Anzac Day 2017

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 3.29.21 PM.pngAnzac Day is a pretty big deal here in Australia.  I was first introduced to this holiday through the delicious Anzac biscuit.  Click HERE for the recipe I used to make these and let me know if I need to translate some of the ingredients for you:-)  Even Ryan enjoyed this version of these classic cookies and he’s not a coconut fan.  Now that we’re here in Australian, we see that Anzac Day is about more than just a tasty cookie…excuse me, more than just a tasty biscuit.

Anzac Day commemorates the first major military action Australia and New Zealand fought in during WWI.  Today we heard over and over again “Lest we forget.”  Because this military action, along with many others, happened at dawn the first celebrations/remembrances began with a dawn service up at Kings Park and then there was a breakfast in the city.

We did not make it to either of those events but we found ourselves a great spot along the parade route.  And we enjoyed the cool morning while chatting with a women next to us about Anzac Day and the celebrations.  The parade had marching bands, lots of bagpipes and people of all ages marching in remembrance.

We enjoyed hearing the many versions of Waltzing Matilda and other songs too as current service men and women, veterans and family members marched by.  Australia recognizes that they have fought alongside many other countries as well, so some of them (including the USA) were honored in the parade as well.

After the parade we walked over to the park where they held a memorial service.  The Governor of Western Australia spoke as well as a wounded veteran.  It was warm in the sun but we still enjoyed the service and hearing the choir sing about Australia.  Anzac Day is yet another cultural experience for us here in Perth.

Where’s the Matzah?

Growing up in California, Easter was always marked with the beginning of spring, pastel colors and new baby bunnies and little chicks.  Easter was filled with family and church celebrations, a special Easter outfit for Sunday was a must and supermarket shelves were filled with chocolate eggs, bright colored candies as well as all the makings for a passover meal.  This includes shelves of kosher wine and, of course, matzah bread.

In preparation for a Christian Seder* meal tonight, I went to the store to grab a few special ingredients.  Apples, walnuts and wine to make the charoset, horseradish for the maror, parsley for the karpas, chocolate prizes, a few other things and the special Matzah bread.  While we did find a whole section filled with chocolate goodies, bunnies and eggs, there was no Passover section.  And when I asked about the Matzah bread, the man had no idea what it was, and I was told to look in the specialty crackers by the deli.  Matzah was no where to be found.  There are many different substitutes, unleavened bread in flatbread form, I could make the bread, like I did when I was in Papua New Guinea, or we could use another form of cracker.  However, I am still surprised that Matzah isn’t easily available at this time of the year.

Sometimes I could almost forget that it is autumn here in the southern hemisphere.  The weather is still warm, there are new little goslings in the neighborhood park and it’s Easter after all.  I could almost forget that Australia and the US are different, even more than just the accents and kangaroos.  But then something simple happens and I realize that I am not in the US and there are things here that I can’t take for granted, like easily finding Matzah in the regular grocery store.

*Tonight we will celebrate a Christian Seder meal with a group of friends.  This will have many of the elements of a traditional Passover meal including being celebrated at sundown but instead of hoping for an unknown Messiah, we will acknowledge the Messiah Jesus Christ and take communion together.  I love the history and tradition that is woven into this beautiful meal.  It is a wonderful way to acknowledge our Christianity’s roots in Judaism, celebrate Holy Week and prepare for Good Friday.

Ryan Preaches on Palm Sunday

“Hosanna to the Son of David!  He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:9Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 6.30.33 PMI’ve been looking forward to Palm Sunday all year.  Since I love Easter, I am disappointed when we miss or overlook all the amazing things leading up to Resurrection Sunday that anchor our faith in history and point us towards Jesus as he fulfills prophesy.  Palm Sunday does both and Ryan preached a great sermon reminding us of the impactful history of our faith and pointing us towards Jesus, not just as the one who fulfills prophecy but the one who died to save us and loves us so much that he weeps when we reject him.Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 6.28.28 PMAfter church in Brookton, we always share a morning tea, which is feeling more and more like a family gathering.  Today we had all sorts of treats that included leftover birthday cake, fairy bread, muffins, other goodies and the special Easter hot cross buns.  We prefer ours sans fruit so I just make them with lots of cinnamon:-)  Fellowship and treats are always a sweet way to spend a Sunday.screen-shot-2017-04-09-at-6-31-17-pm.png

