Empty | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

Source: Empty | The Daily Post

When I’m working in the study at home, I use Plex to shuffle through the music library and send it down the stereo to play through the house. I often rewarded (and occasionally punished) with an eclectic blend of sounds throughout the day.

If You Only came on just as I was browsing the (long long long) list of unused prompts in my WordPress folder. The sentiment of the song seemed to fit the prompt ‘Empty‘…it’s sad to think that someone you know could be feeling like this, not realising what they have going for them, maybe wanting to reach out but ‘too’, too whatever to make that first move…

If you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
How everybody loves you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

Well, everybody’s looking
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Oh, what must they be thinking?

And every glance, and every shrug and gesture
It has another meaning
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Well, I know what I think

That if you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
How everybody loves you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

On every tongue a whisper
Oh, I know what they’re saying
Yeah, I know what they’re saying

Do you see that face, it says

“You have no right to be”
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Well, I know what I think

If you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
How good it is to see you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

And on one day
You may find that you’re no different
But ’til that day
We see you waste your days away

But if you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
Just how good it feels to see you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

Don’t you feel so all alone

Don’t you feel so all alone” That’s not a question, it’s a direction…many people don’t see that, can not make that move to reach out…sometimes they just need that nudge, the random phone call, the casual coffee, the ‘was just passing by and thought I’d drop in‘…

Anyway that’s today’s totally random post…Plex has gone on to The Pogues now…

 

Identity | The Daily Post

Find inspiration in one of the popular topics on Discover. For this week’s Discover Challenge, focus on identity. You may use it simply as a one-word prompt, or tell us what the word means to you. Or you might publish a sketch that represents who you are or how you feel today, a poem about identity in our digital age, or a personal essay about who you once were.

Source: Identity | The Daily Post

I began drafting this post around the time of one of the recent active shooter incidents in the US. It says so much that such incidents are now so frequent that I cannot remember which it was, possibly Orlando…

The aftermath of each of these incidents is marked by bitter ‘weapon’ versus ‘ideology’ outbursts and exchanges. I do not thing that either side really gets the issues: each tragedy is little more than an excuse for each camp to dust off (not dust-off which is a far more noble act) respective meme collections.

It is America’s right to have whatever laws, rights and responsibilities that it wants to inflict on itself. I have no more problem with the Second Amendment than I do with the Fifth although I would offer that the rights of the Second should be read and applied in the context of their context i.e. as the people’s contribution to a well-regulated militia…the key phrase being well-regulated.

The ‘right’ to espouse an ideology probably falls under the First Amendment…the one that protects free speech…but again that comes with responsibilities. We have probably all heard of, if not actually read or heard the actual words, Oliver Wendell Holmes “crying fire in a theatre” quote. For the record, this is what he actually said to give context to those words:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.

Those legally bent or who just like to read some exceptionable well-written English can read Justice Holmes’ full opinion in the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute Web site.

Contrary to the good Justice’s opinion – the key work in his theatre analogy is ‘falsely’ – in the information domain, the random and rabid shotgunning of the information militia (plural) is as destructive regardless of whether it has elements of truth or fact or not.

Every time those ideological memes fly, their sole function, intended or not, is to fan the flames of ideological conflict. As much as I thought it needed work (thought #1, thought #2), what we are seeing is the phenomenon that David Kilcullen theorised in The Accidental Guerrilla: the more something is ‘fixed’, the worse it gets. This is the irony of irregular warfare.

With regard to the active shooter incidents in America, there is another factor in play that may not be present or which is certainly less present in incidents. A large element of American psyche identifies with the ‘main in the white hat’, ‘one riot, one ranger’, the rugged individual standing against all odds, etc. This ethic is quite commendable and certainly not unique to the US. What sets it about in the US though is the accompanying mindset that a gun is what you use to resolve an issue.

We’re not on any sort of moral high ground here or in Australia where the national equivalent is a punch in the head, or the desire to deliver such but that ‘message’ has to be delivered up close and personal, it cannot be delivered from across the street or even across the room; and it is far easier to neutralise. In the UK, or parts thereof, the local equivalent maybe a cloth cap or the good old ‘Liverpool kiss‘…again, attacks with limited projection or lethality from afar…

It is this overwhelming cultural drive that guns solve problems that is America’s challenge. It’s not how many guns you have or what sort they may be. It’s not what you believe or who you disagree with. It’s not how accessible guns or unsocial ideologies may be. Those may all be separate concerns  but, weapon or ideology, it’s the drive to resolve what angsts you with a gun that is the problem…

Jump to 1:02 The Lone Rider

I love those rugged individuals roles immortalised by Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Jan Michael Vincent, etc etc but I don’t build my life around them. When I have a beef with the local council or my employer or the grit truck driver or the mailman, I don’t feel I have to to take a gun to resolve the issue or make myself feel better.

