March 31, 2011

Australia's shame

I'm the first to admit I'm not well-acquainted with aboriginal culture or aboriginal people. I live on the land of the Bunourong people but thats about where the relationship ends.

Hop on a plane to New Zealand and Auckland airport's glossy billboards welcome you in Maori on arrival; Maori culture is central to New Zealand's national identity. The difference in how we treat our indigenous peoples is stark.

I've always felt that the way our Government treats indigineous Australians and the livelihoods they endure is the ugly underbelly of this supposed 'lucky country'. The White Australia policy and the 70 years of forced removal of children from their families for the purposes of 'assimilation' was a long and dark chapter in this country's short "white" history but how much further have we really come?

Not far, if you read Chloe Hooper's account of the 2004 death of an Aboriginal man in custody on Palm Island. It left me feeling angry and overwhelmed with the insurmountable problems White Australia has created for Aboriginals. And the inherent racism of many whites living alongside Aboriginals is quite plainly, repulsive.

Talk to anyone who's been to Darwin, and the stories aren't pretty. Drinking, petrol sniffing and abuse are daily problems among the Aboriginal population. But how did it get this way and who is responsible - and more importantly, how do we fix it? These are complicated questions with no hard and fast answers, and Hooper doesn't pretend to have these, but you're left wondering what we possibly can do to improve the situation and make meaningful inroads to reconciliation.

The Tall Man provides a harrowing insight into the inequalities between white and black Australians, and the tragedy of the senseless death of one Aboriginal man at the hands of police, and the impact on his family and community. You should read it.

March 22, 2011

Home made tomato chutney!

I happened upon this crate of over-ripe tomatoes on a recent shopping trip and couldn't go past it - i'd been wanting to try my hand at preserving for ages! It also gave me an opportunity to use the gorgeous jars I bought for our wedding.

After researching preserving methods and fruitlessly searching for parrafin wax (which apparently isn't recommended these days anyway), I found some lids at Spotlight which fit my jars and the cooking got underway.

Following the method outlined in the Country Womens Association recipe, my good friend T and I washed all of the tomatoes, cored them and criss-cross sliced the bottoms before boiling them (she thought she was just coming over for a relaxing dinner - ha!). We then removed the skins, chopped up the tomatoes and sprinkled them with salt before going in the fridge overnight.

Fast forward to Monday night after work, and it was chutney-making-time.

Here's what went in the pot:

5kg tomatoes
4 large brown onions
4 Granny Smith apples
4 cloves garlic
2 cups apple cider vinegar
250 gms sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
10 cloves

Everything except the sugar was brought to the boil and then left to simmer for 1.5 hours. The sugar was added near the end.

While still warm, I spooned the mixture into clean, heat-sterilised jars (just washed then put in a hot oven for 15 mins) and screwed on the lids. To create a vacuum seal and 'preserve' the chutney, I used the boiling method - I placed the jars in a pot of water, completely covering them, and then bought it to the boil. I left them in the pot overnight with the lid on and by the morning the seal had formed. Because the water was still quite hot I let it cool before taking the jars out, drying them and putting them in the pantry...