In these uncertain times…

Tags

, , , ,

leaves-walk-through

Leafy winter walk

‘There’s no better way to kill a bad product than with good advertising.’ When I worked in advertising that phrase was our way of reminding ourselves to stay true in what we said about our product, but also, to try our best to make sure the product was good in the first place. If we launched very clever, successful ads and people responded and bought the product, which turned out to be a dud, word would spread fast!

Every time I hear the phrase ‘In these uncertain times…’ I think ‘that is advertising a lie’. Humans have never lived in certain times. I doubt there even exists such a thing in a parallel universe! All that we know about life is, at best, that certain things may be likely to happen, or not. The only certainty that may possibly exist for us is in this moment. Not a nanosecond from now, or an hour from now, but now… oops… gone.

What is my certain moment, is not your certain moment.

Frustrating.

It is to our detriment that we buy into this well advertised concept, that somewhere out there, was, or might one day be, certain times. It is a bad product of faulty thinking.

Yesterday I was diagnosed with glaucoma, and partial sight loss in the lower portion of my visual field–both eyes. This was the third in a series of tests, so there is no doubt. For half the day I morphed through four of the five stages of grief and loss… denial… anger… bargaining and sadness. We’ve all been there.

I took the eye drops the doctor said for me to start ‘immediately’.

I went to bed. Stuck at sad.

This morning I woke, if not happy, at least aware of the many times in life I have been lucky. It was an unusually warm morning for the middle of winter, so I grabbed my camera to greet the sunrise. The amazing colours and cloud formations put everything into perspective again. The power of the thing that is bigger than us, more beautiful than artists can replicate, reassures me– restores me. All things are possible, and as they should be, if not always as they are advertised to be.

Stage five: acceptance.

 

sunrise-alice-springs

Sunrise – Range Crescent, Alice Springs

In the wise words of Bob Dylan…

“The Times They Are A-Changin’”

 

Come gather ’round people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You’ll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you

Is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’

Or you’ll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin’.

 

Come writers and critics

Who prophesize with your pen

And keep your eyes wide

The chance won’t come again

 

 

 

sunrise-alice-springs

Good Morning

And don’t speak too soon

For the wheel’s still in spin

And there’s no tellin’ who

That it’s namin’

For the loser now

Will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin’.

 

Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway

Don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There’s a battle outside

And it is ragin’

It’ll soon shake your windows

 

sunrise-alice-springs

Modern

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin’.

 

Come mothers and fathers

Throughout the land

And don’t criticize

What you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters

Are beyond your command

Your old road is

Rapidly agin’

Please get out of the new one

If you can’t lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin’.

 

The line it is drawn

The curse it is cast

The slow one now

Will later be fast

As the present now

Will later be past

The order is

Rapidly fadin’

And the first one now

Will later be last

For the times they are a-changin’.

sunrise-Macdonnells

Sun-kissed Macdonnell Ranges, millennia old, and ever new

(I shot all these photos on my walk this morning, isn’t it incredible the spectrum of light, shadow and colour?)

xx Ardys

We’re the People

Tags

, , , ,

As I warned you a few weeks ago, we have been traveling. Upon return, a few days ago, I had no idea where I would begin to write about our experiences. And then, sadly, I woke to the news of Malaysian Airlines passenger plane that had been shot down over Ukraine. My thoughts brought into focus several threads of our travel experiences that I wanted to share with you.

Croatia-memorial-1989

Croatian Memorial for mass grave from war of Independence 1989

Budapest-Liberty-Monument

Budapest citadel, scars of 1956 war of Independence from Russia

All during our travels from Hungary to Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and finally to Turkey, we saw signs of war. Not only scars of distant wars, but the still healing wounds of recent battles; bombed out buildings, memorials to brave patriots, graves of entire families. It was sobering, as well as educational. Local guides in each of these places tried their best to tell an accurate version of their country’s story. We tried to make sense of it. But the complexity is mind boggling.

At the end of the tour we took a side trip three hundred kilometres west of Istanbul, to Gallipoli. Over 40,000 lives were lost there in WWI. Next year is the 100th anniversary of that battle. Strangely, it was one of the things that galvanised Australia into the country of today. The events there have not been glorified, but have been lovingly and respectfully acknowledged by the Turks as well as the invading forces. In some places the trenches between the Turks and the Aussie Diggers and New Zealand troops were only 30 feet apart. Some of those trenches still remain.

