Experimental pizza with peanut butter

You heard right, folks.

Broccoli pizza

A few weeks ago I had the satay chicken pizza from the menu at our local pizza place. Tonight when thinking about what to cook, I realised we had no pumpkin, my usual go-to pizza topping. But we had broccoli, and what better to go with broccoli than satay sauce? But I didn’t have any satay sauce… so peanut butter and chilli flakes to the rescue! I added some pistachios and almonds as well for crunch I would have used cashews, but we ran out of those on the weekend and I have to buy some more.

Anyway, it turned out really good! There’s not a lot of peanut butter on there – just enough to give it a peanutty taste. The sauce under the cheese is traditional tomato paste, although I spread it a bit more thinly today.

The weather continues to be rainy. Today marked the 14th day in a row of rain. We can barely remember what it’s like to have a day where it doesn’t rain.

And in what I hope is not a consequence of the war in Ukraine, Outschool did its weekly credit card payment processing of class fees, and informed me by e-mail that a payment for one of my students could not be processed. A student who lives in Russia. Occasionally I’ve received these processing error notifications, but there’s no follow-up and the kid shows up in class as usual, so presumably the parent did something and the payment went through. But this time, a few hours later I received a second e-mail saying that the payment had failed to be processed again. I’ve never received a second message like this before. It makes me wonder if the parent tried to pay again, and was denied again. I’m hoping this is not being caused by the financial sanctions being taken against Russia, and that this student won’t have to miss my classes because of this war.

New content today:

Post-super busy week: Saturday

Ah, finally, a day off.

The rain continues. It rained heavily all night, and for much of the day. I managed to get my run in during a period if relatively light rain. And I also went out with my wife and Scully in light drizzle to take some product photos of her new range of hand made bangles to match the doggie bandanas she’s been selling on Etsy. She’s planning to launch the bangles on Tuesday.

The rain is much worse further north. Parts of northern New South Wales are in flood emergencies, and southern Queensland is even worse. Wivenhoe Dam, the main water supply storage for Brisbane, went from 55% capacity to 120% in the past 48 hours. The 100% “capacity” level is defined as a safe storage level, above which Queensland Water must release water downriver. It can actually get up to 225% before the dam overflows – but they won’t let it get that high as that would damage and possibly destroy the dam. Last time this happened, in 2011, the released water flooded the streets of central Brisbane. Oh, I just checked news and a flood warning has been issued an hour ago for parts of Brisbane.

I haven’t kept track, but about half a dozen people have died in floodwater so far. Some towns have been evacuated and are preparing for the worst flooding in recorded history.

For dinner tonight I made pesto using bunya nuts, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, salt, and pepper. I served it on penne pasta.

Penne with bunya nut pesto

I’ve put most of the bunya nuts into the freezer, because there’s no way we’re going to get through them quickly enough. They’re too rich to eat every day, and I think we have enough for at least a dozen meals, maybe more.

New content today:

Still full from family Thai lunch

This morning I had the third lesson of six in my current run of the Creative Thinking and Game Design course that I’m running on Outschool. We brainstormed last week, and this week converged on an idea for the game we’re going to design over the remaining three lessons. The theme? “Contradicting everything that anyone says.”

I was a bit surprised when the student picked this over “Wizards having a battle”, which I was already starting to get some ideas for. It’s a bit out if left field, but hey… I can work with anything. So we brainstormed some ideas for game mechanics and, you know, we came up with some workable ideas for how this game might work. It’s looking like a casual party-style game, rather than a “serious” board game.

For lunch today we took a trip to eat at a Thai restaurant with my wife’s family, to celebrate her mother’s birthday. It’s a place we’ve been to a few times before, and it’s very good. They have a massaman duck dish, which is delicious. Combined with all the other dishes we ordered, there was a lot of good food, and … I just realised it’s now after 9pm and I haven’t had dinner and I’m not especially hungry! Although I think I might just have a piece of toast or something in a minute.

This afternoon I worked more on the data visualisation slides that I’m doing for the university data engineering course. And did another couple of ethics classes on the patriotism topic. I think I’m finally getting the hang of this topic, as the classes are running more smoothly now. Just in time for it to end tomorrow and then I’ll have to write a new topic for starting on Tuesday!

New content today:

Bunya nut cooking

I spent today doing more slides and graphics for the university data engineering course, for data visualisation.

Tonight I tried cooking some of the bunya nuts I collected yesterday. First job was to get them out of the tough shells. I boiled some nuts for half an hour, after which the shell was just soft enough to slice in half with a sharp knife.

Bunya nut stir fry

It wasn’t easy though, and I had to be very careful with the knife. Once halved, I could flex the shell and squeeze the nut halves out.

Bunya nut stir fry

Tasting one, it’s very much like a cross between chestnut and pine nut. Firmer and not as sweet as a chestnut, but starchy like one. I stir fried them i a wok with green beans, onion, carrot, garlic, ginger, chilli, and soy sauce.

Bunya nut stir fry

And served over brown rice.

Bunya nut stir fry

It was very good!

