Category Archives: food

An Ebola Whimsy

Come along with me while I play a game of what if.

As a nation, a hemisphere, a political hegemony, we are being told to be terrified of Ebola.

It is indeed a nasty disease and results in more fatalities than cures. While Ebola is nasty it does not have a high infection rate.

What should I fear? On a medical level, of course. There is plenty else to be afraid of. So, what should I fear?

I should fear flu-mutations. Airborne infection. It only needs a nasty mutation to make the flu the worst killer in history. Many other mutations, in the past, were self-limiting because there was limited contact between groups and areas. With modern transport the infection could be world-wide in a week and need a six month research effort to develop an antidote! Ebola isn’t the biggest worry. That is reserved for the joke diseases – “Man”flu, “Bird”flu, “Swine”flu or perhaps, worst of all, “Mouse”flu!

Rodent Flu could be as bad as the Black Death which killed between 30% and 60% of the human species in the middle of the 1300’s. That was spread by the fleas on infected rats which were immune to the disease. Influenza is carried in many different forms by many different animals, including most mammals. Should mice or rats, with their close association with humans, develop a virulent, air-spread form of Flu then we could have severe problems.

While we do have expert and dedicated science institutions capable of developing a vaccine withing the apparently short period of six months we may not have that time. We are so used to “Flu seasons” which limit the spread through populations that we are totally unprepared for the alternative. A virus which is spread through the air, without reference to our accepted seasons.

Such a virus would be spread throughout the world within days rather than weeks because of our mass transit systems. Airlines would carry it across borders in hours. The research bodies my not have the required six months before their structures collapse.

Let us assume for the sake of this flight of fancy that this new mutated virus is as effective in transmitting itself as the Black Death. That is causes an around 50% – 70% reduction in the human population of the earth. What would be the results?

While I agree a 90% virus (or microbe) is a possibility it is worth remembering that the worst we have faced in known history have been around 50% – 70% death rates. That 70% was the Black Death in parts of Europe in the mid-1300’s. An interseting and probably related fact is that the Renaissance began where the disease had entered Europe, in Italy, just one ot two generations later. The Dark Ages were ended, not by knowledge but by a disease. Not by gradual change but by a social upheaval.

A virus/microbe thing was what HG Wells saw as the Earth’s salvation in his novel, “War of the Worlds”. In his case the invaders were fatally infected by the common cold.

After the plague.

We, as a society have grown to expect a Governmental and a Military response. The problem will be that they will also suffer the same death rate as the rest of the population. With that sort of attrition rate we can expect several panicking Government or Military people to send off some nuclear weapons.

Much of our infrastucture depends on the current over-population. As the infrastructure collapses (trains, Plains, roads, communications} the intial survivors will be the billionaires who are probably the least suited to survival in a depopulated world. While they may have stockpiled enough for a lifetime’s survival, it will leave their spoiled children in some disarray. There is satisfaction in thinking about that!

Groups of survivors of the New Plague will probably lose touch with distant groups as the Internet, television and radio will die fairly quickly as satellites and fibre optic cables break down. Food will become a local thing again as long distance transport dies over the generation after the disaster.Within those groups and areas, land will become more plentiful, the average worker will become more valuable and the plutocrats will lose most of their assets. The 1% will probably survive for one generation!

Those best suited to survive will be the substinance groups; the indigenous communities in Australia, the untamed Amazonian tribes, the Arctic groups, the San of Southern Africa. That sort of thing. All isolated from each other with new stories to tell and new religions to develop. Sadly the redneck “survivalists of the USA will also have a high survival rate. Dedicated and selfish survivors with stockpiled weapons! Luckily they will only be able to move around on horseback! And there are limits on how much ammunition any one person can stockpile.

For those small groups based on the old cities and agricultural areas there is a further limit to their recovery and survival which was not present at the end of the Dark Ages. This was a thought I had last night while peeling my home-grown broad beans for dinner. Monsanto are busy making sure as many cropping species as possible become infertile in the second generation so everyone has to but seedstock from them! They are also killing the bees so that only their own self-pollinating crops are left viable. In the new world, post virus, many of the survivors will starve because of this!

Just bye the bye, unusually for an American Corporation (irony alert) the entire board of Monsanto are practising Christians. Surely they have our well being foremost in their minds.

