Archive for April, 2016

Old Pea Soup recipe

April 8, 2016

It seems it is the time of year for thinking about soups for those wanting comfort food after rotten viruses attack.

Per request from colleagues – this is public domain, so don’t put it in a copyright book!

pea soup                                 

(old family recipe with a spice mix which suggests it dates from middle ages, put in metric format)

250 ml = 1 cup,  tsp = Australian metric teaspoon (5 ml)


500 ml dried yellow split peas  (rinsed, soaked, and drained if possible)

2 litres water (plus 500 ml if peas not soaked)

750 ml chopped onion

750 ml carrot

250 ml celery

2 large bayleaves (fresh – adjust number if small or dried)

¼  (lumpy) tsp cloves (rounded if ground)

1 (rounded) tsp pimento

½ (rounded) tsp black pepper

2 tsp salt, or 1 hamhock (cheap at many major supermarket deli areas) criss-cross cut through skin, or about 200 – 400g bacon bones


Grind spices if not already ground.  Pimento and pepper ground come close to the original whole spice volume.  (Change the amounts to fit your tastes – the traditional measure is “enough, judged on the day  in the curved palm of your hand,” and varies depending on the intensity of the spices on hand and the tastes of the cook.)

Add all  to large pot (pressure cooker if available) and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally.

If pressure cooker, once it simmers,

seal pressure cooker, bring to spin, lower to murmur, cook 30 min (45 if not soaked peas).

If pot

put on low simmer for 1 ½  to 3 hours, stirring as often as needed to prevent sticking, until peas are very soft and vegetables are easy to mash.  If ham hock used, much of the meat should fall off and the bodes should disassociate.


If you have time, remove bayleaves (and bones / large chunks of meat if any – a ham bone may separate into several bones and large chunks, you may wish to save (can freeze)  2/3 from this step  to do a second soup)  and stick-blend in pot (needs a sturdy blender such as Bamix, 2-minute limit types are too weak) or sieve to another pot if blender is kaput.  Or allow to cool and blend in bench blender.


Put the bayleaves, (some) meat,  and (some) bones back into the soup, add water if needed (but is supposed to be a very thick soup, sets to pudding consistency when cold.).  Simmer, stirring, 20 minutes.


Serve plain or with crusty bread and butter (not margarine or olive oil – taste is just wrong.)

Some people like a little milk spiralled into the bowl.

Leftovers microwave well.


Garden raiders – not all unwelcome.

April 4, 2016

My verge is a mixed planting of herbs, vegetables, productive trees and things I like to see.  It is a shared resource – many people know they are welcome to take some parsley or lettuce leaves or whatever else is in season.  As a result, it has also produced chocolates and fruit I do not grow.

This week, it was raided twice.

The first time, half-way through the nut season, Carnaby’s cockatoos despoiled the macadamia and pecan.  The  infill building around the city has reduced the amount of food for them, so I was more pleased than irritated by the loss of produce.

The second time, and for the second time, someone dug out and removed an entire basil plant.  Now that is both impolite and selfish.  Had the person asked, I would probably have said yes, because I have several others – but they have removed a thing meant to be shared with other passers-by, and that rankles.

I think I will plant a sage plant where it was:  the hole will make space for the soil enrichment sage needs.

Pot, this is kettle… Sunday Times (W.A.) provides resource for English teachers. (3)

April 4, 2016

Sometimes I do tell the Sunday Times of the writing I have found annoying.  An example:

The Editor
The Sunday Times

In your B+S supplement (and, too often, the abbreviation letters are appropriate) of 03 April 2016 page 3, one of the suggestions for a healthier life is “Swap this… book for iPad.”

Reading on, one learns that sleep quality is likely to be better if one reads a paper text rather than reading on a tablet. In Standard Australian English, if I swap this for that, I dispose of this and receive that; if I substitute this for that I use this rather than that. Your paper often uses these incorrectly. In this case, the heading should have read “Swap this … iPad for book.”

This is one of a string of errors and malapropisms which have made your newspaper a valuable teaching resource. I believe that, in your efforts to cut costs, you have outsourced editing to people who are not truly familiar with English. My occasional telephone complaints have been brushed off with “You know what we meant,” and my written corrections have not changed your performance. This shows the general public that “You know what I mean!” is a valid response to criticism of one’s English usage. So why should students bother to learn correct usage?

Although I appreciate the chance to let primary school children correct adults’ published texts – ego-boosting editing practice – I think it is time you spent the money to employ literate editors. THEN you could complain about the quality of teaching in Australia.