Archives for the month of: December, 2014

minor and detail

Detail couldn’t stop raving about dinner last night. Evan G. List made the no egg fettucini and matched them with garden fresh zucchini fried in lashings of olive oil, nothing else. And Detail fell in love. “Evan, you really convinced me” she whispered passing the empty plate back to him. “Now I thoroughly believe you can eat something made from water and flour only. I also have to admit a vegan dinner can be absolutely delicious.”

Minor, Detail’s teenage daughter rolled her eyes. “But mum” she piped up “I’ve made crackers from exactly the same dough as Evan’s no egg pasta. Just water and flour. Remember when I was cramming for my exams and you didn’t come back from the shops for ages?”

“No way,” Detail replied a tad too harshly. “If you want to make crackers you must use a leavening agent”

“A what?” Minor looked at her blankly.

“An ingredient that makes the dough lighter, such as baking soda or yeast, even buttermilk, otherwise you will just create a solid brick of flour.” She shock her head at the ignorance of her daughter.

“But mum, I tried it, honestly, and it worked. I cut it up into little squares and baked it in a pre-heated oven at 2100 C for 8 minutes” Minor insisted. “They looked and tasted like mini pita breads and I had them with cheese.”

“Pita bread definitely has yeast in it” Detail lectured.

“Whatever” Minor gave up. She knew she was right. Her aunty Chance had suggested she try it. The instant heat seemed to puff up the dough nicely. But as Detail can’t stand her half-sister Chance, Minor knew she’d better keep the knowledge to herself. To mention Chance’s name would set Detail off and it wasn’t worth it.

Detail realised she had upset her daughter again and tried to humour her. “Remember when Pirate made really yummy crackers when you where little? Maybe that’s why they became your comfort food. Should I ask him for the recipe?” She wondered why she hadn’t had this idea earlier as her daughter’s addiction to crackers put a lot of strain on the budget every week.

 

 

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no egg evan g

Detail still isn’t convinced about the Artist’s survival cookbook idea. “Isn’t glue the only thing you can make from flour and water?” she asked.  The others burst out laughing and pointed out that this is the reason why the book is particularly appropriate for the Dedes. After all, they are made from glue and newspaper. But Detail remaind unfazed. “Just show me one edible recipe, and I will shut up!”

“No problem” said Evan G. List stepping forward. “I am vegan. I make no egg pasta all the time.” He fetched a clean cup from the cupboard and then grabbed the flour tin. “Here, just flour and water. Okay, you can add a little oil, it makes it a tad easier as it sticks together faster, but you can do without it.” He kneaded the dough while he told us that his no egg pasta had been a life saver plenty of times when he was young and had friends around who got the munchies after midnight. He always had flour at home and with his pasta recipe he could whip up a delicious dish in no time at all. Just add some dried chilly and/or other herbs from the pantry, and some garlic and olive oil to the cooked pasta. Done!

“Those were the days,” he sighed and his eyes glazed over behind his thick glasses. He didn’t even have a rolling pin to call his own then, he had to use a clean wine bottle to roll out the dough. Now of course he owns a pasta machine which makes life so much easier.

Ingredients:

1 cup of flour, 1/3 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of oil (optional)

Method

Pour flour on a flat working surface and add a little water, working the water into the flour with your hands little by little. When half the water is used up, add the oil. Knead well before you add more water. In the end I only wet my hands with water and knead until the slimy ball turns once again into a nice pliable playdough consistency, before I wet my hands again and repeat the procedure.

Once you have a firm, smooth, pliable, non-sticky dough, put it in a bowl, cover and let it rest in the fridge for 10 minutes. This is an important step as it allows the flour to bond with the water in the dough rather than the water it will be cooked in later.

Once the dough has rested, divide it into two balls and roll it out with a rolling pin to the thickness you like. The more pliable your dough was in the beginning the thinner you can roll it now. If you have a pasta machine you increase the pressure with every pass and the dough will get thinner and thinner. Once you have achieved the thickness you are after you cut the dough into strips and hang up to dry for a little. You can place a clean tea towel over the back of a chair and place the dough strips on the tea towel, or you can hang it up on a pasta drying rack. Usually the time it takes for a pot of water to boil is enough time for the drying.

