Posts Tagged ‘Lamb’

A Happy Holiday (Christmas)

December 18, 2016

img_20161217_0001

With the issue of a school in Queensland not toeing the Christian line, I thought it best to use both forms; A Happy Holiday and a Happy Christmas.
http://theaimn.com/you-better-watch-out/

Christmas (without snow) is almost here. Yesterday we bought the pavlova and, as is now an Oosterman tradition, we will be roasting the Indian Raan dish. The lamb will be marinated for a couple of days in the yoghurt and lemon mixture with the usual spice of garam masala which includes cinnamon, cloves, chilies and whatever I feel like chucking in. I rarely measure quantities which gives an uncertain and exciting edge to the end dish. Sometimes it bombs but at other times it will surpass even our wildest culinary imaginings. A good Raan in the middle of a hot Australian Christmas is to be applauded and revered. It is really the true spirit of Christmas. It used to be possible to buy a large shoulder of hogget or an ageing sheep. Not anymore. It is all lamb now. A hogget is to be preferred for slow roasting.

But I am straying.

You know how it is! We used to walk with our dog Milo past a house which has a large window reaching to the floor. Very often it showed an old man reading and three small dogs all seated on a variety of cushions. The man and his book on a recliner chair. A charming and intimate picture. Milo would run up to the house and the man and his three small dogs, framed in this large window, would all be aroused by Milo’s short burst of furious barking. The three little dogs did likewise. It would just last a second or so and Milo would dart back to us. It was a little tradition without fail each time. The man would laugh and we would wave to him. It was a neighbourly bit of fun. Then, without warning, the dogs and this man were gone.

The grass at the front of the house is now overgrown and the man’s car hasn’t moved. The curtain, that was never used before is now drawn across the large window. We are not sure what has happened. Milo still expects a return of the fun, but it hasn’t. He looks disappointed each time we pass the house. It has been at least a month since the last barking and waving-back exchange. I hope things are alright and it will all come back, but that’s not a given! Sometimes things don’t return to what was. No matter how one wishes.

Another strange thing which doesn’t bode well is that the chickens on the other side of our fence have stopped cackling. Worse, the door of the pen is open. I suggested to Helvi that perhaps the owner has died. ‘It is more likely that the chickens have died’, Helvi said. I responded, ‘only three days ago they were full on after having laid eggs. The chickens were cackling like mad,’ I added. The owner of the chickens is also an old man. His name is Harley. He has a wooden sign ‘Harley Davidson’ screwed on the outside wall of his veranda. Perhaps he used to ride a Harley bike. I will ask him next time I see him.

Harley always dresses in neat long sleeved shirts and wears jeans. A reserved man with a good sense of humour. He loves his dogs. They are a very large Bernese, and a lively small Jack Russell. Harley also does the gardening, feeds his chickens and reap the eggs. All of these would be combined each afternoon with Harley sauntering around his garden while sipping a glass of white wine and puffing a cigarette, overlooking his domain. A picture of a contented man. No doubt his wife would not have him smoking inside. That’s how it has gone now. I hardly ever see the wife, but she is there. Harley and I sometimes talk a bit and each time he would shake my hand.

I do hope to see him soon and look forward to wish him a Merry Christmas.

I also wish all of you, dear followers and friends, a Happy Christmas AND a Happy Holiday.

The reindeer in Finland are getting nervous. Christmas is nigh.

September 17, 2016

images Christmas shoppers

In the local Highlands Newspaper I noticed an advertisement seeking volunteers to act as Santa. Experience not required, but joviality and those with a deep ho, ho ho given preference. Females with rich chest resonance and dark vocal qualities accepted too. Glass ceilings are being broken here!.

Christmases are coming earlier and with greater urgency. We don’t want to miss out. Business is business and it can’t be harmful if we get the consumer alerted out of their winter slumber a bit earlier. Soon, the heat will be upon us. The cicadas are bursting out of their seventeen year wait already.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2001/02/17/2822486.htm

The Big W store near us has unpacked the Christmas cards and the novelty store nearby is selling beards, holy tinsels and mitres for aspiring Santas. It took us a couple of years to get used to this tropical Christmas. Instead of Holland’s snow and fondant we were supposed to take to beer, barbequed prawns and gherkins pierced enfolded in ham. The first Christmas in church the solemn suit was replaced by singlets, shorts and sweat. The local priest was not unknown to exude alcohol vapours when giving communion at the mid-night mass. Huge bogon moths would swirl around the lights as well as the heads of this herd of pious but slightly inebriated parishioners. One could almost hear the refrain; ‘Rudolf the red nosed reindeer.’

