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GOF’s gift to gastronomy

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Photo credit; LOM

Photo credit; LOM

Cooking in the 21st century has become unnecessarily complicated.  It’s like employing a helicopter to relocate a baby wombat from one side of the Murrumbidgee River to the other when I could have done the same job more rapidly and economically using my slingshot.

After tapping your utensils to the beat of the following gastronomic etude you will be left flabbergasted and wondering  “How on earth did GOF reach this extraordinary level of proficiency in the kitchen with so little practical experience?”

The obvious answer is that I was tapped on the shoulder at an early age by the spatula of epicureanism and endowed with the golden gift of culinary genius, because Lord knows it most certainly didn’t come from spending long hours sweating over chopping boards or peering with hopeful expectation into oven windows.

For two reasons;

1.  Someone else has always been happy to step up to the hotplate whenever my plane of nutrition has dipped to a dangerously low level.

2.  I am an excellent browser and forager of nature’s foodstuffs which don’t require the application of heat in order to render them edible.   For example, Weetbix.

From the beginning;

My Mum somehow prevented the early onset of kwashiorkor and the addition of little gof’s name to Australia’s infant mortality statistics, despite all the wowsers and moral missionaries during the 1940’s warning new mothers against “putting your disgusting filthy pornographic nipples into the mouths of innocent babes.”

I survived by suckling on the teats of  Beatrice, our tolerant, nurturing and productive Jersey cow who had all the necessary Government approvals and documentation enabling her to be a wet nurse for Australian children.

Eventually my parents decided that I’d been freeloading long enough so they dumped me on the doorstep of a residential Agricultural College at the age of sixteen.  During the following three years a coagulation of greasy foreign chefs fed me food which clogged my arteries and cemented my stools to Building Foundation Strength Number 10.

Then came New Guinea and a succession of domestic servants, two of whom I am happy to report were considerably more picturesque than useful in the kitchen.  One school of thought is that I was nothing but a lazy, spoilt and  pampered little colonial bastard, but truth is that I was generously contributing to the local economy by employing them.

For the last 32 years Mrs GOF has been captain of my ship of nutrition, so it is always dietarily disconcerting at times like this when she leaves me alone in my inadequately victualled lifeboat to fend for myself.  There is a real risk that I may founder on the shoals of starvation.

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Australia_Coat_of_Arms

This has occasionally been mistaken for Australia’s Coat of Arms.

It is actually a pictorial menu.

Today I choose kangaroo.

Ingredients;    This scrumptious recipe includes all three food groups essential to good health.

1. ANIMALS.     2. VEGETABLES.     3. MINERALS.

1.  ANIMALS;

Skippy mince  with a subtle continental influence.

Skippy mince with a subtle continental influence.

2.  VEGETABLES;

There are green ones, and yellow ones and white ones and orange ones, and they all get put in.......etc etc

There are green ones, and yellow ones and white ones and orange ones, and they all get put in…….etc etc

3.  MINERALS;

These three products contain all the minerals essential for good health such as 551, 635, 721, 257, 312, Sodium, Chlorine and Potassium iodate.

These three products contain all the minerals essential for good health such as 551, 635, 721, 257, 312, Sodium, Chlorine and Potassium iodate.

Cooking;

One saucepan only.  The use of more than one saucepan, one knife, one fork and one plate is extravagant and will result in avoidable sink-misery afterwards.)

One saucepan only. The use of more than one saucepan, one knife, one fork and one plate is extravagant and will result in avoidable sink-misery afterwards.)

Plating up

The secret to truly great food lies in the process which we chefs refer to as ‘plating up’.   Delicious food like this deserves to be presented with love, care and artistic finesse. Please take careful note of the following delicate sequence.

1.  plate on top of saucepan thus

1. plate on top of saucepan thus

2. invert quickly

2. invert quickly

3  voila....GOF's Roo Stew for Bachelors....bon appetit.

3 voila….GOF’s Roo Stew for Bachelors….bon appetit.

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Ooooh……gotta go. Now in what cupboard did I put my Imodium?

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Losing my marbles…..and a bloody big pipe.

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I consider myself no more or less prone to senior moments of forgetfulness than any other living relic of the baby boom.

