Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Coal versus Hydro

In today's local paper there is a news story about a decommissioned hydro-electricity power plant at the south west town of Collie. The power station was decommissioned after it was flooded in 2000. The government gifted it to the National trust as a heritage site.

They never thought that would come back and bite them.

The Trust chief executive, Tom Perrigo is a go-getter and has asked the Heritage Minister for $4.8 million to get it running again to feed power into the grid. Collie is a big producer of coal; that nasty stuff we should stop using, but will continue to use at the Collie power station at a rate of 1 million tonnes a year. Griffin Coal, the Collie miner, is also building another two coal-fired power stations at Collie. Is this what is meant by carbon trading???

Over the weekend a man was taken by a white pointer shark. Only some scraps of his wetsuit have been found. His family don't want authorites to do away with the shark as the man was in the shark's environment. Fair enough, but what of other swimmers and divers. I am sure that sharks are no different to other fish, birds, insects and animals. They will return to a known source of food. I wont be going diving at Port Kennedy.

I have at last replicated the 1950/60s recipe for chilli Beef eaten by many hundreds of customers at Pals hamburger bar at Canning Bridge. Pals was an instituion and people travelled from all over the metro area to eat at their Canning Bridge site. Unfortunately when the Kwinana Freeway was extended, Pals had to close down. My friend Dennis pleaded with the owners to get their recipe, but unfortunately they decided to take it to the grave.

Here is my version:

Canning Bridge Chilli
1kg casserole beef
1 large onion
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
3 tablespoons of oil or (authentically use beef dripping)
fresh chillies or chilli powder (you decide your own fire)
1 each teaspoon of cumin and oregano
tomato sauce
500ml beef stock

1kg of casserole steak diced; floured with salt/pepper seasoning.
Fry steak in oil until rich brown
add onions and garlic and saute
add 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1 teaspoon of oregano
cover with beef stock
add chillies or chilli powder to suit heat
simmer until meat is falling apart.
add a small amount of tomato sauce to taste

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Euthanasia is an emotional word. Right-to-lifers spring out of the woodwork at the casual mention of the word. I am unsure if I would have the courage to top myself when the time comes.

It is argued that we would not keep a pet animal in the state we keep our loved ones.

Today I made the decision to stop the continual suffering; the daily stress of extreme heat and cooling nights. At the morning a rejuvenated one wilts almost to death at the rising of the sun.

So it was time to let my potted silverbeet go. I gave it every chance of survival; plenty of water, a shift under shade, but in the end I gave in and did the deed.

Christmas Day was a good time to catch up with rellies and consume enough seafood, ham and Christmas pud to feed a large village in Zimbabwe. Brother Graham did us proud with his pièce de résistance, a large dish of seviche; Mackerel pickled in lemon juice with garlic, spring onions and chilli. Yum!

Graham works for a large seafood wholesaler and as a bonus the boss gave him a large ham, a few kilograms of freshly cooked prawns and some good folding money. He had already bought a large ham and that was gifted to us as leftovers. I am rapidly getting over ham and there is still a heap of it left.

We were last to leave at around 5pm.

The mob. Our son Martin had already left to go on to another show.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Monday's dinner party went very well....good food, good company and conversation.

Today, Christmas Day, is the big one. Brother Graham has gone all out with preparations and food. Should be a great day. I believe there are around 20 guests and I will take a group photo when everyone has eaten.

We gave each other our gifts after breakfast. As usual Joan is the one with the creative ideas and she gave me a book, another of the series by local chap, John Dowson called 'Old Fremantle Children'. I taught with John at Willeton SHS and had contributed some old photographs to a major project he completed a few years ago titled "Old Fremantle'. Thanks Joan.

The other present was a solid silver chain for a coin that I wear around my neck. I noticed it went missing a couple of days ago after I had left it on the basin after showering. She had whisked it off to a jeweller to have the chain fitted. That coin is a South African 2/- piece my grandfather Maurice Lee brought back from the Boer war. He wore it as a watch fob and promised to leave it to me when he 'coughed it'. Thanks Joan.

I 'gave' Joan a new handbag and wallet. Naturally she selected both as I have no clue about these things. When she opened her present I was pleasantly surprised that I had selected well.

Christmas Day morning is a bit stressful for Joan as there is no newspaper delivery. She purposely set aside a portion of yesterday's paper to read today. Joan devours the paper and books at a great rate. I reckon she even reads the page numbers. She is a good reference to refer to if I have occasion to remember some detail that I skimmed over in the daily.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dinner Party

We are hosting a curry night tonight for our next door neighbours and another couple we know through Joan's fabric endeavours. Joan knows Juliet through the group Designing Women.

Joan is also in another four groups: Innovative Stitches, Contemporary Quilt Group, Husqvarna Sewing Club and Secret Drawer. She has been a member of the latter for over 20 years.

Joan has cooked three curries which are not from canned pastes and a sample of each shows the difference in flavours to the commercial curry pastes. Wonderful. There is a Beef Vindaloo, a chicken curry and a vegetable curry.

