Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tomato Salad with Green Beans and Basil and Peach, Rhubarb & Ginger Crisp YUM!

Well, it's been another week of late winter in Oz.  We grilled on Saturday night and I tried two great new recipes. 

Here in Queensland we can pretty much grill year round. We knew we were going to Costco on Sunday so we pulled out lots of meat to grill (I'll bring it for lunch all week...the fish, anyway).  So we grilled pork and steak and swordfish and salmon.  I made flat bread on the grill and we had some left-over rice. You know it's much better for you if you let your rice cool and re-heat it. Makes a lot of the carbs unusable by your body. Then I tried my new recipes.


The first was a Tomato Salad with Green Beans and Basil.  My husband always says he likes salads, then doesn't eat them, but he gobbled this one up!  I couldn't find romano beans at our local veggie market, so only used green beans. I only used one lemon and two heirloom tomatoes because only two of us were eating, and I left the cherry tomatoes for another time because I thought I had enough tomatoes already.  A great thing about Queensland is that we can grow basil year round, so I harvested a few leaves off all my basil plants and the result was delicious!  The beans were crisp and lemony. Basil is always wonderful. A complete hit!


Tomato Salad with Green Beans and Basil 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 oz. green beans, trimmed
8 oz. romano beans, trimmed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 lemons, zest and juice
4 medium heirloom tomatoes (half sliced 1/4" thick, half cut into 1/2" wedges
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup basil leaves, preferably a mix of regular and Thai basil, torn
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook green and romano beans until bright green and yellow, 1–2 minutes. Drain beans and transfer to a bowl of ice water until chilled. Drain beans and spread on paper towels to dry. Whisk vinegar, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl until combined; add reserved beans and the tomatoes and toss to combine. Arrange beans and tomatoes on a serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with basil leaves 
salt, and pepper.

The next recipe is a Peach, Rhubarb and Ginger Crisp. That didn't last long. And it was easy breezy to make!  Of course, you need to like Rhubarb, which my hubby and I do.  (Did you read about the bear who broke into the bakery and ate every pie except the strawberry-rhubarb pies? What was wrong with that bear?)  I used sugared ginger pieces instead of crystallized and ate too much of it before I made the pie. I'll try to save more for the pie next time.  And for the 1/4 cup brown sugar, I used 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 a mixture of Stevia and molasses. Better for us.  We were good and left half of this dessert for breakfast. Delicious for both supper and breakie.

Peach, Rhubarb & Ginger Crisp
2 cups sliced peaches or nectarines (1/2-inch slices), fresh or frozen, peeled if desired
2 cups sliced rhubarb (1/2-inch slices) or blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup white whole-wheat flour (see Note)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch shallow glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
2. To prepare filling: Toss peaches (or nectarines) and rhubarb (or blueberries) with brown sugar and crystallized ginger. (If using frozen fruit, let stand for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to thaw the fruit before transferring to the baking dish.) Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer.
3. To prepare topping: Combine oats, pecans, flour, brown sugar, crystallized ginger and salt in a medium bowl. Drizzle butter and oil over the mixture and stir until evenly moistened. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit.
4. Bake until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is browned, 35 to 50 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving.
It's also been an exciting week for my art. First, I work up Saturday morning to discover that one of my Tulsa pictures had sold. Always a great way to start a day. So it will be hanging in some home or office back in Tulsa. I'm glad they loved it.

I starting poking through an old external hard drive and found some Photoshop files I've been looking for forever.  They are art works I created years ago, but had misplaced the original files. I went through all layers on all of these pictures and updated them. I'm much better at Photoshop than I was years ago....

This picture, based on a map, was inspired by the following Rudyard Kipling poem. Doesn't it set your heart on fire? On the road to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay, Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay? On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin'-fishes play, An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

I also created two new artworks that I love. One is the center of a rose that should be displayed very large. Don't you think?   

And the other is a fantasy historical picture. It's origin is the photograph of a minstrel girl that I took at a Medieval Faire a few years ago, but I also used some photographs of  some actual medieval elements in the background and it turned out quite well, I think. What do you think?


Monday, August 3, 2015

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas and a video from Down Under

So, do you like my new necklace?  I made it. I think it's the best one I've made yet!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live at the bottom of the world where it's currently winter and Christmas happens in the middle of the summer?
In some ways, it's not that different from the United States and in some ways it's very similar. Here's a little video of my drive from the Central Business District (CBD) of Brisbane, Queensland, where I drop my hubby off each morning to Windsor, north of the city, where I work. 

