Media mapping

This week I was required to head around my town photographing my media environment.

ANTIQUE SHOP, WILLIAMSTOWN 

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DESCRIPTION

The fancy lettering leads you to believe that inside there will be a meticulous and glamorous array of Antiques. Sadly, for most of it’s life it was a mis-match collection of bits and pieces. Today, if you visit the shop there is a small family of garden gnomes sitting underneath the sign.  When it was first written this sign achieved its intended purpose of communicating the contents of the shop with large and stylish text that is succinctly written.

PET SHOP, ALBERT PARK 

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DESCRIPTION

Clearly the author of this has a great sense of humour.  It beautifully conveys the whimsical scenario of  grass forcing it’s way through the footpath.  It effectively creates a reminder about the pet shop as well, as this amusing scene makes you want to walk past and see it again.

SEA SHEPHERD JUMPER, WILLIAMSTOWN

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DESCRIPTION

I found this man in Coles. The Sea Shepherd boats are moored in Williamstown and this jumper is a poignant reminder of Williamstown’s connection to the sea.  The black of the jumper, contrasted with the white of the symbol,  also serves as a striking image.  Sea Shepherd are serious and the somber colour of their clothing is a testament to this.

RESIDENTIAL HOUSE, WILLIAMSTOWN 

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DESCRIPTION

I have walked past this house countless times and never seen anyone come out.  The resident clearly doesn’t want any papers, but I have always wondered why the paper tube has still remained? It is a very effective communication and the slanted white writing is a reminder of the human inhabitant hiding somewhere inside.

CONSTRUCTION SITE, WILLIAMSTOWN

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DESCRIPTION

OHS is out in full force here but I think that the crumpled danger tape underneath, and the slant of the sign, shows that whoever put it up did so quickly. It is a very clear communication and a sign that people see so often they don’t have to read it anymore to know what it says.

COLES NOTICEBOARD, WILLIAMSTOWN

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DESCRIPTION

We have a new Coles in Williamstown and the fancy architecture did not include a noticeboard until recently. These little signs slide between two metal runners and they are filled with things for sale in Williamstown. I like this one because of the underlined TAKE THE LOT. I think Mark has finally lost patience with the tiles, and it’s nice to see him doing something about it. It is very emphatic and conveys his impatience.

LIBRARY, ALBERT PARK

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DESCRIPTION

There is a new Library in Albert Park and I love this sign. The neat hand writing is evidence that they have just opened and haven’t had a chance to make up a sign yet. I hope they never do.  It has been well thought out with the placement of the text and it serves it’s purpose admirably.

TROUBLED DRIVEWAY, WILLIAMSTOWN 

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DESCRIPTION

It has been very interesting watching this situation develop. Obviously the purpose of the sign is to stop the dog poo ending up in the driveway, but the campaign has been progressive. First, there was the sign and now bags to make sure there is no excuses. It is a very effective sign and it makes an emotive plea: “Show some respect for your neighbours!”

SIGNAGE, ALBERT PARK COLLEGE, ALBERT PARK

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DESCRIPTION

When the College first opened it employed a graphic designer to do the signage. It is very striking how this has been achieved. By using minimal text and colour the locations of rooms around the school are sign posted. It is very effective and the minimal approach is very clever and means there is little cause for confusion.

NUMBER PLATE, WILLIAMSTOWN 

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DESCRIPTION

Frogg is a great name for a car that is as green as this one.  By adding the number plate the driver has shown that he has pride in his ride and despite the car being an older model, it shows that there is still a very close relationship between Frogg and his driver.

C is for Clams

clams

Delicious, salty, and inexpensive clams have a fantastic natural flavour that is  scrumptious with the addition of chilli, lemon juice, and parsley.  There are many things I could have chosen for C: crab, calamari, cottage cheese, or celeriac but clams remind me of days at the beach as a child, searching for shellfish with my toes in the sand.

