We had guests for dinner last night, and I'm blogging about the pizzas that I made because this is where I keep my diary to refer back to. I was goint to make six pizzas but we stopped at four... The first was the Middle Eastern Vegetarian pizza that I made the other day. This time I sprinkled some sumac on top. Once again it was a winner so this is now part of the standard arsenal.
Here are the other three. Nothing too fancy but all worked a treat.
Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Asparagus Pizza
The base has garlic oil and pesto on it, topped with grated gruyere cheese and slices of tomato. Also some sliced fresh asparagus that had been parboiled for 30 seconds. Cooked and then topped with sliced avocado, smoked salmon, basil leaves and sour cream. This is always a winner.
So, I was playing this song (There's a place up on the hill, let's go, let's go, let's go) in the VW Golf Turbo (rental car upgrade) as I was driving up the very steep hill at night to visit Rob and Marina Izatt at their mini-resort (that they built themselves!) - The Bunyip Scenic Rim Resort.
5 lean pork cutlets, trimmed of fat and cut in half 2 chorizos, sliced and sauted 4 chicken sausages, cooked and sliced 1/2 cup white wine 2 cups chicken stock 1 400g tin diced tomatoes 1 tsp paprika 1 tsp Ancho chilli powder 1/2 red capsicum, cut into strips 1/2 green capsicum, cut into strips 1 brown onion, cut in half and sliced 1/3 leek, sliced 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife 1 400g can of cannelini beans 1/2 400g can of sweet corn kernels Handful of fresh oregano leves or 2 tsp dried Handful of fresh italian parsley leaves Rice
Saute onion on low heat in olive oil for 7-8 mins, then add garlic and saute for another 5 mins. Meanwhile quickly brown the pork in another pan over high heat.
Place the following in a casserole dish - onion, garlic, pork, white wine, chicken stock, tomatoes, leek, paprika, chilli powder, capsicum, oregano and black pepper. Cook at 140-150 degrees for 1.5 hours. Add chorizo and sausage and cook for another 30 mins. Add beans and corn and 3 tsp cornflour mixed with a little water. Cook for another 30 minutes.
Last week I started a series of trips to consult with each Synod in the Uniting Church about the future of Christian Education. It's the part of my project that involves talking to stakeholders. I've devised a group process that involves a 'snapshot' of where we are, identifying strengths, identifying critical needs, mapping the role of each sector of the church, and looking at what needs to change and what needs to stay the same. Of course the process needs to vary for a bunch of reasons.
In Perth (see above - a 'stitched' panorama from 4 pics on my iPhone), we had a group including synod staff, college faculty, rural workers, congregational ministers, congregational and school childrens and youth workers, and lay leaders. In Brisbane I had a morning group of presbytery ministers and an afternoon group that included the synod secretary, college faculty, synod lay education director, several folk involved in presbytery and congregational children, youth & family ministry...
Wonderul, rich and challenging conversations. Great stories of things that are working well. Some common needs being named, particularly across the two biggest states in Australia.
I'm trying to envisage an approach where the Assembly isn't so much a disseminator of materials but rather, listens, learns, researches, and seeks to create synergies across sectors of the church. Could that happen?
More of these to come. A part of me is 'on hold', not having enough space for grief about my brother's death, hence I'm feeling all over the place. But I love this kind of consulting. Shaping a new future for Christian education, hopefully.
And the wisdom, faith, generosity, humour and irreverence of these leaders has been a much-needed tonic for me.
I'm about to start the write-up of the final report which needs to be completed by early Feb 2013 for a March presentation to the Uniting Church's national Standing Committee, who commissioned the research two years ago.
Last night's pizzas were an attempt to use up whatever was in the fridge. I had what I thought were some indian curry-spiced meatballs, and had a plan, but they turned out to be Asian-flavoured. So instead we ended up with this.
Middle Eastern Vegetarian Pizza
Garlic oil, baharat sauce, mozarella, sliced tomatoes (that we forgot to add...), charred zucchini, roast carrot with ginger, pine nuts, currants, coriander, yoghurt. It needed a bit more kick but it was good. The youngest who is the hardest to please has asked for this one again. (If you don't have baharat sauce, and who does, cook up 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp coriander and 1/4 tsp chilli powder and 1/2 tsp ginger in a fry pan and spread the spice mix over the base. Or something like that.)
I thought I had leftover roast lamb in the fridge but thawed some roast pork instead. So my original idea took another left turn.
Potato and Roast Pork Pizza
Pesto, sliced potato, baked leek, hickory-smoked BBQ pork, smoked bacon, rosemary, gruyere, rocket, lemon slices, sour cream. Again, excellent, but I wanted some BBQ sauce perhaps. The lamb version will be stunning.
I had two more pizzas planned but we didnt need them, so I may make them tonight. Stay tuned.
I've spent the last few days setting up my new computer, and at least part of that time has been getting software stuff to work on it. While a lot of that has been dull and tedious, I've also had a bit of a play with some music stuff that I'd forgotten about.
Native Instruments is one of the big music software companies whose virtuasl instruments are used by all of the big names in electronic music, from dance to ambient. They make sensational stuff, including free players that allow you to use a MIDI keyboard plugged into your computer to play a host of amazing sample sounds from their commercial software.
Reaktor is their incredibly variable modular synthesizer, where clever people can prety much mix any components that they like to make weird and wonderful vitual music machines. So what you get for free is a Reaktor Player along with three completely different instruments that have been constructed with multiple sound sets.
Carbon 2 certainly looks the most intricate, which it is. A multi-filter subtractive synth. You get 85 preset sounds which you can then vary if you're game to mess with the knobs! There are some fantastic, complex, evolving sounds. We're not talking electric pianos here. If you do like the new variations that you create you can save the presets.
The twins turned 23 yesterday, so we did a four course meal - nibbles followed by the entree below, followed by Coq Au Vin (Bill Granger style), followed by Chocolate mud cake with strawberry syrup and whipped cream (made by Yvonne).
The entree involved my first-ever attempt to poach eggs! So here's the smoked salmon, asparagus, poached egg with truffle oil, fennel leaves and parmesan. Pretty good, if i do say so myself. (Yes, it was almost a main course in itself.)
Last Saturday was my brother Paul's funeral. Two years older than me. He died from an inoperable brain tumour diagnosed in March, six months ago. I saw him in May when he was already losing short term memory and visual recognition, yet still bright and responsive. Then I was up here a couple of weeks ago and had dinner with Paul and his wife Margaret. He'd had chemo and radiotherapy to slow it down, but it didnt. Paul had deteriorated significantly, but his long term memory was great.
I flew back to Adelaide on the Monday, and he was admitted to
hospital on the Tuesday. I returned to Brisbane on Wednesday, two weeks ago.
After a week in hospital, Paul died last Tuesday. I was playing Cat
Stevens' "How Can I Tell You" on the guitar. Our Mum had walked in the door
just at the same time.
I don't personally know anyone who blogs about their deep, inner spiritual and emotional journey. I don't post from my journal. So anything that I write here sounds descriptive, not disclosing. A part of me wants to share that deeper troubled path, at least for the sake of those who might also go through this.