Thursday, September 28, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Pineapple-Mandarin Tea Cake
2 c. flour (add a few extra tablespoons if you don’t like your cake very gooey)
1 ¼ c. raw sugar (or less if the pineapple is sweet)
½ t. salt
1 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
2 T. vegetable oil
Zest and juice of two mandarins (or one orange)
~1 c. minced fresh pineapple (try to catch as much of the juice as possible, too)
egg replacer for 1 egg (I used flax, but if bananas weren’t $15 a kilo I think they would be ideal)
Preheat the oven to 160 (about 350 F). Grease and flour a 9 inch pie plate, or any small-ish baking dish. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, combine oil, mandarin juice and zest, pineapple, and egg replacer. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, combining until uniform, but be careful not to over-mix. Pour the batter into prepared baking dish and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it’s golden-brown on top. Cool a bit and loosen the edges before removing from baking dish (or just serve it like that). Next time I think I’ll try adding either poppy seeds or some combination of cashews-macadamia nuts to the batter before I bake it.
Saturday we had two bottles of wine—it took forever to find one that wasn’t processed with milk, eggs, and fish, but we finally found a few and settled on two different kinds. We had a Frontignac and a Riesling, so we decided to have a nice dinner to go along with the wine. Friday I volunteered at the Women’s Centre, sorting bread donations that women can take whenever they need, so I grabbed a loaf of wholemeal bakery bread. First we toasted that up, and then spread the slices with some black olive tapenade from Vegan Planet. The tapenade was just olives, capers, garlic, and parsley, but Andy thought it was too salty so we topped the tapenade with some tomatoes and basil. We ate those with the Frontignac, and although I know fuck-all about wine, I thought they went pretty well together. After a little break to let the food settle, it was back into the kitchen, where we made some Pad Thai (a really, really bastardized version). We used these fresh noodles (not rice but wheat), some browned up tofu, broccoli, a small Lebanese eggplant, red capsicum, and a tomato from the garden. First I sautéed up the veggies, then added a sauce made from soy sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice. Then I mixed in the noodles and the tofu, and it was ready to go. We dished it out and topped it off with a bunch of bean sprouts, a big handful of chopped peanuts, and wedge of lime, and a few orange cherry tomatoes. The Riesling said it accompanied asian dishes well, so we opened up that bottle for dinner. I had never made Pad Thai, and Andy had never eaten it, but it’s definitely something we’ll be making more often. Maybe it was just an effect of the wine, but he loved it.
We woke up Sunday (no hangover, woohoo!) and went to the market. markets that we know of, and each has stalls selling produce, crafts, and random shit. Since I got here in May we’ve been visiting the city market, but for the past two weeks we’ve gone to a different one. The new market has sweet potatoes for $2 a kilo, so we’ve had a very sweet Townsville has at least 3 potatoey couple of days. We also got heaps of apples, capsicums, avocadoes, a honeydew melon, tomatoes, and carrots. Add this to our weekly visit to the Tight-Ass Saturday Sale (when the supermarket marks down produce on Saturday afternoons) and our fridge was chockablock. We tried chicory for the first time, in a pasta bake with eggplant and oregano, and we bought some baby wombok so we can make spring rolls sometime this week. And we’ve still got one black sapote left from a few weeks ago, just on the verge of ripeness now, in front of the honeydew melon.
Last night we had some left over pasta bake with a salad. Here's Andy chopping up veggies for the salad. It had orange capsicum, bean sprouts, tomato, carrot, and basil leaves from the garden.
Here's a close-up of the salad.
And the chicory-eggplant pasta bake, super-yummy even two days in a row!
Friday, September 22, 2006
And the little herb garden off the patio. We started with two Thai basil plants given to us by our old housemate and a bunch of seeds. Now it’s a bushy little semi-circle filled with basil, Thai basil, parsley, and coriander (cilantro). We also have heaps of herbs planted between the tomatoes (supposedly they keep bugs away), and we’ve got baby chilli plants scattered everywhere as well.
