Thursday, July 31, 2014

Holidays shouldn't be this hard

Good pets.  Raised and ruined by good parents. Our plans for a weekend away gets remodeled again when the question arises but what will we do with Max and ... well maybe it's easier if we just don't go this weekend.  The trauma of snatching the blissfully sleeping Ragdoll from his designer blanket and unceremoniously pushing him head first into something with not much more design than a sealed milk crate ends in cries of protest that are distressing for all concerned.  Number One Son in false hope that he's off to school or a fishing trip has a face like thunder when we turn off into the driveway of the pet minding facility.  Max giving out feral cries from the back seat of the car is equally unimpressed with the prospect of days of solitary confinement in cell block C.  Paid playtime and cuddle visits don't impress the privileged and pampered expecting a buffet selection of endangered species in a gravy sauce at meal times.  The longing look, those sad eyes saying please don't leave me here, they don't even smell very good makes it so much harder to turn, run and jump into the car, start the engine and yell "yippee, we're away..", but we do.  And then on the return it's the wailing again from the milk crate, the whimpering from the rear and the two tired from traveling adults need to face the music for being so unspeakably cruel in handing over more cash than the cost of our holiday to have them kept fed and safe.  Max won't speak to us for days and storms around with a 'talk to the tail as the face ain't listening' stance and Number One Son tries to convince us to bust out his new friends from the facility. Yes, it's a big weekend but sometimes it's nicer to just stay at home.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A garden salad tossed in an agent orange dressing

Our first attempt at growing our own vegetables has been going well.  Curly and bright green lettuce leaves have appeared, some sturdy bottle green Kale has stood up showing off its neatly permed foliage and the forest of carrots are hinting at a truffle hunt of orange not far beneath the surface.  Exciting.  Then it rained.  Then the snails came. Marvelous they thought.  Hmm, Kale, good s**t.  Baby Spinach, you beauty.  So head gardener and husband takes the full artillery approach and launches a night time assault with a scattering of snail pellets dispersed to defend our innocent edible troops on the ground.  Mission accomplished he believes.  No snails, no bugs and no risk to pets as the veggies are in a raised box so all a success from the front line.  But now we have chemically enhanced (yes I read up on Metaldehyde) lettuce that whilst lethal to animals are advertised as safe for humans.  How so I wonder.  The beauty is we can tuck into our crisp green home grown crop knowing we don't have to suffer the gas filled bags of limp efforts from the supermarket shelves and the one size fits all carrots that taste as good as a roasted fence paling.  Nothing like growing your own.  And don't be alarmed by what you read on the Internet about molluscicides (try and say that one after a few sherbets) and their risk of skin, eye and mucus membrane irritation or kidney and liver damage or even increased heart rate, panting, asthma attack, depression, drowsiness, high blood pressure, inability to control the release of urine and faeces, incoordination, muscle tremors, sweating, excessive salivation, tearing, cyanosis, acidosis, stupor, and unconsciousness.  I don't think that study was done on snails.  Salad anyone?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Royal Agricultural Society - all in gravy

Max is getting sick of his food.  He's still eating dry food but has become bored with packet varieties offered by the major pet food manufacturers. He's tried the stuff in jelly, in gravy and in whole pieces.  He's not convinced.  And neither am I.  It just doesn't look like what I know to be food.  They tell us it's all the right balance of nutrients to keep him 'happy and healthy' (in bold)  - boy they really don't know Max.  For example last night's duck and liver flavour contained chicken, beef and/or sheep including liver, duck and meat by product from beef and/or sheep and/or pork plus cereal derivatives, gelling agents and colouring agents.  No wonder he's confused.  Not many casseroles comes with the entire farm yard.  I'm always a little nervous with any food item being listed as 'flavour'.  Is it that bad it needs it?  So many bi products, so little time.  I remember my parents feeding the cat nothing but kangaroo meat.  That's what you bought from the butcher and to spend very scarce cash on anything else would be laughable.  Not sure if the Roo preservation party took offence or the commercially profitable convenience factor won the day but now I'm wondering what alternatives are out there.  Max doesn't understand human food and you can throw a freshly caught snapper on the bench in front of him and he'll walk away in disgust (we did, and he did) so whatever we come up with it will have to be placed in a packet and torn open at meal times.  Good luck getting the cassoulet into that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pass me the passround one more time

Recently I have come into possession of the 1988 published Australian Heritage Cookbook (pictured).  The introduction proudly displays Managing Director Mike Alberts (ok?) sporting Kenny Rogers grey beard and silver hair wearing a white shirt and fetching black leather vest complete with fob chain.  Ah, the 80's.  Who knew?  Who knew that according to our friend Mike, "Anything which is time saving and economical is naturally desirable and microwave cooking can produce the simplest of meals as well as an exotic banquet with the minimum of fuss".  Never having been a fan of the microwave and reserving its use for no more than the warming of hot towelettes on aeroplanes, the 80's convenience movement lead us to believe that a microwave could change our lives.  It exploded our eggs, set fire to our foil and cooked things to such a high temperature we no longer had food, just severely altered molecules once resembling food.  Recipes told us that we had to brush on certain ingredients to brown food that would never brown.  Caramelising was not really possible in the nuking machine so if wanted brown you could spray your muffin with soy sauce. The Heritage Cookbook reminds me of times when curry powder was the only spice in a curry and you only needed a pineapple to start a party.  Most of the recipes have fortunately found their resting place in this (instant) coffee table book and our dinner parties won't ever be in need of Oranges in Chilled Mint Sauce or Chilled Paw paw souffle.  The Cheesy Prunes won't run off the plate and I suspect the Apricot Passrounds will continue to do just that.  God bless old recipes may they long make us laugh and sometimes even want to lash out and cook one.  Don't suppose you kept your grandmother's fish mould by any chance?  Passround anyone?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

B double chicken anyone?

I'm a big fan of the local farmers market.  I like my purchases to have limited fiddling (ie., processing) from paddock to plate.  An article by Australian food critic John Lethlean last week mentioned something along the lines of, if a farmer doesn't like visitors to his farm for reasons of security or some oddity then be cautious of what comes out of it.  A recent trip to country Victoria's pretty town of Maldon saw every store window with a protest sign about a chicken factory threatening to open in the nearby region.  Trucks, dust, dirt, disease.  The list went on.  A few chickens?  Just a mere 1.2 million will be processed at this 'farm' at any one time.  You can imagine the quality of life these no range birds will have.  I suggest not far off breeding headless, featherless and with no less than 4 breasts per bird, this type of processing of chicken is solely about profit. I don't consciously eat this stuff but I wish I could be more conscious every time I ordered a chicken sandwich.  The beauty of farmers markets is that you get access to the growers and breeders.  They want to talk about their produce, how it's grown, why the carrots are odd shapes and the capsicums are small. Their veggies are grown not produced, they travel in a small van, not cleared through customs in a B double and were picked yesterday not last year.  It's a good feeling when you open the fridge and dirty, gnarly, misshapen veggies poke their head out of the crisper. We are definitely eating more veg this year and even Number One Son has his grated carrots with his dinner.  Even the pooper scooper has taken on a faint orange glow.

Friday, July 11, 2014


They hate it when you leave the house. They don't care that you need to earn money to buy them their premium dinner choices and designer blankets.  They don't understand why you wouldn't want to dedicate your day to their every happiness and need.  Why go out when we can go for a walk and smell new smells?  Why put your makeup on when you only need to ran up the stairs with a piece of string for me to chase?  They know your every movement and they know your routine better than you think.  Before I've picked up the car keys there is at least one sad face at the top of the stairs.  They know the type of shoes you put on will tell them it's a good pet day or an average one.  A day that starts with a cup of tea in bed is a good day.  A day like this means walks, play time and the warmth from the electric blanket just a little bit longer.  Their routine soon becomes yours.  Unfortunately their uncanny sense routine triggers them both into action at exactly the same time every morning even on days when the alarm doesn't go off.  Either they know at exactly what point the dawn says 5:50am or they really can read the clock.  I just wish they could read that it's Saturday.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bread bored

