Three Ingredient Scones

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

 

This recipe has been in my family for a very long time, and I am probably going to get into strife for sharing it. Whenever one of us whips this out; those indulging will remark in wonder. Well, in the sake of goodwill and sharing here is our scones recipe with three ingredients. Super fluffy scones you can whip up quickly, and they are delicious. 

We even found a video for you to follow on Youtube, so scroll down to watch. Not such a secret, after all! 

I have included my favourite flour Lighthouse Flour from Freemantle Western Australia; they’ve been around since 1865, and I think they deserve an Australian made plug. 

Ingredients

2 x cups Lighthouse Cake, Sponge and Steamed Bun Self Raising Flour 

1/2 cup sparkling Mineral water, or lemonade (depending on your sugar preferences) 

1/2 cup full cream 

Tip for a bit extra I put in a scrape of vanilla bean. 

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Preheated oven 180 degreed Celcius
  • Baking tray lined with baking paper. 

The Great Gatsby by Scott f Fitzgerald available here. 

Process

Sift your flour three times, from a cup to a bowl and back through to add loads of air to the flour. 

Make a well in the centre, and add each wet ingredient. Gently fold the mixture (the key is to mix, but not overwork the dough) 

Use some flour to dust a clean bench or cutting board. 

Place your dough on the board and gently mould into a long flat roll shape, about 1.4 to 2 inches thick. 

With a knife, cut into equal sections. Using your hand, mold each scone into a square-ish shape. 

Put a dollop of cream into a small mixing bowl or cup, add a teaspoon of water and stir. Now use a pastry brush to lightly coat each scone with this mix, to moisten the top. This will give them a beautiful light golden brown finish, 

Place on your lined tray into the preheated oven. Give them around 10 mins but keep an eye on them. A nice dry skewer will tell you they are ready; they should be nice and golden. 

Tip: I cook mine in a wood-fired pizza oven on Saturday nights, and they are next level 

15 minutes 

Makes 6 x scones

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Influenza Insights From the Pages of Literature

Written by Kirsten Macdonald 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherlock Holmes and Zombies piece together a picture of our culture, one that ravaged the world with the spanish flu over 100 years ago. 

A LETTER FROM F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, QUARANTINED IN 1920 IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE DURING THE SPANISH INFLUENZA OUTBREAK.

Dearest Rosemary,

It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that, he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious of his sources.

The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.

You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z. says it’s no excuse to drink, but I just can’t seem to steady my hand. 

In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.

Faithfully yours,

Scott Fitzgerald

PS: I thought this would be a nice break from the news. Next week I will publish my perspectives on what we’ve all been through this week. N- this is a parody letter designed to lift your spirits care of this wicked fellow

The Great Gatsby by Scott f Fitzgerald available here. 

Walt Disney was 17 when he joined the Red Cross Ambulance Corps in September 1918. 

He came down with the flu while serving on the south side of Chicago. He returned home to be nursed back to health by his mother. Walt Disney survived it and went on to draw a famous mouse. 

   original print Mickey Mouse available here

Katherine Anne Porter is the iconic author of the short novel Pale Horse, Pale Rider and well known for a fictional account of the epidemic. Katherine herself became very ill with the flu and nearly died, her romantic interest at the time died from the same strain and set the sad interpretation and muse for Pale Horse. She is reported to say

“It (the flu) just simply divided my life, cut across it like that. So that everything before that was just getting ready, and after that I was in some strange way altered, ready.” 

 

Science journalist Laura Spinney’s book Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World 

“It was a pandemic of influenza that struck in three waves. The first, mild wave in the Northern hemisphere’s spring of 1918 receded in the summer or late spring. A much more lethal second wave erupted in the latter part of August and receded towards the end of that year, and the third wave emerged in the early months of 1919.”  

 

She goes on to say “Russia was the first, followed by Western European nations, to put in place socialized healthcare systems. Along with that comes epidemiology, the search for patterns and causes and effects of patterns in healthcare and alternative medicine took off in a big way and spread around the world.”

 

Laura’s book available here

Historical literature expert  Susan F. Beegel is Editor of The Hemingway Review and an Associate Professor of English. 

Recently featured on a podcast, Susan mentions Hemingway likened the Spanish flu to war, a shocking way to go. The normally reductionist writer spoke gravely about the ‘battle.’ He lost family members to it. 

