Meet Ronan

We meet Ronan Hughes our latest intern from Griffith University in Queensland.

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My Lola and Life in the Philippines

By Isabella Chua

This is the life story so far of my maternal grandmother Erlinda “Linda” Smith (nee Jovellanos: first married name) (nee Lomibao: maiden name), or Lola (grandmother in Tagalog), as I call her.

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Luke and Lona

By Isabella Chua

Lona Packer was dead-excited for her first date. Tucking her shaggy jet-black hair and hairy ears inside a beanie, the fifteen-going-on-sixteen year old inspected herself one last time in the full-length mirror. Her own outfit was adequate.

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Charlie’s New Home

By Isabella Chua

Isabella is a creative writing student at Griffith University. She shares her latest story about Charlie the puppy.

‘Mum, do I really have to go?’ Charlie asked his mother at breakfast.

‘I’m afraid so, dear,’ Bella replied softly.

Charlie swallowed his remaining cereal thoughtfully before answering. ‘Why couldn’t I stay here with you?’

‘Because you’re becoming a big boy now. And besides, this house isn’t big enough for seven little ones.’

At the mention of his brothers and sisters, Charlie’s face drooped. Ever since all six of his siblings left for their new homes, he had never felt more alone. Despite having his mother and Beatrice for company, it didn’t seem much fun without having someone else his age to play with.

Bella gave him a reassuring nudge. ‘It’s going to be okay, Charlie,’ she murmured. ‘I know that Cooper will take very good care of you.’

‘But what about you, Mum? Won’t you be lonely?’

‘Beatrice will be around for me. She always is.’

Charlie nodded. He knew that his mother’s caretaker, Beatrice, had always been good to her. For as long as Charlie could remember, she had always been good to him and his siblings as well. In fact, Beatrice was so good, that she herself had chosen the best caretakers for all of the youngsters, including Charlie.

Charlie had only met his own caretaker once, about a few weeks ago. Cooper was an extremely jovial person, who smelt very similar to the garden mulch Charlie enjoyed rolling in at the local park. Although he really liked Cooper, Charlie still had some reservations about staying with him. He wasn’t sure if Cooper’s place was as nice and cosy as Beatrice’s, or if Cooper was able to provide him with necessities other than friendly smiles and chipper words.

Voices down the corridor broke Charlie out of his thoughts. A few seconds later, Beatrice entered the room, accompanied by a very tall, young man. Charlie recognised his earthy scent immediately.

It was Cooper.

In that tiny living room, two pairs of eyes regarded each other. One pair saw a lanky-looking guy, with shaggy red hair framing a freckled face. The other pair saw a brown, button-nosed lad who was scruffy all over. Grinning, Cooper extended his hand and ruffled Charlie’s head. For a brief moment, Charlie forgot his doubts and eagerly accepted his new caretaker’s gesture of affection. ‘Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed today, huh?’ remarked Cooper.

‘He sure does look like it,’ came Beatrice’s reply. Joining Cooper, she fondly tickled Charlie’s chin. A final parting gesture.

Cooper glanced at his watch. ‘Well, time to go,’ he said. At that instant, Bella sauntered over to her son with a sombre smile, and planted a wet kiss on his forehead. ‘Goodbye, sweetie. Be good to your new caretaker.’

Before Charlie could speak, Cooper gingerly scooped him into his arms and started to head out towards the door. Peeking over Cooper’s shoulder, Charlie glimpsed at his mother and Beatrice for what was seemingly the very last time.

‘Goodbye,’ he whispered.

Inside a large-wheeled vehicle, Charlie shook himself awake from his short-lived slumber. He saw a colossal, brownstone house, teeming with cobwebs and ivy. Its monstrous presence sent shivers down his spine. Nestling a trembling Charlie in his arms, Cooper exited the car and stepped onto the porch. Without a moment’s hesitation, Cooper pushed open the heavy door and gently settled Charlie down onto the cold tiles.

Cowering, Charlie lifted his face, expecting the worse to unfold. Before he even realised it, his eyes widened and his jaw dropped at the sight. The place resembled nothing like the scary exterior as he initially thought, but it wasn’t like Beatrice’s place either. In fact, Cooper’s place was an entirely different world altogether!

Instead of being tiny with shades of beige, the house’s interior was big and colourful. It was as if a rainbow exploded inside the house, dousing each and every piece of furniture and whatnot with a separate yet still vibrant hue.