It is one thing when the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred. It is quite another when those worlds begin to overlap…where the ‘final option’ becomes the only option…

Having said that, we can hum ‘Imagine‘ all we like…COIN 101 reminds us that cultural shift happens over generations but being honest about the problem is the first step towards a solution…

Pumpkin, corn & chilli loaf

 

DSCF0291A  month or so ago, we had a series of minor domestic disasters that led to a flood until the kitchen wall into the back pantry. During the resulting rapid relocation of the pantry’s contents, I uncovered a dehydrator. I always sorta kinda knew it was there but had never been that inspired to pull it out and give it a whirl.

DSCF0299

Post-disaster, since it was already sitting out there on the pool table, I removed the labels – it had never been used – and downloaded the manual. My first victim was a pumpkin that was at risk of passing its best-by date. Three -quarters of it, peeled and diced into 1cm chunks, nicely filled the dehydrators five trays.

I found that the recommended drying time was out by a factor of two i.e. I had to dry the pumpkin chunks twice as long as recommended in the manual. It doesn’t draw much power but is fairly noisy so it’ll be relocated into the newly-dried pantry for future dehydrating missions.

DSCF0266

Three-quarters of a largish pumpkin shrank down to about three cups of pumpkin chips.

Initially this was just a bit of an experiment and a useful fate for a pumpkin that was overstaying its welcome in the fridge. I wasn’t actually too sure what I was going to do with the end product. Then I saw this recipe in the Sunbeam manual…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups dried pumpkin pieces
  • 2 x 125g cans creamed corn
  • ¾ cup extra light sour cream
  • ½ cup coarsely grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 1 long fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Spray an 11 x 21cm loaf pan with cooking oil. Line the base and two long opposite sides with non-stick baking paper.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the pumpkin, corn, cream, cheese, eggs, butter and chilli. Stir the mix until just combined and spoon it into the pan, smoothing the surface.
  • Sprinkle the seeds over the top. Bake for about 1 hour 5 minutes or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.
  • Transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool slightly. Cut it into slices and serve warm.

Source: Sunbeam DT5600 Food dehydrator manual

It tastes great but is very heavy: a 1cm slice is a good light meal for me. I just drop it in the toaster til it’s nicely toasted and spread a thin layer of butter over the top. Tonight though, I used a very thin layer, maybe 1/2 a teaspoon, of chilli oil instead of butter…yeah, baby!! That rocked!!

In Seeing corn in a new light, I speculated whether heat  was the catalyst for the chilli effect in this oil.. After tonight’s experiment, I can confirm that this chilli oil is definitely self-initiating…

Insights

The pumpkin rehydrates nicely which is good. it is probably also too much pumpkin for a single loaf.I think it couple safely reduced by half especially if the chunks can be run through the grain mill (on a very coarse setting) into smaller bits.

The suggestion of a single chilli is ridiculous: this small amount is completely overwhelmed by the pumpkin and corn. 3-4 long chillies would be more effective.

Two cans of cream corm is overkill. I think that one can plus a cup of either coarse corn meal or drained corn kernels (or a half and half mix of both) might make this loaf less heavy (or more light).

The pumpkin and corn also beat up on the cheddar cheese. This might be better – in a smaller quantity – as topping added just before the loaf is removed from the oven i.e. just melted over the top…

Since I am now doing my own wheat grinding, the next version of this loaf may also use home-ground flour instead of store-bought flour. My goal is to ultimately only use home-ground wheat for all baking, reserving store-bought for mundane tasks like kneading surfaces…

Beetroot Coffee Cake

DSCF0289.JPG

I found this recipe years ago. I’ve made it quite a few times, as writ, with the chocolate but always found the the cocoa overwhelmed the colour of the beetroot.

This time I thought that I might drop the cocoa and focus more on the beetroot. I erred in thinking that I needed to sub something in to replace the cocoa – I didn’t actually need to because the cocoa is not vital to the actual baking process – and added one then two (because one seemed too weak) tablespoons of Moccona coffee granules.

Everything else was as per the instructions

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder (nope, 2 tablespoons of Moccona coffee)
  • 11/2 cups of flour
  • 11/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  •  A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of castor sugar
  • 1 cup of light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 3 free range eggs beaten
  • 1 cup of cooked beetroot, pureed
  • 2 tablespoons of walnuts, finely chopped

Method

  • Sift the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Mix with the sugar.
  • Add the oil, vanilla, eggs, beetroot & walnuts.
  • Mix well – until it is a glorious purple colour.
  • Pour into a buttered and floured 18cm (7in) round or square pan.
  • Bake at 190 degrees for 50 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Cool before removing from the pan.