Despite the negative atmosphere of the house (I know I sound like a hippy, but seriously, this house is miserable), life seems to be thriving. Aside from all of the plants taking over our mini-garden, I opened the window a week or so ago to find these gecko eggs. The picture is really blurry because they were so small; that’s a 2 cm long picture hook next to them! Aside from the two in the picture, there were broken shells all around, which leads me to believe that others had recently hatched. The morning after I found them, one shell was hatched open on the floor beneath the window sill. We went away for the weekend, and when we got back the final egg still hadn’t hatched. I don’t know gecko gestation periods, or even when that thing was laid, but we had a feeling it was a dud. We didn’t get to find out though, because that evening Andy watched as a big gecko came and ate it. I know, circle of life and all that crap, but the idea of tiny baby geckos is so freaking adorable…
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
This morning there was a memorial service for Steve Irwin, who died about two weeks ago. It was televised live on 4 out of the 5 channels we get. I think it went from 9 until 10. At 10:30 I turned on the tv to catch the news headlines. For 10 minutes they did nothing but talk about the Steve Irwin thing, recapping everything that had happened just a half hour before. I realise that his death is tragic and upsetting to a lot of people, and I understand the desire to hear about his memorial. But while all of this 'news' was being told, the ticker at the bottom of the screen was focused on an attempted military coup in Thailand. I had to try and decipher the news from a few improper sentences, like "Thai general thwarted in coup in Bangkok. [Channel 7 logo] Tanks surround Thai PM residence. [Channel 7 logo] State of emergency declared--Banks and schools to be closed and Bangkok under Martial Law. [Channel 7 logo] Elections declared unconstitutional. [Channel 7 logo] Bindi Irwin describes Steve as 'Best Dad' at memorial." (First of all, of course she thinks her dad was the best. She's like 10 or something, they all think their dad is the best.) As big as Steve Irwin was, I don't think his memorial should supercede an attempted coup in Thailand. That seems like major news to me. I hate the priorities of the media.
And anyways, as good as Steve Irwin was for education and conservation, I have to imagine that some of those animals he was grabbing and catching weren't exactly happy with him. There are exceptions--when he was catching crocodiles to move them so they wouldn't be shot by farmers, I can see the importance. When he was being cuddled by a Momma orangutan, it looked like she didn't hate having him around. But when he tried to catch all sorts of things just to show them on camera.... I guess it was in the name of education, but it just didn't seem cool, that's all. I would have bit the fucker, if I were a lizard or a snake or something.
The other topic for the day: I turned in my PhD application. There is a very slim chance that I will get a scholarship, since they give out 4 to all the international students that apply. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed, knocking on wood, and anything else that may bring me good luck. The selection criteria is based on a 15 point scale. 5 points are for your academic record, specifically during your last 2 semesters of uni (I had a 3.8something out of 4 during my last 2 semesters). 5 points are for your previous research, ie what you were rated on for your honours/masters research (I got honours, but it was not rated on the same scale as here, so I don't know where I stand with that). 5 points are for your 'research potential', basically your proposal, as decided by the head of the department. One of my potential advisors is the head of the department, so hopefully I do well with that. She said my proposal is good, and she would be 'very pleased to supervise me'. Here's my proposal:
Potential modes of self-determination by Indigenous Australians
Social movements exist on a continuum from reformative to transformative, from the broad to the issue-specific, and they occupy many levels in between. The Rastafarian movement is one example of a broad based movement against oppression from ‘
’. It is also a transformative movement, seeking to collapse the tyrannical system that exists rather than reforming it—although it intends to do this in small steps. In undertaking previous research, I spent 3 weeks in Babylon , including ten days in a Rastafarian community. This research adopted a grounded theoretical approach with a focus on praxis. The findings of this study included the presence of a strong anti-systemic movement that reflects other, more widely known, movements such as that of the Zapatista uprising in Ethiopia . My research focused on the complexities of the Rastafarian movement as a religion and a lifestyle, and how these intricacies impacted the standing of Rastafari as an anti-systemic movement. The unpublished thesis, the culmination of this research project, was completed at St. Lawrence University ( Chiapas, Mexico ) leading to the award of a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Sociology. I have enclosed copies of reference letters from my two advisors. To indicate in more detail the scope and findings of my research project I have also attached a copy of the abstract to the thesis. New York State
I propose to utilise and expand on the findings of my previous research at