Just then, a high-pitched whistle brought Charlie to his attention. Cooper was holding up a small rubber ball in his palm; a proposal for a game of catch. For a short while, Charlie and Cooper took turns tossing the ball back and forth with each other around the house, relishing in the fun and happiness, before retiring into the dining room, where two platters of mixed rice-and-corned beef awaited them.

As he cautiously chowed down a morsel of that unusual food, Charlie discovered that it had a savoury flavour, almost like the crunchy, salty cereal Beatrice fed him that morning. Cooper looked on as the young lad enthusiastically wolfed down the rest of the meal (‘Quite delicious,’ Charlie mused), shaking his head and chuckling in amusement.

With his belly now full, a wave of drowsiness washed over Charlie. Smiling fondly at the yawning youngster, Cooper held his arms out and tenderly cradled Charlie close to his chest, and began to make his way into the living room. Near the couch, Cooper had set up a small cot befitting Charlie’s size, complete with a woollen blanket and cotton pillows. Charlie snuggled comfortably onto his new bed as he allowed Cooper to tuck him in; his mind wandering back to memories of his mother, Beatrice, and his siblings.

Even though he still missed them, Charlie realised that he was starting to feel quite at home in Cooper’s house. This new place isn’t so bad after all, he thought. Especially for a little canine like me. And for the second time in a very long day, Charlie drifted off to sleep. As he felt his tail to curl up against his nose, Charlie thought about the new day that awaited him, and he hoped it would be just as good.

Cooking Challange

By Isabella Chua

Our Griffith University intern Isabella loves to cook. She shares some of her favorite recipes that she wants to try and make during COVID 19 lockdown. We are spending so much time at home, so what better way than to try and create new skills. Maybe Isabella will become a super chef after all this! Isabella dares you to try some new recipes out. Either way new skills and yummy food! Nothing to lose.

Spinach, Mushroom and Feta Quiche

A savory dish made with spinach, mushroom, and feta cheese. Delicious in taste, this quiche is best served hot or cold for any occasion, like brunch, lunch, or dinner.

• 3 eggs
• 100g feta cheese (crumbled)
• 125g spinach
• ½ cup self-raising flour
• 1 ½ cups skim milk
• ½ cup cheddar cheese (grated)
• 1 onion (thinly sliced)
• 200g mushrooms (sliced)

• Varies

1. Sauté the onion and mushrooms until just cooked.
2. Mix the flour, eggs, cheddar cheese, and milk together in a bowl.
3. Add the feta to the spinach and combine with the onion and egg mixtures.
4. Cover a quiche dish (if available) with non-stick spray oil.
5. Pour the mixture into the dish and bake in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 min. Remove dish from oven afterwards.
6. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Apple Crumble

Apple crumble is a dish made in a sweet version, which usually contains stewed fruit (in this case, apples) topped with a crumbly mixture composed of butter, flour, and sugar. Widely considered a simplistic alternative to pie, this dessert is perfect for many families everywhere and is usually served with sweetened foods like cream, custard, and ice cream.

Ingredients (for the filling):
• 4 apples
• 2 heaped tbsp brown sugar
• 1 cup water
• 2 tsp vanilla essence
Ingredients (for the crumble):
• 1 cup castor or brown sugar
• 1 cup self-raising flour
• ½ plain flour
• ½ desiccated coconut
• 30g butter

• Varies

Method (for the filling):
1. Peel and core the apples. Chop them into bite size pieces afterwards.
2. Put a saucepan on the stove at medium heat and add in the apples.
3. Next, pour in the saucepan the water and sugar, and stir together.
4. Cover the pan and simmer until the apples are soft.
5. Remove pan from heat and add vanilla essence. Mix well.
Method (for the crumble):
1. Put the self-raising flour, plain flour, and desiccated coconut in a bowl and add the butter.
2. Rub together until the mixture is crumbly in texture.
3. Add sugar afterwards and mix well. At this point, you can either include cinnamon or coconut essence for better taste.
Final Step/s:
1. Put filling into a pie dish and cover with crumble.
2. Cook in an oven for about 30-40 min at 160-180 degrees Celsius. Afterwards, remove the pie dish from the oven and allow apple crumble to rest.
3. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Creamy Cheesecake

Creamy cheesecake is a sweet dessert consisting of one or more layers, with the main and thickest layer containing a mixture of soft, fresh cheese, and sugar, and the bottom layer containing a base made from crushed biscuits. Chilled in texture and sugary in taste, this dish is best served unbaked (and refrigerated) and makes for a perfect yet entertaining treat during the Easter holidays.

