Saturday 27 August 2022

Science Gallery - "Mental: Head Inside" exhibition, University of Melbourne

They pulled down the old Royal Women's Hospital on the corner of Swanston and Grattan Streets and built another sleek modern University of Melbourne building on the site.  It includes the new Science Gallery.  The first exhibition was delayed thanks to last years covid lockdowns but I finally visited this May.  The Mental: Head Inside, with lots of interactive exhibits, provided fascinating perspectives on mental health.  Being there in the last month meant that in some spaces I could see many traces of people who were there before me.  Unfortunately it closed in June but here are some photos.


Thoughtforms by Dr Kellyann Geurts and Dr Indae Hwang

This was an amazing way to start thinking about mental health.  By literally looking into the mind.  The above computerised image show a constantly changing image based on my thoughts.  It was generated by wearing a headset which is connected to the computer.  I have never seen my thoughts in this way before!  I was instructed to freeze the image while I was thinking a particular thought.  This thought was 3D printed and I wrote my thought on a piece of paper to accompany it. 


Unfortunately there was a backlog for the printing so I did not get to see the print-out of my thought.  I wrote down what I was thinking but I can't even remember that fleeting thought.  However there were many thoughts hanging around this exhibit with tags showing what each person was thinking.  So many "three dimensional mementos of the mind" dangling from the beams!

Mirror Ritual by Nina Rajcic and SensiLab 

Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the craziest of us all!  If you stepped into a round curtained space and looked into the mirror it generated a poem based on the emotions it read on your face.  So you can read the poem the mirror displayed for me and see what AI thinks of my mind.  I found it so fascinating, I returned there a few times.  I am not sure the poems made a lot of sense but they were different every time.

Even in Fear by Zhou Xiaohu

This exhibit was all about anxiety.  We all know it ebbs and flows.  It would grow from a shrivelled form in the corner of the room into a stretched balloon filling the cage (which I assume was a symbolised a mind.  Then it would shrink again. 

This demonstrated the pressure of anxiety trying to fill our mind and obliterate other more rational thought and then reducing to a harmless presence cowering in the corner of the mind.  Watching it slowly breathing in and out was actually relaxing.  Maybe it is easier to view the process outside of our mind than to manage it inside our own mind.

selfcare_4eva_2001 by Mary Angley and Caithlin O’Loghlen

This bedroom set-up was actually the residence of the artist for 2 weeks, during which time she explored self care and social media.  I wish I had seen her there.  It would have been fun to walk past the windows and look in at her life, though it seems she was on social media a lot in that time, exploring how we watch other people's lives in this online space and learn about the wellness industry.

Doing Nothing with AI by Emanuel Gollob 

This odd shape seemed like a sci fi creature that was listening to our brainwaves via the headset and dancing to our brain activity.  I think it did not move enough to excite me but perhaps I was in a bit of a hurry as I dropped in to watch it.


Wheel by Hiromi Tango and Dr Emma Burrows 

Who does not love a rainbow striped hamster wheel! On the exhibition website it looks like someone is running on the wheel but when I was there, I was told to hold onto the bar and to look ahead as I walked.  Each time you had a walk on the wheel it was recorded and compared to others' walks to see how far you got but it is too far away to remember exactly what was recorded.  Being there at a quiet time was great as at times there were queues of people from visiting school groups.

 Respite Space by Rosie Kalina with mural by Arkie Barton

This was set up as a safe space for First Nations people and the sign said that there would be mob-only events but it also welcomed everyone to take respite there.  When I visited it was very quiet and it was relaxing to sit and contemplate the artwork.

Hello Human, Hello Machine by Rachel Hanlon

Although this was a bit of an unusual looking phone, it made me feel all nostalgic for old style telephones with a rotary dial, a chunky handset and curly cord.  I think I might have checked the area at the bottom for returned coins because this is what we always did when going into a phone box!  

When I picked up the handset and listened, a voice on the other end asked me questions about myself.  We exchanged some information and then it unsettled me with asking if I thought it was a real person or a computer.  The slight pauses made me feel it was maybe a computer.  It turned out to be a person but pre-recorded and computerised to respond to my answers.  Apparently there are some of these phones in other locations where people can pick up and talk to you.

Kind Words by Ziba Scott

This exhibition was one of my favourites.  I loved this space with lots of kind words pinned to the wall.  Just reading all the messages made me feel more positive.  And it was fun to sit at the computer and write messages and receive replies.

I would have liked to have read every message but it was time to move on.

Portal by Rawcus with Lead Artist Prue Stevenson 

I walked past this space and, though I did not go inside, I thought how nice it would be to have such a calming space at home.

Cushions? by Emily Fitzsimons

I had never thought knitting was an artform until I saw a Kate Just exhibition.  These knitted cushions in the shape of pills was really cool.  Leaning on pills or even holding them for comfort reflects just how we use them in our lives.  If they had been for sale I would have bought one to take home. 

Finally I stopped at the cafe to have a falafel wrap and a kombucha before riding home.  The cafe was pretty basic with sandwiches and saldas but had some good food.  I enjoyed my wrap even though it had a lot of quinoa in it that spilled out everywhere.  But it was so large that I ended up taking half home.

