I’ve often joked with my computer geek friends that if I was stuck on a desert island and could have only one program, it would be Microsoft Excel. Which is amusing on a number of levels: I have a long history of Microsoft bashing; Excel is not very well known for anything other than number crunching; Real Programmers™ tend to pooh-pooh VBA (the programming language in Excel).
But Excel is incredibly versatile. You can use it as a word processor, the formatting is great, the built in formula language is great, using VBA lets you turn spreadsheets into applications, and more. I even used it to design the kitchen and bathroom tiling for the Electron Workshop.
But a 70+ year old Japanese artist has taken it to an entirely new level: Using Microsoft Excel to create art.
I love making sushi. A few years ago for my birthday I was given the book Sushi Modern by Hideo Dekura. He describes Sushi Modern as “presenting sushi as an edible art form, exploring new ideas, and creative arrangements and combinations of modern ingredients that make sushi a truly modern food.”
In keeping with this philosophy, over the past few years I’ve experimented with various techniques and ingredients, with varying degrees of success. I won’t mention the worst failures, but the Aussie sushi (ham, cheese and tomato) was certainly memorable. On the more successful end of the scale, I like to use the savoury tuna or salmon that comes in flavours like Penang Curry or Thai Chilli (for the non-vegetarians), and sushi omelette also proves very popular. It helps a lot to have a (square) sushi omelette pan.
Recently I made gourmet pizzas and had some left-over ingredients – grilled eggplant, capsicum and artichoke hearts – and thought these might be interesting in sushi. They proved to be a major hit. I made a couple of maki-zushi (large hand rolls) with these ingredients, and they disappeared very quickly.
If, like me, you switched your iPhone to 3 because they offered great plans and didn’t gouge for data and tethering like Optus and Telstra, but found their coverage patchy at best, and their roaming data charges obscene and unavoidable, be aware that they will switch you to Vodafone on a cheaper plan for basically the same data and call cap. You pay for only the cost of paying off the phone – which could end up costing you nothing due to plan savings and no roaming data charges. Just make sure they unlock the phone from their network before porting your number!
Camping at Easter has been a family tradition of ours for a few years now. Most of our favourite places were burnt out by the Black Saturday bushfires, so this year we decided to head for the Great Otway National Park. We eventually came to Dando’s camping ground near Gellibrand. Before leaving, I decided to grab my trusty old Nikon FM film SLR camera. I’ve used this fantastic camera for a few years now and I just love it. It was manufactured in 1977, and I have intentionally not added a flash to it so I am forced to find decent natural light for shooting. It’s a very simple SLR and I almost exclusively use a simple 55mm Vivitar lens that came with the camera. The camera came from my Uncle Michael who sadly passed away at the too-young age of 54 in 1993, and was a keen photographer.
I discovered that I had three exposures left on a roll of film in the camera. One of those lovely mysterious discoveries you can only have with a film camera – the what/when/where of photos that were taken but not developed. In this case, they were an absolutely beautiful set of photos of Deb and the kids (and a couple of me!) from the summer of 2008. I may post some of those later.
So I took three photos with the remaining film. I hope you like them.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 tbsp green curry paste
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and coarsely cubed
400mL coconut milk
1 cup water
1 medium eggplant, quartered and sliced
6 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp lime rind
2 tsp soft brown sugar
fresh coriander leaves
Heat oil in large work or frying pan. Add the onion and curry paste to the wok and stir for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add the coconut milk and water. Bring to the boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 5 min. Add the sweet potato and cook for a further 6-7 minutes.
Add the eggplant and kaffir lime leaves to the wok and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally.
Add the lime juice and rind, brown sugar and fish sauce (optional), toss until well combined. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with steamed rice. Garnish with extra kaffir lime leaves if desired.