The male guests have not met before and it will be interesting to see where the conversation goes. Dave, our neighbour, runs a very successful environmental composting business near a massive piggery. Juliet's husband Chris is a 'Mud Engineer'. There is probably a more formal title than that, but he 'builds' the mud that goes down the bore hole on oil rigs. This work has taken their family all over the world for a couple of years at a time.

A party like this gives the house a good clean up. We found much dust and grease which we wouldn't have noticed without the clean-up. Brother is going through the same preparations for the family Christmas Day show at his place.

On brother Graham; he recently took delivery of a surround sound system for his plasma TV. Very nice too. We set it up and had trouble getting all speakers to work. Solution; call in the kids! In this case Graham called in his 16 year old grandson and it was all done in about an hour. Sounds great. Maybe I'll get one too.....not the grandson...the surround sound system.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New storage shelving

After selling a couple of pieces at an art show, Joan spent some of the money buying a shelving system for her workshop. The system is made in Switzerland and very well designed. There is a top rail which is anchored to the wall directly below the ceiling cornice. That rail has a hooked edge on which the vertical shelf supports lock into. The actual shelf arms clip into the verticals and the wire shelving clips into the supports. It is similar to a 1980s shelving called Ladderax.

The top rail is the only piece which is attached to the wall. All the rest remains in place helped by the weight of the shelves and the bits on them. Simple, but good.

I don't know how well this would support the weight if it was used on wallboard or plasterboard.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Bridal Train

A local group, The Waifs, hail from Albany. Two sisters and a very talented guitarist make up the group. They have been very successful on the world and Australian stage.

One of their pieces is the Bridal Train telling the story of the girls' grandmother who as a WW2 bride made the trip on the Bridal Train from Perth to Sydney to join others to travel on the Monterey to meet their 'Yankee Sailors' and their families.

It is a moving piece even if the Australian accent is a little overdone. The story of the Bridal Train can be found here

A video on You Tube lets you hear The Bridal Train. The video images hardly relate to the song, but it is a good listen.

We knew another couple; Homer White, a USN submariner and his Australian wife who resettled in Darwin and then Albany. Homer and his wife were well-known in Albany and almost certainly knew the girls' grandmother and husband after they returned to Australia two and a half years after settling in the U.S.


In Western Australia there is only one oil refinery, owned by BP. Tomorrow BP service stations are jacking up the price of Petrol by around ten cents a litre. Other oil companies have to buy their fuel from BP, but manage to keep fuel at the lower price. BP are always dearer and have no shopper- docket loyalty schemes. Price gouging?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Australia the movie

Last evening we went to the movies to see Australia. It was a charity screening and I wasn't keen on sitting still for 2.5 hours. I haven't been to the movies for a couple of years and it would have to be a better show than this to get me back again.

The theatre air conditioning was not working and it was stiflingly hot. I had forgotten that the main feature is preceded by about 15 adverts....just like commercial TV, but thankfully all at once.

I had read reviews about the film. None praised it. I gave it a 5/10.

I am a bit of a recent-history buff and to see Japanese ground troops on an island just off Darwin left me bewildered. No Japanese troops landed on Australian soil. The movie was pure formula with romance, fist fights, villains, lovable drunks and a bit of aboriginal magic thrown in. The young mixed-race ('creamy') lad manages to stop a stampede of cattle as they rush to the edge of a cliff simply by staring them down.

There were some very good bits to this epic, but it should not have been named Australia suggesting that it was somehow a historic portrayal. Faraway Downs, the fictional station of the story would have been an adequate name.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fuel Vouchers

Coles and Woolworths, the main supermarket chains in Aus give fuel discount vouchers of $0.04 off a litre of fuel for shopping bills of over $30. Joan spies out other deals such as the Coles' liquor stores where purchases of a half dozen bottles of wine give a 20c discount per litre on fuel at Coles Express service stations. Fuel has dropped dramatically over the past few weeks and the 20c per litre discount really makes this deal worthwhile.

Joan gave me a Coles' docket a couple of days ago and I have been holding out on filling up until I am almost empty. Today was the day and I cruised into the service station and squeezed as many litres in as I could and fronted the cash register to proudly present my 20c off discount voucher. This was the first time about about a year that the bowser meter clicked over with litres and dollars in unison.

'This is a Coles voucher' said the lass behind the counter at the Woolworths' service station. 'Oh OK' I said trying not to look like I wasn't the 69 year old dimwit that I am. I paid by card the full amount and now will have to use up that tank full on a trip to Kalgoorlie to take advantage of the discount before the voucher expires on December 17th.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beef Chilli

Our Australian Prime Minister is riding the highs in the popularity stakes.

Just today he announced, at a meeting in Indonesia, that Australia is to give Indonesian a billion dollars Aus to promote democracy. I confess to not knowing excreta from clay, but Indonesia recently ordered Russian submarines and helicopters etc. See here. Democracy does come at a high price!

My friend Dennis and I have been on a long-time project to replicate a chilli beef dish which was very popular at a hamburger bar at Canning Bridge in the 1950s. He has claimed to have cracked the recipe and I have tried many times to do so too. Memories are funny things....we remember the same things about what was served and even the deposits on the white china bowls, but even though we have come close we have not been succesful. Today we discussed it at length and decided that the cuisine of the day didn't include fancy sauces and the chilli was probably made from skirt steak with plenty of fat and some raw chillies. To that end I bought some gravy beef and some chillies and did a long, slow cook with beef, chillies, onions and a little gravy powder.

