Thursday, July 26, 2012

Where I Work

(no, not here, this is an undemolished house around the corner from home) 

If had been sitting in my current office working away as a solicitor in 1935 (most unlikely given my gender) this is what my building would have looked like:

The National Trust has just released an app which tracks demolished buildings of Melbourne.  Like every city, there are many, although we demolished maybe more enthusiastically than others.  Save for the English of course.  Bill Bryson points out in his book At Home that literally thousands of magical country homes were demolished in the middle of the last century, a sad fact now the subject of a site which Lisa pointed me to in a recent post.

The building above was used by the US General Macarthur as his residence during WW2, and also played host to Mark Twain and Alexander Graham Bell.It was demolished and replaced with the current high rise. 

Almost too sad to think about, that such a building has gone for good.

There are plenty more where that came from.  Remember the 1950's? I don't but apparently old things were considered ugly and out of fashion, and people wanted new clean lines.   There were very limited heritage controls and so people could buy large blocks of land, demolish the inconvenient Italianate mansion located on it, and build a lovely orange brick block of flats.

Here are some no longer with us, just in my area:

(Alta Vista, South Yarra, 1859)

(Corrabert, Toorak) 

(Leura mid 1800s, Toorak)

(Norla, Irving Road Toorak)

So many memories and people laughing, all gone.

But fear not, there are many buildings which have survived.

(Ripponlea in the suburb of the same name)

and many more still in private hands:

(Coonac in Clendon Road Toorak)

(Miegunyah, Orrong Road Toorak) 

(Images via the Age, National Trust (thanks!)

I have a very personal reason for feeling sad about demolished houses.

I grew up in a pale pink 1920s house, which we sold when my parents divorced.  To me that house was happiness incarnate.  I still dream of it.

Eventually, it sold and then sold again.  A few years ago I happened to drive past, and the wreckers were there, busily pulling it down.   I pulled over, a stared in unbelieving horror.  The gingko tree we climbed on, the ancient pear trees, the morton bay fig, the terracotta roof, the slate verandah, all gone.   A little bit of me died that day, I tell you. 

And what is there now?  A large block of neo Georgian neo Tuscan neo Palladian apartments.     What can you say?

Happy post next time, I promise. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Emergency Winter Food for Children

After last year, where I took 45 (officially noted) days of sick leave (which felt like double or triple that amount), it has been very busy at work. I have child care constraints at the moment (is everyone in Europe or is it just my imagination?) so I have had to be creative with the last minute pick up from after school care.  With complaining \ hungry \ tired children, getting them fed \ bathed all in time to go to bed at 7 pm is a bit of a challenge.

(How amazing is the colour of this camellia? Instagram and its Bad Photography Concealing Filters love my camellias!)

Fast food is a must.   I am a night before person, which means that I try to  have dinner ready to go in the fridge the day before if I am not going to be there to cook it slowly.  So so much easier that way. 
But last week disaster struck - my daughter had a friend coming for a sleepover and the food had been prescribed in advance (spaghetti bolognese, white bread only, Tic Tacs and icy poles because she doesn't like ice-cream) and at the last minute I had neglected to defrost the pasta sauce. So I turned to my emergency bolognese sauce. 

Emergency Bol Sauce for Screaming Children

2 - 4 high quality pork sausages or chipolatas (not with fennel or chilli)
some butter
Splash of milk
A cup of tomato passata
3/4 cup of stock


Squeeze the porky meat out of the sausage casings.   Gently melt the butter in a fry pan, add a splash of olive oil and some crushed garlic if you want.   Fry the sausage meat, breaking it up with a fork.   When the sausage meat is lightly browned and broken into even tiny bits, put in a splash of milk (sounds gross but Italians do it and it keeps the meat moist).  When the milk has bubbled down, add the passata and chicken stock. At first it will be runny, that is fine.  Cook it down until the sauce has the consistency you want. I like my bol sauce a bit runny and not dried out.

Serve proudly with spaghetti and Parmesan.

When I first went to Paris in 1992, my lovely friend Penny took me for hot chocolate at Angelina's Tearooms in the Rivoli.  The hot chocolate blew my mind, so much better than the watery cocoa I had previously had.   There are a number of different ways to recreate proper hot chocolate, but I like this the most.  It is quick and not messy.   I have forgotten where I got this from, possibly Orangette.   Only proviso is that you really do need a stick blender to get it smooth and frothy. 

Semi Authentic Super Quick Hot Chocolate

Ingredients (this serves two, can easily be doubled)
2 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 tablespoons of caster sugar
a handful of chocolate chips which is about 1/4 cup.  Or more to taste but these won't melt as well. 


Put the milk, water and sugar in a saucepan.  Heat gently.   Watch it, when milk boils over it is horrible and messy.  When it is just about to boil there will be little bubbles around the edge.   Take it off the heat and put in the chocolate chips.   Assuming your pot has high sides you can do the next step in the pot.  Get your stick blender and whizz away.  The movement and heat will melt the chocolate, and the mixture will become frothy and smooth and thick.

Drink and enjoy.  
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