Friday, 30 March 2007

powering through them!

Yes. It's lucky books aren't food, otherwise I'd be full as a goog and fat as Humpty Dumpty by now. Although I suspect it will be a little longer until the next book review, because the book that I'm on now is (although an easy read) mega FAT at over 1000 pages.

Nail Gaiman's Stardust is another recommendation from my brother (although the other one this time). Again, I found myself sans books and too pauvre to go and buy one.* It's a newish book, but a fairytale about a boy named Tristran Thorn who adventures beyond Wall into Faerie to bring back a falling star in order to convince the prettiest girl in town to marry him.

So I kind of liked it, I suppose, but I didn't love it, not enough to imagine re-reading it sometime anyway. On the whole it's a good story, and reasonably well written, but I just wasn't sure what it was trying to be. If it was trying to be an old fashioned fairy tale, then the language was too modern. If it was trying to aim at teenagers, then there were a few details that I thought not necessary and perhaps ill-advised for that age group. If they were aiming at adults then it was a bit too simplistic and not charming enough. Yes, I guess that's my problem - for a fairytale it wasn't charming enough. The transformation from boy to hero wasn't convincing enough, nor was the transformation of the star from captive to love-object. I could see these things were happening, but they didn't drag me along, it was more just that in the storytale format, these things are expected. There were a few fun twists, but again they seemed a bit too format driven to be exciting. I don't know. I'm beginning to think that this English degree has made me too critical and hard-to-please. On the whole it was a pretty good, easy, fun read, and I'm nitpicking. If you're into fantasy type stuff, you'll probably quite enjoy it, but I sadly found the overall sense of adventure and suspense somewhat lacking. The end.

*See! This French must be working! Also, yes I know there are such things as libraries, but I really like owning books in case I really love them - then I can reread them. Also, I'm quite uninspired by Adelaide's bookshops. BUT I saw an ad for a second hand booksale at the Walkerville city hall (? the corner of Walkerville and Stephen Tces anyway) this Saturday morning. Maybe I will be lucky there.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

inching slowly off this mortal coil.

It's a bit of a worry when you watch Play School and recognise one of the presenters as someone you used to watch on Neighbours - not the other way around. (Incidentally, is a stint on Neighbours a sign that your career is going somewhere, or that it's already been somewhere and stopped?)

Did I mention that in a couple of weeks there'll be a whole new age bracket box to tick? I was hoping that by this point I'd be able to tick at least one corresponding 'grown up' box: successful career perhaps, married, useful qualification, living like an adult, not watching Play School anymore. Hey, even owning something more significant than a lava lamp would be a start. Well, at least I've got good super.

30 is the new 20.
30 is the new 20.
30 is the new 20

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

at Uncle's in Kiev.

I mentioned planning to read Mikhail Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog the other week - I really liked 'The Master and Margherita', and my brother happened to buy this one from Amazon, so ever since then it's been on the 'to read' list.

'Heart of a Dog' is about a nice dog that gets his pituitary gland replaced with a human one by some scientists. He becomes human, and turns into a havoc-wreaking unholy terror.

Ok, so I guess it's kind of a good story, but to a 21st century gal who knows that replacing a pituitary gland wouldn't change quite that much, the premise is kind of unconvincing, especially compared to 'Frankenstein' which is much older but more conceivable. Beyond that, it's a compelling (and short) read, with good characters and dialogue etc. As a story, it's really quite fun, although it can't've been that amazing, because a week later I've totally forgotten how it ends. Although maybe that's just telling me that I should stop reading before bed. The problem with Bulgakov I find, is that I'm just too far removed from the metaphor to get it properly. So while I understand that the book is making a big point about life in Soviet Russia being a bit rubbish, I don't at all understand the finer points. And from what I've read about Bulgakov, he often makes of sharp jokes about specific people and places that 80 years later are pretty obscure even to Russians.

So if your brother buys this and you find it lying around, it's worth reading, and in any case won't take you long. Beyond that though, I would recommend you read 'The Master and Margherita' first, and see what you think before forking out for one.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

out of the loop.

I had quite a full weekend! On Saturday I went collecting for the Red Cross, went to Kathy's farewell (she's moving to Germany for any that know her and haven't heard) and caught up with my schoolfriends.

