The Cook's Toolkit

The Cook's Toolkit
The Cook's Toolkit by Clever Pumpkin.


The romance is over: Edward & Bella twenty years on. My short story Daylight is now available as a free download.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Or more accurately, short story competitions.  I'm thrilled that my fiction has recently garnered a number of prizes and commendations.  My short story, Bittersweet, which combines my love of food with my great joy of murdering people on the page, recently won the New England Thunderbolt Prize.  

Bittersweet can be found on the Armidale Express website or the New England Writers' Centre website.   Sophie Masson was good enough to interview me for her blog Feathers of the Firebird.    That interview will appear this coming Saturday.

My story, Mister Switzerland, also recently won the Sydney Writers' Room Short Story Competition, while 3778 scored a high commendation in the Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers' Competition.  

Many thanks to the competition organisers; with special mention to Sophie Masson and MD Curzon.

Beef Bourguignon with Vegetables

Ah spring, what’s not to love?  The days are growing balmy but the nights are still cool enough to enjoy some hearty fare.

Traditionally vegetables such as mashed potato and beans are served separately with beef bourguignon, but I like to add them to the stew, then freeze leftovers in one person portions (around 400ml.)  Then during the week when I’m busy I can reach for takeaway at home.  Restaurant quality; one dirty pot and no cooking.  What more can you ask from a mid-week meal?  Anything slow cooked tends to reheat beautifully; why not make double so that you can have a night off from cooking during the week?

The wine I’ve used is about $11.00 per bottle.  Feel free to substitute it with the red wine of your preference, but bear in mind that this dish rests heavily on the flavour of the wine, so the wine you use should be something you would be prepared to drink rather than put in the petrol tank.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Italian Special

Italian Special

This is one of those incredibly simple, incredibly good recipes. Its 'proper' name is Italian Beef Noodle Bake, but in my family we always called it Italian Special.  I've been eating this since I was a kid, so it's officially an antique.  Last night when I was making it, I got to thinking about how things have changed.  The first time my mother made chicken cacciatore, she had a devil of a time finding a supermarket that stocked canned tomatoes.  Back then, the more a recipe claimed to be Genuine Chinese Style Chicken or Authentic Chinese Style, the more likely it was to call for something like Vegemite.  And spice equalled salt.  Want more genuine?  Add more salt.  Want more authentic?  Yep.  More salt. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Baked potatoes stuffed with pancetta, parmesan and sour cream

It’s hump day, and that means you deserve comfort food!  These baked stuffed potatoes with pancetta, parmesan and sour cream are richly flavoured and so satisfying – try them once and you’ll be hooked.  Although very little effort is required, it does take about an hour of baking to prepare the potatoes, but this step can be completed in advance, and the potatoes refrigerated overnight for an express mid-week meal.  As potato sizes vary, ingredient quantities are approximate.  It’s important to taste the mixture before stuffing the potato to make sure it’s to your taste.

Baked potatoes stuffed with pancetta, parmesan and sour cream
Ingredients (per spud)

1 Desiree potato – the biggest you can lay your hot little hands on (usually around 300grams)
3 spring onions (scallions) bulb end only (around 10cm), sliced
3 slices pancetta, chopped
3 tablespoons (60ml) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (aged parmesan) cheese
1 tablespoon crème fraiche or sour cream

Anytime Salad with toasted walnuts and parmesan croutons

Clever Pumpkin's (to die for) Anytime Salad with toasted walnuts and parmesan croutons

Ingredients (serves 2):

80g mixed, washed salad leaves

Heaped ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons (40ml) good, salad quality olive oil
1 tablespoon (20ml) tarragon vinegar
1 French/Dutch shallot, finely diced, or the bulb (10cm) of a spring onion/scallion sliced
½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted

30g Turkish Bread (or other gutsy bread) crusts removed, cut into even sized cubes
1 ½ tablespoons (30ml) grated parmesan
2 teaspoons (10ml) olive oil

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Trip Advisor copyright rip-off

Recently while browsing restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor I came face to face with one of my own photographs, used without my consent or knowledge, to promote a local restaurant – presumably without the restaurant’s consent or knowledge also; given that it was a photograph of lasagne and the restaurant was Indian.  The caption read “management photograph” and attributed the source as “Photocrawler,” which seems, as far as I can tell, to be some sort of scraping program Trip Advisor is using to thieve photographs.

