by Jason van Leuven (Honours Student)
Just over 4 years ago I decided to have a career change, after a 20-year career in the luxury hotel and food industry. Now living in Adelaide with my wife and daughter Chloe, I have recently finished a Bachelor of Medical Science – specialising in Neuroscience & Physiology and Pharmacology & Toxicology. This year I will be completing my honours in the motion vision lab, here at Flinders University, where I will be investigating attention and inhibition of visual stimuli in hoverflies.
I have had a very lucky life – traveling the world, living in other countries, meeting many different people from all walks of life and having my work published internationally in food magazines and newspapers.
So much for Flies in soup!
On the topic of soup, the history of soup is probably as old as the history of cooking itself. Food historians tell us that soup evolved according to the availability of local ingredients and the palates of the local population. For Italians, it was minestrone while the Russians developed borscht and the French had a penchant for onion soup.
The technique of boiling various combinations of herbs, vegetables and meat in one pot probably didn’t take root until waterproof and heatproof containers were developed around 5000 years ago.
This was something of a revolution in food preparation as it meant people could extract maximum nutritional value from animal bones and other foods that could not otherwise be easily used.
The modern word ‘soup’ is derived from the old French word sope or soupe. The underlying meaning is to do with the notion of ‘soaking’ (as in to soak a piece of bread in liquid or pour broth on to bread). In fact, to cooks in the Middle Ages, soup was primarily a piece of bread soaked in liquid. Diners would use the bread instead of a spoon to sop up the remaining liquid. Generally consumed at the end of the day, this meal became ‘souper’ or ‘supper’.
In our house, any time of day is wonderful for soup. This week I’d like to share our family Farmhouse Vegetable Soup recipe which is laden with winter vegetables.
Naturally, home-made stock is far better, but if time is a little short, a pre-made liquid stock will do the trick.
Farmhouse Vegetable Soup
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 Small onion roughly chopped
½ Small fennel bulb cubed
1 large carrot sliced thick
1 stick of celery thickly sliced
10 Asparagus stalks cut 2cm pieces
200 g Swede cubed
200 g potato, peeled and cubed
1 bay leaf
1 large sprig of fresh thyme
2 Large sprigs of parsley
1 can chopped tomatoes or 400 g of Fresh tomatoes roughly chopped seeds in
600 ml - 800 ml vegetable stock (I prefer home-made)
Salt and pepper
In a large saucepan heat the oil. Add the onion and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onion is softened but not browned.
Add the celery, carrot, fennel, swede and potato, and cook for a further five minutes or until slightly softened. Tie the bay leaf, thyme and parsley sprigs together into a bouquet garni. Add to the pan, together with the stock, tomatoes (with their juice), peas and asparagus. Season to taste and bring to the boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat. Simmer gently for 45 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
Remove the bouquet garni and check the seasoning. If you’re using a pre-made stock, you may not need to add any more salt. Sprinkle the soup with fresh cracked pepper, serve piping hot.
The Catalysing Gender Equity 2020 conference is currently underway in Adelaide. It is a two-day conference run by the Australian Academy of Science, in collaboration with Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE), with representatives from across research, industry, education and government.
Some of the gender equity issues, and the solutions for them, that are being discussion at this conference include;
Follow the Twitter hashtag #CGE2020 for news, updates and commentary.
- By Richard
The terrible recent bushfires across many parts of Australia have destroyed homes, vegetation and natural habitats, and cost the lives of dozens of people. It's also been estimated that over one billion animals were killed in the fires (mammals, birds and reptiles only, not including invertebrates).
Recovery in many affected areas is only just starting, and in the last few weeks, a new citizen science initiative has been created to help to collect data on this process. The Environment Recovery Project, created by researchers at the University of New South Wales, allows members of the public to document observations of both the effects of the fires on animals and plants, and the potential reappearance of some species.
After joining the project online, people can use either a mobile app or the website to upload photos, videos and audio recordings of observations of animals and plants, living and dead, native or non-native, in the fire-affected areas.
The aim is to enlist the public in collecting data about the extent of species destruction, and about the degree of recovery of ecosystems. The species recorded in the observations are identified by expert members of the project, and once verified, some observations are classified as "research grade". The data is freely available to anyone who wants to make use of it.
Currently there are over 1600 observations (most of them from the east coast of Australia, with only a few so far from here in South Australia). These include photos of burnt trees and bird bones, as well as of living plants and animals. A number of photos show plants beginning to emerge from a blackened landscape around them. It's encouraging also to see not just the "charismatic" koalas and kangaroos, but also many observations of insect species, including honey bees, dragonflies, bee flies and wasps, as well as various ants and beetles.
The link to the Environment Recovery Project can be found here:
The lab is currently buzzing with activity, not just from the last flies in Klara's and Bernie's survival studies, but also from all the new set-ups being built. The new electrophysiology rig for recording descending neurons is almost ready to go. Yuri has done an amazing job creating stimuli from Malin's flight behavior which she can now use in the ephys. The tethered flight arena is also almost ready. Richard has spent a lot of time getting this finished, with amazing assistance from our collaborators Pavan Kaushik and Shannon Olsson. I am already very excited about this year!
The hoverfly vision group can be found at 2 locations: At Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, and at Uppsala University in Sweden. To find out more about us and our research, browse through the pages.