On Friday night I went to see the Marmalade Circus play at the Queens Arms. I must've seen the Marmies 10 or 15 times, starting probably not that long after they were formed in 1997. They're a great local little (big?) jazz band that play quirky oft-latin-influenced originals. My 18th birthday (some of you may remember) was spent listening to them play at the now-replaced-with-a-hole Fox and Hounds on North Tce. I have their first two cds. But as it turns out, all of those 10 or 15 times must've all been before about 2004, because at this gig, out of 2 hours of playing, I knew only 2 songs. Since I last paid attention, they've put out another cd and two eps, put together a new website, and the format has changed totally, from being a small bunch of the cream of the Adelaide Jazz scene circa 2000 (many of whom have now moved interstate or overseas), to a much larger group with a few of the originals, but mainly made up of the best young musicians Adelaide has. Wow.

I had really better get with the program.

Monday, 26 March 2007

seeing sound and hearing colour.

I was watching this interesting show the other day about synesthesia. The more complex forms of it are pretty rare, but apparently the most basic form may be as common as 1 in 100! I know at least 100 people. Maybe someone I know has it! Anyone out there see letters and numbers as being coloured?

Friday, 23 March 2007

feeling a bit bearish today.

Did anyone else know there was such a thing as the Fringe Benefits Tax year running from the 1st of April to the 31st of March?


(This has really messed up my laptop plans.)

Thursday, 22 March 2007


As I mentioned, I went to Womad for the music, but ended up more interested in the cooking sessions. Whoops! But actually they were great for musical reasons too, because often the artists sang or played as they cooked, and you could ask questions. The best of these sessions was by Guo Yue, a traditional Chinese bamboo flute player, now residing in England. He cooked four dishes in his one hour tasting session - the zucchini and tomato dish that I cooked last week, a prawn dish, a fish dish, and a mixed mushroom dish. He was so excited about cooking, and had such a wealth of knowledge that his enthusiasm spread and I went to see him play later that day (which was amazing - I've heard Chinese flute before and haven't liked it, but this made me wonder why in the West we changed to metal flutes - the wooden flute has such a rich depth of sound) and I bought his book.

Music, Food and Love reminds me very much of "Mao's Last Dancer" by Li Cunxin. It has the same elegance of writing, and many of the experiences are common - both were artists growing up in Maoist China. While Li's book is an autobiography though, his stories joining to form a comprehensive history of his life, Guo's book is shorter and works more as a collection of his memories. These are in rough chronological order, and do serve to give a good summary of Guo's life; however, these memories evoke a time and place more than they give a thorough history. I wouldn't necessarily complain about this though, except to say that this collection of stories might leave you wanting more. I certainly enjoyed the book enough to wish that it was bigger, and that it continued after the author emmigrated from China.

Although the book is called "Music, Food and Love", food features more heavily than music. The love bit is woven through everything - he tells stories about food to reflect his love for his family, and the Beijing of his childhood. His flute playing is present, but is less the focus of the book than his cooking. Indeed, at Womad, Guo actually said that he prefers cooking to playing flute - because "you have to eat to play the flute". One of the great things about this book is that most of the dishes that he describes are given as recipes at the back. Some of these are quite complex, but many are very simple, and I think would serve as a great introduction to learning to cook simple Chinese food authentically.

I really enjoyed this book - its main subject matter, music and food, are two of my favourite things, and it's written simply, but really beautifully (being co-written by Guo's wife, an editor and writer). The stories are interesting in and of themselves, but give a great insight into life in Maoist Beijing. If you enjoyed Li's book, I would definitely recommend this one. FYI: if you decide to buy it and are having trouble finding it, you might try Dymocks, who were at Womad, or

Aha! And now I have an appropriate opportunity to showcase my only Chinese, in my best worst pinyin.

Bao-le, ma? ("Are you satisfied?")
Syair-syair, chir der jern bao! ("Thankyou. My tummy is happy!")

I kind of expected this film to be bad, and it was. I read Nick Hornby's book years ago, and quite enjoyed it, but never really understood how it would translate well into a film. Well, it doesn't.