Bring a pot of water to the boil (in the meantime you can prepare the sauce you want to have with it) and when the water is boiling place pasta in the water and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.

mouse zucchini2

Mouse proudly presented her first harvest yesterday. A zucchini nearly as big as herself. Ah well not quite, but certainly big enough to be proud of. Some of the Dedes were gathered on the kitchen bench to celebrate. After all the “hurrahs” and “well dones” someone commented that it was rather sad that those days where all the Dedes would get together to have impromptu celebrations of the little things in life seem to have gone. Now there is always a Dede missing or moping or thinking it wasn’t a worthy cause to celebrate.

Philosopher said “We need a new project! One that everyone can take part in and take responsibility for the outcome.” That seemed to be the cue for Witch. It was obvious she had been waiting for the right moment. “Remember there was this book we wanted to write?  That would be perfect!”

“Which book do you mean?” Philosopher asked, as in times of change so many ideas get thrown around and plenty of them don’t stick.

“The artist’s survial cookbook. 101 recipes with flour and water” Witch replied excitedly. “You know, the book we wanted to write with simple recipes from buns and scones to pita bread.” It is no secret that cooking is her big passion. She constantly hangs out in the kitchen trying new things.

“But that is so polictically incorrect” interrupted Bad Conscience, who had observed Devil carrying in big 5kg bags of white flour for Witch every other week. “In this day and age, you can not write a book promoting the use of mainly white flour and water. Where is the nutritional value? You, of all Dedes, should know.”

“That is not he point” said Witch defending the idea. “I know that white flour is questionable, but the bread or buns in the shops are mainly made of white flour and have additives to boot. Wholemeal my arse… marketing trick I would say, and don’t even get me started on pancake mix or custard powder.” Everybody was surprised at Witches strong language.

“What’s the point then?” asked Detail to get her back on track.

“I want to show others that you don’t need to be an organic nutter or have heaps of time to make your own stuff” said Witch. “Just start somewhere and it will become routine. You can save so much money and you know exactly what’s in your food.” Witch told them how she did a lot of research when the idea was first floated. Basically she told everyone about it and had nothing but good feedback about the concept. The book would be just perfect for artists and students and everybody else on a tight budget and who wants to be in charge of what they are eating.

“It should be easy” agreed Philosopher. “If each of us writes down their favourite recipe we should be done in no time.”

“I’ll do pancakes” trumpeted Push Push, “yummy buckwheat pancakes. Mmmm”

“But there is egg in it, isn’t there?” asked Detail.

“We have to approach it a little loosely,” said Witch. “Let’s limit ourselves to five or six absolute basic ingredients, flour, water, yeast, egg, butter…”

“I’ll do chocolate” said Top Dog who had just entered the kitchen to look in the fridge for something to eat.

“But” said Witch “chocolate is made of fat, cocoa and sugar. There is no flour and water in it.”

“Forget it then” he said and wandered off again.

“Just let’s get started and hopefully he will come round” said Mouse as she grabbed her notepad and pencil to start writing down her favourite recipes.

 

high five

The Dedes were busy with their last Christmas preparations all day yesterday and were hardly home. You would not believe what Top Dog and Empress in Waiting did while they had the house to themselves. I’ll have to start from the beginning. Their new plan for the living arrangements is that they themselves will occupy the top shelf, the next level down will be for all the existing Lil’Dedes and shelf underneath will be reserved for new Lil’Dedes that are yet to be created. All the Dedes will move to the bottom shelf, which gives them the option to also use the floorspace in front of the shelf if need be. At least this is what Empress in Waiting had proposed to King in her email. King didn’t think much of the plan and said “No”. After all, the Dedes are much bigger than the Lil’Dedes and there are 60 or so of them but only 24 Lil’Dedes. Empress in Waitings reasoning was that the Dedes are not money earners. They only act in movies and are shown off in galleries, while the Lil’ ones will be sold, so they need to be visible. She overlooked that the art cupboard is not public and nothing in there will be visible to anybody but myself. And so emails were flying to and fro until King finally got tired and shouted a firm ” I’ve made my decision! No more discussions!” across the room.

