Dr Karl the champion of the curious mind


Hi All,

I am nose deep in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I am starting to appreciate the odd romance novel (lucky really as Mary Anne Shafer’s list is cram packed full of them…) so long as it is written well and most of Mary Anne’s choices are. I was slightly skewed against Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by the movie version starring good old wooden Nicolas Cage, but remembering that novels often give you so very much more than movies, I am allowing my brain to disassociate itself from the movie to see if I can’t find a gem of a novel underneath. I am running the risk of turning this blog into a book club for you all dear constant readers. I love reading and know that several of you do to, but there are just as many of you who could give two figs for books so whenever I am rambling on about books you have my permission to look out the window, make yourselves a coffee and skip over these bits. You are missing out on one of life’s most wonderful sidelines by choosing not to read however… There are some most interesting titles coming up soon in Mary Anne’s list. I am taking out other books as well as Mary Anne’s list and am ending up with an interesting and eclectic mix of fiction, non-fiction and cook-books that are keeping my mind stimulated and happy. One of my latest cook-books requested from the library is The River Cottage Handbook No. 8. This is the cakes book of the series and is one of those books that I had to wait ages in line to get from the library and it is packed full of amazing cakes from yesteryear. Some of them have been reworked to make them gluten free or more interesting. There are cakes from other countries and most of them utilise fruit and vegetables in one form or other. A very interesting book and one that I am going to be pilfering recipes out of for the next 2 weeks. I often spend long hours typing out good recipes from library books and this book is no exception. I find it hard to believe that there are so many people out there who skip over books as a medium to learning. Perhaps it harks back to being forced to use books as educational texts at school? I know that books are so much more to me than merely paper and print. I have been known to end up totally immersed in a book and being rendered deaf, dumb and blind to my senses, all focus trained on the lines of tiny neat printing leading my eye as well as my mind.


This delightful little boat ramp is just 10 minutes from where we live by car. Steve takes the boys down these ramps to let them have a swim if the tide is out and the oyster beds are prickly. Oyster cuts are usually bad news for dogs feet and get infected badly so we make sure to keep the boys out of them. Today the tide was out but you can see that at 8am it was a most magnificent (albeit hot) day


Check out this example of how a tree will simply absorb whatever is refusing to budge if you give it long enough. This thick metal rope was sucked up and is now part of this ancient old juniper tree


Here is the trunk of that old juniper to show you the rope now trapped inside its trunk


This photo shows the dark volcanic sandy beach covered in pebbles and that rope wrangling juniper is directly above me. Pretty place isn’t it?


It’s not just your mind that heads off on a journey of discovery when you read. It’s your imagination that goes along for the ride. If it was just your mind you wouldn’t be able to make much sense out of books and you wouldn’t be able to put yourself in the position of being able to see what the book was talking about. I am all for reading to children and did so with all of my children who are all readers now. I think it develops so much more than reading skills, it exercises your mind and causes you to have to think about processes, concepts and so much more. Where else can I let my mind wander about hunting for ideas and homing in on new concepts that someone has thought about before me and wants to share? I would list books as one of my most precious things. Our neighbour’s daughter Wendy just phoned up and asked us if we would like some produce from her garden. She used to keep dad in veggies all summer long and he would, in turn, bring most of them to us in town. I have been feasting on the most delicious small bright red pear tomatoes that taste more like strawberries than tomatoes they are that sweet. There were some larger blood red ox heart tomatoes and some zucchinis and apples. I am not sure what kind of apples they are but they have the most curious (not altogether pleasant) tasting skins! I might have to peel them as the skin tastes like the smell of birds mixed with the flavour of pork…the apple itself is flavoursome and even though I am not a fan of apples per-se, I am most definitely in favour of their flavour when it is delivered to me for free. Despite the porky sparrow flavour of the skin I will make short shift of these apples over the next few days. Cheers Wendy! I have just been into the spare room to retrieve some dried shiitake mushrooms that I have in the spill over pantry cupboard. I am someone who likes weird and wonderful ingredients and weird and wonderful recipes and as such I need lots of space to house my collection of ingredients. I have 3 different areas with various types of “regularly used”; “sometimes used” and “infrequently used” ingredients and the dried shiitakes are moving cupboards from “infrequently used” to “regularly used”. Mushrooms used to be something that we bought weekly and used fresh. Now we usually shop once a fortnight and after a week mushrooms are NOT at their best (believe me…). I have a dehydrator and used to dry these on the turn mushrooms and grind them up to add to soups etc. but the amount of electricity used to dry a few mushrooms can’t really be justified so we just stopped buying them in bulk. With my new desire to eat healthier and wiser (forget wealthier, I will let my inner city Melbourne dwelling son do that for me) I have been opening up my 2 lesser used cupboards to find those dried ingredients that might deliver some additional nutrition to my diet with a bit more preparation. Prior to eating healthier I lived on frozen vegetables and potatoes. Low fat, boring and probably not all that good for me. Now I am experimenting with dried beans, all different kinds of soups especially Asian and grains. I have come to the conclusion that to be healthy is more important than being thin. I have also decided that once my body achieves a degree of optimum health, that it will naturally assist me in reaching my bodies “Angle of Repose” and therefore my own personal ideal weight. Not Jenny Craig’s idea of what I should weigh…not grain free, carbohydrate free, protein packed, but something that I can live with and that interests me. As such the dried shiitakes have now become regular staple items in the pantry to be used in the place of their more perishable cousins, the button mushroom. I invented a fat free soup the other day using Massell vegetable stock powder which is Australian made using quality sea salt and powdered vegetables and no added oil.


