Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Traditions are wonderful things. They link us to a group. They hold out memories in their fabric of sameness and comfort. But like everything, they have to evolve. Not change, so much as evolve. Like Mater Beige's AMAZING Xmas pudding. It was her mother's recipe of WW II, when many "traditional" ingredients were unavailable. That particular recipe has now become the tradition for myself and my children.
This year is the third without our beloved Hobbit. And will be the first of a new tradition of just lunch with Mum, my family and my brother's family. Other family members are off starting other family traditions with other families, and I am only too aware that this may be my last Xmas in Melbourne for a very long time.
So this year is going to be the best Xmas lunch EVAH and I have been given the best Xmas present of all time... darling Mater Beige has handed me the responsibility of the vegetables this year.
Now, it mightn't seem a big deal, but I can assure you it is. Mater Beige keeps telling me that my turn will come.
I have been champing at the bit, to get my hands on cooking the Xmas lunch. I lie awake at night planning and plotting. Subbing the glace cherries in the pud for 1/2 and 1/2 dried cranberries and glace ginger. Sneaking a small ramekin of brandy butter onto the table. Doing a 2 cavity stuffing of sage and chestnet puree for a real whole bird.
The possibilities are endless.
So, I need to keep traditions alive (potatoes, cauli and cheese, string beans) while giving these humble veggies a pg twist!
So my plans are:
Kipfler potatoes cut lengthways, roasted in duck fat with chunky-cut Speck, sea salt and garlic.
organic cauli with Gruyere and nutmeg sauce.
blanched organic green beans with balsamic glaze and toasted slivered almonds.
What say you, dear reader? Any other suggestions on how to keep the veggie traditions alive, yet improve on them?
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Traditions are funny things. And nothing makes me laugh more than traditions in food. It's one thing to have a traditional Xmas lunch, or Granny's pie for your birthday, but there are those within the food community that make much of 'traditional" food.
Another term they use is "authentic"
And the one dish that gets the "authentic"-sists going like no other is Carbonara.
Sites like Chowhound and e-gullet abound with vitriolic posts devoted to the inclusion (or not) of peas, cream, onions, bacon, speck, pancetta, parmesan and any variation of that combination of ingredients.
The origins of the might Carb are lost in antiquity, but the name is derived from the Italian word for charcoal. Some believe that the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers, or that the inclusion of a liberal sprinkling of black pepper before serving looks like coal dust, thus the name. This theory gave rise to the term "coal miner's spaghetti," which is used to refer to spaghetti alla carbonara in parts of the United States. Others say that it was originally made over charcoal grills, or that it was made with squid ink, giving it the color of carbon. It has even been suggested that it was created by, or as a tribute to, the Carbonari ("charcoalmen"), a secret society prominent in the unification of Italy. The dish is not present in Ada Boni's 1927 classic "La Cucina Romana", and is unrecorded before the Second World War. It was first recorded after the war as a Roman dish, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by troops from the United States.
For me, the dish is simply about the eggs and the bacon. I will admit to some cream, some time. But recently I was given a dozen freshly laid free range eggs from my ex SIL's happy and pampered hens. I thought about a quiche (given that I am dying to try a new recipe for sour cream short crust pastry), but the siren song of barely emulsified egg was too hard to resist.
That and I freakin' HATE blind baking quiche cases.
So, sweat some white onion in butter, add the bacon/lardons/speck/prosciutto **insert pig meat of choice** and fry gently until crisp. Set aside.
Boil some pasta (I "traditionally" use spaghetti/bucattini). when done, drain, reserving 1/2 a ladle of pasta water.
Bung back in the pot and add 4 eggs and the proscuitto/pancetta or guancia, (if you are lucky enough to be able to get some) and the pasta water.
Let the steam of the pasta gently set the eggs. Don't return to heat, or you'll get scrambled eggs.
Serve with one extra perfect egg yolk, some sea salt, a goodly grind of fresh black pepper and parmigina reggiano.
