Acknowledging Excellence

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This post is a complete departure from anything I have written in almost six years of writing this blog and is unlikely to compare to any future posts.

While much of the mainstream media is devoted to the antics of celebrities and high-profile sportspeople there are many others all over the world who are quietly working to make the world a better place.  It is impossible to begin to describe the number of ways that people are making a difference to the lives of others.

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards are made in several categories.  The 2016 award in Development Cooperation was jointly awarded to Pedro Alonso and Peter Myler, an Australian scientist who is Director and Principal Investigator at the Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Disease.

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Here is the article and you can read more about their work here.

This short video features Peter Myler speaking about his work and what has been achieved through years of persistence and hard work.

If this post goes even a small way towards raising awareness of the work of people like Pedro and Peter, I will be most grateful.  The dedication and determination of scientists and researchers helps to make our world a better and safer place to live and governments all over the world need to be reminded of that.

 

Darning – My Version

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I have been unwell for a few days so blogging has not been high on the agenda but I am back now.

Tonight I have a quick post to show you how I mended a small hole in the sleeve on my woollen cardigan.

I noticed the hole a couple of weeks ago when I was about to lightly press the cardigan so I put it aside to mend and finally got around to doing it today.

Darning seems to be a dying skill and my method is far from the traditional method but I find it quite effective.  The basic premise is to replicate a weave by running a series of tiny stitches parallel to each other in one direction and then another series perpendicular to the first.  It is generally done in a fine matching wool on knitwear.

Today I used 4 strands of regular sewing thread in a matching colour to darn a small hole in the sleeve of my cardigan.  I do not have a ‘before’ photo but the ‘after’ one shows the result.  It is not perfect but I am happy that the cardigan is still wearable.

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Glass is Good

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I have tried, as much as possible, to reduce our use of single-use plastic.  I know that there is always more that I can do so it is a work in progress, or as some would like to say, a journey.

As with any journey, it is also easier if you are connected with like-minded travellers so I am a member of a couple of different Facebook groups whose members have similar goals.  Some people are keen to remove all plastic, however, I am not about to throw away all of the plastic containers I have (to landfill) so that I can replace them with glass.  On the other hand, I am happy to look for glass when I need some more.

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After much research, I recently purchased 2 dozen Ball preserving jars.  You can read all about them in this post.  I have used some when I made jam recently but am also looking at other ways of using them.

I am aware that some people regularly freeze food in glass but that is not something that I have really done much so I decided that some research was in order as I know several people have had problems with glass jars breaking in the freezer.  This is not a saving of resources or money so I want to avoid that happening.  It turns out that for a glass jar to be suitable for freezer use it must have straight sides – that is no shoulder where it slopes in to the neck of the jar.  The preserving jars which I chose meet this criteria and are also deemed as suitable for freezer use on the panel on the box.

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Naturally, you also need to use commonsense and not put hot jars into the freezer and leave suitable headspace for the food to expand when frozen.  I also choose to chill them first in the refrigerator before transferring to the freezer as well as keeping the lids loose until they were completely frozen.  This strategy seems to have been successful.

Here are some jars of frozen mango puree and refried beans which I was about to transfer to the small freezer downstairs.  I tend to keep this freezer for storage and items which I use on a day-to-day basis in the freezer section of the refrigerator in the kitchen.

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The other purpose for which glass can be used is when taking your own containers to be filled at the shop.  This afternoon I took one of the smaller jars to the deli counter at the supermarket and bought olives.  There was no problem with the staff weighing the container prior to filling to to assess the tare weight and the price sticker was attached to the bottom of the jar.

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Plastic containers certainly have their place and I will continue to use them rather than discard simply for the sake of discarding them, however, it is an interesting exercise to test the boundaries as to how and where glass jars can be used.

 

Not Tree-Hugging Nonsense

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For too long investment in renewable energy, electric cars, sustainable agriculture and a swag of other activities has been seen as the preserve of alternative individuals in our society.  These people are often derogatorily referred to as tree-hugging greenies by those who do not share their values or see the urgency in transitioning our communities to more sustainable practices.

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The Australian government continues to refuse to accept that exponential economic growth at the expense of environmental protection is not the key to our future.

However, I believe the tide is turning.  I have read several articles in the past few days in which the impact of climate change is of concern.  Doctors are identifying health issues, global banks are withdrawing funding for coal mines and an Australian private health fund has announced that it is divesting itself from fossil fuels on the grounds that it cannot reconcile supporting an industry which harms the health and well-being of its members.

This one from APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) is close to home and should be a stark warning to the government that they simply cannot continue on their current trajectory with regard to action on climate change and support of power generation from non-renewable sources such as coal..

