John Monash Peace Cantata Performance Announcement

If I’d remembered, I’d have put this up at the start of the day! As is, however, it’s here. LaTUCS (my choir) is going to be singing in a concert in early September as part of a massed choir. It’s going to be amazing!

It’s a performance celebrating the life of General Sir John Monash, the unusual general. Below is some context. 🙂 If you’re interested, the concert is on September 9th in the evening at Hamer Hall, Melbourne. It’s going to tour to other Australian cities for other community choirs afterwards! If you’re in Melbourne and surrounds, come along down to see us – tickets are selling fast so book now!

It’s shaping up well if I do say so myself. And we’re (re)learning a bit of history along the way too… The project is run by More Than Opera and will be conducted by David Kram. We’ll have soloists and an orchestra with us, the massed choir (adults and children). Be there!

*Hums Let There Be Peace under my breath*….hm, now I’m going to have the Cantata songs in my head all night. 🙂

____________________________________________________________________________________________

A world premiere event honouring Australia’s greatest son, John Monash.
Don’t miss out on being a part of this unique event!

A new documentary video for Peace – A Cantata for John Monash!
Who is Sir John Monash and why we set his life to music

0808 – Anniversary of the Battle of Amiens

On this day 99 years ago, Gen. John Monash led the Australian forces in the Battle of Amiens in France. The victory was a turning point in WWI which halted the German advance, and for which Monash was honoured with a Knighthood on the battlefield by the King himself. Monash used his incredible intellect and broad knowledge to utilise all available technologies in a concerted attack which resulted in the war ending sooner, and countless lives to be saved.

MTO honours this largely unsung hero with a grand concert worthy of the immense impact Monash had on Australia, and the world. This promises to be a memorable concert for everyone to know and understand the impact John Monash has had on this city.

6 pm, Saturday, 9th September 2017
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
Composed and conducted by Dr David Kram
Soprano: Lisa-Anne Robinson
Mezzo-Soprano: Kristen Leich
Baritone: Michel Laloum
Bass: Eddie Muliaumaseali’i
Massed adult and children’s choirs
Symphony Orchestra

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to be a part of this world premiere event!

THE MAN, THE MUSIC, THE MOMENT

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!

#MIV2018 Update: Registration is OPEN! 

I’m so excited right now. If you’re interested, follow the links below from the email I received overnight. I’ll be doing that tonight after placement. It’s going to be a blast. Come along!

____________________________________


From the Convenors’ desk…

Hi groovers,

Exciting things are happening in Melbourne. At our AGM a few weeks ago we welcomed Cameron, Gemma and Justina to the committee and we’re glad to have them on board.

And now, for the news you’ve all been waiting for. We are so incredibly excited to announce that registrations for MIV 2018 are officially open!


Register now for the festival and secure your place in the Summer of 69.
We can’t wait to see you – there’s only 6 months to go!

Peace and love,
Alex and El xoxo

MIV2018 Fundraising

img_1186

Hi all.

Life’s been busy lately, as I alluded to last week.

Here’s another MIV update – a particularly focused one.

To recap what I’ve said before: intervarsity festivals bring together choristers from universities across the country for ten intense days of singing and socialising with a major concert at the end. My first festival, last year’s CIV2016, was one of the best experiences of my life and I made an amazing group of friends that just keeps getting bigger. Within the IV movement, I found my tribe. And I really want to help like-minded people find theirs. The IV movement is like one big family – we all have our little differences, which balance and complement each other. Within our IV family, people are free to be themselves. Sounds like a cliche, but I really believe it.

Atm, MIV2018 are launching a fundraising campaign. We have an ambitious target of $20,000, to achieve in four weeks. So tonight we have a Thunderclap to boost our notice. Want to support us in that? It’s suuuuper easy. Just click on this link, choose whether to support it with Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr or a combination, click support and done! It’ll post on your behalf at 18:00 AEST.

We also have a fundraising page over on Chuffed. Feel free to support us in that regard if you wish as well – there are perks which are outlined below. 🙂 If you don’t want to or can’t, no worries – but do you think you could pass the chuffed link on? That’d be fantastic. If you want more information about the IV movement in general or MIV2018 in particular, check out aicsa.org.au and miv.org.au respectively. Registrations for MIV2018 open soon – sign up to the mailing list if you’re interested!

I can’t wait until the festival. It’s going to be great! For another example of what IVs mean for people, read on below about my friend and fellow organiser, Alex.

