G is for Grapefruit


I can’t get enough of citrus. Grapefruit is a particular favourite as the large, juicy wedges provide a mouthful of sweet, sour, and always juicy flesh (Yes, this also reminds me of Golum). Despite this, I have struggled to find it making a regular appearance in recipes as the principal ingredient.

Common in ‘boring principal ingredient with grapefruit salad’ the fruit is often baked with sugar to bring out the flavours and eaten with a caramlised sauce.  I read some interesting articles where it was paired with fish but it seems to me that things can be too complicated, and if something works well on its own, why don’t we let it?

Grapefruit is an excellent source of Vitamin A protecting us against lung and oral cavity cancers.  It also contains large quantities of vitamin C that provides resistance against infection, increases the level of iron absorption in our intestine, and helps wounds to heal.

Whether you prefer white, pink or red grapefruit (although red and pink have better health benefits) they are all delicious.

For my grapefruit recipe this week I have chosen to make a grapefruit granita. Make this in summer, grapefruit is perfect for this refreshing beverage, I personally guarantee you will thank me for it.


Serves 4


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (about 4 grapefruits)
  • 1 rosemary sprig, 7 inches
  • 1/2 cup vodka, optional


In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water, sugar, and rosemary to a simmer. Once the sugar is dissolved remove from heat and allow to cool. This is a low sugar simple syrup. While the simple syrup is cooling, squeeze the grapefruit juice into a large bowl retaining some pulp.

Remove the rosemary sprig and add the cooled syrup to the grapefruit juice. Add the vodka. Stir to combine.

Pour the grapefruit/syrup mixture into a 9×13 glass or metal baking pan. Place in the freezer. Allow to freeze for an hour without disturbing.

Once the juice begins to freeze, scrape the entire dish with a fork every 30 minutes until you reach a fine slushy consistency, about 2 hours.

Serve and enjoy!


Corporate Social Responsibility

breast cancer

“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is based on the premise that corporations have an economic, social, environmental and ethical responsibility to the society in which it operates”  ~ Dr. Marianne D. Sison

 Funny how ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ instantly creates a mixed sense of disappointed optimism. It is encouraging, I suppose, that the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) exists. Yet, I feel that the vast majority of us cannot help but hear this phrase and experience pangs of disillusionment.

Sison argues that companies should engage in CSR as it builds the reputation of the brand, creates a tax shelter and as a consequence of globalization, companies are required to become more accountable. Her suggestions for how a company can engage in CSR are charitable donations, community grants and volunteer programs for employees and environmentally sustainable infrastructure. They can also do something as simple as sourcing products from labor friendly countries.

This all seems very sensible, but an interesting fact that comes out of a related study on CSR is that India, which has the lowest GNP per capita of the 7 countries researched, has the highest level of CSR (Chapple & Moon 2005). While Sison explicitly makes no conclusions about this statistic, I have a thought as to the implied meaning.

In an Australian study it was found that 68% of companies in the top 500 companies engaged in CSR were involved in mining and resource industries. To me this implies that western companies have less of a sense of social responsibility, coming from capitalist thinking where a business’ contribution to the national economy is thanks enough.  I feel I can make this claim, as those companies that are contributing most to CSR are those that are politically unpopular and have image issues, namely environmental, associated with their industry.

As a communicator that is contemplating the management of a company’s image I cannot help but be worried that by participating in CSR the stigma of ‘doing something right, to counter something wrong’ will stick to my company’s CSR efforts. Mount Franklin, a sub-brand of Coca-Cola, has received much positive media attention for its support of breast cancer with their pink lid appeal.  In essence the company donates 0.6 cents per 400ml bottle that retails for $3.50 AU. This is a tiny percentage of an essentially free and cheaply produced product for a cause that generates large advertising revenue for the company. Oh and let’s not forget, its for a good cause namely stopping the deaths of millions of women.

Due to this stigma I feel those that engage in CSR need to be very careful about transparency and sincere offerings.  Personally, I feel the strength of CSR in building the value of a western company’s image will only be realized if western companies as a collegiate change their mentality and become more sincerely generous in their contributions to CSR.

Chapple, W, & Moon, J 2005, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Asia: A Seven-Country Study of CSR Web Site Reporting’, Business & Society, vol. 44, pp. 415-441.

F is for Fennel


I never used to eat Fennel.  In Australia it is uncommon and often difficult to find. That changed when I moved to France where it is treated as a common vegetable always sitting somewhere between the lettuce and cucumbers.   In France not only is it affordable it is simply prepared. Most commonly it is served as a side salad, roughly cut with a squeeze of lemon.