“My grandmother talked about going to work one day and working with a doctor, and coming in the very next day, and the doctor was dead. Before the pandemic burned itself out, it killed approximately 5 check . It killed more people than World War I itself, it claimed more lives than the Black Death of the Middle Ages in 100 years, and more people in 24 weeks than AIDS in its first 24 years. And most of these people were young people, or the majority of them, between the ages of 20 and 30 years old, and historians who study this say maybe killed between 8% to 10% of the world’s total population of people in this age group.” You can hear more of this podcast – click here 

Spiritualism took off in a big way after so many deaths. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes series, whose son and younger brother died of influenza was a big promoter of spiritualism. Doyle sold-out events discussing spiritualist ideas and showing “spirit photographs,” which claimed to show living people with the “ghosts” of dead family members standing behind them. 

Gregorios Xenopoulos October 1918 was a novelist, journalist and writer of plays from Zakynthos. He was lead editor in the magazine The Education of Children during the period from 1896 to 1948, during which time he was also the magazine’s main author. He wrote poetically about the flu as a Spanish woman. 

“As only if I could speak Spanish, I would be able to get on with this odd lady. The first thing that I would beg her would be not to invade so suddenly – she could understand me, if I could speak to her in her language. What a devil! Forty degrees of fever, suddenly, without any warning are not a joke! The invasion of forty crazy masqueraders in the saloon, during the carnival celebration, wouldn’t increase the temperature as much as the invasion of this lady. Despite the fact that ‘children’ of Andalusia are warm and lively, in a foreign place, they should behave in a distinctive way… I would also beg her not to stay for so long! Forty days visit is performed not by the Armenian, but by the Spanish lady… As for forty days, I couldn’t stand up on my legs, as during all these days I was obliged to entertain my crazy visitor… Hot drinks, quinine, suction cups, mustard plasters, foot washes, tonic regimes and so on… And as I didn’t know Spanish, I couldn’t even study, during the hours that Mrs. Influenza was letting me alone, the ‘Don Quixote’ from the original text!…’

Elizabeth Outka, associate professor of English at the University of Richmond says in her book Viral Modernism -The Influenza Pandemic and Interwar Literature; 

“Writers wrestled with the scope of mass death in the domestic sphere amid fears of wider social collapse. Overt treatments of the pandemic are seen in works by authors like Katherine Anne Porter and Thomas Wolfe and its subtle presence in works by Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, and W. B. Yeats.” 

HP Lovecraft was said to be inspired to create Zombies with the Herbert West–Reanimator after the Spanish flu. 

One thing we must remember, society’s fear of a looming demise is as old as time itself. Pandemics are not unprecedented; we have been here before. During the Spanish flu, those in quarantine were lead to reflect, express and found ways and means of surviving, creating and breathing life into storytelling and art.

Right now, we are all living through an event our future children will learn about. What beauty will they be taught? How shall we inspire them? What will we change?

One thing will continue to raise us up; the joy of true faith, friendship, humour and as the great Mr Fitzgerald mentioned; red wine, whiskey, rum, gin, and lord, if you need it, brandy might help too. 

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

Narnia, A Faraway Tree with a smidge of a Doc called Suess, and some Kahlil Gibran is the word charm that grew seeds in Kirsten Macdonald's imagination. She has an innate curiosity about the stories of "us" and a deep faith that is strongly supported by a dark sense of humour. Ask this wordsmith about anthropology, ancient religions, the curious nature of humanity and the incredible cuteness of sloths and you will have a conversation for hours. Writer, editor and researcher, Kirsten has developed Ponderings into a space that is now shared by a team and a shared vision that is infectiously positive and forged in good stuff.

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The Magic of Bees and The Beauty of Numbers in Nature

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

Why do bees buzz? What does maths have to do with sunflowers and the many beautiful fractal patterns of our world? 

 

A favourite book in our home held some wonderful clues to the mysteries of our hidden world. Critically acclaimed science-fiction author Ian Stewart is a British mathematician. He is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick, England. 

He has published more than 120 books, with an extensive list of impressive titles to wet your Harry Potteresque whistle, such as 

Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of Symmetry 

How to Cut a Cake: And Other Mathematical Conundrums- 

Professor Stewart’s Hoard of Mathematical Treasures

and he even has an award-winning app,  Incredible Numbers by Professor Ian Stewart

We are going to focus on The Beauty of Numbers in Nature.  Ian Stewart’s preface to his masterpiece is a touching genesis.

 

“When I was six, a friend showed me some curious little five-pointed stars that he had found on the beach…I became aware of a deep mystery: why does nature produce so many patterns?”

Stewart’s language maintains the mystery in the metrical, but the plurality of simple explanations and anecdotes make for fascinating reading. A feast for the mind that is anything but mundane; I would like to reflect on a selection of favourite chapters. 