Heaven in its simplicity.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
It's the first Saturday of Dec. Traditionally the day that my father, The Hobbit, would gather us all together and put up the Xmas tree. My father LOVED Xmas. For a man so usually restrained and classy and self-assured, the Silly Season took hold of him in ways that I can't account for. It gave him permission to let his inner Tacky Consumer out for a run. Mum and Daddy-Oh's house was filled with bells that chimed "Silent Night", Nutcrackers which performed voice activated electronic renditions of "Sleigh Bells".
This the man who instilled in me a love of museums, art and architecture, but had "Hooked on Christmas" on loop for the entire month of December. One day I will blog about the Furtive Santa.
So today is the first time since he died that I have been able to get out my Xmas tree.
I must be his daughter in all senses, as my xmas tree is a tribute to tack.
It's a revolving, purple fibre-optic tree.
And I love it.
I love it more because My Dad bought it for me. We saw it in Target in Aug 2002 and both gasped with sheer wonder at the complete cheap tawdriness of it.
I proudly confess to assembling it on the August Saturday and displaying it a full FOUR months before anyone else.
I have had people knock on my door at night, breathless with the shlock frowziness of my tree, asking where I got it from.
So in about 1/2 an hour, Mater Beige is dropping by, we're going to have a coffee and dress my tree.
And talk about how much Dad would have loved it.
Will post photos when it's up.
Off to pop "Santa Baby" on loop.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Rising prices are the work of our food giants, not landlords
MICHAEL BAKERDecember 1, 2009
As all of the excitement ebbs from the much anticipated replacement of one Canberra political hack with another, Australian consumers will now refocus on the things that concern them most in the runup to Christmas. This includes the price of food.
University of NSW professor, Frank Zumbo, recently made waves by drawing attention again to what makes execs at Woolworths and Coles absolutely squirm—that food prices in this country are growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the developed world.
The professor's explanation was pretty simple, basically that the Big Two raise prices faster than their foreign counterparts because they can get away with it. Why? Because they own 80 per cent of the market.
Read the full article here.
More and more I realise that most people out there are sheeple. And particularly truculent, habitual sheeple at that. Maybe because I am an old lefty hippy at heart, and believe in the collective ju-ju of "people power", but we (YOU!) have no-one to blame but yourselves.
It was the glorious Froggie who was shunned as "the ferals up the hill" when choosing to live as sustainable lifestyle as possible.
Me? I don't get shunned, but I still have friends and family who look at me with that endearing moist-eyed, pitiful smile when I tell them I buy most of my produce at small independent supermarkets, or at farmer's markets. They think it's a game to come to a BBQ at my house, bringing with them their pre-fab Slaveways coleslaw and asking "where did this come from" as they poke my Rutherglen Lamb.
It's like recycling. Once upon a time, it was only loonies like me who recycled. Now everyone does it without a thought. Some of us have been saving water for years. Now even the most hard-hearted right winger gets a twinge of conscience at taking a long shower (Except for Tony Abbott who I suspect takes perverse delight in singing all the verses of "American Pie" during his morning ablutions)
So I will brook no whingeing from the "but groceries are oh-so-expensive" crowd, because there ARE alternatives. And the information about those alternatives is easily accessible and valid.
Once again, I jump up on my soapbox and point out that shopping the way I and many other do IS CHEAPER THAN SHOPPING AT COLES AND WOOLIES.
So shut up all you numpties with your designer grocery bags, and your "free-range" eggs. You're still shopping at Coles or Woolies for all your posturing. If you are REALLY serious about saving money AND doing something nice for the planet, get to your local farmer's markets, learn about seasonal produce, source an ethical supplier and buy the other stuff like toothpaste and bog-roll at Aldi and IGA
Thursday, 26 November 2009
This week, I am back to reality, with the last of Lima Bean's VCE exams and Mme Mouse being laid up with a small operation on her foot.
I have gone from having my own haus mari, to being a beck and call girl.
So, with Mme Mouse bed-ridden and mainlining Panadeine Forte, I needed to cook something delicious and nutritious and easily re-heated.
Colcannon (Irish: cál ceannann, meaning "white headed cabbage") is a traditional Irish dish made from mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage, butter, salt, and pepper. It can contain other ingredients such as milk, cream, leeks, onions, chives, garlic, boiled ham or Irish bacon. At one time it was a cheap, year-round staple food.