I had great fun at the exhibit.  It had lots of signts to delight me and ideas to amaze me.  While this exhibition is  closed, there is now an exhibition at the Science Gallery called SWARM that looks very interesting.  I hope I can get along there some time. 

Science Gallery
Melbourne Connect
University of Melbourne
700 Swanston Street,  Carlton
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11am - 5pm

Sunday 14 August 2022

Pumpkin, pineapple and cheese scones

Last night we had a lazy sort of dinner.  Good lazy not bad!  I chopped up some pumpkin, red capsicum and eggplant and put them on to roast.  I dug out the bits that weren't too charred to serve on the side with spaghetti mixed with bought sauce.  Then I had leftover roast pumpkin and no idea what to do for International Scone Week.  So I made pumpkin scones and added in some neglected pineapple and cheese from the fridge.

I am having a year where my blogging energy is down.  This is only the 3rd post I've written this year on a recent recipe I've made.  But I have had a few conversations lately with others about how so much of our routine that has been disrupted by Covid and lockdowns is still not back on track.  So I thought I would share a couple of odd moments while I am here.  Firstly above is a sign in the supermarket about supply delays due to Covid.  When we had shortages on the supermarket shelves in 2020 it was novel but it is difficult and disturbing to see this sort of sign still appearing in 2022.

This photo is from yesterday afternoon when we had a massive hail storm in the middle of a thunderstorm.  It was so heavy it looked like snow.  And so loud!  Yes, it seems even our weather can't regain its routine.  It is either too hot (hello European summer 2022) or too wet (thinking of those still affected by floods in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales).  Or hail that makes you run outside with a camera and text photos of it to people!

Today we went to Geelong to see my parents.  Even doing this is not as regular as it was.  But I still love it when I go there.  It was so lovely to have my mum's home made sourdough bread and her scones with jam and cream.  Sylvia and I agreed to visit a crystal shop while we were there.  Firstly we went on a wild goose chase to a place that Google maps could not find and did not have a phone number.  Too much rushing and not enough research.  So then we went to another place called Satellite Hearts which was unlike any crystal shop I have visited.  In large letters on the pink shop front it says Spiritual Convenience.  Isn't that an oxymoron?  Inside it looks beautiful but more like a mix between a teen gift shop and a candy store.  Such as this display of tumbled crystals that is displayed like a Pick 'n' Mix.

I took a few scones to my mum.  She bakes a lot of scones and knows a good one when she sees it.  I worried my scones were too sticky and didn't rise enough.  Mum liked the scones.  Her advice was that 1) they didn't rise so well because of the add-ins, 2) sometimes she adds some extra baking powder as well as the self raising flour, and 3) you need a lot of cheese for it to make an impact. Great feedback! 

I agree about the cheese not making a huge impact.  I used the apricot and almond cream cheese because after eating half the round I didn't want to eat any more.  But I think that a sharper cheese, even a blue cheese, would work in these with the juicy sweet pineapple.  

I also thought they were less sweet than my usual pumpkin scones.  Perhaps this was because I seasoned the pumpkin with garlic salt.  And to be clear, I did roast the pumpkin with skins on but I peeled the skins off and tried to remove any burnt edges before mashing the pumpkin.  I liked them with vegemite and my mum liked cheese on them.  I think they might work with jam or honey but did not get to try it.

And there are new routines emerging, though whether they continue remains to be seen.  But for now I have a quiet Saturday on most weekends.  Yesterday I took it easy during the day - and got some cleaning done - so I forgot to bake scones until after dinner and baked them late.  Today I photographed them and put the remainder in the freezer for during the week.  It was nice to summon up some blogging energy.  Thanks to Tandy from Lavender and Lime for kindly reminding me about International Scone Week.  I look forward to visiting her blog to see what others send her and I recommend you have a look too.

More scone recipes with fruit on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Beetroot, apple and walnut scones (v)
Olive, pineapple and cheese scones
Raspberry and white chocolate scones
Strawberry marscapone scones
Walnut, brie and apple scones

Pumpkin pineapple and cheese scones
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes 15-20 medium scones

60g butter
2 tbsp castor sugar
1/2 cup cooked and mashed pumpkin
1 egg lightly beaten
1/3 cup diced pineapple (fresh or tinned)
100g cheese - I used apricot and almond cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups self raising flour

To glaze:
1 tbsp milk or 1 egg yolk 

Preheat oven to 230 C.

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in cooled pumpkin (hot pumpkin melts the butter).Slowly mix in the milk and egg, then the pineapple and cheese.  Sift flour and stir into the mixture and stir into the dough. 

Lightly knead and roll out 2-3cm thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a scone cutter or glass dipped in flour to cut out scones. Roll out any scrapes of dough and cut more scones til no dough is left. Place on a baking tray. I like doing them close together so they all join up and have to be broken apart but you can space them out if you prefer.

