the ABC.Net cricket page. There I discover an invaluable innovation, the Live Game Log.  The first log entry is a summary of the state of play at the commencement of the day, and the follow-up entries are brief over by over summaries logged in real time. All the information needed to contribute to a cricket conversation available at your fingertips. At one stage there Kallis was not out for 26.

First Published: http://pigsarms.com.au/2010/06/23/abc-of-cricket-%E2%80%93-the-voice-from-the-hill/

 

The Minty Wrapper

more minties 2When I was young boy I was walking down the street a station wagon drove past. The window was open and someone was waving to another car and let a minty wrapper go. I picked it up and when inside to tell Mum and Dad. Now my parents were very serious people, mum starting crying “Environmentally devastated” said Dad.

Dad called a meeting in the town hall and a decision was made to send a small delegation to government house to protest. So Dad got out the Zephyr and we drove down to the big smoke.

The funny thing was that as we got closer to the city signs kept popping up on the side of the road like “Down with minty wrappers” and “Polluters die”. Somehow people knew about our protest, bush telegraph I suppose.

When we got to the main square a good size crowd had gathered. A man with a megaphone stood on a crate “Wadda we want, biodegradable minty wrappers, when do we want ‘em, now”. The crowd roared the chant back and more people poured into the square. People were yelling and rattling the gate of government house and yelling abuse at the guards. Riot police entered the square and protesters threw rocks and fire bombs. The police charged at Dad but he stood his ground, the copper said “look mate we all want biodegradable minty wrappers but no protest allowed without permit number 1068B”. The crowd surged behind Dad, now in the tens of thousands.

SAS troops piled into to the square discharging weapons into the air, cars were being turned over and set alight, “No more minty wrappers, down with wrappers” they yelled. Fighting was erupting all over the place, there were over a hundred thousand people now and machine gun fire sounded in the distance. Tanks were rolling into the square.

Suddenly a trumpet sounded the loudest sound imaginable. Everyone stopped in their tracks and looked to the sky. Anminty wrapper enormous cloud enveloped the square. The trumpet played one more note piercing ear drums and flattening any resistance. The crowd, police and troops all stopped and all eyes were fixed on the sky. The cloud opens and a figure appears that resembles a man with one of those flat caps. “Listen up” the creature says “haven’t got long Z Cars is about to start” he grumbles “God here or Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah whatever just don’t call me late for dinner, get it, my real name is Gordon, Gordon O’Donnell, get it GOD, boy, you lot need to get out more”.

The crowd is stunned into silence, troops and police alike lay down their weapons.  “Look” the creature says “It’s 1966 your time and biodegradable wrappers aren’t ready yet but they will come, it won’t be long. Computers will be the size of a pocket watch and a man will walk on the moon”. A man to my left yells “He’s a fake, a computer the size of a watch, man on the moon, he talks in tongues”. God points his  index finger at the man and the man vaporizes and God shrugs his shoulders “Look, it will happen, a time will come when almost every home will have a computer and they will all talk to each other via the telephone, I will contact you when this happens, look to the ABC, my name will be Emmjay, any questions?” “God, what will become of us, what’s the meaning to life?” “Life, well, a writer will appear and give you the answer, 42 but no one will take him seriously. Look I can read your minds, sorry no cash or winning numbers and with football don’t worry everyone will continue to hate Manly” I thought to myself, I guess some things won’t change. “Is their life in the universe besides Earth, of course, but not as you know it Jim, anyway enough now. I am now going to make you all forget what’s happened. I want you to stop fighting and go home”.

more mintiesWhen I was young boy I was walking down the street a station wagon drove past. The window was open and someone was waving to another car and let a minty wrapper go. I picked it up and when inside to tell Mum and Dad. My parents looked at each other and as their eyes met a meteor burned up in the stratosphere causing a bright trail across the sky, “Be a good boy Hung and put it in the bin” said mum, Dad smiled, the dog yawned. Life’s a funny thing sometimes.

