Friday, 19 November 2010

Bake A Difference this Xmas

Every year, the lives of thousands of disadvantaged Australians are transformed by the support of Mission Australia. This Christmas, please join with CSR Sugar to give others a fair go by baking gifts for your loved ones, friends and co-workers and donate the money saved from buying presents to Mission Australia.

In return, CSR Sugar will match your donation, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $100,000.

“With everyone’s support we could raise a massive $200,000…” says Toby Hall, CEO of Mission Australia

“… that would go a long way to help transform the lives of so many people”.

All money raised will go directly to support Mission Australia’s key services helping individuals, families and communities in need. Mission Australia strives to transform lives and create a fairer Australia.

“We really want everyone to get involved in this great cause…” says Tim Hart CEO of CSR Sugar “…from kids cooking a sweet gift for Mum or their teacher, to friends who just want to give a gift that is made from the heart and helps those less fortunate. It’s very simple Bake a Difference and donate the dollars you saved to a great cause.”

Everyday is a time of giving but even more so this Christmas. The GFC is over and even though the interest rates have gone up again, many of us are the still the fortunate ones. There are many that are homeless or have little money to enjoy and celebrate this festive season.






So, this Christmas pop on an apron, grab a whisk and bowl, and get baking a gift your loved ones are really going to love. Make sure you’re a part of CSR Bake a Difference for Mission Australia.


The very delicious Jeroxie is hosting this event,

You don’t have to be a food blogger to join in. Just as long as you have a blog, you will be able to post your recipe. As with all events, there are a few simple rules to follow:




Please cook/bake or create a dish that includes sugar and also embrace the Christmas theme

Add a link back to the host, Jeroxie (http://jeroxie.com/addiction) and also to the donate page on CSR Bake a Difference (http://www.bakeadifference.com.au/Donate.aspx)

Include CSR Bake A Difference logo in the blog post. Please copy and paste the HTML code provided.



Please submit your post by the deadline of 14th of December 2010 and also send your entries to events [at] jeroxie (dot) com with Bake A Difference in the subject line and the following details:



Your name

Your Blog Name/URL

Your Post URL

A photo that is 600px X 400px

Your mailing Address (for the thank you package)

All participating bloggers will receive a THANK YOU package from CSR Sugar as a form of appreciation. And a round up of all the creations will be showcased both on Jeroxie's and CSR Sugar Facebook page

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

BULLBOARS!!!

Oh!

My!

Giddy!!

Aunt!

My love of bullboars snags is well known. I have been known to beg friends who were doing a weekend trip to Daylesford, to bring me back a Winter's worth. Or nag Furry into taking me away to Spa Country, on the premise of a dirty weekend, when really my hidden agenda is to get my hands on these specialty sausages.



Slow Food Australia says:

THE bull-boar is a beef and pork sausage produced by the Italian-speaking Swiss population of the Victorian goldfields since the 1850s. It is not known why so many Swiss-Italian immigrants chose to settle in and around this area. Certainly there are similarities to the northern Italian and Swiss mountainous regions, and of course language barriers made it important to congregate together. Some Swiss and Italians made their fortune on the goldfields, but the less lucky saw their future in agricultural pursuits, such as wine-making and dairying, as well as using other skills such as stone-masonry. Many agricultural and social activities still survive in today’s community, along with many names of Swiss and Italian origin.
Spices, wine and garlic make bull-boar a distinctive sausage. The recipe is at risk of extinction in the Swiss/Italian population because of the huge investment and time and labour to make a batch of these sausages. To Italian immigrants, it was simply referred to as salsiccie or ‘sausage’.
It was called bull-boar on the goldfields by the English-speaking settlers because it contained both beef and pork in roughly equal proportions, with lean beef and pork that is roughly half fat and lean. The sausage is made with wine in which garlic has steeped and has a sharp, almost ‘high’ taste. It is less fatty than most sausages so can feel slightly dry. It is full of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice, so during cooking it releases an aroma like a meaty hot cross bun.
Every family in the district has their own recipe which are all carefully guarded secrets. In many instances, apart from their family name, it is their last link with their Italian-speaking forebears who settled the area. The traditional way of cooking bull-boars is to drop them into a pot of water and then bring it to simmering point for 10 minutes.
Today, bull-boar sausage is made by a handful of local butchers. There is danger of the name being used to produce inferior product. In Hepburn Springs – a center of Swiss-Italian immigration – an annual festival celebrates local food traditions, including bull-boar sausage.

 All of the above aside, I now no longer have to beg, borrow or steal, to get my hands on 'em.