Brush scones with milk and egg yolk (or just milk which is what I usually do). Bake in preheated oven 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

On the stereo:
Meanjin - Thelma Plum

Saturday 6 August 2022

In my kitchen: August 2022

So it is August and the health department is saying we are just over the peak of the latest covid wave.  I had my 4th covid vaccination yesterday and hope it will keep me free of infection but vaccination is no longer a guarantee.  In fact, the government is saying that there are many people who must have had covid with no diagnosis so I begin to wonder if I have had it after all!  I am wearing a mask in the office again, and hoping this will help others as well as myself.  Quite a few family and friends have tested positive recently.

July saw me visit the Melbourne Museum three times.  I credit this to school holidays, crystals and returning after the giftshop was closed for the annual stocktake! With chilly wintery weather, I am baking a bit more and riding my bike a bit less.  The economy is out of sorts with iceberg lettuce prices soaring and avocados unusually cheap.  Interest rates keep rising month after month, but petrol prices have recently come down slightly.  Our Prime Minister Albanese is working hard at giving our Indigenous people a Voice.  While the UK has a dodgy caretaker Prime Minister and people queuing at Dover to leave the country.

Winter also means citrus.  I have been pleased to have plenty of lemons and limes from our trees to share at work, pep up avocados, and add to cooking. Recently I found sooty mould on the lemon tree, which according to the ABC is a sign of a white fly.  So I took all the ripe lemons off the tree and sprayed it with eco oil.  I think it is improved but I still worry about it.  I hope these aren't my last crop of lemons!

I came home from work one day and when I opened the fridge, I found a mirror in the fridge.  I couldn't even entertain the reasons why Sylvia might have done this but was glad once it was out.  It was soon after we had found a few different flavour of Nippy's milk.  Sylvia likes Nippy's but I prefer kombucha. 

One of my favourite recent finds in the supermarket recently (as well as Butterscotch Tim Tams which never last long enough to get organised for a photo) are these Hearty mushroom and lentil pies.  I am not a huge mushroom fan and was dubious about the concept.  However these are one of the best vegetarian pies I have even had which manage to be meaty without being fake meat.

During the school holidays, I had lunch with Sylvia at Smith and Deli while on on a trip to Collingwood Bunnings Hardware.  It made us nostalgic for the days we used to go to the cramped old shop with no space to sit.  These days it is a much bigger space, though in an area of Collingwood that I don't know well.  In fact I got so lost driving there that I accidentally found Bunnings and didn't have to look it up on GPS to work out how to get there.  I bought a salted caramel oat milk chocolate at Smith and Deli out of curiosity.  It was nice but always seemed too wintery snappy cold for my liking.  I feel I would like it more in summer!

We also bought a packet of pineapple salsa corn chips.  I was curious.  They tasted a little like sweet and sour.  I enjoyed them but I did not love them.  I feel like they needed a creamy yoghurt or cream cheese based dip.

I finally finally found an opportunity to use of the saffron an Iranian friend gifted me.  It is a very generous little bottle of the strands.  I made saffron rice.  It looked and smelled amazing.  I served it with lots of vegetables and chickpeas like a pilaf.  It made quite a few delicious dinners and lunches.

A colleague recommended Ottolenghi's Confit Tandoori Chickpeas.  It appealed because the recipe was simply a matter of dumping the ingredients in a casserole dish and baking it all together.  The chickpeas were delicious with all sorts of meals.  In the one above I topped them with yoghurt and lime juice, and served it with roast pumpkin, mashed avocado and muffins topped with grilled leftover mac and cheese sauce.  So delicious!

We love baking gingerbread in our house.  It is fun to cut the dough into all sorts of shapes.  When we made this batch, some of the butter didn't blend in quite as much as it should.  When the gingerbread had baked I found that the little dots of butter that wasn't properly mixed ended up as holes in the biscuits.  It still tasted wonderful.

Once Sylvia was in the mood for gingerbread, she asked for me to bake this Treacle gingerbread.  It is such a soft sweet sticky cake.  I wrapped it in foil which worked well but foil really does not photography that well.

I baked this batch of easy brownies last weekend.  The recipe interested me because it was mixed in the tin.  I usually used baking paper when I bake in a cake tin but this recipe was different.  I was impressed at how good the brownies tasted and that they came out of the tin fairly easily with only a little of the brownie sticking occasionally.  Definitely a recipe for when energy is low but desire for chocolate is high!

During the school holidays, we went to Spotlight to buy more jewellery making supplies for Sylvia.  I could not resist a pack of colourful buttons. 

The buttons were inspired by all the wonderful button art I see online.  The problem of seeing art online is that you don't handle it.  So Sylvia and I spent an afternoon arranging buttons into a hot air ballon picture and then painstakingly gluing on each button (which required one of us removing the button with tweezers and one of us weilding the hot glue gun).  We were really happy with our picture.  I planned to put in on the wall until I picked it up and found it was too heavy to blutak up.


I'll finish up with a photo I took on the way home from work recently.  There is nothing like beautiful trees and sunsets.  I am pretty tired of wet dark nights that make the bike seem downright unpleasant but I am cheered by the evenings getting lighter and that soon it will warm up.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to visit more kitchens and her wonderful hand drawn header.