One of my favourite fennel recipes is salmon pasta with a fennel side salad, but as this site requires an unusual principal ingredient, the recipe will have to wait for another time.

When selecting your fennel bulb do not choose one with flowers as this means the bulb is too old. You want a bulb without discolouration that is clean and solid. Fennel is best used within 3-4 days of purchasing and stored in the vegetable crisper, wrapped in plastic.

Fennel is very good for you with high levels of Vitamin C.  Pleasingly fennel has no fat and it contains Phytonutrients that have shown to reduce inflammation, and in animal testing prevent cancer and reduce the risk of liver disease.

I am making fennel pizza because it showcases the subtle flavour of the fennel and caramelised fennel is to die for.


Serves 4


  • 1 pizza base
  • garlic oil (recipe below)
  • 1 baby turnip, peeled and very thinly sliced (a mandoline works beautifully here)
  • caramelized fennel (recipe below)
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • chunks of fresh mozarella, optional
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese (1/2 cup or so)
  • reserved fennel fronds

Preheat oven to 450 with rack on the bottom. Stretch out the dough into a 16-inch or so rectangle or circle, depending on your pan, using flour to keep everything from sticking. Brush the dough from edge to edge with garlic oil. Layer with turnips, caramelised fennel and onion slices and sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Par-bake pizza for 6 – 7 minutes.

Add goat cheese and mozzarella, if using, and return to oven until cheese is melted and crust is golden. Top with fennel fronds and dressed greens.

Dressed greens:

  • baby spinach or arugula
  • 2 tablespoons garlic oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • squeeze of dijon

Whisk together last three ingredients, season with salt and pepper and toss with greens just before topping pizza.

Garlic oil:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Heat oil and garlic together on medium heat in a small pan, just until bubbles begin to show around edges of garlic. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove garlic cloves and store in a repurposed glass jar at room temperature.  Make ahead: will keep for up to six months.

Caramelized fennel:

  • 1 large fennel bulb (fronds trimmed, reserved) sliced thinly through the root end
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • few drops maple syrup
  • coarse salt
  • fennel seeds

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium/medium-high. Add half the fennel and arrange in a single layer, allowing to cook until golden-brown on the bottom. Flip each slice and sprinkle with salt and a half teaspoon of fennel seeds; sprinkle a few drops of maple syrup around the pan and cook until fennel is caramelized, lowering heat if browning too quickly. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining fennel slices. Make ahead: store covered in the fridge for up to 48 hours.

Participatory Media Scenario


Participatory Media, there’s that buzzword again.  However, you and I  will have to get used to it over the next couple of weeks as I begin to compose my Participatory Media scenario.

My tutor Jonathon Hutchinson who will be referred to by the excellent abbreviation “JH” (I feel it gives him an element of street cred) suggested that we choose to work with something we love. Bearing this in mind  I have chosen to work in a area I am passionate about – holidays. This will not be travel per se but more the embodiment of escapism from day to day life.

The concept is the development of portable houses ‘pods’ and to have these located on people’s property where they have access to land and are looking at generating additional income.  People will be directed to this accommodation via a website that has a database of travel tips that give detailed advice on things to see and do in the areas that surround the pods. The level of detail and suggestions in an area will determine the number of pods. This will allow the company an insight into preferred travel destinations and create an online media source that has a real world connection with the data it collects.

How to create this online community is where the lecture from JH was very interesting.  He introduced me to the concept of seeding, creating content on platforms that reflect what you would like to see contributed to the site. This creates a hook for people who will be the first visitors to the site. Engaging people is also vital and JH put it right when he said “go where the people are”. At the moment this is Facebook and that means that my retail scenario will have to have a strong presence on Facebook if it is to survive.

The asset of my scenario is the sharing of data by fellow holiday makers. JH spoke about barriers that prevent people from contributing and I need to make this as easy as possible to grow my database. If I think about social media sites that I enjoy being part of, Pinterest is an excellent example, I rarely contribute to the content of these platforms. I need to assess what makes me not contribute and look at how best to encourage people to be a part of my online community.

I also need to find a way to create hype and buzz around my idea to generate interest. The hype needs to fit with my brand story and create a strong image of what my brand will be about. It must be news worthy and encourage people to get involved. Maybe I could offer free accommodation to those that contribute an article of significant value to my website? This could be an ongoing competition and one that utilises the talent of people who want to write professionally? I could capitalise on student travel stories and low budgets? The possibilities are endless and I am excited about beginning to work on building my own online community.

