Thursday 28 October 2021

Choc chip, coconut and cranberry flapjacks - and random covid videos

Lockdown 6 has given me a craving for milk chocolate.  But my doctor was suggesting I should eat more oats.  And before lockdown began I bought a giant bag of sweet ginger flavoured coconut chips that just needs to be used.  Add cranberries and you have some delicious choc chip, coconut and cranberry flapjacks.  Actually I used dark chocolate choc chips because they are usually so sweet compared to proper dark chocolate.

These flapjacks were so easy and so good.  I made them twice during lockdown because I liked them so much.  I stopped making them because they are very easy to eat.  But lockdown is over, covid normal is starting and I can see times when I can make these for sharing with more people.  The bag of coconut chips is so big I don't think I will ever finish it, but if I do I would be happy to make these with regular coconut chips or shredded coconut and some spice.  

They would be a nice Christmas flapjack with the ginger spiced coconut flakes.  Unfortunately I have less opportunity for Christmas baking this year because lockdown robbed me of my annual Christmas in July.  But maybe I need to start on Christmas baking now to make up for that loss!

Other combinations of add-ins would work.  The recipe is based on a Jamie Oliver flapjack recipe that just directs to use dried fruit and nuts.  He used a food processor which I found quite unnecessary and I also liked that when I baked the second batch that I baked them longer and higher for 25 minutes at 190 C to make them dark golden brown.  They still softened up the next day.  And they last well (she says, as though she didn't scoff them all too quickly because they made working from home that little better).

Finally, here are some fun videos relating to government and covid:

A message to NSW from Victoria: Hookturnistan invades - I love Sammy J's Hookturnistan videos, and this one comparing NSW to Victoria is hilarious.

Extra chewing gum post lockdown advert - one of the best advertisements full of such tentativeness and joie de vivre of the freedom.

Clarke and Dawe - Does Australia need a government - this is an old video from 2015 but still relevant enough to be shared recently with regard to some our of government decisions.

Gladys Bereijiklian takes over the world - this mash up of the NSW premier's lockdown press conferences was clever, disturbing and sadly did not predict that she would lose her job before everyone could get out of lockdown.

2020 vs 2021 vs 2022 part 1 by Jimmy Rees - a humourous look at how our lives have changed with Covid and the anxiety at how they might change if Covid is over in 2022 (I will believe that when I see it).  If you like part 1, there is also a Part 2.

You ought to be vaccinated commercial - another feel good commercial, this one encouraging vaccinations using the jingle from the Meadow Lea margarine advert ("you ought to be congratulated").

More oaty slices on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Choc chip muesli slice 
Fruit, nut and tahini slice (v)
Glo bars (gf, v)
Muesli slice (v)
No bake chocolate oat slice (v)
Rustic muesli squares

Choc chip, coconut and cranberry flapjacks
Adapted from Jamie Oliver

100 g unsalted butter or margarine (at room temperature)
100 g rolled oats
100 g self-raising flour
100 g golden syrup 
100 g choc chips
50 g coconut flakes
50 g dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 180 C and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.

Mix butter, oats and flour.  (I did this by hand because I used margarine and I like to minimise washing up, but Jamie suggests the food processor.)  Mix in golden syrup and then add choc chips, coconut flakes and cranberries.  

Scrape mixture into tin and smooth on top.  Bake for 15-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Roughly cut into 25 squares.  Cool in the tin for 5 minutes.  Remove from tin carefully onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature.  Cut along lines that were cut earlier when straight out of oven.

NOTES: the second time I made this I baked it for 25 minutes at 190 C until golden brown all over and cut it into 25 slices and much preferred it.  However my oven often bakes slower than other ovens!  My coconut flakes were toasted with a sweet ginger flavour but you can add in what dried coconut you have and some spices if you like that sort of thing.  You can also substitute other dried fruits and nuts for the choc chips and cranberries.  If you want these to be vegan, use vegan margarine and vegan choc chips or chopped chocolate.