Gallipoli-first-landing

Site of first landing, Gallipoli, Turkey

When we first arrived at the viewing point just before Anzac Cove, the bus stopped and we got off. This was the mistaken landing, the point the troops were sent to, incorrectly. The beauty of the coastline belied the horrors that happened there. As my feet touched the ground it was as if the pressure sent fluid straight to my eyes, welling to the brims. What I can only describe as the presence of many souls, surrounded me and I wept for my adopted land and all those who perished on that inhospitable and impossible terrain.

Gallipoli-Anzac-Cove

Anzac Cove, Gallipoli

Gallipoli-trenches

preserved trenches-Gallipoli

A couple of years ago we also visited Russia. We were fortunate to have a guest speaker on the cruise. She was a professor at a Russian University and through her wonderful talks she passionately expressed, wars are not a direct result of the people’s desires, but the so-called leaders, often not even elected by the people. That insight was shared again and again on our recent trip. When pushed to desperation, the people will rise up against the politicians/leaders/insurgents. But based on what we have seen, and the people we have spoken to, if the general population had a viable choice, there would be no wars.

On our return flight, I found an old classic movie I had never seen before—The Grapes of Wrath (1940). I’m not a particular fan of old movies but something about the timing and my state of mind caused me to select it. It was good. For those uninitiated, it is a story of the terrible ‘dust bowl’ days (1930’s) in the USA and how people were driven from their land and forced West to look for work and begin life again. Thematically, it reminded me of some of the countries we had just seen; people starting again, through no choice of their own, and with nothing.

The final lines in the movie stayed with me, an echo of many of the voices we have heard all over the world:

Ma Joad (matriarch of the story, talking to her husband, Pa):

Rich fellas come up an’ they die, an’ their kids ain’t no good an’ they die out. But we keep a’comin’. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out; they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, ’cause we’re the people’.

Turkey-scarf-seller

one of ‘the people’ of Turkey

In the coming weeks when we are listening to the various versions of the Malaysian Airline tragedy, let us all remember to keep cool heads and encourage our leaders to keep cool heads. Those who do these things are the minority, not ‘the people’. There are myriad options, other than war and bombs. Whoever shot that missile and killed 298 people, were desperate rebels, which in no way justifies their actions, and they should be accountable. But let us remember, those who pick up the pieces and rebuild and go on forever, are the people. It is just so, everywhere.

Gallipoli-Lone-Pine

Lone Pine, Gallipoli

in the eye of the beholder…

Tags

, ,

australian-moth-face

Moth face

Just when I thought there was no time left for an inspired post before we travel, I had a guest. Sometimes these gifts just fall in our lap, if only we can take the time to appreciate them. Even though I was up to my neck, cleaning, washing clothes, packing, paying bills, answering email and making time for a video chat with my Mum, I took the time. And I took probably 150-200 photos. There were four or five that I felt were up to standard, and that is about normal. Some were taken with my new little macro lens, others with the iPhone native camera.

It was quite a cool 4 C (39 F), gray and very windy morning here in Alice, not at all enticing to take my usual walk with photo possibilities. So an opportunity to photograph this gorgeous creature, in the comfort of my home, made my day. Macro photography with the iPhone has opened a whole new world to me. It is a world that requires huge amounts of patience, but the rewards are amazing. Who knew the edge of a moth’s wing looked like the fringed edge of my Grandma’s lampshade?

australian-moth-wing

fringed edge of moth wing

Or that the wing looks like fine embroidery with silk threads?

australian-moth-wing

a fractal delusion

Or, that the tiny pieces that make up a moth wing are fractals? My husband looked at the photos and told me this. That is the difference between us. I see beauty and photograph it, he understands how it is created. So a fractal, in its simplest explanation, is this:

A fractal is a natural phenomenon and a mathematical set. What they have in common is a repeating pattern that displays at every scale.

CDU-PhD-graduate-with-mace

Newly Graduated PhD with Mace

I am not a math person, so my hubby had to explain it in even simpler terms. And even then I had to ask my Uncle Google. It seems there is a mathematical calculation that can be applied for the shape of every fractal. That shape is replicated in such a way that whether you are looking at it under a powerful microscope, or a camera lens the shapes are still there, though they appear different depending on the scale of observation. When they combine, larger patterns are formed, such as that on the wing. Knowing that is why he graduated with his PhD last week. And recognising a good moment is why I took the photo!!

australian-moth

fractal perfection

The moth visited for the entire day, in the perfect, soft daylight, highlighting its body as it shifted and posed along the runway of my kitchen windowsill. This morning it is gone.