• 1 ¼ cups sweet biscuit crumbs
• 80g butter (melted)
• 500g PHILADELPHIA Lemon or Strawberry Block Cream Cheese (softened)
• ¾ cup caster sugar for lemon or 1 cup for strawberry
• 3 tsp gelatine dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water
• 1 cup thickened cream (softly whipped)
• Candied lemon slices or strawberries (for decorations)

• 10 people

1. Combine the biscuit crumbs and butter, then press into the base of a greased and lined 20cm round springform pan. Chill.
2. Beat the PHILLY and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in the gelatin and fold through the cream afterwards. (Tip: For the perfect chilled cheesecake, mix the gelatine with the boiling water and set aside for 5 min before adding it to the PHILLY mixture. Never add hot gelatine to a cold mixture as it sets into stringy lumps.)
3. Pour mixture over the prepared base. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.
4. Decorate the cheesecake with slices of lemon or strawberries before serving.
5. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Chocolate Marble Muffins

Deliciously delectable muffins made from a delightful mishmash of both dark chocolate and white chocolate batters.

• 2 cups plain flour
• 4 tsp baking powder
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 100g butter (melted)
• 1 cup milk
• ½ cup white choc bits
• ¼ cup baking cocoa
• ¼ cup milk
• ½ cup dark choc bits

• 12 muffins

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and lightly grease muffin pans.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, and sugar into a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
3. Whisk eggs and stir in melted butter and the 1 cup of milk in another bowl.
4. Pour liquid ingredients into well and stir until dry ingredients are just dampened. Divide mixture in half and transfer one half of it into another bowl.
5. In one bowl, gently stir in the white choc bits. In the other bowl, gently stir in sifted baking cocoa, the ¼ cup of milk and dark choc bits.
6. Spoon 1 tbsp of dark mixture into each muffin pan, followed by 2 tbsp of white mixture and finally top with remaining dark mixture.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15-20 min. Allow to cool in muffin pans before removing.
8. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Cake in a Cup

Cake in a Cup is, according to its title, a cake literally baked in a ceramic cup or mug. Perfect as a late-night snack or an occasional dessert, this particular recipe is made with delectable ingredients like cocoa powder, which also gives the cake its distinctive dark brown colour. Sweet in taste and moist in texture, this chocolate cake recipe is also simple and relatively easy to make, taking about 2-7 min preparation time.

• 3 tbsp self-raising flour
• 2 tbsp brown sugar
• 2 tbsp cocoa powder
• 3 tbsp milk
• 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil

• 1 person per cup/mug

1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mug. Next, add in the milk and oil, and stir well until the mixture is devoid of any lumps.
2. Microwave mug for roughly min. Allow the baked cake to cool.
3. Serve with ice cream of your choice (optional).
4. Dig in and enjoy!!!

How to make Marzipan

• 6 oz icing sugar
• 6 oz caster sugar
• 12 oz ground almonds
• Juice of ½ lemon
• ¾ tsp orange flower water
• ¾ tsp vanilla essence
• 1-2 egg yolks

1. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the ground almonds and caster sugar. Add the lemon juice, essences, and enough egg yolk to bind the ingredients into a pliable yet dry paste. Knead thoroughly by hand until smooth.

NOTE: A whole egg or egg whites may be used instead of egg yolks. Egg yolks give a richer and yellower paste, whilst egg whites give a whiter, more brittle paste. Economically, the yolks can be used for the marzipan and the whites can be used for royal icing.