You should always choose clams that are tightly closed. This means the shellfish are still alive and that the seafood is fresh.  When cooking the clams it is equally important to make sure they snap open, as this will indicate that they are cooked. There are mixed opinions about the shellfish that don’t open. Some people believe that they should not be eaten. It is up to you whether you feel they have failed the test or are merely a clam incarnation of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Before cooking the clams allow them to sit in a bowl of fresh water for upwards of an hour. This gives them time to spit out any sand they may still have within them. You also need to give the outside of the clam a good scrub and get a good recipe. Simple is best, seafood should not be overcomplicated as it drowns out the flavours that we value it for.

clamstable

When buying clams pay attention to how they were harvested. The use of hydraulic dredges when gathering clams, particularly the hard shell variety, causes damage to the seafloor.  Clams are grown in aquafarms  so try and buy these or if you are buying the ‘wild’ ones search for clams that have been gathered using rakes and handheld dredges.

This delicious recipe is one of my favourites and something I prepare when I have company and want something flashy, delicious, and easy.

LINGUINE WITH CLAM SAUCE
Serves 4

The key is to undercook the pasta a bit so it finishes cooking in the sauce. It will soak up a lot of flavour.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds clams
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine (you can substitute a good quality clam juice)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juice
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Heat 8 quarts of water for the pasta.

METHOD

While the water is heating, get the other ingredients ready. Scrub the clams. Slice the garlic. Chop the parsley. Measure out the pepper flakes and wine. Chop the tomatoes if they’re whole.

When the pasta water is ready, add the salt and the pasta. My linguine said to cook for 10 minutes, so I set the timer for 9 minutes.

In a large pan, heat 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds. Add the clams and red pepper flakes and stir for about 1 minute. Add the wine, tomatoes and ½ cup of parsley. Simmer, uncovered, until the clams open, about 7 – 8 minutes.

Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add it to the clams. Stir and cook for about a minute more, until the pasta is done. Add some of the reserved pasta water if it seems too dry.

Remove from heat, add the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil, teaspoon of pepper flake, and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and serve.

Great Expectations for… Lizzie Bennet?

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Last week I watched something interesting on Twitter. It was a Q and A session with a modern day Lizzie Bennet.  She is an upbeat red head answering social questions put to her via various social media pages.

Frankly it is rubbish. It is a heavily scripted romance between Lizzie and the cunningly named ‘William Darcy’.  She answers questions, gives us updates on her life and they both speak in a resemblance of a Georgian manner. Grotesque as I find it, I admit. I just can’t look away.

Maybe this has less to do with my taste in ‘quality’ media (I have been known to fall into this trap before) and more to do with the emergence of ‘publics’.

No, not the public that has always existed. The ‘public’ where we as strangers become connected by a shared desire to voluntarily participate in something.

This sense of connection with strangers enables new concepts such as Open source resources; Linux, Wikipedia and Reddit and even YouTube, to a certain extent, help us to connect with strangers in ‘publics’ and share our knowledge of what we know and what is out there.

Yet, how different is this from Ye Olden Times, where Mrs Bennett would hear gossip at Church and then run home all in a fuss with Kitty at her heels?

Now with online content being a participatory source and something that is regularly available it is easier to choose what we wish to read. It becomes easier for us to be grouped, creating connections between people with like-minded interests or concerns that may share expertise or personal experience.

Maybe this is why I keep watching modern Lizzie. I read Pride and Pejudice as a young adult and like all of us, wanted to keep reliving the magic of Lizzie and Mr Darcy over and over again.

I don’t like the Lizzie Diaries, but I admire the concept and despite myself I am drawn to the ‘public’ by my connection with the story and my admiration for literature and history.

I will participate, watch it, write this entry but that will be it. In this modern age if I love or hate something, I can choose to become involved. Despite this sometimes we become tempted to something like a Siren song and we just can’t look away. After all we are all aware of a single truth “that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”.

B is for Beetroot

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I have a real soft spot for this humble vegetable, its gorgeous purple fruits are the ruby of the vegetable world. Not only is it beautiful, it has the usual health benefits of low blood pressure and preventing heart disease.

Interestingly the beetroot, has a more long term effect, it helps to increase our stamina and enables our muscles to work more efficiently. As if that wasn’t enough, it also helps to prevent dementia and is an environmentally sustainable crop rarely requiring the use of pesticide. It is best to buy beetroot in summer as they need sunshine to get the rich sweetness we love them for.

