I have a sister with three primary school aged children living in a quiet suburban street in the Eastern Suburbs. It’s a great street because it’s full of houses with families of children of similar ages and so the children have all become great friends and spend a lot of time playing outside on the road and on the wide grassy strip that divides the street.
Three times a year the Council provides Council Clean-Up Day and so the residents pull up the roller doors that open on to their rear lanes and put out all the paraphernalia they wish to be rid of.
It’s been their experience that as soon as their old lamps, burnt out heaters, rusted electric frying pans, mouldy plastic toys and three-wheeled prams are out on the rear lane, couples drive up in white utes (it’s always white utes), disembark in matching tracksuits and sift through the piles of stuff, collecting what has been discarded and piling it into the already over-stuffed tray table of the white ute.
One Saturday morning and three days before the scheduled Council Clean-Up my sister’s two boys were outside the front of their house and playing on their bikes and scooters with their friends from the street. At some point they put down their equipment and played in the park across the road, just 10 metres from where they left their shiny new toys.
As they were playing an opportunist in a white ute (it’s always white utes) came trawling along the street, saw the brand new bikes and scooters, screeched to a holt, ran out, threw the shiny new toys into the back of his ute and took off. You would think he could have stopped to ask if they were meant for the Council Clean-Up given they were at the front of the house and not in the rear lane, were brand new and that the owners were within a few metres of their equipment.
My brother-in-law threw his hands in the air and decided that the bikes and scooters were gone for good but my sister was ready to put up a fight. She put her kids in the back of the car, drove off and started looking for white utes. She couldn’t find any. She arrived home to find her husband relaxing over a comforting breakfast and a read of the paper. She let him know it wasn’t over and went into the rear lane dragging more old lamps, heaters, electric frying pans, plastic toys and three-wheeled prams into the lane way and sat with a book waiting to see what would turn up.
Sure enough and within the hour, the opportunist in the white ute returned. He pulled up in the rear lane with the bikes and scooters still propped up on the back tray. As he rifled through the free blessings my sister sprang to her feet and accosted him, letting him know he had stolen bikes from children who were playing not far from where they had left them and didn’t he think it was unusual for two shiny new bikes and two sparkling scooters to be given up for free to any passerby?
The opportunist was shocked to be sure but it was his greed that was his downfall. Had he been satisfied with two bikes and two scooters he would have hung on to his bounty. My sister’s husband came out to assist removing his boys’ bikes and scooters from the ute and let the opportunist know he could not have any of the goods on the nature strip because they weren’t actually blessings up for grabs but instead were part of an elaborately hatched plan to trap him.
The opportunist drove off empty handed.
My sister had a smile of satisfaction on her face for the rest of the weekend.
On weekends when you don’t have to hunt down opportunists in white utes, you have time to create a wonderful, nourishing breakfast. Here’s a vegetarian breakfast that uses chicken stock but you could substitute a meat-free alternative.
Poached Eggs on Polenta with Baby Spinach
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: This is a very inexpensive meal with polenta costing just a few dollars for 500gms and after that it’s just the cost of eggs and the baby spinach.
- 1 ltr chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make the dish vegetarian)
- 1 cup polenta
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 30gms butter
- 1 tbspn white vinegar
- 8 organic eggs
- large handful of baby spinach leaves
Warm serving plates – just because breakfast is better that way.
In a medium-sized saucepan heat chicken stock to boiling. Gradually add polenta, whisking as it is added. (Be careful not to add it too quickly or polenta will be lumpy). Continue to whisk while polenta thickens (about 5 mins). Whisk in butter and parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large pan of water to boiling point then reduce to a simmer. Add vinegar to water. Stir the water so it is moving in a circular motion. Crack an egg into a saucer then slide into the water. Continue with remaining eggs.
Place a mound on polenta on serving plates. Add spinach leaves. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and try to drain off excess water. Place eggs on top of spinach and polenta. Season with salt and pepper.
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