The possible political outcomes of a disaster of this size are also fascinating. The loss of entrenched power within large groupings and the growth of power in the hands of artisans and labourers would make for booksful of discussion. New religions and rituals will be created in response to anger at the Gods which allowed such a cataclysm.

That is where I shall leave this post. It is an interesting mind game and puts this current Ebola scare, along with the HIV, Bird and Swine Flus, and even the Spanish Flu of 1918, into perspective. Bad as they were or could have been, none of them dislocated society. Even the Spanish Flu with 85 million victims did nor “Decimate” the population as that implies the loss of one in ten. The virus I postulate will halve the population. At least the tigers will be happy.

That plague is yet to come.

Unless the asteroid hits us first!




Coffee NAOW!



Nope, this is not my kitchen but I do approve of the sentiments!


My Church




No! I do not have a name for this dish as yet. I just invented it.

So often I have ordered, from  a restaurant menu, food “On a bed of mash”. Tonight I decided to extend the idea.

Beginning with bed-ends of quartered potato and a bed of pumpkin mash.

I added a sheet of mashed potato and put some steamed asparagus to bed.

Then I placed a doona of Salmon Steak decorated with some lemon/lime aiola over the sleepy asparagus.

Finally, because every good bed deserves a little something on the side, I added a small tossed salad – umm –  on the side.

Now to think of a name!



Thanks, Eva


Breakfast News

News of the day

Tomato Sauce Impromptu

My balcony tomato bush has been over-producing so I decided to use some of the ripe and over-ripe fruit to make a sauce.

I wanted it quick, easy and tasty so I decided to invent my own recipe.

I put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. warmed but not sizzling. And then added –

5 cloves of garlic – fine chopped and mashed with a teaspoon of salt using the flat of a chef’s knife

5 pimentoes crushed and fine chopped

Half a green chili, seeded (cos this is a sauce to enhance, not to overpower) and fine chopped.

12 fresh Basil leaves, fine chopped

Mixed Herbs, Just a pinch

500gm Tomatoes – cored and rough cut, leave the skins if you like, I did cos I’m lazy.

Brought to the boil then simmered for 30 minutes.

Used my hand whizzer thing to remove all lumps and to chop (most) of the tomato skins.

The result was more pink than red so the fastidious could add a few drops of cochineal.

The flavour suits me perfectly. Leaving a bit of a bitey afterglow on the tongue this is a sauce I will do again.


Vimrod and Caffeine-Free Coffee


I’m Reminded of Someone

Burgled from Phil

Adults Only Tia Maria Chocolate Balls

Been a few weeks since I did a Chocolate Recipe.

Here is another boozy one  🙂


  • 250g packet of arrowroot biscuits
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 400g can of sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup of Tia Maria liqueur
  • Chocolate sprinkles for rolling completed balls in


  • 1) Pour chocolate sprinkles onto a dinner plate and set to one side along with the tray for the finished Adults Only Tia Maria Chocolate balls to go onto.
  • 2) Break arrowroot biscuits into pieces and place into food processor, blending until biscuit pieces become crumbs.
  • 3) Pour biscuit crumbs into a large mixing bowl along with the cocoa, sweetened condensed milk, and Tia Maria. Mix all the ingredients together until combined. From this point it is important to work quickly as I discovered leaving the mixture for too long it gets harder to work with.
  • 4) Scoop up a teaspoon sized amount and roll into a ball before rolling it in the chocolate sprinkles and setting aside on prepared tray.
  • 5) Repeat until all the mixture is rolled and coated in chocolate sprinkles.
  • 6) Place Tia Maria Chocolate Balls into fridge to set.

Strawberries & Tia Maria Chocolate Sauce


Preparation Time – 10 minutes

Cooking Time – 5 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 100g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) thin cream
  • 2 tbs Tia Maria liqueur
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • Vanilla ice-cream, to serve
  • 1 x 250g punnet strawberries, hulled, washed
  1. Place the chocolate, cream, Tia Maria and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Use a metal spoon to stir occasionally for 5 minutes or until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.
  2. Spoon ice-cream and strawberries among serving bowls. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and serve immediately.
Discovered at

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.