The Tail of God Part 2

Pic courtesy Warrigal - Gordon run out on the moon
Pic courtesy Warrigal – Gordon run out on the moon

Just a quick recap. I’m Gordon O’Donnell, an astrophysicist from another dimension and me and a few of my class mates have invented this universe. Our teacher has sent the three of us here to study it for our astrophysics degree. I’m on a ship called Rudolph, my navcom is a SANTA(Sub Atomic Neuroleptic Transparent Android) who prefers to be called Nick and he is taking me soon to meet Viv. Hmm, the story continues….

Well after a good sleep in my cabin in the control room I wake to a knock on the door.

“Come in” I say while trying to orientate myself.

It’s Nick and he’s holding an envelope. “Hungry Gordon?” Nick inquires.

“Yes Nick. I could eat the arse out of a low flying duck” I state thinking how ghastly that would actually be but it is an old Meupian saying.

“The auto cook machine is in the corner. Tell it what you want and it will be brought to your cabin” says Nick. Now that’s my kind of service.

“What’s in the envelope?” I ask

“It’s a LETTER from Professor Schnitzel about your mission” relates Nick “I suggest you have something to eat then have a good read and then I will take you to meet Viv.”

A letter, I muse how quaint. I tell the auto cook I want black coffee, tomato juice, scrambled eggs and toast. I stare at the letter, hmm, yes TD never actually said what I was supposed to do on this mission. A knock on the door and the auto cook droid enters with my tray.

“Thank you” I say not really knowing what to say.

“You are welcome your highness” replies the droid.

“It’s Gordon, please, no formalities” I request.

“Auto Cook reprogramming, yes Gordon”

Hate formalities, my parents gave me a name and that is what I want to be called.

The aroma of the coffee is amazing and the food delightful. Note to self, this droid can cook.

Refreshed I open the letter but to my surprise it is blank. “Nick” I cry “This is a blank page”.

Moments later Nick appears at the door. “Gordon, what wrong?” he gasps, shock and horror on his face.

“This letter, it’s blank” I bemoan.

Nick releases a hearty laugh “For a minute there I thought this was something serious. This is a LETTER Gordon” Nick states “An acronym for Line Embedded Telepathic Text EditoR”

Space and acronyms, I should have know.

“See that tag on the top left hand corner and the one on the bottom right hand corner. Place your thumb and finger on those tags and the letter comes alive” laughs Nick.

Easy when you know how. Nick walks off down the passageway and half way converts to wheel mode, spooky when they do that but it saves power.

I put my fingers on the page as Nick has said. Suddenly text starts appearing on the page just like magic. Wow, isn’t fiction complex some times.

“Hello Gordon TeeDee here. Hey do you like my new version of my initials? Makes me sound young and groovy.”

Why is TeeDee(Groan) writing in italics I wonder.

“It’s so the viewer at home know it’s me talking”

How did you know what I was thinking?

“This is a telepathic document. This means only you and I will ever know what has been said. The mission detail must never be known in your new universe otherwise it will cause immense trouble. The page is verifying both your fingerprints and your retina. This ensures that it is me and you that are talking. ”

Bloody hell, what have I got myself into.

“Let me tell you. You are currently on course for a galaxy the locals refer to as the Milky Way. Your base planet is called The Earth but before you can settle on Earth you must travel the galaxy and establish the following three things. Find the Goldilocks planets and teach them Meupian which in your universe will be referred to as English, create a monetary system so that you own all the money in the galaxy but most important teach them how to play cricket”

My head is spinning. This was nothing like I imagined. All this information is overpowering.

“Yes, I know but this is an important part of your studies, setting the groundwork. Now to help you I have provided a transponder, it’s on the desk”

I look over to the desk at this object which says Panasonic TV Remote Control. WTZ? ( What the zark?)

“Yes I know, we had to cut them into the deal otherwise they were going to complain to the government. When you find a suitable planet, locate the most advanced primate tribe. Active your force shield so you won’t be killed and eaten and state “Take me to your leader”. The shield will ensure the natives comply. Point the transponder into the eye of the head primate and press the play button, get that play. This gives the head primate all the knowledge needed to achieve your goal. Anyway, off you go as we are approaching the word limit and we haven’t introduced Viv yet. Stay in touch”

Another knock at the door. I put the letter down and all of the text just vanishes, amazing, this is complex fiction for sure. It’s Nick “Gordon this is Viv” states Nick.

