Monthly Archives: February 2013


This is soda bread. Made with my very own hands. The secret is using yoghurt (or buttermilk) not yeast.

It must be consumed soon after its emergence from the oven so that the pleasure of its creation holds on a continuous and rising plane until the eating.

The recipe came via River Cottage – particularly the Three Go Mad series where Ruby Wax created her very own version.

This is a poem by Maya Stein.

I first read it on Patti Digh’s blog a couple of years ago. And again, last night, in Patti’s book Creative is a Verb.  I hope that it might bring to you a memory of hands sticky with dough as other apparently more important things call for your attention.

irreverant baking

I should be upstairs with the others, drumming up ways

to heal the world, save the animals, pray for water

in a far-off continent, devote the remainders of my days

to a catalog of restorations. But this morning, it was the matter

of scones that drew my gaze, and my feet remained

planted in the kitchen. One must never ignore the instinct

to create, is what I told myself, and soon the counter was stained

with flour, my hands sticky with dough, the house inked

with the smell of blueberry possibility, and I knew I was not wrong.

This was my prayer, my act of healing, my offering, my song.

Maya Stein

Independent commentary platforms are rising like fresh air out of the ashes of traditional newspapers struggling to figure out what the heck happened to their once secure empires.

Since March 2011, The Conversation has been building up an impressive collection of articles under the umbrella of one of the site’s tags – academic rigour, journalistic flair.  

The Conversation recently attracted the now ex-Fairfax journalist Michelle Grattan as a columnist.  Academics and scientists have the opportunity to contribute to this truly broad sheet of ideas and perspectives.

The conversation logo


We have introduced new protocols and controls to help rebuild trust in journalism. All authors and editors sign up to our Editorial Charter and Code of Ethics. And all contributors must abide by our Community Standards policy. We only allow authors to write on a subject on which they have proven expertise, which they must disclose alongside their article. Authors’ funding and potential conflicts of interest must be disclosed. Failure to do so carries a risk of being banned from contributing to the site.

The Conversation – Who we are


The scope is large with the majority of articles falling under the following banners.

  • Business and Economy
  • Environment and Energy
  • Health and Medicine
  • Politics and Society
  • Science and Technology

All of the articles are archived and searchable.  There’s even an Explainer section where all sorts of questions are answered by scientists – What is 4G? – Why is Hendra virus so dangerous? – Why is the sky blue? – What is diabetes?

Follow the conversation (literally) on Twitter : @ConversationEDU

These music clips take you right back to the music of Brisbane in the 70s and highlight the talent of one Carol Lloyd – first as the lead singer of Railroad Gin and then fronting her own band.

HT to JonSouthMusic – YouTube upload

HT MrPurser – YouTube upload

MrPurser is archiving some great Australian music history on his YouTube channel.  Browsing highly recommended.

When the vegetarian in the family visits there is a positive influence on the quality of food that we prepare and eat.  It helps when the garden harvest includes Asian greens, mint and continental parsley.



This is Dug – the dog from the animated film Up. Dug is a perfectly attentive dog until he sees … SQUIRREL!  I have a lot of empathy with Dug.  A lot. My world feels occupied by so many metaphorical squirrels.  Some might call them distractions. I like to think of them as evidence that everything is connected and thus requires exploration.  Trouble is, the explorations are not always deep and meaningful.  As a self-described easily distracted person, I move too quickly from one shiny bauble to the next.  Despite inherent flaws that may make it difficult, I am on a quest to improve my powers of observation.

%22Squirrel%22 - Dug the dog from Up

In her book Improv Wisdom, Patricia Ryan Madson includes the principle: Attend to one thing at a time. I love the idea of this. It’s difficult though. It requires slowing down, being still and noticing more.

Madson suggests going for a walk in your neighbourhood as if you were an alien. When I found On Looking in an airport book shop last week, I connected with it straight away.

on looking - Simon and Schuster - Alexandra Horowitz

Alexandra Horowitz takes walks with eleven very different people and records their perspectives. Just as Madson asks and responds “How much are we missing?  Almost everything”, Horowitz’s work unravels the filters we use to block out what’s all around us.

Horowitz explores the animate, inanimate and sensory perspectives of her walking companions.  They include her 19 month old son, a doctor, an illustrator, a naturalist, an aficionado of letters and fonts, a geologist and her dog.

My next step in sharpening my observation skills is sharpening pencils.  Drawing lessons!

HMV Portable Record Player

Photo credit: NFSA Australia / / CC BY-NC-ND

It may not have been this exact record player that I heard my first sounds of musical theatre, but you get the  idea.  It was the high-tech portability of its time – His Master’s Voice (HMV), now under administration in the UK.

I cut my teeth listening to show tunes into the night while I was supposed to be sleeping. One I’d forgotten, until recently, was Lola Montez, an Australian musical about the dancer and actress who came to Australia to entertain miners on the Victorian gold fields in August 1855.  She was in the country for a mere nine months, scandalizing many with her famous Spider Dance.

Lola Montez LP cover


It’s been a delight to hear it again and to enjoy broad Australian accents belting out songs about Ballarat and the gold rush.  Have a listen and see how it stacks up after all these years.

02 Southerly Buster

05 Saturday Girl

How to have a Sri Lankan feast in your house.

1.  Take two young women and one young man.

2.  Ensure they have recently returned from Sri Lanka and participated in a cooking class.

3.  Check they have string hopper flour and the mechanisms by which to prepare the dough.

4.  Purchase other ingredients according to their scribbled notes and diagrams.

5.  Give your kitchen over to the magic.

6.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and watch the fun unfold.

7.  Be seated and enjoy the food and the stories.

string hopper dough

loading string hopper dough

squeezing the string hoppers

squeezing the dough onto steaming racks

steamed string hoppers

steamed string hoppers

dahl ingredients

red lentils and other dahl ingredients

beetroot curry ingredients

beetroot curry ingredients at the ready

carrot curry ingredients

carrot curry ingredients

chicken curry ingredients

chicken curry ready to cook

eggplant curry

finished eggplant curry


dahl ready to eat

chicken curry

chicken curry

coconut sambal

pol sambal

the feast

the spread