Happily, they are easy to cook whether you choose to buy them pre-cooked or eat them straight from the garden. Hot tip for beetroots that are being cooked for the first time, keep their skin on. This will keep the nutrients inside and prevent the colour leaking. After boiling or baking them it is easy enough to either eat the skin or put them under cold water and wash the skin away.

A friend who has inspired me to give vegan cooking a go suggested this recipe and it is utterly delicious. Very easy to make and beautiful to look at. This is a winner that utilises beetroot to its full potential.

TIP

For those of us that have experienced beetroot stains here is three handy tips for getting even!

  • Stained hands: Run liberally with lemon and salt before washing them with soap and water.
  • Fabric: Rub with a raw slice of pear, rinse in cold water and then wash with a biological powder.
  • Chopping boards and containers: A bleach solution.

GREEN KITCHEN’S BEET BOURGUIGNON
Serves 4

This is one of those dishes that works well making a day in a advance. The flavors will become more intense and the vegetables more tender.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 small beets peeled & quartered (we used Chioggia beets)
  • 4 medium sized carrots sliced in large pieces
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder solved in 2 tbsp water (optional)
  • 2 cups puy lentils for serving
  • 4 cups water
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 portobello mushrooms
  • 10 champignon mushroom
  • 10 small pearl onions, peeled.

METHOD

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or a large cast iron pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and garlic, sauté until soft. Toss beets, carrots, thyme and salt and pepper into the pan, cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste, red vine, vegetable stock and bay leaves, let simmer on low heat for 40 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the lentils, mushrooms and pearl onions.

Preparing the Puy lentils: Rinse lentils under running water. Bring water to a boil, add lentils and lower to medium heat. Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, when almost done add salt. Set aside. Searing the mushrooms and pearl onion: Heat olive oil in a pan. Lower the heat and sear the portobello, champignon mushrooms and pearl onions, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden in color. Season to taste.

Set aside. Finishing the stew: Taste the stew, add more wine, stock or herbs if you like. If you prefer the stew a little thicker, add arrowroot mixture, but this is optional. Add mushrooms and onions and simmer for 10 more minutes. To serve, spoon the stew over a plate of lentils and sprinkle with fresh thyme.

Identity in the modern self

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It seems strange to think that their has not always existed a concept of identity. If we think to another time when we were born into a role, and when concerns were less luxurious and more immediate we realise that a sense of self and an almost desperate need to ‘define’ ourselves has not always existed.

In his article Identity in the globalising world Bauman does not treat identity as another freedom in a liberal, modernising world. He despairingly asserts: “’Incompleteness’ of identity, and particularly individual responsibility for its completion, are in fact intimately related to all aspects of the modern condition.” (Bauman 2001). He suggests that with modernity and freedom of choice come the burden of defining one’s own purpose. This choice is complicated because of a lack of structure, rapid growth and changes within society mean that we are focused on the journey to create an identity, terrified that if we ever arrived in a place of solidity that “the hard worn framework will soon be torn apart or melted.” (Bauman 2001).

This new fear was born from modern life’s  perpetuity to tear down the frame and definition in society and, ironically, this creates an insatiable need for humanity to make one. It began with the invention of hobbies, past times and fashion. We identified our commonality via costumes and interest groups hoping that when nothing much matters we can “make them matter, for a time at least” and through this create a sense of purpose and community (Bauman 2001).

Whilst creating my online identity, I have experienced similar challenges to those explored by Bauman. I have a broad identity as I am still on the journey; having not yet reached a place of solidity it is hard for me to identify and write about myself.

To avoid confusion, and to create continuity for myself and those that read this, I have tied my blog together with that most consuming of indulgent hobbies, gourmet food.  By belonging to an interest group I can give my inner most insecure self an identity and satisfy my own and society’s need to frame me up and give me one.

REFERENCES

  • Bauman, Z 2001, ‘Identity in the globalizing World’, Social Anthropology, vol. 9, pp: 121–129.