Thursday, 24 February 2011

The flood Effects

Since late November I have been in constant emotional “transit”: my trip to the US, Xmas at Kingscliff, New Year at Bundilla. These are topics intended for the next posts among other works "in progress".

When I was still trying to catch up with myself, this flood crisis happened.
However, I live outside the flood zone, I only experienced very little of this calamity. Watching the news, I felt like an outsider, which was a bit depressing. I rang all my friends who were all safe and need no help. Then a text message  arrived: “Join the after flood cleaning up party in Chelmer. BYO everything including food & water. No fuel, supermarkets shelves empty!.”
I thought the best I could help was to cook some tasty food besides just cleaning.

Fortunately before the crisis I did a big shopping in Darra so I have almost all essential ingredients: a variety of minces, pork belly, a couple of “bicycled chicken” (a small roaster under 1kg in weight), tofu, egg plants, sweet potatoes, carrots, red brown and green onions, garlic, ginger, lemon grass and some Asian greens. The rest of the ingredients came from my garden, where the wild pepper plant has gone completely wild; their perfect glossy green leaves reaching out from the large pot resembled a Buddha with thousand arms, Vietnamese mint took over the herb garden and the chili bush was full of red chilies. 

Bags of food including beef in wild pepper leaves, dumplings, mung bean dahl, egg plant and tofu and soba noodle were ready when I was picked up to go to Chelmer.

All the major roads leading to the flood area were clogged up with traffic, it is practically bumper-to-bumper all the way to Chelmer. It took us nearly two hours to make a 20 minutes journey normally.

The muddy roads reminded me of the rice field ploughed up after the moon-also  soon season in Vietnam. The water-mark left on the trees and the houses showing the flood level and to remind us of the power of nature, underneath this level, everything was covered in the uniform colour of dark brown grey, including all once-treasured household items, now in a pile on the pavements.

On site, the workers all covered in mud, busily hosing down mud from everything. They had been working since dawn so they were all ready for refueling. 
Everybody enjoyed a moment of rest and they all appreciated the special treat from a "well known chef!"

This is roughly how to make the wild pepper leaves wraps:
Marinade thin sliced or minced beef {or chicken or tofu) with finely chopped garlic, lemon grass, chili, pepper, seasoned with fish or soy sauce to taste, the usually proportion for meat and fish sauce is 50mls of fish sauce to 500g of meat (or 1 teaspoon of good sea salt) and oil. Wrap a table spoon full of mince in wild pepper leaves. Then grill. Dip in dipping sauce of preference.

For the mung bean dahl, I combined THE DRIED SPICES garam masala, turmeric, cumin, Fennel, cardamon pod with garlic, ginger, brown onion and a curry paste I use Vindaloo for its vinegary taste. I use salt for seasoning and olive oil. Coconut cream added.

The egg plant and tofu also has belly pork pieces and tomatoes flavoured with Turmeric and perilla (shisho ,tia to). The pork belly gives this dish a special richness. (I use soba noodle instead of pasta because it is easier to handle and not too heavy on your belly.) 
I used bought wonton wrappers for the dumplings  . Filled with finely mince prawn and pork with shiitake mushroom black fungus and finely chopped green bean and coriander. I boiled and washed the dumplings to make them prettier. They can be used as they are with dipping sauce or they can be used as part of the “floating cloud” soup  (short and long soup) with Asian green.
Dumplings ready to be boiled    

After lunch clean up, I tried to sweep off mud and water from the kitchen lounge area,it was continuing being muddy as people walking through non stop. I felt like a tiny beach crab trying to move the sand.

On the second day I brought along a pork and sweet potatoes curry, a green lentil dahl and black rice (I did not have any white rice and I thought it could be an interesting change). We arranged the food on the table and today they even had little stools to sit down for lunch. I quickly went through with the workers about the food; the pork curry was quite sweet with sweet potatoes and coconut juice. There was no coconut milk in either the pork or the dahl. I had run out of coconut cream.

I washed all the crockery and kitchen things and felt a bit more useful than yesterday.

We were not allowed in the flooded area on Sunday,so it was rest day for me, but while having a cup of tea with the boys, the "Colonel" rang and asked me to come and help with the damaged paper and photographs, which she kept in her freezer at home. 
There we hang up some documents relating to the house and separated the wet photos.
I took the rest of the photos home and had a big photo laundry session late into the night. The next day we continued with the rest of the documents rescuing at Raquel’s.
     It was a strange feeling looking at personal papers and photos of others, even though we know our friends but not all the intimate details of their lives as they were displayed in these water soaked documents and images. 
I had the feeling of a voyeur!

More photographs to be cleaned. 

Soon I have to go back to my own reality: catching up with myself!

No comments:

Post a Comment