Alex graduation.jpg
Meet Alex.
She’s been singing with MonUCS, her local university choir, for 11 years now. Alex joined MonUCS on her first day of university, and it changed her life for the better. Singing in a choir gave her confidence and a sense of achievement. When Alex heard about the Intervarsity Choral movement she felt a little shy but decided she wanted to attend a Festival, and her life changed forever. Alex has friends all over the country, an opportunity to travel, to sing, learn and spend time with passionate, like-minded individuals. Alex is a high school teacher now and shares her love of singing with her students.
To help other people like Alex discover the IV movement and find their voice, the Melbourne Intervarsity Choral Festival is planning to perform an ambitious concert in Melbourne Town Hall. The concert will offer the people of Melbourne a musical experience never heard before in Australia and will provide singers from universities around the country, Melbourne high schools and the wider community a chance to be a part of a groundbreaking, history-making performance. We’re passionate about our project, but we need your help.
Our goal is to raise a total of $20,000, and your help is invaluable! 
Our campaign starts now, and we’re offering the following perks to donors:
1. donate over $15 to receive a personal thank you in our concert program,
2. donate over $50 to receive everything in level 1 PLUS an exclusive MIV2018 tie-dyed tote bag,
3. donate over $100 to receive everything in level 2 PLUS the official MIV2018 live music CD,
4. donate over $250 to receive everything in level 3 PLUS an exclusive MIV goody bag.
5. donate  over $500 to receive everything in level 4 PLUS access to 2 of our VIP Concert Tickets for regular ticket price (Melbourne Town Hall has unallocated seating, so these are the ONLY tickets that guarantee you access to prime seating in the stalls),
6. donate over $1000 to receive everything in level 5 PLUS 2 free VIP tickets, PLUS a program signed by our musical director and soloists.
The two highest donations received will get a personal meet & greet with our soloists, musical director, and festival convenors after the performance.

 

Reblog: Resolutions: Good or Bad

I find resolutions interesting. As I commented on Noelle’s post (linked below),

I like ones that are “commitments to try”, so to speak. You know they’re goals and things you’d like to do, but they’re not “have-tos”.

Setting unattainable resolutions can lead to trouble or so it seems – we gain only negative emotions when we revert to old habits after promising to keep to a path for a year.

I remind myself that these are goals, to be practiced and worked on during the year but not mandatory.

With that in mind, some ones for this year are:

  • Do well in my Masters coursework etc.
    – Ask for help if I need it and monitor myself so that the changes of this year don’t cause my grades to drop.
  • To listen twice as much as I speak;
    –   I’ll be addressing this in more depth later, but as I’m a talker and social person who also is a “Feeler” (high F in Myers-Briggs, for example), I worry about my ratio of talking to listening. So I’m working on it.
  • Alongside the above is my want to actively practice my Feeling
    –   Again, I’ll explain in another post, but cultivating my empathetic presence is important to me. These first two are very connected.
  • To get back into blogging
    – I fell off a regular blogging schedule a bit over the second half of 2016, but I’d like to be more consistent.
  • To get back into writing my story.
    – I’ve done quite a lot of backstory-work but haven’t actually done any story-writing for a while. I need to get back into that.
  • To be more active and finding more walking spaces.
    –   I’m not naturally a person who gets active, as I’m not sporty. But I like nature and I like walking and I know I ought to be sitting less. I’m not interested in overdoing it though, as I’m skinny enough as it is.

Idea taken from the post linked below:

What are your thoughts on setting New Years Resolutions? Have you completed yours in the past or are you one of those who forgets what they are? Come read about the good and the bad of setting reso…

Source: {DISCUSSION} Resolutions: Good or Bad

#BringThemHere

https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/refugees/bringthemhere/upload-your-own-bringthemhere-message

I did this yesterday:

ESP Bring-Them-Here_photo 1.jpg
The Equality, Sustainability & Peace (ESP) Group at La Trobe says: #BringThemHere!

We stand with those on Manus and Nauru – we love you and support you. It’s past time for the government to stop stuffing around and close the camps. Set up some humane processes, open up onshore and offshore detention centres and #bringthemhere to #letthemstay.

Momentum is building – join us!

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/17/this-is-critical-103-nauru-and-manus-staff-speak-out-their-letter-in-full?CMP=share_btn_tw

 

 

 

Intersectionality

Hi everyone.

As some of you may know, a few weeks back I wrote a guest post for Carla. She was focusing on different experiences of women, personal experiences. I’d meant to post it here as soon as it was posted there, but other stuff got in the way. I needed to gee myself up a bit, because it’s personal and posting it here is different to posting it to Carla’s blog. (It’s like that whole idea of degrees of separation…Carla’s is one more level removed than here…) Then I realised I needed to edit it, as I had forgot to talk about some things I ought to talk about. Finally, though, it’s here. Ta-da.

 My #YesAllWomen Story
I’ll just say the obvious – the following are musings from my own thinking, influenced by others. I have no formal training in theology, save what I’ve learned in school, at Mass and elsewhere. What I do have is a sense of discernment which has been nurtured in various ways.