An old Irish Halloween tradition was to serve colcannon with prizes of small coins concealed in it, as the English do with Christmas pudding. This is still done today and small amounts of money are placed in the potato.
It is similar to the modern version of the English dish, bubble and squeak. In Atlantic Canada (especially Nova Scotia and Newfoundland), a local version of the dish is popular among those raised in rural communities. Brought to the provinces by Irish and Scottish settlers, the recipe consists of potatoes, milk, butter, diced carrots and turnip mashed together. This gives it a distinct orange and white colour (as opposed to the green of the Irish version). Some also add onions, garlic and even chopped up bacon. It is routinely served during large holiday meals like Christmas, New Years Eve, Robbie Burns night and Canadian Thanksgiving.
The Dutch also have a dish that is similar called stamppot boerenkool, made from potatoes and kale mashed together with milk, butter, salt, and pepper, and often served or cooked with a large sausage. A condiment of pickled pearl onions is common.
It is also called Rumpeldethumps in Scotland. And it is a perfect accompanyment to a roast chook.
Take an organic, free-range chook, and stuff an orange in the cavity. Slide some butter and sage under the skin and bake at 200C for 1hr 20 mins.
While chook is cooking, boil 1kg of Dutch Cream potatoes. Mash roughly with S&P, a knob of butter and some double cream.
In a pan, wilt some cabbage, kale or silverbeet with a diced onion and some diced bacon.
When bacon is crispy and onion glassy, add to potato mix and stir through. Pour into an oven proof dish, top with grated Cheddar and bake with the chook for the last 40 mins.
When done, let the chicken rest, and make pan gravy with some orange juice and a splash of Cointreau, and serve with the colcannon.
Just before serving, make a wee well in the colcannon, and add another knob of butter.
A recipe for the traditional Irish Halloween dinner (lunch) on the back of a 10kg pack of Rooster spuds
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
PNG is a foodie/localvore's wet dream. All the produce sold at the local market is from the area... and I mean, within a couple of hours' WALK. No pesticides are used (too expensive) and the suppliers are the local villages, so the money you spend stays in the local community.
You can go to the supermarkets and get apples or pears, or watermelon wrapped in plastic, but why would you??
I also wanted to find out about local dishes, and on the way home from Madang this weekend, we stopped at a road side stall to buy what I thought was lemon grass.
It turned out to be something called pit-pit, and at K2.00 (AUD $0.75) I thought that I'd give it a red hot go, and get our haus mari to teach me to cook it.
pit-pit is the edible stalk of a wild cane that grows rampantly up here. It looks like lemongrass on steroids. And I was reliably informed that to cook pit pit, you need coconut. Not kulau, young coconut, but "dry" coconut.
And to get to the meat of the dry coconut, I was going to need some tools.
A panga, or a mean-arse freaking HUGE bush knife. And a coconut scraper.
You can buy electric coconut scrapers up here, for about K300.00, but for the amount of times that I will be using it, a K4.00 worked just fine.
It's bloody hard work, though, and took about half an hour to scrape the meat from a single coconut.
you peel the outer leaves from the pit pit, and expose the "meat", which can only be described as like a white bullrush.
Boil the pit pits in water and salt, for about 20 minutes. Add sliced "strong banana" if you care to.
While the pit pit is cooking, add about 1/2 a cup of water to your scraped coconut and wring the cream out of it. Discard the coconut pulp.
Drain the cooking water from the pit-pit/banana and return to pot. Add the coconut milk, a sliced chili, 1/4 of a brown onion finely chopped, a knob of fresh grated ginger and bring back to the boil. Simmer for a further 10 minutes.
The banana takes on the texture of a cooked potato and the pit-pit absorbed a lot of the coconut water. It's amazingly tasty and must be super low-GI, as we weren't hungry again for hours.
Monday, 16 November 2009
This is one place I am definitely NOT allowed to go to on my own.
To get to Labu Market, you have to go via the docks.. which is where Furry got the bullet hole in his car.
