Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Product of the week - Teff flour

I read about the flour in a recipe for wheat free chocolate chip cookies. I wanted to try out the recipe so ordered a packet of teff flour over the internet from Bob's Red Mill. The cookies were awesome! I thought there were too many choc chips but Andrew disagreed with me and quickly ate 4 cookies when I wasn't looking. In any case here's the scoop on teff flour (though I find it hard to believe that is is grown in Australia):

Teff is an intriguing grain, ancient, minute in size, and packed with nutrition. Teff is believed to have originated in Ethiopia between 4000 and 1000 BC. Teff seeds were discovered in a pyramid thought to date back to 3359 BC. The grain has been widely cultivated and used in the countries of Ethiopia, India and it's colonies, and Australia. Teff is grown primarily as a cereal crop in Ethiopia where it is ground into flour, fermented for three days then made into enjera, a sourdough type flat bread. It is also eaten as porridge and used as an ingredient of home-brewed alcoholic drinks. The grass is grown as forage for cattle and is also used as a component in adobe construction in Ethiopia. Because the grains of teff are so small, the bulk of the grain consists of the bran and germ. This makes teff nutrient dense as the bran and germ are the most nutritious parts of any grain. This grain has a very high calcium content, and contains high levels of phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin. It is considered to have an excellent amino acid composition, with lysine levels higher than wheat or barley. Teff is high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. It contains no gluten so it is appropriate for those with gluten intolerance.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Andrew's birthday weekend

The weekend was jam packed with fun activities to celebrate Andrew's birthday and most of them revolved around food. We breakfasted at Cracker Barrel (Kaka bawell) with maple syrup pancakes before heading over to Lewis Farms to pick strawberries. The farm is 3 minutes from our house!! Lucy was strategically dressed in a pink t-shirt and had a ball picking strawberries and eating them. After picking 2 and half buckets worth we headed over to the shop for some home made strawberry icecream. The farm was set up very efficiently and it was surprisingly quick and easy to pick the berries as the plants are on elevated beds covered with black plastic so it is easy to see the ripening fruit. Although there were lots of people around it didn't feel crowded.

Dinner saw us at Marc's on Market (2 minutes away) for a wonderful 3 course meal. Lucy is a true gourmet happily dipping her bread in a fruity olive oil and then eating pizza with chicken, rosemary and olives.

Sunday lunch was a home cooked lamb roast, which was Andrew's first taste of lamb for the weekend! It was followed by a lemon layer cake comprising of 4 layers of cake, 3 layers of lemon curd, swathed in a meringue icing - an awesome Andrew combination.

We finished off the weekend with some yard work. I didn't say gardening because it was mostly digging and pruning. I'll tell you about some of our projects another day.

To finish up Andrew is looking forward to picking out his birthday present - a bbq!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Doctors, Dentists and Chiropractors, oh my!

It seems to be our experience and the experience of other Australians living here that medical professionals here in the US are good at getting your money. They are good at diagnosing issues, putting forward the standard treatment plan, executing the plan and charging a lot of money. Whilst proficient, it is almost like entering a factory with robots. There is no discussion of alternative treatments and drugs are often the medical answer (which is no surprise given the amount of marketing that is entered into by the pharmaceutical companies - I have often seen sales reps at the doctors surgery. In fact the reps have their own sign in desk and room to go to at our doctors office) No wonder our health insurance costs are so high! I think the best policy is to stay well.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


With warmer weather comes pollen. And there is ALOT of pollen around Wilmington at the moment. So much so that decks, porches and cars all have a yellow layer across them. Car washes are advertising pollen specials. Our outdoor furniture is yellow except where Lucy has run her fingers along it. Thank goodness for all that rain as it manages to keep the pollen levels down somewhat but does have the disadvantage of concentrating the pollen into the flooded areas of lawn and driveway.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

I spoke too soon...

...the Tribeca is STILL at the mechanic so Andrew continues to revel in fact that he is driving the Outback. Apparently some fuse has blown and each time it is replaced it blows again, so they are looking for the real problem.

Lucy is starting gymnastics tomorrow. This is to help her learn how to jump. The latest effort is standing on tippy toes, arms reaching for the stars and grunting. Despite the effort she's not leaving the floor!

Product of the week will resume next week. I ran out stored up blog entries and haven't been to Walmart since. In fact I've decided except for dire emergency not to go to Walmart ever again. I watched the documentary called 'The high price of low price' and was astounded at the exploitation of the Walmart staff, the Chinese factory workers, and the environment. As a consumer if you can buy things so cheaply there and nowhere else you have to ask how are they doing it. They are killing main street America and small independent businesses. Conversely Disneyland has built a main street in their theme park in Florida to preserve this piece of history!

Enough miscellaneous musings. Thanks to everyone that commented or sent emails, I feel loved again. And although we may be celebrating Anzac day with gusto we aren't going back to Oz anytime soon, but thanks for asking Channah.