I’m a young Australian woman who is both Catholic and feminist. Some would think those two don’t fit. I’m here to tell you that they do – if you reach out with understanding rather than judgement.
I’ve always been Catholic (my parents baptised me into the faith as a young baby). I’ve seen the good side of things thanks to a few well-informed priests (one in particular) and parents, other relatives and friends who have been good examples as well as being willing to discuss things with me and my siblings. I’ve heard and been sickened by the “bad side” of things, the child abuse scandals rocking the Church and stuff. How anyone could do that is beyond me. I’ve also become more aware of the inequalities and hypocrisy in the “institutional Church” (including the flaws which led to the above problem, the handling of which is institutional in many areas).
As I’ve grown up I’ve become more aware of feminism. This has led to an interesting…conflict, you could say, in some matters.
After all, there are certain stereotypes for Catholics and feminism (separately I mean):
* Catholics are (among other things) all totally immovable about rights to life, anti-marriage equality, transpeople and (in certain extremes/ various ways) the role and empowerment (sexually, especially) of women, etc.;
* Feminists are all pro-choice “no exceptions” in many things, including women’s empowerment (sexual and otherwise)…
Total opposites, it seems!
Over time, I learnt that like life, it wasn’t nearly so clear-cut as that. I’m still learning about the different nuances. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Everyone is individual, so we all have slightly different viewpoints about things. I’ve realised that each of us has to decide what we believe in.
Personally, I’m a feminist – an intersectional feminist.
That means that I think that the Church does need to, ah, grow up a bit regarding some things, like sex and women and LGBTI people. However, the Church’s teachings do resonate with me in other matters. I wish to outline a few examples below. It gets a bit wordy, as I like thinking about these things to “get them straight” in my head.
My Catholicism guides me in many ways. I believe that Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of those who follow Him are still important in many ways to our lives today. Like the message of inclusion, non-violence and forgiveness outlasting exclusion, violence and the bitterness that comes from holding onto hurt. Some great theologians (lay and religious), steeped in the Catholic tradition, have said things which resonate with me about authenticity, self-belief and finding one’s path – emotionally and spiritually in particular. I hold onto all of that. Regular readers of my blog will know that by now, given that I do write posts around that reasonably often.
However…
There has been an institutional blindness within the Church caused by an inflexible hierarchical structure of “top-down” solutions. Recent efforts do offer encouragement that this is slowly changing, in the form of baby-steps. I hope that those baby-steps turn into adult steps – soon! If they don’t, then I think it’s highly likely that change will be forced upon them, or else the Church will become increasingly irrelevant.
For starters, the Church has a “women problem”. A lot of Church life is closed off to women, through structures which are still geared towards men. Change is being ‘forced’ upon some parishes already. As more priests retire and no traditional replacements are available, there are more stories of (religiously-trained and lay, married or not) women (and men) leading through necessity. You’ll notice, I also mentioned married men there – I think that there needs to be a rethink on the matter of how they contribute too. We are all people of God – it’d be nice if that was better reflected in what we’re “allowed” to do.
That leads me nicely into discussing LGBTI people. I’ve addressed the “marriage equality” question previously (An Exploration of Equality and Religion and Related Matters). My view is that we should be striving for authenticity as people in all aspects of our lives – including gender and sexual preference. Also, I don’t think Jesus would be that fussed, so long as we “love our neighbour” by practising compassion and mercy. As I say in the linked post above, Jesus was more clearly harsh on those who discriminated and judged others and were hypocrites than he was about their sex lives. The authenticity idea informs other examples, too.
On Carla’s blog, Jenna wrote in defence of her wardrobe. I, too, have had experiences where I’ve been told to dress a certain way. But there was never really that big of an emphasis and it wasn’t because of my gender/sex but because of the occasion (smart casual = Mass clothes usually). I used to not question the general idea. Then, some time ago, I started to. Jenna covered that area pretty well – I dress the way I like to, others’ sense of propriety (and fashion!) doesn’t factor in.
I view the issue of sexual choice and “morality” in a similar way. I’ve grown up with a certain idea thanks to the Catholic faith teachings. I’ve heard some interesting ideas about why it’s “better” to have fewer or none sexual partners before marriage. For example, an idea that previous sexual encounters “colour” the current one, affecting it in ways you don’t want it to be affected if it’s going to last. The problem, as I see it, with the Catholic view (purity and chastity) is that it can lead to shame if the “rules” are broken. This is despite many religious people then saying that we women don’t have to be ashamed – just go to confession and bam! problem solved. That may be nice to hear and feel, but in practice it isn’t always that simple. It still takes time and working through matters.
An overwhelming focus on the sexual (im)morality of certain situations means that miscommunication can result. One person can become guilty over perceived immorality, when the real worry and call for “patience/ abstinence” was actually about emotional maturity. The end result of that is a decrease of communication, followed by feelings of guilt over lying and then hurt from a lack of support/acknowledgement when that guilt prompts the admission of the fact – I’d call that the real sin of the situation, not the sex itself. Thus, the cycle of hurt continues, unless we make the conscious decision to stop and forgive.
Not to mention the issue of shame creates stigma around the survivors of sexual assault and other such trauma, because they’re blamed for “asking for it”. Even when that is also accompanied by blaming the perpetrator, the fact that we blame the survivor continues the cycle of judgement which discourages people from speaking up. It also confuses the issue because in blaming the survivor, we miss the message: no. means. no.
It would be much, much easier if there was less emphasis on the sexual and more focus on the emotional (where the emphasis is/ should be anyway). Then perhaps there might be less confusion and hurt around it. Again – less judgement and more compassion, the way it’s meant to be.
One thing that the Church and some feminists agree on about relationships however: the subject of porn and how it is not good for relationships. It creates unrealistic standards and is demeaning, involving the physical side of things without any context. On the other hand, other feminists disagree. I’m a bit of a fence-sitter on this one.
These ideas and conflicts were reinforced a few months ago, when I went to a Catholic Youth Festival. That Festival was amazing, in many ways. There were so many talks which I gained something from and made me think deeply about myself and my faith. One such talk was by a motivational speaker-type guy, talking about chastity/purity and “love vs. lust” and Catholicism more broadly. Some of the things he talked about were relevant – the emotional content, for example, about “real” love and knowing yourself. There was, however, a lot of “I don’t mean to judge, but girls – stop doing this and start doing this,” and “girls are like this and guys are like that” stuff. Blargh. There were other talks there about faith and love and authenticity which I perhaps enjoyed more – because they were freer of the judgmental talk. There was still a bit of it, but less so. Women – anyone really – should not be dictated to or shamed about their dress or habits, including from other women. It is about personal tastes.
Moving on to another contentious issue: the whole pro-life/ pro-choice thing. This has been an evolving issue for me, as it’s one of those points which many feminists (though not all – see my references) and religious people clash visibly.
Again, I think it is a matter of personal preference and understanding. I believe that by narrowing the debate down to pro-/ anti-abortion (which it often seems to be), we all lose. I believe that contraception and abortion (along with education, healthcare, childcare support, housing assistance and other forms of social welfare…etc.) should be safe and legal. I do not think they should be treated lightly. It’s a delicate balance in my mind. Some have referred to abortion as an “abhorrent form of birth control”. I believe that in the majority it’s more complex than that.
Contraception should be an informed personal choice. Some people have issues about introducing hormones and things into their body, or worry about side-effects and that’s okay. It’s also okay to choose to take them to prevent pregnancy or for other reasons. What is not okay is shaming or pressuring someone else about their choice. I believe that IVF and other supported-fertility treatments have benefits that outweigh the potential “playing with life” label that some religious people might attach, provided appropriate support and protections are given. I’m less sanguine about so-called “designer babies”, where characteristics could be chosen. I accept it on life-saving medical grounds, but I’m leery about other options.
I believe that everyone has a right to life, including the unborn, as I believe life starts at conception. I also believe that “God does not make junk” so to speak, so aborting a foetus just because of a disability, or the circumstances of its conception (and/or designing a foetus specifically to edit out a disability “just because”), is wrong. Of course, there are always exceptions based on individual circumstances. We want all people to have the best start in life. I think we need to talk about these things. My main view is that we should be working on the social reforms which “prevent” abortion by giving better options (like the ones mentioned above), while keeping it safe and legal. I think that it should be the woman’s choice but we need to (in a non-judgemental way) be sure that all lives are valued and that personal conversations are able to happen…not just “you should/not have an abortion because of x”.
Personally, I wouldn’t have an abortion myself. However, if a friend of mine became pregnant and wasn’t sure about keeping the baby for whatever reason, I’d hope that I could help by listening and for her to know that there are options. But if she did choose abortion, it wouldn’t cause a rift. (Things might be a little awkward maybe, but I wouldn’t abandon the friendship just because she made a different choice to my hypothetical one.)
I hope you’re sensing a theme. In all these distinctions and similarities between my Catholic and feminist principles, there’s a common goal: sensitivity, respect for difference and non-judgement.
There are plenty of things where it’s easy (for me) to say that Catholics and feminists agree: care of and empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged communities and care of the environment for future generations among them. Both groups just have slightly different angles.
I gain a lot of emotional support and spiritual guidance from my faith. I support and am empowered by my feminism.
The way I see it, each of us is on a journey, where we have to find our own path. Like I said earlier on, we all have to make our own choices. Just, please, think about using a little less judgement and a bit more understanding.
Below are some links to sites which have informed my views:

Christian feminism: http://godspace-msa.com/2016/03/08/international-womens-day-forging-a-positive-sisterhood/

Baby-steps in Catholicism from the recent Amoris Laetitia document, putting the focus back on dialogue, even if there are still some awkward passages –
Download the actual document here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia.html
Some reactions to it:
http://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/part-3-reactions-popes-reflections-family-life
https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/unity-growth-love-church
One Catholic-feminist mother’s reflection on the document: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/reading-amoris-laetitia-as-a-catholic-feminist-mom/
Why it’s only a baby-step (written by a woman who writes a lot of thought-provoking pieces):

we need a theology of the body broken and violated

Dumping the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”: http://bethwoolsey.com/2013/10/3-reasons-i-quit-loving-the-sinner-and-hating-the-sin/

On dressing how we want to dress, without judgement and why that’s important: http://www.skirtcollective.com/why-my-self-expression-shouldnt-concern-you/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/the-immodest-consequences-of-modesty-policing/

Fixing traditional marriage: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45414#.Vvs5P_l942y

A website for Catholic women – I wish I’d discovered it earlier, it’s been running since 2014: http://www.catholicwomenspeak.com/
(and article describing their mission:) https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/place-table

A website hosting religious blogs & things – the Catholic section: http://www.patheos.com/Catholic-blogs – varies from traditionalist to more progressive-but-Catholic