Wow, cowabunger, yea har, dribble, dribble, this is a female droid with the best set of, um, er, you know, um, wow, I’m blushing, my face is red and all of a sudden I’m feeling really hot and flushed, I can’t take my eyes off them. [Hung here, right oh Gordon, get on with it, this part is about to end]

“Nice to meet you Viv” I bumble “Now let me guess, Viv stands for Vital Ingredient Vitamised or Virtual Item Verified?” I state in an attempt to recover.

“No actually” says Viv “It’s short for Vivienne. I have been modelled on an Earth female and I am your SNAP Coordinator” replies Viv.

“Snap?” I ask somewhat deflated.

“Yes, Space Normalisation Adaptation Process. I’m here to show you the ship, take you to the bio and teach you how to cope on Earth”

You know, sometimes true stories are really hard to tell and this is a true story, well sort of.

 

HOO’s Wide World of Sauce

Pic Courtesy: Taste.com.au
Pic Courtesy: Taste.com.au

Here’s a sauce recipe that can be used across many different meals and is great for us that live alone as it is a good way to get in your veggies.

Ingredients

olive oil

salt and pepper

sugar

chilli powder

paprika

garlic

onion

carrot

capsicum

zucchini

celery

tomato

wine

tomato paste

stock cube

stock or water

parsley or basil or both

Method

All your veggies can be very coarsely chopped as I use a stick blender to finish the sauce. Stick blenders are great, simple to use and easy to clean not like all of those fancy ones you see advertised on TV.  The carrot needs to be peeled. I worked with a girl named Karen who was a chef and she did her training in Paris. Karen told me always peel carrots.

In a deep sided pot add the oil and place on a medium heat. It is important that this sauce never gets too hot as we don’t want to lose the vitamins. Think along the line that we are going to sweat the veggies down  rather than saute. The pot also needs to have a lid as we are going to capture most of the fluid that comes off during the cook.

Add the garlic chilli and paprika. Gently cook for a few minutes, then the onion, then the carrot, capsicum, celery and zucchini last. Think like this, hard veggies first, softer ones last. Stir occasionally adding the veggies one at a time over around 10 minutes.

Put the lid on and turn the heat down to low and cook for around 10 to 15 minutes.

Now add fluid. I use tinned tomatoes usually two cans, tomato paste, some white wine, a stock cube and the sugar. Mix through. Now add a bit more water/stock/wine so everything is covered, sometimes up to half a cup. Don’t over add fluid as if you need to simmer this down to thicken some of the goodness in those veggies will be lost.  Lid back on, low heat, 10 to 15 minutes.  Turn the heat off and leave the lid on till all the steam has stopped. I have a Scanpan pot, approximately 25 cm wide and 15cm deep with a transparent lid which makes it easier to gauge but allow say another 15 minutes.

Add the parsley or basil. With your stick blender pulse the sauce in the pot and stir. By this I mean, blend for 2 to 3 seconds. Then using the blender as a stirrer, stir the sauce. This causes chunks to rise. As a chunk comes to the top, pulse that site for 2 or 3 seconds.  Do this till you get a good consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. I always use iodised salt as iodine is a very difficult trace element to get in your diet.

Now, you don’t want the sauce to resemble soup so it is better to under blend then over blend. It needs to retain some body however with all the veggies well chopped.  Cool. Portion. Freeze. This usually makes up to eight portions by using 2 x440 tins of diced tomatoes and one of every vegetable.

I use this sauce on pizza, meatballs, chicken pieces and prawns. Beautiful with pasta and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

 This sauce costs me about ten bucks to make plus elbow grease. Enjoy.

Warning: Sometimes I cook the sauce a bit longer with the lid off to thicken or I have added the meatballs or chicken pieces usually thighs(If added these that about 15 to 20 minutes to cook). Once blended this sauce “pops” especially if the heat is too high. If you cook the sauce for whatever reason with the lid off get it onto the lowest heat possible. I learnt the hard way and had to clean up sauce that ended up all over the place.

