Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Number One Sweet

You know those family foods that you grow up with that seem normal, until one day you realise that in other people's minds what you're eating is weird?

That role was played in my life by the Number One Sweet. I don't know why it's called that - as a kid I never questioned it, nor did it ever occur to me that others might not know what a 'Number One Sweet' was. It was what my Dad ate for breakfast pretty much every day while I was growing up, and occasionally as a snack. It was certainly an important part of my childhood diet too. 

So what exactly is this culinary oddity? A Number One Sweet is peanut butter, jam, and cheese, between two bits of toast. You could have it with bread, but toast works better. Other stipulations are that the jam has to be strawberry, and the cheese has to be cheddar. As for peanut butter, crunchy or smooth, you choose.

It's not something I eat often in my adult life, mostly because it seems a bit too indulgent, but I have recently discovered a great sheep's milk cheddar that I thought would lend itself to the dish perfectly.

Today I was feeling a bit nostalgic and missing my Dad, so I thought it was a good chance to bust one out, and sure enough it was just as good as I remember. The salty-and-sweet taste resulting from the combination of the peanut butter and jam, with that added bite provided by the cheddar - delicious!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I like old stuff better than new stuff

Yesterday we went to the salvage yard to try and find some timber that's the right size for the fascia of our house. The place was chock-full of gorgeous timber sash windows, and vintage 50s and 60s doors - both interior and exterior. I couldn't believe it - these beautiful quality fittings, tossed out, just so people can built their cement McMansions. It's a travesty.

It turns out that the guys who run the salvage yard actually demolish the houses. They knock down around four 20th century homes per week. People like me shouldn't go to places like that, because I just find it heart-breaking.

Everyone over here is so fixated on NEW NEW NEW, building ever-larger monstrosities, with no room to reflect on the beauty of the past. There is no way that a modern aluminium window has anything on a jarrah sash window, or a Bunnings chipboard door can compare to a solid hardwood door with carved trim. So why do people do it? I really don't understand.

On the other hand, last weekend we went to an awesome second-hand shop I've found, called Turnstyle. It was crammed full to the brim with amazing goodies from across the span of the twentieth century. I was looking for a desk, and found a marvelous jarrah number, circa 1940s. I also spied a chair that literally took my breath away as soon as I laid eyes on it, and which I decided I had to have - white vinyl, also a 1940s (or possibly 30s) vintage, with turned feet and original castors:

 As for the desk, scrunched up in the top drawer was the typed draft of a letter, dated 1984, where Mrs Sandford of Applecross requests that Jestset pay to fix her camera from damage it sustained on a trip to NZ earlier that year.

Desk top halfway through sanding. The whole thing could do with sanding back, but following an afternoon with the orbital sander I thought I might restrict my restoration to just the desk top!

I sanded it down using 80, 120, and finally 150 grain paper. Most woodworkers seem to like going down to 400, but I wanted to actually get behind the desk sometime soon! After getting it stripped back to raw timber I oiled it - check out the contrast!

Here it is in all its glory!

Yep, there's no doubt about it, I definitely like old stuff better than new stuff. It has history, and is also generally better made.  I'm sure my new furniture could tell some stories if it could talk, not least of all about Mrs Sanderson and her camera!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Rest in peace Anne

Earlier this morning my father's wife and partner of 18 years passed away. She outlived my dad by only 10 months.

I am so glad I was able to go up to Brisbane last weekend and say goodbye to her. I didn't realise it until I got back, but it wasn't for her, or my step-sister, or my dad that I needed to do it, but for me. I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to be with her during her last lucid days. Apparently she died peacefully in her sleep. With her were her two children and her eldest grand-daughter.

I went to the florist this morning, and very appropriately they had some Banksia Menziesii in stock. I also bought a candle, because when my dad died Anne lit a candle for him, so I have done the same for her.

I have taken the day off work. I know that the normal patterns of my life will resume themselves very soon, but I wanted to take today to honour the sadness I feel, and to mourn for the woman who shared my Dad's life for almost two decades, and who made him very happy.

I hope that wherever they have passed to, they are together now.