beef bacon? pigs do fly

Beef Bacon has just been added to my list of WTF life questions. Those two words do not belong in the same sentence, let alone pass for any kind of substitute for the flavour of real bacon.


nice try but confusing

nice try but confusing

It’s not a weekend staple but every now and then I enjoy a plate of bacon and scrambled eggs.  And crispy, the bacon’s definitely got to be crispy or at least partially crispy.  So imagine my surprise when beef disguised as bacon was put down in front of me at a local cafe today.

The colour is so much darker it could never pass as bacon but in the end I convinced myself that it must have been and perhaps cooked in a slightly different way or from a new kind of pig or whatever.  My husband was only told it was ‘beef bacon‘ when he was paying at the checkout and told them ‘my wife didn’t like the bacon’.


It transpired that the owners of this cafe do not serve pork or pork products which is entirely their right to do so.  However as a customer who ordered bacon, not beef, it is my right to be advised of that.  The waitress said nothing when I ordered it and the menu said bacon, not beef bacon.  So my question is, why wouldn’t the owners just be transparent about it?


I know of several cafes and restaurants who don’t serve bacon and that’s fine.  As long as you know, you can choose whether to go there anyway or whether to go elsewhere if only a real bacon roll will do.


Muslims do not eat pork and I respect that.  I spent sixteen years in the Middle east so I like and respect the Muslim culture which in itself probably makes me a rare breed.  It was only afterwards it occurred to me that maybe that is why the cafe doesn’t draw attention to it.  Why would they, when in Australia, like the rest of the world, there seems to be a growing hysteria and mistrust of Muslims generally.  Why give people one more reason.


It turns out there is a huge market for beef bacon for those who crave it, but are not allowed it, so I learned something new today.


But I also learned ‘goes together like bacon and eggs’ means you can’t substitute beef for pig and think no one will notice.




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Jamie’s Italian, Canberra – top notch

Always eat dessert first – and here’s why.

yum yum

Oh my goodness, that was THE BEST.  Chocolate Espresso Tart.  A sumptuously divine, melt in the mouth, lip-smackingly good, indulgent, velvety serving of pure pure pleasure.  Too many adjectives?  It was that good, I don’t have enough adjectives.


And that picture really does not do it justice.  But apart from the chocolate decadence, that crispy little slither of caramelized orange on top was sensational.  Thank god my other half was full so I didn’t have to share the tart or the edible decoration.  But believe me, if you have not been yet to Jamie’s Italian in Canberra – hurry there my friends.  Run don’t walk.


Now I’m not a food writer, obviously, and we live in the burbs so we rarely eat out in Civic.  But tonight we happened to be in town so got a seat at Jamie’s, just before five.  The place was empty apart from two other tables but over the next hour it filled up, they dimmed the lighting and I was sold.


Jamie’s has a pretty funky vibe, as you would expect – the exuberant chef’s fingerprints are all over the joint.  All the wait staff are young, groovy and end all their questions in ‘guys’. How was that guys?  Can I get you a drink guys?  etc etc


The hubby had good old spaghetti for his main and I had Baked King Salmon.  Yum, yum and yum again.  The salmon came with balsamic roasted veg, a dollop of lemon ricotta (sorry lemony artisanal ricotta- whatever that means) and a delicate side salad which balanced it out. They’re always talking about texture and balance on all those damn cooking shows but now I get it.


The Italian bread we nibbled on as an appetizer got the gastric juices flowing and set us up for the main event.  A tiny bit salty but I suppose that’s the point - more wine garcon!  The people on the adjacent table may have been slightly irritated with the ridiculous amount of food photography going on next to them but hey – we wanted to capture every moment.


I’ve never bought any of Jamie Oliver’s many cookbooks but who knows, maybe I will.  I have been inspired to replicate a couple of his meals though after being sucked into his 15 Minute Meals but that’s because I really hate cooking. For me anything that accelerates the cooking process is music to my ears.  Jamie’s shows are akin to being caught in quicksand – once you’ve watched the first thirty seconds, you can’t prise yourself away.


