Anne Marie's Australian Adventure

Follow the Adventures of Anne Marie, Fergus, Cooper and Bean Sidhe in Australia!!

Archive for August, 2009

What was I thinking?

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on August 30, 2009

I was so inspired by the movie last weekend and the memory of the delicious dinner at Mary Beth’s, that I decided to try my hand at Sylvia’s Julia Child eggplant dip.

It so happens that Mel (Sylvia’s husband) sells fresh fruit and veggies at the local farmer’s market and he emailed me to see if I was interested in some melon and…eggplant! It was a sign. So this morning I went to the grocery store and picked up the other ingredients, walnuts, garlic, spices, fresh ginger, etc. etc. I passed the humus and olive bar at our local supermarket. I didn’t have to go the easy way this weekend. I have the recipe!!!

I decided that if I made it ahead of time I would have all afternoon to do all my other chores. So at 1 o’clock I put the eggplant in the oven. The recipe said 30 to 35 minutes.  To cut a long story short, I had to call Sylvia to see what I needed to do if the pulp insides didn’t “scoop  out’ easily like the recipe said. More time was her recommendation.

The eggplant got more time – 10 more minutes. Still not soft enough. To hell with this -if microwave ovens had been around in Julia Child’s day she would have popped it in there for a few minutes. So in it went.

Did you know that eggplants have little tiny seeds much like flax seeds? Well, I know it now and anyone who comes into my kitchen might say,”Who threw the wet sticky flax seeds all over the walls, counters and Anne’s T-shirt?” They just fly out of the mixing bowl when you try to “puree the soft pulp” [my editorial addition to the recipe].

Once everything was “combined” and I got the monstrosity in the fridge the real challenge began. THE CLEAN-UP. I had no less that 21 cooking utensils; pot holders (hot eggplant and mushy pulp – you get the picture), bowls, knives, spoons, spatula, blender, mixer (blades and handle), measuring spoons, counters, floor, t-shirt. It was now 4:30 – I am not kidding you. I was exhausted and had to take a nap.

I am tempted to tell Fergus I bought it at the humus bar at our supermarket so that if he hates it I can say, “I won’t buy that one again.” and if he loves it I can say, “They aren’t making it any more.”

I just don’t have the time or the energy to cook.  Julia who?

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Shelter from the Cold

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on August 29, 2009

I have been feeling very protective of our adopted feral cat, Fred Astaire. It started with us seeing him eating bird seed. I didn’t think it would hurt to feed him a bit of kittie kibble. He wouldn’t come near us. Since May I have gotten him to come when he is  called by his name, let me pet him, he will sit on my lap and purrs. He follows me when I am in the yard or garage. He is adorable.

I had the Country Cat Organization come out and give him vaccinations, took him to the vet to have him neutered and my latest project is getting him ready for the winter months to come.

I found a website that shows how to build a winter shelter for feral cats. You can see what they suggest at

Here are some pictures of the winter shelter I made for Mr. Astaire. The boxes are spare plastic totes I had. One of them was clear so I painted the outside with brown spray paint (garage sale specials). I had some Styrofoam  insulation pieces from the set the “Hamlet” we did at the university. I lined the front and back with those. Attached the totes at the opening holes with duck tape and stuffed straw between both totes.

I put another panel of Styrofoam insulation between the two tops. I placed the shelter under a window but the opening was still exposed to possible rain so I added a little overhang from another plastic tote top. The back of the shelter faces the westwind and the opening faces north but it is behind the entry steps so I think he will be protected. I put straw inside and all around the shelter on the ground. I don’t know if he has gone inside but I can see little round impressions in the straw outside the shelter so I think he has been sleeping near the shelter at night. It is still pretty warm at night so he might not need the warmth of the shelter yet.

He is well protected from large wild animals because it is hidden behind the rose bushes (I have the thorn punctures to prove it.) I sprayed the inside straw with a mixture of cedar, eucalyptus oils and water to control fleas and ticks. He has quick access to his feeders on the front porch. He still loves sleeping on the front porch in the bottom half of his travel kennel (hard to believe it took me so long to get him to get into it in the first place). But he is a smart cat so he will go inside the shelter when it gets too cold.

He checked it out once I got it into place. He turned and looked at me and said,”Where is the dance floor?”

Here are the pictures of what I did and where I located his “mansion”.

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Dinner and a Movie

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on August 24, 2009

Yesterday I was invited by one of the library ladies I met a few weekends ago during my garage sale to go a late afternoon movie and then come over for dinner after the movie. Fergus was working so I said sure.

We went to see “Julie & Julia” and it was delightful. I highly recommend it but be sure to arrange to eat after you see it because it will make you hungry. Mary Beth – the lady who invited me, had prepared two Julia Child recipes and they were cooking in her slow cooker while we were at the movie house. Sylvia brought a eggplant dish (some French name that I can pronounce nor spell), also from the Julia Child cookbook. I brought wine (’cause I don’t cook and I wasn’t asked to anyway). It was FABULOUS!!

And just like in the movie we sat around and talked and ate and drank and laughed. It was the best day I’ve had since leaving Australia. Their husbands were there too so I felt bad that Fergus missed all the fun and great food. They said we will do another get together before we move back to Australia. It turns out that one couple lived in California near where I use to live and she even worked in the building down the street from where I worked – small world. Her husband, Mel is a retired research botanist (can you believe that Sue). He went to Sydney several years ago to present a paper on a banana fungus (or some such thing).

Another small world connect is that Mel is the President of the Fredric Remington Historical Society – Remington lived just a few miles from here when he was in his early twenties. Well my ex-sister-in-law Julie, is Remington’s grand (or great) granddaughter. Mel was the person who organized and constructed the Remington plaque at Remington High School. When I went to my brother John’s 50th wedding anniversary party a few years ago I took a picture of that plaque and gave a copy of it to my nephews, Paul and Dan, Julie and Bob’ sons. Mel is working on creating a garden around the monument and is planning a celebration for the unveiling of the garden. He found out that there is a couple in Wichita who are avid collectors of ORIGINAL Remington works. He is going to see if they would be willing to display some of his art during the celebration. All of this is happening within a ten miles of our house. We have lived here for TEN YEARS and I never knew any of this.

For my Aussie friends I want to remind you that Kansas is like Alice Springs – not dry and red nor all that difficult to get to – but right in the middle of the country. And Whitewater is this tiny little community far from anything. How one can find herself so connected in so many ways to such a place is a mystery to me.

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Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on August 19, 2009

I can’t believe it has been a month since I have added an entry. Most of it has been because one can only talk so much about sitting in a hot garage waiting to sell all the junk we have collected over the years.

But I have news finally. Fergus will be interviewing with the Australian College of Emergency Medicine as the final step (I hope)  in the process of getting back to Oz. Once that happens they can tell him what, if anything, he needs to do to work in Australia, i.e. testing, probation, further training or full privileges. Once he knows what might be required then he can make a decision about making the move.

We don’t have firm date yet but we are hoping (I’m hoping) around the end of September and we will be in Melbourne for at least two weeks. I will keep you informed as we know more.

I have shown the house to a few potential buyers and more than enough “lookie-loos” but I haven’t felt the pressure to sell it until we are sure we are leaving.  I look forward to hearing from my many “fans” out there.

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