Labu Market sells mostly buaii and marijuana, but also mud crabs.
Except today, they sold out.
So, Tuesday, I am grabbing a banana boat
and for $15AUD, I am being taken to Labu Village
to forage for them myself!!
Hooray for Labu-ians with no crabs, that lead to foraging adventures!!
and here's my posse.. complete with Jack (in the safety vest)
heading off to Top Town to buy a baby billum to take to Madang for the weekend.
Will report back later.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Open some coconut milk
Total cost? about $10AUD for the prawns and about $0.75c for the coconuts.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
I am in love.
Totally, utterly smitten!
Forget everything you might have read, or seen on the Interwebs.
It is simply the most amazing, foreign, wonderful place in the entire world. Sure, we've got pot holes that would swallow a small family saloon, but pretty much everything else I'd heard is crap.
So far,I've walked around the markets (the ones I had photos of last time), driven around with my window down (a huge no-no according to Lonely Planet), stopped on a lonely stretch of road to buy fish from the scary-looking dudes who string their catch up between two palm trees (no photos, I was being well-behaved and respectful)
Highlight?, Myhaus mari came running thru the gate, with her arm out, and gave me the biggest hug and said "Missus Ella!!! OH! I am so happi!! Welcome HOME!"
Everything here is so BIG.. I mean, freaking HUGE!!!!! The mountains, the bird, the freaking prawns the size of lobsters... on steroids....
The giggles of the young women at the market, when I told them I would cry if there were no mud crabs.
Here's a little sample of my life over here. I am sitting in my very chi chi poo poo house, with my guards and my house staff, typing on the internet to a worldwide audience of educated people. But later this afternoon, I am going to meet with a 9th generation female witch doctor, whose going to read my future.
Day one here, I drove around in the car, with John and Jack .. the Company "fix it" man, who is an ex-PNG policeman, and HIGHLY respected up here. He is very gruff and tough, and not above ordering someone beaten badly for a perceived slight on me.
So I am packing some serious "cred" with these two guys in the car.
Lae has a population of about 50,000 Nationals, and I reckon, withing 24 hours of me arriving, the word was out that Missus Ray was in town and driving around (the cars are all recognised)..., people were waving out in the street and calling out "Hello Missus!! You good driving!!"
So, Jack and John take me to the Supermarket..... queues part, as Jack leads me thru. Armed guards follow us, to make a point of keeping me "safe"... and showing Mr Jack how fearsome they are...
And there is music in the Supermarket... piped in music.
And on comes a song......
That I like.......
So I start singing.....
In the supermarket aisle...
To "Buffalo Soldier"
And the armed guards do this:
And Jack does this:
And John does this:
and withing about 20 seconds I have Jack and John swaying like Hula Girls (complete with hand movements) while I croon Buffalo Soldier into a potato masher.
That is kinda how me and my posse bounce up here.
So, about 2 hours after the above incident, I get back home, and the guard opens the gate and starts laughing at me.
The word is out.
I am not Missus Ray any more, I am "Crazy White Ladi bilong Trukai" or something like that!
So here's another example.
Last time I was up here, was told I wasn't allowed to go to the Botanical Gardens, as it is full of "cowboys and raskols".. ie, escaped convicts and criminals, who would chop me up and sell me back piece by piece to my family.
So I mention to John that I want to put in a herb garden at the house, and he suggests that I go to the Botanical Gardens.
I am a bit worried, but I trust John, so off we go.
Far from what others have described, I find a beautiful, if not poorly maintained garden that could be of world standard with a bit of care.
This dude come out. His English is very good. VERY good. He's wearing a filthy torn shirt, ragged pants and barefoot. he looks like a classic bloody raskol. He takes me walking and shows me stunning... and I mean STUNNING plants. He picks me frangipanis for my hair. He shows me a hybrid ginger plant that he has bred.
Umm.. What?? This guy is a ragged. filthy gardener (at best).
He's the senior Botanist.
And he is giving me a private, free tour of HIS botanical garden.
And he's going to strike me a cutting of a vanilla vine, to grow at the house.
And he asked me why more tourists don't come to visit him.