Icing

  • 1 cup of cashew nuts (110g)
  • 1/4 cup of strong coffee
  • very scant 1/4 teaspoon of black sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon of pure maple syrup (10g)
  • 4 tablespoons of vanilla castor sugar

Place the nuts in a cereal-sized bowl and cover them with water. Let them sit at least 6 hours, or, better still, overnight.

Drain the liquid, then combine all the ingredients in a small food processor or blender until super-smooth.

Apply this evenly over the cooled cake.

Insights

If you’re going to add coffee to a cake, do it the same way as the icing and mix it into a paste or small quantity of super strong coffee. The dark flecks in the cake are the undissolved Moccona granules. The additional moisture might not go astray either.

I hate the quantity of oil that goes into the this recipe but love the rich colour from the beetroot. I’m going to retest on this by using beetroot in the same cake base as last night’s kumara cake. That will probably use more beetroot so I’d be anticipating an even richer colour.

The cashew and coffee icing absolutely rocks!! It makes this cake. The coffee kick is quite strong but any potential bitterness is more than mitigated by the sugar and lemon. It was just a little slushy so next time I will reduce the quantity of liquid in the coffee.

I like walnuts so will double the quantity next time.

Edit: forgot to name my source, Chocolate Covered Katie, which I found through this great list at Skinny Mom – I am keen to try some of these other icings but really want to focus on pumping out moist cakes first…

 

Kumara Cake

DSCF0290.JPGKumara this winter has been on special – $1.99/kg – so I naturally stocked up and then had to find ways of consuming it all: you can only soup so much…this kumara cake had a certain appeal…It’s quite simple (I found the recipe on http://www.foodbox.co.nz)

What you need:

  • 150 grams of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar (I used raw sugar but next time will use a banana or two)
  • 2 cups of flour ( I used high-grade but next time will use my own home-ground flour)
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt (I used black sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups of peeled and grated kumara
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts

What you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • Melt the butter and blend in the sugar
  • Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
  • Mix in the wet ingredients.
  • Mix through the kumara and walnuts into a thick wet mix and pour it into a lined cake tin.
  • Bake it for around an hour til a skewer comes out clean.
  • Once it’s cool, remove it from the cake tin and peel away the baking paper.

Now the good bit…the icing…

Take 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 60 grams of cream cheese, a cup of icing sugar and teaspoon of lemon rind and blend them with a hand blender until the mix is really smooth.

Spread this evenly over the cooled kumara cake…

Don’t forget to lick the spoon…

Insights

Tasty great, with a nice twist between the spice in the cake and lemon of the icing…still a bit dry but I hope that subbing a couple of bananas for the sugar will fix that plus paying more attention to baking times i.e. checking to see if it passes the test before the recommended hour of baking is up…

 

 

Look Up | The Daily Post

This week is all about taking a moment to check out what’s going on above you. For this week’s challenge, take a moment to look up. Whether it’s the fan above your head at work, your bedroom ceiling, or the night sky, what do you see? Is it familiar? Or does it show you a new perspective on your surroundings?

Source: Look Up | The Daily Post

DSCF0236

Looking up

This dead tree towers over State Highway 4 as it snakes under the Makatote Viaduct between Horopito and National Park Village. I’ve driven this road hundreds of times and only noticed it when i was driving back from my physio appointment yesterday. I’m not sure if it’s the result of a lightning strike but it surely is a candidate for one now…

DSCF0231

DSCF0232

Looking across

The viaduct has been undergoing some serious maintenance the last year or so and the plastic shrouds are to prevent sprays and dust contaminating the environment around the viaduct.

DSCF0248

Looking down!!!

Someone’s clearly had a party!! And dumped the rubbish at the lookout by the viaduct. Most of this is recyclable: bottles, cans, and pizza and beer cartons. That just goes to show how lazy some people are: there is no charge for dumping recycles at the transfer station. Some of the good lads from Downers were there tidying this mess up. A highlight of their day – not!

DSCF0251

One of the problems we have up here is campers who can’t get their heads around the fact that when the bin’s full, the bin’s full and that doesn’t mean they can just stack the rest of their rubbish beside it. A rubbish bin does not denote a dumping site and this is why all the rubbish bins have been removed from places in the Park like Whakapapa Village: put one out and half an hour later it’ll be buried under a pyramid of rubbish bags.

DSCF0252 These apples were dumped at the side of the lookout car park. Sure, they will eventually break down but that still doesn’t making this blatant dumping OK…

As you drive around the Park, and you see dumping like this, take some pics and report it…even better, if you see someone doing this, take their pic and report them…

Chocolate chip and pumpkin..?

DSCF0237

This was a quick fun recipe a couple of nights ago.