Go check it out for yourselves, it truly is delicious and doesn’t have that real salty taste that Marigold or Vegeta have (Yuk!) very easily assimilated into whatever you are making and I use it for everything. Delicious chicken and beef flavours available as well but all vegetarian. Give it a go, you are helping an Aussie business and helping your taste buds be delighted at the same time. Plus, it’s a lot healthier than the other stock cubes and powders using quality ingredients. No…I am not being paid by the company; I just want to share one of my culinary little secrets with you all because you are so dear to me

It’s truly delicious and if you use stock powders do try it, it is one of our staple purchases and we use it in most of our food. I made a stock using the Massell stock powder as a base. I put garlic, ginger, pepper and chilli into a mortar and pounded the heck out of it all with a pestle. I added this to the stock and then added carrots, green things (leaves) and soaked shiitake mushrooms and dried wakame. I expected something lacklustre and slightly boring as I stirred Steve’s prawn laksa that I made for his meal but was totally delighted with the delicious seafood flavour imparted by the dried wakame and how meaty the mushrooms made the texture of the soup. Far be it from being boring, it has been scrawled down to be deciphered upside down and sideways (my writing is atrocious) at a future date as “worthy of a remake”. A most high degree of praise from me. I have also been messing about with risotto and paella (vegetarian versions) and am trying to incorporate more grains and legumes into my diet (except lentils which are not actually food but are punishment for vegetarians for daring to be smug about their lifestyle). I am also interested in eating only fresh vegetables whenever possible especially home grown. When you make your own it starts to get interesting and the same with growing your own, you can grow all sorts of heritage and weird vegetables that are simply not commercially viable and that you won’t ever see on supermarket shelves.


Check out this persimmon tree and its copious quantity of fruit right next to the harbour. Beauty Point has a really interesting microclimate and wandering around this small town you can see many plant species that you would not image that you could grow in Tasmania. Persimmons are used to cold temperatures and are indeed one of Japan’s most favourite fruits so this one is most content with her mild temperate garden situation and is going great guns


Another shot of one of the Persimmon branches heavily laden with fruit. My daughters love persimmons and were scoping out a small tree next to their home for ages waiting for the right moment to pinch one. a few were duly liberated, cut into and sampled with great disgust…astringent persimmons are NOT something that you want to eat unless they are overripe…take this warning with you and karma struck again


It’s funny how this sleepy little beautiful seaside town is only 5 minutes away from Beaconsfield and the extreme contrast in houses and gardens between the 2 locations. This is a really lovely garden and a good example of how fertile the local soil is


