Tag Archives: memories

Queensland, Australia down under.

fintastique070700163 When the first floods hit Queensland at the beginning of what would be a very rainy summer, we watched the pictures of inundated homes and evacuated people and while we were feeling sorry for them, and there were first victims, we still felt this detachment you have when you know that a natural disaster can not hit you, and that it’s all very far away.

The regions concerned then had been struck by floods at the end of last summer, in March 2010. Now again! It was terrible. But yes, still so far away.
Summer went on, and we were disappointed that it rained almost everyday during the Christmas holidays. More regions were flooded.
MrAwesome was scheduled to travel for work in exactly those regions by mid-January,  they changed plans and I was just glad he was not stuck there.

Then happened the Toowoomba Flash Flood.
Those pictures went around the world.

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Why Toowoomba was once known as "Garden City"

We sat – shocked – in front of our TV and understood that the rain had swooped down the main road of Toowoomba in what was called an “inland tsunami” by many. The stories of the people surprised and lost in the powerful flash flood were incredible.
It was then that it became clear that something big was happening and it was on it’s way to the Brisbane catchment area.
Ipswich and Brisbane were bracing for what was predicted to be a higher flood level than the floods of January 1974.

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Before the Big Wet 2010/2011 : A monument in New Farm, Brisbane, commemorating the level of 1974.

 

A man saving a joey in Ipswich

The floods reached Ipswich and we held our breath. The pictures and stories of concerned areas were shown in loops on TV and became unsupportable.

 

Emergency services, evacuations, individual efforts of people frantically but systematically worked day and night knowing that Australia’s 3rd biggest City was on the way of this incredible amount of water moving towards the coast.

Over the last 2 days, Brisbane river swell and started to unstoppably leak over into the lower suburbs, gaining incredible speed, taking with it boots and pontoons, carrying debris and  tons and tons of washed up brown mud.

The peak level was reached in the early hours of January 13th and Brisbane, today, wakes up with thousands of flooded homes, businesses, infrastructure and parkland. While the peak of 1974 seems to not have reached, the destruction in a region that has seen so much development in the last 40 years would be far greater than back then.
We are all under shock.

I’m not born here and the flood from 1974 was a historic event I had only vaguely heard about. We live in a safe zone, near the coast, but in a different catchment area, and shielded by the Moreton Bay Islands from winds or water that could come from the ocean. I feel incredibly lucky, that my husband chose this area when he came to live in Queensland as he could have moved anywhere. We are not directly concerned (although my husband can’t work right now), but the impact of this flood can’t be estimated in cost and consequences as yet. We will all be feeling it.

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3/4 of the surface of Queensland covered by flood waters.

Even if the true dimensions of the damage are yet to emerge once the water starts to recede, it can already be said that the work by the different emergency service, the authorities in charge, the army, non-governmental and charitable organisations all over has helped make this disaster less deadly than it could have been. They are everywhere and and information is available. Individuals have shown great efforts to assist those that needed help to evacuate and we all know that Queensland and Australia as a whole will stand and show solidarity with the devastated regions and cities.
Because we have to.

75 % of Queensland are declared natural disaster zone. Already at the change of the year the flooded area was of a zone comparable with the surface of both Germany and France together. That was BEFORE the Brisbane catchment was concerned. Yesterday they were saying that the area concerned represents FOUR times what was under water after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005.

My heart is breaking when I think of the lives lost, destroyed homes, years of work annihilated, cattle, pets and wildlife perished, memories, artwork, gardens  disappeared under brown muddy water. It will take months to clean, years to recover. For all of us.

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Photo : My son is running ahead as we walk down our beloved Riverwalk from New Farm to the Brisbane CBD in 2008. This solid 850 m pontoon construction came lose in the night and went down the Brisbane River…

Queensland, Brisbane, my home in Australia, my friend, I am so sad today and I promise you I will be here for you to help you through these dark times and get back on your feet and shine with a new life.
Because that’s what you have done for me in the past.

Links:
– wiki on the 2010-2011 Queensland Floods
DONATE HERE
– Sign up to HELP HERE


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Pancake Time Machine – Part 2 France

On a journey through my personal pancake history, yesterday I wrote about my mum’s fabulous, sweet “Eierkuchen”, that lay in our tummies like lead. Moving on, here is Part 2 :

Young and chic  with Crêpes in France

04 My first experiences with French Crêpes  were during the 80s: I was off to my first school exchanges to France, and we also saw the appearance of Crêpes in Germany, in the form of snack shop Takeaways – very different to the traditional ‘Crêperies’, which are actual restaurants in the country of Origin, especially in Brittany.  Either way, I loved them with chocolate sauce and almonds or simple, with sugar and cinnamon.
But it wasn’t until the 90s, now migrated to France, that I learnt the three essential rules of Crêpe making :

1. – Get yourself a proper ‘poêle à crêpes ‘– a special Crêpes pan – treat it right and stick to it!
Every French household has to have their special pan, used only for Crêpes, ideally made from cast iron, but a quality teflon coated pan will do.  Most French cook on gas stoves and nothing is more annoying than a pan that is uneven after a few runs. Minimum diameter 26 cm, get a wooden or plastic long flat spatula too, it’s the best way to turn or move those thin pancakes on your plate. It is generally considered a deathly sin to wash the pan with dishwasher liquid or the like – only wipe thoroughly with an oiled sheet of kitchen tissue – or bring on the rage and contempt of the French housewife! And you don’t want that, you want her Crêpes.
So how does she make them ?
This brings us to rule number two – there is no rule. Ah, que Non!