2. Depending on your preferences, add food colouring to the marzipan to give it some colour. Note that this quantity of paste is sufficient to cover the top and sides of an 8” cake.
3. When you have finished covering the cake with marzipan, leave for a few days to dry. Cover with a clean cloth to protect it from dust. Do not put the cake into a fridge afterwards as this will cause the marzipan to crack.
4. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Chocolate and Cherry Friands

• Butter for greasing
• ½ cup plain flour
• ½ cup Dutch cocoa
• 1 ¼ cups icing sugar
• 1 cup or 100g ground hazelnuts
• 5 egg whites
• 1 tsp vanilla essence
• 180g butter (melted)
• 525g pitted black cherries canned in syrup (drained)

• 10 friands

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Brush 10 friand moulds with melted butter and place on a baking tray. Sift flour, cocoa, and icing sugar into a large bowl. Stir in hazelnuts.
2. Put egg whites into a medium-sized bowl and whisk with a fork until frothy, then fold through dry ingredients. Stir through vanilla and melted butter until just combined.
3. Spoon batter into prepared moulds. Press 2 cherries into each friand, covering with batter. Bake for 15-20 min or until friands pop up in the middle and spring back when lightly pressed with finger. Allow to stand for 5 min before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve with remaining pitted cherries.
4. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Chocolate and Coffee Fudge Cake

Ingredients (for the cake):
• Butter for greasing
• 250g butter (cut into cubes)
• 200g good-quality dark chocolate (roughly chopped)
• 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1 cup strong black coffee
• 1 tbsp vanilla essence
• 1 ½ cups self-raising flour
• ¾ cup cocoa
• 3 eggs
• 125g ground almonds
Ingredients (for the chocolate ganache)
• 300ml thickened cream
• 200g dark chocolate
• Gold leaf

• Varies

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Brush a 22cm deep round cake tin with butter and line with baking paper. Place cubed butter, chocolate, sugar, coffee, and vanilla into a medium-sized pan. Stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.
2. Sift flour and cocoa. Add to chocolate mixture with eggs and ground almonds. Combine using a large metal spoon. Pour into prepared tin. Bake for 55-60 min. This cake will not be firm. While cooling, it tends to become firmer.
3. To make ganache, put cream and chocolate in a small pan and stir over low heat until smooth. Refrigerate, stirring every 10 min, until desired consistency. Pour or spread over cake, and finish with gold leaf.
4. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Party Meatballs

• 1 large potato (peeled and chopped)
• 1 small apple (peeled and chopped)
• 1 large onion (chopped)
• 2 bacon rashers (chopped)
• 1 egg (lightly beaten)
• 500g minced meat
• 250g sausage mince
• 1 tsp curry powder
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• ½ tsp ground mustard
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
• Oil (for shallow-frying)
• Tomato sauce (to serve)
• Fresh herbs (to garnish)

• 50 meatballs

1. Combine potato, apple, and onion in a pan; barely cover with cold water. Bring to boil; simmer until tender, removing lid towards the end of cooking time so most of the water evaporates. Drain and mash.
2. Combine mash, bacon, egg, minces, seasonings, and sauce in a bowl. With wet hands, roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls.
3. Shallow-fry meatballs in hot oil in a pan until golden and cooked through; drain on absorbent paper.
4. Serve with tomato sauce and garnish with fresh herbs.
5. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients (for the base):
• 1 cup plain flour
• 3 tsp baking cocoa
• ¼ cup caster sugar
• 80g butter (cut into cubes)
• 1 tbsp iced water
• Dutch cocoa (sifted, to decorate)
Ingredients (for the filling):
• 2 x 250g blocks cream cheese (softened)
• 2 x 300ml tubs whipping cream
• 380g can caramel
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• 2 tbsp corn flour
• 3 large eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• 8-10 people

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a 22cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.
2. To make base, combine flour, cocoa, and sugar in bowl. Rub in butter to form clumps. Add water and bring mixture together to form a soft dough. Press evenly into base of tin. Bake for 15 min. Remove from oven and place on baking tray. Reduce oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
3. To make filling, process cream cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add 1 cup cream, caramel, brown sugar, corn flour, eggs, and vanilla, and process until smooth. Pour over base. Bake for 50-55min, until golden and centre just set but still very slightly wobbly. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, until cold.
4. Beat remaining cream and spread over cheesecake. Return to fridge until ready to serve. Dust lightly with cocoa and cut into wedges to serve.
5. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Easy Gluten-free Marmalade Nut & Cherry Biscuits

• 200g packet almond meal
• 2 tbsp corn flour
• ¼ cup caster sugar
• ¼ cup marmalade, plus 1 tbsp extra (to glaze)
• 1 large egg white
• ½ x 130g packet pine nuts or ½ x 110g packet flaked almonds
• 12 red glace cherries

