Life update

Whew! How is everyone? How’s the weather treating you? This was the misty weather near my place last week. I love misty winter mornings clearing to crisp clear days. Though rainy days are all right too, especially when my garden needs a water.

Tall pines and other conifers standing out from fog, lining either side of a road as it slopes downhill. There's a wire fence on the left side of the road at the front of the pic, and houses on both sides shrouded in mist.

Hopefully at some point this week I’ll get a chance to do some more recipe posts – I’ve made a few great meals lately. I want to do a Fandoms post soon too – I’ve just dived willingly straight back into the Tortall (and other lands) fandom from Tamora Pierce. At some point, I will eventually write up the last part of the Japan trip too (I think preparing for MIV made me forget to do that one!).

However, I’m a bit under the weather at the moment, though thankfully what started as a head cold with a scratchy throat, hoarse voice, stuffed nose and achy muscles is now just an awful-sounding cough. Also, life is life, hectic as usual 🙂 so I make no promises!

What have I been up to? Well, I finished my last block of full-time theory two Thursdays ago, wrapped up assignments on that last week, then this week plunge into a project placement for ten weeks. We’re gearing up to the final five-ish months of my degree, the large part of which is placement-focused. Exciting!!

The garden is going well too.

Two clay pots filled with soil. The right one has lots of green leaves growing, the left has only a few shoots

This picture was taken a week ago, and they’ve grown again since! Looking forward to seeing the finished produce sometime this month, though the plants on the left are taking their time. (We forgot to label them, so I’m not sure which pot has the choi and which pot has the spinach…)

Catch you later!

 

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Entertainment via Interwebs Songs

On Saturday evening I had the pleasure of attending RMIT Occasional Choral Society’s end-of-semester concert, Internet Through The Ages. It was a light-hearted romp through the internet of Things, bracketed by a lovely Prequel to the Internet on one end, and their second (and particularly inspired) rendition of Laudate.

It was a cold night, but the venue was snugly warm. I’d had a full afternoon already, so it was a treat to sit back, relax and be entertained for a couple of hours. Such entertainment, too!

The program had a little bit of everything, making me laugh consistently, as well as smile in admiration for the achievements of the choir. The set was ambitious, with eleven songs in the first half, followed by a lolcat version of a choral mass after intermission, then two final humorous songs to finish. An extra layer of difficulty was added by ROCS being affected by the singer’s dreaded nemesis, lurgy, in the weeks preceding the concert. However, ROCS rose to the task and performed well. The soloists for different pieces were in fine voice, and the choir sections complemented each other.

Many pieces in the performance were, as has become usual with ROCS, written/ composed and or arranged by choir members, or friends of the choir. It makes for fantastic listening, as it introduces you to fresh works and, even in the case of pieces you think you’ve heard before, you won’t have heard them quite like this.

My favourites included:

The Prequel mentioned earlier – a song about the enduring need for communication, delivered by different means across the years, from carrier pigeons to horseback messengers to Morse code. It was written by a friend of mine, with the music composed by another.

Ebay – a splendid rendition of the Weird Al Yankovic parody. It was performed by a smaller sub-group of ROCS known as CORP and featured a strong alto solo. (…. and I now have the original and the parody battling for dominance in my head. 😛 )

All Star – an arrangement of the well-known song in the style of a “Bach chorale following the conventions of the Common Practice Period”. It was quite “wow” to hear it played with like that.

Speaking of “playing with” pieces, another favourite of mine was the Missa Lolcat. It was indeed a choral mass “for teh kittehs” of lolcat fame, paying homage to “ceiling cat” and speaking of “happy cat” among other interpretations. When I say Mass, I mean that – the choir sang through recognisable lolcat versions of Gloria, Credo, Sanctus/Benedictus (with repeated Hosannas) and Agnus Dei! Wow-ee. I enjoyed this piece a lot, despite having little knowledge of the original lolcats, so well done.

Finally, I should mention the riffs on Laudate Nomen Domini. We were Rick-Rolled by the first rendition, and the second one was very well played as well, set as it was right at the end when, usually, all those who know Laudate join in with the choristers on-stage. The interpretation ROCS gave made us all need a beat to re-set before we sang along with gusto.

Bravo, ROCS, and thanks for a wonderful evening!

Vegetarian Stir-Fry with Special Sauce

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while. In fact, I thought I already had, but I’d only written it down…

A can of mixed beans is an awesome base for a vegetarian meal. Get several when you see them on special and store them at the back of the cupboard.

A couple of months ago, I was looking to buy some soy sauce as I was running low. In the supermarket, I spied a sauce that looked interesting called “honey-soy sauce”. I decided to buy it and try it. It has served me well, and this dish was its first outing.

On a white plate with green rim is a mix of green, orange, yellow and white veg covered in brown sauce, mixed with beans
Vegetarian stir-fry with special sauce
Ingredients:
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Veggies
  • Potato, rice or noodles
  • Can of a four-bean mix
  • 1/4 cup water
  • A decent glug of honey-soy sauce
  • Splash of oyster sauce,
  • Half or full teaspoon of chilli
  • A tablespoon of peanut butter.
Utensils:
  • Pot
  • Large frypan
  • Kitchen spoon
  • Knife
  • Chopping board
Method:
  1. Chop veg & onion & potato
  2. Mix water, honey-soy and oyster sauces, chilli and peanut butter together to make the sauce – adjust quantities to taste.
  3. Combine garlic, ginger, onion in a hot frypan
  4. Boil water for potato/ rice/ noodles
  5. Tip veg into the frypan
  6. Start cooking potato
  7. Fry veg for ~5 mins, stirring
  8. Tip sauce into the pan, stir
  9. Add more water if necessary
  10. When it’s cooked, it’s ready to eat with the potato.

Sauce inspired by this recipe: https://hurrythefoodup.com/easy-vegetable-stir-fry-with-creamy-peanut-sauce/

And yes, if you’re paying attention, the marinade for the one-pot chicken dish was based on this sauce! Having been introduced to it, I love this combo.

One-Pot Chicken Meal

on white plate with green rim sits cooked chicken, surrounded by carrot, potato, zucchini, capsicum, corn
Ingredients:
  • Oil, oyster & honey-soy sauces, tsps of garlic & ginger, loaded tsp of peanut butter, half tsp of chilli.
  • Tsp of mixed herbs, half tsp of wattle spice mix, pinch of Moroccan spice mix, dusting of pepper, 1 crumbled stock cube
  • Chicken thigh on the bone (or something like that)
  • Veggies: potato, carrot, zucchini, corn.
  • Onion.
Method:
  1. First make the ‘wet’ marinade: Tip a bit of oil, plus a glug of oyster & honey-soy sauces, tsps of garlic & ginger, a loaded one of peanut butter, a half tsp of chilli into a container. Mix.
  2. Put chicken on the bone in and coat.
  3. Make dry marinade ingredients: tsp mixed herbs, half one of wattle spice, pinch of Moroccan spice, dusting of pepper, 1 crumbled stock cube.
  4. Set aside chicken mixture to rest.

  5. Wash and chop veggies & onion. Slice potato thinly.
  6. Tip dry ingredients onto chicken mix – if I was doing this step again, I’d coat the chicken better, as the dry mix ended up sticking mainly to one side which was mostly skin!
  7. Fry onion and potato for a few minutes until onion is soft – requires medium heat, as you don’t want the onion to crisp up too soon.
  8. Add marinated chicken, then add veggies and warm water.
  9. Bring to boil then simmer for about 20 mins (at least).
  10.  Check chicken to ensure it’s cooked – slice it in the centre, see if juices run clear. (If you forget this step, finish it off for two minutes in the microwave….)

Then you’re ready to serve!

 

… and I have to run. Final week of classes for my last full theory subjects is in full swing!

More Concerts!

Last night’s concert went well if I do say so myself. Go LaTUCS!

We realised at the dress rehearsal the night before that we performed our 2017 May concert on exactly the same date! Funny coincidence.

Now I have to refocus back to uni, but there are other concerts by other university choirs happening soon. I’ll see the ROCS one, Internet Through the Ages, next week on Saturday evening. In fact, there are several concerts happening next weekend as well as this one.

EDITED to add: Queensland University Choral Society (QUMS) are holding a concert with the The 810 Clarinet Quartet, The University of Queensland Chamber Choir and The Stuartholme Singers this Saturday 2nd June, in Brisbane: Colin Brumby, A Retrospective. Sounds fun!

Over in Perth, they’re presenting, “Invictus: Freedom is Coming” on 17th June, back by popular demand after the first concert sold out! So get tickets quickly.

If you’re in Sydney, you can go to the Greenway Series and see Sydney University Choral Society (SUMS) and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on June 1st and 2nd. You could also go to Violets in Her Lap, a performance by Sydney University Madrigals Society (MADS), the following weekend (June 9th).