While I'm here, I'm taking as many pictures as I can to store up the memories of this beautiful, friendly land, and making art from them.

Here are a few that I've posted recently:

Photography PrintsPhotography Prints Photography PrintsArt Prints

And now here's my recipe of the week, which is inexpensive, easy, healthy and delish! I didn't have to buy anything. Everything I needed was right there in my cabinet.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas


2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15 oz) can
1½ teaspoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¾ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
a dash of cayenne pepper

And the directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Pat the chickpeas dry between two paper towels and be sure to remove any loose skins.

3. Pour the chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat and mist with olive oil. Use your hands or a spoon to toss the chickpeas. In a small bowl, combine the seasonings and whisk to combine. Sprinkle the mixture onto the chickpeas and toss to coat. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring the chickpeas at the 15 minute mark.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Grilled Fish Tacos with Peach Salsa

I just have to tell you guys....I went to Spotlight, which is like the Australian Michael's (I'm not even mentioning that HL word). And I had SO MUCH FUN taking pictures of fabric. They have tables and tables and tables of ROLLS of fabric. And just piles of every kind of fabric and lace. So much TEXTURE! So many COLORS! I can't wait to get these photos downloaded and just play!  (I also bought some awesome beads and got an idea for how to make a necklace holder with old hangers. No one but me will see it...)

It's still winter in Australia, but getting warmer, thank goodness. And the sun is coming up earlier and going down later. In the middle of the winter, it's pitch black here at 5:00 p.m. and in the middle of the summer, the sun is up and being cheeky at 4:00 a.m. And Queensland does NOT have daylight savings time.  As I took the picture above at my desk, I was listening to a story being told around the corner about a co-worker's cat's encounter with a kangaroo. Only in Australia!

But I'm ready for summer and have been designing summer tee-shirts.  I put my new Steampunk Fairy design on two. One is available in the U.S. and one is available over here in Australia.

TODAY's Recipe and Cooking Adventure

This recipe was a healthy hit. It was easy to make, although I didn't have all the correct ingredients, and was a total thumbs-up. I would do the fish just a little differently next time, which I discuss below, but I wouldn't change a thing about the peach salsa. It was just yummy and perfect!  


For the salsa
  • 1 can 15.25 ounce peach halves, drained, rinsed and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 whole jalapeƱo pepper, rinsed, seeded and finely chopped (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 1 tablespoon
  • finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons
  • lemon juice

For the fish
  • 2 swordfish fillets  (the original recipe called for Talapia, but everything I read says NOT to eat Talapia. It's horrible for you.
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon
  • The recipe called for Adobo seasoning, which I can't get in Australia. I made a marinade with Mexican seasoning and canned roasted peppers, cider vinegar, Stevia, a little lime juice, some cumin and a tiny dash of liquid smoke.  Next time I think I'll just use the Mexican seasoning, but add the canned roasted peppers to the dish I roast the fish in. They were really good!
  • 8 6 inch  flour tortillas, warmed


For the Sala:

Mix all ingredients in bowl, cover and let sit in refrigerator until ready to serve.

For the fish: 

Heat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat (cooked in the toaster over on Med grill). Using paper towels, pat fish dry; transfer to grilling surface and pat spices on both sides.

Place fish on hot, greased grill grates. Cook, flipping once, until fish is opaque and flakes easily with fork. The recipe called for 8 minutes, but I cooked the swordfish for about 30 minutes and it was perfect. flake fish.

To serve, fill each tortilla with ½ fish fillet and about 1/3 cup salsa.



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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Teriyaki Salmon topped by Sriracha Sauce

Well, I've waited long enough to write this blog post, haven’t I? 

It's winter in Australia. That means snow south of us, but it never freezes where I live. Or not yet, anyway, although they say it's the coldest winter here in over a hundred years. Today it's raining and supposed to get up to 70 degrees(°F), which is 21 degrees Celsius (°C). Saturday is supposed to be absolutely balmy, and I'm so ready for that. 

So I've been inside, working with my art and cooking. I've started using a recipe database to organize my recipes and cook healthier and better. The first recipe I tried is displayed below. I have adapted it my some of the ingredients I really like and have made it a little healthier that the original.

