Old fashioned service, two inspirational women, do we need a big kitchen, prawn and broccoli stir fry recipe, e-bikes

Where have I been?   Recently I’ve neglected blogging as I have spent a lot of my time in the activities of the South Gippsland Spinners & Fibre Arts Group  together with continuing my studies of the Spanish language, which I absolutely love, plus pursuing lots of outdoor activities with friends and family.   Now I’m ready to get writing again, so here goes.

Appreciation of ‘old fashioned’ service

I’m as guilty as the next person of shopping in the big stores, on line or looking for the cheapest price, but recently the appreciation of what is termed ‘old fashioned’ service was brought home to me.  I have been making a satin blouse, inspired I have to say by watching a film where a female detective, who during the course of the series, wore the most beautiful selection of satin blouses;  so feminine.  I always use my overlocker to neaten seams but practicing on a spare piece of material, I soon realised that threads in the satin were being pulled.  Seeking information on the internet I was told you have to make french seams when using satin.  What a job that would be, so I went to my local dressmaking/material shop where I knew the owner was very helpful.  I took a sample of my material which I had overlooked;  she immediately told me that I should have removed one of the needles in the overlocker and explained the reason.  She then spent time with me choosing the best buttons to enhance the blouse.  The ones she suggested weren’t what I would have considered until she laid them out on the material.  Yes, her prices are a little higher than an outlet that sells absolutely every need at low cost, but her help and guidance were priceless.  

Heidi’s steps

Usually you would expect steps, as in steps down from a verandah, would be a job for a contractor, not a retired lady.  Well, Heidi Norman will prove you wrong.  Heidi came to live a few roads away from me some 10 months ago.  The house she bought was a relocated house with a garden on a slope backed by large trees.  Heidi had vision for her plot, having the trees removed leaving large stumps which in time also had to be removed.  She laboured away moving earth, flattening and planting, making raised beds and installing a shed.  Recently she had a deck built but needed steps down to the garden.  I was amazed when she told me she had been building the steps herself.  I went around to have a look and couldn’t believe my eyes.  I asked her where she learnt her skills and she told me by watching her husband (now separated) over the years.  I am full of admiration for her.  

Not only a ‘step builder’ Heidi has recently turned her hand to learning to spin.  Like all new spinners it takes a while to get the hang of co-ordinating hands and peddles, but progress is being made.

 

 

Robin’s Pond

When we look around their are inspiring ladies everywhere.  For example, Robin Blakely, who also lives a couple of street away from me and will be 83 this year, dug out a pond in her garden.  Apparently Robin carefully planned the pond which is 2  metres long x 1 metre wide and 140cm deep and only removed sufficient material that she could comfortably wheel barrow to a different area of her garden.  She didn’t want to end up with a huge pile of dirt.

Pond under construction

She told me the project took her some 6 weeks to complete.
As the earth was removed Robin had to stand down in the hole, filling buckets with earth and placing them on the edge by the barrow. 
She used her kitchen steps to exit the hole and always had her iPad close by in case of emergencies.  She lined the pond, filled it with water and stocked it with 5 fish whose numbers have now risen to 30.

Completed pond

 

Robin contacted a local iron worker to construct a canopy for the pond to deter Herons from catching her fish.

What a wonderful achievement and asset to her garden.

 

 

 

 

Do we need a big kitchen?

I’m probably posing this question because I have a very tiny kitchen and have to admit to a certain amount of jealousy when I view a beautifully appointed space.  My husband reminds me that when he was in the army a cook could produce hundreds of meals in a small galley.  What do you think?

I love to have a bake-in but because of the space available have to be very tidy and wash up as I go, filling the dishwasher at the same time.  Do any of you follow Mary Berry on ABC or Youtube. She’s been going since the 60’s when I used to follow her avidly as she always promoted bake-ins in those days.  I’m still following some of her ideas.  Here’s one of my efforts from which you will see my really small work bench.

