Sunday, June 26, 2011

In love with linen teatowels!

Here are two of my linen teatowels. They are sitting on my purple spotted ironing board! Not the best background, but they have just been ironed!
I am new to the delights of linen tea towels! For a long time I lived in shared households and with hand me down tea towels. When I began buying my own I worked out very quickly I wanted to avoid any polyester in them, and looked for pure cotton.
I knew linen teatowles were cosidered high quality, but I didn't know why ~  I had gone off linen after being exasperated by such easily crumpled clothes.

Recently I have had one friend educating me about patience with linen clothing (which means finding second hand linen clothes is a boon!) and another enlightening me on the quality of linen tea towels. She has just been given a glorious pile of beautiful linen teatowels that are really works of art. And so she kindly passed on to me a couple of the lovely teatowels she had made, as well as a large brocade one.

Now I understand! SO absorbent! Resistant to dirt and stains! (And better for the environment).

I love them.

Well, I am never too old to learn, and how glad I am to learn this one before I begin my first YamDaisy marketing venture. I plan to get teatowels designed and printed with a yam daisy to promote and raise money for my YamDaisy Cafe project. Guess what! They will be pure linen!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cheers for the Childless

We celebrate Mothers Day and Fathers Day because it is so important to appreciate their care and hard work in bringing up the children that are our future.

I would like to celebrate another group of people whose decisions, care and hard work also affect our future.

I know several people who have made the decision to be childless. Two very dear sisters are among them.

Thank goodness for those people who are not having children! 

Whether their decisions were easy or hard, simple or complicated, their decision means the pressure of populations on our dear Earth is that little bit lessened.

When I grew up the common view was that a woman without children was not ‘fulfilled’ not a ‘proper’ woman, not ‘complete’. No doubt men are maligned similarly. Hopefully we have come a long way from that point of view. But we need to go further. We need to say Hooray! We need to celebrate those people for the decision they have made that benefits every country, every continent, every ocean of our planet.
 And I want to include those men and woman who may not have chosen to be childless, but were made so by cruel fate or circumstance. After all, we celebrate Mothers and Fathers who may have had their children as a result of cruel fate or circumstance! Fair is fair!

I have been thinking about blogging this for a while, watching as Mothers’ Days and Fathers’ Days blossom and blink all over the world. What special day could I use to celebrate those childless men and women?

Well, today is the day. It is my birthday, (don't believe the date on the blog! It is Thursday here, and the day began with this lunar eclipse just before dawn!). 
I am dedicating it this way. I really hope that if you are childless you hear me cheering you, and if you know someone who has decided to be childless, please pass on a cheer from me, and give them a hooray yourself!

Thankyou for reading, and a special thankyou to you childless ones!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Our Melbourne paper. The Age, has a Tuesday Epicure section which was dedicated this week to small, specialist producers.
There are a lot of them!
Animal welfare, respect for the best quality, innovative marketing (eg buying a whole lamb at a time) and lots of specialising. Organic, Permaculture... There is even a new shop opening to cater to the needs of bee keepers!
It is nice to think this part of the food industry is growing up in time to be useful for the Yam Daisy Cafes! And, ofcourse, the YD Cafes will be very useful to them.
While the YamDaisy isn't a high budget enterprise, the idea is that it works like a family home. The economy of bulk cooking, avoiding waste, using what is in season, and in plentiful supply, means that there is room to buy beautiful produce.
And imagine what a difference it will make to such local producers when there are lots of YamDaisy Cafes, feeding lots of local families. Lovely!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hug a Climate Scientist!

There has been such a crisis throughout the world as the evidence of Climate Scientists has shown us truths about our behaviour and the likely consequences on the Earth's systems. To respond properly to the evidence we need drastic change in behaviour, and this is threatening to people who hold a view of the world that will not admit the evidence.
We have seen the sad result of this in nasty threats to Australian Climate Scientists, including death threats. These people work to get us the best information so we can make the best decisions, and we need to show our support.
So today has been declared Hug A Climate Scientist Day.
The picture above comes from First Dog on The Moon: See HERE

How can you help?
If you see a Climate Scientist ~ Give them a hug!
Share this blogpost! (Or the one in the link!)
If you are on twitter, make it a world wide trend by tweeting a message #HugAClimateScientist (or even with all lowercase!)
Or you can follow me on Twitter and retweet me! Find joystevenson
Or find your own special way to highlight Hug A Climate Scientist Day!

Best wishes to you on Hug A Scientist Day June 10 2011!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Win! Win!

I am up to the last page of my presentation folio about my YamDaisy Cafe idea, and it is called Win Win!
But really it is  Win Win Win Win Win!

The customers win because they are getting delicious home style food at prices they can afford.
The Chef/Managers win because they are getting fair, satisfying employment.
Communities win because YamDaisy Cafe's can break down isolation and foster community connections.
The Health System wins because access to nutritious food is key to the prevention and management of  so many chronic illnesses. And also because the YD Cafes can be a useful research point.
All levels of government win because better health and community connections save money.
The environment wins because using local produce cuts down food miles, making things from scratch cuts down on packaging, good systems restrict waste, innovative sustainable designs save energy.
Local producers win because they will have a steady, responsive, local market for their produce.

I wonder how many more I will think up before I am finished!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

6 months....

It is 6 months since I cut sugar out of my diet, although it took about 4 months before I got serious enough to research the sugar content of foods. I blogged about that HERE.
And I have just finished a course of probiotics too.
It is really clear that cutting sugar out of my diet as much as I can has been very good for my health, in fact I feel pretty sure that sugar has been affecting me badly all my life. (I am not sure if the probiotics made any difference at all. That's okay, I can do without spending $60 on them again).

