Saturday, December 25, 2010

Desk top cooking

My new table/desktop oven is proving to be a blessing. Out with that Gaggenau nonsense (too complicated) and in with easy-cook 737. Both Buddha and Quan Yin are smiling upon the new addition though it is hard to figure out how to stir fry in an oven. So far Chicken limone is the star. Same as Chicken Camembert except you stuff lemons instead of Camembert cheese up the chicken. One pot cooking and you can watch how things progress. Loads of successes - salmon steaks in three minutes - so don't go too far away because I'll post some on the new site. Due about mid January.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Newer, brighter, lighter

Some changes are being made. A few of our favourite things have travelled with us to overlook the Brisbane River but loads had to go to make way for the new. The new site will be up and running in a few weeks.Newer, faster, easier, brighter. So if there are any pictures that please you for your personal use then download with my compliments. They may not be on the new site. The address does not change, but EVERYTHING else will. Wait and see and come back soon. Happy New 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

writers burning issue

Today's burning issue for writers and most other creative folk is to build visible 'platforms' to out their talent - thus creating auras of success. No more waiting in the wings in Schwab's Hollywood Drug Store. We are now expected to front a raft of seminars, consult with gurus, and curry our way into inner sanctums of editors, publishers, and publicists. 
Where do we find the time to write? What happened to the Aquarian dawning? And where did Andy Warhol's fifteen minute throwaway line get us? Not far. Like most media grabs it was - is - feel-good stuff and nonsense, falling far from the mark. 
Love something I say, and go write about it. Screw the rest. The past is ever ready to cosy-up the future, but the trick is to focus forward in the present. Be aware. No befores. No afters. Actions, not words. Light the bonfires and on to the pyre go heaps of faded magazine stories and loads of old tear sheets. Travel light! Observe use-by dates.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Way we were

The opening lines of my first magazine story popped out to bite me yesterday. 'I'm having a love affair with Asia. Maybe you are further in than I am.'  If I knew then ...

Things may have been easier back in the 80s. Sketch pads, camera, and a load of Yoken coloured felt pens paid my way around the Orient very nicely. Home again, home again, I'd work up travel and garden stories - mainly about orchid encounters. Nowadays, cell phones and laptops encourage writing on the run. Chasing hot hotel deals becomes the now and multi-tasking the norm. Information overload blocks the way to who we are, how we feel, and what we do best. Excessive amounts of higher education does not necessarily supply the answer and can cloud the issue when it comes to telling a good story. Numbed, we absorb newscasts and wallow in bureaucratic clap-trap that should scare the pants off us. Fascinated, we concentrate on the et ceteras. Where, oh where, did that love affair go? Beats me.      MaX

Bottoms UP! Blooming Stanhopea

Now here’s an orchid that could make a maiden blush! The zany subtropical Stanhopea dangles great clusters of blossom from its nether regions, down below the pseudo bulbs and large leafy foliage. What first seems like a goofy quirk of nature turns out to be one of the magnificent miracles of the plant world. Overwhelming, viewed from beneath. 

It must be marvellous to happen upon these dizzying apparitions in the jungles of South America – where jungle still remains. Reports of pillage and slash-and-burn operations set off alarm bells and many wild orchids now exist only through the good graces of botanic gardens and dedicated growers – hardly tribute to man’s passage through the kingdom of plants. It is important to keep a positive picture of these alluring plants swaying in tropical jungle atmosphere when you set about growing them.

Stanhopeas must never be housed in solid-sided pots (how would the flowers break through the terracotta?) and are best grown in wire baskets and viewed hanging high in your garden or fernhouse. Joy of joys, stanhopeas bloom late in the season after most else has given up the ghost. Late spring into early summer, the sturdy stanhopea keeps popping away. And I do mean ‘pop’.

Here are some varieties that grow easily in temperate outdoor conditions. Happy hunting!
 Stanhopea nigroviolacea, this fellow seems all-male to me. Big, robust, easy growing. Stanhopea inodora, my favourite, this ice green beauty is a hardy grower, but with a delicate countenance. Stanhopea reichenbachiana, porcelain white and spicy sweet perfumed, Stanhopeawardii, a sunny yellow deckled with tiny purplish flecks. Stanhopeagraveolens, cool growing (bush houses, glass houses, shaded patios, garden balconies protected from the wind), this golden beauty hails from Mexico and Honduras.  View my Stanhopea gallery

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hail, rain, shine and still blooming

An almighty hail storm hit our district last November. Gardens were stripped bare. Huge river gums snapped - toppled. No leaf or flower left in the storm's wake. Except, bless 'em, our little Stonehenge circle of old bridge timbers where Vanda orchids flower in profusion. 
It's a secluded part of the garden, right by a rainforest gully that a friend named The Lost Garden. We already had a Grevillea Hill, Pawpaw Island, and Lake Leaky. They are as they sound, but it's the Vandas behind the Orchid Igloo that radiate the real joy. Except in hailstorms.
By a stroke of luck the Vandas came to no harm in the tempest. Maybe tall timbers protected them. Or maybe, like bamboo, they can bend with the wind. In any event they budded up, bloomed profusely as never before. Quirky things orchids.
Vandas love growing on old fence posts and, given a spare tree trunk, they are away. Up! Up! Up! - the sky's the limit. Old disused bridge timbers on site gave us the clue. We concocted a kind of wooden Stonehenge, a circle of wooden uprights, where orchids cling close and radiate good vibrations. Even in inner-city Sydney we successfully grew Vanda coerulea on native Bangalow Palms. Blue coerulea Vandas appreciate warm days and cooler nights for plentiful blooms.
With garden space becoming an issue for city folk, the tendency is to breed smaller and smaller stock. Large inflated flowers on small compacted bodies is not my bag - a little like binding feet. Let Vandas run free I say.   MaX

