Thursday, 30 May 2013

Sweet Corn Salsa Salad

Last month I had a family dinner for 12 where I smoked the chickens on the barbecue rotisserie and they tasted like...chicken. I did post on FB so you may have seen it. I made a little foil pouch, poured in the required Jack Daniels special smoking pellets. I trussed my organic chickens with string and bands the butcher kindly gave me. I oiled, seasoned and sprinkled them with smoked paprika from the fancy spice shop. I got them on the rotisserie of the barbecue. Smoke was billowing. Expectations were high. And they tasted like....chicken. Juicy, yum chicken - but chicken. I could have ducked up to Coles and saved myself the bother.

Organic chickens, ready to smoke 'n roll.

Well never mind that, there were some great, simple salads that made up for the chickeny chicken (as opposed to lip-smacking amazing smokey chicken).

The first was this corn salsa one I threw together. Here are the steps:

  • Loosen the husks on corn cobs (I had six cobs for 12 people) but don't remove. Run under the tap so they get some water in them. Chuck them in the microwave and hit 'Vegetables' or cook for about 5 minutes. When cool, remove the husks and silk
  • Fire up the barbecue and pop the cobs on to char. Rotate regularly - it happens fast and try and keep it even. (It's hard to see in the pic, but the corn is char grilled).
  • Hold the cob at the stalk end with the tip on the chopping board and cut the kernels off. Toss in a bowl.
  • Add a chopped Spanish onion, a diced red capsicum, loads of chopped avocado (there's none in the pic because I forgot it!!!) and loads of fresh coriander.
  • For the dressing I squeezed some limes and added chili. Sprinkle with some sea salt, toss and serve.
There's a couple more which I'll post over the next couple of days, so stay tuned.

Oh - and for those of you who have been worried SICK about my fridge, thank you for your concern and yes, they did give me a new one. Yay!!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

My Bridget Jones Moment

We had a friend's 55th birthday today with a live band at an RSL club. The invitation was very 70s in style and the dress code was 'Status Quo, Rolling Stones, rock 'n roll' - something like that. I started getting dressed and was wearing mostly black and feeling rather comfortable for a wintry Sunday afternoon.

No, I chided myself, lift. You can do better than that MWW - it's Rob's birthday! So I dug deeper and went all out:

  • White jeans I could barely wriggle into
  • A purple satin top
  • A white faux-fur rock-star jacket
  • Hideous purple eye make up, frosted lips, highlighter dust, thinly pencilled brows
  • Curled, teased, flicked and lacquered hair - Charlie's Angels' style
  • More silver jewelry than I knew I owned
  • Enormously ridiculous white sunglasses from the dress ups
  • Snake skin platform ankle boots (that I had to dig out of the 'donations' bag - but having had an outing, I think I might pop them back in the dress up box after all)
  • I even bothered to change my handbag to the silver tote
So, feeling now that a suitable effort had been put in, we headed off. And arrived to find that no-one, and I mean, NO-ONE else had bothered with that dress up bit. There was the odd half-hearted black leather jacket but that was about it. Not even the birthday boy or his wife were in costume. Mother Of A Man Child, I will get you back!!!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Sorry, you're how stressed?

Back in the the early 90s, I worked for a Managing Director of a reasonablly successful, good-sized advertising agency who came into my office and announced: MWW, I am the most stressed person in the world.

And he was completely serious.

At that time, I didn't have the fortune of having had four kids to go with my state of full-time employment, but even back then I did still have enough sense to realise that statement was sheer crap. 

And, unusually for me, I managed not to say what was running through my head - which I did recognise may have been career debilitating. So I just nodded and muttered 'okay'. A tactic I often use to indicate I have heard what the other person is saying, I am acknowledging they have said something - but I am not necessarily agreeing with it. Even though they often interpret it that way.

What I was thinking was, that there must be some poor woman in Somalia, with six young kids, nowhere to go, no-one to help her, with no food or shelter for her children and in fear of the warring faction who most likely made her a widow. And I was also wondering how her stress levels would stack up against my boss's Porsche-driving, lovely period-home-living, dinner-party and fancy-restaurant-eating life woes?

Talk about #firstworldproblem.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate we all have stresses. I just find it hard to maintain my veneer of charm when I hear people complaining about the most trivial aspects of their predominantly privileged and comfortable lives. Again, if I said out loud what I was thinking, I'd be suggesting they watch more SBS television and get a perspective of what's going on in the real world before they bang on about the stress and inconvenience of their BMW being kept in the workshop for an extra day.

Recently I've pondered what would be the percentage of the world's population who live lives like ours? Where all our basic needs are met and we can indulge in the finer aspects of life - the arts, travel, fashion, comfort and luxury. Maybe 5%? Maybe less.

If you haven't seen the somewhat disturbing video on wealth distribution in the States, here it is for your viewing 'pleasure'. Maybe that stat is more like 2%....

Anyway.... have you spotted the contradiction yet? That's right, I'm complaining about people complaining!! But hopefully thought provoking never the less.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Best in Show

On our return flight from Hobart, we were seated in front of a couple of ladies who were clearly 'dog people'.