• 12 people

1. Preheat oven 170 degrees Celsius. Line baking tray with baking paper.
2. Process almond meal, corn flour, sugar, marmalade, a tiny pinch of salt and egg white in a food processor until mixture is sticky and just comes together.
3. Place pine nuts or almonds in small bowl. Roll 2 tsp of mixture into balls then roll in nuts to lightly coat. Place on tray, evenly spaced, and push a cherry into centre of each. Bake for 18-20 min, until firm and pale golden. Allow to cool on tray.
4. Heat extra marmalade and brush over biscuits to glaze.
5. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Kids’ Milk Chocolate Fruit Fudge Pops

• 125g plain, uncoated chocolate biscuits
• 395g can sweetened condensed milk
• 375g packet milk baking melts
• 50g butter
• ½ cup desiccated coconut
• ½ cup craisins
• ½ cup sultanas or raisins (chopped)
• Silver Cachous or White Pearls
• Lolly sticks
• 3-4 red sour straps
• Chocolate icing pen

• 15 people

1. Grease a 20cm square cake tin. Line with baking paper. Crush biscuits with rolling pin or in a food processor, leaving some texture.
2. Stir condensed milk, chocolate, and butter in med saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, mix in biscuits crumbs, coconut, and dried fruit. Spread mixture in tin. Sprinkle over cachous or pearls to decorate. Refrigerate 2-3 hours.
3. Trim edges, cut into 5 lines. For each line, cut 3 triangles with two longer sides and a small base to make Christmas trees. Insert lolly stick into base. Cut stars from sour straps and stick to tops of trees using icing pen. Chill.
4. Dig in and enjoy!!!

My Family Recipes

By Isabella Chua

Isabella shares some of her favorite recipes from growing up in a Filipino family. She loves learning about her heritage by simply cooking these meals with her mother. Food can be a powerful and tasty way to connect with family! Enjoy these yummy traditional meals.

Philippine Adobo

Adobo is a popular Filipino dish that has occasionally been considered the unofficial national dish in the Philippines. Its rather simple cooking process involves meat like chicken and/or pork, seafood, or vegetables getting marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, and bay leaves, which are then browned in oil, and simmered in the marinade. During my youth, adobo was one of my favourite dishes to eat and the easiest one to prepare, according to my Filipina mother. To this day, I like to cook this meal on special occasions (with Mum’s loving supervision) to enjoy and share with my whole family.

• Chicken pieces
• Pork chunks (optional)
• Light soy sauce
• White vinegar
• 5 large garlic cloves (peeled)
• 5 tbsp brown sugar
• Crushed pepper
• Water
• Bay leaves (optional)

• 5-6 people

1. Fill a measuring cup three-quarters with light soy sauce. Then, fill the remaining one-quarter of the measuring cup with white vinegar.
2. Crush the garlic cloves and add to the mixture along with the sugar. Combine with crushed pepper afterwards and stir well.
3. Fill the measuring cup almost to the rim with water, mix, and set aside.
4. Next, lightly drizzle a large pan with canola or vegetable oil and set over stove at medium heat.
5. When the oil starts to bubble, place the meat in and around the pan and fry until golden-brown.
6. Pour the adobo sauce from the measuring cup into the pan; covering all the pieces of meat. (Tip: Pour from and stir the measuring cup simultaneously so you would not miss any remnants of sugar.)
7. Add in bay leaves (optional) and cover pan with lid. Allow adobo to simmer at a slightly higher temperature until the sauce is slightly thickened. Keep turning over the meat while doing so.
8. Remove the pan from the stove and divide the meat into plates of 5-6. Serve with rice.
9. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Ube-Macapuno Cake

Ube-Macapuno cake, or Ube cake, is a Filipino sponge cake or chiffon cake made with ube halaya (or purple yam). Like most ube dishes in the Philippines, it is distinctively and vividly purple in coloration, and is usually topped with a buttercream, cream cheese, or whipped cream frosting flavoured with coconut. Typically served at Pinoy birthday parties, this particular recipe was personally sent from one of my honorary aunts, Jackie, and is, according to her, a great Filipino purple yam cake.