. Rather than focusing on the Rastafarian movement, I intend to explore the phenomenon of autonomous social movements in detail, through comparative analysis. Autonomous social movements appear to be a potential epicentre of long-lasting challenge to the global capitalist system. This type of movement, although not new, has only recently received any noteworthy and critical attention. From the Maroon communities of escaped slaves in the James Cook University Caribbeanto the worldwide Rastafarian movement, autonomous social movements work within the system whilst simultaneously challenging it. Other examples include the recovered factory movement in Argentina, the aforementioned indigenous land movement in , and simple cooperative living arrangements (on a micro scale). These autonomous social movements, while working within the confines of global capitalism, try to limit the effects of the system on the internal workings of their groups. As such, these movements may appear to be capitalist in nature, but internally they can operate unbound by the confines of this socio-economic system. Chiapas, Mexico
As integral to this research I propose to look at historical movements to ascertain their strengths and weaknesses as a basis for comparative analysis with contemporary anti-systemic movements. More specifically, I hope to apply these theories to the concept of self-determination being put forth by Aboriginal Australians since the walk-off at Wave Hill in August 1966 (Attwood 2000, Hardy 1968). I hope to ascertain whether the broad self-determination movement shares characteristics with anti-systemic movements such as Rastafari. Limited scholarly engagement exists that examines the social movement aspects of Indigenous movements (see for example Merlan 2005; Maynard 2003; Gibson and Dunbar-Hill 2000). Published works are effectively limited to widely publicized events, as those are the most accessible. The problem with this is that it ignores the many grass-roots actions that characterize autonomous social movements. If my research finds no sound links between autonomous social movements and Indigenous Australians, I will investigate whether Indigenous Australians could benefit from being more like an autonomous social movement in their organising. As a result, it will be imperative to question the implications for both Indigenous Australians and the non-Indigenous government and population.
This research would be multi-faceted with a qualitative nature. The substantial qualitative data already gathered from one of the Rastafarian settlements inThis research is a timely topic: with the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander push for self-determination in the recent decades, a study of this nature would be beneficial for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Additionally, the findings may be useful in determining future government policies. One potential difficulty will be gaining acceptance into communities as a white female researcher, which is an issue and challenge to most ethnographic study. My personal motivations to undertake this research include working with Indigenous Australians to improve their standing within the system, as well as to gain an increased understanding of autonomous and anti-systemic movements in general.
will be used as a basis for comparative analysis. Interviews and participant observation within local Aboriginal communities will provide further empirical material. I intend to record both informal conversations and formal interviews, drawing on individuals from a variety of circumstances to gather the widest possible data. This qualitative data would be compared with available published materials, both sociological and anthropological. For comparisons to other autonomous social movements, the abundant existing research will aid investigation. Current social movement theories put forth by Graeber (2005), Wallerstein (2004), and McAdam and Snow (1997) provide a sound basis for theoretical analysis. Shashamene, Ethiopia
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Shiro with fresh injera. I ate this a lot when I was in Ethiopia. Since there are translation problems, I'm not really sure what it was, but I'll try my best to describe it. You take yellow split peas and dry them in the sun, then grind them into a really fine flour. Then, in a pan saute some onions, add water and shiro flour, and spices. Simmer for a long, long time. Serve on injera (a yummy, spongy Ethiopian flatbread). The best shiro I had was on the road to Shashamene, when we stopped in Lake Ziway at a homebrew liquor store/bar/thingie. The old man's wife made us shiro from scratch, and the injera had been made that day, and it was some of the best food I've ever had.
Sticky Rice with Mango. Preferably from a street vendor in Thailand. Fresh mango, peeled and sliced while you wait, served on the side of sticky rice topped with coconut cream. So rich, it melts in your mouth. Khaw cow-neow mamuang kha was the first phrase I learned in Thai: "I would like sticky rice with mango, please".
Vegan Mac and "Cheese" casserole. I use this recipe, with a few alterations. Vanilla soymilk instead of plain, a bit less salt and soy sauce, a few cloves of fresh garlic instead of garlic powder, and bread crumbs for the top. And, while the mac and cheese is good on its own, it becomes amazing when you mix in fresh veggies, tofu, and/or fake meat before baking. During the spring semester of 2005 I made this at least once a week with my friend Nicole. It probably wasn't the healthiest decision we've ever made, but it was a yummy one.
Ripe, squishy, black sapote. It was hard for me to narrow down my favorite tropical fruits, but I think sapote takes the cake. It is also known as chocolate pudding fruit. Big and green, and hard when you buy it; set it on the counter for a few days, and when it gets dark and really squishy it's ready to eat. Cut it open, squeeze some orange juice over the top, and scoop out the dark brown flesh with a spoon. So yummy, and really quite good for you (heaps more vitamin C than an orange!).
Hot homemade bread with soya margarine and vegemite. Jam for people who can't handle the mite. Hot, steamy bread, no matter what type it is, is one of my favorite foods in the world. And vegemite, with its salty goodness, is a bit of a shocker at first, but after a few tries it's really grown on me. Now it's my main source of B12. It's the kind of food that you can't try once... give it 2 or 3 goes before you rule it out (and use a teeeeeny tiny bit).
Okay, I know I'm supposed to tag five more people for this, but I think that every blog that I read regularly and occasionally has done this already. So, mine is an open tag... if there's anyone reading this that hasn't done it, consider yourself tagged. Just let me know in the comments that you're doing it, so I can have a little read.
Now, the reason I didn't get around to posting this weekend: I learned how to scuba dive! On Wednesday, Andy was offered a job teaching an advanced scuba course with the JCU dive club because some chick cancelled. On Thursday he found out she un-cancelled, and they were going to split the 6 students. Well, rather than splitting the students, they decided to split the 5-dive course. Clair would lead the first 2 dives, they would share the middle, and Andy would lead the last 2. That way, the first day of the trip he could do my open water course. So on Friday afternoon I found out that I needed to get gear, pack, and plan meals for 48 hours. And we had to be there at 8 that night. So we ran around to Remote Area Dive and borrowed some gear. We came home and quickly did the knowledge reviews. We packed up some clothes, and I made 5 peanut butter and jam sandwiches. I figured there would be fruit and veggies around that I could eat for most of the meals, and since it was so last minute I wasn't expecting vegan food to be provided, but there was vegan margarine and toast for brekky, salad sammies for lunch, and then I ate my PB & J for dinner.
Aside from the last-minute notice, the diving was nothing short of amazing. We were out on the SS Kalinda, which was a nice enough boat for our purposes. The first dive, on Saturday morning, started off a little chaotic. We were at Wheeler Reef, and the weather pattern was a little weird. The current was running differently than normal, the wind was coming from the opposite direction, and there was a bit of chop. Nothing too bad, though. Then we had trouble finding an air tank that was full and working. We finally found one, but it was the smallest on the boat. I set up my gear, Andy strapped some weights around me, and we jumped into the water. The current was stronger than I thought, so we descended down the anchor line. I got tangled up in the rope before we even got under the water, and Andy had to come get me out. Then when it came time to descend, I couldn't sink. I let all the air out of my BCD (the little vest that keeps all your gear on your body), and I stayed at the top of the water. Andy had to take some of his weights and put them in my pocket, so I finally sank, but I was a little unbalanced. We had a swim around... the colors were gorgeous. Hard corals, soft corals that looked like bright purple cauliflower, green algae, deep purple sea stars, fish that were every color of the rainbow.... there was so much to see, and I was so worried about checking my air and equalizing my ears and not dying that I missed most of it. I followed Andy around, and then we kneeled down on some sand and did the skills. I flooded my mask with water and cleared it, and then took it off (something that I couldn't do the first time we were in the pool... I completely freaked out). I got my buoyancy as good as it can be when one side of you is 3 pounds heavier than the other. I borrowed his air for a bit. We swam around some more, over a bit of coral that was about 2 meters high, and I whacked my knee on the top of it. Ow.
The second dive went a lot more smoothly. We got my weights figured out, and we went a bit deeper--18 meters instead of just 14. We did the rest of the skills, and this time I was able to see a lot more. There was an anemone with a little clown fish poking around in it. There were sea cucumbers all over the sandy bottom. It's a surreal experience, breathing underwater. The sound of your own breathing is so loud in your ears, and you have no way of communicating verbally. You rely on hand signals and hope for the best, really. At lunch we moved to the other side of the reef, which is barely dived because of the currents and wind. We got lucky... it was beautiful. I went in the late afternoon, so the sun was starting to get a bit weaker and the lighting was more surreal than normal. Huge fish were swimming around, and turtles, and rays, and more colors than I thought possible. At some point in between the dives a big pod of dwarf minke whales started surfacing about 200 meters from the boat. Turtles were coming up for air really close by, and fish were jumping all over.
