Tuesday 27 April 2010

High Tea

I am the first to admit it. My family is a little odd. We are, in some ways, quite anachronistic. We have this thing about manners. In a world where people respond to wedding invitations via SMS, we still hand write "Mr and Mrs Smith accept with pleasure, the kind invitation of....". We also have a thing about correct pronunciation. In particular, of "wh". We also have a thing about hats inside (Thanks, Grandma) and we all, collectively, get a bit squigy about the "yous/ewes" thing.

The "me and Bob" thing drives us bonkers.


We're just like that.

Like all families we have our own particular traditions, peculiar to us, and one of them is the pre-wedding kitchen tea.

I am pretty sure that we are the only family outside the Windsor's who still celebrate this. Albeit, we've changed with the times and we no longer celebrate kitchen AND bathroom AND laundry teas, so we really can't be accused of not being hip to the groove.

Can we?

So last weekend, it was Kitchen Tea time.

It really is a women's ritual. The chairs are arranged in a circle, only woman are invited, it centres around food and involves games and the sharing of wisdom. It honours the bride-to-be and gives all the women who attend a chance to share and bond. Tiny sandwiches, squares of fudge, little lemon squares, Cecile Bruner rosebuds, scones with lashings of jam and cream.


I mean, what's not to love about a function that requires cake stands??!!

The theme was "High Tea", so very fitting, as the wedding reception is going to be held at The Grand Dining Room at the Windsor.

We played games. I won the "heaviest handbag" competition. We caught up with other women we only see at this sort of thing, and we spent time embracing the in-laws-to-be into the oddly old-fashioned world of Our Fam.

We probably only do this sort of thing once every five years or so, and I am sure people pooh-pooh us for sticking to our particular brand of eccentricity, but I love it. Coming together as a community to eat and laugh and share. It's just all another women's circle to me, albeit with better manners and nicer china.

Sunday 25 April 2010

ANZAC Day '10

It's 9.16, and the old Diggers are marching from the RSL, to the wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph.

It's ANZAC Day, today.

I have mixed feelings about ANZAC Day. I am not much for the "mateship forged on blood-soaked foreign shores" myth. That belongs to another generation. The ones who actually fought. Neither am I one for glorifying the war machine- for a while there, in my 20's I was a card-carrying member of Women Against Rape (In War). The "great sacrifice" confuses me, as does the "fought for our freedom" line of thinking. (But that might have more to do with the fact that Australian History was an elective when I was at school, and the subject "History" was solely focused on British and European schools of thought). The ANZAC march is something that calls me on a completely visceral level, and I am not too sure what it is or why.

But, I defy anyone not to be moved by the image of a single beam of light, and a sole bugler playing "The Last Post". There is something poignant about the simplicity of this ritual.

What I think about during the minute's silence, is the fresh-faced pictures of the young men, who honestly believed they were off on a "lark". Whether that be in Vietnam, or Fromelles or Kabul.

I think about the ages of my children, and the pictures of the reality of Villiers-Breteneux and Rabaul and Mogadishu.

I think about the complete senselessness of battles like Gallipoli, Kokoda and Guadalcanal.

And that's probably it, for me. The sheer senselessness of the whole war caper. Yet, I have the acknowledge, that there is SOMETHING about the whole ANZAC myth that pervades us, culturally. It's why I still cry when I hear Albinoni's "Adagio" (the music played at the end of the movie "Gallipoli"). It's why the simple few lines of "The Ode" leave me trembling.

When I go to War Cemeteries, it's always their ages that upset me the most.

That whoever the were, as young as they were, They died. And I need to, in some way, remember them.

So today, I got up at sparrows, to rug up against the brutal wind coming straight off the sea, and stood with other people of my community, to attend the Dawn Service at Dromana RSL.