Probably, it is hiding in my woolen jumpers, happily munching holes in them.

 

(Most likely there will not be a predictable wireless internet connection from Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia or Turkey the next few weeks, so my posts will be in the lap of the Gods. Stay well.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

dark moments of a Light Chaser…

Tags

, , , , , , ,

In the life of every good Light Chaser, there comes a time of darkness. I had not intended to go ‘bush’ this morning when I pulled on my favourite plush micro-fleece lounging pants. I needed to get several domestic chores accomplished before heading to my friend’s house for a session of sanity saving coffee and tea.

landscape-macdonnellranges-alicesprings.jpg

Early shot

But… the light came. It came in dappled splashes escaping through a cloud studded sky onto the mountains and rocks and trees. I hurriedly finished my tasks and grabbed my camera, house key, ipod and glasses, and headed off toward the nearby hillside. I was keen to practice the techniques from the photography class I’ve been taking. Recent lessons were in landscape photography and also macro (close up) photography, so I grabbed my tiny little macro lens that fits my iPhone camera and shoved it into my pocket.

Once I arrived on the ridge of the hillside, I began looking for good positions to capture the clouds as well as the dramatic light on the rocks and ranges. I took a few shots but could see I needed a more unique angle to get the composition right. Realising I could squat down and have the rocks in the foreground and the ranges in the background, I ‘assumed the position’. Only problem was, I was on a small incline. As I squatted down, I lost my balance and…

e v e r   s o   g e n t l y   i n   s l o w   m o t i o n—rolled onto my bum and my back. No harm done. Or so I thought.

When I slowly raised myself up—ouch, ouch—OUCH!

Prickles.

The ouch-y seat of my pants!

The ouch-y seat of my pants!

Prickles everywhere...

Prickles everywhere…

I had rolled backward into a whole pile of them. I could feel them pricking me through my fleece pants and jacket with every move I made. And kangaroo poo. Since it is dry, little pebbles, it was more the indignity of rolling in poo that was offensive, rather than the actual evidence of it. I tried to brush the prickles off, but only got them lodged in my hands as a result. Bad move. Because they were on my backside, I couldn’t actually see where they were and my efforts did not have much effect anyway. Prickles hang tightly to nice fleecy fabrics, so they weren’t going anywhere in a hurry.

Bush Tomato flower

Bush Tomato flower

See the spines on the Bush tomato too? Such a prickly place to live!!

See the spines on the Bush tomato too? Such a prickly place to live!!

I decided I’d gotten a few decent photos, and needed to be getting home so I could shower and get to my friend’s house. I started down the hill but got distracted by a lovely bush tomato plant and reached into my pocket for my tiny macro lens… it was gone! Oh, no! My gorgeous new toy gone before I’d learned to use it properly! I knew where I had fallen rolled, (that spot is indelibly etched in my mind) so I returned about a quarter of the way up the hill again to inspect the scene. Thank goodness, I spied the tiny little lens near the base of a clump of grass.

My tiny Olloclip macro lens, about 20 x 25mm (3/4 inch) in size.

My tiny Olloclip macro lens, about 20 x 25mm (3/4 inch) in size.

Joanna, Goddess of small lost things helped with this one... see the key below on the rock?

I invoked Joanna, The Goddess of Small Lost Things to help with this one… see the key below on the rock?

Back down the hill to the place where I had seen the bush tomato. As I was setting up the shot, I reached for my glasses. Gone. Oh dear, and what about my house key… gone. What a goose, I was feeling. How does an intrepid Light Chaser get herself into a situation like this?

Back up the hill to the prickle patch. I scrutinised the area, breath held and fingers crossed for luck. THERE. The glasses, fortunately, in thin red frames were easily seen, dangling from a twig, and underneath them, back in the shadows, my house key. Deep breath, jubilation, let’s get home!

Every step I took, all the way home, was a moment of prickly pain. At home I carefully peeled the clothing off in the laundry and left it for when I returned from my friend’s house.