Serves: 16

250g butter
1 cup (250g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 eggs
2 cups (250g) flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cocoa
100g chocolate chips
125ml red wine
apricot jam
chocolate cake icing


Melt the butter in a large bowl and stir with a big spoon until fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, sugar and vanilla, stirring constantly.

In another bowl mix the flour with the baking powder and sieve. Add the cinnamon and cocoa to the flour, mix well and all fold into the egg, butter and sugar mixture. Finally, pour in the red wine.
Pour the dough into a greased bread tin and bake in the preheated oven for about 90 minutes. Do a toothpick test; push a toothpick into the centre of the cake. When dough no longer sticks to the toothpick the cake is ready.
Remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool.
When the red wine cake has cooled, brush with apricot jam and then cover with chocolate cake covering. The red wine cake tastes great even without the covering.

Not Just Your Average Chocolate Mousse

 Chocolate Mousse in a Mint Chocolate Basket with Mixed Berries and Galliano Liquor

A few complications to make the baskets but after that, it is a bit of a cheat. 😆


  • Water
  • ½ block of compound cooking chocolate – dark or milk
  • 4 drops peppermint oil
  • 6 rubber moulds for chocolate basket
  • Packet chocolate mousse mixture
  • Tia Maria
  • Macadamia syrup
  • Seasonal berries or chocolate strips and icing sugar for decoration


  1. First, you need to make the chocolate basket. Get a large saucepan and add 2 inches of water, and allow it to boil. Set a corningware dish to sit on top of the rim of the saucepan of boiled water, ensuring no water splashes into the corningware dish. Melt a half block of compound cooking chocolate in the corningware dish, adding 4 drops of peppermint oil (optional). When the chocolate has fully melted, remove the saucepan from the stove, and turn off, again ensuring no water splashes into the corningware dish.
  2. Get 6 rubber moulds and coat each with the chocolate mixture, and put each mould on a tray and place in the freezer until the chocolate shells are rock hard. Slowly and carefully remove the rubber moulds leaving the chocolate shells whole.
  3. Put these to the side whilst preparing the (packet) chocolate mousse mixture. Add Tia Maria or coffee liquor with macadamia syrup for a richer flavour. Prepare the mousse mixture as per the directions on the packet. Once the mixture is prepared, slowly fill each shell up to the rim, and decorate with seasonal berries or chocolate strips. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.

Serves 4


Burgled from lifestylefood

Chocolate Cherry Trifle


  • 2 chocolate pound cakes, approximately 12 ounces each
  • ½ cup Cherry Jam
  • ½ cup Cherry Brandy
  • 2 cups Drained bottled sour cherries recommended: Morello


  • 4 oz Bittersweet Chocolate minimum 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups Milk plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 1/3 cups Heavy Cream plus 1 tablespoon
  • 8 egg yolks
  • ½ cup Sugar plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder


  • 3 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 oz Bittersweet Chocolate grated


  1. Slice the chocolate pound cake and make jam sandwiches with the cherry jam, and layer the bottom of a large wide trifle bowl.
  2. Pour over the cherry brandy so that the cake soaks it up, and then top with the drained cherries.
  3. Cover with cling wrap and leave to macerate while you make the custard.
  4. Melt the chocolate on low to medium heat in the microwave, checking after 2 minutes, though it will probably need 4 minutes. Or you can place it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, set aside while you get on with the custard.


  1. In a saucepan warm the milk and cream. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture.
  2. Stir in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides well with a rubber spatula to get all of it in, and pour the custard back into the rinsed saucepan.
  3. Cook over a medium heat until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Make sure it doesn’t boil, as it will split and curdle. Keep a sink full of cold water so that if you get scared you can plunge the bottom of the custard pan into the cold water and whisk like mad, which will avert possible crisis.
  4. The custard will get darker as it cooks and the flecks of chocolate will melt once the custard has thickened. And you do need this thick, so don’t panic so much that you stop cooking while it is still runny. Admittedly, it continues to thicken as it cools and also when it’s chilling in the refrigerator.
  5. Once it is ready, pour into a bowl to cool and cover the top of the custard with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
  6. When the custard is cold, pour and spread it over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle bowl, and leave in the refrigerator to set, covered in cling wrap overnight.


  1. When you are ready to decorate, softly whip the cream for the topping and spread it gently over the layer of custard. Grate the chocolate over the top.
Recipe burgled from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Feasts