Thursday, April 18, 2013

Post surgery energy--day 15 ---I think.

I just love my new energy. Hell, I am carrying about 20kgs less than two months ago. You want some evidence of my new state? OK then. I have just cooked some feijoas with rhubarb (no sugar now) and then a huge chicken, bacon bones and veggie soup with lots of split peas and lentils, and then my tofu dish. The first two dishes were done in the slow cooker and crock pot (There is a difference)
So you thought I would lose interest in cooking---shame on you. I have just turned it to my advantage and freezing small amounts and entertaining friends. If anything, with the new energy, I am having more visitors and I love to feed them healthy food. My plate may look sparse, but that's OK with me. Here's a recipe for my tofu and mushrooms.

Take one square of firm tofu and cut it into tiny cubes. Marinade it for a few hours in one finely chopped shallot (or onion) and  garlic and black bean sauce, chilli, ginger and some sweet soy sauce. Add about a tablespoon of any oil. Then cook some finely chopped mushrooms to a heated pan that has been lightly oiled. Add a little salt and pepper. Stir-fry the mushrooms and leave in the pan. Now in a heated pan cook the marinated tofu, in small batches. As they brown, add them to the mushrooms. When it's all done you can either have the mixture dry or make a gravy for a 'wetter' look.  Yum, even though I only eat a bit of it. You can serve it over rice and spinach. Leave out the rice for me, if you invite me over to sample your version. Rest time now, I think!

Let's get synthetic cannabis out of our corner shops by whater method it takes!

I am not saying that we should chuck a brick through the windows of any shop selling ‘synthetic cannabis’ in  New Zealand, but I am very tempted to take that action myself. The evidence has been around for quite a while that the effects of these nasty substances are dangerous and prolonged. There have even been deaths associated with these ‘products.’

That young people can ‘illegally’ attain SC is even more troubling. It may be illegal for them to so but we all know that there are ways to procure them, either directly from unscrupulous shop keepers, or through older friends and family members.

Why am I so against SC? I can hear the clarion calls from those who use the argument that tobacco and alcohol also wreak havoc on the physical and mental health of our citizens. Yes, that may be true, but why in the hell would we allow another ‘candidate to the line-up?’ The damage caused by the former is obvious and cost us billions in the negative effects.

I work with young people in a large secondary school, as a counsellor and I know that a significant number of young people regularly have access to SC and that the effects are similar to that of ‘P.’ Once started we see little of them. We already know that students who partake in regular use of Cannabis, gradually withdraw from ‘effective education.’ By that I mean, that they may be present (If we are lucky) at school, but very little learning takes place.

Now add in the possibility of a young person buying SC from the dairy on the way to school and you have a very potent mix of possibilities. If that young person even gets to school, they are unmanageable in class and therefore not only limit their chances, but they ‘steal’ the possibility of other kids learning at school. The time taken by the health and pastoral care systems is a cost on other kids. The damage that they are setting themselves up for is immeasurable.

 Just listen to the reports from various health authorities in NZ and you will able to list the effects of SC very easily. It is and will continue to be a cost on the nation.

Let’s get this stuff out of our shops. Let’s do whatever it takes and if that means pushing the boundaries, right up to giving an extremely strong message to those shops in our communities that sell this stuff, then so be it.  Yes that will drive it underground and put SC in the same category of cannabis sales. Hopefully, as parents, teachers, counsellors, youth workers and members of a community, we can therefor limit the damage done by SC and other substances.

Get out there and tell your local shops that you will not tolerate sales in your area. If they persist---then it’s over to you.


What hope now, America?

Yesterday the USA Senate rejected President Obama's initiative to take a more serious look at 'gun controls.' These proposals were hardly radical, just a tweaking to take away some of the worst aspects of the right of US citizens to have unbridled access to guns and other issues around multiple magazines etc.. Anyone sane should have been able to see that his actions were not an all out attack on their special right to bear arms. Indeed, I doubt that much would have changed, but at least it signalled  that the President wants to make the USA safer.
 It appears that the various lobby groups and the scare tactics used have influenced the Senate. This is most disturbing and as  result we can expect to see more headlines about deaths of people which are the direct result of guns being in the hands of individuals (and groups) who I wouldn't trust with a pitchfork! I know, no amount of legislation will totally protect people from the acts of criminals or those on the 'fringe.'
Combine the USA's large population and the ingrained thought processes that go along with gun ownership, the history of 'nation making,' that incorporated guns as a fulcrum, add in the criminal underclass and you have a potent mix. Now add the myths that accompanied  much of the film and entertainment industry and the resulting 'nowness' of guns in American society then you have all the ingredients for a society beset with weapons and a means of using them on one another. Unfortunately, counterbalancing responsible owners you have so many others who flout, exploit and use guns for reasons that border on psychopathic and criminal purposes. Then you have groups that stand up and politicize the ownership issue in ways that have entrenched guns as an infallible right. Time and technology have 'multiplied' the ramifications of gun ownership, leaving us with the situation we now see in the USA. Other than 'failed states,' no other country witnesses such carnage on the streets and in the homes of its people. Yes, Mr President, you have every right to be angry with your narrow-minded Senate.

Fig Tree Cafe in Ngatea

Ngatea is a little village on the way to Tauranga and the Thames area of New Zealand; that is if you divert slightly off the main road. It is one of quite a few towns and villages on the Hauraki Plains. Today I decided to visit my brother in Paeroa, another town, snuggling up to the ranges and famous (in NZ) for being the birth place of  Lemon and Paeroa, an iconic NZ soda drink.
I had breakfasted at home on Qinoa Porridge so I was feeling like a nice cup of coffee. There are several cafes in this little town of Ngatea, but we chose one, simply because it was easy to park right outside.
Enter the simply furnished Fig Tree café. The menu board was clean and clear, offering breakfast and lunch dining. All the 'usuals' were there and a few 'of the day' specials. The prices were fair and I couldn't see anything over about NZ $15 (except for the big breakfast. With my new 'regime' firmly in place, (remember, I had just had bariatric surgery two weeks ago, so big meals are out) I reluctantly limited myself to the coffee. Next time, I will have breakfast! Sometimes when I order coffee in cafes, even their small options are too much for me now, so I was delighted to see that I could chose a small tulip shaped cup. While I was waiting I visited the toilet. I don't usually comment on 'toilets,' but they are a good guide to the overall cleanliness of an establishment. I was most pleased---it was extremely clean and nicely 'decored,' for want of a better word.
ROMAN, the friendly barista.
On returning top my table , the coffee came. I noted that they use Gravity coffee and the combination of that and the skilled presentation made my visit most pleasant.
I decided to talk to the 'barista' on leaving and  he happily posed for my badly focused picture. I am bloody useless at tasking pictures sometimes. I think that Roman and his Mum (oops, not his mum, but a relative)  own the café and they should be proud of their little establishment on the way to 'points' on the Hauraki Plains. The Fig Tree is well worth the stop-off and they deserve to do well. Their simple plan seems to work: good coffee and no-nonsense food, presented in an impeccably clean environment. Well done Roman!
We went back again, this time with Perdy. Picture by Rio. 2/05/13