I just soaked some dried shiitake mushrooms ready for making fried rice tonight. We both have the same basic rice but Steve adds chicken and egg to his and I add zucchini (Steve’s equivalent of my feelings about lentils) and other veggies to mine. I might dice up some fresh tomato and toss it in at the last minute. They are so fresh and sweet that I can’t help wanting to add them to everything. We were very clever about the last few days being so hot and prepared things to be used from the fridge earlier in the week. We are using the covered bbq outside to cook in so we keep the house cool. Again, I will say, you really have to think smarter not harder. The fried rice was absolutely delicious. I am going to be using dried wakame and dried shiitake mushrooms a whole lot more because they certainly gave the fried rice a real sea taste and ‘bite’ that I don’t usually get when using only vegetables. You can buy dried shiitake mushrooms at the supermarket and the wakame isn’t all that hard to find so long as you have an Asian supermarket somewhere nearby. Don’t buy small packets, they are not good value; get the bigger ones as it keeps forever. Just a quick note about wakame here. It might look like shrivelled black hair but when you soak it, it suddenly swells up amazingly and becomes green again and you really have to wonder how it could have been the same product that you wrestled into your soaking bowl in the first place. I really like the taste of it. It isn’t too salty or fishy like most seaweed. I had real trouble swallowing kelp when I decided to buy some because it is “good for you”. So are alternate nude romps in the snow and sauna exposure but I am not going to even BEGIN to think about doing that so kelp can be relegated to the rubbish bin of my health food experiments. I think you have to be very canny when you deal with most of the health food claims that get blasted all over the place. Remember goji berries? The last and greatest most amazing antioxidant fantastic lifesaving healthy thing that you are ever going to need again? Well apart from them being pains in the derrière to grow, they taste horrible. Even in their concentrated dried form they are little more than rose hips with a very similar taste. EVEN dipped in dark chocolate (another way that they tried to get us all to eat them…) they are nothing to write home about and at well over $60 a kilo they are simply not worth it. We all like to jump on the band wagon whenever someone makes a claim to healthy fame. They are always the beautiful people…young, thin, radiantly tanned and making wild claims about their latest discovery that has allowed them to live forever…the people endemic to the country that these amazing berries, nuts and fruits are found in use these products and are no doubt amused at all of the hype. The hype is to make a massive big fat profit people. That’s all it is…if a few people get a few extra antioxidants that will go a whole lot of the distance to making these shysters feel better about telling porky pies about their products to make their millions and disappear. We never learn do we? I remember going on the carbohydrate starved Atkins diet when I was about 14 and now it has been trotted out again as the ONLY diet that you will ever need…sorry folks…been there…done that…still fat…there is always someone out there wanting to make a quick buck out of our desire to better ourselves. It is just up to us to sift our way through the shysters till we find a few of these super foods that actually do what they are purported to do and that are worth of the money and the flavour. Hemp seed is one such product. Delicious, full of Omega 3 AND 6 and soon to be grown en masse in Tasmania. I wonder if the price will come down from $65 a kilo (cracked and imported from Canada) when we are growing it ourselves? They like to keep the price elevated, but as soon as I can get my hands on some whole seed, I will be planting out a nice crop of hemp myself for our own personal use…that is going to make it a whole lot more difficult for the police to sort out who is growing what for which use isn’t it? I dare say the food grade hemp seed looks a whole lot like its THC filled cousin marijuana when it is growing. Watch this space…Steve might have to take over my blog for a bit while I am languishing in the hoosegow being presumed guilty before I am proven innocent…


This is for all of you City Slickers out there who scorn country folk for driving their cars everywhere…this is the bus schedule on a Saturday for the good folk of Beauty Point…no bus service on Sunday and not much more than this (a few earlier and later buses for people wanting to work in town). Imagine this sort of strict timetable (and the buses are NEVER on time) and you can see why a car is a necessity rather than a luxury out in the sticks of Tasmania


Pretty white cosmos…not put here because of their flowery value to this garden but as a triumph to me. I found the white cosmos! In Animal Crossing I am trying to breed something like this…this is just a little reality check for my Animal Crossing infused brain


No idea what this palm is but it is beautiful isn’t it? Palms are not something that you see much of in Tasmania apart from the usual enormous date palms that were planted a Century ago and to see this lovely specimen was quite rare.


I have a slight miff with those of you constant readers who abandoned ship on Saturday and allowed Steve’s “24 Bowie Posts in 24 hours” to go to your heads. The maximum views that I have ever had on any one of my posts was 55. Steve got 88 views yesterday for what was effectively a few visits to youtube to filch someone else’s hard work so that he could indulge our love of Bowie shamelessly whilst promoting his blog. I had 13 views yesterday…pathetic people! You were like rats leaving a sinking ship even though the ship wasn’t taking on water as far as I was aware! What fickle creatures you are and what a fat head Steve has today! You have done him no good at all…he is making plans for Jimi Hendrix days…Punk days and even Christian Death days (one of his old first run Gothic bands that he used to love)…you had better hope that he doesn’t run to “The Virgin Prunes” (one of Bono’s mental mates and his friend who have to be seen to be believed) and you will only have yourselves to blame if he does! Turncoats the lot of you…I shall speak no more of this matter!