 

 

 

Album Review: But Seriously Folks – Joe Walsh

But Seriously Folks - Joe Walsh
But Seriously Folks – Joe Walsh

Well here I go again showing my age but here is a seriously, get it,  good album by Joe Walsh best know as one of the Eagles. Walsh himself has had his own successful career despite his fame with the Eagles in bands like the James Gang and of course his own solo career.

Now I came across this album by pure accident. Some of you may remember in the good old days when there was a thing called the record club. The offer seemed too good to be true, five albums really cheap then one a month for 12 months at full price. Since then I have come to believe in the saying that if something to too good to be true then it probably is. The record club deal was effectively too good to be true. So if you didn’t order your next album in time then you got record of the month. You could send record of the month back unopened with your next order for two albums but if you didn’t you were sent the bill. Well, you guessed it, But Seriously Folks, was record of the month. I didn’t send it back and I got the bill. So I opened it and couldn’t stop playing it and like a lot of other albums, I played it so much I had to later purchase it as a CD.

At the time I had a few mates that were right into Joe Walsh. They came to my place for a listen to his latest offering and absolutely hated it. They liked Walsh for his soaring guitar work on songs like Rocky Mountain Way whereas this album was subtle and witty. One of my friends told me that he had “heard” that this album was a contractual obligation and that Walsh simply threw together a group of songs to fulfill his part of the deal. Some parts of the album do reflect this however if you read other reviews of this work  nothing at all is mentioned about the subject.

To me all the tracks are worth a listen and Walsh uses subtlety, humor and wit in songs like Over and Over where he delves into the repetition of some things in life and Second Hand Store where he reflects on things of great personal value that diminish over time.  Tomorrow is a great song, the opening lyrics say it all “Tomorrow making a list of things to do, and when I wake oh ho ho ho, gonna cross all them through”, yeah, my kinda guy.

Released in 1978 and runs for just over 35 minutes. As usual most of the Eagles are backing Walsh on this album.

I thought I’d post two tracks this time. The first it probably the hit from the album Life’s Been Good the full length version. A shorter version was released for radio and if you have heard this song before you probably heard the shortened version.

This next track, well it is actually two tracks that merge together, Inner Tube/Theme from Boat Weirdos is what I have requested to have played at my funeral. This is an instrumental piece and Walsh has captured the ebb and flow of my life here, soft, loud, highs and lows plus excellent instrumentation and a lovely melody. Hope you enjoy.

PS: Tutu and I still listen to this album today. To us it withstands the test of time.

 

The Tail of God – Part 1

My Kind of Santa
My Kind of Santa

Hum diddy hum, diddy hum hum hum. Hmm, I hate waiting don’t you. Now I have been called to a special meeting and I just can’t wait, yee esse. Aren’t you excited? I am. Hmm, sorry, I haven’t introduced myself, I’m Gordon O’Donnell and I am the second youngest student ever accepted into Astrophysics at the spring chicken age of 512. Yes that’s right only five hundred and twelve years old and I’m going to become an astrophysicist, amazing.

Anyway I’m waiting for the lift to take me to the office of Professor T.D. Schnitzel who along with his partners Professor C. Chips and Professor G. Salad want to interview me after a couple of fellow students, Gees Ass and Holly Ghost and I created a new universe in a shoe box. The box resides in a cupboard at the back of lab, Astrophysics 101. The Professors want to talk to me about this universe and how to study it.

“Welcome Gordon” says T.D. “I’m Ten Dollar Schnitzel and my compatriots are Chunky Chips and Garden Salad”.

Wow, fancy being on first name basis with these legends. And what a combo they make, ten dollar schnitzel with chips and salad, every boys dream.

“So Gordon” T.D. leads off “A very interesting thing you have created with your fellow students and we have decided that we want the three of you to study your experiment for your astrophysics course. How do you feel about that?”

“Fantastic” I reply not knowing how to really feel until we get to the crux of the matter.