Among the reasons one may report a photograph on Trip Advisor, copyright infringement does not number; additionally, Trip Advisor “requires” that reports of copyright infringement come from copyright owners as opposed to other sources; in other words, Trip Advisor neither welcomes or facilitates reports of copyright infringement, and that in itself speaks volumes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pasta with Caramelised Cauiflower, Pancetta, Pine Nuts & Cheese

One pot, one frying pan; nutty, smoky, tangy, creamy and sweet all at once; mouth-watering, nutritious, deeply satisfying and cheap because we're using seasonal ingredients at their best.  What more could you ask?  Well, someone to cook it for you.  Send me a plane ticket.  I'll be right there.

Ingredients (per person)

1 ½ tbsp, pine nuts, toasted
1 ½ cups small cauliflower florets
¾ cup orecchiete pasta
1 tbsp marinated chevre or feta, broken into small pieces
4 thin slices mild pancetta
2 tbsp reggiano parmigiano (parmesan cheese), grated

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Recipe: Friday Night Chilli with Lime Guacamole

Friday Night Chilli with lime guacamole, sour cream, and tasty cheese

The good folk of Mexico, as in most peasant cuisines, know how to coax every ounce of flavour from the most modest, cheapest ingredients.  Chiles are toasted; tomatoes are roasted; as are nuts, fruit and spices.  Most of what we know as Mexican cooking in this country is actually Tex-Mex; an Americanised version of the real thing.  Genuine Mexican food is to die for, but it’s also incredibly labour intensive.   The reason Mexican people have so many kids is because it takes half a dozen people to get dinner on the table every day.  I’ve spent three days in the kitchen just making one sauce (on one occasion, only to have to pour the lot down the sink because I toasted the chiles a little too long and made the sauce bitter.)  This express chilli tries to be true to the real thing by including just a couple of ingredients which have been slow-cooked to bring out their flavour, without being too labour intensive or calling for exotic ingredients.

You might be sceptical about the amount of onion that goes into this, but once caramelised, the onion mass will reduce by ½ or more, depending how long you give them (allow half an hour or more).  Caramelising the onion in this way adds beautiful depth to the colour of the chilli and also sweetly balances the smokiness of the spices, along with the roasted garlic.    If you’re not comfortable with the amount of onion or don’t have enough time to caramelise it, halve the amount and just cook it gently for around 20mins, until the edges start to brown.  That will still add sweetness and balance the flavours.

Don’t be alarmed when you add the stock and find the consistency of the chilli too liquid; by the end of cooking it will have reduced to a sumptuous texture.


2 garlic cloves, roasted,
2 red onions, roughly chopped (around 350 g)
1 red capsicum, chopped (around 125 g)
½ cup adzuki beans (note: adzuki beans do not require pre-soaking)
1 litre beef stock
1kg minced beef
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cans crushed or chopped tomatoes (my current favourite is Mutti Polpa, which are pulped Italian tomatoes available in a two-can pack from Coles Supermarket, at least in my area.  Any canned tomatoes will do, but if you get a chance to try these, please do.  Rich and vibrantly red, they’re the closest thing to fresh tomatoes.)

1 ripe avocado
Lime juice to taste

To serve
Light sour cream
Corn or tortilla chips
Grated tasty or Black Jack cheese

  1. Roast unpeeled garlic gloves over a warm heat in a dry frying pan or in a moderate oven until yielding when pressed; around 10 to 15 mins.  (Note: if roasting in the oven, prick garlic with a fork if you would like to escape the joy of cleaning exploded garlic from the oven.)  Set aside until cool enough to handle.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a pan over low heat, add onions and cook gently until reduced and deeply coloured – around 30 mins or a little longer.
  3. While the onion is caramelising, slip the skins from the garlic and squash with the flat of the knife, then chop roughly and set aside.
  4. Remove onions to a plate or use another pan/pot to heat a little more olive oil then fry minced beef quickly until nicely browned.
  5. Add the cumin, chilli, coriander, paprika, oregano and garlic and stir through for about a minute, when the spices should be aromatic.  Toss in the chopped red capsicum and the rinsed adzuki beans, as well as the canned tomatoes.  Add the beef stock (I like to rinse the tomato cans with a little beef stock first to get the most out of them.)  The chilli will be very liquid at this stage – don’t worry.  Simmer gently, partially covered, for around 1¼ to 1½ hours until the chilli is a nice consistency and the beans are tender.
  6. A note on seasoning: please be careful about adding salt until the chilli is fully reduced, otherwise it may end up too salty, particularly if using bought stock.
  7. Guacamole: Add strained lime juice to mashed avocado to taste.
  8. Serve with light sour cream, cheese and corn chips or tortilla crisps.