I am typing this post on Sunday (yesterday) and it is a little bit cooler than it was on Saturday. We took the dogs for a lovely walk at Beauty Point where the water was sparkling, everything was blue and green and you could hardly see it was so bright (note to self…take sunglasses next time dummy!). We took the boys down to the beach for a quick splash as at 8am it was already quite warm and even though the tide was out and the oysters were threatening the boys feet they had a nice quick invigorating splash before heading off on our walk. We have to be especially careful when walking the boys in Beauty Point. There are a lot of irresponsible dog owners in Beauty Point who allow their dogs to wander about off lead. We keep our boys on lead at all times because we are well aware that their breed reputation precedes them and that people might be worried about them. The problem isn’t because our dogs are dangerous, the problems occur when off leash dogs run up to us barking and growling at the boys and we have to shoo them off and hope for the best that they don’t attack. Just because your dog is usually a good dog doesn’t mean that it won’t take offense at some other dog (or person) just around the corner while you are having a nice stroll with your partner. We got a couple of off leash “problems” on our walk. One of them belonged to a couple who had moored their yacht and were walking their spaniel off leash but the dog was well behaved and stayed with its owners so no problem there. The second one was a teeny little white fluffy dog that suddenly appeared in the middle of the path that we were walking on. The dog was fine…it just stood there wagging its tail at the massive behemoth’s that were bearing their manic way down on this new found best buddy that they were just about to frolic into immediate terror. Our boys are not “bad”…our boys are not “dangerous”…our boys are big heifer’s hell bent on having a good time and like their human male counterparts, tend to do a fair bit of collateral damage in the process without realising it.

We really don’t know how our habits affect our infrastructure. Steve is watching something about how one man controls all of the power stations in the U.K. from his office. His name is Simon and he was just talking about how 1 75 million kettles go on after East Ender’s at 7pm every day in the U.K. This causes a MASSIVE power spike that can’t be dealt with using U.K. power alone, they actually have to draw from French power sources as well! I have mentioned about how we often lose power on hot or very cold days thanks to the power grid having to meet the demands of so many people suddenly turning their air conditioners on or heat pumps in winter and there simply isn’t enough power to go around so we, out in the sticks, get the power cuts first so that others may bask in their warmth/cool. We just bumble around in our day to day lives completely forgetting that someone out there has to make sure that when we turn something electrical on, it gets reliable power flowing to it. This interesting show gives us a little glimpse at how this constant need is juggled and managed and just what it takes to maintain a constant flow of electricity and water and how all of our other needs are met on a massive scale. I just thought that you would like to share that little insight into the power usage in the U.K. and you now have an interesting little sippet of information to share at your next dinner party or happy hour at work.


Note the plane contrail on its way to Melbourne straight over Beauty Point and Bass Strait


These people have moored here, slept here, they walked down a little pathway that leads to the beach and took their dog for a lovely morning swim and then headed back to languish their day away on their yacht…what a life eh?


The Beauty Point (a.k.a. Dalrymple Yacht Club after the original name of Georgetown) yacht club.


Talking about sharing little sippets of information, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is back on the airwaves of our local ABC radio station. There is precious little to interest us in the mornings apart from on Saturday when Hobart’s D.J. has to manage both the South and the North of Tasmania and is a most entertaining man indeed. Our day to day lady D.J. is “alright” but nothing to write home about. We used to get the local commercial radio when we lived in town and got “Mel and Greg” they were an amazing team and highly entertaining. I actually won 2 tickets to go and see Powderfingers final concert in Hobart for my Powderfinger loving daughter Madeline and myself from Mel and Greg. I had to do some pretty humiliating things along with several other people to do so, but win the tickets I did and we had a really great time going deaf listening to Powderfinger and sharing some quality time together. Mel got a job in Darwin and deserted and pretty soon after Greg headed off to Darwin as well. They were great together and that team deserves to do well wherever they go. We can’t get commercial radio out here. We are forced to listen to A.B.C. radio and grind our teeth in the morning whilst being forced to wake up to Macca on a Sunday morning…sigh… we never listen long enough to get to the good D.J’s or the good programs like Peter Cundall and our resident Chook maestro are relegated to waking up to the A.B.C. news and a D.J. who should stop asking her poor long suffering listeners why she doesn’t get valentine’s day cards…that’s your problem lady, not ours! I was laying there alternating grinding my teeth at the latest news and drifting briefly off to sleep again on Saturday when the Hobart D.J. (the good one) mentioned that Dr Karl was back! I LOVE Dr Karl. Ever since he used to have a show with someone else (not important apparently as I can’t remember his name) on T.V. and shared his amazing enthusiastic views about life, the universe and everything I have been in awe of Dr Karl. When “Sleek Geeks” went on the road (Dr Karl and Adam Spencer from JJJ) my children went to watch it and got their programs autographed for me by Dr Karl. The line for autographs from Dr Karl went out the auditorium door, Adam Spencer’s line you could count on one hand… He has his own site and is most probably the single most amazing Australian that I can think of. This man is truly unique and has done more to further the fostering of intelligence in Australia than anyone else. Here is his site…