And I didn't know the answer to that.
I am a firm believer in setting your own house in order. Thinking local and acting global and all of that.
I am going to make the Lae house a place of respectful employment for Nationals, based on mutual trust and respect, and ethical and equitable wages.
And be fucked, if I am going to drive around with my window up, just because the Lonely Planet Guide says I should.
And I am going to use the Interwebs to change the entire world's perception of Lae.
I swear it.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
The Lima Bean came to me recently and told me that he was thinking of throwing in his studies and becoming a barrista. I instantly went into Jewish Mother mode and told him he was pronouncing it wrong
"It's BARRISTER, dahlink, not BARRISTA"
So, more of the Jewish/Italian/Greek mother came out in me this morning, when I was making him breakfast. What do you make to send your son out into the most stressful time of his entire schooling?
For me it was a no-brainer. It had to be something low GI, nourishing, healthy and "brain-boosting"
Enter my fave range of breakfast foods, Real Good Foods .
What is Real Good Food?
The closest most of us come to eating wholefoods is through a diet of white & refined rice & bread – nutritionally ‘empty’ food that fails to give us the essential nutrients found naturally in wholefood. Advocates of wholefood claim that up to 90% of nutrients such as b vitamins, calcium, protein and vitamin e are removed from the grain in its refinement.
With the idea of returning organic wholefood to our diet in an enticing way, realgoodfood began. Eleven years on we remain committed to our philosophy of working with certified organic and biodynamic organic wholefood. Our ingredients are grown in nutrient rich soil by Australia’s best growers and minimally processed to preserve flavour and valuable oils. This is premium wholefood.
My personal fave is their organic lemon polenta porridge.
A coeliacs delight, this organic porridge has a zesty tang that will warm your heart. Made with freshly ground corn meal & wholegrain rice this is a creamy meal that gives long lasting energy. Corn & wholegrain rice are nutritious grains that are well worth a place in a wholefoods diet. ? We recommend it be cooked with a combination of water, milk & apple or pear juiceI cooked it in whole milk, with some organic honey. It's wonderfully creamy and rich, with a real "stick to your ribs" goodness about it. It's bung full of whole nuts and dried fruit as well. It is pretty much made of pure, organic, biodynamic, Lima Bean-fueling awesomeness. It's not cheap, but 1/2 a cup of mix makes about 1.5 cups of finished polenta. More than enough for a growing Lima Bean. I get mine from the organic fruit shop in Kerrie Road, where they stock quite a few Real Good Food products, including another fave:
So, if you're reading this today, spare a thought for Lima Bean. There is a lot of pressure on kids today to make life decisions at the tender age of 17, and the pressure that's applied to kids, in regard to VCE, is far more than when I did my HSC all those years ago. He may not end up being a barrister, and I am actually quite OK with that, but however today's results turn out, I know that he's gone off with a tummy full of brain-enhancing goodness.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
I am far from prudish. There are not that many people in the South East suburbs of Melbourne who haven't seen the tattoo encircling my left breast. Maybe my boss and an aged Auntie or two. But last night, while watching The Simpson's with my son, The Lima Bean, I found myself doing a double take at the above video.
For the record I loathe KFC, and not just because I am a grumpy, middle aged hippy with localvore tendencies.
It's because it's crap.
So, back to the ad. It is just me, or is there something slightly pornographic about it? Admittedly, I have seen almost no porn. I once watched about 30 seconds of a John Holmes film entitled "Nasty Nurses" until I became distressed at the sight of Mr Holmes wrestling with what was obviously a large African Conga eel that was attempting a proctological exam on a Nurse. The Nurse was obviously on her way to a showing of "Rocky Horror" after her shift, as she was wearing fishnets and suspenders, making it all the more difficult for her to fend of said Conga eel.
God Bless you, Mr Holmes, for your valiant efforts.
But I digress.
So, there was myself and The Lima Bean watching some nubile young things writhe and lick and suck and moan and generally gettin' their swerve on with something called a KFC Crush. Seriously. Pause the vid at 5 seconds. Between shots of the guy welcoming a face/mouthful of creamy liquid. What the HELL is that tongue doing??!!??