2. – There is no such thing as the one French Crêpes recipe. While obviously you should aim for the super-thin, golden lightness, every family has their own ‘best recipe’ for Crêpes. So over a decade I have tried out everything from very liquid to cream-based recipes, had crispy edges or ate Crêpes that were barely cooked, I have experimented with spices and tasty double-cooked sugar beet sugar (vergeoise), and also made savoury buckwheat crepes (galettes).  Just don’t forget : add some yummy booze !

3. – If you don’t make a minimum of 20 Crêpes, forget about it.
It’s not that the individual Crêpe takes long to make but most recipes are made out to supply for a big and hungry family, and if you want just a crepe or two as a snack for yourself, you might as well buy one at a stand in the street or wait to be invited somewhere. Crêpe making is serious business, so you’re expected to make loads of them or don’t even bother to try.
And : never ever buy ready-made Crêpes in plastic from supermarkets, they taste like rubber sheets with sugar. Yuck!

Here is one of the many basic recipes for French Crêpes :
half a litre of milk,
5 eggs,
500 g flour,
2 tbsp oil,
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp sugar (or not),
popular optional ingredients – to taste :
orange/lemon zest , Cognac (!), Armagnac or Rum, vanilla sugar, cinnamon.. Oh! It seems incredibly important to let your dough rest a while.
Laissez reposer la pâte !
Note :
Crêpes don’t need to be baked from both sides, but if you manage to tumble them, you earn lots of extra points from the natives!

05

Jean-Pierre Foucault, the presenter of the French “Who wants to be a millionaire” looks sheepish over a question on how many eggs to how much flour should be in a Crêpe dough. There is no answer, really.

Link :
wiki on French Crêpes

Y esterday : Eierkuchen – mum’s pancakes in Germany.
Tomorrow : K.I.S.S. for Pancakes – Part 3, Australia.

Pancake Time Machine – Part 1

Today we made pancakes, and it occurred to me that I have been pan-caking a bit differently in every country I have lived so far. I am now very happy with my country of residence and also with my pancake recipe, but let’s have a look back with the pancake time machine :

Eierkuchen – My Childhood pancakes in Germany

002 Pancakes have many names and variations in Germany. In our family they were called Eierkuchen (literally ‘egg cakes’) because in Berlin we stubbornly call the “Berlin Donut” Pfannkuchen (pancakes) to the confusion of anyone who visits from the rest of Germany and calls them “Berliner” and well, pancakes simply pancakes..
Either way, the basic German recipe is indeed high on eggs and has less liquid and flour. The result is a rather dense dough that bakes to a somewhat elastic, rather filling cake. Eierkuchen also often have dark brown, even black patterns, this isn’t considered to be burnt, it’s their actual “look”.

My mother’s recipe went probably something like this :
50 g melted Butter,
100 g  sugar,
4 eggs ,
200 ml milk,
– beat until foamy and add 200 g flour.

Beat again. Fry!
Optional : Throw and tumble pancakes with verve to amuse the children, send them off to eat the first round in the dining room, then answer the phone in the corridor …and forget about the last pancake that turns into charcoal in the kitchen. Easy!

As toppings we usually had lots of sugar or strawberry jam, sometimes 001Nutella. My mother’s only variation, the simple apple pancake (acid type apple wedges thrown on the top of the pancake) was not popular with us then – not sweet enough!  My brother also liked the dark and strong sugar beet syrup, (must really try and get that here somehow). We loved mum’s pancakes, they averaged maybe 20cm in diameter, were 0.5 to a whole centimeter thick and after a single one, you generally felt like the only way to move was to go rolling around..  they were very filling indeed!

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Daddy Pig is obviously "a bit of an expert" in pancake tumbling.

To be fair, many German recipes aim for a lighter dough, as a teenager I found out that other families actually added a teaspoon of baking powder or – kinky!- sparkly mineral water or even beer to make the cakes a bit fluffier.
Today, thin and light French Crêpes and smaller, American style pancakes are very popular, too, including the runny acorn syrup (hopefully imported from Canada to be the real deal). Anything goes as long as it isn’t exclusively eaten during the morning hours of a certain fast food restoration chain (or two). Making pancakes is soo much fun:

(The photo links to one of our favourite PeppaPig episodes – Pancakes!)

Links :
wiki on pancakes and variations around the world
Peppa Pig – Pancakes – on youtube

Tomorrow : Young and chic  with Crêpes in France