Adzuki Beans: economy and nutrition tip.

My casseroles and stews used to contain a greater proportion of meat than vegetables, as I think was true of most people in a time when our diets typically contained more meat, but now that we know the health benefits of limiting our red meat intake, I add more vegetables, no matter what the recipe calls for, and you know what?  I’ve found it doesn’t make a great deal of difference to flavour or satisfaction.  Using more vegetables than meat is also more economical and better for the planet.  Another way I like to stretch casseroles and stews a little further is by adding some dried beans.  Most of us don’t eat nearly enough pulses, which is a shame, because they are extraordinarily good for us as well as being dirt cheap.

Recently I’ve started using these adzuki beans and I can’t sing their praises highly enough.  Unlike other dried beans, they don’t require pre-soaking, which means they soak up the juices of the casserole or soup they are cooking in, and therefore the flavour, rather than just sucking in water.  They are much smaller than many beans, adding to their visual appeal, comparatively quick to cook, have a lovely sweet-nutty flavour and a crisper texture than some beans which are more inclined to be pasty or claggy.  I dare say – dare I say it really? – you might even get adzuki beans past the kids.   Try adding a handful or two to your soups and casseroles, or try them out in our Friday Night Chilli recipe.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

EJ Brady Short Story Competition 2014-15

My story, Myxo, has been privileged to be selected from among its undoubtedly wonderful colleagues as the winner of the Mallacoota Prize in the EJ Brady Short Story Competition 2014-15.  This welcome news has sentimental significance for me, as one of the judges was Bruce Pascoe.  Though he won’t remember me, many years ago, Bruce owned and edited the journal, Australian Short Stories, to which I was an aspiring contributor.  I once received a rejection from him criticising my lack of focus and discipline – both fair criticisms – but which also held two words of encouragement that meant so much to me I have never forgotten them: keep writing.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Bye for now

Blogging can be fun, but it's also very time consuming. For that reason, I'm giving it away for now.  Thanks for tuning in and best wishes.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Universal Truths

1.  Your left bra strap will always slip
2.  You will never find the right sized pot to cook corned beef in.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chris Isaak: Ironing Lady

Okay, first there was the episode with George Clooney, now this.
I had a dream about Chris Isaak last night.  Now, for those unfamiliar with the gentleman in question, he looks like this:
Ahem.  Now, without wishing to objectify anyone, it is not inconceivable that a healthy heterosexual female, presented with such a specimen of the opposite sex, may wish to… you know… as they say in The Simpsons, snuggle.  But for reasons known only to itself, when my mind decided to make me dream about Chris Isaak, we were trying to get the ironing done.
And it was his choice, the tosser.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

PMS: You've Gone Too Far If He Needs CPR

While research indicates that 75% of women experience PMS, it is listed as a 'rare disease' by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Victorian Government's Better Health Channel suggests that most women suffer from PMS, and advises that the best way to manage PMS is to keep a diary and cut back on caffeine and alcohol in the two weeks prior to menstruation.

Further, Research shows that women who are in a relationship with men experience worse PMS than lesbians[1] and that most men are indifferent to their partner's suffering, preferring to treat PMS as a big joke.

The Better Health Channel advises: Manage your stress in whatever way works for you,
so here's a list of essentials to help you do just that.

Chamomile tea is a very effective calmative.  Keep a boiling cup on hand to catapult at the bastard in your life.  Alternatively, fill a cauldron and ask him to get in (NB You might have to promise him sex afterwards to achieve this.)

Lavender oil can be wonderfully soothing if you break the bottle and hold it to his throat.