Dan loved it. The Sriracha sauce added a real punch to the sweet and tangy teriyaki salmon. We served it on rice with a salad.  I can't wait to try my next recipe.

Stay tuned!

Teriyaki Salmon topped by Sriracha Cream Sauce


Sriracha Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons Sriracha*
1 1/2 tablespoons Coconut milk

Teriyaki Marinade

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (I substituted a mixture of powdered stevia and molasses.)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons honey

4 (5-ounce) salmon fillets
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro to sprinkle over top.


Teriyaki Marinade

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic powder, honey and 1 cup water; bring to a simmer. Stir in cornstarch mixture until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes; let cool to room temperature.

In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine teriyaki marinade and salmon filets; marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight, turning the bag occasionally.

Sriracha Sauce

To make the Sriracha sauce, whisk together mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons (or to taste) Sriracha and coconut milk in a small bowl. Set aside.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8×8 baking dish with nonstick spray. Another option is to cook it in a toaster oven. I cover my grill tray with foil and pop my salmon right in.

Place salmon fillets along with the marinade into the prepared baking dish and bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.


Serve salmon immediately on rice, topped by Sriracha cream sauce. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

I've been having so much fun taking pictures of my jewelry and creating art objects. Don't you love these bejeweled phone cases? They are for sale out in my Gallery.

Jeweled iphone or android phone cases 

Queen Bee

Crystal Flowers

Friday, May 1, 2015

Broken Hip in Australia Saga #3

Well, I've waited long enough to write this blog post, haven’t I? 

I've been battling trying to get well from breaking my hip. And it has been a battle. But I don’t want to sound really negative about the Australian medical system because I know so many people have good experiences with it.

It’s just that mine’s not been so great. And I attribute that to two major reasons.

1)     I think I was in a really superior medical group back in Oklahoma. I was in a very interconnected medical system based on a very good hospital. 

Actually, it was almost too interconnected at some times. I tried to get away from a specialist and everyone tried to send me back to him. I couldn't get away from him. 

But it had its advantages. Many of them. Any specialist or doctor or clinic I went to had all my records. And they had assistants whose job it was to double check everything on a list. Was I still taking this medication? What was my blood pressure? Why was I coming to see the doctor today?

 When the doctor walked into the room, he or she knew where to start from my computer profile. And everything they did or prescribed went right into the profile. That everyone else could access.

2)     Australia just isn't there yet, computer network wise. Many Australians are very computer savvy. Both my and my husband’s companies are on the leading edge with their computing and networks. 

But.  I've noticed that many smaller stores (example: Art galleries) that would be online in a sophisticated way back home, just aren't here. And the medical system. They just aren't.

My physical therapist (I finally got one by going to another GP) is trying to get my records from the hospital that performed my surgery and so far she can’t. She just can’t. She explained to me that medicine here is getting more computerized. They still write stuff down, but then they scan it into a computer. But no one seems to be able to access it. But maybe that’s just Nambour. I don’t know.

But the good news is that I am finally in physical therapy. I still can’t put weight on my leg and hip for another week and a half. I get X-rays on the 14th of next month. Hopefully, at that point it will just be, get stronger and go forward.

I hope so, because I’m traveling to the U.S. to my son’s university graduation on the 21 of May. And he has a job! He will be working as a paralegal for a law firm in Washington D.C. after graduation. 

So I’m flying from Brisbane to Hartford Connecticut, then driving to D.C. with my son to move stuff, then driving with him back to my home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He wants to hang out with his friends for a few days before he begins grownup life. I’ll fly back to Brisbane from Tulsa and he will drive back to D.C. and start to work.

And life goes on.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Great Australian Medical System is Not Working for this Expat

I've been thinking about this blog for a while, but not writing it. I'm sorry. I hate to be such a whiner.

And it's changed from what I originally wanted to write. Originally, it was just my experience in the Nambour hospital with a broken hip, but it's become more a story about how, as an expat, I don't feel like I am being taken care of medically in Australia.

I try not to be negative about this beautiful country where I am a guest. I think Australia is a great place. If a young person, including my son, really wanted to make a home here, I'd encourage them. In many ways, it's a bubble of sanity compared to what's happening back home.

But, for me, an American just over here for a few years, this medical thing is NOT working.