A feminist-Catholic understanding of Mary, Mother of Jesus:
http: //www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/how-feminism-strengthened-my-christianity/

Abortion is a complex thing: http://skinnyandsingle.ca/2015/08/22/abortion-no-its-not-for-everyone/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/02/abortion-collective-responsibility-and-the-s-word/

Why there needs to be less judgement around contraception:
https:// http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/03/22/i-was-a-devout-catholic-not-being-able-to-get-birth-control-shook-my-faith/

Transgender – not the same as transracial: http://www.upworthy.com/a-black-trans-woman-explains-changing-gender-vs-changing-race?c=reccon1

Sex-selection IVF: https://theconversation.com/choosing-childrens-sex-is-an-exercise-in-sexism-45836?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294+CID_e93b54a12e12cf976f816d0ebf33c746&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=argues

A blog about faith & feminism: http://faithfullyfeminist.com/

Some catholic-trans perspectives:
http://magazine.catholicherald.co.uk/magazine-post/whats-the-truth-about-transsexuality/pugpig_index.html
https://rowanselah.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/god-made-me-this-way/
https://catholictrans.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/what-does-the-catholic-church-actually-say-about-transgenderism/

pro-life feminists: http://www.feministsforlife.org/herstory/

An LGBTI Catholic website tracking progress: https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/

A website for young progressive Catholics: http://youngadultcatholics-blog.com/about/

There are many others. Take a look around the internet – you might be surprised!

 

Miscellaneous 

It’s been a busy time lately, hasn’t it? I’d intended to write a few lengthier posts this week but so far, life’s getting in the way. 😉 Hopefully you’ll see them soon. In the meantime, here’s a link to the latest post of a great blogger whose archives I’ve been reading through: ahoy, Captain Awkward, boon to socially awkward people everywhere! 

Don’t forget to buy your John Monash Peace Cantata concert tickets

Register for MIV? It’s going to be heaps of fun. 

It’s a bit of a silly world out there atm. Make time for the things you enjoy and the people you love. 

Have a cuppa tea and a nice day, people. 

Lemon & ginger tea sits in a white mug with dark polka dots. It takes up the whole picture (handle faces right).

A half-finished lemon and ginger* tea that I made myself last night.


* = how the heck did predictive text get “hungover” from my starting to type “ginger”?? 

#MIV2018 Update: Main Concert Piece Announced! 

I’m so excited… I’ve been sitting on this for months. Speaking of months, #MIV2018 is only five months away! Have you registered yet?? 

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From the Convenors’ desk…
It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. It feels like winter is here to stay, but fear not! MIV and the summer of ’69 is only five short months away. And this month we get to reveal our biggest news yet.

A huge amount of work is going on behind the scenes to organise an amazing festival, but we think there’s one thing that really takes the cake. Without further ado, we’re incredibly excited to unveil our concert for MIV2018. 

The centrepiece of this exquisite concert will be the Australian premier of Edward Elgar’s uplifting ‘Light of Life’

Conducted by our magnificent musical director, Patrick Burns, Light the Dark will be performed on the evening of Saturday the 20th of January 2018, at the Melbourne Town Hall for an audience of up to two thousand people. 

That’s right! Not only do we get to perform the music of a renowned and well-loved composer, but we get to be the first people in the country to perform a dramatic and awe-inspiring oratorio described as a “resplendent and moving” piece, filled with “fascinating orchestral and choral passages.”

If you want to have a listen, check it out here.

Registration is open.
In less than six months you could be taking the stage with us, a full orchestra and hundreds of fellow choristers to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime musical experience. But you must register to secure your place.

The summer of ’69 will be here before we know it. Register now to be part of the magic. We can’t wait to see you in Melbourne next year!

Peace and love,

Alex and El xoxo

Veggie Gravy

A while ago I had a few veggies I wanted to use up. So I found a recipe for veggie gravy.

Looks yum, right? The pink colour is due to the veggies I used.

Ingredients:

  • margarine
  • Finely chopped onion
  • Garlic
  • flour
  • soy sauce
  • water
  • salt and pepper

Tools:

  • Pot/frypan
  • Stirring spoon

Method:

  1. Melt margarine and cook onions and garlic until golden brown.
  2. Add flour gradually and stir continuously to avoid lumps.
  3. Still stirring, add soy sauce and water.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Reduce until gravy reaches desired thickness.

Life Update!

It’s raining/wet! Yay!

Not something I thought I’d say much….but I’ve been reflecting lately. This winter has been too dry (multiple sources have confirmed it) and it’s nice to have rain. Including proper heavy rain-on-roof pattering, not just grey drizzle (looking at you, hometown, and your three plus weeks of nothing but that in the past). What’s the weather been like in other places?

Also, last week I finished placement.

Head, shoulders and upper chest of woman (me) - shown. Woman is wearing blue headband knotted at top of her head, with glasses, a black jumper and pinkish-red shirt. I'm wearing my name-badge and am smiling slightly.