Friday, 18 April 2008

this crazy American life (with added summer heat)

We have a new fridge. New in the sense that it came straight from the factory to us but old in the sense that it looks, and is, exactly same as the old one. The new one however does its job cooling the food. The bar fridge ('compact fridge') will be moved into the garage and the deep freezer will be emptied in anticipation of a whole lamb we are planning to order (an organic dorper lamb from a NC farm). Interesting the fridge delivery guy thought our flag was the New Zealand flag. How would he know the New Zealand flag and not the Australian flag?? [No offense to our Kiwi friends and family]

Everyday seems to be crazy busy. This morning Lucy and I were out checking on our 'Hands on Wilmington' project for tomorrow and then went to mom's group. Andrew is at work and due to a power outtage is coming home a little early today. This is great as he has been working so much this week he has hardly seen Lulu. He is picking up the car from the mechanic (they are fixing whatever they broke last week) and then we are going to put the sprinkler out in the backyard. It is 85 degrees and I guess spring is over and we are into summer!!!!!

So we should have 2 problems fixed and hopefully some of the other ones will also be over soon.

On a side note Andrew got an Outback as the loaner car (he was so excited!) The tribeca is an awesome car but it feels like driving a spaceship. The impreza is also awesome but so small here that it feels like driving a go-kart. The outback is somewhere in between but it has a lot more shortcomings than Andrew could remember. I showed him that it has far less space than the tribeca (ie Lucy would kick the seat in front mercilessly), no GPS and no reversing camera (a luxury I know!). It also has a small boot. Anyway he is giving it back today and will drive the tribeca tomorrow so we'll see what he thinks. Personally I love driving the impreza during the day so I am enjoying it now as we when we get back to Oz there is no way we could have one (insurance cost, stolen every other week etc)

That's all, off to frolic in the backyard!

PS Why doesn't anyone comment anymore?? Take a minute and say hi!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Good American food

Not an oxymoron but a reality. This might seem like an extraordinary statement given my usual railings against this cuisine but today I wanted to give praise to home style Southern country cookin'. At the Azalea Festival we stopped into a little cafe for lunch. See how many of these items from our lunch you can identify without having to look them up:

  • Sweet Georgia Brown

  • Hoppin' john

  • Fried okra

  • Shrimp and grits

  • Cheese sandwich with fruit

Okay I'll give you Lucy's lunch, the cheese sandwich, but the rest is pure Southern style food. And it was very good and we very much enjoy it! And we will miss our creamy grits when we move back to Oz.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Product of the week - Triple Succotash

Succotash is an American dish and this one being a mixture of tomatoes, corn and butter beans. Really there is nothing to write about. I opened the can, heated the contents in the microwave and served the mixture. It tasted like a mixture of (canned) tomatoes, corn and butter beans. I assume there are more involved recipes for succotash but this one was pretty simple and pretty ordinary. Of course "Thufferin' Thuccotash" is the catchphrase of Sylvester the cat which Andrew tried to teach Lucy to say to no avail!

On a side note, the fridge is still broken. The GE repairman returned on Monday to say its last rites. After a lot of anxiety due to the fridge being 15 months old, and thus out of warranty, GE agreed to replace the fridge with just a $100 delivery charge. To downgrade to a different model that would fit in the space better would cost an additional $400! I don't understand and I don't care so long as we have an operational fridge. We need to wait another week for delivery so we are living out of a new bar fridge and a new deep freezer (total cost for both $350).

Monday, 14 April 2008

Azalea Festival Weekend

We celebrated the 61st Azalea Festival on the weekend. The main event is the parade down 3rd street from 9am -12pm. So we dressed up in some pretty spring dresses and arrived just after 9. We got caught in a traffic jam, paid $5 to park in a vacant lot(!) and then wandered through the thousands on people lining 3rd street to get to our bleacher seats (we purchases tickets thanks to the GE social committee). There were hundreds of floats that cruised past carrying beauty queens, princesses, dancing troupes and cartoon characters. There were school marching bands, motorbikes, vintage cars, trains, horses and clowns. Pretty much anyone with a car and a desire to parade was allowed to, so there was the unusual entry of 4 average looking cars advertising bond bailing services (i wrote the phone number down for the next time i am arrested) Lucy's favourites were the several fire trucks that went past with sirens blaring. We had a great time waving and clapping but the best bit was that Lucy enjoyed it so much she sat relatively still for almost 2 hours and then we headed off to explore.

The other unusal aspect to this whole event was the number of beauty queens/princesses/junior queens/tiny princesses that were involved. There would have been at least 30 'winners' of various beauty pageants. There was the Shrimp queen, the Christmas queen, the Castle Hayne Queen and the list goes on and on. What is the motivation for entering such a competition? I hope they win some scholarship money. It was scary that many little girls were dressed with lots of makeup and tiaras and made to look like women. I discussed this whole thing with someone and they said that this only happens in the South. Not sure if this is true given that i saw an ad for the Miss America competition being shown live during prime time across the nation.