The next morning we were on the Yongala, a 100 meter long ship wreck between 15 and 30 meters under the water. It's been there since 1911, but no one knew where it was until the 1960s. Because of the conditions (it's in the middle of a sandy patch, with land 12 miles away and reefs 20 miles away) it teems with giant fish that live in the sea weed and algea growing on the hull. I didn't go on the first dive of the morning, because Andy was leading a deep dive and I didn't feel up to it. The second dive, though, was wonderful. I buddied up with a divemaster friend of Andy's, and we tacked along with his advanced course. There are a few points where you can see into the hull, and we saw a sea snake, toilets all crusted over with algae, and a turtle that was the size of a dinner table. It had a barnacle on it's shoulder that was probably 3 inches in diameter, and it was just taking a bit of a snooze in the hull. The fish were massive, some people saw a manta ray and a bull shark (not me... I probably would have freaked!). The only thing I didn't like about that dive was coming back up. We had to ascend along a line, and there were so many people around that kept bumping into me and blowing bubbles in my face. I found out I'm an anti-social diver, but I like being under water a lot. My descriptions aren't very good, because I was overwhelmed with everything that I can't really put it into words. The night we got back I couldn't sleep, because I could feel the boat rocking, and the trip was playing back in my head like a movie. So even though I don't sound that impressed, I thought it was great, and I can't wait to do it again.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
A little over a week ago, we got out of the house and went up to Paluma, a world heritage rainforest /mountain range. There's a teeny little village at 1000 m above sea level, and heaps of walking tracks, and creeks and waterfalls and gorgeous views all the way to the coast. It's about 45 minutes drive from the house, so it was a nice day trip. Of course, my camera batteries died after about 4 pictures, so most of the views will live on in my mind. We played around in Little Crystal Creek, although the water was positively frigid, so although I was prepared with a bathing suit, it was unnecessary. Then we drove up a bit further and hiked a little. The air was so much cleaner and cooler than it is in Townsville. It was refreshing. We went to a few different overlooks, where you could see out to the coast. It was a hazy day, because Brisbane keeps catching on fire and the smoke is finding its way up here. But it was really nice to do something different.
On the way back we stopped at Frosty Mango, this little roadside cafe that has all sorts of tropical fruit dishes. We got a 5 scoop boat of vegan ice cream in exotic flavors--mango, jackfruit, cashew apple (the fruit of the cashew nut), tree grape, and black sapote (aka choc. pudding fruit). Then we went to a really nice beach in a little town and had a picnic near the water, just hummus and eggplant dip with nice bread and veggie sticks. We saw heaps of rays, and I think stepped on a few--luckily they didn't sting me. They did, however, scare the crap out of me. There were a ton of hermit crabs and sand dollars and star fish, too. The water wasn't very nice for swimming in, because it was so murky, but it was a good day overall.
Other than that mini-adventure, I've been hanging around Townsville, mostly. We got a library card (yay for public libraries!), so I've read a lot in the past two weeks. Margaret Atwood, Kurt Vonnegut, Virginia Woolf, George Elliot, and Philip Roth have all had a home in my room for the past fortnight. I've basically come to the end of the perpetual revision process for my PhD application, and I'm planning on turning it in this week. Then I wait--they notify scholarship applicants of the decision by January. I'm still not scuba certified (goddamn Andy's dive gear was broken forever), but that should be happening soon. The Papua New Guinea trip, where I will be a 'research assistant' for Andy's honours research, has been pushed back until October. We are drinking our second batch of homebrew, which tastes good, but neither batch has been very fizzy lately. I cook a lot, especially lately because Andy has been busy with work or his honours. Plus, cooking helps me relieve stress (which I've had a lot of, since I sort of hate living in our house).
Basically, my life is boring, so what would I blog about anyways?? I'll make it a springtime resolution--I will post more often. Spring started 3 days ago here, but who's keeping track, really?