i heart grammar

All these i devices have resulted in the computer’s spell checker no longer being effective at picking up an uncapitalised ‘i’ as a grammatical error.

I was recently on an interview panel and was shocked at the number of applications we received that started with the sentence, “i would like to apply”. Are you applying on your iPad? Sitting in your Hyundai i20, with your average IQ, contemplating the new couch you’ll buy from IKEA. (I’m not shouting that, it is written in capitals, although I admit I’m becoming delirious). Maybe you should just go get a job at iSelect. Or better yet, iiNet.

Apple is to blame. They started it. And, yes, yes, we all think you’re very clever for making us say “i” all the time. Sure, I’ll be the first to tell you that ‘I heart Apple’ too. But what would be cleverer is if they helped some of these unfortunates get a job.

It really is a wonder why Microsoft hasn’t developed an alarm system that flashes and bings every time a hapless typist enters an ‘i’. Because, quite frankly, the built in spell checker is not doing a very good job. Perhaps we need a matronly spell checker head that pops onto the screen and shouts, “wrong!!” at these uncapitalised i’s. Coupled with a zap through the keyboard. It would be the ultimate marketing device while bring hope to us old fashioned few who still walk with heads held high and leading with a capital I.

Green apple

image: http://www.aussieapples.com.au/

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rye toast with tahini and tea cup alfalfa

Oh so humble, the alfalfa sprout will grow in just about anything if given some water.

A sweet idea that I saw somewhere, sometime, on the web, was growing alfalfa in tea cups. Totally cute and easy to do – even for the brownest of thumbs*. Having clumsily smashed my glass jar sprouter just last week, I couldn’t resist giving it a go…

tea cup alfalfa sprouts

And then made one of my favourite healthy snacks … Rye bread toast with tahini and alfalfa.

alfalfa tahini on rye

* How to: Put a cotton ball in the bottom of a tea cup and sprinkle in some alfalfa seeds. Leave on the bench top in a light spot, but not in direct sun. Give your seeds tiny amounts of water once or twice a day and in 3-4 days – voila! – a cup of alfalfa.

duck beetroot and pomegranate jewel salad

I adapted this recipe from one created by Valli Little from delicious. magazine. The original uses boiled beets but I prefer to use roasted gems of sweet potato and beetroot, as well as, add much more greenery. I’ve also tampered with the dressing a little bit. Regardless, it is a fantastic recipe and a very beautiful meal.

duck pomegranate beetroot salad recipe

3 beetroot (or more baby beets, halved), peeled and chopped chunky
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped chunky
olive oil
pinch salt
1 pomegranate, seeds removed and set aside
2 duck breasts, with skin
green beans, blanched and set aside
mixed salad leaves (include baby beet leaves if you have them)
6 tbsp soft feta cheese, crumbled
3 tbsp walnuts, chopped and dry roasted
(10 brussel sprout leaves, blanched 1 min with the green beans …I happened to have them so they were added to the one pictured, but I don’t usually include them)

Dressing:
1 tbsp cherry jam*
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
about 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds, crushed to extract their juice

Bake the beetroot and sweet potato until tender in a 180c oven with olive oil and pinch of salt. Time will depend on the size of your pieces. I tend to leave them until quite chip-like but you decide on your preferred level of ‘roasted’.
In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients: oil, vinegar, mustard, jam and pomegranate juice. Set aside. If your jam is hard, microwave it for a couple of seconds.
To cook the duck:
Preheat oven to 180c.
Place the duck, skin side down, in a low to medium heat oven-proof pan. Cooking the duck slowly with skin side down will render the fat out and gradually crisp the skin. Discard rendered fat (or keep it for baking potatoes). Turn over the duck to seal for 1 minute on the meat side, then transfer the pan to the oven 10 mins. Set aside to rest.
How to plate up (I tend to prepare each plate for serving but you can do one big platter for the centre of the table):
In a large bowl place the washed salad leaves and mix with 3 tbsp of dressing.
Plate in this order: salad leaves, beetroot, sweet potato, beans, sliced duck breast.
Sprinkle feta crumbs, walnuts and pomegranate seeds. (That’s my plate pictured… I was heavy handed with the pomegranate seeds on purpose. I love them!).
Drizzle with a little more dressing.

Serves two people as a main meal.

*I like a dark cherry jam but alternatives are red currant or cranberry jellies.

duck pomegranate salad detail

power to the suburban people

A few things in suburban life give me a true sense of power. I thought I’d share some.

First is the trigger hose. Innocent passers by are powerless against the soaking might of my eight function trigger nozzle. Standing legs slightly akimbo, my ergonomic pistol in hand, I’m ready to take out any dissident (or innocent). “Go ahead, make my day”, I threaten passers by. My top lip curled and twitching.

Number two, kitchen power tools. You know what I’m talking about, the way the power whisk magically beats egg whites to meringue, how the oven burns the bejeebers out of stuff when you’re not looking, and how the freezer makes ice. Awesome. It’s there, in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, “yeah, I did that, I put water in that ice tray and now look at it!”

That knob on the stereo that makes the sound move from one speaker to the other. Right, left, right. I can’t play an instrument but damn-straight I can make noise move!

Special treatment in the local establishment, only because you’re in the know (ie, you’re a local but don’t let that stop you feeling like celebrity). Striding through, you know you’re going too far when you give the Queen’s wave. Besides, almost everyone else is a local too and they don’t appreciate the wave.

Internet shopping. I’m buying all sorts of stuff and I haven’t even had to stand up!

So who said suburban life was dull … what gives you a sense of suburban power?

suburbia

image: Edward Scissorhands (1990)