"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Why the face!!!

Spleen alert! Okay, I need to rant -
Obviously, Australia isn't ready for a female, unwed, atheist Prime Minister! The questions and comments Julia Gillard has to endure makes me wonder why we burnt our bras in the 60's?! So they're questioning her ability to run the country because she's not married, and her moral integrity because she's not religious! Whereas Tony Abbott 's morality is, of course, iron-clad because he's vociferously Christian, and he's able to do the job because he's married and has children! What rot.
Philosophy was around long before the large organised religions were and gave people a moral compass, if they wanted it, making humans live together more peacefully than after the advent of certain religions. I worry about politicians bringing their religious views into politics - there are good reasons to keep state and church separate! I for one, trust a  rational sceptic more than a blind follower of faith.
Disclaimer: I have nothing against people who are religious, but lots against discrimination and holier-than-thou attitudes.
Okay, end of rant.

Friday, July 16, 2010


This recipe was sent to me by "Grandmother's Garden" in New Zealand. Haven't tried it yet, but it sounds wicked! If somebody makes it, please let me know if it tastes as good as it sounds!

Magic Pudding

220g block of Caramello chocolate
1 1/3 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
125 g butter melted
1 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 3/4 cups boiling water
Frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 180C or 160C in fan forced. Grease a 3cm deep lamington pan. Place chocolate block in the freezer for 20 minutes. Sift flour and 2 tablespoons cocoa into a bowl. Add caster sugar, butter and milk. Whisk until smooth and combined. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Break chocolate into squares and press with the pecans into the mixture. Using a spatula, smooth mixture over the top. Place lamington pan on a baking tray. Sprinkle brown sugar over the mixture. Sift over remaining cocoa. Carefully pour the boiling water over the back of a large metal spoon over the mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is just set. Top with frozen raspberries while still hot and when cooled sift icing sugar over for serving. Serve with ice cream for a really special treat.

Photo by freedigitalphoto.net

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Haiku challenge

Ok, now for something completely different!
Do you like poetry? From limerick to ballad, sonnet to clerihew, ode to rondel, there's an amazing variety of style and topic to choose from. In school we had to memorise poetry, get up in front of the class and recite! Not one of my favourite exercises, and this was what probably put me off this genre for many years! I vividly remember getting stuck on "Barbarossa" and classmates furiously  (and rather loudly) whispering the next line... I did like hearing the cadence of poetry, especially the ballads. One of my favourites was Goethe's "Erlkoenig", and its haunting words can still stir me.
More recently, I've become interested in Haiku, a Japanese form of poetry. Now, I'm usually not in favour of things Japanese (my personal boycott because of whaling), but being somewhat of a language geek, I like the pared-back simplicity of haiku. According to a rather gorgeous book I found recently (Haiku Inspirations by T. Lowenstein), haiku was established as a form of poetry many centuries ago. It is however, not the history but the form that interests me. Lowenstein describes a classic haiku as "three lines long, made up of 5-7-5 syllables. It contains a kigo word....alluding directly to a season....and a kireji (cutting word), placed at the end of any of the lines ...denoting a pause or full stop - their presence implies a moment to reflect on the preceding lines".
An example - a haiku by Basho -
                                                   Temple bells die out.
                                                   The fragrant blossoms remain.
                                                   A perfect evening.
Obviously, something is lost in the translation, but you get the idea. There are several websites on the net for haiku aficionados, with many of them not conforming to 'rules' which is ok. They can be humerous, witty, sad, joyous, philosophical, but they get the message across in 17 syllables!
So, dear ones, I propose a haiku challenge - everybody can write poetry! Send me your haiku!
I'll start off with one of mine -
                                                 Antares rising.
                                                 A diamond on black velvet,
                                                 in icy splendor.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Winter Sunday

If you can be bothered to leave your warm bed in the depths of winter, Melbourne is worth getting out of bed for. I can hibernate with the best of them, but today felt like braving the 8C temperatures to avoid cabin  fever! DH and I headed off to the city and mingled with backpackers, students, and other brave souls wrapped in scarves, hats, gloves, and several layers of woolly garments. The skies were overcast, but no rain, and little wind. Federation Square was hopping, rugged types in deckchairs watching the big screen showing movie clips, art, and ballet. The restaurants were doing a brisk business, and we headed to "arintji" for a fortifying glass of rose and some yummy tasting plates. I tried a really nice mushroom terrine with pickled red onions and croutons, and DH made short work of a lamb skewer and a few other nibbly things. We headed over to the Atrium to see if the book market was on but no luck. There was a very long line for the Tim Burton exhibition, something to remember for another day. After browsing through the National Gallery shop, we looked at the beautiful glass art exhibited in another corner. An exhibition of Rupert Bunny's works was on at the NGV, and across the road the main part of the NGV is hosting an exhibition of European Masters from the Staedel Museum in Frankfurt. (The Staedel Museum was on the regular school excursion list when I lived in Germany, so I've probably seen most of the works! Wouldn't mind seeing them again though). We walked up Swanston Street, said Hi! to Larry Latrobe, then turned down Collins Street.
My chocolate radar was in good working order, and I spied the Lindt Cafe - right next to Tiffany & Co.! Feeling ready for a treat - and kinda knowing it wasn't going to be the jewellery kind - we soon found ourselves seated in a spacious, bright cafe with gleaming counters, mountains of chocolate, attentive waiters, and the delicious scent of chocolate wafting all around us. DH succumbed to a strawberry dipping plate, and I chose the Lindt Mocha and a scrumptious Hazelnut gateau, astonishingly like one my mother used to make! Felt utterly decadent.
The heritage-listed building in which the cafe is situated is amazing, with a very high ceiling, art deco skylight, and a balcony around the central atrium. It also houses a shoe shop, which is lit by a spectacular round chandelier. We headed back to the car, walking through some of the city's back lanes, which were packed with people eating and drinking and talking and laughing and having a great time! Melbourne is always worth a visit, and even after living here for 30 years, there is always something new to see and do.