I remember back to when I was about 14 and ads for "feminine products" made their way onto Prime Time telly. My beloved, much adored, late father who was positively Puritan in outlook would get all twitchy when Modess ads came on. There we'd be, watching Hawaii 5-0 on a Sat night, with our Drops On The Rocks and lemonade, and waiting for the ubiquitous "Book 'em Danno" line, when an ad featuring sphagnum moss and some blue liquid in a beaker came on.
There would be an immediate drop in pressure in the room, while we either waited the ad out, or one of us thought of something witty and non-menstrual to say.
So there we were, my 17 y/o son and I, pretty much glued to the telly, wondering how the fuck we'd ended up on a cable porn chanel, when we don't even HAVE cable in the house.
So I resorted to out family's stand-by in uncomfortable circumstances and said:
"So, how IS the study for your Lit exam coming along?"
And you know what? I have NO idea what the damn thing was advertising. Can anyone enlighten me?
Monday, 12 October 2009
This weekend past the girls and I headed off to Noojee, where one of their brothers has a B&B. Noojee is a tiny wee little place about 1/2 way between Warrigal and Yarra Junction, on the Latrobe river. Is is set in some of the most spectacularly beautiful country in Vic, and is close to the Gippsland Gourmet trail and only 1.15 hours from Melbourne.
The Noojee General Store is about the place in town that sells the papers, bait, groceries, car batteries etc. It is truly a general store of ole.
The also do a freakishly good Florentine and an AWESOME ginger snap, all home made there on the premises.
I can highly recommend the ginger biscuits as a "I sang Tainted Love too loudly into an empty shampoo bottle under the influence of far too much champagne" cure.
Girls weekends baffle most men. And indeed they should. They're about re-affirming the bonds of sisterhood and kinship. They're all about sleeping in and getting pissed. And gossiping 'till the wee smalls, and talking about husbands and clots and career choices and lice treatments.
Men, I think, think that we sit around and talk about technique. Or comparative "size". But you know what guys? YOU'RE NOT AS IMPORTANT AS YOU THINK YOU ARE. We're more likely comparing boob sag that wedding tackle. We're more likely to pick up a trashy novel, than the local white trash, and I can guarantee.. just like your version of male bonding, the footy trip.. WHAT HAPPENS ON A GIRLS WEEKEND STAYS ON A GIRLS WEEKEND.
So I'll say no more.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
But here's the thing.
Has anyone ever tried to photograph ice cream, with boiling liquid poured over it? Can you imagine what you end up with?
I once heard that professional photographers use mashed potato in shots requiring ice cream. Which allays my conscience somewhat, in that the above image of "ice cream" is probably actually Deb.
Anyway, I digress.
Last night, Mme Mouse and her friends came for dinner and I decided to serve affogato for dessert. Affogato is Italian or drowning. The actual name for this dessert/drink is affogato alla cafe, or "drowning in coffee".
Furry recently sent me a care parcel of Goroka organic coffee, my latest obsession. Which was my latest obsession for about 5 minutes before I decided to turn said coffee into an affogato, which is NOW my new obsession.
I made a double strength pot of coffee, chilled some Marie Antoinette style champagne glasses, whacked 3 hefty scoops of Street's Blue Ribbon Vanilla Ice cream.
Anyway, back to the affogato. I poured the coffee into a gravy jug and added a goodly splash of Frangelico AND a spoon of Green and Black's organic hot chocolate powder.
Now take the hot coffee/chocolate/liqueur mix and pour it over the ice cream. Scarf down immediately and savour the intense hot/cold/creamy/bitter sensation that is an affogato.
OR, you can do what I did, which was to pour the hot liquid onto the ice cream and try to take a photo. And end up with a kinda nasty grey schmaltz. So you drink it. And make another. And try to photograph it. But it doesn't work. So you drink it. And make another. And wonder why your photos are now of BLURRY grey schmaltz. So you make another and come up with the great idea of an action pouring shot. Which doesn't work. So you drink it.