• 2 ½ cups cake flour
• 3 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 cup ube/purple yam (cooked and finely grated)
• ¾ cup milk
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup corn syrup
• 7 egg yolks (lightly beaten)
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 7 egg whites
• 1 tsp cream of tartar
• 1 cup white sugar
• 6 drops red food colouring
• 6 drops blue food colouring
• 12 ounce or 1 jar macapuno (coconut preserves)

• 1 cup evaporated milk (chilled)
• ¾ cup white sugar
• 1 cup butter (softened)
• 1 drop violet food colouring

• 12 people

1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees Celsius. Line bottoms of 3–9-inch pans with parchment paper, but do not grease. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then set aside.
2. Place grated ube in a large bowl. Mix together the milk and vanilla, and gradually blend into ube until smooth. Blend in corn syrup, egg yolks, and oil. Beat in flour mixture until smooth and set aside.
3. In a large metal or glass mixing bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add sugar, then red and blue food colouring, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain. Pour batter into prepared pans.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-36 min, or until the centre of cake bounces back when lightly tapped. Invert pans on a wire rack and let cool upside down. When cool, run a knife around the edges to loosen cake from pans. Fill between layers with coconut preserves, then frost top and sides with butter icing.
5. To make butter icing, combine evaporated milk and sugar, then set aside. Cream butter until light and fluffy, before gradually adding sugar mixture, and continue beating to desired spreading consistency. Add violet food colouring, one drop at a time until desired tint is achieved.
6. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Filipino Spaghetti

Known as a Filipino variant of Italian spaghetti with Bolognese sauce, this dish is notable for its distinctive sweet sauce, which is made from tomato sauce sweetened with banana ketchup or brown sugar. Relatively cheap and easy to make, this particular dish also uses minced beef instead of meatballs and is usually topped with sliced hot dogs and/or grated cheddar cheese. Nowadays, Filipino spaghetti holds great cultural significance for Pinoy people due to its popularity as a comfort food and is typically served on multiple special occasions, especially children’s birthdays.

• ¾ spaghetti noodles
• 5 large garlic cloves (peeled)
• 1 brown onion (peeled)
• 1 pack of minced beef or ground meat
• 1 whole bottle of Bolognese sauce
• 1 ½ tsp chicken powder
• 5 full tbsp brown sugar
• Crushed pepper
• 1 medium-sized block of cheddar cheese
• ½ red or green capsicum
• 3 hot dogs

• Roughly five people

1. Fill a pot three-quarters with boiled water.
2. Set on stove at high heat until the water bubbles.
3. Add spaghetti noodles and cook until al dente (roughly 8-12 minutes). Remove pot from stove afterwards.
4. Using a colander, strain the noodles over a sink and allow them to rest.
5. Next, fill a saucepan with a tablespoon of either canola or vegetable oil and set on stove at medium heat.
6. Crush the garlic cloves and place the contents into the saucepan. Spread around the pan using a spatula or cooking spoon and fry for roughly one minute.
7. Mince the onion and add to the saucepan. Fry until slightly brown.
8. Add beef mince to the pan and chop finely into tiny pieces using the spatula/cooking spoon. Cook until the meat is predominantly brown.
9. Pour the Bolognese sauce all over the beef mince. Combine and add chicken powder, sugar, and crushed pepper. Stir well.
10. Adjust and lower stove to moderate heat and allow sauce to simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grate the cheddar cheese and set aside in a bowl.
11. Next, mince the capsicum into tiny pieces. Then, peel the skin off the hot dogs and slice vertically into small, circular shapes.
12. Add more crushed pepper and a handful of cheddar cheese to the sauce. Stir well and mix in the capsicum and sliced hot dogs.
13. Continue alternating between stirring and adding crushed pepper until the taste and texture of the sauce is to your satisfaction. Remove saucepan from stove afterwards.
14. Divide the now cooled spaghetti noodles into plates of five. Spread each equally with four large scoopings of the spaghetti sauce.
15. Sprinkle a large pinch of leftover grated cheddar cheese on top of each plate.
16. Microwave each dish for 1 minute to melt the cheese.
17. Dig in and enjoy!!!


Kutsinta (or cuchinta) are Filipino steamed cakes composed of flour, tapioca flour, and brown sugar. Soft, chewy, and topped with grated coconut, kutsinta is perfect as a delicious dessert or snack for sugar lovers everywhere.