Macro photo of the tiniest prickles seen on the jacket

Macro photo of the tiniest prickles seen on the jacket

one of half a dozen spines embedded in my hands. This is a macro photo magnifying it x15 times

one of half a dozen spines embedded in my hands. This is a macro photo magnifying it x15 times

some of the 50 minutes worth of prickles--removed

some of the 50 minutes worth of prickles–removed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I finally set to the task, it took just under an hour to remove the prickles from my pants and jacket. It remains to be seen if the tiny spine remnants make them unwearable. They certainly remained lodged in a few places in my hands. In a desperate effort to remove the little devils… I resorted to tools at hand… a pair of 10X jewellers glasses that I use when making jewellery. Unflattering, but effective.

feminine and attractive

feminine and attractive

IMG_0783

This morning, I used them in the best light in the house, the bathroom, to see if I could apply the tweezers and pull the little spines out of my hands. It worked. I put the glasses down beside the sink and left them there while I showered. On my way out my hands were full and I left them there again. Meanwhile, my husband used the bathroom. Now, here is the question for you all… did he notice them and wonder what in the world his weirdo wife was up to this time? Or did he not even see them at all?

I do love a good adventure and a little mystery, don’t you??

The shot that got me 'prickled'

The shot that got me ‘prickled’. Well worth the pain, in this instance!

 

your dreams miss you…

Tags

, , , ,

Here, next to my computer, is a line I cut from a magazine quite a few years ago now…

your dreams miss you.

your dreams miss you

It is a reminder to me, to attend to the things that are important to me. To do that requires making an effort to keep my dreams in the forefront of my mind. (the penguin and the turtle are keeping guard… Don’t judge!!)

In a recent issue of the Philosopher’s Mail, I read an article that reinforced my feelings about the value of this lifetime habit. The title was ‘The Importance of Staring Out the Window’.

There is something so relaxing and rejuvenating about daydreaming… that’s really what we are talking about. What a luxury, in this very busy world, to be able to put one’s life on ‘hold’ for a few moments, or an afternoon, and just let thoughts and dreams bubble to the surface.

At about the same time I read the above article, there came a lovely, thoughtful comment and quotation, from my blog friend, Joanna:

And I am walking out into all of this with nowhere to go and no task undertaken but to turn the pages of this beautiful world over and over, in the world of my mind. –Mary Oliver

Pure serenity and inspiration.

Shouldn’t our dreams really be at the centre of our Life experience? Fortunately, I realised years ago that is what I do on my morning walks. The walks are as much about turning the world over and over in my mind, as they are about exercising my body. Once I realized that, I pursued the walks with renewed purpose and enthusiasm. It is MY time. It feels to me like a moving meditation. Many ideas for photos, blog posts or paintings come to me in those times. I feel connected to something bigger than myself.

bird of paradise??

bird of paradise??

Nature reveals itself in startling glory, dappled light, stunning creatures, golden hours, and my little worries are reduced to tiny fractals of memory.

Our minds whir and gurgle away all the time. Staring out the window is like the little whirring icon on my computer—processing, processing, presto! Information stored for future consumption… or discarded as no longer required.

I stare out my kitchen window often. A new bud, a drop of dew or a feint ray of light inspire. Sometimes I even act on it! You would have seen this photo small, in the mosaic of other photos in a previous post a few weeks ago. You wouldn’t have realised it was taken in our courtyard, though, and is a favourite object of daydreams from my kitchen window. The gentle morning light and soft dreaminess revealed themselves in a rare image that equals (or nearly) Mother Nature. Have a lovely daydream, wherever you are.

Cherry Allamanda

Cherry Allamanda

 

 

In My Kitchen – June 2014

Tags

, , , , ,

three siblings

three siblings

This little family is growing. It seemed the original two on the left, wanted a sibling. Can you see the family resemblance? If we find space in the cup cupboard, we may have to add a fourth.

 

 

Also, this month, there was an unexpected guest that came calling around dinner time.

I saw him, from my kitchen window but didn’t invite him to tea…inhospitable though it may seem. A deadly Western Brown snake may not eat much, but they can certainly ruin a meal!

Trapped in the top of the spa cover

Trapped in the top of the spa cover

This was a baby, but they are still deadly. The snake handler came and captured it, to be released out bush. We’ve had a few of them over the years, the largest of which was IN the house. We are grateful for good snake handling services here.

