Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Lucky

Lucky began his life with a family in Connecticut who "lost interest" in him after 22 months and dropped him off at a dog pound on their way out of town for vacation. Poodle Rescue of New England was contacted and I got lucky. In the ensuing six years he has worked in a hair salon, frolicked in the lava fields of Iceland, chased Ptarmigan, and been told daily by hundreds of Japanese school girls that he is "kawai".

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Found Nemo

We went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. I have no words to describe it and nothing to compare it to. It is a colorful, busy place that bears no relation to anything above a tropical sea. Mike and I were so intent on what we were seeing that we didn't realize we were chilled until we started shivering in our wet suits. You need to see it before you die. Yes, you.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Give Me a Home Among the Gum Trees

We traveled 4 hours inland by bus from Cairns to Undara in the Outback. Luckily for us Rollie, the bus driver, knew everything about everything. ( sarcasm) After seeing about a thousand of them, I pointed to these huge mounds and asked "what are those things"? The answer was termite mounds; two words. I got a discourse on the 3,542 species of termites, 356 of which are found in Australia, they are blind, albino and can smell wood. We learned about his friend Richard who tried to sell his house which, on inspection, was about to fall down because of termites. He was unaware of this due to the fact that since they cannot tolerate sunlight they stop eating short of going through a wall. In the photo Mike is standing next to termite mounds, which are made of termite spit and sand.
At Undara we slept in a tent under the Southern Cross, sang Australian songs around a campfire and listened to the dingos howling while we slept. We had breakfast cooked over a campfire, including damper and billy boil .Billy tea is made by boiling the water in a billy, adding the tea immediately after removing the billy from the fire, and allowing the tea to draw for a time. Then we hiked through the lava tubes.

Australian Damper Bread

This is a traditional bread baked in the coals of an open fire or in a Dutch Oven (huge lidded cast iron pot) but nowadays it's baked it in a normal oven.
4 cups self-raising flour
3/4 - 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and mix in the sugar.
Rub in the butter with your (clean) hands until a fine breadcrumb texture is achieved.
For a well in the top of the flour, pour in the milk and water, and mix well with a knife until the dough come clean from the sides of the bowl.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and silky, like a baby's bottom.
Shape into a mounded loaf, (some people cut a deep cross in the top) and bake in a preheated oven, 200 c / 400 F, for 25 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 180 c / 375 f and cook a further 10 - 15 minutes until done. The loaf should be a light golden brown colour and sound hollow when tapped.
If you are "game" try cooking it on a camp fire; nothing beats that extra smoky flavour, especially using Australian Eucalyptus wood to give it that special something. If you are cooking in an oven at home, try putting a few Gum Leaves in the over to smoke as your are cooking the bread.
Damper is very similar to Irish Soda Bread, and probably developed from recipes brought over by Irish immigrants/convicts.

Variations of the basic recipe are seemingly endless, but you could try substituting other liquids, such as beer for a darker colour/flavour, or varying the ratio of milk to water, and so on. Try adding more sugar and butter and some dried fruits for a dessert damper. Basically use your imagination.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

So, You're a Cannibal..........

I read about an Aboriginal owned business that enacts Aboriginal history and dance, they also cook what was described as Aboriginal bush food. Guess what? According to these Aborigines they ate Japanese food and corn on the cob. According to all the Australians the Aborigines ate people, they preferred Chinese people because they thought white men were too salty. I must have heard fifteen stories about Aboriginal cannibalism, if you want the gory details, google it.
Anyway, the evening was embarrasing. Remember when Gene Wilder dressed Peter Boyle up in a tux and had him sing "Puttin on the Ritz" in Young Frankenstein? It was just like that. They sang "Proud to Be an Aborigine" while they did the can-can. I would have preferred they boiled an audience member.