Simon Says

Update 2020

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It’s been about six years since I’ve done anything with this site – I’ve had an “under construction” landing page up for years. This year I’ve decided to resurrect it. Some of the old content has been kept, and I’ll be working on new content over the coming weeks.

MIT – Business Process Design for Strategic Management

By Education & Training, Simon Says No Comments

MIT Sloan School of Management

I’ve recently completed an Executive Education program via the MIT Sloan School of Management on Business Process Design for Strategic Management. This was a really interesting program that covered Dynamic Work Design, Structured Problem Solving (e.g.), Designing Work (and the workplace) for People, and Visual Management. Special thanks to my employer, Glencore Copper Assets, for putting me through this one. Read More

The Einstellung effect

By Business & Administration, Simon Says No Comments

Have you ever worked with someone who’s brilliant in their field, however has been completely unable to find and develop creative solutions to problems? It could be a brilliant surgeon who’s been promoted into a leadership role and is stumped by administrative problems, or a cook trying to prepare a meal using ingredients they’re unfamiliar with, or an engineer trying to understand why HR turnover data was unreliable in their civil construction project. Cross-domain problem solving is a widely studied phenomenon, and what you may have witnessed is the Einstellung effect. Read More

Cooking @ Govindas Maroochydore

The best, most simple, foolproof rice

By Cooking with Simon, Recipes No Comments
Cooking @ Govindas Maroochydore

Cooking 40kg of rice @ Govinda’s Maroochydore

Plain rice is a staple for millions of people all over the world yet some still struggle with this simple dish. I’ve seen the bottom burned off a plastic dish when rice was being microwaved, I’ve seen rice burned on to the bottom of a pan on a stove top, and I’ve seen still crunchy rice come out of a rice cooker.

I cooked rice professionally every day for years – from single cups of the grain at home, to literal tonnes for food distribution programs. There are a few simple, yet key, principles to follow when preparing rice. Stick to these and your rice will be perfect every time.

General Principles


Use long grain rice

For daily use I prefer jasmine rice, and I use basmati rice for special occasions of if I'm after something a little more sturdy as an accompaniment.

Always add fat

Rice is sticky, and sticky rice burns. Always fry your dry rice in a fat of your choosing prior to adding the water. At home I use Nuttelex as it's vegan and works well, however butter and ghee are popular.

Always add hot water to hot rice

Always have your hot water ready to add to your hot rice. Never add cold or luke-warm water to your rice.

Never check your rice whilst it's cooking

Don't be tempted to lift the lid to "see how the rice is going" or to "give it a little stir". There's no need, and you need that heat to stay trapped to help with the cooking.

Cook for 20 Minutes

20 minutes is the standard cooking time for plain rice, whether you're cooking 1 cup or 100 cups. As you get familiar with your favourite rice brand you can experiment with adding or subtracting a minute or two on either side to obtain the texture that you like, however 20 minutes is the foolproof standard.

Fancy-up your rice

Always fry your dry rice in a fat

There are plenty of small adjustments you can make to “fancy-up” your plain rice. Some are:

  • Add some turmeric to make your rice yellow. The rice accompanying my Vegan Palak Paneer has turmeric for this reason.
  • Add some spices that suit your main dish if you’re serving rice as an accompaniment. A couple of cardamom pods adds a beautiful and delicate floral element, kalonji (black onion seeds) adds almost no flavour but has a great colour contrast, and cumin seeds add a great earthy element that goes well with many Indian and African dishes.
  • Instead of salted water, use stock of your choosing. This will add a more robust flavour to your rice and is great if you’re serving the rice on its own.

The best, most simple, foolproof rice recipe

The best, most simple, foolproof rice

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people


  • 2x saucepans


  • 1 cup long grain rice Jasmine or Basmati preferred
  • 2 cups later
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fat Nuttelex, or butter/ghee if you take dairy


  • Add the salt and water to a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Whilst the water is coming to the boil, in another saucepan melt the fat and gently fry the rice until the grains begin to become translucent.
  • Slowly poor the boiling salted water over the rice. Be careful as the hot water will cause the fat to spit.
  • Put on a tight-fitting lid, turn the temperature down to the lowest setting, and cook for 20 minutes.


To make more or less you simply multiply the quantities.
  • 1 part rice to 2 parts water is the key.
  • 1 tsp of salt per cup of dry rice, or 25 grams of salt per kg of dry rice
  • 1 tbsp of fat per cup of dry rice, or ~70 grams of fat per kg of dry rice
Keyword Comfort Food, staple
LSAY Infographic

25 years old: Longitudinal surveys of Australian youth

By Education & Training, Simon Says No Comments

The Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) data set is now twenty five years old. Incredible! The survey and data is administered by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) on behalf of the Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment and includes some really interesting information. LSAY has been following Australia students’ transitions from compulsory schooling to post school education and into employment. Twenty five years of data is summarised in the infographic below.

Read More

Vegan Italian Red Sauce

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Two staples in our household, particularly with two small children, are pizza and pasta. This vegan Italian red sauce recipe is incredibly quick and easy to whip up in the thermomix, and uses pantry staples that you’ll most likely already have on hand.

This recipe will make enough sauce for four pizzas, or pasta to serve around eight people. I usually make this up on a Sunday and freeze it in four separate containers or bags. Its a lifesaver having this on hand when you’re tired and the kids are hungry.

If you like you can “hide” some veges from the kids in this sauce. I’ll often add carrots and zucchinis to the mix. I just up the quantity of herbs to compensate for the additional volume.

Vegan Italian Red Sauce

A quick and delicious vegan Italian red sauce that freezes well and kids love.
Prep Time 1 min
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 16 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 People


  • Thermomix


  • 1 400gm Can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 Brown onion
  • 5 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tsp Dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp Dried thyme
  • 1 tsp Dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp Dried basil
  • 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil


  • Place the onion and garlic in the bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 7.
  • Add the Olive oil. Saute 5 min/Varoma/Speed 1.
  • Add the tomatoes. Saute 5 min/Varoma/Speed 1.
  • Add the salt, pepper, and herbs. Saute 5 min/Varoma/Speed 1.
  • Blend 60 Sec/Speed 10 (slowly increase to speed 10).
Keyword Vegan

Use this as a pizza sauce, pasta sauce, or really anything where a tomato sauce is called for. Lunch today was some fettuccine from the pantry, the vegan Italian red sauce, and some mushrooms. I sauted some mushrooms in a frying pan with some olive oil whilst the fettuccine cooked. Once the mushrooms were done I stirred in the vegan Italian red sauce from the freezer and added the pasta. Delicious lunch ready in ten minutes.

Palak Paneer

Vegan Palak Paneer

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In 2016 my wife bought a thermomix for our kitchen. When I found a little time to myself I decided to try converting one my favourite traditional recipes. The title says Vegan Palak Paneer (vegan spinach & cottage cheese), however a more correct title is Vegan Sak Paneer (vegan greens & cheese) as it’s not just spinach greens included. To make this recipe vegan friendly I’ve used firm tofu instead of paneer, and coconut yogurt instead of sour cream. The coconut yogurt works wonderfully in this recipe, and the firm tofu is delicious if you take the time to treat it well and shallow-fry it nicely. The only other item that I modified was the use of powdered spices instead of whole spices – this suited the cooking process in the thermomix.

Anyhow, my recipe conversion worked a treat.

Palak Paneer

Vegan Palak Paneer

A delicious vegan take on one of the most popular Indian dishes
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 People


  • Thermomix


  • 1 Bunch Silver beet
  • 1 Bunch Course greens (something with a stem you can keep on)
  • 1 Bunch Fresh coriander
  • 1 Bunch Fenugreek leaves (or 5tbs of dried leaves)
  • 2 Green chillies
  • 2 Onions
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 Red capsicum
  • 1 Fresh ginger (about an inch piece)
  • 5 Garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp Oil (plus some oil for frying the tofu. My preference is rice bran oil)
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Garam masala (or your preferred spice blend)
  • ½ tsp Red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 200 grams Firm tofu
  • 150 ml Coconut yogurt (plain)


  • Place the onions and oil in the bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 9
  • Saute 5min/Varoma/Speed 1
  • Add the garlic and the ginger to the bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 9
  • Saute 2 min/Varoma/Speed 1
  • Add the tomatoes to the bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 9
  • Saute 3.5 min/Varoma/Speed 1
  • Add the turmeric, garam masala, chilli powder, half the sak (green leafy vegetables), green chilli, and ½tsp salt to the bowl. Saute 5 min/100/Speed 1.5
  • Add the other half of the sak. Saute 5 min/100/Speed 1.5
  • Blend 15 sec/Speed 9 (slowly increase to 9)
  • Add coconut yogurt to bowl. Saute 5 min/80/1.5 (reverse)
  • Cube the tofu and shallow-fry in oil (I fry just the top and bottom so there is still a nice white colour around the sides of the cube)
  • Slice the capsicum into strips and shallow-fry in the leftover oil
  • Poor the sak mixture into a serving bowl and stir in the tofu cubes and capsicum strips
Keyword Comfort Food, Vegan

You can serve Vegan Palak Paneer with rice or breads (chapatis, naan, etc.). I served mine (below) with mustard and turmeric rice, mango pickle, and plain papads.

Palak Paneer

Queensland data on the novel coronavirus

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I’ve been keeping an eye on the daily media releases published by the Queensland Department of Health at the end of each day to keep abreast of the data on the novel coronavirus within Queensland (SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19). I’m collating the data in a google sheet so I can graph a time-series illustrating what’s happening each day with both new cases and cases across the various Queensland Hospital and Health Services. Read More

It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle it without debate

– Joseph Joubert

Gamification Course | Statement of Accomplishment

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Exciting news. Those of us who completed Professor Kevin Werbach’s Gamification course (Coursera MOOC with the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania) were awarded our Statement’s of Accomplishment today.

This was a fantastic professional development activity with Professor Werbach’s enthusiasm showing throughout the entire course. Given the opportunity I wouldn’t mind completing another of Professor Werbach’s courses in the future. Read More