Tonight’s delicious dining experience reinforced my intention to adopt some of those simple but flavorsome recipes.  Less is more, as they say.


Apart from that delicious Chocolate Espresso Tart.

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the disability support pension – removing the crutches


The news today that access to the Disability Support Pension will only be available to people with a permanent impairment with no capacity to work is welcome and long overdue.


The Abbott government’s ‘A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes‘ interim report was released today.  The report is part of the government’s review of the welfare system which is generally accepted as being unsustainable into the future. The thrust of the report rests on four stated ‘pillars of reform’:

  • Simpler and sustainable income support system
  • Strengthening individual and family capability
  • Engaging with employers
  • Building community capacity


The welfare system has become a bureaucratic colossus, is hugely complex and paradoxically may in some instances actually provide a disincentive to seeking employment.  The government proposes to address some of the bureaucracy by axing a raft of individual payments and supplements and streamlining the system down to just four.

The four payments will cover those of working age, pensioners, those with a disability and family payments.  The move to pay the disability support pension only to those characterised as having a permanent disability rendering them incapable of work is a bold and significant step.   The definition of disability has become very broad and is now a catch-all for many chronic diseases.


There are sadly, many diseases which are characterised as chronic and disabling.  However the chronic nature of the disease in itself does not necessarily mean an individual will have to cease working for the remainder of their lives.  You might have a chronic disease which requires you to take medication for the rest of your life but does that necessarily mean you have a disability?  And would it meet the common sense understanding of the average citizen when we talk about those with a disability?


I have a personal interest in the discussion of welfare and the disability support pension because I have Multiple Sclerosis. The textbook definition of Multiple Sclerosis is that it is a chronic and progressive disease of the brain and central nervous system. It is an incurable disease (although importantly there are many treatments for it, many of which work well). Therefore I am considered a person with a permanent and progressive disability.  At least that is what I was told which I found staggering and ridiculous, given my actual circumstances.  I strongly objected to that characterisation at the time and I still do.  But what do I know?  I’m just the ‘patient’.


I’ve been diagnosed ten years and have always worked full-time.  The disease has never significantly interfered with my lifestyle or my capacity to work.  The longest I have ever taken off as a result of my multiple sclerosis, is five working days.  I took those days when I had my first significant relapse which was about three years into my diagnosis.  I had to spend a short time in hospital being zapped by steroids and then I was pretty much as right as rain again until a few years later. The second time I had the steroid treatment, I went to the hospital, had the 90 minute transfusion and then returned to work.  In the last four years I have taken about two days a year off due to my MS – not bad odds and much better than the average ‘healthy’ person.


Last year I had a funny cognitive episode over a period of about six weeks which also on a couple of occasions affected my vision. For the first time in a decade I decided to make an appointment with our Disability Advisor. I ended up having to tick that bloody box because there is no other box to tick.  The reality was that I was experiencing a temporary and mild impairment. I took two days off work. There needs to be better recognition of the sometimes episodic nature of medical impairments and more appropriate descriptors so we don’t all get lumped into a single inflexible category.


My chronic and permanent ‘disability’ has never eventuated and I don’t see why that would change. Over the last decade I have accessed very few services as a person with MS but that has not stopped the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) writing to me to flag an assessment of my ‘disability’.  My answer will be that I don’t have one – despite the technical definition of the disease and the prescribed categorisation which, from where I’m standing, is a part of the problem.  I’ll tell you when I feel disabled, not the other way around.


My case illustrates why this review of the disability support pension is absolutely critical.  It is wide open to rorting, it is wide open for people to opt out of the workforce based on the label they have been prescribed.  In short, it is open to abuse. I could visit my doctor tomorrow and say that my fatigue was so bad I can no longer work.  How can anyone argue with my diagnosis?  They should and they could but why would they?  I have been medically diagnosed with a chronic and incurable disease but the existing treatments have kept me very well.  There is little wrong with me much of the time but very occasionally there might be. At different times I have experienced symptoms such as numbness, weakness in limbs, pins and needles, pain, dizziness, chronic fatigue, however they have never stopped me working full-time.


