Sunday, May 17, 2009

flotsam & jetsam

Over summer, it is a weekend ritual to have morning tea with Tom’s parents and stretch our grey matter with the Saturday Weekend Liftout “Wordsmith”: a box with nine letters, from which can be made one nine-letter word and a number of smaller words. Tom’s mum presented us with an envelope full of wordsmith sheets to be rationed at one per week over the season. With brain matter stimulated, we sustain ourselves on almond milk chocolate smoothies for one blissful day of blending. It is Mother’s Day in Aus, but the phone tower is broken so we can’t send love messages to the mums at home.

There are only four private cars in the village, with regular transport by foot, bicycle, or scooter. We walk or ride our pushies everywhere, so it is exciting to join friends, Cath and Les, on an outing in their rented ute. The mission is to gather driftwood and cow shit from the south coast, both of which I plan to use to enhance to garden. Our previous driftwood hunts have been by bicycle, and there in lies the limiting factor of what can be salvaged.
Over the headland, the coast bares the full brunt of the onshore trade winds and I revel in the wild and salt laden air. We find a plastic tub with the words “Helinika Broome” and a phone number printed on it. We imagine ringing them to ask if they would like to come and retrieve their tub from the flotsam. The beach is littered with driftwood and my eyes dance like a kid in Toyworld; the creative potential is endless – chair, sculpture, plant holder, mobile, towel rail – every piece screams to be collected. The cow shit is not so vocal or enticing. Cath is collecting thongs for a collage. She fills two cement bags with multicoloured rubber in varying degrees of decay. Tom has a crazy idea about using the thong bounty as roof insulation. I will file that one away for Armageddon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Our tropical produce garden has begun with the gift of five small banana trees.
A local girl carried them for an hour on her scooter. The compost bucket is steaming, in readiness to feed the hungry young plants. It's Saturday and we have polished off the 100 bananas bought at the market on Tuesday, so we look forward to the day when we can pick directly from the back yard.

Wellam, the electricity boss, must have fallen asleep on the switch as we have unexpected power in the middle of the day. I whip out the fastest cacao and banana smoothie possible, fearing a blackout at any moment.

A delicious and cooling way to deal with our glut of papaya is blended with fresh ginger, frozen, then reblended into a smooth granita. Who needs ice-cream?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

baba ganoush

Market day again, and our plan is to split up and pounce early. I am after lemons and Tom is on the search for avocados and green bananas. We have success with lemons, oranges and bananas, but no avos. We ordered twenty to be sent over from the mainland; if, and in what condition they arrive is yet to be seen (note; they never arrived). Tom has bought a parang (machete) to begin coconut-opening lessons, and I lash out on four sarongs to cut up and sew into a mattress cover for our patio daybed. The mattress manufacturer’s taste in fabric is consistent with Indo kitch, and the bright nylon blue and yellow flower print has got to go.

Today is the third day without a phone signal and internet connection. Just when you get comfortable with something, an unknown force rips it away. Sweet demonstration of attachment causing suffering.

Finally, we manage to find someone keen enough to spend half a day scraping paint of our kitchen floor. We foolishly trusted the claim on the Indonesian cement paint that it would be “hard and long wearing.” Within a week, it was peeling off and looking like a crazy Picasso. The options were to hit it with a grinder, filling every orifice of house and self with cement dust, or find a patient local willing to scrape it off with a parang.

Tonight's raw gourmet delight is tempe open "sandwiches" with baba ganoush, salad and alfafa sprouts. For dessert I make a chocolate macaroon mixture from the almond milk meal and mush it up with bananas.

Raw Baba Ganoush

4 eggplant
apple cider vinegar
3/4 C tahini
4 cloves garlic
1/4 C lemon juice
1 T garam masala/curry powder

1. Peel & chop eggplant into cubes
2. Cover with water and soak for 1 hour (asian eggplant do not require salting)
3. Drain off water, cover eggplant with apple cider vinegar and soak for 1 hour
4. Combine in food processor with tahini, garlic, lemon juice and garam masala

rock on

There are 40 plus blokes on the block next door building a rock fence. From 7am until 6pm, it is a cacophony of hammer on rock. Chip, chip, bash, bash, chip, chip. The laughter and banter between them is insistent, however as they are speaking Delha, the local dialect, we don’t understand a word. Delha is a vowel driven language, with many words totally deplete of consonants. Any local under 70 years old is bi-lingual, using Bahasa Indonesia to talk to us, or to someone from another region. Unfortunately, their preference to speak Delha between themselves means we miss the immersion effect that accelerates learning a new language.