A few thoughts on the subject of self publishing gathered together as part of a video being prepared on the subject. Graphics speak for themselves.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater

It was at the old La Rhumba in Darlinghurst I first encountered a stuffed pumpkin. Barbara Wilson and a bunch of journos tossed me a memorable lunch prior to a 6 pm takeoff for New York. Been anxious to stuff pumpkin ever since. Here we go!. Top off a two kilo Jap pumpkin. Remove seeds, hollow out the inside flesh [a curved knife would have been handy. Had to make do with a dessert spoon]. Pumpkin into a skillet with splash of oil, diced fresh peach, chunks fresh mango, chopped apple, cup of plump sultanas soaked overnight in what pleases you, cup of lean mince, splashes of white wine as the mixture cooks to 'almost done'. Season.
Spoon mix into the pumpkin shell. Bake at 200 degrees C for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and gussey up for the table. Tomato slices were a bit of a miss. Hereafter mango and orange slices perhaps. Goodbye fatty Christmas hams! This is it for my Yuletide. Delicious cold as well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

fruit from the Saturday market

Queensland grown tropical fruit from the Saturday markets, a 350 metre stroll along the river from our Brisbane West End apartment. Hurrah! for summer. Is there anything better than Queensland grown mango, Tahitian limes, plantains, pungent red papaya, yellow pawpaw, juicy oranges and bush lemons. And those impossibly sweet rough leaf pineapples

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quan Yin and purple orchids

Swathed in enchanting Vanda orchids, Quan Yin showers very real blessings along Brisbane's river front. Except the orchids are unreal. They're cleverly crafted by Nong, a talented Thai girl who travels weekends from the Gold Coast to display her wares at South Bank Lifestyle Markets beside the Brisbane river. As real as nature but intricately fashioned in fine white clay, each hand made leaf and petal is delicately painted and styled into authentic looking flowers that stopped me in my tracks. I swore never to accept artificial flowers, but never say never. These artworks share pride of place with Quan Yin.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jacaranda time at the Regatta Hotel

Brisbane's slightly infamous old watering hole stands right across the river from our new apartment. So near yet so far. Takes me back to college days. The Brisbane Boys College rowing shed once stood on the waterfront adjacent to the pub. Head of the River. I was too young to row but not to slip into the then hotel gardens. Actually saw a woman chain herself to the foot rail in the bar to protest that females were not served in the bar. Police dragged the lady off to the lockup. We've come a long way, baby.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Brisbane connection working a treat

Quickly discovered the river is the link to inner city living in Brisbane. What fun to welcome Sydney visitors Mark Roeder and Janine Bavin. Mark, author of The Big Mo spoke at the Brisbane Writers Festival and stayed to update on my new inner city digs. Janine lunched with us at Mecca Bah a new haunt just beyond Fortitude Valley. Home made pizza [Spit roasted lamb, rocket, yoghurt & sumac and Sardine, caramelised onion, roast tomato & olive] preceded a seriously good tangine with beetroot salad - almost no room for a round of middle eastern ice cream. Almost.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The last orchid to leave the garden

Smashing results at the three day mega sale. Every single orchid sold and there were approximately 2,000 plants on the Cooroy Gardens six acre property in the Noosa hinterland. 

Publicist and popular Noosa personality Helen Flannagan scored the last orchid and garden manager Seyen Surjan was there to see the sale went smoothly. Most everyone left happy and there is enough running-away-from-home money to tide us over to the next big event. Time for a little R&R methinks. Part of the jade collection went to family friends in Ipswich and the cinnabar lacquer lions will soon return to Sydney and the couple who first introduced me to Apple Mac – I am forever in their debt.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jesus Bird Kakadu Australia

Usually these bird visuals are studies of life on and around our property and surrounding Cooroy Creek.This new illustration is developed from a quick diary thumbnail made decades ago while tripping the Northern Territory. A photographic assignment for one or other of the glossy magazines but, as was often the case, my quick diary sketches sometimes caught the immediacy of a situation faster than the Canon camera. For two decades the Jesus Bird and Giant Lotus quickie rested in the back of a travel notebook and came to light yesterday. Then followed this all night session drawing on the Mac to create a new bird-n-bush study for electronic media.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2010 Chinese New Year valentine

It may sound queer sending a Chinese Valentine in the form of Australian parrots and red-flowering rainforest trees but at Cooroy Gardens you learn to go with what you've got. King parrots and flaming red Firewheel it is. From our garden to your garden, great good luck and a huge-hearted Saint Valentine. Make this the year things happen.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

December/January rains and we're back in business. This is the time to visit. Grand sweeps of green and picnic places galore. Cooroy is nothing if not pretty little shops and happy smiling people. Holiday in the heart of Noosa's Hinterland. Check out progress on the new Library building. Try Eggs Benedict at Peter's Cafe or spectacular coffee and a thing-y at Twig and Grace. Visit Cooroy Gardens, a very special place, Jan 7-18. Call 5442 5188.