And then realised you've consumed 8 shots of espresso, 4 shots of Frangelico, you're pissed and you heart is doing the Tarantela. You sway off to bed and spend the next four hours wide awake, waiting for the booze to override the caffiene, realising that you are meant to be doing Ocsober and cursing your own stupidity.
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
I'm not too sure what we did during Rocktober, but I remember Barry Bisel, Richard Stubbs, Lee Simon and Greg Evans telling us all "ONLY 12 DAYS LEFT UNTIL ROCKTOBER!!!"
I have vague memories of Under 18's concerts for the princely entry of $2.99 and I possibly attended a "Rocking with the Royals" concert during one ROCKtober. And I am sure I saw the OILS (**insert appropriate clenched-fist-punching-air movement**) play in a circus tent opposite Kooyong staduim.
I also have a vague disquieting sensation that ROCKTOBER-fest , at the Dandenong Showgrounds might have featured highly in later ROCKtobers.
I do clearly remember that hits of ROCKTOBER 1982 (the year of my HSC) being "Pass the Dutchie", "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go"
I defy anyone of my age not to be humming:
"It's always tease, tease, tease,/ You're happy when I'm on my knees"
Anyway, fast forward to 2009, and things have changed. A trannie is now something quite different from what is was back then, Blondie split up, Peter Garrett sold out and the Royal that we Rocked with got divorced and then died.
And 28 years on from that most seminal of music years, 1982, ROCKtober has become
Just like 1982, the 10th month of the Gregorian Calender year is STILL all about the booze.
or now, the benifits of giving it up for a month. The web site, found here contains some startling facts about alcohol and alcohol-related disease. Funds raised go to help Ted Noff's Life Education, an awesome charity that
" empower (s)children to make the right choices for a safe life, free from the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol. These programs are delivered by a team of 120 qualified educators, through a fleet of mobile learning centres equipped with the latest technology to create a unique and exciting learning environment for children.Topics covered include:Healthy food choices, Bullying, Safety with medicines,Negotiation and refusal in peer pressure situations, Effects of smoking, The dangers of alcohol misuse, Illicit drugs (secondary school programs)"
The web site also has an awesome page to help with the detox process, should you decide to go the whole hog. You can even buy a leave pass, if you need to attend an event and want a drink or two.
Me, it's about losing some weight, getting back in shape for Summer (and for Furry's return **evil wink*) and realising that at 44, I really need to devote at least one month to being slightly healther.
And while, in my mind, it's still 1982, Andy Marron is still drumming for The Painters and Dockers, there's a Scrumpy bottle on the upturned milk crate cum coffee table that someone has turned into a bong, and I am looking HOT in my Lubervicher slash Boy George hat, the reality is that I am 44, hit 100kgs after giving up the fags, could do with some healthier life choices and my liver (and skin and hair and nails) will thank me.
Sunday, 27 September 2009
The hardest thing to deal with over the past few weeks are the dogs, Stella Bella Bottom Smeller and Mrs Peaches.
SBBS has returned to her previous neurotic behaviour, of cowering whenever someone's voice is raised and gulping madly at her food and then muscling the smaller Mrs Peaches out of the way and gobbling down hers. And when you yell at her, she cowers, drops to the ground and wets herself.
Last week, I headed of for a girls weekend, leaving the pups and Mme Mouse home alone for 2 nights.
My fabulously gorgeous and relaxing weekend feeling lasted exactly 4 seconds after I walked through the door at THOPL, to find the pups had muscled their way into my bedroom, urinated all over my bed, shat in the washing pile, torn up their bedding and shat in the lounge room and the corridor....
So much for that loving holiday getaway feeling.
So blogging, and Interwebbing in general, has taken a back seat to life, neurotic dogs, brainiac sons wanting to make stupid life choices, the vagaries of SKYPE and remembering which night is rubbish night.
I am also getting better at cooking for one. Cous Cous has become my new best friend. Some chicken stock (or some Vegeta and water), some sliced chorizo, a handful of sundried tommies, a wodge of mozz or fetta and voila! super quick and easy dinner.
So I put out a call on Twitter the other week, for a Middle Eastern recipe for chicken and cous cous. And the divine Zoe, from Progressive Dinner Party, came to the... err... party with a recipe that she assured me, I would fall in love with. She was right.