Geoff and I, both trying to read, could not help but over hear their booming, confident conversation on every aspect of their dogs, dog showing, specific dogs, new appointments to the administrative bodies of the dog world, etc.

Let me put it out there right now - I am not keen on dogs.

I couldn't see the ladies but imagined them as very large. Actually, a clue was the heaving around and grateful comments regarding the spare seat "I'll move over after take off and we can have the spare seat in the middle. Of course regulations are that you need to be in your allocated seat during take off in case it crashes and they can identify you from where you're strapped in." I think these ladies were in general, all over regulations.

We heard about the half dozen leads one wanted buy, some leg pads for another dog (what ever the hell they are?), transport cages and a disagreement as to weather dogs know their own lead and collar and therefore each has to be walked on its own or, if you have a house full of four-legged-friends, does the nearest one suffice?

They were clearly well travelled - and much of it on dog-related business. "Last time we went to Melbourne we travelled JetStar - lovely planes but they don't transport dogs." We heard about trips to Spain, Germany, America and New Zealand - that dog world is big! I started to wonder if they were judges at international dog shows. Then I wondered why I was wasting my wondering wondering that!!

On and on they boomed, much of it complete inane and I was glad I wasn't back there having to feign interest.
"I can tell you what will be happening at our place right now. Graham will be on the couch with the TV on, and BJ will be tucked in here (I assume she was indicating some nook or cranny on her ample self), Stella here, Pepper* here and Poppy* will be right up here!"
Seriously, who fucking cares??? But no, the companion did feel the need to respond with what she thought would happening in her recently departed household at this exact moment as well.

I heard all about Ginger's coat. "You'll never see a better coat - anywhere. I've trimmed it all back. But it'll grow," delivered with smug confidence.

The affection for the daughter of the other's dog "I love that dog. She'll never win anything at a show but she's a great little dog. I love her."

And finally, breeding and pups. "I had a bitch once, she'd have six, seven pups and not a drop of blood. Not even a whimper." Wow. Now there's an image I didn't need.

An hour later and a mere five pages of my book read, I glimpsed the ladies as we waited to disembark, and yep, my image of Roger's mistress from the Schmacko's ad was bang on!

* Some names have been changed - because I can't remember what they actually were.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


I was a bit concerned that going back to MONA wouldn't be as amazing as it was the first time I went. Ha!

Sunday morning, feeling rather shabby after a friend's son's 21st at a fancy club in town, Geoff and I  headed to the airport for the hour's flight down to Hobart. We collected the Nissan Micra as I checked TripAdvisor and discovered the Daci and Daci Baker Restaurant was the second most recommended eatery in town - and my very late night/very early morning/too much alcohol state needed feeding!

I calmed myself with a bowl of potato, corn and bacon soup, a thick slice of delicious wholemeal bread with lashings of butter and a latte.  I was starting to feel human. Helped by the cool little jazz band you can see playing behind me.

Then Geoff bought me a cake for Mother's Day - a sweet thought, but I was still feeling a tad fragile, so we had to go halves (most unlike me!)

There was a bike parked beside the bakery wearing some knits - it was so adorable I took a photo to share with you.

So, on to MONA. We were booked into the Robin pavilion but were still too early to check in so headed into the museum for a couple of hours before our mid-afternoon wine tour. There were many that were familiar from last time but still warranted a revisit, as well as enough new stuff to keep me challenged. On of my faves is the 'I Love You Room'. The poetry is so beautiful and poignant it makes me want to weep - literally - which is a bit awkward. I can only read about six or eight at a time, and when I can bear it no more, I scuttle away. But like an addict to a dealer, I'm drawn back - for just a bit more. Here are a couple of examples I snapped - I hope you can read them.

Next was the wine tour. An amazing building, small production and old vines by Australian standards. There were a couple of whites we liked but on the whole, not overly to our taste. (As an aside, what was funny was we were told by our guide that the current owner of MONA, Moorilla Estate, etc bought the property with a hand shake at the front gate and a promise not to sub divide the land. We later read the estate had been bankrupt and sold off by the bank - not quite as romantic I concede.)

We checked in and it was still only 5pm, so I set off for a run in the gym, a swim in the pool and a sauna in yet another building in which not a detail has been over looked (except perhaps the environmentally- friendly lights that turn themselves off too regularly and spooked the crap out of me when I was in the confines of the very tiny sauna). I went back to the room to plunge myself into the spa, bubbling with Aesop product, sipping a Coonawarra red Geoff had ducked down the road to get, while watching The Block on the AquaVision waterproof TV and waiting for room service to deliver our Tasmanian Scotch fillets with steamed veggies. It was only 7pm and I was pretty certain I had availed myself of most of the amenities!!

Monday; and after fresh fruit and sweet corn pikelets in the restaurant, I was ready to go back to the museum (and the I Love You Room!) for another emotional and thought provoking journey. Check out this installment. I listened to the interview with the artist - he sounded so intellectual and the ideas behind it are interesting - but it just doesn't move me. I do find it curious though. It's  based around an idea of "taking your head out of the noose of history" - I'm still thinking about what that means. The head of the big worm is the artist, as he sees himself at 88, not his current 38.