The book is kind of a memoir of Hornby's lifelong soccer fandom, and how and why he came to love the game. It goes right back to his childhood, and addresses lots of interesting broader issues about why we as grownups get neurotic about seemingly arbitrary things. I quite enjoyed it, although I'd probably recommend it more to soccer fans than everyone (although I know nothing about soccer and I still liked it). It's quite nostalgic in a way, but all (as far as I can tell) non-fiction.

So you can see why I didn't think it would work as a film. The story of a bloke who goes to the football a lot. Nick Hornby wrote the script himself, but he had to create a plot for everything else to flow around. So the film basically turns into Colin Firth being a sad football-obsessed loser, who is trying to balance this against getting a life and maintaining a relationship with pointy Ruth Gemmel. Which is ok, but it's not really enough to sustain a whole film on, because after a while you start to wish Colin Firth would get over it, or Ruth Gemmel would just dump him and have done with it. The problem is, basically, that so much of what was good about the book was really introspective stuff, which is impossible to portray in a film, and so instead of Colin Firth seeming like an interesting and clever person who understands emotionally what's going on with his obsession but is nonetheless hijacked by it, he basically seems like a dull and stupid slob. So if you're interested, read the book, and avoid the film.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

bemused and amused.

Sorry to keep on about Foreign Correspondent, but I just noticed that one of the videos they do have one the web is one I saw last year, about Americans who go on pilgrimages to Jerusalem and then hallucinate that they're people from the Bible. It's kind of frightening and hilarious all at the same time - I particularly like the shot of a woman being re-baptised in the Jordan, while wearing a shower cap. If you've got a spare 20 minutes go to the FC website and then scroll down until you find 'The Jerusalem Syndrome' episde. Those crazy Merkans. It makes the conservapedia seem quite moderate.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

cooking. Ergh.

On Friday I had yet another recipe that failed miserably. It was the canelloni that had been on Jamie Oliver the night before. Basically, you boil up some cauliflower and broccoli, and then fry it with garlic, thyme, chilli and anchovies, and then stuff the par-cooked canelloni tubes with this mixture. Then you top the tubes with some tomato puree/sauce, and some sour cream mixed with fresh parmesan and mozarella and then bake.

Ok, so it wasn't totally awful. But it wasn't that spectacular either, and I wouldn't bother with it again, even if it hadn't taken me three and a half hours to make.

I'm getting really sick of duly following recipes and then having them turn out pedestrian. Surely qualified chefs should be able to communicate recipes that are actually good. As far as I can see there can be only 3 reasons why this keeps happening:

1. I'm a terrible cook who, despite following instructions closely, somehow manages to stuff it up every time.
2. Chefs put one or two great recipes in their books and then bulk them up with average ones.
3. Chefs can't communicate how a dish should be prepared.

Actually, I don't think it's number 1 (although I guess this probably happens occasionally), so it must be a combination of 2 and 3. How annoying. I guess there's not much I can do about it but keep trying, and remembering the good recipes when they work out. And I'm coming up with a new approach to cooking:

Emily's Cooking Maxim #1:
Trust your instinct over the recipe. If it tastes wrong as you're going, do what seems natural to fix it.

Emily's Coooking Maxim #2:
Each step of cooking should usually taste good. If it tastes bad at the beginning, it will probably still taste at the end unless you fix it before you get there.

I'm sure I'll add to this as I continue to learn. In the meantime, here's a made-up recipe that I made last weekend. It's a pretty obvious combination of lots of things, but my Dad said it was the best thing I'd ever made. Maybe this is a reflection on his taste, but it's kind of depressing that of all the complicated recipes I've spent hours trying, this is so far the most successful.

Bruschetta (according to Molly, pronounced: Brus-ke-tta).

Make a salad of:
chopped tomatoes
chopped capsicum
finely chopped/sliced red/spanish onion
chopped olives
chopped fresh basil
1 or 2 crushed or very finely chopped cloves of garlic.

Basic directions: dress salad with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil and mix well. Spread this on some nice fat bread (foccacia or lepinja is good), top with some grated tasty cheddar and put under the griller until the cheese melts.