Tampons: Used to write PMS IS A RECOGNISED MURDER DEFENCE, ARSEHOLE on the wall.  Just see if the fucking dishes don't get done.

Sister, Who Died and Left You In Charge?

Despite the ever increasing number of women going out to work, year after year study after study reveals that women continue to shoulder the lion's share of the housework – as much as 85% more than men.  The Daily Mail reports that women still spend three times as long on domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning and washing than their husbands or partners.  Almost one in five men do nothing around the house at all, only rarely changing a light bulb or feeding the dog. 

Now more than ever, with a record number of women juggling the balancing act between family, career and housework, it's vital that we take the most efficient approach to housekeeping.  These simple tips will make housework a dream:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rosemary Beer & Mustard Stew.

Rosemary, Beer & Mustard Beef Stew

The thing I love about winter casseroles is that you do a little bit of work late afternoon then get to relax in the evening as the casserole cooks itself.  It's like having a night off cooking, and of course, as anything slow-cooked reheats beautifully, making double and reprising it on another night does mean having a night off.  And, with all the vegetables you need included in the one pot, easy is guilt-free too. 

For the recipe to go

Monday, June 18, 2012

My Favourite Joke

A twelve year old boy walks into a bordello dragging a dead frog on the end of a rope.  He slaps a hundred dollar note on the counter and says to the madam, "I want to see a prostitute."  The madam says, "Eh, you're a bit young for this.  Why don't you come back in a few years time?"  The kid slaps another hundred on the counter and says, "I want to see a prostitute tonight."  The madam says, "Okay, take a seat.  That'll be about an half hour wait."  The kid slaps another hundred on the counter and says, "I want to see a prostitute with active syphillis."  The madam says, "That'll be about a five minute wait."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cheesy Tomato Tuna Pasta Bake

This is one of those deeply satisfying, simple dishes that sometimes you just have to have.   Serve it with plenty of fresh bread and butter to mop up the sauce.  Find the recipe on the Clever Pumpkin website.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wild Dog Lasagne

Now that I've got your attention, perhaps I should mention that the town of Warragul is named after an Aboriginal word for "wild dog."  I'm calling this Warragul/Wild Dog Lasagne because it features sumptuous local produce: gorgeous Gypsy Pig free range organic pork fennel sausages and smoky/spicy Garfield pancetta.  If you're not lucky enough to have these at hand, then by all means use quality substitutes (or plain minced pork), but please do not be tempted to use surprise bangers from the supermarket or I'll be forced to come around to your place and cook it from scratch properly.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pumpkin Pasta with Fennel Sausage, Pine Nuts, Chevre and Parmesan Croutons.

This is a fun variation on pasta with garlic bread.  With bread and pasta combined, it won't win any fans among the carbohydrate police, but hell, if you eat like this you'll be twice their size so won't have any problem bouncing their miserable bony arses clean off your front verandah.  Now, if you're a really clever pumpkin and follow the method in the same order as below, you can get away with using one frying pan for this – provided it can be used on the stove top and oven.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Red Wine Ragu

If anyone suggests to you that it's okay to use cheap wine in cooking, shoot them.  They're a waste of the earth's oxygen and there isn't a snowflake's chance in hell that any jury acquainted with ragu made from good wine will convict you.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stupid Bachelors

Sign I saw painted on the back of a truck today:

"Some men are wiser than women.  They're called batchelors."

Monday, April 30, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Pudding

Simple though it is, this chocolate coconut self-saucing pudding is my favourite dessert on the face of this earth, probably because it comes from that most prolific of chefs: Mum.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Fiction: The Red Pot

One of my stories, The Red Pot, appears in the latest edition of Etchings (10): The Feminine, from Illura Press.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sultana Lamb Curry

This is the best damned curry I've ever made – even if I do say so myself, which I do, because when you can cook as well as this, you can swagger all you like.  Please do not be tempted to change the recipe without first trying it; everything has its purpose.  The whole peeled tomatoes are much juicier than diced; the sweet, treacly sultanas balance the tangy tomatoes; the whole spices freshly ground really do another dimension.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Caramel Ducks: A Small Dave Allen Tribute

There are brown ducks and there are white ducks, and in my neck of the woods, the brown ducks and the white ducks hung out in different parts of town, until recently.  For reasons known only to their good feathered selves, these ducks have, with a single shag, overturned the prevailing ducky apartheid and now we have brown and white ducks.  Their back feathers are actually a mouth watering shade of caramel, although the photos don't do it justice.

