Monday 5 August 2013

Barley, Lentil and Pumpkin Minestrone and the refugee issue

There is a shadow in the above photo.  I tried taking a photo is a different part of my kitchen and the lighting was not right.  I thought I would mention it as I want to talk about a far larger shadow today.  The refugee issue in Australia.

I found some of my old school essays recently.  I had written one about refugees and how hard it is to understand what they are going through.  It made me wander what kids are being taught in school today.  Are they taught compassion?  Are they taught the history of the successive waves of migrants that make our nation?  Are they taught that we are the lucky country (with "boundless plains to share") and should lend a hand to those less fortunate? 

For those not familiar with Australian politics, our Prime Minister Rudd recently announced that all refugee arriving by boat would be processed offshore and if found to be genuine refugees they would be settled in Papua New Guinea.  In fact, I only wish I was no familiar with the vitriolic tone of Australian politics.  Democracy here is like two little boys in the playground egging each other on to see who can be the nastier!  Oh for a polite democracy of checks and balances!

I went to a rally about a week ago to protest against the new policy.  It was a relief to see compassion and passion around me.  I was heartened to be among people who share my disbelief at this policy.  Others who are angry and sad at how we are treating desperate people.  Others who refuse to be filled with fear and loathing by vote-seeking politicians.

I would love to write in depth about the issue.  However this is a food blog.  So I recommend you read others who are more knowledgeable and articulate on the subject than I will ever be:
  • Die Somewhere Else - an opinion piece by William Maley in The Canberra Times.  It debunks the myth of the orderly queue in offshore resettlement programs, questions why politicians are focussing on 'solving' the deaths of asylum seekers rather than other deaths in the country, and reminds us of the need to address why people are fleeing their country rather than the so-called "evil" people smugglers.
  • Stop the Planes - an article by Tory Shepherd in The Punch  It discusses why we feel so much more comfortable with visa overstayers who come by plane than asylum seekers than come by boat even though the former group is far larger and less in need.
  • A Unique Look at the Boat People ‘Problem’ in Australia - AntiBogan presents a thought provoking infographic on asylum seekers in Australia and elsewhere.

And now that I have given you more reading to do, you wont have much time for cooking.  So I give you a simple stew that only asks you to throw the ingredients in a pot and simmer, stirring occasionally until it is cooked.  Easy.  Delicious.  Great one its own or with a Zaatar pizza.

I am submitting this to  Healthy Vegan Fridays #54, an event run by Gabby @ Veggie Nook, Carrie @ Carrie On Vegan, Katherine @ Green Thickies.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Microwave butterscotch pudding with a touch of yellow
Two years ago: Cake pops and some healthy truffles
Three years ago: Nutty fries and other people’s plates
Four years ago: Mexican Rice Soup
Five years ago: Do I dare to cook with one less pear?
Six years ago: Baking cake for climate change

Barley and Lentil Minestrone
Adapted from Apron and Sneakers
serves 4

1 onion
150g pearl barley
100g dried green lentils
1 litre vegie stock
500ml water
1 tsp lavender salt
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cloves garlic (I forgot this but will remember next time)
100g green beans, trimmed and chopped
100g cauliflower florets
400g pumpkin, peeled trimmed and diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, diced
100g baby spinach
salt and pepper 
pesto or parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)

Place all ingredients into a large stockpot.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 to 1 /12 hours.  Check and adjust seasoning.  Serve with a dollop of pesto or some finely grated parmesan cheese, if desired.  We didn't have pesto so I added Worcestershire sauce but pesto would be preferable.

On the Stereo:
This is My Life: Shirley Bassey


  1. I couldn't agree with you more Johanna and I'm going to read those links now. These people are desperate, how can we not help them?

    1. Thanks Lorraine - hope the links gave you some good food for thought

  2. As (I think?) you know, I was working at FECCA back in Australia, so these issues are very close to be heart. And, to continue with the body symbolism, I'm sick to my stomach over what both parties are doing to refugees and their blatant disregard for human rights. Sick, sick, sick.

    1. Thanks Hannah - perhaps it is just as well you are far from Australia as I am sure the whole situation would make your blood boil (to use more body symbolism), and must be awful for your friends at FECCA.

  3. I'm off to read the links too. The state of politics here is shameful, with our leaders carry on. I went to Parliament for a year 12 trip to Canberra and we sat in on question time. It was definitely an eye opener, the quarreling and truly childish insults and personal attacks made my fellow students and I walk out of there all bewildered that these people were in charge!

    1. Thanks Veganopoulous - goodness and I thought it had got worse - either it hasn't and I just wasn't aware of it or it has and what you saw would be a walk in the park compared to today. Either way it doesn't fill me with pride

  4. I share your disbelief Johanna and I feel like I have lost trust, faith and hope in Australian politics altogether over the last few months. The change in PM was nasty but this latest policy is heartbreaking. I don't understand how anyone can want to belong to a country that can't even accept genuine refugees, even leaving aside the issues around people not wanting the ones who aren't yet processed! It disgusts me.

    Thanks for having the courage to post on it. The minestrone looks like it would be easier to stomach :)

    1. Thanks Kari - I swithered on whether to post about it but I think there is some good articles out there and I just hoped to share some of their common sense and compassion in a time when all sorts of outrageous claims are being made! Crazy times indeed - wonder how history will judge this period of Australian history?

  5. I kind of wish it was fall already so I could make this without sweating to death!

    Gah I hope there are changes in the policy for the better!

    1. Thanks Joanne - definitely a stew for cooler weather - and you would think such policies were scraping the bottom of the barrel but our politicians have astounded and horrified us in their ability to come up with worse and worse policies - it just seems to spiralise downwards in what some are calling the race to the bottom!

  6. Catching up after my hiatus... I'm glad you are writing about the asylum seeker situation, because I share your horror and depression about what our politicians are doing at present.

    I actually rang our local MP's office the other day to express my feelings about it, and the woman I spoke to commented that they had been hearing from quite a few people, and a lot of people were very upset about the PNG plans "and in fact there may be some people in this office who are really not happy with this policy," which sounds to me like the thing you say when everyone is really quite unhappy about the policy but one can't actually say so directly...

    1. Thanks Catherine - the politicians I have seen who are trying to defend the decision about the refugees in PNG all look very uncomfortable. Good on you for ringing the MPs office - can imagine the morale there isn't great if they have to talk to a lot of people about this policy.


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