More details: If you're making one big one, it's best to put the filling in between two bits of bread, and put it in the oven (covering it with foil to prevent burning); if you're making individual ones, it's best to toast the bread first and then make them 'open' under the griller. Banana capsicum is best, then green, then red - purely for the colour contrast. I like kalamata olives, but it's up to you. When you make the salad, you want the tomato to be not totally dominating, but still the most prevalent ingredient. You can also put a layer of salami on top of the salad but under the cheese. You could probably add other ingredients if you wanted - maybe artichokes, or chilli, or prosciutto, or oregano instead of basil. This is what I do though, so this is the tried and true version.

Monday, 19 March 2007

a bit meh.

It's interesting thinking about how one jumps from book to book. There's usually some reason for choosing the next book, but quite often it's not anything totally logical for something you're going to invest a fair bit of time in. Which reminds me of that book Nick Hornby wrote about what books he read one year and how he chose them.

Anyway. I came to this book because I didn't have anything to read and was just about to fall back on my old trick of reading something I already knew. Then I remembered that my brother had just bought a stack of new books off Amazon, which was a bit of a (pleasant) surprise because in general he's not much of a reader. Most of it was Russian stuff, and I knew there was a Bulgakov there which I thought I might try because I really liked 'The Master and Margherita'. But he was halfway through that one, and so suggested I read 'The Fountain at the Centre of the World' by Rob Newman who I remember as a comedian on the Mary Whitehouse Experience, a very funny show which you probably won't remember unless you lived in England in the early '90s, or had Foxtel with extras for the very brief period that they showed it. Here and here are a couple of the funnier sketches from it including Rob Newman. So I guess I didn't really know what to expect from this book, but based on Mary Whitehouse I had an idea. This flailed a bit when I read Newman's bio in the back and he didn't mention his time as a stand-up comedian at all - it was all about his activism etc. Which really gives you a better indication of what you're going to get which this book.

It's about 3 related men, all of whom have ended up in very different parts of the world. Chano is a Mexican who is living in hiding after attempting to blow up some commercial pipes which were polluting his town's water supply. His brother, Evan, was adoped at birth and lives in London, working as a PR consultant to a huge multinational company whose motto is 'it's easier to change what people think about things, than change things themselves'. He is essentially making it easier for the kind of companies that are polluting Chano's watersupply. Evan is also dying of a tropical disease that only exists in poor countries. Then there is Chano's son Daniel, who grows up in Costa Rica(?) and in search of his father eventually ends up in America with a group of English activists.

So it's an interesting setup, but in the end it wasn't really that compelling. Not painful like 'Nausea', but I certainly wasn't rushing home to read the next chapter either. I felt it dragged on way too long, and because of this there was no suspense left in the plot. Also, Newman uses lots of metaphors and imagery that I just didn't feel worked. They seemed quite stilted and forced and I noticed everytime he used one, which if they were done well I really shouldn't've. The other thing that annoyed me was that there were quite a few typographical errors - words misspelled and words missing from sentences. This I find really annoying in a book because it shows that no-one's bothered to read it carefully pre-press. But these are things that I'm probably a lot more picky about than most.

For a book all about activism and globalisation etc. etc., I also felt like it wasn't clear what the author's was trying to convince me of. I assume I was supposed to conclude that the extreme power of big-businesses to make the world a better place for a few but a worse place for the majority is in general a bad thing, but it just didn't seem that clear cut. I suppose you could argue that maybe Newman didn't want to make a clear statement but just wanted to get people thinking, but I think it was more just the result of the whole thing just not quite working.

The author did create some interesting and endearing characters, and there are some funny scenes, like the one with a girl sitting on top of a building at a protest and dangling doughnuts in front of policemen on the end of a fishing line. But all in all it's too little to make the book really gripping.

So I guess unfortunatly I wouldn't recommend this one, unless you happen to be really into books about activism and the like. What a shame.

Friday, 16 March 2007

drinking. Again, not that kind.

Mmmmmmmm. My three new favourite beverages.

The first is Spring Valley's Springwater with a hint of Mandarin Juice. This is the closest that I've found to my beloved (and frustratingly out of reach) Japan Airlines exclusive 'Skytime Yuzu'. It advertises itself as 'no artificial colours or flavours, no preservatives, low calorie'. I guess that's true, because I know what all the ingredients mean, and at 48kj/12 cal per 100mL, it's less than 1/3 as sugary as Coke, or most juices. I don't know if that actually makes it good for you though, per se, but it's certainly not as overpoweringly sweet as almost all other drinks on the market though, and nice and refreshing. Also, being a subsidiary of the Cadbury Schweppes group, it should be available everywhere.