Who knows what their reasons were?  Was it a political statement?  Pure lust?  Or do opposites attract in the duck world, as in any other?  Did a society princess duck get into the schnapps, waddle to the wrong side of the tracks only to find herself knocked up?  We'll probably never know the answer to these questions, but as I chased these beautiful belligerent shits around trying to get a good photo, their caramel backs reminded me of a Dave Allen joke:

Sister Mary is racing around the convent corridors.  Having overslept, she is late for mass.  Rounding a corner she encounters another nun on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor.  "Who got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning?" the nun giggles.  Sister Mary flushes deeply and scurries on.  Bang!  She smacks headlong into another nun.  The flustered nun pulls back and laughs, "Who got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning?"  Sister Mary bows her red face and runs on, round another corner where a group of nuns take one look at her and chorus, "Who got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning?"  She rushes away.  Glancing over her shoulder Sister Mary draws a deep breath, relieved to be away from the laughing nuns.  When she turns forward again, Mother Superior is standing before her, inspecting her feet.  "Sister Mary," Mother Superior demands, "What are you doing with the Bishop's shoes on?"

Postscript: The next time I saw these ducks, I was without a camera.  They were perfectly content to waddle around not six feet away from me, the shits.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Indians, Pirates, the Mob & Elance

The first time I uploaded an ebook for sale, it sold inside a minute.  My second title sold a copy within seconds – not long enough for anyone to read the blurb, much less a sample – and the penny dropped.  Somewhere out there, before my baby drew breath, its bastard twin was being conceived – quite possibly rewritten to the highest standard of Bangladeshi English. I am the mafia Don Ranjeet and I am going to shoot you with Vishnu's curses and cannolis, another one thing.  You dirty ratfink, is that vindaloo in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Never Give Up

Fortune may favour the brave but that's hard to remember when life is kicking you in the nuts.  Here's twenty-one  relentlessly optimistic reasons to remember that when you're at rock bottom, the only way is up.

  • In her youth, J.K. Rowling was a Bay City Rollers' fan, proving that early bad taste is no barrier to subsequent success.
  • Stephenie Meyer is a bestseller, proving that subsequent bad taste is no barrier to early success.
  • It only took one cow to burn Chicago down.
  • John Howard became Prime Minister.
  • The greatest love songs are inspired by the worst heartbreak.
  • Pauline Hanson's parents didn't drown her at birth.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Julia Gillard vs Mike Willesee

Last Sunday 'veteran' journalist Mike Willesee asked Prime Minister Julia Gillard whether she cried much.  I'm soooooo disappointed The Big J didn't grab his scrotum, give it a good squeeze and say, "No.  How about you, Chuckles?  Hey?  How about you?"

A question better suited to Bob Hawke, methinks.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Nomination: Book of the Year

Out now on Smashwords: Men's Guide To Trouble Pussy

The blurb: 'Since the beginning of time, there has been man and woman. All women came with pussy. Its official name is “Vagina” and its purpose range from sexual activity, child birthing, and uterine secretions (that time of the month). Its power is almost limitless. It has shaped world politics, literature, music, and mental illness.'

Yes, well.  Mine's also a Certified Practising Accountant.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cocky In A Glass

Many years past, I had an old cat named Ali-Tut.  "Love" doesn't begin to describe what I felt for that old cat.  The word hasn't been invented to describe what I felt for that old cat.  I raised her from a baby kitten, feeding her and her sister Speedie from an eyedropper.  She was with me from before I was a teenager, and she lived to be almost twenty-one. 