Although I still do the occasional cook-in, I have to say that I’m more inclined to quick recipes so am sharing one of Mary Berry’s recipes from her book, Mary Berry Quick Cooking.  I usually only reprint vegetarian recipes but the prawns can be substituted by an alternative such as flavoured tofu.  For myself, I would use chopped up quinoa or lentil burgers which I always have available in the freezer.  

Mary Berry’s king prawn and broccoli stir-fry with black bean sauce

“A lovely, quick dish for a midweek meal. If you can’t find oyster mushrooms, use chestnut mushrooms instead,” says Mary Berry.

Ingredients:   (Serves 4)

2tbsp sunflower oil, 2 large shallots, very thinly sliced, 2cm knob of fresh root ginger, peeled, and thinly sliced, 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced, 350g peeled raw king prawns, deveined, 250g broccoli, broken into tiny florets, 150g oyster mushrooms, thickly sliced, 6tbsp black bean sauce, 2tbsp dark soy sauce,  Juice of 1/2 lemon,Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Heat a large frying pan or wok until very hot. Add the oil, shallots, ginger and chilli and stir-fry over a high heat for 30 seconds. Push the vegetables to one side of the pan, then season the prawns with salt and pepper and add them to the centre of the pan. Fry for about two minutes until starting to turn pink.

2. Tip in the broccoli and mushrooms, toss together using two spatulas and fry for two to three minutes.

3. Mix the black bean sauce, soy sauce and lemon juice together in a bowl. Add to the pan and toss everything together well. Stir-fry for another two minutes until the prawns are cooked and the broccoli is just tender but still crunchy.

4. Serve piping hot on its own or with rice or noodles.

 

Having an electrical bicycle

My husband’s cousin, a Welshman living in a country village in Denmark, bought an electric bicycle to help him get around.  He was having trouble walking due to arthritic knees and was suffering due to lack of exercise and getting out in the fresh air.   Recently my daughter and her husband, although not yet retirement age (but creeping closer), bought themselves an electric bike each to enjoy riding the rail trails.  Obviously two different reasons for having an electric bike so I thought I would have a look at the advantages for retirees.

Apart from bicycles being a wonderful means of transportation that helps preserve the environment, reduces air contamination, ecological footprints, carbon emissions and is healthy and fairly inexpensive, an electric bike gets you out on the road having fun.  Electric bikes will never completely replace the regular bicycle or the car but by eliminating the barriers that stop so many people from riding, such as their health, hills or distance, the combo of cruising and cycling that e-bikes provide saves effort and some sweat so that you can burn calories but prevent your ride from becoming a full-blown workout.  

Does any reader have an e-bike they could tell us about, do post a reply if you have and tell us about your experience.

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I’ll sign off now with this quote:

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream another dream

Janice

p.s. don’t forget to have a good time

 

 

 

 

 

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About Janice Graham

I was born in England in 1938 and migrated to Australia in 1976. During my working years, along with my husband Ken, I managed a goat dairy and distribution business supplying health food products. At the same time I took up the challenge of helping build a mud brick home and lived a somewhat 'alternative' lifestyle. Since retirement I have published three e-books, two on vegetarian cookery and a collection of short stories from my younger years. My pastimes are studying the Spanish language, volunteering as a Crisis Counsellor and Community Visiting. I have been married for 54 years, have a son and a daughter and five grandchildren plus a little terrier called Sophia.

1 thought on “Old fashioned service, two inspirational women, do we need a big kitchen, prawn and broccoli stir fry recipe, e-bikes

  1. Elaine

    Janice, I have just spent a very enjoyable 30 minutes reading some of your “blog”. I will re-visit your site later today. You are a very talented writer and your entries are thought provoking as well as interesting and educational. I have certainly embraced retirement and am never bored and that is obviously your philosophy as well. It is lovely to read about what you have been doing as well as your friends’ projects and lives. Thank you for guiding me to your blog – I am not a big fan of cooking (have done too much of that in the past) but like good, easy to make recipes and you had plenty of those.

    Reply

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