Lemon Meringue Pie

Typically I stick to easy baking, like lemon bars, but when a friend says that lemon meringue pie is her favorite and she wants to help me bake, I jump at the opportunity.  It’s so much easier to make this pie with an extra set of hands!  Especially with someone who is patient enough to wait until the lemon filling is actually thick enough to set.  When I was growing up, I remember my dad helping my mom bake these pies for friends and family.  Back then, I only liked the meringue part but now I appreciate the whole delicious pie.
Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 8.48.53 PM.pngSo today, my friend and I used my mother’s blue ribbon recipe and although it was missing my mother’s touch, it still turned out great.  Maybe I’ll have to get Ryan in on this and we can learn to bake lemon meringue pies together in the future.  Baking is always a fun afternoon activity and the pie tasted even better than it looked.  Thanks Mom for passing on this yummy tradition!

Americans Eating in Perth: Part 1.5

I made enchiladas!  The experiment was a success and we all ate well last night.  They even had a garnish of fresh cilantro from our one practical houseplant.  However, I had some hurdles to overcome in order to complete this recipe, the most basic being chili powder.  You should understand that chili powder in Australia is not the same as chili powder in the US.  It’s a good thing I was told this a few weeks ago because otherwise last night would not have been tasty, it would have been painful.  As far as I know, chili powder in Australia is the equivalent of cayenne pepper in the US.  And US chili powder is actually a mix of spices including cayenne pepper, paprika and cumin.  Still spicy but not fire level hot.  screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-1-57-32-pmCan you tell the difference between the 3 red spices now in my cupboard?  Maybe I should start labeling things, but anyway the first thing I had to do in order to make my red enchilada sauce was actually make the chili powder.  You can buy it here under the name Mexican chili powder but I was unable to find it earlier this week.  And speaking of things I couldn’t find, green chilis in a can were also unavailable at the grocery store.  I believe I have seen these here but since I couldn’t find them on demand, they will now be on my list of “if I see it, buy it”.  Because there will definitely be a next time making this deliciousness.Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 1.06.12 PM.pngI normally make two kinds of enchiladas at the same time, red and green.  This is because we like them both, so why not just have both.  But I think in order to make the green I am going to have to either learn how to make green salsa or find green salsa at another store.  But that’s an adventure for another day.  Although I wouldn’t mind hearing if anyone has any green salsa recipes or maybe ideas for green enchiladas sans green salsa if that’s possible.  For now, the red enchiladas were a winner and I can add this to the list of things I’ve successfully accomplished making in Perth.

Americans Eating in Perth: Part 1

Two words.  Mexican food.  We miss our burritos.  We miss endless baskets of tortilla chips and inexpensive salsa.  And then there’s the cheese but that’s a whole other blog post.  We’re making it work and there are many more options than I’m used to having after living in places like Germany or Papua New Guinea so I won’t complain.  Old El Paso is, after all, quite the staple in most grocery stores.  Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 8.49.43 PM.pngBut this interesting bounty doesn’t change that we are missing some of our trusted staples and learning to eat creatively when we want to indulge our Mexican cravings.  Some of this has to do more with my frugalness than actually not being able to find things.  For example, there is an American store in town, two in fact.  See my previous blog post: The American Store.  But you’re not only going to pay a marked up price, you’re going to pay for their gift of importing these goodies to you too.  So that jar of salsa is now $8.  But sometimes you get lucky and they are on sale so you stock up and also offer them to your friends because you know they’ll appreciate the new lower $3 price too:-)  screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-8-54-38-pmThis means that we are now unapologetic about the shelf in our pantry that looks like this but when this salsa is gone we might just start making our own.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple places in town that make a decent Mexican meal but it’s just not the same.  So I will continue to use my Trader Joe’s taco seasoning sparingily and keep rationing out the large bottle of Cholula that we brought in our suitcases.  I will enjoy making our favorite chicken tortilla soup once the weather cools down again.  But this week, I think I need to scrap my meal plan and see if I can gather enough ingredients to make my homemade enchiladas.  If I can pull this off relatively inexpensively, it will be quite the Mexican food achievement.

 

The First Day of School

“Smile, make friends and eat a healthy lunch,” was the advice from a friend when I expressed that I was a bit nervous about today. It’s been 10 years since I graduated from UCSB so I do feel a little out of practice with this whole student thing.

But here I am ready for my first day with my healthy lunch packed, smile on my face and ready to make friends. Please pray for this week of learning and adjustment.  Graduate school can’t be too difficult, right?