There have been a couple of incidents which admittedly don’t bode well for the future, such as accusing Mrs GOF of misappropriating my spectacles, only to have it pointed out that they were residing safe and sound just north of my eyebrows where I had put them.
Then there was that other occasion when I forgot to put trousers on before I went off to church, but that, as they all said with a degree of Christian forgiveness and understatement, was no big deal.

The following incident did however send me off to check that my emergency euthanasia stock of Xanax was still where I had hidden it.
(message to self; the ‘hidden’ aspect needs to be urgently reviewed)

I lost a twenty foot long, four inch diameter, heavy duty,
PVC water pipe.  

Just before smoko (morning tea) on Christmas eve I extracted, with considerable difficulty, this pipe from amongst all the junk stored in the workshop roof space and placed it on the floor.

Fifteen minutes later, after enjoying my patented concoction of decaffeinated coffee mixed with powdered milk , cooking chocolate and hot water, I returned to find it had disappeared.  Poof!  Vanished.  No more. Absent.
Totally gone.

Then I heard what I thought was an aboriginal corroboree going on in a distant corner of GOF’s Empire. There was the haunting ‘didyontheoinking’  sound of a didgeridoo being played.  Perhaps the ancient spirits had disapproved of all the naked nymphs cavorting on their land ever since Mrs GOF departed for her PNG holiday. Maybe they only took offence at the seven grossly overweight ones whose frolicking probably caused earthly tremors of such magnitude that they were disrupting the peacefulness of the afterworld. God knows, they certainly were playing havok with my sleep pattern.

Be that as it may, I followed my ears, and discovered…..

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.

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Kebba the frigging dawg.

She’d carted my pipe 120 yards down the paddock and discovered along the way that she could play a didgeridoo by shoving her nose into the end and snorting into it.
She was last seen beating down the regrowth and giant brambles and heading south east with the pipe in tow. The nearest neighbour in that direction is 20 miles away, so if you live in Innisfail and discover a $400 dog attached to a $100 pipe would you please kindly return the pipe.

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Probably culprit

Probable culprit

Kebba the didgeridoo player

Kebba the didgeridoo player

IMG_1141

Heading for Innisfail

Heading for Innisfail

Move, you bastard pipe, why should I have to do all the work.

Move, you bastard pipe, why should I have to do all the work.

One life. Five watches.

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Anchored securely in No 1 position on Mrs GOF’s “One hundred things GOF does which annoy the crap out of me” list must surely be my obsession with forward planning, timeliness and punctuality.
She was raised in a culture which does not give a rat’s arse about any of these things, which probably explains why she is such a perennially happy soul, while I am condemned to eternal (but nevertheless well planned) Grumpy Old Farthood.

Anyhow, be that as it may, here is my story.

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The older one grows the more difficult it becomes to precisely remember life events in their correct chronological order.

The old faithful milestones are still useful; school graduations, geographical relocations, births, deaths, and marriages.
I also have 44 diaries covering the period 1968-2012, but alas they are seriously lacking in useful personal information.

This year I had to buy a new watch, the 5th which I have owned and the purchase dates of each have divided my life into convenient compartments which aid my memory.

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Watch No. 1. Longines 1958 (Google pic)

1.  This first watch was my tenth birthday present. I remember the day as though it were only yesterday. My parents took me down to the jewellers shop in Barker Street, Castlemaine, where I chose this boys Longines watch.  I never tired of the magic of this timepiece and used to lie in bed at night wondering how it was possible for the hands and numbers to glow in the dark….a new innovation in the 1950’s.

This watch accompanied one boy’s very awkward and inept transition through adolescence into young manhood.

Watch No. 2. Seiko 1968 (Google pic)

2. This was my first major purchase after beginning work in Papua New Guinea at the age of nineteen.  At the time, I thought this Seiko Chronograph was the most beautiful and functional man-made object I had ever seen. (These days I would nominate the Cessna Citation aircraft for that award.)   Even today I remain in awe of Seiko’s precision, durability and self-winding technology.

I stumbled upon it entirely by accident. The manager of the Christian Missions in Many Lands at Anguganak in PNG’s remote West Sepik District occasionally imported Seiko watches from Japan for missionary staff, and he had this duck’s nuts of all watches sitting on his desk when I dropped in on him one day.

As my original ‘kid’s watch’ was not water resistant and died a horrible corrosive death soon after my arrival in PNG I could not resist this beautiful piece of machinery.
It cost $80 at a time when my weekly salary was $60.

This watch accompanied me on all the PNG adventures described previously on this blog,  then returned with me to Australia where we did a little outback flying together and discovered on two separate occasions how time could actually stand still when the only engine in a Cessna 206 aircraft fails in midflight.

Watch No. 3 Seiko 1985

3.  This one got up early with me in the mornings to go and milk cows for other farmers and hump backpack sprayers full of Agent Orange over hills and dales to kill their pasture weeds….all just to keep food on our table.
It also kept watch over establishing a partially self-sufficient lifestyle in the Australian bush by planting and harvesting by hand acres of sweet potato, taro, cassava and yams.

Looking at this battered deceased old watch today reminds me that life was not always easy.

Watch No. 4 Seiko 2001

4. This watch continued farming in the mud and occasionally dust, then built shade houses for tree ferns and bromeliads.
It propagated tree-fern spores, nurturing them until they were 70 kilogram monsters dug out of the ground with a spade, then lifted them by hand for transport to landscapers in town.

It also witnessed much of these good works being demolished twice in 5 years by major cyclones and rebuilt them on both occasions.

Watch No. 5 Seiko 2012

5. Bought online from Hong Kong for less than the cost of having watch #4 professionally cleaned in Australia.
This Seiko has a transparent case back which enables me to peer at all it’s intricate inner workings….all the springs and cogs and spinning wheels which makes me appreciate what a privilege it has been to live my life at this time in history and own these beautifully crafted instruments.

I like the idea of this watch and I growing old together, as it is entirely possible that we’ll both run out of tick at around the same time.

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Hubert the hawk, then ‘Waltzing Matilda’.

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King parrots

Rainbow lorikeets

Finches

When I look out the window into the garden and see all the wild birds feeding, it occurs to me that all the humans who spend most of their daily lives worrying about the performance of the FTSE and Dow Jones Indices are missing out on something vastly more important in life.

When Hubert the hawk, circling at 500 feet, looks down into my garden and sees all the wild birds feeding, it occurs to him that here is a banquet, a smorgasbord, fit for a bird of his dominance and distinction, and whilst dive-bombing at 100 kilometres per hour towards them he thinks to himself  “Hubert baby, this is going to be my lukky day.”

Yesterday, unfortunately for Hubert, he made two slight errors of judgment.  (Plus one of spelling.)

Firstly,the birds saw him coming and took evasive action.

Secondly, Hubert, (having failed miserably in his physics exams at the Avian Academy)  in pulling out of his dive failed to understand that the reflection of clear sky in a glass window was fraught with impediments to high-velocity flight.

Something had to give way.

It was not the window.

Hubert was not a well hawk for at least an hour, but after Dr GOF pulled Hubert’s head back out from way down somewhere near his  gizzard, then gave him two panadeines, a healing blessing, a pat on the head and a sip of altar wine from his apostolic goblet, Hubert wobbled his way back up into a nearby tree to contemplate what might have caused things to go so pear-shaped on what was going to be his ‘lukky day’.

Semi-comatose Hubert

healed Hubert giving thanks

(all photographs by Mrs GOF)

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Plus there’s more;

Today I am handing out gifts.

One gift to Gominoklahoma  and another one just for you.

GOM has now been a blog friend of mine for almost 4 years. There is no finer Drabble (story told in precisely 100 words) composer or witty commenter in my blog world. It is time for me to reward him with a special cultural gift of song from Australia, and one for you too in recognition of the time you waste  spend keeping me company in The Bucket.

Waltzing Matilda’ is Australia’s unofficial National Anthem.

‘Banjo Patterson’ (1864-1941), the principal folk poet of Australia  composed the lyrics in 1895 at Dagworth Station near Winton in Queensland’s outback.
Patterson’s image appears on our $10 polymer bank note.

The first of the following gifts is for GOM who has suffered with great dignity and tolerance through so many of my references to this ‘singer’ over the years.

The second is for you.  (Please share it with GOM too because he deserves better than what I just gave him.)  Noel Watson has been called a  “Genuine Aussie bloke with a voice that’ll pin your ears back.”
Plucked from obscurity, he rendered this extraordinary live performance  sung from his heart at the Aussie Rules Football Grand Final in 1988, and it still gives me goosebumps 24 years later.

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From The Bucket’s Complaints Department

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Mr Anders Oberleuter from Kandersteg, Switzerland, wrote;

Hello there Mr Bucket,

This is being Anders here. On the last story you have been publishing photograph shooting from your house looking in the one direction only with the words telling me “Not a neighbour in sight….in any direction.” Yah? How can I know this to be true story from just one picture?
I am now needing the snapshorts looking onto the other three directions for me to believe you telling me the truth.

Long live all your dingoes in the billabong Cobber,

Anders.

Certainly Sir.   My pleasure.
You obnoxious distrustful culturally insensitive old bastard.
Here are the sights which I see when looking through the other windows of my house Mr Oberleuter.

View from the East window

View from the West window

.

View from the North window

OK, are you satisfied now?
I admit that I lied with my original statement, Mr Oberleuter.

The last thing I need is for the likes of you to come poking around these parts interfering with my view.

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This one’s for sunshine

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During recent years I have maintained a habit of taking time out
every day just to be thankful for the blessings I have in this life.
Occasionally I will share one with you.

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Golden gumboot at Tully

Most Australians are probably unaware that there is a tiny part of this dry continent which receives an average annual rainfall well in excess of 150 inches.  The coastal towns of Babinda and Tully bicker and snort at each other every year in their race for statistical rainfall superiority.

Mrs GOF and I live high up on the mountainside behind these two towns taking the full brunt of the powerful moisture-laden south-easterly trade winds after their trajectory across the Tasman and Coral Seas.
Because of the altitude and geographic location we would win hands down if ever a ‘miserableness factor” was applied to rainfall figures.

I never look forward to April, May and June. The blowing fog and heavy drizzle is relentless….day and night….. on average for 25 days per month, and unlike the coastal towns we never even get glimpses of the sun during these days.

For only the second time in 30 years this April has been different.  Whilst we have still received our average 500mm (20″) of rain, it all fell during 6 days, and for the remainder of the time GOF’s Paradise looked something like this;

The mansion

Not a neighbour in sight...in any direction

Pathway down to the "office"

One half of my "office"

The other half

Indestructible Protestantism

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It’s like mercury or Dieldrin.  Once it gets inside your system it’s very hard to get rid of.

Believe it or not this is going to be some sort of explanation as to why my “Comments” are disabled.

Every wet season I become guilt-ridden by remnants of infused Presbyterian righteousness when it comes to the management of comments with my WordPress friends.

It is a sin for one to receive when one dost not give.

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My blogging activities are governed entirely by the following scientific truths.

1.  My computer, in the absence of an onboard nuclear fission facility, coal-fired steam engine or mice pounding away on a treadmill requires electricity to function.

2.  As I have been unable to come up with the $100,000 required to connect to the power grid, or find a method of growing harvestable electrons in my garden composter, I have to rely upon solar panels to produce them.

3. Solar panels go on strike during our wet season when the sun has to shine through 10,000 feet of cloud and rain to reach them.  No amount of verbal abuse or threatening behaviour will encourage them to produce more than a pittance of usable power.

This pittance I must share equally with Mrs GOF.

My share of the pittance enables me to post stories and read yours, but only during rare sunny breaks do I ever get the computer time necessary to compose and post comments.

There are two possible ways that you might be able to help me overcome this problem.

A.  Send lots of money so I can buy more solar panels and batteries.

No. That won’t work. Methodist morality would make me return it to you immediately, with interest added, on the grounds that I didn’t work for it.

B.  This might be a better idea. You could come and suggest to Mrs GOF that watching The Bold and Beautiful every day on TV is a complete waste of precious electrons which could be better utilised by GOF posting smart-arse comments on your blog.

Please let me know in advance when you will be arriving so that I can pre-book an ambulance and a bed for you in the local Intensive care Unit.

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In the unlikely event that you find something in The Bucket which requires correction or urgent comment, or you’d just like to communicate with the Grumpy One, please shove a Private Message down my Chute located in the wall to your left.

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For anyone interested in pictures of our solar power system they are  HERE.