I had a routine while on placement for the start and end of the day. Upon arrival at the community health centre I worked in for placement, I’d sign myself in, receive my student/visitor pass and stick that in my pocket, looping the lanyard through my belt-loops or similar (hate wearing those things ’round my neck). I’d then put my name-badge on. The afternoon ritual was the reverse. Sign out, return pass and take name-badge off as I put on my coat, scarf and beanie. Then I’d walk to the bus stop and head off on my way home.

Rituals and routines are interesting things. They make us as humans – we’re creatures of habit and without them, we feel uncomfortable, some more than others. I bookended the start and end of my day with the ritual of pass + badge on and off because I’d learnt in the mental health subject just prior to placement that those sort of rituals are useful to separate “work” and “life”. It really helped, too, in that first week when everything was a little overwhelming and intense. It was an “I don’t have to think about that anymore today!” trick.

But that meant it left me with a funny feeling when I signed myself out that last time (at least, that I know of….). I worked with a great bunch of people and I learnt heaps. I’m already applying it in my next subject. 🙂

My weekend was a mix of busy, relaxing and fun. In different intervals. Organising something is good – even better when people respond to it with enthusiasm. Hanging out with people and letting other people do the organising (while being very appreciative of them) is also good.

I had fun with friends and made a few new ones, as well as enjoying plenty of good food. I reflected after the second event that when it comes to me and social events, I tend to measure how good of an event it was for me by the quality of the conversations I had with people at that event. If I talked deeply with someone or shared stories with them about mutual interests or an interesting topic that I hadn’t heard about before or something. Bonus points if in one of those conversations, I made a new connection or two or learnt something new about a friend. Light and fluffy conversations are cool too.

Oh yeah, and on Saturday I made myself brunch of sourdough toast (last slices before it went bad 😦 ), beetroot and chickpea dip, “boiled” egg, bocconcini balls and lettuce – leftovers from an event the night before. Verdict: delicious.

Plate with two slices of sourdough toast on it. On top of the toast is dip, lettuce, bocconcini and egg. Behind the plate is a mug of peppermint tea and the clay pot of the dip.

Today’s breakfast was a smoothie with wholegrain toast slathered with margarine. Yum!

Smoothie ingredients: 2x overripe bananas, 8x soft strawberries, 1x 250mL orange juice bottle – all of which needed using up. Plus 2-3 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt and Weetabix Bites crumbs (i.e. wheat flakes with the occasional berry piece). Blend all together until smooth, then enjoy. As you can see, I’ll be having this tomorrow as well… I made nearly a litre of the stuff – the cup below was my second and that jar is 500mL! :O 😀

Four small slices of margarined wholegrain toast on a plate. Behind them is a glass jar full of smoothie (smoothie is light pink, jar lid is yellow) and a mug (white with brown polka dots) full of the same.

 

 

Finally…. I haven’t written a political post in a while, because these days I don’t really have much headspace for it. But today, let’s just say that the note on my About page saying that I “reserve the right to disown the govt we’ve got, because they don’t speak for me” really applies on several fronts – namely, regarding refugees and marriage equality. It’d be nice if we had people in govt who had spines and a sense of decency… Some things have gone on for too bloody long. -_-

 

 

 

Recipe: Rice Pudding

So a while ago I decided to make rice pudding. I was running low on breakfast stuff and figured that rice pudding had to be kinda like a porridge. Which it is, but a bit sweeter than I usually have that. I found a recipe and played around with it.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of rice
  • 1L of milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar (!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Seasoning – I used mixed herbs I think, the original recipe used nutmeg and vanilla essence
  • 1/3 can chickpeas (I needed to use them up)

Tools:

  • Saucepan
  • Stirring spoon
  • Container to store finished pudding in

Method:

  1. Place the milk, rice, chickpeas and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  3. Add the sugar and stir through mixed herbs if desired. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to the boil again. Boil for a further 2 minutes or until the rice is soft and the mixture thickens.

It was very yummy.

Central Australia Trip report #5

Phew. Busy busy. I’ve got some fun stuff planned with food, and my placement only has three days to go – then it’s back to uni for another four weeks before a break. In the meantime….

Day 5

Panoramic shot of sunrise - yellow breaking over horizon, brownish-red dark dirt and scrub in the foreground in shadow

We woke up just before sunrise. Brr! The nights are cold in the outback at this time of year.

map of how to get to the spa

We explored the camp and discovered that the natural springs in the area meant the campsite had a spa of sorts! It was lukewarm, so we all changed into our swimmers and took turns to try it out. Nice – especially after a few days of limited facilities.

Tent as the backdrop to the breakfast things (camper stove with porridge in pot, table set up wit bowls & cups & cereal & water can), with my shadow in the middle

Back at our campsite, we set up and had breakfast – porridge cooked on the camp stove – before packing up the camper-trailer, ready to be on our way again.

After one last look around the campsite to take photos of course.

The next stop on our journey was at a railway siding called, “Beresford”. When the Old Ghan was still in operation, it was a place where trains would stop to take on fuel and water.