On the stereo:
Chansons d'Ennui Tip-Top - Jarvis Cocker

Saturday 23 October 2021

Photos from Covid Lockdown 6 in Melbourne - walking and biking

So we were told we were out of lockdown yesterday but it still doesn't feel like much freedom. 'Freedom' has become a slippery term during Covid.  While we have not been able to travel, go to work and see family, the freedoms we have to discover our own local areas by bike and foot.  Here are some of the photos I have taken, mostly nearby.

The Upfield Bike Path was given a makeover after the skyrail was built to raise the train line so that cars did not have to wait for the trains to cross the road.  Lots of new signs, playgrounds and even the Moreland train station - top photo - and Coburg train station got an upgrade.

A bit of humour in True North cafe.

Toys hanging from a tree.  I thought it was cute.  Sylvia thought it was creepy.

Ice cream truck in Princes Park.  It was one of the few experiences of eating out with a friend during lockdown.  Wonderful on a sunny day!

Bridge over Merri Creek.  On a walk near the swing rope which seems like a magnet for young people.

Fawkner Cemetery has fantastic trees, lots of birdlife and I enjoyed riding around looking at different groups of graves.

War memorial at Fawkner Cemetery.

Fun on the Upfield Bike Path

Cheery guerilla gardening on Upfield Bike Path near Bakers Road.  Love the plants in old bike helmets.

I still haven't worked out this sign on the Upfield Bike Path.  Riding downhill on a bike is a fantastic feeling but when we say life is going downhill is is a good thing?

Yarn bombing on the Upfield Bike Path

Coburg Farmers Market.  A breath of fresh air!/

Another bluestone bridge on a walk near Coburg Lake.

Trip to the city for click and collect Taylor Swift CDs at JB HiFi (not for me).  The steps of the old GPO are usually crowded with people sitting watching others and buskers and trams.

The furtherest I have been from home in months was St Kilda to walk along the pier.  It was odd to drive to the other side of the river.  It was amazing to see the city from the other side of the river.

I missed the beach and pool so much that I was excited to go to St Kilda Beach.  (Too much watching Secret Life of Us).  It was a bit disappointing to see the weird foam at the water's edge but less surprising to see that the sand was not the fine sand I am used to out of town.  I am looking forward to being able to travel out of Melbourne soon.

More Covid posts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Covid19 lockdown 6 reflections and signs in Melbourne

Lockdown 6 in Melbourne has gone forever.  It must have when we lose count of the days, weeks and months.  Around this time last year we were coming out of the long Lockdown 2.  I am hoping this time that we really are unlikely to go back into another lockdown.  But never say never!  Just in case covid really recedes to the background (ha ha), here are some of the covid signs I have seen around over the last few months.  Apologies for the quality of photos.  They are usually snapped quickly on a walk.

We have all seen lots of signs about wearing masks and social distancing.  It is great to see there is still some new ideas.  This car mask poster is so cute.  Seen on the window of a vet clinic.

 I also loved this social distancing notice with the musos on a record label office door.

More and more I have noticed photos of businesses that seem really fed up with covid.  "Don't like my rules? Don't care.  Go somewhere else."

The uncertainty!  "We hope to reopen sometime in the future."

And the hope!  "As crushing as it is, we will return as soon as we're allowed to."

So many signs about masks.  Today I saw one that was about not wearing masks.  I wonder if these will become more common!

I took this photo because it seemed to sum up the sort of signs we see everywhere: masks, click and collect, instructions, QR code and a sign about change (in this case no recycling right now).

Not a great photo but True North cafe always has fun signs.  And I love the clandestine nature of having to go to the back lane to get coffee in lockdown.  Life in lockdown has given us ways of life we had not imagined before.  I also love their sign "Be kind to yourself and us".

"Pub in a box" is such a great concept. 

Less fun were the QR codes that were placed at entrances to each playground.  It is not surprising, they did not last very long.  Well, not in the parks near us.  I think to even consider such an idea, showed just how hard it was to manage public health during the pandemic.

Some signs were just supportive.

And the occasional street art had a message to keep us going, even though Melbournians got a little over being told "Melbourne, you've got this' every time we had a lockdown.  But maybe it is better coming from another Melbournian.

This last photo is of covid street art on the wall of Clarendon Street Coles supermarket.  It was pointed out to me by Mae's Food Blog where she posts lots of esoteric photos and reflections.  So on my one trip to the South of the river when the travel limit was eased to 15km, I stopped by to admire the "#physicaldistancing" mural.

