Hello and welcome to my first blog for some considerable period of time. To say we are living in Interesting Times is to elevate the old apocryphal Chinese curse to new levels of circumstantial irony.

We will one day recount to our grand children about how we lived through the 2020 pandemic and subsequent economic recession, how in Australia we managed with no toilet paper, take-away lattes only and no hugs, and how world-wide we invented terms such as social distancing, infodemic, flattening the curve,coronahoarding (I made up that up) and the neologism COVID-19.

Having broached this subject, I scarcely know where to take it, as the breadth is astounding. So far world-wide (and we have a long way to go) over 3 million official cases but probably 6-12 million actual cases, over 200,000 official dead but at a 5% mortality probably double this, an average drop in global GDP predicted at 0.4%, probably over 300 million more people out of work than before the virus hit, and a global air transport system which has basically, well, gone. Plus I have to sit on a park bench to drink my latte.

One could work themselves up into a lather about conspiracy theories and misinformation surrounding this event (the one that particularly gets my goat is how the Chinese engineered the virus as a bioweapon and deliberately set it onto the world), the behaviour of some politicians and people (well one in particular Trumped them all), the disingenuity of the Chinese government and the WHO, and the lack of an artfully constructed foamy fern-leaf on my take-away latte. However I really prefer to concentrate on the overwhelming acceptance and wonderful behaviour of almost everyone, from the isolated to the health workers, the bureaucrats and even the politicians.

A little closer to home, the pandemic will have far reaching effects on our behaviour as amateur photographers (at least for the next 12 months). Gone will be overseas phototours, and even Australian trips will be limited. A viable vaccine for COVID is not guaranteed, and so overseas travel may change forever. We may have to dig deeper into the world around us, and rediscover through our lens the beauty in the familiar.

Now since my last blog, I have rediscovered an old passion – the world of jazz. Specifically, I have rediscovered my alto saxophone after 20 years, thanks to a happy set of circumstances around a friend’s invitation to a blues jam last year. And so every day, through the miracle of YouTube, I play along with rhythm sections on all manner of jazz standards. Sometimes I indulge in more structured practice. I am now also doing some work with a piano player, and who knows, in a time beyond Corona, maybe there’ll be an inconsequential trio gig at a late night lounge somewhere. I’ll let you know.

Spiced Pumpkin and Roasted Pepper Soup.

Now don’t go and get all upset, pepper here is American for capsicum, which may be more correct but it’s a silly word.

Take one big beautiful Queensland blue or for a sweeter treat a bonza beaut butternut, and slice off ‘arf a kilo, mate. Take off the rind and with aplomb discard it. Now one may consider roasting the pumpkin, but do not even think about it or I will find you and you do not want to know what will happen next. Simmer gently in a minimum of good old plain tap water, until soft. The pumpkin, not the water.

Meanwhile, take several (I suggest 2) goodly sized really ripe peppers and place into a hot oven (a cold one just won’t work). I find 200 C works well. Bake until the skins start to char and the peppers are soft and the music swells to Olympian heights. Remove them and remove the skins and seeds, which is a finicky little job requiring good inner resolve and a glass of Barossa shiraz.

Take a spiffle of the Barrien special pumpkin and pepper soup spice mix1, which varies every time I make this, and temper it for 20 seconds in a hot pan with a little bran oil. Then place all the ingredients plus a half of cup of the pumpkin water, a sprinkle of tarragon and a little tamari-to-taste, into an electric mixer and vitamise, baby, vitamise.  Reheat if required. Serve with crusty bread, Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons (Autumn is preferable) and a suitable adult beverage.

1 Perhaps a generous teaspoon of cumin, a little less coriander and cinnamon, maybe a wee amount of chilli paste if you need your life spiced up a tad (and who doesn’t?). 

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