There was plenty of graffiti inside the old stationmaster’s house (or whatever the building was). My favourite piece was this one:

Graffitti reading: "Rick and Mycool back in 2014 Been here '92 '95 '96 '09 so glad no-one's wrecked it" in block capitals

The Oodnadatta Track is very dusty and quite rough in places.

View from the Nimbus Mitsubishi of the dusty Track with the Nissan Pathfinder driving up ahead.

We drove on, eventually arriving at William Creek, which sits on the edge of Anna Creek station (Australia’s largest pastoral lease, or something like that). Town population: 13.

Half-oval sign welcoming us to Williams Creek - indicates that petrol, camping, toilets and beds are nearby

There was an area next to the road which had a small graveyard, bits of rusting machinery and also commemorated the rocket tests that occurred in the 50s, including the original rocket. Womble had fun exploring.

(The graves were poignant and out of respect we didn’t take any photos of those. One was of an 18-yo German tourist and the others were a few outback mates.)

The town has one roadhouse which doubles as a pub/general store/petrol station. We went and had a drink there after filling up on fuel. The inside of the bar area had been covered with signatures and cards, each one marking that someone had been through William Creek.

The inner room, the lounge, had signs forbidding people from writing on the walls or ceiling because it is a heritage-listed room. It’s made out of Old Ghan railway sleepers! That’s novel – and different to the “usual” use of firewood….

Heading back to the cars, Womble found the railway cart information board about the Old Ghan and William Creek.

We drove on and eventually rolled into camp at Algebuckina Bridge. Another sunset, followed by another campfire, finished the day.

Burger patty creations (& 2nd mushroom gravy recipe)

A while ago (back in April) I road-tested a mushroom gravy recipe and mentioned that I’d try a second one I’d found “the next time I had mushrooms”. Given that a friend told me the other day that they love a good mushroom gravy, I decided to show this recipe next.

It also provides a good opportunity to tell you about some of the burger patty experimentations I’ve made.

I’ve made a few burger patties now. Mostly using recipes of breadcrumbs, mince, mixed herbs + salt + pepper for seasoning, and egg. At least once, I’ve made them without egg. See below.

The top three pics are from a different occasion to the bottom two.

Now, as for the mushroom gravy and burgers recipe…. has anyone heard of Salisbury steaks?

Salisbury Steaks with Mushroom Gravy – Adam Liaw recipe

I saw this in the Sunday Life magazine when I was back at the family home one weekend in April. I saved the recipe and trialled it. It was very good. The second pic is leftovers. Mmmm.

Salisbury Steaks:

NB. It’s a different way of doing a burger patty, basically. Using ingredients one has to hand rather than, say, having to make breadcrumbs especially.

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice bread torn into chunks
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 onion, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp mixed herbs (optional – recipe suggests option of ground mustard instead)
  • salt and pepper to season
  • Oil, for cooking

Method:

  1. Place torn-up bread into bowl with milk and set aside (10 mins rest time)
  2. Mix milk-soaked bread, beef mince, onion, carrot, egg, mixed herbs (if using), salt and pepper together until well-combined
  3. Shape into four patties and refrigerate to firm up (10 mins rest time – I think I might have skipped this….)
  4. Add oil to large frying pan and fry patties until cooked through (~4 mins/side)
  5. Remove from pan and set aside, covered, to keep warm while you make the gravy.

Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients:

  • Mushrooms (recipe suggests 250g button ones, but it depends what you’re going for)
  • Butter (recipe suggests 30g)
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1&/12 cups stock
  • 1 onion
  • ~2 tsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water

Method:

  1. Slice onion and mushrooms
  2. Melt butter in frying pan (AFTER using it to cook meat – enhances flavour)
  3. Cook onion, garlic and mushrooms over medium heat until golden and liquid evaporated (~5-6 mins)
  4. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly (~1 min)
  5. Gradually pour in stock, water, tomato sauce and soy sauce, stirring frequently. Cook until thickened, stirring frequently, seasoning with salt and pepper (~5 mins)
  6. Return meat to pan and coat with gravy then plate up, spooning remaining gravy over the top

Yum. Delicious.

 

Next time I’ll have to give the recipe I found for a veggie gravy….

Curry time!

I haven’t done a recipe post in a while. This realisation led me to spend my bus ride in on Monday playing, “Name That Dish” with my food photos – a game I’ve been meaning to play for a while.

See, I dropped off the recipes as things got busy in April, but continued taking pics. Some of which are just reminders for me, others which I’ll post here. Arranging them by name was fun. I seem to do a lot of beef and chicken recipes when making meat-based ones.

Today’s recipe post (written last night) is showcasing a couple of vegetarian curries I’ve tried. I’ve made each recipe twice, tweaking it a bit each time, and I’ll continue to make and tweak them. They’re delicious.

Curry #1: Peanut-butter curry with lentils or four-bean mix

Top row is the first time I made this curry, with four-bean mix. The bottom row is the second time I made the curry, using lentils. This is a delicious, mild, creamy curry. I got the original recipe from onemillionwomen.com but have adapted it.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1x onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2+ tsp each spice – for me, these spices were: cumin, chilli, Moroccan spice, curry powder
  • 1-2 pinches/ a scattering of mixed herbs (oregano, marjoram, thyme)
  • 1 can lentils/ four-bean mix
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • Veggies: capsicum, corn, cabbage, carrot, etc.
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • Rice etc. for serving

Tools:

  • 2x pots (1 medium to large, other can be smaller)
  • Stirring spoon
  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • Sieve/strainer to drain rice etc.