As well as all the symptoms that I describe as being poisoned (I still can't think of a better description) that I am SO glad to be without, the by product has been that I am quickly losing the extra weight I was carrying around, and that is a lovely relief too. Sugar was clearly messing around with my appetite, and now I can eat what I like and know that when I am full I will stop.

So I won't put sugar back in my diet any time soon. I will have to play by ear what I will try and how much. I had a piece of apple that seemed to have no consequence, a Chinese meal that surely had some sugar in the sauce, no problem, and a poached pear that might have been a problem.
A little bit of not too much sugar every now and then seems to be the way to go!

~ I have missed sugar though.
Now when I look through the blogs I follow I skip over the cakes and desserts, too painful!
I do feel a pang in the heart when I see a fresh baklava a friend is having with her coffee.
I SO wanted to make Pasteria Napoletana at Easter.
But it is not too bad, and well worth an occasional regret.

I am finding savoury treats! That is a fun adventure. And ofcourse my main meals are still very easy. The one above is a spicy bean stew with potato wedges, cheesey corn chips and salad from my garden. Tomatoes and sweetcorn are the highest sugar ingredients, and they aren't too bad!

So that's my update. I feel so lucky that I worked out something that was making me so crook and what a simple thing to remedy! Life is heaps better! Cheers!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

World Environment Day

June the 5th is World Environment Day.
The first time I responded to it was in 1986 when I did a series of classroom activities about it. The favourite one was where the children picked a card with the name of an animal or vegetable on it. Then we linked them with string between the animal and what they ate, so they could start to see the web of life and all the connections. It was VERY webby by the time we had finished!

Today there are three World Environment Day items I would love to share with you.

My first thought is for my YamDaisy Cafe idea:
Last year I gave a list of the role YamDaisy Cafe's could play to lessen the environmental footpprint. Chick here to see.

Today I would like to focus on the delight that good environmental practice would give to the YamDaisy menu by quoting the wonderful Eddie of Hoos Cooking, talking about the YamDaisy idea of using local seasonal produce:
"The idea of opening places that use local ingredients and is affordable is a wonderful plan, though.  I would say that some places grow certain things while others may not.  For instance, in my area we have a history (even a tradtion) of growing Gravenstein apples.  My problem with the local chains (restaurants and markets) is that they don't carry them and many growers have ripped out their orchards and planted vineyards in their places.  If a chain restaurant offered a Gravenstein apple pie in midsummer when they are at their peak, I would break my rule of staying away from chains and gladly indulge just to support local growers."
Isn't that a wonderful point! To have an area celebrating, and feasting on, their magnificent local produce with delicious affordable meals.
That is what I am on about!

Celebration of Place:
As well as celebrating local produce I recently began a facebook page to celebrate my place of living. Because I spend a lot of time housebound I really appreciate what is around me when I get out. Even though I live in a big city, all around me is the wonder of nature and the examples of people responding to the particular climate, geology and geography of this place.
Would you like a look at my place? Here it is: Fairfield ~ Around and About.
And here is a picture of Darebin Creek, just a few blocks from my home:

And one final World Environment Day link: The Conversation is a news site where the information comes straight from the researchers. It is a great place to look for reputable science and has a terrific section on  environmental and energy research.

Cheers for our beautiful, precious world this World Environment Day.... and every day!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The First Magic Dal

I had tasted dal before. But this was the first Magic Dal!
I was living in a shared student house on the outskirts of Bendigo and we were having friends over, and everyone made an Indian dish for our feast.

I found a recipe using yellow split peas and I made it carefully: I remember how long it took for the split peas to cook, and how careful I was not to let them catch on the bottom of the pan as they got thicker and mushier.

And I remember adding the tarka and having a taste and being bowled over by the delicious addictiveness of it.  So yum!

I carefully copied out the recipe and remade it often. It was several years later that I heard people recommend Madhur Jaffrey's books, and then found my recipe in one of them.

Now I live in a very multicultural part of Melbourne, the ingredients are easy to come by, and I make the recipe with the little chana dal instead of yellow split peas, and I double most of the spices that go in it too!

You can see Madhur's recipe here: Chana Dal

This is how I do it:
I wash a cup of chana dal about 7 times (saving the water for my garden) until the water runs clear.
I cook them with 1tsp of turmeric powder and a teaspoon of finely grated ginger.
(I do use my pressure cooker being extremely careful to skim the pulses when they begin to boil, then adding the spices and a little oil and pressure cooking for 15 minutes. Often they need a little longer cooking after that, but it is SO much quicker than the hour and a half they take on the stovetop.
Disobey your pressure cooker instructions at your own risk!)

When done, add a tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of garam masala and stir to mix.

Now I heat 3tbsp of ghee (yes you really need that much!) in my small cast iron frying pan. When it is hot add in 1 tsp of cumin seeds and then 2 crushed garlic. This browns so quickly in my pan that I turn off the flame as soon as it goes in. By the time I add 1/4 tsp of my chili powder (which is on the hot side) the garlic is golden and the cumin is fragrant. The chili powder (properly cayenne, but here in Melbourne we mostly call it chili powder. And usually spelt chilli!) froths a little.
Now pour this alchemical mixture into the dal and stir it through. Magic has happened!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

For a friend

Best Wishes
Sometimes life is like this:
Wishing you
and everyone
a good month with plenty of hilltops!