I do know of people others with MS on the Disability Support Pension and I look at some of them and I wonder why. Most are highly educated, full of life, have no significant disabilities – they are similar to me. The big difference is that they don’t work.  It doesn’t stop them volunteering 15 hours a week, regularly socialising, going on overseas travel, or serving on community committees.  They have the energy and inclination for all of that.  So why don’t they have the energy to do paid work 15 hours a week instead?  These are the questions we need to ask.


So Minister Andrews and the Abbott government have got it right.  We need to take a long hard look at peoples’ real capacity to work.  We need to support, always, the permanently disabled when it is apparent to all that they will never be able to work.


The rest however, are fair game.  There will of course be an outcry from some quarters at this decision because it will be seen by some as an attack on our most vulnerable.  I’m certain our most vulnerable will always be looked after as we would all want them to be. But it is those very people, who are also being robbed when the ‘not working’ well place themselves in the very same category.  That is unjust and unfair.


I hope this adjustment to the disability support system will help those back to work who should really be there. But who have convinced themselves that they can’t, by a system which has facilitated and enabled that mindset.


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how to seduce a man in one easy step

would you like sauce with that?

would you like sauce with that?

Another woman has seduced my husband – with food.  They say ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ and it certainly helps if you can cook I guess.  Good thing I’m not the jealous type. In fact, in an ideal world I would LOVE to outsource some of my ‘wifely duties’. And probably not the ones you’d imagine.

My husband let slip that a woman in his office had made him a meat pie for lunch.  Not any old meat pie but a delicious puff-pastry ensemble filled with quality protein and real veggies in a mouthwatering gravy or ‘jus as it is now called.

Now cupcakes I could understand, live with even. But a gourmet meat pie she must have been up half the night making? That got my attention. Because I had given him (see wifely duties above) leftover risotto for lunch. And that was already a lot more exciting than the usual sandwiches.  I usually make our lunches for work. Apart from when he upsets me and then I withdraw all lunch making services.

So having had the risotto, he then wolfed down the pie served up by the shameless gourmet goddess in his office. My husband seems to have this effect on women. They all want to feed him.

And he’s not the type of guy who’s into small talk. He operates more in grunts, sniffs and mono-syllables. But they can’t get enough of him – it’s the caveman effect.

He was in Sydney for work a few weeks back. He’d only been there one day when a passing conversation about Lebanese food resulted in him not having to buy lunch for the rest of the week.  A Lebanese gourmet goddess brought in platters of Lebanese treats, hot cold, sweet and savory.  He returned with a sparkle in his eye and a few extra kilos on the scales.

But back to the seductress with the meat pie.  Apparently she also brought one in for his co-worker.  Maybe she’s having a bet each way.

But either way, at least it gets me out of making dinner…..

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the ‘c’ word female music artists misunderstand

Kate Miller-Heidke and Megan Washington, two of Australia’s finest musicians whose extraordinary talent stands heads and shoulders above the rest.  You need to watch this first.  Truly a thing of beauty.


By contrast, I’ve found myself in cafes enjoying a quiet cuppa while two feet away there are boobs and crotches being flapped around in front of my face via Video Hits.  Who can escape the myriad of female ‘artists’ role-playing their way through a plethora of gang-bangs; kissing girls, kissing boys. Whoever, whatever. Along with the mock felating of inanimate objects let’s not forget.  Thank you Miley.  The obligatory spreading of legs and thrusting at the camera is enough to put anyone off their food or beverage.


I’m not an academic, I havn’t studied feminism, I’m not an authority on female empowerment.  But how could anyone not notice the literal stripping down by female musicians over the past couple of decades.  If dignity can be compared to underwear then most of them are down to their g-strings.


And what Shakespearean message should we, the audience take from this I wonder. What important theme might they be trying to convey? Lock up your sons perhaps?


The ‘c’ word that comes to mind when pondering all of this, is the word credibility.  Where is it?