But for Empress in Waiting a problem is not resolved unless she gets her way. So the King’s decision was not acceptable at all. First she sat in a corner and moped, pondering what else she could do. Sly Top Dog, who is always on the look out for someone to help in return for future favours, shook his head and said “What’s the problem? It’s Christmas, they’re all busy. We’ll just do what we want and once it is all done, they won’t make us move back! That’s far too much work”. As he is a hard worker he rolled up his sleeves and started immediately. Surprisingly Empress in Waiting, who is a bit precious and not too keen on physical work at all, chipped in and shuffled a few things around as well. It took them pretty much all day to re-organise the art cupboard and when the Dedes came back from the shops the move was complete. All they could do was stand there, jaws dropped to the ground, and watch Top Dog and Empress in Waiting giving each other high fives on the top shelf.

carol singing

If you have read my blog lately, you know that there is a bit of a rift in the Dede world. The whole thing started when Top Dog arrived a few months back and it’s definitely caused by his nature. Like any top dog he wants to be the unquestioned leader. He’ll do anything to get there and doesn’t even shy away from underhanded measures. Some of the Lil’Dedes are growing increasingly wary and they feel more connected to the Dedes rather than the other Lil’Dedes. They’d prefer not to be forced into moving onto the top shelf and would rather like to mix with their Dede colleagues. Is it really so surprising that Lil’Artist dreams of setting up his easel in L’Artiste’s studio? He admires L’Artiste so much and believes he could learn heaps by just breathing the same air. Lil’Elephant would like to become a ballerina just like Push Push, the Dede elephant lady. Who would be a better teacher than someone who has overcome the same obstacles?

So a group of Lil’Dedes took it upon themselves to organise a carol singing evening, a nice little event in the spirit of the season. It was a spur of the moment decision, as the tension in the art cupboard becomes increasingly difficult to cope with. You could immediately see that the three of them went to a lot of trouble. They had constructed a gorgeous Christmas tree, complete with a star on top and presents around the base. Then they got a snow white table cloth out of the linen cupboard, stood up, and sang their little hearts out. It didn’t really matter that their singing was rather bad, because sadly no-one showed up. No Dedes and no lil’Dedes either.

“Ah well”, said Lil’Clown disillusioned after they had sang their repertoire for the fifth time. “The Dedes really don’t like us! Top Dog is right, they think they are better than us.”

I was pretty angry with the Dede’s behaviour. Even if they don’t believe in Christmas, it couldn’t have hurt to show up and show some community spirit. Turns out they didn’t know it was on. When Lil’Clown wanted to send out the invitation email, Empress in Waiting was hogging the computer writing important emails to King on behalf of Top Dog. Lil’Clown couldn’t wait any longer. He still had other preparations to do so he asked Empress in Waiting to send the invitiation once she was done with her stuff. She simply forgot. Yeah, right!

 

 

market day

Today was the day we were waiting for. Market Day. Over the last few weeks I’ve made a number of Lil’Dedes to sell. I should have left Devil behind and taken Fairy Godmother instead. She might have had the power to swing the weather. Unfortunately, half an hour into the event, it started raining and the punters were few and far between. No, definitely not Market Day weather. The upshot was, all the Lil’Dedes had to come back home with me and now we have a real problem. They need a place to live. You might think they are little and that should be easy. At least that is what I reckoned and I left them to it to sort it out. It’s not that simple, though. Since Top Dog arrived everything has turned into a competitive power game. Whenever the Dedes make a decision he throws a spanner in the works. Quietly, he has groomed the Lil’Dedes to become his disciples. As the Lil’Dedes were even newer than Top Dog, he had an easy time convincing them he should be their ring leader.

As soon as a new character was finished, Top Dog had a lengthy conversation with them. After this introduction they voluntarily separated themselves from the Dedes and didn’t even try to make friends. They all went into the space on the top shelf that Top Dog had created for them after he moved Mouse’s stuff. Even though every single Dede had told Top Dog that the top shelf has always been reserved for Mouse, he just ignored them and send all his new followers up there. The Dedes watched, but let it go for the time being, as they were convinced a few of the Lil’Dedes would be shifted and not come back today. They thought once they knew how many will stay, they could sit together and discuss re-organising the available space. The Dedes are keen on being one big happy family, large and small together.