New content today:

Collecting bunya nuts

This morning I did the usual grocery pick-up run, collecting my pre-ordered groceries form the supermarket. Then my run. And then right after that I took Scully for a short walk while my wife left for a day out in the city. She was taking a day off work and going to meet her mother for a morning tea in the city.

While she was there, I’d asked her to pick up a book for me at the gaming shop in town: Dungeons & Dragons: Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos.

And speaking of gaming, tonight we’re playing Tapestry in our weekly online board game night. We’d decided we wanted to play a longer game and settled on this in advance, so we could all learn the rules before we start playing.

But an interesting thing I did today was collect some bunya nuts! Bunya pines are large native Australian trees that produce large seed cones every 3-4 years or so. There’s one not far from my place, which has been dropping cones for a couple of weeks. It’s the tall dark green tree in the centre of this photo:

Collecting bunya pine nuts

Here’s a piece of one of the cones. The cones are about the size of a soccer ball, but they slowly break open after falling, and all the ones I could find had broken up into segments.

Collecting bunya pine nuts

I spent time opening the segments and extracting the nuts, which are about the size of brazil nuts.

Collecting bunya pine nuts

I collected 3.2 kilograms of nuts!

Collecting bunya pine nuts

Banana for scale:

Collecting bunya pine nuts

To eat them, I’ll have to boil them for about 20 minutes and then peel off the shells, a bit like chestnuts. The flesh inside is also rather like chestnuts – at least that’s what the web says. I haven’t actually tried eating these before. I’ll try to report here when I try them.

New content today:

Friday/Saturday double post

Friday I was very busy, doing the last part of the paper editing, so I could get it sent back to the author by the end of the working week. Then when I’d completed it and sent if off, the author wrote back to remind me that I also had their response letter to the journal to go through! So I had to do that as well, and cross-reference all of the comments regarding changes they’d made to address concerns raised by the referees, to make sure they were consistent between the edited paper and the letter. I had to change a couple of the edits I’d made. Finally I got it all done and sent off. Then the author wrote back to remind me that I had to draw up an invoice for the labour!

I had a couple of ethics classes before dinner, and then my wife and I went out to a Turkish restaurant near us to unwind and enjoy a nice meal. We tried a new dish, red lentil koftas, which I liked, but my wife thought they were very spicy.

After dinner it was virtual games night with my friends. I was joining late because of the dinner, but got in games of 7 Wonders, Kingdomino, Coloretto, Azul, and Wavelength. I neglected to post a blog entry because I was playing games.

Today my wife was doing a few things, and I took Scully out for a walk a couple of times in the morning so she wouldn’t get upset at my wife leaving. Then in the afternoon we all went for a walk together and to give Scully some ball-chasing exercise. The weather was unsettled, with intermittent sun, showers, and some heavy rain. We got caught in the rain when out with Scully, but it stopped and we’d dried out by the time we got home.

New neighbours moved in downstairs today. They have a cavoodle, and unfortunately Scully was barking and growling for much of the afternoon, hearing it running around in the yard down there. I posted a note under their door to introduce ourselves and suggest that we let the dogs meet each other some time soon, so they can get to know each other to eliminate the territorial behaviour. They messaged back and sounded nice, saying some time tomorrow would be good.

Late this afternoon I took some time to do a taste test on four bottles of gin. I’ve almost finished one bottle, and had been waiting for a chance to do this comparison test before emptying it. I was comparing Bombay Sapphire Sunset, Buffalo Vale Clair de Lune, Backwoods High Country, and Backwoods Muscat Gin (a special limited edition, no longer available). I find the differences between gins to be fairly subtle, and can only really pick it with side-by-side tasting, which is why I do this occasionally with as many bottles as I have, comparing the old ones just about to run out with the new bottles that I’ve recently acquired. The muscat one is unusual because of the sweet muscat grape infusion, but the other three are all conventional gins with subtle differences that I took notes on: Sunset was warm and spicy, with citrus peel notes; Clair de Lune is earthy and woody with lemon/lime hints; High Country was orangey, floral, and a bit grassy.

New content today:

New Year’s Eve – end of 2021

I don’t really do end of year retrospectives, so let’s just cut to the chase and see what I did today.

I got up early and headed straight to the supermarket. I managed to book the earliest available timeslot for grocery pickup, which I took because I figures the earlier in the morning I’m there, the fewer potentially COVID-infected people will be around. I grabbed my order and was out of there within about a minute. I also popped into the bakery and grabbed a loaf of Vienna style bread for a special dinner for tonight.

After getting home, I went for my run, and then after that I finally had breakfast. This is very unusual – I normally have breakfast within a few minutes of getting up, so I’m not used to waiting any length of time before eating in the morning.

Continuing from yesterday’s window cleaning, I did more spring cleaning stuff. First I attended to the balcony door and glass panels. I took the sliding insect screen door off the track and washed it clean, then cleaned all of the glass door panels. After remounting the screen door, I continued washing the balcony, which is really a job I should do more often as it collects blown leaves and dust quite quickly.