Adelaide University Choral Society (AUCS) are performing Faure Requiem on June 1st. Incidentally, they’re also hosting the next Intervarsity Choral Festival, Adelaide IV 2019, in January next year. They’re holding a movie fundraiser tomorrow (May 26th) – a screening of the new movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Also tomorrow is a concert from the ANU Choral Society (SCUNA) in Canberra, Four Seasons by Haydn.

Finally, in Ballarat, the 2nd Year Music Theatre group of FedUni are in the middle of perfoming a set of shows called, The Wide Blue. There are still tickets available for tonight and tomorrow afternoon!

Chookas to all the performing people. I love concert season!

Tikka Curry – but not as you know it

The other week, I bought a jar of tikka paste at the supermarket as it was on special. However, I had no chicken in the fridge. I did, however, have some ‘roo mince. So I got cooking…

On a white plate with a green rim are mince, beans and veggies like capsicum, carrot and corn, sitting on fettuccine pasta. A silver fork is visible off to the right.

Ingredients:

  • Two tablespoons of tikka curry paste
  • Vegetable oil
  • Onion, finely chopped
  • Teaspoons of garlic and ginger pastes, plus 1/2 a teaspoon of chilli paste
  • 250ml (1 cup) stock –  I used a stock cube dissolved in hot water for this)
  • Vegetables – e.g. carrot, capsicum, cauliflower, corn, beans
  • Rice or potatoes etc. to accompany the curry

Tools:

  • Frypan
  • Kitchen spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Kitchen knife
  • Chopping board
  • Mug (for the stock)
  • Saucepan
  • Plate & cutlery
  • Container for leftovers!

Method:

  1. Heat oil in large frypan over medium heat, add onion, chilli, garlic and ginger and cook until golden
  2. Add tikka paste and stir to combine flavours – it should start smelling really nice.
  3. Add stock and vegetables and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for fifteen minutes or until sauce thickens slightly
  5. Add the mince to the mixture and stir through, ensuring it is covered – add a dash more liquid if necessary.
  6. Simmer for a further fifteen minutes or until mince is cooked through and everything is combined really well.

I based this recipe off one I found here, and it can be adapted for lots of different meats and or vegetarian style. It was delicious, and I love how the tikka paste made the dish look. The photo above is of the finished product on the plate (yes, that’s fettuccine, I had no rice, potatoes or couscous). Below is a beautiful image of the tikka curry cooking.

A black frying pan sits on a white stove. In it are cauliflower, carrot, green capsicum and corn in a thick and glossy reddish-brown liquid.

Look at how glossy it is! I’m very satisfied with this meal.

 

 P.S. Si

Sing it out as hard as you can…

On Saturday night I was in the audience for the Monash University Choral Society’s  Music Through Time concert. It was fantastic.

Each time I go to one of these I’m reminded of why I keep going. It’s so wonderful to watch friends and other choir members perform songs I know they’ve been working hard on all semester and seeing them having fun whilst doing so. The songs alternately moved me, roused me and entertained me. As I said to a few people after the concert, they all “gave me feels” and it was awesome.

MonUCS introduced me to songs I hadn’t heard before and to new arrangements of old favourites. They sang songs ranging from 12th-century classical through the centuries to 20th-century jazz and pop/alternative, right to 21st-century pieces. There were whole-choir pieces, sung acapella and with accompaniment, as well as solo and small-group works, and pieces with all of these.

Some of the pieces we were treated to included (but were not limited to): Gloria Ad Modum Tubae (Dufay Guillaume) – whole choir piece; Say Love If Ever Thou Didst Find (John Dowland) – a lovely quintet performance; Jesu, Meine Freude (J. S. Bach); Jerusalem (Parry); an SATB version of Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen); a well-carried and embodied Affirmation (Savage Garden); The Longest Time – with a fine tenor melody; finishing with a rousing Sing! (Pentatonix). I’ve taken the title of this review from a lyric of the latter.

Of course, it ended with the after-party, singing more songs until some of us were a bit hoarse, snacking and chatting and playing games, well into the wee hours of the morning.

In short, it was a lovely night out.

Bravo, MonUCS, and thank you! 😀

I’m looking forward to next semester’s concert already.

 

Review: The Chaos Walking Trilogy

The Chaos Walking Trilogy is a series written by Patrick Ness. It’d been on my TBR list for a while, but this past month I’ve finally got around to reading them.

Verdict: fantastic! It’s a beautiful series which explores questions around human nature and morality – secrets, truth, family, love, integrity, leadership, redemption, good and evil… It’s brilliant.

It’s not for the faint-hearted though – it has war, death and quite shocking brutality in it.

The trilogy is set in a dystopian world where all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called Noise. All except human women, that is. The two main characters are two adolescents, Todd Hewitt and Viola Eade, who are forced to grapple with various emotional and physical conflicts as their world shifts and changes.