Actually, so far, Nambour Hospital worked pretty well. We didn't even have to sign anything to get out of there. They will send the bill to BUPA, our private insurance. Then we will see what happens next.

My surgery happened quickly because it was emergency surgery. When you break the bone I broke, and the bones are still in place,  a quick surgery and  the insertion of some pins and a plate can enable the bones to grow back. If the bones had not been in place or I'd been older, they'd have done a complete hip replacement. They hope I live long enough to outlast a hip replacement with this surgery. Anyway, I broke my bone on Sunday and my surgery was on Monday. So far, so good.

I've already blogged about how they tried to get me to take more drugs than I wanted. They were almost indignant about just WHY I had gas and stomach issues, when I asked for some anti-acids. When I did my research, I found that they are typical side effects of the surgery I had. Did no one tell them?

They scolded me for my blood pressure and my blood sugar being high. Actually, I was surprised myself since the only doctor I've visited over here didn't seem interested in the least in my general health.

Their physical therapists were very helpful and got me up a walking on Tuesday, the day after my surgery. They taught me to get up out of a chair and go up and down stairs, but I do have an issue with them.

I asked several times for exercises to do to get back on my feet and they always said, "Later, later," and "Later" turned into "Never." On Thursday before Easter, when I finally escaped, they were very good in teaching my husband how to help me go up and down stairs. And I will not go up and down stairs without him right there at this point. That was very important and useful, but everyone was so impatient to get going for the big four-day Easter weekend that the exercises never happened. 

And now I'm reading online that I should have started exercises in bed the day after surgery and should be doing them now. But when I look up what exercises I should be doing, every place says I need to have a physical therapist show me what to do.

Evidently, I need to be increasing my range of motion and my leg strength. I just don't want to make anything worse. At the hospital, I was told that if I put weight on that foot before six weeks, I could pop the ball of the hip off. I DO NOT want to do that!

Also, Nambour isn't in the same medical network as Brisbane, so I had to visit my GP to get a referral to an orthopedic doctor to treat me. I had not been happy with the treatment I'd had from the one doctor I'd visited here, so I went to my husband's doctor. He recommended me to a buddy and when we got home we found out I can't see him until May 8th, almost a month away. My husband's doctor did not look at the incision. We think my bandages should probably be changed but no one has mentioned it. Should I have my stitches out before May 8th? We don't know.

I tried to go back to work on the Tuesday after Easter. That was one week and one day after my surgery. For some unexplained reason, I almost fainted when I got up on my crutches to go to the bathroom. I did get back to my desk.  Then it hit me again. And again. And again. So I called my husband to come get me.  I ate my sandwich and felt better by the time he got there.

Back to the emergency room. That doctor checked out my heart, declared it fine and me free from blood clots, speculated that high blood sugar and blood loss from the surgery were my problem and told me to stay home one more week. She was also shocked when I told her the one doctor I've visited did not seem at all interested in my day to day health or keeping up my annual exams. But he didn't. 

During that week, we visited Dan's doctor and got the referral for May 8. He didn't seem very interested my my general health either.

So today I'm back at work and doing fine.  But, what exercises should I be doing? Does my dressing need changed? When should stitches come out? We have no earthly idea. 

Actually, I looked it up and they need to be out NOW. So who do I have take them out? I'm going to use the online feature at my Doctor's office to try to contact him and tell him that I can't see the doctor he recommended until May 8th and that what I'm seeing says the stitches need out. If he doesn't do anything, we may see if we can make an appointment back in Nambour and each take a day off from work and drive up there to see someone .  

Then I can see what I need to be doing to get well. I'm starting to think I may have to go back to the U.S. to get any health care.  Not at all what I expected....

But I'd like to know others' experiences. Back home, my doctor would have contacted an orthopedic clinic and that clinic would have contacted me for an appointment. My doctor's office would have coordinated my whole care. Does it not work that way here? 

I really do feel like I'm out on my own. If you're in the system here, do doctors keep records of what annual exams you need or are you expected to do all of that? Do you have to ask them to do basic health checks? 

I am looking forward to Obama care and have always been in favor of socialized medicine. So I want to know if what I'm experiencing is just Australia, Australian expats, or what. What's in like in Canada? England?  Now I'm curious.... and in the meantime, I have to figure out how to take care of a broken hip on my own, I guess.