And, in true Aussie spirit.. the spirit that speaks to me so much more than the Gallipoli myth, after the Service.. the poignant, visceral, moving, simple but brutal service, we all trooped into the dining room and eat. And laugh. And drink (free beer for breakfast and a not-so-subtle bottle of Bundy doing the rounds). And THAT larrikin spirit, where a profoundly anti-war ageing hippy can sit next to a decorated Navy vet, and his soon-to-join-the Army grandson, eating pretty dodgy eggs, bacon, snags and beans provided by CFA vollies.. THAT is what the "Aussie Spirit" means to me.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Weekend Eating. (part 1)


what an amazing weekend. Mme Mouse's 21st party on Friday night, a fam wedding on Sat. A kitchen tea on Sunday lunch and then Yamagata for dinner on Sunday for the actual birthday, then home for coffee and cake with the family.

A weekend pretty much made of all types of awesome sauce!

First shout out to Belgian Beer Cafe at Eureka. Chris and his staff were just awesome. The food was sensational and the venue was just spectacular. Big platter of finger food comprising of twice cooked pork belly with apple pickle, pork and veal meatballs with tomato and sage, gruyere and emmenthal squares with fresh lemon and fried parsley, shelled mussels lightly fried and served with tartare sauce were perfectly accompanied by a beer list including Stellas Artois, Hoegaarden White, Leffe Blonde, Leffe Brune and Belle-Vue Kriek. Plenty of 2008 Yering Station ‘Little Yering’ Chardonnay, Fratelli Moscato and 2007 Yarra Valley Tempranillo Rosé flowed as well!

Next shout out goes to Crabapple cupcakes, or Great Cakes, as they are soon to be known. They did us an awesome 5 tier display of choc on choc goodness, and an amazing pear, almond and vanilla yoghurt cake. Both types were topped with silver cachous and edible glitter that sparkled in the subdued lighting. The chocky ones were topped with tiny strawberries and the pear ones with Cecille Bruner rosebuds.

Stand by for a report on sensational wedding food and a traditional high tea.


The deliciously irreverent Jen McCreight from Blag Hag has recently come up with an awesome response to Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi's claims of:

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."
Sedighi is Tehran's acting Friday prayer leader.

Enter "Boobquake"

This little bit of supernatural thinking has been floating around the blogosphere today:
"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran's acting Friday prayer leader.
I have a modest proposal.

Sedighi claims that not dressing modestly causes earthquakes. If so, we should be able to test this claim scientifically. You all remember the homeopathy overdose?

Time for a Boobquake.

On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that's your preferred form of immodesty. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake. If not, I'm sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn't rumble. And if we really get through to him, maybe it'll be one involving plate tectonics.

So, who's with me? I may be a D cup, but that will probably only produce a slight tremor on its own. If you'll be joining me on twitter, use the tag #boobquake! Or join the facebook even

And, given that it's a public hol, here in OZ, there are no excuses of "but I can't do that at work".

Get the girls out in the name of rational thinking!!

Join the Double D train to enlightenment!

Let the puppies run free for free-thinking!

My girls, known throughout the land as "Anapurna I" and "Anapurna II" will be doing their bit this Monday. So you might want to avoid the Mornington Peninsula, just incase ol' Sedighi's right!!

Thursday 15 April 2010

What the Phở?

image courtesy of androog, via Wiki CC licence

Greetings. My name is pg and I'm a Phở ho. Or a "fur hur" is we're going to be a stickler for pronunciation.

There's been a lurgy going around THOFAPL over the past 10 days. And rather that put you, dear reader, off your food, let me just best describe it as "gastro"... Gastro that lead to me spending 8 hours in Rosebud Base hospital on Goodness Friday. Gastro, that like a bad house guest has sorely overstayed its welcome and is now just pissing me off.

I have, effectively, made myself lactose intolerant. Meaning much my staple menu is now out-of-bounds. I mean, really, spag bog without the Parm Reg, is really NOT worth the effort.

So we've been "dining" (for want of a better word) on rice, white bread and Maggi noodles.

However, Furry has recently been experimenting with home-made Phở and offered to cook us a pot.

Now you must all sing the "Furry's Majick Phở" song.

"Phở, Phở, Magic Phở"

This is, however, only amusing if a) you know the song I've referenced and b) if you get your pronunciation correct.