Most of the kitchen activities at the moment are focused around a food elimination diet I’ve needed to pursue. Don’t the food Gods know I’m part of the IMK group and still need to eat well?? A challenge is usually a good thing, and my challenge has been to enjoy life and eat well, despite the elimination program. A recent post explains a little further, if you care to read here.

soaking blanched almonds

soaking blanched almonds

 

 

It’s not my first brush with food tolerance issues, so I do have some skills in this area. Keeping one’s diet simple and pure is really the challenge. Being able to make things like almond milk, to replace dairy, and mayonnaise to replace the store bought one, have both been necessary. Though the first almond milk recipe was rather ghastly, I learned an important thing. When you soak the blanched almonds, drain and rinse them. Don’t be tempted to use the water in which they’ve soaked to make the milk. Bleah. The recipe said to do this and even when I used bottled water the taste was still rather bitter. That’s because the bitterness leaches out of the almonds when you soak them. Duh. The stuff nearly drove me to quit drinking coffee–but I’m stubbornly holding on to my one cup a day! The recipe I later adopted and slightly modified to my liking is here. It doesn’t moo, but it’s not bad.

Tuna with homemade mayo and wasabi paste

Tuna with homemade mayo and wasabi paste

The mayonnaise was such a fast and magical creation I forgot to photograph the process, but I have just learned that Celia has a very similar recipe and post, complete with photos, so I will refer you back to her for that one. It sure beats the old, laborious way of making mayonnaise! Who thinks up these things? Home cooks like us??

Avo n eggs

Avo n eggs

Walnuts, almonds, macadamias

Walnuts, almonds, macadamias

'ave an Avo!

‘ave an Avo!

 

 

 

 

While leaving out a number of entire food groups it is wise to pay careful attention to the intake of whole food fats, as well as healthy vegetables and proteins. So we consume nuts. Such a burden, but someone has to keep the nut industry healthy. We do our part. I like to spread the support around, so I help the avocado industry as well.

'deli' dinner, marinated beets, dill pickle, olives with fresh lemon zest, and homemade paté

‘deli’ dinner, marinated beets, dill pickle, olives with fresh lemon zest, and homemade paté

I love paté, and, made properly, it is good for you; but I can’t eat the commercially prepared ones so I bought chicken livers and made my own. So nice! We had a ‘deli dinner’ one evening, with homemade paté.

Gelatinised  bone broth

Gelatinised bone broth

Our wonderful butcher who provides grass fed beef loves to cut anything to suit your needs, so we had the most delicious slow cooked beef ribs you can imagine. And the neck bones they had made a delicious bone broth— look at that gelatine! (very good for the tummy!)

Crock pot Chicken

Crock pot Chicken

My favourite stewed, slow cooked chicken has been on the menu twice. Organic, free range chicken is just so tender and delicious. I use the broth to make vegetable soup, and put a few pieces of chicken in the top of it for a delicious and nutritious autumn meal.

Grilled salmon and broccoli

Grilled salmon and broccoli

Pssssst, you have to promise not to tell anyone… I’m sharing with you my very special secret to cooking salmon fillets on the grill. Fresh salmon with stir-fried or steamed vegetables is one of our favourite meals. Thanks for stopping by.

Life is good. And Celia’s monthly hosting of In My Kitchen posts, makes it better. Have a look here at some of the other kitchens around the world.

–Ardys

 

Chasing the Light

Tags

, , , , ,

One of my surprising small pleasures is watching forensic investigative shows on TV. When they get to the ‘look away now’ parts, I suddenly pursue an urgent task in the kitchen to break the tension. But, until recently I couldn’t figure out my fascination with these types of programs. And then, a story line brought it into focus for me. Aside from the ugliness of the crimes, what they are mostly dealing with is the behaviours of people. I’ve had a life-long fascination of asking why people do the things they do–myself included!

The story line that clarified some things for me was one in which a woman tried to murder the man who had murdered her daughter. Gruesome, I know. Bear with me. The forensic team tried and tried to understand who was pursuing him and why the man was a target. When they finally realised at the end, it was the mother, the investigator asked her how could she do what she had done? Her answer– “Because my rage was greater than my fear.” Wow.

Not only did I have the answer to the TV program storyline, but very soon, I realised something valuable about my own nature. The very next morning I arose early and saw that the light was a spectacular golden colour, due to some clouds near the horizon. I grabbed my camera and headed toward the best view of the ranges, which was my old walking trail. Before I knew it, I had gone quite a distance, over hill and dale, chasing the light for a good photo.