Inside, I decided to clean out some wardrobe space which has been dedicated to keeping boxes from products such as our cameras, iPads, phones, and laptops. I kept the boxes in case we ever sold the items, but given that we’ve sold exactly zero in 20-odd years, I figure maybe it was time to just get rid of them and reclaim the storage space for something useful.

I took Scully for a walk over lunch while my wife went to the gym. We went over to the fish and chip shop where I got some fish & chips for lunch. I ate at my favourite local lookout spot, with a view over the city. it was a warm sunny day, with not a cloud in the sky. Fortunately, after some vandal poisoned the shade trees at the lookout spot a few years back, one new tree has grown to provide shade on the bench where I sit again.

Back home, I realised there was something I needed to do by the end of the month! The Outschool Dungeons & Dragons group that I run for kids has a monthly adventure writing challenge, and for December I posted a challenge to write an adventure featuring a spooky lighthouse. I said I’d post my own adventure at the end of the month, so now I had to write one. I knuckled down and typed out 100 words of adventure material in a few hours, which I then formatted with some of my own photos as illustrations and exported to PDF, before posting it to the group. Phew!

For dinner tonight, New Year’s Eve, we have something special. For starters I used the figs I bought the other day to make grilled figs with ricotta and honey:

Grilled figs with ricotta and honey

After that was the main course, baked brie in bread with hazelnuts and honey:

Baked brie in bread with hazelnuts and honey

Just look at that melty cheese!

Baked brie in bread with hazelnuts and honey

That’s the way to put back in all those calories burnt doing exercise and housework today!

It’s now still a few hours before midnight and 2022. I hope you all have a good New Year’s Eve, and that 2022 brings us all some relief from this miserable pandemic thing.

New content today:

Last ethics of the year

Today I taught my final two ethics classes for the year. I’m taking a break over the Christmas/New Year period and will return to teaching the kids in the first week of January.

To celebrate, I went out for lunch, trying a new cafe in the area that I haven’t tried before, called Bitter & Twisted. They had a Korean chicken burger on the menu which looked tempting, so I got that.

Korean chicken burger

Wow, that’s enormous! I was very full after that. The burger was decent, but the chips were really good.

This afternoon was the Christmas party at the dog park where I take Scully. I took her there before 4pm so we could go for a walk along the waterfront before the party officially started at 4:30. My wife finished work a little early and came on down as well, arriving around 5, so we could meet and greet all the other dog owners and share some of the snacks and things that everyone had brought. It’s a nice gathering, in a nice outdoor setting, with kids and dogs running around.

This evening back at home… I can relax! Whew! Oh, also, it was sunny today! And warm! It almost feels like summer, finally.

New content today:

Marking, walking, and fancy dinner

Today I spent time going through more student image processing reports and videos. I’m reading all the reports and watching all the videos and making notes on them as I go, before thinking about assigning marks. It’s mentally taxing work! I have one more to go, so hopefully I can complete the whole lot tomorrow.

I did another 2.5k run this morning, then went out to pick up Scully at lunch time. And then because my wife wanted to go to the gym after work and then get stuck into some sewing tonight, she asked me to take Scully for a big walk late in the afternoon before she got home. I took Scully for a walk out along Greenwich peninsula all the way to the point and back, which is a bit over 5 km.

For dinner tonight I ended up making quite a complex meal. I started with the idea of using pomegranate arils which we had left over from using a pomegranate on the weekend for the miso cauliflower bomb. What could I do with pomegranate? Make a salad, I figured, with pumpkin, spinach, walnuts, and feta.

So then I thought we can’t just have a salad – we need something to go with it. Normally it’d be some form of protein, but we don’t cook meat, so… I realised I had some felafels in the fridge. I could heat those up. But felafels need hummus! So this morning I soaked some chick peas, and this afternoon boiled them up a bit. And then after returning home with Scully I processed them with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and spices to make hummus.

And then…. I was thinking you can’t just have felafels without bread! So just before serving everything up, I made some quick flatbread using self-raising flour and yoghurt, mixed into a quick dough and fried in a pan. So, salad, felafels, hummus, and flatbread. It was quite a spread, and my wife thought it was wonderful.

New content today:

Friday evening games night report

My Friday evening was busy with gaming night with my friends – still meeting online, though we may do a live gathering soon now that COVID restrictions have been lifted. We played games of So Clover, Azul, Coloretto, Incan Gold, and Sketchful.

Earlier in the day I did another 2.5k run, trying to keep up this strange idea of exercising not just once a week but more frequently. And I worked more on the course outlining for the university data engineering course. And ran a couple more Outschool classes on the topic of online product reviews for kids. I think I’ve found a better groove with this topic, and it’s working out better than the first day on Wednesday. The kids are generally pretty savvy about online stuff, and they have a sense of when to be suspicious. Several of them have mentioned that people could fake reviews, and there may be bots posting fake reviews. Most have said that they feel that deliberately posting false reviews is serious enough to be considered a crime.

Oh, and I wrote up a new review for Snot Block & Roll! I haven’t been travelling far enough in recent months to visit any new bakeries, but I spotted a new one opened within walking distance last week, and tried it out this week.

New content today: