Tuesday, 30 September 2008

My Big Fat Greek Dinner Party.

Pesky real life keeps getting in the way of important things, like blogging and 'Net surfing in general, so for all of you that asked, or provided suggestions, here is a pictorial of last weeks Big Fat Greek Dinner Party. Contrary to many suggestions, I DID go for a Greek theme, with a twist.

King island lamb stuffed with fetta, anchovies and semi dried tomatoes, on a bed of mint, rosemary and lemons, with kumara and pesto-stuffed vine tommies.

Ginger glazed shallots cooling.

blanched green beans with balsamic glaze and toasted almond flakes.

home made dolmades, ginger-glazed shallots, various mezzes, feta and home made pide in the background.

Before photos of pear, caramelized onion, fresh thyme and blue cheese tart.

After photo.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Hey Rocky, watch me pull a wabbit out of my pan!

Joint a rabbit. Add a litre of veal stock, some bay leaves and some chats. Place pan in the dying embers of a wood-fired oven overnight. "Fridge the next day. When you get home, removed chats and bunny bits and warm gravy on the stove top, making sure to get off all the lovely crunchy caramelized bits on the bottom

Add a container of sour cream and some bacon bits. Add bunny back and chats back to pan to warm through, and serve.

I have to say, that despite the rabbit falling off the bone, it was very dry. My intent was to long slow braise it, yet I obviously overdid it. The potatoes, however, were INSANE! More proof of the maxim, "everything goes better with bacon... and sour cream"!!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Cup Cake Crazy!

Trends. I don't like them. I've never been one to jump on the bandwagon... despite what my SOLE detractors say. **insert evil grin icon**. This has always served me well. The dolphin tattoo I so desperately wanted on my shoulder blade, at 16 is a good example. And yes, I know.. tatts on chicks are all de rigeur these days, but I remind you of my age. An Eastern Suburbs private school "gel" did NOT have tatts of dolphins, or anything else, back in 1981. And I will be eternally grateful to Smear, or Pronger, or whatever the kindly middle-aged ex biker tattooist that I approached that Summer, for telling me "don't ever get no tatts on ya bod that ya can't imaging being 98 and in a old people's home with."

Notwithstanding his advice, I DID get a slave chain tattooed over my hip whilst working for a feminist collective, in my 20's. The irony did not escape me.

So, to trends. I do not own any faux label handbags, designer cookware, and have never been to Kuta Beach. I have never skied (although I feel I'd do the apres bit very well), never been to a tanning salon or had a facial.

And I am rather chuffed about that in a middle-aged, aging lefty, hippy pagan kind of way.

Oh, and I was pagan LONG before "Charmed" and Fiona Horne, too.

So, to cup cakes.

They are everything I loathe about food. Trendy, American, fake, overhyped, overdecorated, overdone, overblown, sugary, girly and POPULAR.


The Grumpy Old Woman in me gets all "reach for the automatic weapon and find the nearest clock tower" whenever I hear about Crabapple Cup Cake Queen, or read yet another nauseating ode to cup cakes on Chowhound. If I never seen another cup cake on Tastespotting, I will die a happy, albeit it still grumpy, old woman.

EXCEPT.... 2 of my favourite people recently converged along the cup cake ley line. My Mum and my online mum.

It was Mater Beige's 70th birthday this past weekend. And I wanted to make this first big mile stone birthday without our beloved Hobbit, something REALLY special. And cup cakes are RIGHT up Mater Beige's alley.... for pretty much all the reasons I hate them.

And my darling online Mum, Vida, from Class Cup Cakes makes them!

So with righteous Nag Champa-scented lefty chakra Universal Dharma, I ordered the cheesiest, showiest cup cakes I could get my hands on, from Vida, for Mater Beiges birthday.

And here's the thing......


Seriously WonderFull!! Forget the stale Betty Croker mix with icing made from "icing sugar mix" and water.. these things are HEAVENLY.... I suspect that it's bacuse Vida makes them with such love and passion, but these little morsels are PERFECT!!