Golden Sunrise

Alice Springs golden Sunrise on MacDonnell Ranges

Wild Dingoes on the fairway in front of our house

Wild Dingoes on the fairway in front of our house

Last year it was a regular route for my walks, until some wild Dingoes began stalking neighbourhood pets and owners out for a walk, and running in a small pack in the area. I slightly altered my route, in closer to public areas for this reason, and then was dive bombed by a couple of angry crows (no relation to ‘Angry Birds’ for you gamers out there!) who were a bit overzealous in protecting their nest, which I hadn’t seen. It was quite scary, actually.

With not much option, I changed my walking route completely, but temporarily, I thought. Until recently, I hadn’t even thought about the fact I had not returned to that path, though I used to love it. Early in the morning when the sun is coming up it is a glorious view of the ranges.

The day after the TV program was on, and I had been lured by the sunrise to take photos, something occurred to me when I arrived back home. My desire for the light had overcome my fear of what had once kept me from walking that way.

Isn’t it often that way? We are pushed forward by love or light or desire to live more fully, and that desire overcomes our fear or whatever has held us back.

And thus I have discovered, I am not so much an optimist as a Light Chaser.

Native Cassia flower

Australian Native Cassia flower

One for the road

Tags

, , , , ,

I am on a journey at the moment. It’s not the kind I usually take you on. It is one of those we would prefer not to take, truth be told. But if we can somehow get perspective on these things Life throws at us, it makes the journey, if not easier, at least not wasted. So I’ve put my big girl panties on. I’ve had health issues all my life that were difficult to categorise. Not the very grim kind, mostly, but the kind that Modern Medicine doesn’t know much about; the kind with which one has to grapple, or suffer the consequences. Suffering implies misery. I don’t want misery; so I grapple!

Coconut milk with chia seeds, pecans and berries

Coconut milk with chia seeds, pecans and berries

The challenge I’m dealing with at the moment is food related. This is the third elimination diet in the last 20 years. Each time was for different symptoms and each time it did work for a period of time. Always there is a steep learning curve. But our bodies, like our lives, don’t stand still. They change, and so we must change how we look after them. I have made it my business to read a lot of health material over the years, to educate myself, and take some responsibility for helping myself; because goodness knows the medical specialists have had little to offer.

We are all works in progress.

Ghost gum

Ghost gum

 

 

I don’t want to bore you with physiological and nutritional details. It fills the volumes I have read and continue to read. But you may be curious, what I have learned so far, this time around.

  • We humans are extremely creative and adaptable when sufficiently prodded, er… motivated.
  • Prepare high quality foods in simple ways, instead of poor quality foods with sauces, bells and whistles.
  • My little problems are nothing. There are people with huge Life challenges. Mine are small.
  • I have a pile of new recipes. (which I have shared in past posts and will continue to share)
  • Not all almond milk is created equally! (My homemade recipe here)
  • If it even needs to be said, the Internet is a fantastic resource.
  • A fun diversion as a break from the challenge is helpful. Mine has been a photography course. Of which, hopefully, you will be the beneficiary!
stir-fried celery, snow peas and almonds with egg ribbons

stir-fried celery, snow peas and almonds with egg ribbons

Since January I have revamped our diet, mostly mine, but my husband is wonderfully flexible with most of it. To the outside observer, there was nothing wrong with my diet before. It was pretty darned healthy. But what is healthy for one, can be problematic for another.

I had experienced considerable improvement in a couple of areas, but one thing remained a problem. The areas in my body where I have arthritis, mostly my lower back, were quite sore and aching. Through my reading I learned that sometimes dairy can cause inflammation. Having exhausted most of the things I knew to try, and prayed to the great Jersey Cow God with no response, I decided to make one more big change and see what happened. Within a week of purging dairy from my diet much of the soreness and aching abated. It continued to improve the second week. I have two weeks yet to go before I can try to reintroduce certain dairy items to my diet to see if the inflammation returns… or not. We prefer not, of course, but we shall see.

Unfortunately this period of time coincided with my birthday. What does one do to remain on track but still cut loose a bit?

grilled salmon and stir fried vegetables

grilled salmon and stir fried vegetables

One has delicious salmon cooked on the barbecue grill plate (by one’s husband, preferably), with perfectly stir fried vegetables to accompany. Okay, I made the veggies.

birthday bubbles

birthday bubbles

One has a single glass of one’s favourite bubbles.

 

 

 

And One has a birthday banana.

toasted pecans and banana

toasted pecans and banana

No party or cake or further celebration required; a single, gorgeous banana, arranged beautifully on a small French plate with toasted pecans. Four months without a banana was enough. Let them eat cake, I’ll have more bananas, please.