Today people expect and are capable of participating within a brand’s story. Due to this most companies will require some form of Participatory Media. The richness that companies get from the feedback and subsequent engagement with a brand is priceless, a skill that companies must master as they head forward into a digital age.

E is for Eggplant


Research suggests that one legal way a family can reduce its carbon footprint is by getting rid of the dog. For me this seems a very large sacrifice as Tilly is a very cherished companion. So in a bid to keep the dog, and still have a conscience about the environment, I have been looking for beef replacers. Ingredients that I can substitute into meals normally requiring methane-producing beef.

Eggplant is an excellent option as the spongy texture of the vegetable soaks up flavours and allows you to coat it in whatever sauce you want.  Anyone who has tried eggplant moussaka, eggplant curry or eggplant parmagana will agree when with me that the versatility of this vegetable is only limited by your imagination.

Research into eggplant has also shown the presence of nasunin in the skin of the eggplant. Nasunin works to protect cell membranes from damage. In brain cell membranes this is especially important as strong cell membranes make us more capable of  receiving signals from messenger molecules.

Eggplant from an environmental perspective is difficult as 83% is farmed in India and China in monocrops and the vegetables tend to have a large quantity of pesticide residue.

As with most vegetables in today’s market searching for locally grown food to cut down on our carbon footprint and organic alternates is important.  Or, better yet, why not try growing this attractive vegetable at home?

Eggplants are best during Autumn. Look for eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size with vivid colour. Store the eggplants for 2-3 days in a vegetable crisper. Be careful with the skin as the eggplant will spoil if the skin is broken and can bruise easily.

For my eggplant recipe I have chosen a greek dish. This tomatoe and eggplant stew is best when served with bread,  rice or pasta. I added capsicum and zucchini as I had some I needed to use and this versatility is one of the reasons I adore this simple dish.

Serves 4


  • 1-1/4 pounds japanese eggplants or 1 italian eggplant, unpeeled
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, (28-ounces) drained, juice reserved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, preferably italian, optional.


Cut eggplant into 3/4- or 1-inch dice. Heat oil in heavy Dutch oven or large casserole. Add onion and sauté over medium heat 2 minutes. Stir in garlic. Add eggplant, salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, over low heat until eggplant is coated with onion mixture. Add tomatoes, 1/3 cup juice from tomatoes, bay leaf and oregano and cook over high heat, stirring, until bubbling. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, until eggplant is tender, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with parsley.

D is for…Dates.


Dates, dates, the musical fruit. The more you eat the more you… Well, let’s hope it’s not strictly true. Dates are healthy. When researching for this article I was genuinely amazed at the sheer variety of health benefits associated with eating dates.  They contain Vitamin A, Potassium, Iron, and as it turns out, they are an excellent source of dietary fibre. This means we can ‘toot’ more regularly and subsequently reduce harm to our colon membrane.

Not only that, there are few raw ingredients that have such a rich sweetness. All in all this is terrific news for me as one of my favourite desserts is Sticky Date Pudding. The thought of a fluffy, spongy pudding, with the tart richness of a caramel sauce, is already making my mouth water.  For a  dessert  with such complex flavours it is very easy to make and even easier to reheat in an oven or microwave, not that you’ll need to.

Fresh dates can be found from August until December but dried dates are available all year round and both store well for months. When choosing dried dates they should not be rock hard. Fresh dates should have no crystallised sugar on their surface and have a smooth glossy skin.

Serves 6-8


  • 375g (13oz) pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 90g (3 ¼ oz) unsalted butter
  • 230g (8 oz/ 1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 185g (6 ½ oz/ 1 ½ cups) self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • caramel sauce (see link below), to serve


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°/Gas 4). Grease and line a deep 23cm ( 9 inch ) cake tin. Put the dates in a pan with 435ml (15fl oz/ 1 ¾ cups) water. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat, add the bicarbonate of soda and ginger and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Cream together the butter, sugar and 1 egg. Beat in the remaining eggs, one at a time. Fold in the sifted flour and mixed spice, add the date mixture and stir until well combined. Pour into the tin and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until cooked through. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate. Serve immediately with the caramel sauce and ice cream or cream.


For perfect caramel sauce I recommend this excellent blog by The Purple Foodie.