After another three or so hours, it was time to eat again. This time the degustation menu in The Source restaurant. The waiter asked if we would like the 3, 5, 7 or 9 course option? In my mind, three was too few, nine too many - so I picked seven. And matching wines? Why not.  It was after all, Monday and the autumn sun was streaming in and I was still on an utter high from the morning's art feast. This a fantasy we were living - might as well live it to the max!

The top dish was probably my fave - organic green beans, fresh figs, olive liquorice, toasted almonds and almond foam (although I did think foams were now out of date but a second  appeared later - so maybe I have that wrong?). It was exquisite.

So that was pretty much it. I would thoroughly recommend a couple of days at MONA - it's not cheap, I confess, but you absolutely feel transported and the combination of art, luxury and food is balm for your body, mind and soul.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Hundreds and Thousands

Mandy, my business partner, gave me the 'caviar pearl' nail kit from my birthday last month. As you know, I am fond of a novel nail, so it was a good choice. Here are some previous pics from previous nail posts:

Not prepared to tackle the application myself, I took it along to the lovely Maria, my perfectionist manicurist. Oh my god - I just don't have the patients; not to do them but to sit there while someone else - even someone as fun and engaging as Maria - does them. It took about an hour. She pressed every little edge, every little pearl of caviar to get this look and it did look amazing - if somewhat like I'd had my nails replaces with chocolate confectionery. 

They were a welcome talking point at a client function and a 50th birthday party were I met a whole lot of new friends (ie I didn't know many people before we got there) - but they were lumpy, thick and rough. Most odd as I poked my finger in my ear to itch, weird on the bed sheets at night and then I had to wash my hair!!! Thank god I don't have a period and a need to insert a tampon - that would truly have been the end. You have been warned. Novelty over, they lasted five days before I was back at Maria's for a removal and a gorgeous navy blue shellac. 

But, FOMO satisfied, boxed ticked, been there, done that!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Falling out of love?

You know I love my fridge. Yes, the one we bought and could have had a small, brand new (albeit, probably girlie) car for the same price..... the one my friend Kirsten has even suggested she wouldn't be surprised if I ran away with it I love it so much.

Well we've had a bit of a falling out. Because it stopped working. It started making a funny sound. We got the warranty out and OMG - it was still covered!! That'd be a first. Unlike the treadmill, the washing machine, the dishwasher... oh wait - that was under warranty - the warranty just didn't cover a short circuiting of the motherboard due to a cockroach stepping onto two point simultaneously and frying itself.
Hmmmm, said that repair man, that's unlucky - we normally only see that in Queensland.

Charred remains of the offending, fried, not-covered-by-the-warranty cockroach in top left hand corner...

Anyway, back to the fridge. The repair guy said turn it off for 24-36 hours, let its insides completely defrost, turn it back on and it should be fine. IT WAS NOT FINE. It refused to work. It's so smart though, it could tell me it was a toasty 21C inside the non-working sections - positively warmer than the house. So we had to pile everything into the working side and leave the frozen stuff in the shed (in a freezer!).  It's chock-a-block in the remaining one, I'll tell you.

So we had to get the repair guy back. Hmmmm, he said, that's unusual. (Isn't it always?) There could be a crack in your compressor in which case they'll need to replace the fridge.

They took it away on Friday, leaving a very unattractive gaping hole - I am NOT happy. The verdict on repair or replace is in on Wednesday - I know what I'm hoping for!

Sad, empty fridge/freezer
Overflowing fridge on double duty.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Four Years Ago Today...

... our beautiful daughter Jaz left us, aged 14 years and 23 days. 

And coincidentally, here's an email my friend Annie, who now lives in Paris, sent me last week.

Ok. So here is my dream last night.

I was at a party.  It was special invitation and I had to be prepared to swear that if went I would tell no one.
I said yes.
They gave me this gorgeous gold dress to wear. (pleated, fabulouswith matching tap dancing shoes)
The party was full of people I recognised but did not know buteveryone was being very friendly.
This gorgeous young woman came up to me and introduced herself, a kiss to each cheek, and said she was Jaz. She had a fabulous suntan, her skin had golden flecks , hair was thick and to her waist, she was wearing silver hot pants and these fabulous silver boots with killer heels. She was telling me about the family with details on daily activities and laughing because you were teaching Elle to drive but
Elle had refused to do any more lessons with you. And Geoff had built a secret passage way that everyone knew about except you !!!

Then other people came up congratulating Jaz on the evening  - apparently she had arranged the whole event, music, decoration, food.....the food she had actually cooked.  And the food had been created by her by asking everyone to send over everything they had in their fridge they were not going to eat.......except the food was delicate and delicious and good looking. Far from leftovers.  And
everyone was being sprayed with perfume made from the sauce...but it was divine.

The dream finished because some film crew "broke in" to interview people and Jaz closed the doors.  I was trying to find someone who could tell me the time cos I was meant to be meeting Roger....I woke

Thought I had to share it with you.  It was a scene of intense calm, happiness and life !

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...