Old Tuts had her own sheepskin on the couch, but being a cat, of course she slept anywhere she pleased, frequently taking up more of my single bed than I did.  More accurate than a heat-seeking missile, she always knew where her best bet was between the sheepskin and my bed.  This she would ascertain by inserting one paw beneath the doona to see if the electric blanket was on.  Thus we passed many happy years, until I awoke early one morning to a tutt tutt tutt tutt tutt tutt sound, when I rolled over to see Ali-Tut contentedly lapping from my glass of water.  Three things immediately filled my mind:
  1. An image of Ali-Tut with a bird in her mouth.
  2. An image of Ali-Tut cleaning herself most fastidiously, paying particular attention to her arse.
  3. The question of just how many years she had been drinking from my glass of water as I slept.
Well I might have loved that old cat more than life itself, but I stil didn't want the tongue that licked her arse lapping from my glass of water. 

It had been many years since I've thought of the incident - that was until yesterday,
when undertaking my usual morning ritual of removing my empty chamomile cup and (usually untouched) overnight glass of water to the kitchen, I discovered this:
A cockroach floating in my glass of water

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Romance is Over: Edward & Bella Twenty Years On

Daylight is now available as a free download.
~Contains gratuitous swearing, violence and one offensively small appendage.  Not suitable for Twilight fans.  Not suitable for children under 40~

Download as a PDF (for PC) or, for a book-type view in the absence of an e-reader, Adobe Digital Editions can be downloaded free.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Clever Pumpkin's Lime Maple Summer Berry Puddings

Recipe here

2012: Lock and Load, Bitch.

Q.        How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
A.        Just one – but the light bulb has got to WANT to change.

With that in mind, I have made only one New Year's resolution, and that is to be brutally honest with myself.

This means acknowledging that my deep and abiding love of chocolate will never change; because – hell's bells – I don't want it to. This new honesty compels me to admit that my love of ice-cream verges on the erotic, as does my deep salivating desire for summer berry puddings, beer-battered fish and chips (served with ice-cold beer) deep-fried arancini with fresh lemon, baked stuffed potatoes, snow-white chevre cheese, Italian fennel sausage, sauteed rosemary potatoes, lemon curd and chocolate coconut pudding.

In my heart of hearts I know my love of fresh fruit is owed only to its relationship to cheese and wine, as I know that the best way to serve healthy guacamole is with a side of Mexican banquet dripping in cheese, sour cream, and overflowing with tequila and lime laden margaritas.  Sniff all you want – at least the lime is good for me.

On that subject, I resolve not to fall off the wagon.  This I will achieve by not climbing on the damned thing in the first place.  Truthfully, I'd sell my mother down the river for a pina colada – and on Mother's Day, to boot.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bad Books Blow Up The Brain

A most interesting article penned by Random House CEO Gail Rebuck charts the effect of reading on the brain:

'Psychologists from Washington University used brain scans to see what happens inside our heads when we read stories. They found that "readers mentally simulate each new situation encountered in a narrative". The brain weaves these situations together with experiences from its own life to create a new mental synthesis. Reading a book leaves us with new neural pathways.
'The discovery that our brains are physically changed by the experience of reading is something many of us will understand instinctively, as we think back to the way an extraordinary book had a transformative effect on the way we view the world. This transformation only takes place when we lose ourselves in a book, abandoning the emotional and mental chatter of the real world. That's why studies have found this kind of deep reading makes us more empathetic, or, as Nicholas Carr puts it in his essay The Dreams of Readers, "more alert to the inner lives of others"

Okay, so what happens to the brain if the book is as badly edited as Twilight or The Da Vinci Code?  Britain's Institute for Bibliophilic Brain Studies found the effect of bad writing and editing on the brain to be equally dramatic:

'Exposed to half an hour of The Da Vinci Code, brains were seen to shrink dramatically.  In an attempt to escape further reading, several brains liquified and exited the skull by way of the ear canal.  One brain pulled a gun it had concealed behind its left frontal lob, blew a hole in the book (via the host's left eye) then put itself out its misery.  In the case of Twilight, all brains followed a uniform pattern: each formed new neural paths which flashed the words Good God, where was your editor, woman? over and over again.  Remarkably, the words show up on the MRI film.'

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rosemary Sauteed Potatoes

Ah Christmas. You spend a week in the kitchen preparing for it only to have everyone start whingeing about eating leftovers from Boxing Day. The trick to using up all of those beautiful meats ~ ham, turkey, chicken, pork ~ is to mix things up a little bit but with a minimum of effort. Everyone likes cold meat with hot potatoes, so coming up to Christmas we'll be featuring some simple yet winning ways with spuds to help you out.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Clever Pumpkin Housekeeping Tip: Keep Eucalyptus Oil Handy

Eucalyptus oil is wonderful for all sorts of things; as  a cleaner, a stain remover, and of course, there's nothing better than eucalpytus oil for removing something sticky.