The result is as close as poo is to swearing! I reckon I have cracked it and will take a sample of my CB Chilli for Dennis to try. In such a competitive atmosphere I am not sure he will admit to my success.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Xmas Day

Brother Graham has claimed the right to hosting families on Christmas Day. A bit of bidding was done to determine who makes what for the feeding frenzy. Bro wanted a Christmas Pudding and Joan decided that she would make it and another fruit salad for our contribution; I will do my share and bring the wine. We have not had a Xmas pud for years; in fact the last time we had one it contained 'zacs' (three-penny pieces) pronounced 'thruppences'. The spell checker didn't like those words!
Joan made the pudding yesterday and it took most of the day to mix up and cook. After mixing up loads of fruit and cake ingredients it was ladled into a pudding bowl, the lid tied down and boiled in water for 8 hours. It looks great. Once cooled down it was wrapped in cling-wrap and put in the fridge until the day. The instructions say to give it another two hours of boiling before serving.

The pudding bowl reminds me of Norman Lindsay's Magic Puddin, a devious little pud who replenished itself after every serving. Need a few of them for starving Africans.

Read about Lindsay and the Puddin here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Making Sushi

We bought a rice maker last weekend because it was on sale and really cheap . We had one years ago, but rarely used it because it was so large. You had to cook a minimum of 3 cups of raw rice. It went to the Good Sammies, and I hope a larger family got good use from it.

This one will cook a minimum of 160g raw rice. We eat a lot of rice, but there is only the two of us, so this seemed a good deal. We have used it twice this week, so it is earning its keep.

Kev decided he wanted to make sushi (inspired by Paul a couple of days ago). I had made some in the past, so we might have some of the ingredients.

I looked in the pantry. I had short grain rice. I had sugar and rice vinegar. I had a package of nori (seaweed) sheets - but what was this use by date? Had I really kept this for nearly 20 years?!!

Into the bin it went and the shopping list was amended.

We had sushi for dinner tonight. The filling was prawns, cucumber and carrot, with a squirt of QT mayonnaise, and wasabi, ginger and soy on the side. Two sheets of nori and a cup of rice is more than enough for the two of us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

people I would like to meet before I go

I have just watched an interview between Kerry O'Brien and Woody Allen on the 7.30 report (ABC Australia). I have always loved Allen's movies and his sense of humour. He came over very well in the interview, self depreciating and warm. I thought I had most of his movies on tape and was surprised to hear that he has made 44 movies. He doesn't believe that he is an artist just a lucky film maker. Yeah!
Love The Purple Rose of Cairo starring his last wife Mia Farrow.

The other filmaker I would like to sit down with and share a drink with is Mel Brooks. He is quite a different character ... more along the lines of the three stooges. Mel manages to slot in some German soldiers into most of his comedies.

Both these blokes are Jewish and that shines through in their comedies. Sometimes I feel that there might be some Jewishness in my background. My cousin thinks he has traced it way back to our roots.

I recall an interview with an old Jew who was a farmer in the W.A. wheatbelt. He was asked about his plans for the future and he replied...'At my age I don't even buy green bananas'.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Infanticide in NG Highlands

In today's West Australian newspaper there is a report about infanticide in the New Guinea Highlands. It seems that women from opposing warring clans have been killing their newborn sons to stop another generation of fighters disrupting everyday life in the villages. They figure that if there are fewer men, there will be far less fighting. Seems perfectly reasonable to me. There aren't a lot of women out there starting wars.

The report quoted two women from opposing clans, Rona Luke and Kipyona Belas who said...'Male infanticide reduced the cyclical payback violence infamous in Highlands' tribal fights'. Not bad for unsophisticated villagers.

That 'quote' was almost certainly a westernised version of 'If they die they don't fight'.

My brother works for a seafood wholesaler/distributor. On deliveries to restaurants he has seen some grotty kitchens. The business deals in a lot of cash transactions (?). Other restaurant owners give their cheque book to bro and he writes out the amount and they sign it. Illiterate?

When he delivers the seafood and puts it in their freezer he is obliged to eat a sample of their food...fish and chips; Chinese , Vietnamese etc.

Recently his employer has dumped his W.A. distributor of local frozen chips and imported two containers of chips from Germany. Can they be much cheaper than the local product?

Monday, December 1, 2008


After the hassles I had on Saturday losing my wallet with all my credit cards, a lotto ticket and some cash, I was very relieved to get it back courtesy of an honest K Mart staffer.

Saturday was also my birthday so I figured it was looking good for the Saturday night Lotto draw. How many times have I thought that?

Sunday morning I checked the ticket against the winning numbers and I found that I had won a minor division 3 prize of $1650.05

Joan is suggesting that I buy an iPhone. I like them, but I don't often use my current mobile. The various iPhone contracts are quite confusing, but the lowest seem to be around $70 a month for a reasonable amount of data.

Have to have a think about that.