Many shapes in our world typically look flat-faced in geometry. Not the spiral. 

Spiral Swirls 

 

“One of the favourite patterns of life, in fact, is based on curves- the spiral…Spiral shells appear way back in the fossil record, and one of the most common. The shell is formed by a soft bodied organism, for protection. As the creature’s size increases with age, it outgrows its existing chamber and builds an extension into its house.” 

 

Chambers and hidden secrets. It is no wonder Sir Terry Pratchett awarded Stewart Honorary Wizard of the Unseen University. 

 

“On land, snails build similar shells. Snail shells and indeed many seashells, often coil into the third dimension. Of course, the shape of the shells is always three dimensional: what I mean is that the “core of the spiral”, the line that runs along the centre of the chambers, ceases to lie in a plane and starts to curl into a third dimension of space.” 

 

I will never step on a garden snail again. An architect of a logarithmic spiral, powering into itself – not all it seems in our microworld. 

 

The Fibonacci Flowers

 

Fibonacci, the son of a custom’s officer, was a numbers man. His problem solving around rabbit populations in 1202 spawned mathematical patterns that would revolutionise thought. In basic terms; where after the first two numbers, each number is obtained by adding together the previous two numbers in the sequence. eg 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55 – each number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two numbers. 

 Stewart observes: 

“Fibonacci numerology and spiral geometry are surprisingly common. They suggest that plant growth obeys simple but subtle mathematical rules, which lie somewhere in the interface between dynamics, geometry and arithmetic… Fibonacci numbers have penetrated deep into the mathematical psyche as an apparent endless source of inspiration and wonder…these numbers occur in the spiral structures many use to arrange their seeds. Fir cones are a good example. The scales on fir cones are typically arranged in two families of intertwined spirals, and each family contains a Fibonacci number of spirals…the seedhead of a sunflower displays these spirals in a gloriously regular pattern. Lillies have 3 petals; buttercups have 5, delphiniums often have 8, corn marigolds have 13, asters have 21.” 

photo: Ponderings Australia

Like your veggies? 

Stewart states:

“The same numerology can also be seen in cauliflower, which we usually think of as featureless lumps of soft white tissue. On closer inspection, we find that the lumps are arrayed in beautiful spiral swirls. Sometimes the eye of a mathematician can see things that other eyes miss…Broccoli Romanesco, each unit of the spiral is itself a spiral, a miniature version of the entire plant.” 

 

photo credit; Ian Stewart The Beauty of Numbers in Nature

A golden angle is achieved with spiral growth which impacts things such a seed spacing, protection, growth and efficiency of survival. 

 

Ponderers we are consuming an intricate pattern of design, not just nutrients! The microcosmos in our backyards and onto our plates is extraordinary.

 

The Magic of Why A Bee Buzzes

 

“Most of what goes on when a creature flies is invisible to the eye because air is transparent. A bird in flight spins of a regular pattern of vortices, swirls of air spinning off from the trailing edges of its wings. The bird exploits these vortices to gain lift. Only recently have human engineers understood this particular trick, but the birds have known for a hundred million years.”

“We know how bees and other insects pull off their counterintuitive feat. Their wings move upward until they almost touch. When they beat downward, the sharp edge creates a leading-edge vortex. For reasons we don’t fully understand, this vortex remains ‘stuck’ to the top of the wing, generating lift, and spirals along it until it is shed at the wingtip. This method requires small wings that beat very rapidly, which is why bees buzz. And it’s why the flying pig will remain a metaphor for the incredible.” 

Don’t uyou wish we could see air in colour?

 

Fascinating world of fractals

 

“A Fractal is a geometric shape that has a fine structure no matter how much you magnify it…Nature’s fractals are extremely intricate, but they fuzz out on the atomic scale. A mathematician’s fractals are infinitely intricate and never fuzz out, no matter how closely you look.” 

“Rivers are trees of flowing water-the main river is like a trunk; its larger tributaries are branches, the tiny streams up the hills are the twigs. The water then ends in the river and erodes the land into fantastic treelike patterns. Our entire planet is a fractal. If you are a geologist.” 

The Beauty of Numbers in Nature is 223 pages, explaining every pattern imaginable, cascading into a presentation of deep philosophical questions about the foundations of physical law, the nature of space, time and matter, and the shape and history of the universe. Order in chaos, time travel and the realms of understanding is more than enough to nibble on. With beautiful pictures, this is the perfect coffee table book and will have you pondering. 