Dry stone walls are standard throughout the village, in part to define boundaries, but mainly to keep out the pigs and goats that roam freely. In reality, unless the wall is 6 foot high, the goats enjoy the challenge and jump straight over. The pigs have a harder time of it, and try to head butt through the gate.

Our front wall serves as a grandstand. Not only do spectators get to watch the construction, they get to watch me doing utterly normal things that are strangely captivating.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

cinderella never had it so good

I am on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor with steel wool to remove the last remnants of paint and knife scrapings. Listening to Erkhart Tolle, “A New Earth”, on the ipod, in an attempt to deem the task more meaningful and satisfying. Me ego is having a field day with the tedium of the chore.

Monday, May 11, 2009

island torpor

Island torpor has struck me down. Some days I struggle to drag myself off the daybed. I had a theory that the horse flies carry some form of sleeping sickness, like the tetse fly in Aftrica, and as I suffer regular welts from their sawing bite, I am a prime candidate to be struck down. Alas, no amount of Googling confirmed this theory. I am simply being lazy.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

water sweet

The one modern time saving device that I miss is a washing machine. I detest hand washing, and while it isn’t that I have something pressing to do with my time, it is the banality of it. Often I take mum’s advice and render them “water sweet." At least I now have running water to expedite the chore. Each week I threaten to send the clothes off to a local lady, however I feel bad impressing my boring jobs onto someone else, plus they like to load up the bucket with frothing powder - to achieve that fresh, clean smell - and then don't rinse the suds out. Plus there is the issue of my g-strings becoming the show and tell item of the week, as they flap in all their colourful glory on someone elses clothes line.

Friday, May 8, 2009

coffee is poison, but it gets shit done

A small market consisting of three stall holders gathers on Friday morning, and we go with vain hopes of finding lemons or avocado. All we get is a straggly bunch of spring onions, three bunches of kankung and one handful of tomatoes. We call in on Mike and Ellen, expats from the US that have just arrived from their off-season house in Byron Bay. Ellen always has a full pantry of goodies from Australia and Bali, and offers us a cup of freshly brewed Lavazza coffee. Oh my, if we have two vices from the cooked food world, they are ice-cream and coffee. We are safe from the former down here, but the coffee aroma is wafting in my direction. It is like a direct hit into my veins and the excitement is intoxicating. Projects are discussed, planned, and executed with the power of caffeine.

Dinner tonight is "Bok & Roll" : cashew cheese, alfafa sprouts and salad, individually rolled in a bok choi leaf - nature's perfect substitue for pitta bread.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

green smoothie revolution

Green smoothies are back on the menu. We only have power from 6.00pm to 6.00am, so we make our smoothie at night and keep it in the freezer. Living in a house without walls we are generally awake at dawn to the rustling of coconut leaves, chooks, dogs, and the full volume chatting of locals beginning their daily activities. Even so, it is nice to grab the extra few minutes sleep if a quiet morning arises.

Today's green smoothie contains pak choi, papaya, banana, orange juice, bee pollen & goji berries. A little enthusiastic with the pak choi plus I threw in some papaya seeds, so the result is a bit bitter. For more information about the magic of green smoothies, check out Victoria Boutenko's website, the mother of the green smoothie revolution.

Rain for a third day and the temperature is a mild 26 degrees. I dust off Tom’s old cut-off wetsuit and join Hildi for a surf in the drizzle.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

special morning price

Tuesday is market day. We arrive early and are the first buleh’s (foreigners) on site, which doesn’t gain us any advantage as the pelting rain is holding up proceedings. Martha from the hotel arrives, and ignoring the downpour, pounces on the only pile of lemons, buying all but four small, wrinkly ones. We have to shop smarter, getting to the highly prized items early and leaving the leafy greens until last. Being the beginning of the dry season, variety is limited and the prices are relatively high. Bok choi that is selling for 1000rps, will be three-for-1000rps in July.