And what makes them so glorious is THE RATIO!!!... The ratio of icing to cake to mouthful is SPOT ON!!. No more too-much-cake-in-too-big-a-piece-with-not-enough-cream-cheese.

These cup cakes are DA BOMB! 2 perfect bites, each one with the Golden Mean, 1:1.618, the veritable Fibonacci sequence of icing and cake.

I am not so far gone, as to call it frosting yet, but I fear I have started on a slippery slope of trendosity, that may soon see me sporting a faux Chanel handbag and sipping a soy latte in Maling Road. But I fear, if Vida's cupcakes involved, I might gladly sell my soul, get a butterfly tattooed on my ankle and start having my eyebrows waxed.

I LOVE your blog!!

I have recently been tagged in this meme/award by two different sources. The first was Tammy from Girls Wear Blue Too blog, and more recently by The Awakened Heart over at The Divine Feminine blog.

Firstly MASS apologies to Tammy,.... beat me, whip me, call me trash, because pesky real life got in the way of me responding to your nomination. I grovel and beseech you to forgive me, and you can blame it all on Mater Beige's 70th birthday party, which I hosted this weekend. Hell, I am all for jumping on the patriarchal paradigm of blaming my Mum!!!

And TAH, Namaste and brightest blessings on you for reminding me of this honour. Cos that's what it is. When your peers tell you that you've done well, that you've impressed them, it's the Universe's way of letting you know that the path you're on is the right one.

Which then lead me to thinking... to whom do I pass this honour on to? Do I sycophantishly give it to bloggers that I percieve are "better" than me.. cos guys, it really is about loving you blog.. but the cynic in me probabaly thinks that Pim and Choc and Zucc, and Stone Soup get about 912 of these a week.

So here's what I am going to do. Now that the stress of the past few months is beginning to wane, and Mum's birthday is over, SOLE Mama's is up and running and I actually have more time, I am going to spend this week lurking around NEW blogs.. looking up NEW people, broadening my horizons and will pass the award on to new and exciting blogs that catch my eye.

Cos we're sprunging into Spring, and the time for the new is here.

Thanks again guys, and thanks for reminding me that even though this blog sometimes feels like an albatross, it's where I need to be headed. Thanks for reminding me that The Cycle has turned and the Dark of Winter is behind me. As surely as Demeter hears Persephone return, Winter will fall away and once more ideas and rants and tirades and silliness will bloom!

Onwards and upwards!

ED: Ok, My first award goes to Zoe at Progressive Dinner Party. Fun, sassy, irreverent, smart.. what's not to like. But she gets the first of these award for including the following line, in a recipe about Marinara:

That night I dreamt of a man who sacrificed his two unicorns and his soul to Bill Clinton, but I guess there are better ways to advertise that I have a loose concept of reality.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

An Ode to Duck Fat

image from /www.luvaduck.com.au

Had we but world enough, and time,
Every dish would be made of thine!
We would sit down and think which way
To cook with thou, everyest day.
In the 'fridge, by the home made pesto's side
Shouldst there I find you.
Your vegetable love should grow
Vaster than braising, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
The sheen you givest to a red-wine glaze;
Two hundred to you and lemon zest,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, Duck Fat, you deserve this state,
Nor would I cook at slower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Hungry children hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of fast foodie-ty.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
in a Macca's chain, ne'er shall sound
Your oleaginous song: then worms shall try
That long preserved confit,
And your quaint flavour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
KFC's fine and private place,
But Subway, I think, do not you, embrace.

Now therefore, while the oleaginous hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy salivating tongue transpires
At every pore with wood-fired ovens' fires,
Now let us sautee while we may,
And we'll get to use our Le Creuset ,
Rather at once our Chats devour
Than languish in the slow-cooker's power.
Let us roll all our Rosemary and all
Our Maldon Sea Salt up into one ball,
And tear your pleasures with rough strife
Forgetting what you'll do to our cholesterol, for life:
Thus, though we bought you for a hefty price,
you'll go SO well with Arborio rice!

Apologies to Andrew Marvell.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

This could ONLY happen in our family!!