Parker's Organic juices are off the planet unbelievable. This one, the raspberry and apple juice, lists it's ingredients as 'the juice of four apples, and 12 raspberries'. Woah. It's fresh pressed though, which means it doesn't keep. I was enjoying it so much that I was having little sips and putting it back in the fridge. Bad move, because after a day or two it's now fizzy and off and I'm going to have to tip it. Which almost makes me cry - it's that good. Also, it's currently only available in Victoria and NSW. Typical. We bought it from the mega organic shop on Bridge Road, but the Parker's website has a place where you can request it, so maybe it'll be in our little provincial shops soon. Go forth and email.

Mmm, and last but not least, Sunzest Organic. This one's a bit hard to track down, and I suspect at best you'll only find it in Victoria. The coffee shop in Tom's building stocks it, if you're in the neighbourhood. It's a pretty plain looking bottle with a green lid and MY GOD it's good. I thought I was drinking orange drink, not orange juice it was so sweet and lovely. But no. 100% orange juice, with only a little preservative added. Yum yum yum. I'm fence-sitting about whether this stuff is actually tastier than freshly home squeezed home grown oranges. But that's something in itself!

And here's an old favourite thrown in for good measure, because I've realised rather late in the piece that two of the above three are unobtainable to most people. I'm completely in love with Santa Cruz's raspberry lemonade. It tastes like it has real raspberries crushed up and added to some old-school made-with-real-lemons lemonade. Because it does! Amazing! I may be biased because raspberries are my favourite fruit, but this stuff is good. And available (if expensive). You can get it at Good Life Pizza, and the 7 day supermarket in North Adelaide, and I've definitely seen it around in other places too. Keep your eyes peeled!

Update: Today I went to the markets and came home with these two new finds. On the left is a Sanpellegrino 'BBThe' still Peach Iced Tea. This was very nice and very peachy indeed, and all the writing is in Italian which is fun. It's quite sweet, but somehow has less sugar than most drinks: at 141kj/100ml it's a third less sugary than the chocolate milk. And because it's only 330ml it's probably only just worse for you than the 'low calorie' Spring Valley drink which is almost twice as big. Pleasantly (I thought) it doesn't have the bitterness of many Italian drinks. It's got a foil lid that you have to peel off before you get to the regular can ring pull, which as much as it's pointless overkill and bad for the environment, was admittedly kind of novel and fun.

On the right is Pura's 'new' choc mint drink. I could've sworn they've had a mint drink for ages so I thought this was more a promo than anything else, but actually it does taste different than I remember. Very much like an after dinner mint. Yum! Not so good for your love handles though, this one...

Thursday, 15 March 2007

the fire chief!

I'm going to be the floor's sucker fire warden! I wonder if that means I get a silly hat?

Last night I made Guo Yue's zucchini and tomato dish that I saw at Womad. Apparently this is the kind of thing that real Chinese people eat (as opposed to restaurant food), which I was surprised about, because I never thought of tomato or zucchini as very Chinese. It turned out pretty tasty, but then I did (accidentally) use a $35 bottle of wine. Whoops! I think I'll be making it again because it was really simple and quick and easy and tasty and didn't require many ingredients. Here it is:

Fry beaten eggs (approx 1 per person) mixed with finely sliced spring onion in a hot wok til cooked/nearly cooked. Add sliced tomatoes and zucchini in equal quantities and season with salt and sugar. Add some white wine (or rice wine vinegar I suppose?) and light soy sauce and a little sesame oil until it tastes good. When cooked, serve with white rice.

Also: here's a link to my newest addition to the 'want' list. Fibre Red had a stall at Womad and sell the most beautiful woolen garments. I'm saving my pennies now for my next trip to Melbourne and the St Kilda Markets. I think I want a red or green skirt, and/or a vest and/or a shawl. It's very expensive though, so I think it's going to have to be 'or'.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

out and about.