More Covid reflections and images on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sunday 17 October 2021

Covid Vaccination signs in Melbourne

Arts campaign

Today our Victorian premier announced that our state should reach 70% (aged 16 plus) vaccination by Thursday and thus we are out of lockdown on Friday.  When they say out of lockdown, we are really just easing our way out but it is a good sign.  I hope to book a swim at an outdoor pool on Friday.  And to celebrate, here are a few vaccinate signs I have snapped around Melbourne city and inner north over the last few weeks as the vaccination roll out has finally ramped up.

Finally vaccines available at chemists!

Some businesses have offered vaccine rewards

City of Melbourne advertising

A music and entertainment campaign

I was amused that this sign changed from
"Restricted entry: Stop! Staff and delivery vehicles only"
to "Restricted entry: covid vaccinations vehicles only"

A portable electronic noticeboard outside Naughtons pub, Carlton

Sign of the times: no advertising posters on the bollard
But someone has written Come on Melbourne V for Vax

Vaccinated authorised workers are a big issue.
Hence encouragement by the unions!

A sign from the Vaccination Hub at the Exhibitions Buildings
where I got vaccinated.

One of my favourite vax posters.
Ironically some people have been slow to get vaxxed because so busy at work.

More Covid reflections and images on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sunday 10 October 2021

Covid Tier 1 exposure, quarantine and testing - a Melbourne experience

A text from the health department to welcome me
to Tier 1 quarantine.

Covid has taken hold in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne lately.  We are in lockdown but there are still trips to buy food, prescriptions and, when necessary, to school.  It was decided, it would be helpful to send my daughter back to her high school for the last week of Term 3.  On the first Monday of the school holidays, we were advised that there had been a covid case at the school.  We spent about a week in uncertainty waiting to hear from the Department of Health ad Human Services (DHHS) and then about a week in quarantine (which I often refer to as isolation) at home.  It was very stressful, but I had to laugh at times to keep us sane.  Today I will share our experiences.

A traffic warden at a testing centre holds up a registration QR code.


Day 0 - my daughter, Sylvia, was exposed to covid at school (but not aware of it)

Day 2 - Sylvia got her first vaccination at GP

Day 4 - at 10pm we got notified by a message from the school that there had been an exposure.

Day 5 - we were told by the school that DHHS would contact us, that we could be Tier 1 or 2, and we should limit our movements.
Day 5 - we went to a drive through testing centre to have a covid test for Sylvia and me at 4pm.

Day 6 - I woke to my negative test results in a 5.30am text before an earthquake left us with no power but a strong belief that the apocalypse was truly upon us!

Day 7 - the school principal rang to check up on how we were going.
Day 7 - I rang DHHS because we had not received Sylvia's test results.  They told me that they had send her negative results to me at the same time as my results but they had the wrong phone number.

Day 8 - we had an email from principal to let us know that upon DHHS' request, the schoo had sent contact tracing details for everyone on site at the time of exposure.
Day 8 - received my first ever supermarket home delivery because we were avoiding the shops.

Day 9 - Sylvia had a text from DHHS to let her know she was a primary close contact and must quarantine/isolate til Day 14 and to await a follow up phone call.  Soon after I had a call from DHHS, which was mostly an overload of legalistic information and some questions such as did I want a separate place to quarantine, did I need a covid payment and did I understand the legal nature of my situation!  Then more texts as I had identified as a secondary close contact.  This means both of us were considered Tier 1. 

Day 10 - we had a text from the school to say it was cleared to reopen after the school holidays.  Sylvia needed a clearance letter from DHS to clear her to return to do her remote learning on site .

Day 13 - I took Sylvia for a Day 13 test.  This was mandated by DHHS and if she did not have the test she would need to quarantine til Day 28.

Day 14 - Again the negative results of the test were texted in the early morning.  It took until 10.20pm for DHHS to text to advise that Sylvia was released from quarantine at 11.59pm that evening.  As I had not had a test, I assumed this was for both of us.

Day 15 - It was so exciting to be out of quarantine.  It was only at 8.30pm that night that I got a text to say I was released from quarantine that I found out I should have delayed my excitement.  Oops!