“Well, we have invented a machine so you can explore this new universe at your will. It’s called a Schnitzeliser. You go in one end as a Meupian and you come out the other end as a being that is proportionally acceptable to your project at the other” smiles T.D.

Oh, sorry. For those of you that don’t know, I’m from a planet called Meup. It revolves around a Sun we call Star T. Meupians live forever except for accidents. When an accident happens Meupins can then reproduce a new being. That way our planet is never over populated and degraded unlike some planets.

“So T.D.” I lead off “Let me get this straight. I start at this end as a normal Meupian male and end up in the shoe box the size of a sub atomic particle inside a space ship that will take me through this dangerous and unexplored universe where any thing could go wrong at any time”

“Yes” replies T.D. is his own unique way reflecting that I’m the one in danger while he gets the bus home at five each night, hmm.santa

“And if I don’t I will never pass astrophysics and live a miserable lonely life until one day I meet with an accident and die”

“Yes” replies T.D.

“Okay, where do I sign” I groan.

Wow, I’ve just been schnitzelised and here am I in a brand new space ship. You can tell it is brand new it has that smell. Yes, two arms, two legs, hmm, yes two something else. It’s funny when you have been schnitzelised, you feel as though someone has just punched all these little holes in you and you feel very tender, hmm.

Anyway I’m in some sort of bedroom, very swish and grandiose. It has a bathroom, shower and utilities area, very nice. One wall of the room is a book case absolutely full of all kinds of books, hmm, this could be one heck of a journey, only problem is I don’t know where I am going.

There is a knock at the door. I open it to find a droid standing in the passageway. Oh, let me explain a couple of things you will need to know about space travel. Droids or should I say, androids are sophisticated robots that can travel anywhere any time, need no food or oxygen and recharge themselves usually overnight or as necessary. They, for all intent and purposes, are your crew and it doesn’t take long before you forget they are machines and you very quickly see them as your travelling companions. The other thing about space travel is virtually everything that has a name is an acronym. You need to be alert as this will always hit you when you least expect it.

“Hello” I say to the droid “My names Gordon O’Donnell, please call me Gordy or Gord” I tick off trying to get on the front foot.

“Yes hello Gordon, T.D. has told me all about you” replies the droid. Now this droid is a rather large person with a big white beard and long white hair. He is wearing a red jacket with white cuffs and a white strip around the bottom of the jacket. His pants are red with white cuffs at the bottom. He has on large black boots, a black belt with a huge buckle and a red hat with a white pom pom. “My name is SANTA” says the droid “ I’m your navcom.”

“Please to meet you Santa” I hesitate.

“Yes Gordon, I’m an acronym. SANTA stands for Sub Atomic Neuroleptic Transparent Android but hey just call me Nick” he offers.

“Come down to the control room and I’ll show you around then I will introduce you to Viv” informs Nick.

We enter the control room and wow, this ship is state of the art. I peer out through the window where I can see out over the nose of the ship. There is a distinct red glow coming from the tip of the nose.

“What is that red glow Nick?” I ask in bewilderment.

“As we are travelling so fast Gordy the very tip of the nose of the ship excites any gas in space and that generates heat” explains Nick.

“And who built this ship Nick, it is of high quality?” I ponder.

“The Reindeer Company on Meup” replies Nick.

“And does the ship have a name?” I enquire.

“Yes. It does have a model number but basically it’s name is Rudolph”

Well you go figure. Here I am flying through space with Santa and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, unbelievable but true, well sort of.santa1

A weekend in the Riverland

Houseboats moored at Loxton
Houseboats moored at Loxton

Recently the wonderful Tutu and I spent the weekend in the delightful Riverland village of Loxton. The reason we went there was many years ago I worked for a company where I would travel all over the state and up into Northern Territory. One of my jobs was to help an injured worker who lived in the township of Berri, which is just up the road from Loxton. Anyway on my return trip home I would pass through Loxton and stop at the pie shop which I can truly recommend. I was always amazed at its beauty but also its history. Beautiful old sandstone buildings just simply tug at my heart strings and I vowed that one day I would revisit the township and take it some of its beauty. Well I did and for me it was a great experience.