Our haul for the morning is :
100 bananas (yes, 100)
10 papaya
2 bulbs garlic
1 bunch spring onions
27 carrots
1 root ginger
2 cups peanuts
4 cups sesame seeds
4 pathetic lemons
5 bunches amaranth greens
4 bunches bok choi
5 bunches pak choi
1 cabbage
3 piles tomato
1 bag local sea salt
3 cucumbers
15 small eggplant
8 slices tempeh

The cooler weather is great for working in the yard, and I make a start on the new design. Aeanella (a tough dune creeper) has sprung up over the wet season,and I set about hacking it with the crow bar. With the first whack, I have either discovered a fresh spring in the garden or hit the water pipe coming from the well. I call out to Tom, who yells a colourful response. Woops! Until the pipe is dry and repaired, there is no tank refill, and the threat of hauling from the well returns.

Monday, May 4, 2009

eggplant pickle

The power is still on at 6am, so I sneak in the opportunity to make a breakfast smoothie. Eggplant pickle is on my agenda this morning. Tom heads off for a surf, less than thrilled with the idea of returning hungry to a feed of pickles.

basic eggplant pickle
1. peel and grate eggplant, cover with water and soak for 2-3 hours.
Asian eggplants are not as bitter as Mediterranean varieties, so do not require salting.
2. drain and squeeze out excess water
3. add enough apple cider vinegar to cover eggplant
4. add crushed garlic and finely chopped shallots or onion
5. marinate for at least 2 hours
6. will keep in the fridge for up to a week
, and continue to develop flavour

I combine the eggplant pickle with shredded cabbage, carrots and five dates from our precious stash. We have agreed to hold off from the “imported” ingredients until later in the season when we the cravings are busting down the door. The salad is tasty, but the quantity isn’t enough to refuel Tom after a four hour surf session. Our fresh supplies are reduced to garlic and ginger and neither of us is adept at climbing the coconut trees. Hunger drives Tom to raid the “poisonous box” coming out with couscous and tomato paste that he mixes with garlic, olive oil and mustard. His cooked food reflection is that couscous is bland and swells up in your stomach to twice the size.

Dinner time and Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard is bare. In August last year the first warong (restaurant) opened in the village, and there are now four to choose from if you want a night out on the town. The menu is whatever they can scrape together, and there is no guarantee they have any food at all to offer. The best bet is “Johnny Generator’s”, run by the local generator repair man and his wife. We try and order something like a salad, but this falls on deaf ears. The local belief is that a meal without rice isn’t a real meal, and that one couldn’t possible be satisfied without a pile of gluey starch on the side. Our nasi goreng arrives, and even the cucumber is cooked.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

power for god

Two years ago the village stepped into the light by way of an Australian donated solar bank, four Dutch windmills and a thumping diesel generator. We receive power from 6pm to 6am except for Sunday, when we have power for god. The islanders are devout Christian, and going to church on Sunday is imperative. The generator is kept running to power the PA systems that blurt out messages of sin and Satan to the masses. For the expats, it is a day of sheer pleasure. Computers are charged, music docks play all day, and most importantly, blenders and fridges are running to provide cold smoothies whenever we desire.

Last year we had a ritual of “Frappacino Sunday” - a weekly binge on ice-coffee, cake and biscuits. This season we start with fresh almond milk and a blend of raw cacao, maca, dandelion and vanilla. Thanks be to god.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

running water

The village electrician makes a house call and fixes our pump with a flick of the wrist. The sound of water running into the tank is sweet music to my ears. Cover up the well and pack away the bucket - there will be a shower tonight.

Friday, May 1, 2009

absolutely no greens

Reunited with my surf buddy and other long term expat, Hildi, I am excited to get back on my board and into tropical water. The post surf ritual is tea or coffee at her house, sometimes accompanied by a “treat”. Today it is banana cake, and I don’t have the heart or desire to launch into a raw food spiel. It is a small slither, and I enjoy it with mindfulness.

Hildi’s husband John is the antithesis of a raw foodie. He eats one vegetable, and one vegetable only – potato. Absolutely, most definitely no greens. The only fruit that he regularly eats is banana, and that is when it is blended with sweetened condensed milk, powdered milk, yogurt and biscuits in his daily smoothie. He survives on chicken, omelettes, chips, biscuits, lollies, chocolate, and the odd bit of fish. In the off season, he adds the delights of lamb chops and sausage rolls to his diet. John can’t understand us being vegetarian, and is always quick with a joking dig, so we aren’t ready to share our joys of being raw with him just yet.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...