Method:

  1. In the larger pot, heat vegetable oil over medium heat before adding the onion, garlic and ginger – it’s a variation of the flavour base I use for a number of dishes
  2. Allow onion to soften for a few minutes (3-5) before adding the spices “right onto the onions” – the recipe which I based my curry on says that this is “essential to developing great curry flavours”.
  3. Allow mixture to combine for a few minutes before adding the lentils or four-bean mix (drained), the tomato paste, and then the veggies.  Stir well and let the mixture another few minutes (2-3) to simmer.
  4. Begin cooking the rice etc. according to package instructions in the smaller pot
  5. When the lentils and tomato paste are combined, add the peanut butter and veggie broth and stir well until the peanut butter has dissolved.
  6. Let the curry simmer for another 25-35 minutes to allow the flavours to really combine – taste it and adjust the spice ratio as needed at the end.
  7. Serve over the rice or whatever you had to hand and enjoy. Delicious!
  8. Leftovers are great for lunch the next day – just make sure that you cleanse your mouth with a cup of tea or a mint afterwards so you don’t get accused of having garlic breath!

 

Curry #2: Chickpea, or “Chana” curry

This curry is lovely for cold nights when you want something to warm you up. It works well when (as in the bottom row pics) you’ve got some frozen pre-cooked veg in the freezer. So yum. I got the recipe from a website after a friend recommended it.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Spices to taste: cumin, garlic, ginger, chilli, salt, pepper, curry powder, paprika, Moroccan spice mix
  • Mixed herbs (marjoram, thyme, oregano).
  • 1x onion
  • 1x can whole peeled or diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1x can chickpeas
  • Veggies: whatever you have to hand – I’ve used beetroot, spinach, radish, carrot, capsicum, peas, cabbage….as you can see in the images.
  • 1x serve of rice/ couscous/etc.

Tools:

  • Two pots, 1x medium-large pot + 1x smaller one
  • Stirring spoon
  • Plate and cutlery

Method:

  1. In the larger pot, heat the oil over medium heat. When oil is hot enough*, add onion then the spices – first the garlic, chilli, ginger, then (after a minute or two), the other spices. Let them combine for a few minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and their juices, then the rest of the veggies – chunky veg are good in this dish!
  3. Raise the heat a little, if you wish, and add the chickpeas. Let simmer for at least ten minutes to create lovely flavours.
  4. Service with couscous or rice. Also beautiful for leftovers for lunch the next day – same warning about mouth-cleansing to avoid garlic breath applies.
    NB. * = I have adopted a trick learnt from this recipe’s original author about how to tell if the pan is hot enough. Test the heat of your oil by wetting your hand and letting a drop of water drip into the pan. If it sizzles, then the pan is ready.

 

Happy cooking!

Central Australia Trip report #4

Scheduled post. Things are still busy. Had some fun over the weekend…if I get time I might tell you about it tomorrow/later this week. I also hope to schedule some more recipe posts soon.

Oh and a reminder that MIV2018 regos are open. I’ve finalised mine. 🙂

Day 4

Camper-trailer is packed up and attached to the Nissan Pathfinder, which is being loaded

The old railway town had been abandoned gradually after it lost its purpose. A team of volunteers, plus a couple of farmers who own the homestead now, are bringing it back to life as a tourist attraction. We had a nosey around in the morning, discovering a memorial to soldiers from the town who’d served in WWI and WWII….

The town ruins….

And the now refurbished underground bakery.

We were really lucky with this – it’s only open at the moment for eight weeks of the year! And the bread is really good.

Look at that! The wheels of the cars had already gone off-road, but they’d be even dirtier by the time we were finished the Oodnadatta Track, which was ahead of us.

Tyre caked in mud on a car

Marree marked the start of the track. As Womble and I discovered, the old train station is there, but there are no trains running through it anymore. The Ghan was moved some kilometres west due to excessive flooding from Lake Eyre, we found out later.

Soon enough we were at the entrance to the Oodnadatta Track – a gravelly bumpy track that more-or-less follows the route of the Old Ghan Railway (which had followed the route of the Great Overland Telegraph Line before it). Thanks to the efforts of early explorers, we can travel south to north today. It took explorer John MacDouall Stuart three attempts to blaze the trail between Adelaide and (near) Darwin. If you’re interested, I highly recommend a book by Bill Peach called “Explorers”.

There were plenty of things to see along the Track…

The first major sight, for me, was Lake Eyre South. That’s half of a life wish fulfilled. J I’ve wanted to visit since it had a massive flood some years ago. The images of how it became so vibrant, so quickly, captured my imagination. So the other half of the life wish will be fulfilled when I return during a flood time.

We ended the day with a campfire at the Coward Springs campsite.