It's from Ottolenghi the cookbook 2008 and I adapted it slightly, as I already had some macadamias in the house.
For the marinade
2.5kg organic chicken breasts, skin on
4 onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
150ml extra virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of saffron threads
freshly ground pepper
For the hazelnut paste
200g unskinned hazelnuts, lightly roasted and chopped roughly (I used macadamias with awesome results)
1/2 cup of honey
2 teaspoons rosewater
1. In a large dish mix the chicken with the onion, garlic, olive oil, water, lemon zest and juice, ginger, cinnamon, saffron threads and salt and pepper. Leave to marinate minimum 1 hour. .
2. Preheat the oven to 200C. Transfer the chicken and the marinade to a roasting pan. With the chicken skin side up, cook for 30-35 minutes.
3. Meanwhile mix the hazelnuts/macadamias, honey and rosewater together to make a paste.
I did this in my mortar and pestle and the results were brilliant. You want to grind a few of the nuts to a paste, but leave most of them whole (ish) for texture.
Remove the chicken from the oven and spoon the nut paste onto it, heaping it up quite high. Return to the oven for a further 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the nuts are golden brown in colour.
4. Serve with cous cous.
Saturday, 29 August 2009
AS part of my looksee tour of PNG, we were treated to a night in Cairns. An absolute must on my to-do list was eat of Ochre Restaurant.
Australian tasting platter, featuring Barramundi spring rolls with wild lime dipping sauce, Ochre house salad - mixed salad leaves, roast Roma tomato, crisp bacon, olives, Mungalli feta cheese, spiced macadamia nuts, emu fillets smoked in paperbark and quinoa with native herbs.
Formerly Red Ochre Grill, this restaurant is owned by Chef Craig Squire and specialises in fresh local seafood, game, bush foods, premium Australian produce and regional Australian cuisine.
Some of their most famous dishes include Salt and Pepper Prawn and Crocodile, Grilled Kangaroo with Quandong Chilli Glaze, Wattleseed Pavlova and their Australian Antipasto Plate. I had heard many things about their lemon myrtle panacotta, which the Lonely Planet Guide touts as "worth moving to Cairns for". I was also curious about their smoking of meats in paperbark.
Salt and pepper leaf crocodile, grilled kangaroo with Quandong chilli glaze, sweet potato fritter and dipping sauces.
The Ochre manages to showcase native ingredients whilst studiously avoiding the "bush tucker" hype. The restaurant itself reflects "Australia" without resorting to the larrikinism of The Ettamogah Pub or "Green and Gold Glory/our country was built on sporting prowess" bullshit. The service was attentive, friendly and professional. I hope that more local chefs who announce themselves as proponents of "local foods" tap into using some of these amazing local ingredients.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
The theme was "colour me crazy", which was harder than it sounded, given that my luggage was lost and I pretty much had on the clothes I'd left Melbourne in, THREE DAYS BEFORE!
I establish my position as the new village idiot with The Goode Wymen of Lae, by whipping out my camera and taking photos of food. Like the locals at the market, they are all a little weirded out by this.
Pretty much all the food in PNG is organic, primarily because pesticides et al are just too expensive. When you buy your fruit and veg at the markets, the produce is from the surrounding villages, each of which grows one, maybe two crops. Locals may have walked 3 hours down from their Highland village to sell their produce.
Possibly the sweetest, plumpest prawns I have ever eaten.
A side of smoked salmon is promptly demolished.
It sounds all very Mehm Sahib and pink gin, but it's not. Expat wives aren't allowed to work. It's a condition of their husband's visa. LOTM provides an excellent networking opportunity, and raises money for local charities and schools. Education isn't free in PNG. In a country where the average wage is about $1.10AUS per hour, educating a child can cost as much as $500. Rather than the clique of hot house flowers that I expected, I met a wonderful group of intelligent, sassy, independant women who are very involved in their local community. AND I possibly lined up a gig for some volunteer work with Médecins Sans Frontières as well.
Not bad for a morning's work.