You can tell when Max is offended.  He does so regularly.  If that tuna stuff gets served up, if the food isn't varied and the bowl isn't clean, he gets that look and he's off.  I must say I share his offence at times.  I too have been known to turn my nose at some of the latest food trends sweeping our local eateries.  Food no longer plated up but set on a chopping board and put in front of you as if you were expected to dissect it like a lab rat.  A simple sandwich halved and plonked on a wooden plank with a serviette to remind us it's for food and not for cricket.  With the ever present bar stool and shared table as the decor of the day I find my smallish self only a few centimetres between food and face and one false move of too much pressure with a knife I could headbutt my breadboard and fling the toast.  Plates were fine.  Not sure how they lost their way in the restaurant world where we went from round to square and now wooden to where to from here?  If the trend continues I fear our sandwiches will come presented in a bit of bark or the stump of a tree.  Maybe I'm being too fussy.  But just can't seem to get the splinters out of my salad. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Stay uncool this winter

Knitting my own clothes has never been something I would consider.  No matter how much the sense of I made it myself as opposed to someone else with talent and skill made it for me.  Until now.  Having long since left the desire to be fashionable (but still stylish of course) since fashion only speaks to the awesome ages and the latest look resembles the dish cloth, I care less about my choice of clothing.  In recent weeks I've noticed a new trend however of the knitted sock.  It's a large sock, mostly cable knit and of thick yarn.  And there is only ever one of them.  And young men wear them on their heads.  Very practical in a cool Melbourne climate I couldn't help think that what was once known as daggy is now de regueur.  It's heartening to see scarves of a scrappy kind brought out of cupboards with knobby endings and knotted reminders of home made makings.  I've been encouraged by the new dorkiness in design and have resurrected my self produced knitted winter warmer and even added a few vintage buttons for extra dork.  Embrace the fashionless, I say.  Rejoice, it's winter.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A lost member of the family

At 4:30 in the morning with the clawing of carpet and jumping on the bed followed by an impressive display of scratching a wardrobe door young Maxwell found himself on the other side of the back door to greet the dawn.  We planned an indoor cat.  A cat who would lie around on beds and blankets and warm our toes on a cold winters night.  But Max's curiosity knew no bounds.  Our tiny courtyard held his interest with bugs and beetles (snails and cockroaches) watched for hours as the entertainment stayed confined to the fenced in boundaries.  Then possum arrived.  Possum could swing from fence to fence with ease and who knew what adventures could be found over the trellis.  So up went the plastic spikes, strategically placed hose pipe and anything that could deter our cat from venturing over.  Not the robust type of cat, he'd no more likely survive a dog attack than a severe talking to from a pissed off kitten.  That morning he didn't return.  He wasn't to be found in his yard or anywhere.  Knowing that cats get into places and eventually venture out didn't give us much faith as Max never mastered his own cat flap deeming butting his head through a plastic swinging door to be barbaric.  I was sure he wouldn't attempt anyone else's then.   As that evening drew in and Number One Son had scoured the neighborhood and backyard lane ways with no success or sight, with heavy hearts we went to bed.  His nightly play time routine sat rough in our throats as his half chewed red mouse lie dormant on the floor next to the bed.   Number one son put his nose out the wedged open cat flap every so often in case of a sign or scent.  No Max.  The thought was beginning to sink in that we had lost a member of the family.  Sleep eventually took away the sadness.  At 11:30 that night he jumped on the bed as if to say "Hi kids, what's happening?" None the worse for wear except a few twigs for decoration he curled up and slept and slept.  Max's big adventure.  We'll never know and he'll never get another one. Confined to barracks for now on.