13254909_1002294839818736_7052927233352757553_oI’ve been eagerly awaiting the launch of the Harvest Stir It Up range of non-dairy milk powders – not in the Taumarunui New World today …grrrr – and found the link to Kimberley’s Humble Bee Pie blog on the Stir It Up Facebook page and from there I discovered her recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

It is so fantastically simple,  you almost expect it to come with Admiral Ackbar’s warning…

…but it is this simple…take all of this:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of LSA. (ground linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds)
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons of oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup of milk (I used almond coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg (nutmeg because it was the first one I saw)
  • 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips (I used white chocolate buttons because a. I don’t like dark chocolate that much and b. I have a bag I bought for our deluxe extreme bread and butter pudding before Terri and figured that the white chocolate chips got better distribution through the mix)

…and dump it in the blender and stir it all up for a minute or so before spooning the mixture into muffin trays.

Bake them for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees.

When they’re done i.e. browned on top and a skewer comes out clean, take them out and let them cool for half and hour or so before taking them out of the trays.

DSCF0239

Yummy

Pour encourager les autres

Baking cakes is not yet one of my fortes…I can do a mean beetroot chocolate cake but I’m not really a chocolatey type – note to self: try it without the chocolate or significantly reducing it – and so what’s the point…The banana peel cake was OK but fairly bland and had enough sugar in it to excite a kindergarten of pre-schoolers…

DSCF0225

Toasted

I’m getting right into coconut as a core ingredient and bought some coconut flour from Hardy’s in Taupo to try it out as an alternative to wheat flour and because I like trying new things our.

I searched for cool things to do with coconut flour and found this recipe for a coconut cake + coconut icing that was dairy- and processed sugar-free. I also liked that it was a Kiwi website as well so there was no need to translate any ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup liquid honey
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Directions

  • Preheat oven 170C. Line and grease a 25cm springform cake tin.
  • In a small saucepan gently melt the coconut oil until liquid. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey. Add the eggs one at a time whisking well between additions, then add the vanilla and lemon juice.
  • Combine the coconut flour, baking soda, salt and desiccated coconut in a large bowl. Pour over the egg mixture and whisk thoroughly to combine. The mixture will be quite wet but the coconut flour will absorb a lot of moisture as it bakes.
  • Pour into the tin and bake for 30-­35 minutes. Check with a skewer.
  • Remove from the tin and cool completely on a cake rack.

The cake itself was quite easy to make but came out a bit dry but I’ll take responsibility for that – got distracted with someone else and left it in the oven an extra five minutes or so. I also didn’t read into the comment about the coconut flour soaking up a lot of the liquid in the mix. I dallied before pouring it into the baking dish: it started to set in the bowl and didn’t lie smoothly in the dish.

It was the icing that destined this cake to be recycled. Because the top was so uneven, I caked the icing on thicker than was good, so thick that the taste and smooth texture of the icing overwhelmed the cake buried beneath. I should have delayed using this icing recipe until I had some more natural coconut i.e. other than the supermarket coconut that the recipe warned might be too dry and/or defatted. I couldn’t get it to breakdown into butter so I added more coconut oil which kinda worked – if it hadn’t been so thick.

I did try toasting the top of the iced cake to see if that lightened it up at all. It was a slight improvement and would have worked had the icing not been so damn thick.

DSCF0226

Ready to recycle

The cake and the icing are both largely coconut so, deeming this particular attempt sub-optimal, I recycled it through the blender into my growing stash of almond/coconut meal from my increasingly more frequent production of almond coconut milk. On the upside, I shared half the initial production with the taste team at the Ohakune I-Site, and catching up with them today – with some oatmeal pumpkin muffins, they were surprised that I’d thought this mix a failure.

That sub-optimal performance was largely down to me, and mainly in the icing. I bought some coconut chips today from the natural bulk shop in Taumarunui and will give this another go soon…

DSCF0241

Efficient use of energy: drying almond coconut meal (mixed with blended failed coconut cake) on top of the woodburner

 

 

Tourist | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt Tourist.

Source: Tourist | The Daily Post

I’m not really into the tourist thing…most places I go I like to slip away, wander around, and mix with the people…pix of me doing the tourist thing are thus few and far between…

Me in Hawaii

Mandatory posed pic, tourist luau, Oahu, 1988

Mark and Ricki's Wedding - Fiji 58

Doing the tourist thing, Fiji, 2003

Burn | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt: burn.

Source: Burn | The Daily Post

When they refurbished our woodburner, they took out the damper in the flue and opened up the air vent at the base of the fire box.

The net effect of this was that there was more air coming into the combustion chamber, more than the flue could handle once it was heated, especially a good burn with really dry wood.

So what would happen was that the heated air would go about half way up the flue – it is about 6 metres in length – before it created a vacuum behind it and came rocketing back down the flue. On occasion we would have jets of flame a metre long blasting out the air vent! Not only did we have to put up with a smoky home but the point in the flue where the hot air reversed flow would build up and block with soot…

The solution after trying everything else was to stop the air vent, opening by about a quarter inch so that the air coming in was proportionate to that amount that could go up the flue…