Anyone else seriously fed up of the barrage of psuedo porn and sexual sleaziness in the name of art? Madonna, Lady Gaga, Brittany Spears, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Christina Agilera, Rhianna and a host of others have all played their part in pushing the boundaries. And by default lowering the bar to rock bottom.


And to prove she can still keep up with the kids, the queen of this tired, worn out narrative is our own Kylie Minogue (video complete with ‘explicit content’ warning) where she works her way through the expected script right down to the red stilettos.


Kylie is a middle-aged woman in her forties. Just like me. Her acting career has reached new comedic heights with her latest video flick. It has to be watched with the sound down for the full hilarious effect – especially the back arching and hair flicking – absolutely hilarious. I hope they wiped down those swiss balls before the next class.


And what about modesty girls? Got any sense of what it is to be ladylike (if there is any such thing anymore).  To recognise that the credibility you are all desperately seeking might come from keeping your clothes on.


And men too wish some would start acting their age. Here’s a man who thinks it’s all become a big yawn as well.


The argument persistently put forward, is that women are empowered by all of the above, that they are in charge. Really? How about we consider for a moment that in fact they’ve all strayed into the territory of the ‘oldest profession in the world’. The one where, the more you take off, the more you are paid.


What should we tell our ten year olds when they see their pop icons writhing around in a state of apparent sexual ecstacy whilst being pawed by a circling mob?


Parent may ask themselves whether they would mind if their daughters emulated these artists. Or if they would want their sons to marry one?


The real artists are featured at the beginning of this post.  Who offer a strand of hope in a hyper-sexualised music industry that credibility can be obtained without taking your clothes off and instead let the music do the talking.


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sticking the boot in – girls just know


So how’s this for the sisterhood?  Last week a girl in our office strode in wearing a fabulous pair of  high heeled winter boots. We spent a few minutes clucking and cooing over their gorgeousness and complimenting her on her taste.  Beautiful little Sarah in her gorgeous new boots.  They suited her down to the ground.   Somebody asked where she’d bought them.  And was obviously taking notes.


Fast forward one week later and in strides the Office Copycat in exactly the same boots.  Same boots, different colour (as if that gets her off the hook).  I was mentally transported back to High School where everyone is just a cardboard cutout of everyone else.  The copycat must be stuck in the adolescent phase.  Because how else could she break the cardinal rule of rushing out and buying exactly the same thing?  Please either get some therapy or get a personality!


Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery but it’s also the most irritating regardless of whether you are age twelve or thirty five.  Can the copycats at least have the decency to wear your clothes/shoes on the weekend?



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is it ever ok to cry at work?

Where in the leadership manual is the chapter on what to say to the person in front of you with snot and mascara running down her face?

Did I miss that class at Business School?

We’ve all had a bad day at the office.  But hands up if you’ve ever crawled under your desk, laid down and bawled your eyes out?  A former colleague did this once and it took two people fifteen minutes to coax her out. Productivity issues anyone?

office cryer


And after twenty five years at the coal face I’m still amazed by colleagues who cry at work.  Whether breaking down in full view of the office, rushing off to the bathroom or sobbing in the boss’ office.  There’s always one.  And hate me if you must for saying this but it’s always women.  Gone are the days when I used to head down to the bathroom to comfort them.


As for the boss – hostile takeover of the company?  No problem.  Brenda from accounts in hysterics because her hamster died.  Big problem.


The distinction for me is this.  If a person at work receives bad news about a family member, or they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or if their child has been involved in an accident, then I understand them breaking down.  I get that.


What I don’t get however is why women cry when they are having a difficult day at work.  That it’s the job itself, which triggers the tears. Whether it’s due to personality clashes, difficult clients or seemingly impossible deadlines – nothing can ever justify tears.


Harden up people.  It’s called being a grown up and having your shit together.  Crying at work kills professional credibility and it’s hard to get that back.

But perhaps I am being too hard on the criers. What about you? Are you the one in the bathroom or are you the one offering the tissues? And can there ever be any extenuating circumstances?



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