• 1 ½ cups plain flour, or alternatively, 1 cup plain flour and ½ rice flour
• ½ cup tapioca flour
• 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
• 3 cups water
• 1 tbsp atsuete powder
• 1 tbsp lye water

• Varies

1. Combine flour, tapioca flour, sugar, and water into a bowl. Stir well until the ingredients are dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
2. Pour in suete and mix until it is well dispersed and the desired colour is achieved.
3. Add in lye water and stir some more.
4. Lightly grease the insides of silicone molds (if available) with melted butter. Fill molds with mixture to about ¾ full.
5. Add water to a steamer (if available) and bring to simmer over medium heat.
6. Steam kutsinta for about 30-35 min or until the mixture is set. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
7. Gently remove each kutsinta from the molds and serve with grated coconut.
8. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Meet Isabella Chua our intern from Griffith University

We meet Isabella Chua our latest intern from Griffith University in Queensland.

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By Erin Norton

Having studied a Bachelor of Arts at university, Jenny has always had an affinity for painting using acrylics.  She longed to take her passion into schools and teach but found it difficult to land a job at her local schools. 8 years after she relocated to the Coast, it was finally time for her dreams to become a reality and set to work converting her garage into an art studio. Jenny gathered together paints and canvases, pots and paintbrushes and enlisted the help of Vince to make the easels using his woodworking skills. 

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My Grandad Ron

By Erin Norton

This is my Grandad Ron receiving a medal of honour from the Queen Mother in 1975. According to my Nan, she smiled at him and remarked “A Gordon for me”. Ron stood up so straight that a button of his uniform came flying off!

This is how I would like to remember him: a proud, humble, and respectful soldier with an infectious sense of humour- a trait that he has passed on to my Dad. 

Unfortunately, he passed away in 2013 and as my grandparents lived in Spain, I have few memories of Ron. I remember he had wrinkly tattoos on his chest and a silver tooth but until now, I did not know the extent of his military career. Looking at the old pictures and reading the reports from his fellow soldiers and students, I can see that Ron was loved dearly by everyone, especially my Nan Sandra. It has been an honour to write this article and reconnect with an important figure in my family’s diverse and complicated history.

So, let us start at the beginning (with the help of some official documents).  

Roy “Ron” Alexander Norton was born on the 12th of May 1937. He started boxing when was 8 years old and left school at 15 to join the Merchant Navy. He stayed with the Navy for a couple of years but then changed tack and enlisted in the now legendary Gordon Highlanders. 

The Gordon Highlanders were one of the finest regiments in the British Army, spanning over 200 years until their amalgamation in 1994. Consisting of fishermen, farmers, university students and labourers, the Highlanders were ordinary people with a strong sense of duty and drive to serve their country.

Ron enlisted in 1963 and completed his basic training in Fort George, a tiny town near Inverness in Scotland. That same year, Ron and his fellow Highlanders embarked on numerous tours of duty in Kenya, Mombasa, and Swaziland and then moved on to Borneo and Cyprus.

During his time with the Highlanders, was revered by his colleagues who referred to him as “Mush”. He was described as a short man but one who walked tall and was brimming with the self confidence of an “old soldier” and loved canoeing and boxing. His stern and sometimes ominous exterior concealed a man who would light up a room with his endless supply of jokes, making the dullest moments entertaining.

In 1972, Ron married the love of his life, Sandra in Grays, Essex, England. Shortly after the wedding, the newly weds with my Dad in tow moved to Northern Ireland where Ron completed a tour of duty, assisting the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUI) during “The Troubles”, a series of riots and terrorist attacks by the Irish Republican Army. During the late 70’s and 80’s, the trio moved around a lot and journeyed to many far off and exotic places like Singapore, Penang, and New Zealand.

But after years of service to the Highlanders and the British Army, Ron retired from military life in the summer of 1981 taking up a job in Industrial Security Management. After my Dad was all grown up, Ron and Sandra moved from England to the idyllic seaside town of Mazarron, Murcia, Spain, which provided a perfect place for retirement.

Throughout his later years of life, he became even more of an inspiration by joining the local Karate community, teaching a number of students at the Dominoes Martial Arts Self Defence Club as “Sensei Rocket”.

My Grandad Ron was a hero, a true gentleman, a husband, and a father. He touched the hearts of many throughout his life and I am honoured to say that I am related to him. Love you forever.

Life as an international student in Australia

By Vania Adya Anindita

Aya is a 17-year-old Indonesian female who started studying on the Gold Coast in 2019. She commenced university in June where she enrolled in a Diploma of Arts and Communication. She decided to study at Griffith University because she likes Gold Coast better than other big cities in Australia.

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