“When nature keeps reusing the same catalogue of patterns, the wise scientist pays attention.” – Ian Stewart

For those homeschooling, we have also sourced a wonderful list of resources to help kids explore science and the mico-world! 

 

https://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/nature-golden-ratio-fibonacci.html

How Mathematicians Think About Patterns – Professor Ian Stewart

Fibonacci for kids 

 

Professor Ian Stewart is an active research mathematician with over 200 published papers, and currently works on pattern formation, chaos, network dynamics, and biomathematics. He lives in Coventry, UK, and is married (49 years and counting) with two sons, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. He is also a critically acclaimed science-fiction author. He has partnered on the award-winning Discworld series with Sir Terence (Terry) Pratchett OBE, an English author of fantasy novels, especially comical works. 

 

https://ianstewartjoat.weebly.com/biography.html

 

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What Do Peter Hitchener, Chrissie Swan and Debra Hutton Have in Common? They give a sock!

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

 

The recent COVID19 outbreak has had a devastating impact on those who are vulnerable in our community, and an Aussie family business is meeting the challenge with generosity so powerful it will blow your socks off. 

The business is Underworks, and the name of the game is undies and socks. However the crisis facing our homeless is no joke, and with organisations like Foodbank and The Salvos getting on board to assist with distribution, hopes are high that the public will get on board using social media joviality to spur donations. 

Dave McNamara, the CEO of Foodbank Victoria, recently assisted with food distributions to the COVID impacted towers in Melbourne, Victoria. McNamara says;

Since the COVID-19 crisis began the demand placed upon the hundreds of charities we support every day has been unprecedented. In the last couple of months, the number of people seeking assistance is up 78% – many of them have never had to ask for help before. We’re preparing for the chilly times ahead, knowing that anyone can make it through winter with a full belly and warm feet. Thanks to #IGiveASock we’ll make sure no one gets left in the cold.

So what do the celebs have to say?

Well, when we read the list, it was no surprise, many of these inspiring humans are committed continuously to rolling up their positive impact sleeves.

Peter Hitchener OAM– adored news presenter and journalist

I hope you will join me in posting sock pics to your social media, with the hashtag #igiveasock and tag @underworksaustralia and @foodbankvictoria. Then Underworks will donate an item of essential clothing on your behalf. Let’s do our bit to support this fantastic initiative!

Chrissie Swan– bubbly and beloved television and radio presenter

It’s time to sock it up! @underworksaustralia @foodbankaus and @salvosau have banded together to make sure a pair of socks gets onto the feet of a person experiencing homelessness for every #igiveasock tag they count on Instagram. Just take a pic of your socks and make sure to use the hashtag #igiveasock – 20,000 hashtags = 20,000 pairs of socks to those in need. Let’s do this!

Debrah Hutton – magazine editor and esteemed media personality

People needing assistance from @foodbankaus is up 78%. What a tragic stat. Until July 31st for every silly sock n’ thongs post/story tagging #igiveasock @underworksaustralia will donate an essential item of clothing to @foodbankvictoria. It’s cold; its winter, let’s lift and help those in need.

#igiveasock Don’t you?

Anyone care to join me?

Sarah Tiong, lawyer, recipe architect, chef and finalist from Masterchef Australia

In recent months the number of people seeking assistance from Foodbank is up 78% – many of which have never had to ask for help before. Until July 31st for every silly sock post/story tagging #igiveasock @underworksaustralia an item of essential clothing will be donated to @foodbankvictoria to distribute to those who need it most. Let’s help them.

Mishel Karen, teacher, media personality and MAFS star

Australia has just over 116,000 homeless people, with one-fifth of them being youth. Can you help me raise awareness until July 31st?

Plug your socks and thongs – or whatever vibe you’re wearing on your feet, and a pair of socks will be donated to someone who Homeless is in Australia. I want to help make a difference for vulnerable people. We can all do our bit to help. I’ve experienced how lifechanging a helping hand can be for people in need.

Ty Frost, Smooth FMs morning announcer and master of chill

I’m lucky to be in a warm studio playing feel-good tunes with my comfy socks and a mirror ball. I’m happy to be supporting Underworks who are on a mission to raise awareness for the need for critical personal items amongst the homeless and those sleeping rough in our community.

Here’s how you can help Ponderers! 

Post a silly sock pic on your social media account using the #igiveasock and tag @underworksaustralia and you’ll be

donating a pair of socks to an Aussie in need. It’s that simple!

Jump over here for more details: https://igiveasock.com.au

 

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