We’re the People – Alice Springs – Beach Volleyball

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Pick a Saturday morning in Alice Springs, or any town in Australia, and you will find a ‘sausage sizzle’ going on somewhere! As far as I know this is a tradition unique to Australia. When I grew up in the USA in the 60’s our fund raising activities of choice were the ‘car wash’ or a ‘bake sale’. Bake sales are popular here too, but the sausage sizzle is king. I can’t eat anything they serve at one of these, but I loved that this group was so happy to be spending their Saturday morning outside of K-Mart, raising money for something I didn’t even know was going on here in Alice– Indoor Beach Volleyball! Not only is it going on, this is their 10th year!!!

I do lead a sheltered life.

I donated to their funds and wouldn’t accept any food but I asked them for a photo and said I’d promote their activity. They loved the idea. The game they play is apparently a mix of beach volleyball and indoor hard court volleyball. Their season commenced on 25th August and runs through until 5th December and is played at 11 Kennett Court, when they are at home. They travel interstate for games as well.

I say, thumbs up for the Desert Sands group, doing something wholesome, but tongs up for the Aussie sausage sizzle, and all the funds it has raised over the years!

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Desert Sands Indoor Beach Volleyball Team

 (This is part of a series of photos based                                                                     on an original post titled ‘We’re the People‘)

all that’s sugar is not sweetness

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During my early morning walks I pass many eucalyptus trees. But I noticed one in particular had ‘sugar’ on the leaves. When our daughter was little, she told me the kids used to pick the sugar off the leaves and eat it, as it is sweet. Wondering what the ‘sugar’ would look like under the intensive view of my tiny macro lens for my iPhone camera, I plucked a couple of leaves and brought them home with me.

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‘eucalyptus sugar’ under macro lens

At first it was exciting… then…eew.

I saw much more than I bargained for. And as I saw, I Googled. And as I Googled, I learned. So I thought I would share it with you.

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young psyllid building ‘lerp’ dome

Apparently the little ‘sugar domes’ are a product of something called a ‘lerp psyllid’. No, you don’t want to know. But why should I suffer alone with this knowledge?? ‘Lerp’ is an Aboriginal word referring to the little dome of ‘sugar’ that covers the insect in its early stage, much as a cocoon covers a caterpillar.

The psyllid is also called ‘Jumping Plant Lice’. Double eew.

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eucalyptus honeydew

The sugary dome is created when the psyllid sucks the liquids from the leaf, passing it through its system (you know what that means…) and is excreted (see, there’s the word) as a sticky substance out its back end. This is called ‘honeydew’. Where we grew up in ‘small-town’ USA, the septic tank cleaners used to be called ‘honey dippers’. Can we say ‘irony’?

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adult psyllid–with wings

I was fortunate (?) enough to pluck one leaf that had both a young psyllid creating its dome, and an adult with wings nearby… no doubt telling it what it was doing wrong.

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side view of ‘lerp’

It will be a while before I am brave enough to put something from nature beneath the scrutiny of my macro lens again. Some things may just be better unexamined.

–yours in ignorant bliss, Ardys.

 

We’re the People – Granada, Spain

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Penance Procession, Granada

This may seem a strange photo to show when talking about ‘people’ as it almost seems devoid of them. However, if you look closely you will see dozens of feet showing at the bottom of the skirt of the “Pasos”, or float, carrying the statue. One of these floats is carried by each brotherhood in the city. It was Holy Week, the week preceding Easter, four years ago. I wish I could tell you how clever we were to plan to be there at that moment to see this stunning week of processions, but the truth is, it was an absolute fluke. The first evening we arrived at our hotel, we took a little walk before dinner and noticed something appeared to be about to happen in the pedestrian area of the city. In a short while hundreds had gathered and then in the distance we heard the somber music.

We have since learned that the people carrying the Pasos, practice for months ahead of the event. The weight is considerable and it takes great skill and strength to work in unison to move the heavy float from church to Cathedral. At some points the doorways are too low, so the penitents must kneel on pads and move forward to get the statue through.

The first sight we saw, preceding the Pasos, was that of the other penitents, wearing traditional cloaks and hoods. Having grown up in the years of the Ku Klux Klan and their much feared white hoods of similar design, it was a confronting sight. When I look at these photos I am reminded how educational and transformative travel can be.

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Traditional robes and hoods

and regardless of the robes, how much children are the same, everywhere!!

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children in procession

(This is part of a series of photos based                                                                      on an original post titled ‘We’re the People‘)

Have a great week.

–Ardys

In My Kitchen – September 2014

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I’m an experimenter; a tweaker. I find it difficult to follow a recipe exactly, unless it is for baked goods, which often don’t lend themselves to much tinkering. But my tweaks in early August were a pleasure free zone. I won’t waste your time.

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Beef Cheeks Ragu over eggplant shards

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Beef cheeks in slow cooker with stock

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Shredding the meat

By the third week, however, I was number 1 with a bullet (read: top of the charts and ascending!). I decided to experiment by cooking beef cheeks. I’ve tasted them a couple of times and thought they were slightly stronger tasting than a normal roast. I decided the flavours would work well in pasta sauce. I slow cooked the cheeks first, and shredded them, then added to a very simple passata sauce. My husband had pasta, I had the sauce over eggplant that I had roasted in shards in the oven. Heaven on a shard! Two thumbs up from my husband. Four grass fed beef cheeks ($13.52) made enough sauce to feed 6.

IMG_2049The weather has a hint of spring in it here so I’m starting to get urges toward salad-y things. I thought I’d ‘lean into’ them a bit with a recipe I saw for Brussels Sprouts and Potato salad. Very nice ‘transitional salad.’

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Cucumber and Corn salad with coconut bacon

Coconut Bacon‘ should just about offend everyone equally, I’m guessing. I’m not a vegetarian (see beef cheek paragraph above) but I used to be, for two years, and I still get curious to try things intended for vegetarians. Good food is good food. My curiosity was whether the crispy texture and savoury flavour would be nice in salads this summer. It is. Then I tried Cucumber, Corn and Coconut salad from a favourite blog I’ve been following for a while http://www.remedialeating.com/2014/08/in-the-weeds.html  Except I tweaked. My version was to use a bit of dill and some chives instead of the herbs called for in the recipe, and because I couldn’t find dry roasted peanuts anywhere in Alice, I used straight toasted peanuts, and the Maple Coconut Bacon to add the savoury element. It did work perfectly. Two thumbs up from hubby again. That’s twice in space of a week, if anyone is keeping track!

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basket of lemons

We have been picking lemons by the box and basketful! It’s such a shame to not be able to use more of them, but we give them away, so nothing is wasted. I have frozen some zest and juice in ice cube trays (zest and juice of 1 lemon per cube) for use later in the year. I wish you all were here so I could give some to you!

Also I have been soaking legumes and nuts before eating them, in order for the phytase to develop which lowers the phytates, which effects nutrient absorbtion. Because I drink almond milk much of the time, instead of dairy, I consume quite a few almonds. I soak them before whizzing them, the resulting milk tastes noticeably better, and hopefully, I’m getting more nutrients from them. I can now eat chick peas again, simply by soaking them for 24 hours before eating! Who knew? According to a Paleo site, ancient people used to soak most grains and legumes before eating them, but we got out of that practice somewhere along the way.

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Grilled salmon, eggplant strips and cucumber/corn salad

Finally, Don cooked most of dinner on the grill the other night and it was amazing! He cooked the salmon filets simply, with olive oil and salt, and the eggplant strips I had simply drizzled with olive oil as well. You can also roast the eggplant in the oven, but it’s the dressing for the eggplant that made it special. As per usual, I did have to make a change in the recipe, omitting the garlic, but it was still a new favourite.

Will send him to your place for weddings, parties, whatever…

Have a delicious month!

–Ardys

Please check out the other IMK posts at figjamandlimecordial.com  Thank you to Celia for hosting this monthly tour through kitchens around the world! Pop on over there and see what other interesting things are happening.

 

We’re the People – Alice Springs

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Grocery store fairy

We are the people. Even the little people. Especially the little people. I have been dwelling in a parallel universe this week–the Past. It is for good reason I have gone so far afield from my usual space. I have been assembling an album for our daughter, of photos, poems, mementos from as far back as four generations before her. A nearly overwhelming task.

In between assembling pages I have done the usual domestic chores of washing, ironing, cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping. One of the highlights of my week was this tiny person skipping up the isle at the grocery store… in her fairy costume. Not wanting to seem like a stalker, I held some distance between us as the little fairy gazed at some strategically placed items on the shelves, would you believe it— at just her height!! (Thank you Walt Disney.)

She reminded me of the fairy and princess costumes our own daughter wore out in public at that age; the age before we stop believing we might actually be a fairy. I love that it is still winter here, and, to keep warm, she had the appropriate leggings and tights on underneath the fairy dress. Her mother’s influence no doubt, because fairies do not feel the cold. I love that with all the troubles going on in the world, somewhere a little fairy has gotten her wings and is learning to fly.

Have a great weekend.

–Ardys

We’re the People – Alice Springs

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When I was a young girl, Dad taught me to do a good job of sweeping grass clippings from the foot path. He used this phrase ‘Always do this little test, make your good better, and your better best‘. He was teaching integrity and work ethic. He taught it to many of the young men who worked for him over the decades, as well as his children. Our Mother was, and still is, a role model of integrity.

That is how I know it when I see it.

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Delivery man

I was going for my usual walk one morning this week when I saw the man depicted putting advertising flyers into letter boxes at a nearby complex of units. I couldn’t help but notice the precision with which he was working. Notice how nicely all the flyers are tucked into the slots. The flyers were neatly folded and organised in the bottom of his delivery wagon, too. He was so mindful about his job I couldn’t help but admire him, even though I dislike the ‘junk mail’ as much as many people do. Here was someone, no doubt making small money, but doing the job with integrity.

So, when I look at this photo I see, the smallness of the task need not reflect smallness in the person. I shot the photo from a lower angle so that we could all look up to him.

And when I got home from that very same walk, there in my letterbox was the following notice…IMG_2036

I wonder how many will do the job with this man’s integrity?

(This is part of a series of photos based                                                                      on an original post titled ‘We’re the People‘)

the sharp with the soft

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Our last rain was weeks ago. After all, we live in a place that gets only an average 8 inches (200mm) of rain per year. Damp earth is always temporary here. After the rain, two seeds quietly sprouted beside the curb, at the curve of the road. The ground returned to dust. They thrived. It was a dusty and seldom tended place, on the ‘nature strip’–not owned by the houses on either side. No man’s land.

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Ouch!

The small plants grew at a rapid rate, extending variegated, pointed branches in all directions. A woman who regularly walked the roadside where the plants grew, took note of them. They were unusual, but beautiful–in a spiny way. She had some experience photographing spiny plants in the arid lands and even a close encounter, or two, with prickles that she’d rather forget! But she made a mental note that when the light was right, she would stop and photograph the plants.

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Opening bud

One morning, the woman did indeed take a photograph of the plant, though the result was unremarkable, except that it recorded a life. But she regularly observed the changes in the plants. After a week or so, she noticed atop one of the plants a small white pillow-y shape. She got closer. A blossom! She bent to photograph it in the early morning light. It was made of delicate, gossamer petals that would be a flicker of soft ephemera and then gone. Capturing the fleeting beauty called for strategic effort.

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Silky petals

It was a cloudy day that afforded photos one often could not accomplish in the bright, clear sky of central Australia, and possibly meant the blossom would last a little longer. Think hours, not days. The woman returned to the blossom a couple of hours after first seeing it, in hopes the flower would be fully opened. What luck. It was like many cactus blossoms she had seen, a splash of floral silkiness amidst forbidding spines, unapproachable to many, all the more alluring because of it. But she was sure it wasn’t actually a cactus.

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In the centre of beauty

A couple of hours later the woman returned to the blossom to see its progress. It was nearly spent, flaccid and waving in the arid breeze. Its delicate centre now dried. The moment of glory finished.

The next day on her walk, the woman approached the plants with anticipation. Gone! Extracted by their roots and disappeared completely. The end of life. Ah, she thought, at least I preserved some memory of them in their prime.

It reminded her of the photo album she was putting together, and some humans she had known. People could be prickly and hard to handle, then shine in a moment of photographed brilliance. Glorious. Then gone. She was grateful for photographs.

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The sharp with the soft

She later discovered the plants were Mexican Poppies, toxic to all animals and humans. Pity. Her husband declared ‘someone has done the environment a favour’. True enough, she guessed. But not before the siren-like, petals enchanted her and reminded her of the nature of some of us, and the potential for beauty in all of us.