Womad on the weekend was fun. Not 'oh my gosh I can't wait for next year to roll around', but still good. I listened to some music that I'd never heard before and found that I liked some of it (Chinese flute player Guo Yue; the Tuvan throat singers; Australian-Cuban San Lazaro). I did a little shopping (fisherman's pants and a book) and ate some interesting food (Jamaican jerk chicken). On the downside, it was hot and dusty and I ended up pretty exhausted.

The best thing about Womad, I thought, were the 'Taste the World' sessions. These were cooking demonstrations by the artists of their native dishes, assisted by Roger de Wolf who was kind of facilitating the thing, and Adelaide chef Matthew Goodlet. Kind of ironic that I went to Womad for the music and ended up going to the food session, but not altogether surprising I suppose. Actually they were quite good in terms of music too, because often the artist sung or played as well, and it was a much smaller setting so you could hear them better and often they told stories as well, and you could ask questions. Anyway, now I've got a heap of new recipes from around the world to try! Tom and I made Empanadas di Papa on Monday, demonstrated by the guy from San Lazaro. These are kind of shaped like pasties but filled with potato and onion. We also made a cheese and tomato one. It was pretty good, but I think when I make it again I'll fill it with more interesting combinations of food. Certainly it's a great and quick 'whatever you have in the fridge' kind of dish.

Yesterday I went to the Stella McCartney/Target sale thingy at 9 in the Morning. That was a laugh. Lots of women all scrabbling for clothes, but it really wasn't as crazy as the media would have you believe. I came away with nothing, which was probably a good thing, but I really thought that the clothes weren't for me. Most of them were very baggy and floaty, a look which only really works on very small or large people, and the rest of us in the middle just look like we're wearing sacks. Also the colours were very plain - almost everything was black, navy and beige. Certainly people were snapping it all up though, so I guess the hype surpassed the actual product. An interesting morning.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007


Ok. I wasn't going to talk about this here. I've been going to some pretty great pains to hide it in real life, so why publicise it on the internet? Also, there is my fear of being judged (issue #36 'fear of judgement': see also: being teased in year 8 for showering daily in the evening not the morning) and willed back to the dark ages with the lepers and the people with bad teeth. But then I thought, well, maybe people aren't as judgy as I think, and anyway this blog is about my life, and for better or worse, this unfortunate issue is taking up a disproportionate amount of my attention at the moment. Whether or not it's nuts, I fully feel that when I look back in the future on this period of my life, this episode will serve as a reference point, so completely OCD am I getting about the whole thing. And, you know, it's a little bit funny and maybe other people have had the same embarassing experience. So here it is:

Today is the one week anniversary of my brand new GigantapimpleTM.

(don't worry: no gory details to follow)

It started out as an innocuous tiny lump in my neck. You couldn't see it, but you could feel it, and after 6 months of it being there, I began to worry that maybe I was dying of cancer or goiter or something else BAD (issue #57 'fear of death': see also: irrational terror of mammals in case they bite and infect me with rabies). So when I went to the doctor I asked her about it. And it was all downhill from there. She got her stinking mits on it and it blossomed into the GigantapimpleTM that I am sporting now. It. Is. HUGE. I'm talking at least 2cm in diameter. It is ginormous to the point that I've actually gotten a stiff neck because it hurts to move my head in various directions. I've done everything I can think of to get rid of it (including messaging my Friendly Neighbourhood Pharmacist), but apparently a blemish this big defies medical/cosmetic science. I think I'm just going to have to sit this one out. At least it's not actually that gross. Just really really large.

So if you see me over the next few days/weeks/months sporting a scarf and a side ponytail in 30 degree weather, it's not a hickey, and it's not that the French lessons are beginning to affect my wardrobe. It's the GigantapimpleTM.

But hey, if it never goes away, I can run off and become a circus freak. At least that will solve issue #77 'fear of not finding a meaningful career' (see also: arts and music degrees).

Thursday, 8 March 2007


Happy International Women's Day everyone! May you all have elegant and intelligent women in your lives! Give them all a hug today!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

unable move my neck without it hurting.

Yesterday I went to the doctor - a new doctor - for a checkup. Nothing drastic: don't worry I'm not marching towards death any faster than usual, and I'll spare you the gory details.

