Canberra in Winter is a daily eclectic mix of temperatures. When we landed the pilot said “Welcome to Canberra, where the local time is 8.35am, and it is currently -6oC outside.” Knowing Canberra as I do, I had brought with me a coat, scarf and gloves, but I was questioning whether a beanie would have also been warranted. The trade-off is that during Winter in Canberra the skies are generally clear and the midday hours are spectacular and warm, requiring the need to peel off layers that are required at the start of the day.
Exiting the airport, the bracing chill was numbing my cheeks, making me rethink the beanie option to a balaclava. Wouldn’t that make a scene – Canberra visitors in ski masks. The visitors would be rather conspicuous whilst the locals that are used to the weather simply dress in suits. It feels good to snuggle within warm clothing, with a bracing nip on your cheeks for contrast. Go outside and feel the weather, rather than just observe it from inside your home, office or car. Feel alive.
Ever thought that a project was too big to tackle? I tripped over a way to make it more attainable – at the local cafe of all places. In the past I’ve knitted jumpers and wraps, but they were big projects. Therefore, I’ve generally stuck to knitting baby cloths which are smaller and generally can be completed within the enthusiasm window of the first inspiration. Then there are all those left-over balls or partial balls of wool, what do you do with them?
Reunion Cafe are tackling this in a different way, a community way. They are asking fellow patrons to knit squares. It’s doable in a short time span, it puts the left-overs to good use and builds a sense of community. Donated squares are welcome, but they are also offering hot chocolate/coffee periods to come together to knit. The squares will be sewn into winter blankets and given to the homeless. This is a brilliant initiative and is to be supported by the crafty amongst us like me that like small feasible projects and to contribute to a better world – even in just a small way. Dig out those left-overs, and give it a crack.
The food is quite delicious as well. https://www.reunioncafe.com.au/
It’s those little things that take us back to our childhood. Reading a dinner menu, I came across a pork dish, with an accompanying apple-based sauce. I just had to have it. The dish was like nothing I’d had before, a bit fancy and full of flavours, cooking techniques and jargon: a pork chop, a balsamic jus, an apple reduction, crispy bacon bits, confit mushrooms, garlic mash potato, deep fried carrot string and a sprinkling of micro-herbs on top. But to me, this was a simple dish – think 1940’s Humphrey Bogart – it was a plate of “porkshops and appleshauce”.
This pronunciation was made famous by Peter Brady of the Brady Bunch staple TV show. My sister and I used to say “porkshops and appleshauce” over and over again to each other in the 1970’s (a long time ago). Yes, confession – we watched the Brady Bunch. So this fancy innocuous dish transported me back several decades to two kids impersonating Peter Brady impersonating Bogart until the laughter takes over and we can’t speak anymore . Here is a snippet of Peter Brady immortalizing the phrase for all time.
The tartness of blackberries and the vibrant purple of the juice made this tasty and delicious blackberry sorbet a lovely counterpoint to the rich chocolate mousse with a bitter dark chocolate glaze. The fruitiness of the sorbet complemented the creaminess of the mousse, and the overall smoothness of both was balanced with crunch from the obligatory chocolate ‘soil’. Who calls food on your plate ‘soil’? When did we start eating dirt? For those uninitiated, the ‘soil’ is crumbled biscuit toasted lightly with real butter for a distinct salty crunch. It adds another dimension of flavour and texture to the dessert.
Visually simple on a plate, but a lot of technical preparation in the background. All these elements combine to be elegantly presented as a dish. Food is life, but good food is to be celebrated. I tripped over this morsel at a luncheon at the ‘G’ – and celebration it was, with several courses and matching wines. Is there a better way to spend a Wednesday afternoon? Is there a better way to finish a lovely luncheon? I ask you!
I took a stroll down to the beach. The light breeze was fresh, straight off the southern ocean. The vista vast, the scenery splendid and the sand underfoot familiar. Where were the people? I know it’s winter and not analogous to a beach visit, but a winter seascape has a lot to offer. The solitude of the beach, the continuous and hypnotic roll of the waves, and the cool brisk breeze to make you feel alive. Today was ideal as the gusty southerly wind had even taken pause for the serenity of the moment. The low clouds threatened and created a picturesque moment, framing the distant Eagle’s Nest promontory. I even poked a digit in the retreating tide (only brave enough for that digit to be my finger – too chilly for toes 🙂
The moment was broken when those burdened clouds began to drop their moisture, but this too was a treat. The light moisture sprinkling my face, the determined dash back to shelter and the squelch of the sand from running feet, all got my heart pumping and cheeks flushed. It reinforced that life is beautiful and serendipitous moments can be fleeting. Make sure you enjoy them all!
As a treat, I took myself and some family off to a regional longest lunch event. The food and wine was delightful as expected, but there were two unexpected morsels of serendipity.
The first was the stalls of local tastes with knowledgeable produce purveyors. We could sample and enjoy a range of breads, olives, dips, jams, vegies, etc. Try before you buy! all whilst being plied with bubbles and delectable canapes made from these ingredients. The second was the luncheon menu which explained the picturesque and fragrant offerings on one side, and on the reverse side gave the supplier names and distance in kilometers to their farms. It was a delicious and very local affair, very low food miles indeed. Special mention goes to the rhubarb and macadamia tart. The crumble crunch, beautiful treacle, tart sorbet and smooth quark were lovely subtle counterpoints [Yes, we had a quark – and it wasn’t a subatomic building block of physical matter]. The flavours were delicate and unexpected, an enticing and light finish to the meal and a treat to the senses. See what you can find that is yummy and local!
One of the brilliant reasons to visit with the opera is the orchestra. The feel of the music coming from the actual instruments themselves. The melody of the individual sounds blended together by the chief wrangler, the conductor. The music is one of the greatest dimensions of the opera, but there are many other attractions. The voices, the emotion, the drama/love/tragedy, the majesty of the performance, the story unfolding on stage. All of which sweeps you up into another world.
I saw Cavalleria Rusticana, a short opera, followed by Pagliacci, another short opera, that Opera Australia had turned into a modern interpretation set in rural Italy. Opera is no longer a soloist caterwauling about tragedy, but a feast for the senses, with action, emotion and performance. Both operas involved love triangles or quadrangles and were blended into one story line, before and after the interval to keep the audience guessing.
Try something new and see how it differs from your expectation.
Well, the seasons have moved on and the sun in migrating to the northern hemisphere, as can be seen by the increasing wedge of sunshine coming in through the kitchen window. In summer the sun is overhead and the sunshine doesn’t come directly into the north facing window, keeping the kitchen cooler than expected. But in winter with the sun’s more northerly aspect, the sun shines in and fabulous snoozes on the strategically placed couch are to be had with the sun warming your back on a winter’s afternoon.
The other way that I can tell the seasons have moved on is the plethora of passion fruit that my vine is throwing at me. It had been decorated like a Christmas tree with large round green balls, but you have to wait until they turn colour before picking them. So all summer I watched, and I watched. But the time is now! Here is the modest haul from this week. So now come the choices: smoothies, mixed with natural yogurt, dressing to a fruit salad, or O-natural. Not to mention the cooked options of cheesecake, passion fruit slice… the list goes on. See what fruits are in season at the market and indulge in what the season has to offer. It is after all the time of harvest.
Some old faces and some new. The invigorating stimulus of a classroom of like-minded writers. The challenge before us is refreshing and our teacher seems to have an original approach. The pursuit of knowledge is a worthy task. Other opportunities for more knowledge abound. Things of interest can be presented in all manner of people-watching, hands-on experiences or free lecture series.
I found myself at the Sir Jerry Price lecture on Science and Technology to Secure the Future for Water and Energy. Big ambition, Big targets. We need the Big thinkers of science to collaborate and answer these sorts of questions. It was held at the Australian Synchrotron by CSIRO, who have a wealth of extraordinary minds to absorb and address these outstanding problems of our time. The short version of this lecture was the nexus of increased energy needs, increased water needs and the over all carbon impact as we look to the future. Three different approaches were presented that were not mutually exclusive. The brilliance of these approaches was the big vision broken down to manageable pieces, even when some of those pieces don’t exist yet in science. This creates targets of focus to solve the problems of the future. I came out of the lecture hopeful.
When you look at a challenge in its entirety, it can seem insurmountable and overwhelming, but dissecting the challenge into digestible morsels can make the solution a reality. Scientific discovery and collaboration can achieve the impossible. So get out there and get yourself some knowledge.
What Summer break? A distant memory for those back at the salt mines, if you even took one. February has snuck up on us and it’s not slowing down, we are over half-way through February! So to break up the crazy work hours I felt the need to indulge. You work harder and more efficiently if there’s a reward looming. So write yourself a list and treat yourself to regain momentum.
What did I do? I went to ‘Flicks with the Chicks’ and was spoilt rotten. Champagne on arrival, pre-ordered food, a gift bag of surprises and lots of girl talk! It was like being in an alternate reality, taking a pause from my current existence to renew and refresh.
I can thoroughly recommend taking some time out to just be… No demands, no expectations, no deadlines. Just enjoy the moment washing over you. Be present in your own life. It’s well worth it.