As the support for the coal industry wanes and associated funding options begin to evaporate, the government is determined to push on with its agenda of coal at any cost.   The latest idea is to use the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to fund the establishment of more coal-fired power stations using ‘clean coal’ technology.  This is an absolute disgrace and should be stopped.

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And the Cleaning

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When I cook I invariably make a mess.  In fact, we have a standing joke that I cook and GMan cleans up.  I must admit he is very good at doing the dishes and I think he spent the majority this weekend washing dishes.

I finished off yesterday’s efforts this morning by portioning up the refried beans for the freezer as well as cutting and pureeing lots of mangoes to go in the freezer.  Mango preparation is a messy, sticky business.

In between all of this GMan is experimenting with making sourdough bread and he cooked the first two loaves this evening.  I think that is a work in progress which will not be discussed any further until we have some more successful attempts.

After we had dinner it was time to tackle the last of the dishes and eliminate any mango residue from the benches and splashbacks.

The kitchen is now sparkling and my final step was to mop the floor.  Everything is ready to go for a new week.

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Lots of clean and clear surfaces.

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I remember reading about minimalism that clear surfaces simply afford possibilities.  I love the truth of this statement.  From an uncluttered sofa which invites you to sit and relax to a clear kitchen which is just brimming with the opportunity to prepare meals this logic can be applied to virtually every surface in your home.  It can be a powerful tool in creating a mindset that embraces a simple, uncluttered home and life.

 

Cooking From the Cupboard

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My last port focused on using fresh, seasonal produce – mangoes in my case at the moment.

Tonight I am sharing what I cooked today.  Using mostly ingredients that I have on hand in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer I had a big cook-up and made the following:

Bolognaise sauce
Choc fruit and nut balls
**Pizza bases (gluten free)
**Refried beans
Chilli con carne
**Muesli (gluten free)
**Mexican quinoa

We had Mexican quinoa for dinner and have enough for our lunches on Monday.  The bolognaise sauce and zucchini noodles will be for dinner tomorrow and there are 4 serves (2 meals x 2 people) in the freezer.  6 pizza bases are are par-cooked and frozen.  8 serves of chilli con carne are in the freezer.  3 dozen choc fruit and nut balls in the freezer and ready to be added to lunchboxes.  The muesli container is refilled and will last mea couple of months.

The items marked with ** have already been covered in previous blog posts and the links can be found by clicking on the tab near the top of the blog “Recipes – Food”.

Here is the recipe for the bolognaise sauce.

BOLOGNAISE SAUCE

250g mince
1 cup dried red lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Frozen cherry tomatoes + dried tomato powder
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
2 teaspoons vegie stock powder
1/3 cup red wine

Pour boiling water over lentils – allow to stand for at least 2hours. Saute onion and garlic, add mince and brown. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.

You could use canned tomatoes plus tomato paste. Mine are from the garden.

I use a large soup ladle to portion up the mixture.

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The chilli con carne is the same basic mixture but I omit the mixed herbs and add the following.

2 cups kidney beans (I soak and cook my own but you could use canned ones)
1 cup refried beans
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
Tabasco sauce to taste

I will add the recipe for the Choc fruit and nut balls in the next day or so.

 

 

Meals with Mango

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I like to make the most of seasonal produce.  Using what is in season means reduced costs as well as minimal transporting and often there is less packaging.

It is even better when it is grown in your garden or immediate locality.  Thanks to the generosity of some neighbours, I currently have access to an abundance of mangoes.

We have been eating them fresh but there are many ways to incorporate them into meals, too.  Here are a couple.

The other night I made mango sorbet.

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Here is the link to the recipe.  I have also added it below with some slight variations to the instructions to suit myself.

Ingredients

3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups water
4 medium mangoes, flesh removed, peeled
1 egg white

Method

Stir the sugar and 1 1/2 cups (375ml) water in a small saucepan over a low heat until dissolved. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Place mango flesh in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl and add the cooled syrup. Cover and freeze, stirring with a fork occasionally, for 2 hours.

Use an electric beater to beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Fold into the mango mixture. Freeze for 3 hours, until just frozen. Place in a food processor and process until smooth. Return to the pan and freeze for another 3 hours or until firm.

Tonight I made mango salsa.  The ingredients are what I happened to have on hand.  You can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Ingredients

1 large mango, finely chopped
2 birdseye chillies, finely chopped
1/2 can corn kernels, drained
Juice of 1 lime

Method

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

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I served the salsa with grilled chicken and brown rice.  The salsa was an interesting combination of sweet and hot which we like.  This may well be too hot for your liking so you could try finely chopped capsicum (bell peppers) instead or just a pinch of chilli powder.
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