Our beloved pup.

She is my baby, my one true love.. she is my night and day!

Furry and I adopted her as a 2 year old from the Burwood RSPCA. We adopted her against the advice of the keepers there, but as soon as I looked into those beautiful, mournful eyes, I KNEW in my heart, she was my girl.

We were told not to adopt her as she had a severe phobia of men.. I mean she really REALLY hated them, and I have a husband and 3 sons. But I just knew that it would all work out.

The RSPCA told us she was a wire-haired pointing griffon, and for the past 5 years that's what we thought she was!

So, after 2 years of her puddling whenever one of the kids raised its voice, or her falling to the ground and wetting herself in fear when my husband stood up from the couch, we had a breakthrough.

Every night for TWO YEARS, Furry would lie on the floor, with a treat for Stella in his out stretched hand, no eye contact, just lie there, and she never, ever took it.. until one night there was a horrible thunderstorm and she came running thru the house and LAUNCHED herself into Furry's lap...

And there she has stayed for the past three years!

She is a devoted, loving dog, with the sweetest nature. She adores our kids, and Furry and I tell everyone she is BEST DOG IN WORLD!

Our friends are jealous of her, and tell us constantly that she is a testament to our limitless love and patience!

She still puddles if she sees as gun, or a choker chain, and is still very shy with strangers, but she no longer puddles all over our bed if a strange man comes to the door!!

So, last week hubs and I were talking about Stella, and wondering WHO would abuse a dog so badly, and I decided to find out more about breeders, and maybe get some info..

We thought she was a wire haired pointing griffon, remember??

So, after a week of detective work, we had her picture shown to some Australian judges of Wired hared pointers, and they all agreed that she wasn't a Griffon, she was a Briard!!


And kudos to Lea from Briard Lovers, who came over on the weekend to confirm Stella's Briard-osity!

What is a Briard, you might ask??

Early tapestries of the eighth century depict these large shaggy dogs with the Emperor Charlemagne and in the eighteenth century Napoleon was also reputed to have Briards. Unfortunately, shepherds were not renowned for their writing skills and little is available during this time on the history of the Briard. In fact, it is from the United States of America that some of the early documentation comes. In 1789 the Frenchman, La Fayette, introduced Briards to Thomas Jefferson who became one of the first breeders in the USA. Jefferson was a man with a keen appreciation for the usefulness of dogs and of the Briard he wrote 'they are the finest house and farm dogs I have ever seen'.
Back in France in 1897 the first official description or "standard" governing the appearance of the Briard was drawn up by Le Club Francaise du Chien de Berger. The work of the herding dogs is so specialised that the work demands specific qualities of the body and spirit and especially attitude. These characteristics were defined in this early French Standard and revisions in 1908, 1924, 1925 have led to the current standard in France.
The Briard has been the official dog of the French Army and is somewhat rare today because so many were lost in World War 1. He was used to carry supplies to the front lines and served as a sentry dog. Due to his keen hearing, reputed to be the most acute of any breed, he was used by the medical corps to search for wounded soldiers. The reports stress the amazing ability of the Briard to lead the corpsmen to those men which still had a spark of life in their bodies. It was said that any man a Briard passed by was beyond assistance.
The Briard is not a breed created by modern zoology but rather is the natural descendant of man's first helper, the dog of pre-history. He has evolved through time by natural selection for the qualities needed in his work.
Today this dog of the plains is more elegant than he used to be, devoted breeders have kept him not too shaggy or too big and have retained all of his original characteristics, especially his alertness and his tractable temperament.

from www.briard.com.au

So, only in the House Of Fur and Purple Love, would you get a dog that was adopted as a stray, living under an assumed identity as probably the RAREST breed in Australia, turning out to be the breed that is actually the National Dog of France... and (more importantly, as this is a food blog)...



Stella Bella give mer her best Devil-Dog look for referring to her as a WHPG for all these years!!


Madame Mouse and Stella Bella decree30th August Stella's Briard Birthday!!


Stella assumes her fave position for back-scritchings


**happy sigh**