When we got back from the market, Devil called an emergency meeting as he knew the available space is a squeeze. He wants the space situation sorted out swiftly, and once and for all. It’s no secret he wants Mouse to have her top shelf back for obvious reasons, but she might have to share it with L’Artiste or some other Dedes. Top Dog didn’t feel too well today and therefore excused himself from the meeting, but he send his new minion, Empress in Waiting. What a waste of time. She just sat there teetering on the edge of her seat, smiling and not saying much. Finally, at the end, she did say it was all good. Devil, though, was surprised there wasn’t much discussion. He took Empress in Waiting’s word for it and went straight to Mouse and assured her she will have her space back in no time.

Empress in Waiting, meanwhile, went back to her lot. Nobody knows what was said, but it didn’t take her long to write an email to King, who she believes will make the final decision, demanding that the Lil’Dedes not only get the top shelf but also the second and third shelf. Mouse and all the other Dedes can have the bottom shelf. Her reasoning was that there will be more Lil’Dedes in the near future and she wants to make sure there is enough space for all of them should the time come.

The King, wisely enough, asked Devil what happend. He was speechless.

The Dedes have now become extremely wary of Top Dog. They find his antics very irritating. While they try to ignore him and get on with their jobs, they still need to constantly remind themselves that he is a dog after all. And like any good dog he has to sniff around everywhere and try to leave a stronger mark than the last one. It doesn’t help that much, though. His behaviour makes the Dedes feel very uncomfortable. They even feel unsafe in their old hang-out, the art cupboard. Whenever Top Dog approaches the conversation stops. Up till now, their society has been an open one and they had no locks anywhere, not even on the bathroom door. Now, whenever a Dede wants to be left alone they close the door behind them. Unfortunately, whenever Top Dog spots a closed door he needs to knock to see what’s happening. He is so worried about being left out. At least he knocks!

Last night Professor called a meeting as the gossip about Top Dog is rife. The biggest problem was to make sure Top Dog wouldn’t be there. So Professor asked Witch for a knock-out potion he could mix into a bottle of champagne he would then present to Top Dog as a peace offering. As you know, Professor is quite partial to his tipple and has no problem recognising a fellow alcoholic. Yes, that is one of Top Dog’s vices, he loves to get plastered. Initially Witch didn’t want to partake in Professor’s little ruse. She claims to use her herbal knowledge strictly for beneficial causes. But on second thought she agreed with Professor that it was for the benefit of all the other Dedes.

Professor, being one of the first Dedes, has tremedeous experience in deciphering the obvious signs on a Dede. He had prepared a little slide show to enlighten the others.

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mouse and top dog

Top Dog has been with the Dedes for a while now. Everybody was hoping Philosopher was right and Top Dog’s bark was mainly due to insecurities. Naturally the Dedes tried very hard ease possible anxieties and make Top Dog feel welcome. But the nicer the Dedes were the more demanding Top Dog became. “Easy game” he obviously thought, and started to re-organise the art cupboard. Not that he didn’t inform the others about what he was doing. No, a fait accompli, he proudly told each of them what he had done, expecting praise for his initiative. It’s not that he didn’t have any good ideas. Some of them certainly were improvements, but unfortunately most of what he did stuffed up the workflow of the others and made them feel uncomfortable.  For example, one day he moved all Mouse’s writing implements from the top left shelf to the bottom right shelf. While he was dusting off his robe and rubbing his hands after the job was finished, he even remarked to Professor; “How can a little mouse be so silly and put her tools on the top shelf?”   Professor didn’t know what to say. Like every Dede he knew all too well that Mouse had placed her stuff on the top shelf as she loves climbing and needs the excercise to keep fit. She is so busy she simply doens’t have the time to go to the gym, so she cunningly builds her precious excercises into her daily routine.

Then, when Mouse ran in to quickly grab her notepad before the next meeting… it wasn’t there!  No other Dede was around and it took her twenty minutes to find what she was looking for, making her late for her appointment. She was supposed to catch up with Dee for her weekly garden instructions. We all know Dee is a very busy garden guru and she had to leave before Mouse arrived at the vege patch. It was then  she had a hissy fit. Top Dog was just strolling through the garden sniffing at the young plants wondering which ones he should pee on to fertilise.