It did not help Dad’s resolve to accept this different type of Christmas. The jolliness of Australian Santa wasn’t really any different from the more solemn North European version, although at the time when we left in 1956, I don’t think that buying presents and spending money was as yet a big deal. It was more atmospheric and certainly a celebration and time of joy in each other and family, including the community. We would go around shaking hands. I suspect that my parents would have missed their own country most at times of Christmas.

We, the kids, would of course be found on the beach and surf, get coconut oil sprayed to hasten the browning up, and eat hot chips when hungry. I had an enormous balsa wood surfboard which I would paddle beyond the surf and miraculously did manage to ride some waves back in. Now, sharks and high rates of melanoma have put a dent in that part of culture. The beaches are notably quieter. Many a surfie is seen scanning the water for any sharks while shark spotting aeroplanes circle overhead. It must be tempting for sharks to see those legs dangling from surfboards. It is their territory.

Perhaps, bush walking and outback adventures will now become more popular. It is rather nice to sit in the shade of a large coolabah tree, sip a cool beer taken from the esky while having a small fire on which to cook some cutlets of lamb or even prawns. At least, your worst opponents might be a snake that got disturbed by you. We are reassured that snakes generally are shy and tend to crawl away. That must be so reassuring. I would rather go bush than surf in the sea.

In any case, Christmas is still three months away. I find the whole idea of yet another Christmas coming a bit disconcerting.

Lamb cutlets and Bok Choy.

April 18, 2015
My parents wedding photo.

My parents wedding photo.

Don’t ever make the mistake of calling lamb cutlets, lamb chops. There is a big difference. We used to like both and didn’t really mind one above the other and never were guilty of bias when it came to eating lamb. Some readers might now well call it quits. I understand and have full sympathy when some of you object to eating animals. I would too, but have found giving up eating meat even harder than smoking and I really loved smoking! A meek excuse hereby offered is that we haven’t eaten lamb cutlets for years. I have to confess it wasn’t due for concern of lambs but more for the concern of money. Lamb became more costly than smoked trout or caviar with Finlandia Vodka.

Sorry about inserting yet another Sibelius’ Finlandia but that’s what you get contemplating lamb cutlets. A beautiful piece of music that I cannot listen to without shedding tears.

I wonder if Australian lamb compares with the Dutch butter mountain some years ago? The Dutch had conquered the world market in butter. It was so successful that other countries  gave up on butter and despaired of their dairy industries. Cows were sold off and lush paddocks were left fallow. Farmers instead went into cabbages,  turnips and many took to the bottle. Stout buxom wives resorted to locking bedroom doors, forcing husbands to sleep off their drunken stupor on top of slow combustion wood stoves or in the hay loft with languid but faithful old horses. Poverty was knocking at many a dreaded midnight farmer’s door. There were scuffles at local town-halls and Russian dignitaries at world conferences were pelted with frozen Dutch butter.

And then, like magic it resolved itself. The Dutch had become so intoxicated with success they went mad making so much butter, so plentiful, it became a butter mountain, the price dropped! An oversupply of butter that no one wanted. (A bit like the iron ore in Australia at present). In order to keep selling this huge oversupply they sold off butter at a loss and compensated somewhat by  increasing the local price of butter in Holland. But…nothing is simple. Hordes of Dutch would now drive to Russia and buy the cheap subsidised Dutch butter, fill up their car- boots and drive back, all snug with having overcome the exorbitant prices now charged for their own butter in Holland.

Years ago in Australia lamb was as cheap as chips. Farmers were not worried because the wool was really the money earner. Then came synthetics and the market collapsed. The logical answer was selling lamb to eat. Soon shipload after shipload of lamb was sold overseas. The locals soon noticed a quad doubling of price. Lamb cutlets are sold now on par with a rare Penfold’s Hermitage wine or a pair of manacled  Diesel jeans.

imagesCAGVCW15

My granddad painting while smoking his pipe. His wife in left bottom corner.

Today I noticed lamb cutlets almost at the due date at half price.  I snapped up two packets and barbequed them a couple of hours ago with bok- choy and spuds. A really lovely meal. It might well be another couple of years before we have saved enough for another lamb cutlet or two.

Nothing is easy but we all keep going the best we can!