And here is a really good interview that Andrew Denton hosted on his television program “Enough Rope” that gives you an amazing insight into what made Dr Karl who his is. Very VERY worthwhile reading dear constant readers and I am actually urging you to read this one…


What an amazing man eh? It’s like all of the brains that should have been shared out amongst the numpty forest workers and other numpty Tasmanian’s got condensed into one mainlander… I remember reading about Dr Karl once and whoever was interviewing him asked him why he thought that he was so intelligent and he said that he couldn’t even get into Mensa and didn’t have a particularly high I.Q. it wasn’t intelligence, it was an intense and passionate drive to know about things. This man has done so very much in and with his life that it makes the rest of us look like we are living in slow motion. I wonder where people like Dr Karl get their motivation to “do” like he has done? I wish I could buy it in a bottle…and there you go…trying to find answers to my own personal shortcomings in a quick fix…I guess that is a good time to finish up this post for today. I hope I have given your brain something to chew on by sharing Dr Karl with your and that you are sufficiently jealous of us for having a lovely little community like Beauty Point within 10 minutes of home to take the boys to the beach at. See you all tomorrow when I can tell you a bit about our day in town and perhaps I might have remembered to take the camera and might get some pictures for you…


This place really doesn’t look like much in my photos but go check out their “For Sale” advertisement, you get to see inside this delightful cottage and anyone out there with an eye for beauty and for clean lines and for a beachside up market pad should love it…if you have a spare $315 000 and want to live the quite life, it’s yours for the picking



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 23:17:54

    Ok Fran it is snippets. Just had to get that off my chest 🙂 Yes I am very jealous of your beautiful place and yes I love Dr Karl too. He is very enthusiastic about everything and makes it interesting to learn. We hear him here occasionally over here on the radio. I have used Massel for many years, they are very good. Thanks for the internet site. I’m not too sure about the wakame though, I don’t know if I could stomach it. You have to get over the fact that Steve has more hits, it’s just not worth the heartache lol. You are so worthy of more 🙂 x


    • narf77
      Feb 28, 2012 @ 10:00:26

      LOL snippets/sippets whatever…a snippet is a small sippet as far as I am concerned and you guys are just REALLY lucky that I check words out on the internet before I post…I can’t spell for nuts. Apparently it is something that is predominate in most writers and English teachers and it is because the bit of the brain that makes you logical and analytical is also the bit responsible for spelling. People who loved English literature (remember those wankers? sorry Madeline and Pinkus) tend to spell well…those of us who were good at English suck at spelling. Wrong side of the brain :o). I meant jealous of us being close to a place as lovely as Beauty Point, not Serendipity Farm where the hens are doing their damndest to fill every square inch with dung (sigh…) and where the hens can’t reach, the dogs are obliging them…SIGH! Dr Karl is my hero and I am not ashamed to say so. Glad you use massell it is great stuff and the best quality you can get. I remember reading a cooking blog where a woman from Canada must have gotten hold of some and was saying it was the best in the world…I would tend to agree with her, great taste, healthy and low in fat, my kind of stock!


  2. Kym
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 19:54:33

    Lol I was one of those wankers in Lit, and I was good at English. Does that make me an anomoly?


    • narf77
      Feb 29, 2012 @ 07:08:33

      Yeh sorry Kymmy, you just outed yourself to all of my constant readers :o) You must use both sides of your brain equally. Madeline had a teacher do her university thesis on her when she was in kindegarten because she was reading at 3. It turns out she uses both sides of her brain equally, I don’t, and so spelling is my downfall. Madeline writes and is very good mathematically so perhaps you use both sides of your brain? (or…none of it? :o) Whatever it is, you are lucky. I am lucky too… I get to use google to find my words and spell them correctly :o)


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