We’re the People – Istanbul

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Alone in a crowd

Hasan was our tour guide in Turkey. He was a lovely, open man. He was of Syrian and Arab derivation but born just inside the border of Turkey. I can’t imagine a better tour guide. In fact, he told us more than I could possibly process and remember! Here we are in the Blue Mosque and I have edited this photo to emphasise what he was demonstrating to us. In response to a question, he went through all the motions that a woman would go through when praying in the Mosque. There we stood, among hundreds of people, without our shoes and with our heads covered (women) and were riveted on his demonstration. He even went down on the floor and did the entire sequence of movements. This photo speaks to me of his willingness to share everything he possibly could with us, so that we might understand as much as possible about Turkey.

Masallah,* Hasan.

 

(*Arabic for Blessing someone, or something that happens)

This is part of a series of photos based on an original post titled ‘We’re the People

International Scone Week – August 2014

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Gluten Free Currant Scones

This morning I read on Celia’s figjamandlimecordial blog that it is International Scone Week. Who knew? As it happened I was preparing my shopping list. I added a couple of things to it so that I could have a go at ‘playing’ the scone making game this week!

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dough before kneading

round piece of dough, cut into 8 pieces, brushed with yolk/cream mixture

round piece of dough, cut into 8 pieces, brushed with yolk/cream mixture

Yummy piece of goodness!

Yummy piece of goodness!

The recipe I’m making available to you is one I’ve cobbled together from a couple of others… mmm, well, kinda, sorta… with a dash of creative modification of my own. I hate to brag, but I could have eaten the entire batch. Good thing it was small!

I’d been craving some kind of bread type food and this satisfied me perfectly, without having to eat gluten or sugar. I’d invite you over to taste them, but they may be gone by the time you get here! Have a great week!

–Ardys

Gluten Free Currant Scones

½ C almond meal

¼ C gluten free flour (Orgran)

¼ C coconut flour

1.5 T xylitol or sugar

1.5 tsp baking powder

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp sea salt

2 T cold, unsalted butter

1/3 C currants

2 tsp grated orange zest

1 egg yolk

½ C heavy cream

Preheat oven to 210 C (425 F). Place parchment paper onto a baking sheet.

Combine dry ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork to blend well.

Chop butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients. Rub into dry ingredients with tips of fingers until it resembles course bread crumbs.

Separate the yolk, add to a cup along with the cream and mix well with a fork to blend. Add all but a small amount of the cream mixture to the dry ingredients, saving a scant tablespoon of mixture to brush over the tops of the scones.

Mix the dough until it comes together as a ball, then turn onto bench top that has been dusted with GF flour. Knead just a few times until it is quite consolidated, then pat into about a 15-20mm (3/4 inch) thick, round shape. Place onto the baking sheet and make cuts right through so that there are 8 small, wedge shaped scones. Brush with the remaining egg and cream mixture.

Bake for 12-13 minutes. The scones will be fairly crumbly, but delicious, if eaten while warm. Or they will become slightly firmer as they cool. Also the sweetness develops a bit further as they cool. The inside is a very tender, soft texture with a nice outer crust.

 

We’re the People – Budapest

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There are amazing sights to be seen when travelling, but none more amazing than the people. Architecture can be looked up in a book or on the internet, but watching people is the biggest thrill for me. I try to be respectful of personal space, and usually ask, if I’m in doubt, whether a person minds having their photo taken. Sometimes I’m told ‘no’ so I back off. Not everyone wants their image ‘captured’.

I spend a lot of time in solitary pursuits when at home. People are often a mystery to me. But looking back over photos of our recent travels, it is the photos with people that I value the most. I thought I would publish a series called ‘We’re the People’, named for the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago of the same name. Mostly I won’t know much about the strangers in the photos, but I’d like to share my thoughts with you.

I took this photo fairly early on a humid, warm morning in Budapest. We were happy to find a beautiful tree-shaded street. The two young men appeared to be workers, dressed in the traditional blue workers outfits, and one carrying his case of tools to their job for that morning. I liked the juxtaposition of the workers against all the neatly folded umbrellas of the cafés, ready for the tourists, and locals, who would be relaxing beneath them. Someone has to work, right?

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Going to work in Budapest

–all the best, Ardys

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