Loxton is a small rural town on the Murray River that serves as a commercial centre for neighboring farming districts. It has a population of just under 4000  and surrounding farms produce fruit, grapes, sorghum, barley and livestock. Tourism is also important as us “townies” flock in for the the river and the wineries. It is about 2.5 hour drive from Adelaide and the road is pretty good. We stayed at the Loxton Hotel an the accommodation was high quality as was the food in the Dining Room.

The Loxton Hotel
The Loxton Hotel

Loxton is damn hot in summer and damn cold in winter so the best time to visit is in the in-between seasons although from my view the only two months of the year not to come to South Australia would be February and August, the rest of the time it is not too bad.

Like I say, I love early Australian history so to me it is a fantastic place to visit. If that’s not you thing maybe leave it till for your grey nomad trip. Or another alternative would be to fly from Sydney to Adelaide, borrow Hung’s car, spend three days in a houseboat forgetting about anything that bothered you, return Hung’s car and fly home, easy.

Loxton Historic Town
Loxton Historic Town

Apart from the history here a trip out to Banrock Station for lunch is superb. An eco-friendly fine dining experience that is hard to turn down. Check out the hotel as they have special musical events that would be worthwhile seeing or just walk around the town and take it all in. No art gallery I’m afraid but they do have an art trail, amazing bird life and the Historical Village. Now if you visit the village it takes a good couple of hours to get around but it has been beautifully put together, old banks, post offices, schools etc all with authentic displays.

banrock stationHere are some links.

http://www.southaustralia.com/info.aspx?id=9002400

http://www.loxtonhotel.com.au/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loxton,_South_Australia

http://www.loxtontourism.com.au/

Turkish Herbed Lamb Pizza

Lahmacun-(turkish-pizza)
Lahmacun-(turkish-pizza)

 

Many years ago the wonderful Tutu and I lived in New South Wales. In our town there was a great little restaurant called The Istanbul that funnily enough served Turkish food. We would go to the Istanbul usually about once a fortnight or so and after a while we had tasted everything on the menu at least twice. They also had a specials board which we sampled keenly until one day the owner approached us. He said to us hey look, you come here all the time and like our food, how about we do a deal, you book in, we will bring you the food at twenty bucks a head, as much as you want. Perfect. From then on we would take a seat, they would pour us a wine and out the food would come. Then one day we were served Lahmacun, I was already a pizza addict and yet here was a pizza with no cheese that was to die for. Tutu is coming over tonight and this is what we will have. Enjoy.

 

Ingredients.

A pizza dough – do you really need for me to tell you this bit. I use my bread machine to make mine.

Now I make enough for one large pizza given the tray I have so I’ll leave it up to you but for the topping you will need,

Lamb mince

Garlic

Onion

Cinnamon

Allspice

Pine Nuts

Tomato paste

Tomatoes, chopped and not tinned.

Chicken stock

Lemon juice

Mint

Parsley

Baby spinach

Yoghurt with some added water to pour.

 

Method.

Sandy has the Munchies
Sandy has the Munchies

Make a pizza dough [spooky music plays in background]

Fry off the lamb mince in a pan till browned. You will want to render off the fat by straining it.

Heat some oil in the same fry pan and saute the garlic and onion. Add spices and nuts. When the pine nuts are golden add tomato, paste, stock and juice. Add the mince and cook on low till you have reduced the liquid, this has to be fairly dry. Remove from heat and fold in mint, parsley and baby spinach.

Roll out your dough and top with lamb mix. 15 minutes in a very hot oven should do. Cut into pieces and in a jug put yoghurt and some water so the yoghurt runs like a gravy. Serve and add yoghurt as desired.

Anyway I work with a Turkish girl and have spoken to her about this recipe. She and her husband love it but she said to me “When I make it Hung I add six chopped red chillies. When my husband eats it he starts to sweat, and sweat and sweat but he eats it all”

“So why do you do that Woman who cannot be named for Privacy reasons?”

“Because I can Hung, because I can”. Strange but true.