However. I will share with you one thing that the doctor said to me - one thing that I hope none of you ever have to hear:

"Wow! You've got a really high pain threshold!".

I still can't believe she let that one slip. Actually she's wrong. I think what I have is a high politeness-under-pressure threshold.

at work.

My building is being painted at the moment, and this temporary sign appeared a few floors below me. It's not hard to guess where I work, hey.

I should try and get a shot of the (permanent) sign that directs what to do in case of emergency - for one's own "safety".

Tuesday, 6 March 2007


It's weird. I don't really like babies very much. I'm certainly not in the market for one. Yet I can't seem to stop myself from reading parenting blogs. Maybe it's just that babies provide amusing subject matter - lots of poos and wees, and we all know how funny they can be. Or maybe it's that when you're far enough away that you can't actually smell the poos and wees they're kinda cute. Or maybe it's just that stay at home parents have more time to dedicate to perfecting their entries. Or maybe it's that we can all relate to being a little kid. I don't know. A couple of my favourite are already in the links section (Dooce,, Laid Off Dad, The Trixie Update), but here are a few others that I love, in case you're crazy like me.

Sweet Juniper
Breed 'Em And Weep
Suburban Bliss

Monday, 5 March 2007


I had another failed cooking weekend.

On Friday I made three new recipes out of my favourite favourite Philip Johnson cookbooks. I love these books as everything I've ever made from them has been absolutely superb and I thought it was the world's only infallible cookbook. Until now.

I first made a tomato and porcini mushroom soup that ended up as not 'Ooh YAY soup for dinner again!' but rather 'Oh. Soup again. Do we have to finish it?'. The recipe specified 75g of dried porcini mushrooms which is over $30 worth. I used about half of that (still pretty extravagant) and put some fresh swiss browns in too. The result was an overly pungent mushroom soup that was not nice. I think even 40g of porcini was way too much.

The second thing I made was fudge. Hard to stuff that up, right? Wrong. It said to simmer the mixture for 15 minutes until it started to change colour and then to press into a tray to cool and harden. I began to think maybe things weren't right when the mixture after 15 minutes was still the consistency of water - pretty hard to press that into a tray! In the end I boiled it for 45 minutes until it went the colour of chocolate. Aha! Finally I've managed to go too far I thought, but poured it onto the tray anyway, just to see. It turned out that it (amazingly) wasn't burnt, and was the consistency of Russian Toffee rather than fudge. It tasted ok actually, but I still count this a failure. I was aiming for fudge, which was not what I got, and if I'd wanted Russian Toffee I would've made Russian Toffee and it would've been better than what I ended up with.

The third thing I made was a flourless pineapple and coconut cake. It browned within 10 minutes in the oven, and after the allocated cooking time was still undercooked in the centre. That could be my oven though. I count this as a failure too, because I didn't like the cake much. But I detest dessicated coconut, so that explains that. Everyone else seemed to like it, but it certainly wasn't over the moon amazing like Mr Johnson's other recipes. Grrr.

So not only did I have a bad cooking Friday, I have lost faith in my favouite cookbook. Cry!

On Sunday, I tried again. I made Mughlai Chicken from Nigella's 'Feast'. This came highly recommended from Mag. I don't know what went wrong, but it was bland and boring. I won't be cooking it again. What a shame. I also made Thai black rice to go with it after seeing it in a shop and getting excited by black rice. It was ok, but it turns out it's really more a dessert rice. Also, it stains things maroon. It was an interesting experiment, but I think I'll be sticking with regular white or brown rice from now on.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

pulling a face.

I am not a grapefruit person. You know how lots of people have a grapefruit for breakfast, and insist that it's the ONLY way to start the day? Well, I've tried before and failed, but then someone told me you have to sprinkle them with sugar the night before so it all soaks up by morning. So a little while ago I bought a lovely big ripe ruby red grapefruit from the markets, took it home, duly sprinkled it with sugar, but the next morning when I tried to eat it, it was still sour. And bitter. And hard to eat with a teaspoon - I pretty much just ended up with spoonfuls of juice. And so I conclude: I am categorically not a grapefruit person. I'm just glad I'm not Italian - those guys love bitter sour things.