And one for the road.

 

Add some zest to your life!

Tags

, , , ,

Accidental still life with citrus

Accidental still life with citrus

For some reason best known by the Great Universal Intelligence, zest has appeared in my life. Repeatedly. Often. The kind of zest I’m talking about is hanging on trees!

I’m always one to follow where my nose and taste buds lead me, for good or for bad. What kind of a friend would I be, not to share my journey with you? In January when we were in Sydney I saw Dukkha ‘with zest’ being sold in the markets and thought, why not try it myself? (my recipe from Sophie Grigson spells it Dukkha, but I notice most people spell it ‘Dukkah’, so whatever floats your boat). So I started drying my own zest and then adding it to my Dukkha–about two tsps Dukkha to one tsp dried zest.

My zesting method

My zesting method

My technique, if you can call it that, is to use a Microplane. The zest is much finer and will dry more easily. I use the narrow Microplane, and hold it so the underside is facing me, and I can see how much zest is accumulating. At the same time I can see how deeply on the skin I am grating. Don’t scrape too deeply because the white part is bitter. Because we live in a dry climate I simply spread it out on a plate and leave it for a a couple of days, and it is dry. If you live in a humid climate you may need to place it on a baking tray in a slow oven, then turn off the oven and leave it to dry overnight.

Recycled spice bottles with dried zest

Recycled spice bottles with dried zest

I recycle my little spice bottles and put the various flavours in each one. Do make certain the zest is very dry before bottling it, or it will go mouldy.

When the limes began to ripen at an alarming rate, I started zesting the outside and squeezing the juice and making ice blocks out of it for cooking, later in the year. I did talk about this in a previous kitchen post so I won’t labour the point. I make some blocks with zest and some without.

Roasted beets marinated in orange juice and zest

Roasted beets marinated in orange juice and zest

A week or so ago I saw a very simple idea to roast fresh beets, peel them, quarter them, and simply add the zest and juice from an orange. Let them marinate over night and voilà! Simple, tasty, zeeesty, yeah!

Chicken livers with bacon, zest and fresh chives.

Chicken livers with bacon, zest and fresh chives.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been known to ‘freelance’ my cooking here and there, ahem– just ask my family– they ask me all the time, ‘did you write it down so you can do it again? Usually no, but this time I took a photo! These chicken livers, sautéed with bacon, salt and pepper and topped with fresh chive and fresh zest were so simple, who needs more than a photo reminder?

Pink grapefruit with pink salt

Pink grapefruit with pink salt

Himalayan Pink Salt

Himalayan Pink Salt

I don’t zest grapefruit, but I do love eating it… with a pinch of salt! My Mother ate it this way when I was young and our whole family likes it like this. Section the grapefruit, sprinkle a small amount of good quality salt around then let it sit for five or 10 minutes before consuming. When you eat it, the salt seems to accentuate the sweetness of the grapefruit very nicely. I’m not saying it will convert you if you don’t like grapefruit or salt to begin with, but if you like to try simple things that are healthy and change up the tastes a bit, it’s worth a go. Our friends gave us these luscious pink grapefruit, how lucky are we?

Here’s another recent bit of kitchen knowledge… Even though we don’t use pesticide on our citrus, we do sometimes pick it up off the ground when it drops, and use it. So it needs washing. A tip I recently saw is to keep a spray bottle of vinegar under the kitchen sink (which I always do anyway, for cleaning purposes) and use it to spray all vegetables before washing. Apparently it removes as much wax, pesticide and mould or other unwanted things, as antiseptic soap does. And why wouldn’t you want to use vinegar instead of soap?? Some people scrub their veggies, and that is fine, but with more delicate fruits, that doesn’t work so well. Rub the vinegar around as if you are washing the fruit, or not, with more delicate fruits. Rinse and presto! It doesn’t affect the taste at all.

Lemon on plate with Moorish design

Lemon on plate with Moorish design

Clean fruit.

Happy zesting.

 

-Ardys

the gift I choose…

Tags

, , , , ,

When the sun sets today it will have been a wonderful day. How do I know? Because that is what I choose as the gift of my 61st birthday. I choose to take photos from beginning to end, to my heart’s content, and to write and read and bask in the affirmation that is my Life. Few words needed beyond that, so here are the photos. Enjoy. Xx Ardys

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 372 other followers