The first novel is narrated entirely by Todd, the second is told through the viewpoints of both Todd and Viola and the third book is narrated by Todd, Viola and a third character, The Return. Each of books 1 (The Knife of Never Letting Go) and 2 (The Ask and the Answer) end of cliffhangers. The trilogy is best seen as one story told in three parts, as the narrative runs at a cracking pace throughout. It is an emotional rollercoaster and so, so good. The way Ness develops the characters is very well done.

My only quibbles were that I found the cliffhangers kind of irritating – I think if I’d had to wait for the books to come out (instead of having borrowed all from the library at once), it would have been quite frustrating. Ending the first two books at their climax point and having their resolution be the first part of the next book is jarring. It works, but it’s not my favourite technique. Also, as the books are told via first-person narration, when Todd has the POV, be prepared to see a lot of spelling and grammar oddities. It was jarring during the first book, but by the last book I barely noticed it – it’s just what Todd knows.

See Patrick Ness’ website here for more books and a detailed description of the trilogy and go get your hands and eyes on the books! https://patrickness.com/book/

A screenshot of the banner for Patrick Ness' site, reading: 'Patrick Ness, Twice Carnegie Medal Winner' to the left, the middle has images of the three Chaos Walking books and the right side says '10 Years of Chaos Walking'

And if you’ve read them, seek out the short stories – two prequels and a coda – that follow the trilogy. Wonderful world-building. Lovely! I’ll have to update my “Fandoms” post…. tbh, it’s well overdue for an update.

Vegetarian Burrito Recipe

I really do like being creative at dinner. It feels like it’s been too long since I made a recipe post, so here’s one, with a few to schedule as well.

I was making this for a potluck last week – it’s a recipe that’s easy to adjust quantities for, and make a few serves of. Add or substitute different veg as you please; I made this with what I had in the cupboard.

A large black frying pan sits on a stove, holding the burrito meal - corn, beans, carrot, capsicum and cauliflower are visible in a dark sauce

Ingredients:

  • Onion
  • Vegetable oil
  • Morrocan spice mix – I had no separate cumin spice, or “burrito spice mix” in the cupboard, so substituted this instead
  • 1 tsp each of minced garlic and ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of minced/crushed chilli
  • 2/3-3/4 tin of corn kernels
  • 2/3-3/4 tin of Mexican bean mix: had kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans and cannellini beans, I think
  • 2/3 of a carrot (I think?)
  • Half a capsicum
  • A few florets of cauliflower
  • Bread, wraps, etc. for burritos

Tools:

  • Strong kitchen knife
  • Chopping board
  • Large frying pan
  • Kitchen spoon
  • Plate

Method:

  1. Chop vegetables into small pieces
  2. Heat oil in frying pan until hot
  3. Add onion and set heat to medium-high or medium, then fry, stirring, until onion is golden
  4. Add garlic, ginger, chilli and spice mix and stir for 20-30 seconds
  5. Add veggies and fry until tender
  6. Add beans and a little water, then bring mixture to a simmer
  7. Add salt and pepper, then remove from heat and serve.

Remember that this is a meal that’ll get messy as it’s eaten with your hands. It was soooo yummy. A recipe to keep!

 

Concert season is here…

The next few weeks have a few lovely choral evenings open if you’re in Melbourne.

Firstly, this week, MonUCS (Monash University Choral Society) are performing two shows for their “Music Through Time” event. “Join MonUCS as we take you on a musical journey through time in this whirlwind tour of choral music from the 12th century all the way to the 21st.”
Friday 18th (7:30PM_ and Saturday 19th (7:00PM) – get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/music-through-time-concert-tickets-45288554285?aff=efbneb
Facebook event here: Music Through Time
I’ve heard good things about it and I can’t wait to see all their hard work paying off. 😀

Words in white: Music Through Time, with a line slashed through the 'm' of music, the 'thr' of through and the 'e' of time. Background is an image of golden-bronze cogs, with the MonUCS logo in the top left corner

Then, next week, LaTUCS are having our concert on Thursday 24th May at 7PM. 😀 It’s going to be lovely, we’ve got songs from across the world in different languages to sing to you. We’ve called it, “Language of the Soul”. Facebook event here:   https://www.facebook.com/events/586094155090992/ 

Come along and be entertained and delighted. There’ll be something for everyone, so spread the word!

Text: language of the soul, written in gold, silver and pink writing. The background is white with black lines running across under the words like a music staff and green, gold, silver and pink large circles on the page.