Day 16 - I emailed a copy of the DHHS text to the school to clear Sylvia to return on site after the holidays finished.

The open gate where I take my bike has never looked so good
as when I first took it out on the first morning after quarantine ended.

What was unexpected about quarantine
I was both surprised and dismayed to experience just how overloaded the system is.  Luckily neither of us tested positive for Covid but if we had, there would have been 8 days that we could have exposed others to the virus:

  • It took DHHS until Day 9 to contact us about the exposure.  Which meant that although we should have quarantined for 14 days, in reality, we were only legally obliged to quarantine for 6 days.
  • I got daily text reminder that we were in isolation from DHHS (as if I could forget) but no one checked we were quarantining.  No requests to answer emails or visits from inspectors.  Maybe we were not important enough as just close contacts rather than covid cases.  They didn't even ask anything about our movements in days 1 to 8.
  • We are constantly encouraged to read the DHHS list of exposure sites.  Yet Sylvia's school was not listed nor were other local exposure sites that I was aware of.  I have lost faith in the exposure sites list.
  • The attention to detail both in testing and contact tracing was worrying.  When Sylvia first had her test, they managed to get her surname, her date of birth and her phone number wrong.  Then my name that I spelt out was misspelled by the contact tracers.  I am not Joahannah!
  • My notification of my release from quarantine came almost 24 hours after Sylvia's.  This seemed pretty unfair.  She was the primary close contact.  Why as secondary close contact did I have to wait longer?  Was it because I did not do a day 13 test, even though I was not legally obliged to?  And why did Sylvia get told she could end quarantine at 11.59pm on Day 14 when actually we were still under curfew and she actually could not go out until 5am the next morning?
  • Finally I was surprised when I spoke to one traffic controller and asked him something about the testing process and he replied that he didn't know because he had never been tested!  I would have thought if you spent your day working at a testing facility you would be tested occasionally.

My completed jigsaw with about 5 pieces missing
(Ravensburger No 2 Curious Cupboards: The Craft Cupboard)

Quarantine Entertainment
These were the worst school holidays ever.  I was so bored.  And I am not someone who is easily bored.  I was lucky that I am working from home so work helped me retain my sanity.  I really missed being able to go out riding each day on my bike and walks with friends.  I couldn't even chat to neighbours in the courtyard.  Thank goodness for phone calls, messages and acts of kindness by family and friends.  Here are a few other ways I passed the time:

  • I completed a 1000 piece jigsaw.  It was a nice way to turn my back on screens and be quiet.  I loved the unexpectedness of where pieces ended up.  And it was fantastic to see the picture come together.
  • Reading is always a great distraction.  I was mainly reading The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper which is quite a grim read about an Indigenous death in custody but did make me feel my lot could be far worse.
  • Streaming and knitting.  There was a lot of screen time.  Some of the shows included Friends, Secret Life of Us, Red Band Society, Pretty Little Liars, The Drum and Insiders.  I enjoyed some knitting in front of the telly.
  • Music and podcasts on Spotify.  I really loved "what Claire learned from falling" on ABC Conversations about Claire Nelson's fall in a deserted part of the Joshua Tree National Park.  Listening to someone talk about being so alone after a fall seemed relevant as I was isolating in my home.
  • Drone Photo Awards winners. These photos gave me a new appreciation for drones and the beauty they can bring into our lives.
  • Doomscrolling.  As usual I read too much negative news but it does give a fine appreciation of political humour.  My favourite satirical vid of late is Mark Humphries a Message from France to Australia about Submarines.  I have watched it a lot and it cheers me up every time.
  • Baking favourite choc chip cookies.

I've had enough of isolating. 
Notices like these are keeping me away from supermarkets.

Update mid-October:
Sylvia has had another Tier 1 covid case exposure at her school.  However this time the rules have changed (according to the school on Day 5 as we have not heard from DHHS).  Sylvia is primary close contact but because she is double vaccinated she only has to test and then isolate until the end of Day 7.  As a secondary close contact in her household, I just needed to take a test and isolate until I got a negative result and then I was free.  It was a relief that is is easier this time but nevertheless frustrating!