Yep.  Definitely gonna need some eucalpytus oil to get that off.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Curried Rice Salad

This curried rice salad tastes every bit as good as it looks.  Don't be alarmed by the amount of curry that goes into the rice cooking water.  The resultant curry flavour is surprisingly mild and is balanced beautifully by the orange rind, which is simmered in boiling water to bring out the flavour.  You can use any seasonal vegetables (snow peas or sugar snap peas are wonderful additions) and you can substitute the mixed dried fruit with sultanas, but please try it with the mixed dried fruit at least once.  It adds some gorgeously nuanced flavours.  Don't be tempted to omit the orange rind, that's what makes this so special.  This salad is a perfect addition to your Christmas table.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

George Clooney & Me

What happened was this: I was walking down the street when I saw George in his backyard, looking for his cat.  Puss, in the way of cats, was in the front yard, completely ignoring George's calls.  So I called out to George, letting him know that puss was round the front.
He came through the house and out the front door, smiling broadly, and took puss and me inside.
George and I stood in the kitchen, shooting the breeze, neither of us acknowledging the fact I was buck naked.  George kept his eyes trained on mine, as I did his, even though my boobs were looming large on my horizon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thought Of The Day: People

There's two kinds of people in this world: those who think there's two kinds of people in this world, and those who beg to differ.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Out Of The Closet

I've decided life's too short to hide your spices in a cupboard, even if that does make them last longer.  They're far too pretty.  Maybe that means I'll never get a gig on Master Chef, and maybe I don't care.  I like my spices where I can see them.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Advice Column from Clever Pumpkin

Due to popular demand, Clever Pumpkin is launching a new advice column, covering everything from personal dilemmas to household advice.  Our first letter comes from Rebecca South, of Toorak, Victoria.

Dear Clever Pumpkin,

Lately my husband's eye has begun to stray.  Whenever we're out, I catch him looking at other women, usually much younger and more attractive than me.  I'm planning on rekindling his interest with an overhaul – Botox, laser treatment, boob lift, vaginoplasty, collagen lip injections, anal bleaching, liposuction – the lot.  I'll be launching the new me with a romantic dinner at home.  I've already bought the racy lingerie, candles, etc.  Now all that remains is to cook him a special meal.  What would you recommend?

Something small calibre with a bloody big silencer.  Why would you go to the effort of cooking for the bastard when it's easier to pop him?  Hey, here's an idea: if you shoot him straight through that wandering eye of his, he might just get the message.  And geez, you live in Toorak so if you bump him off it seems to me you have everything to gain and nothing to lose – and, as an added bonus, you won't have to wash the dishes afterward.  A word of warning though, in the event you decide against hitting him yourself: DO NOT be tempted to hire a hit man from the pub – they invariably turn out to be undercover policemen.  At least, that's always been my experience.  Oh and I almost forgot: eucalyptus oil is a wonderful stain remover.  It takes out just about any damned thing. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Italian Special

This is one of those incredibly simple, incredibly good recipes. Don't be fooled by its simplicity; try it once and you'll be hooked.  Its 'proper' name is Italian Beef Noodle Bake, but in my family we always called it Italian Special.  I've been eating this since I was a kid, so it's officially an antique.  Last night when I was making it, I got to thinking about how things have changed.  The first time my mother made chicken cacciatore, she had a devil of a time finding a supermarket that stocked canned tomatoes.  Back then, the more a recipe claimed to be Genuine Chinese Style Chicken or Authentic Chinese Style, the more likely it was to call for something like Vegemite.  And spice equalled salt.  Want more genuine?  Add more salt.  Want more authentic?  Yep.  More salt. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thought Of The Day – Celebrity Chefs: Chewy

Calling it a "campaign", celebrity chefs with much ado, pretension and melodrama manage to make a meal out of what our mothers calmy, quietly and without fuss simply cooked and called "dinner". 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thought Of The Day

The problem with the human race is that it's not an organization you can resign from.