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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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.'