“Stay away from my stuff!” Mouse snapped at him. He looked at her and said: “Only trying to be helpful!” pulled his tail in and walked away. Mouse felt better for it. She is not one to snap easily, but it felt good to have made a stand. Top Dog went straight to his kennel and got his black book out from under the pillow to write down how horrible Mouse had treated him.

 

top dog first

I actually didn’t want to write about the new Dede on the blog: Top Dog. It’s not worth it I thought. He will see how the Dede community works and will mellow, but no, Top Dog simply wants to be one thing and that is to be top dog, nothing else. You may know that the Dedes work on mutual respect. They acknowledge that each of them has their little quirks, the world is not black and white and they happily live with it. In the end they always find a way to move forward. It might take a while, but so far it has worked out just fine. Now Top Dog has entered the scene, announcing his arrival with loud incessant barking and not the least bit interested in what others have to say. Within a minute the Dedes knew his heritage, lineage and achievements, his family situation and living arrangements. The Dedes looked at each other and didn’t know what hit them. “This is how we do it from now on” barked Top Dog charging in a direction he obviously deemed to be forward. “There is no other way!”

The Dedes were flabbergasted and speechless.

Witch, who was part of the welcoming committee, turned around to go and continue whatever it was she was doing before Top Dog arrived. “Ah well, if he wants to go there let him go there” she sighed. “I have things to do!”

Chance, who stood next to her, said “I thought people with those attitudes died out  in the nineties together with the bad hair do.” Everybody looked at her.It is totally out of character for her to stoop so low and make disapproving comments about anybody she had just met.

“It might just be fear. It isn’t easy to deal with so many new Dedes at once” consoled Philosopher, who always reminds us of the positive in everybody.

“Oh no” commented Devil. “You are just blessed that you are not in the workforce… they are still around and they are very bad news.”

“What shall we do?” asked L’Artiste a little distressed. He needs everybody to be a happy family to be creative and work well.

“Wait and see” remarked Bad Conscience who was lingering in a dark corner and looking very bored. “It will sort itself out one way or another. Or if it doesn’t I will move in with him!”

crossmess Party

The Dedes haven’t had much to laugh about this year so they decided recently they need to have a fun Christmas Party. Not like last year when we quietly forgot about Christmas. They still are talking about the year before, when my friend Rae and I took them to North Head for a picnic . I am surprised they talk so fondly about this event, as half of them got drunk and in my opinion they shouldn’t remember anything but their headache the next day. You can imagine how wary I was when they said they don’t mind if I can’t take them anywhere this year, and they would be happy if I gave them the key to the liquor cabinet one night when I was going out. Ah well, as I have neglected the Dedes a little this year I agreed and even replenished the stock before I left.

What a mistake!

Okay, Pig and Professor get always sloshed when there are drinks to be had. No surprises there – but the rest of them?! It obviously got totally out of hand. Well, some of the Dedes were wise enough not to show up at all. After all, it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out what will happen when there is plenty of booze for free. Bad Conscience, always on the lookout for easy victims, was rubbing his hands in anticipation of the aftermath. He had a field day! Plenty of victims to choose from. Witch, who is a teetotaller, was well-intentioned and went to keep an eye on things and also to rain on Bad Conscience’s parade. By the time she arrived things were already getting out of hand and she retreated early into the art cupboard as nothing could be done to avoid disaster. Philosopher, who is interested in how the Dedes tick had a quiet beer in the corner and watched the bash in amazement. He told me later, the new Dede, Top Dog (I haven’t talked about him yet) made a real nuisance of himself. He made unmistakable advances towards Lou, the young puppy. Lou didn’t know how to fend him off and in the end went and hid. “Ah well, you know how it is, Christmas parties, eh” Philosopher finished his account, shrugging his shoulders. Everyone else also seemed to think it was just a bit of drunken fun. I was gobsmacked as what I was hearing bordered on sexual harrassment. It should not be taken lightly, not even under the cloud of alcohol.

Today Witch came to me and complained bitterly. “I don’t understand” she said, “the others get plastered and make fools of themselves, but they vent anger at Philosopher and me! They blame us for not having fun at their silly party!”

“They are only angry with you because you can tell the story,” I consoled her, but she was still shaking her head in disbelieve.