After the parade we headed down to the riverfront and browsed the stalls, drinking Port City Java, and then stopped off for lunch at a little cafe. We had a fabulous time and were sorry we had missed out last year having only just gotten off the boat. Next year we'll try and do one of the garden tours at a Southern mansion.

Friday, 11 April 2008

The fridge is still broken...

...and the servicemen in our area don't work on Saturdays. Andrew is off to Costco again tonight, this time to buy a bar fridge ($129) instead of spending a fortune on dry ice. We are going to ask for a new fridge as this one is clearly defective when it is only 15 months old.

The fridge is broken AGAIN!!!!!!!!

We booked a service call last night at 7pm over the internet and thankfully the service repairman turned up at 8am this morning. Good job! He has fixed the fridge and tried to get us a new one but since it is fixed they are not going to do anything else (until next time). At 8pm last night Andrew drove to Costco and bought the standalone freezer we had been eyeing out. It is only 7 cubic feet but it is also only $200 + tax. We wanted an upright model but given the urgency and the fact that we can't take it back to Oz we settled for the convenient and meat saving option of a chest freezer.

Note to self: never ever buy GE electrical appliances.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

1 year later

We made it! We have lived in the United States of America for 365 days (though a little less for Andrew due to his quick trip back to Oz). We are still asked by Americans what we find different about living here versus living in Australia. The answer is quite simply everything. Whilst in some ways it is very similar there isn't a day that goes by that we don't feel like aliens. It's in the small everyday things of life that differences occur.

Here are some of the differences we've encountered:

  • using inches, feet, miles, ounces, pounds and farenheit

  • driving on the other side of the road

  • corn syrup

  • different pronounciations (eg 'erbs' for 'herbs')

  • words with different meanings (eg telling someone to put something on the bench in the kitchen will be met with quizzical looks)

  • free shipping

  • cheap electronics

  • obsession with new consumer goods

  • big gas-guzzling cars

  • no foothpaths and no walking

  • Southern friendliness

  • lack of public transportation

  • ridiculous formality for visiting friends

  • culinary ignorance (are these pine nuts?)

  • bulk buying
and the list goes on...

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Product of the week - Coastal Carolina Coffee Beans (Decaf)

Thanks to cafedave for his discussion on decaf coffees as it made me search out some swiss water decaf here. I discovered this local business called the Carolina Coffee Company that sells its Coastal Carolina blend in a decaf version. Rick & Erica gave us a grinder so we can make freshly ground plunger coffee. This coffee is very good! We'll be buying some more of this brand soon.

On a slightly different note it is amazing how much people love Starbucks here. The moms in my moms group were complaining that there were no drive through Starbucks close to their houses! I told them that friends don't let friends drink Starbucks and they just ignored me.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Life in general (with confetti thrown in)

Life is busy. Andrew spent last week in Boston for work whilst in Wilmington we endured a number of thunderstorms which flooded the backyard.
Our family is reunited and b
logging has now resumed.

Spring is a wonderful time of year here in Wilmington. Most gardens are planned around this season and as such there are explosions of pink and purple in every garden as the azaleas start to bloom. Next week is the Azalea festival, the biggest social event in Wilmington. Who will be crowned the queen of the festival? I'm holding my breath (well not really) but I am looking forward to visiting the first farmers market for the year.

Whilst we have planted a summer garden out the front we still have a number of azaleas that have surprisingly bloomed red despite their neglect over many years. Our ornamental pear trees have puffed out with white flowers that have given way to green leaves which has created a confetti of petals across the yard. It is very fun to walk through the petals to the mailbox whilst splashing in the puddles as there is quite a lot of it. I think churches should allow confetti regardless of the mess! Despite the beauty of this process the flowers themselves reek of the bog of eternal stench, sorry to any disappointed or delicate readers!
We have a nest of baby birds living in a holly bush. There are three babies so new to the world they have not opened their eyes yet and just continually open and shut their beaks in the hope that a tasty bug or worm will be placed inside. They are so cute and fluffy that the naturally curious Lucy wants to play with them.

On Saturday we had a grill next door with Sam & Sheila and on Sunday we celebrated Julian's second birthday. Juju is one of Lucy's best friends and we attended his birthday party at Ogden park. Happy birthday Tuba!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Product of the Week - Pigs Feet

This probably isn't the most appetising way to start the month! Whilst shopping in Harris Teeter (Coles equivalent) we surprisingly came across a jar of pickled pigs feet.

Pigs Feet.

Edible Pigs Feet.

According to Wikipedia "Pickled pigs feet are usually consumed as something of a snack or a delicacy rather than as the primary focus of a meal as its meat course, although this is not a universal rule. If proper refrigeration is available, any unused portion can be kept in the jar for several days after it is opened. Often they will be consumed with crackers. Although long available commercially, particularly in grocery stores catering to consumers who are likely to have a preference for them, it seems that consumption of this product has declined in recent years due to changing tastes, health concerns, and the ready availability of other snacks."

We obviously live in an area that appreciates this sort of delicacy.

It is too gross to post a picture. If you want to see a jar then google it!