Furry slow bakes osso bucco until the fat is rendered and the bones are browned. The bones are then scrubbed under running water and placed in a pot of fresh, cold, water and simmered for several hours. He doesn't seem to worry too much about skimming, and the stock turns out pretty clear. He adds a cinnamon quill, some garlic, some ginger, a few Schezhuan peppercorns, cardamon, coriander and a clove.

Once the broth is fragrant, he adds finely sliced steak and diced chicken. A block of silken tofu always gets diced and added, too.

because this was a sickness Phở, he left off the seafood and the fish balls which I usually love. When I dine out for Phở, I love the tendons and the pizzle and the fatty brisket bits, but this is medicinal Phở, and we thought, under the intestinal circumstances, that it would be best to leave them out. We also eschewed the vinegary white onions. and the fried whitebait that I usually love to add.

Vietnamese dishes are meals typically served with lots of greens, herbs, vegetables and various other accompaniments such as dipping sauces, hot and spicy pastes, and flavor enhancements such as a squeeze of lime or lemon. The dish is garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, coriander, Thai basil (húng quế) (should not be confused with sweet basil - Vietnamese: húng chó or húng dổi), fresh Thai chili peppers, lemon or lime wedges, bean sprouts, and cilantro (ngò rí) or culantro (ngò gai). Although cilantro and culantro have similar names and similar flavors, they are completely different plants.

I like my Phở with bean sprouts, basil, mint, coriander, lime and Hoi Sin sauce. (i usually add a fair dollop of siracha, as well.. but under the circumstances.....) The Phở toppings (Phởppings?) are what makes the dish, making every mouthful a different textural and taste experience. Many an heated discussion has been entered into on "traditional" Phở, in both ingredients and pronunciation, but suffice it to say, that while Furry's Majik Phở (furryfur?) may not win any authenticity competitions, it is nourishing and easily digested. Phở is also an awesome excuse to get into growing herbs, coriander and mint pretty much grow on the back of your neck, here in the Melbourne climate. Both Thai and Vietnamese mint grow well also. There is nothing more satisfying than not just making your own Phở, but pottering down the back steps to pick your own herbs for the Phởppings.

The other secret benefit of Phở, is seeing how many puns you can make on the name.. pho shiz, what the pho, Mo Pho, pho king, absolutely ph0-bulous, 9021 pho... oh, the puns just keep on coming!

Hard to be sick, with a bowl of majick pho in front of you, and your punster son making the above cracks!

Monday 5 April 2010

Introducing the Purple Princess.

Meet my niece, The Purple Princess. Daughter of my brother. She is an awesome young woman, in Grade 6 this year, and is a sensational dancer and athlete. She is pretty much made of awesome in every sense of the word. And she's my only niece, so when she comes to stay, she gets the full Purple Experience.

Now, everyone needs an Auntie Purple. Who talks to you about boys and farting and lets you stay up late and eat icecream for breakfast. Pretty much anything goes at Auntie Purple's house.. except for bad manners. It's pretty much as long as you chew with your mouth closed and say "please" and "thank-you", you can pretty much do as you please. every kid who has ever entered my home has pretty much worked out, as long as there are good manners, Auntie Purple will let you get away with ANYTHING.

Not such a bad philosophy, I guess.

So, this weekend, PP got to:

Make wholesome, healthy food and talk about carbon footprints, how sugar is bad for you and how eating ethically is important.

And then we made Nutella, banana and marshmellow pizza.

in the pizza oven.

and eat it at 10pm.

Then we talked about how it's very important to have good manners, and behave "properly" and hold your knife and fork correctly. Because dining out is a very important part of life and people who chew with their mouths open are disgusting, vile, ill-bred common guttersnipes.

But there was the lamb bone left over from the luncheon roast, so hey, who cares about all that stuff??

But the reality is, that she understands that at home, with Auntie Purple, it's ok to gnaw of the roast bone, and eat sticky marshmellow pizza with her fingers, as long as when you go out, you understand that it IS actually important to have good table manners.

PP, a soy chai spiced latte and the morning paper, discussing the environmental impact of the shipping disaster off the GBR.

PP eating her free-range eggs and organic bacon, discussing where bacon comes from, and why "this" bacon tastes "better" that the stuff from Coles.

It takes a village to raise a child, and every village needs and Auntie Purple.