BULLBOARS SAUSAGES ARE NOW AVAILABLE IN SUBURBAN MELBOURNE!!!

Steve, of Ozzie's butchery on Mount Waverley, is a Daylesford expat, who has set up an awesome SOLE/SLOW butcher shop in Hamilton Place, Mt Waverley. He will also age steaks to your specs. Try his smallgoods, made and smoked on the premises, and his bacon is AMAZING!!

Stop what you're doing right now and go there!

Ozzies Gourmet Butcher

55 Hamilton Place
Mount Waverley VIC 3149, Australia
(03) 9809 5208

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A sick day

I'm the first to admit that I am terribly accident prone. Tearing rotator cuff muscles pole dancing, breaking 3 tarsals falling of a pair of 4inch purple suede CFM's... that sort of thing. But I don't get sick very often.

Well, ok, I get sick. I bitch and moan and mainline congee. BUT.. I still keep on going. With kids and dogs and husband that like to blow shit up, I don't have much choice.

Or maybe I am just lucky enough to RARELY get sick enough to actually warrant time off.

So, today, after spending the night at Monash Medical Centre on endone and a drip or two, dealing with heart palpatations and diverticulitis. I have a real, live sick day! Apart from a quick jaunt up for a CT scan, I actually am sick enough to stay at home!!

Welcome to my first real proper sick day in 7 years! It's almost worth the photophobia.

So today's AGITK comes to you from my couch, wherein The Lima Bean (who has the day off, thank goodnesss) is feeding me ginger ale, roast chicken and tabouleh in fresh Vietnamese rolls.

And we're watching "The Dark Crystal" and a SMOKING hot Jake Gyllehaal in "Prince of Persia"

I am ALL over this sick day business!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Hello, I'm pg and I'm a...

phaffer.

I come from a long line of phaffers. My Mum's a phaffer, my father was a world-class phaffer, and I fear my children have inherited the phaff gene.

So, I'm home from work, I've completed my nighly phaff (clean the kitchen in prep for starting dinner, put on load of washing, answer personal emails), I've got me a brandy and dry, to ease me into the weekend, and as one does, a goddess' thoughts turn to dinner.

Here's what's happening on the stove right now:


Not a bad action shot, hey? Further to my impening move to Saudi Arabia, I've sprinkled them with a mix of Rasa al'Hanout. I'm thinking of mandhi smoking them, once they've melted a bit.
And in true phaffer style, I'm not too sure where I am going with this, but I'll let you know.

Addendum:
In true phaffer style, I took inspiraion from last weeks broad bean bruscetta, and created this:


See, that's what phaffing is all about. It's opening the 'fridge half a dozen times and weighing up how well saganaki would fo with broadbeans. It'd about starting off with a Middle Easten profile and the realising that the last of the shredded smoked chicken would  totally work with that! It's about World's Best Son, the Lima Bean sniffing and tasting and choosing to add some smoked sea salt and fennel.

And while phaff-style cooking doesn't always work, and is NOT for the faint-hearted, when it comes together, as last nights "smoked chicken, broadbean, saganaki and slow roasted tomato bruscetta" did, it's worth it!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Suprised? Anyone?

Coles Supermarkets wins Choice's "Shonky Award"

A $10 meal for four that actually costs $30, a credit card that makes you spend $12,000 for a $20 reward and olive oil that is anything but virgin have all netted Shonky Awards from consumer watchdog Choice.




The Coles "Under $10 meal promotion", fronted by celebrity chef Curtis Stone, was singled out for failing to include all the ingredients in the price of its budget meals that are supposed to feed a family of four.



"If you include the uncosted 'pantry items' (including 3/4 bottle of wine) in Curtis' $7.76 Coq au vin it would actually cost more than $30," Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said.



"The deal claims you can feed four people for less than $10. The catch is you have to already happen to have some of the ingredients in your pantry, which aren't included in the price.”







Qu'elle Suprise

Monday, 25 October 2010

I can haz....

iqama?



















YES I CAN HAZ IQAMA!!!!!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Kaiyfa Halik?

For a man that doesn't officially actually have a job yet, Furry is getting around!! He's off to Kuwait later this week to check out the state of the company's plants there. Then back to Dubai, and possibly off to Qatar to do the same!

In the meantime, he..we..are now members of the Coolibah Club, the Australian expat club in Riyadh... And guess who's going to his first black-tie function at the Embassy for Melbourne Cup?


Good thing I told him to pack a suit, although, apparently, designer clothing is insanely cheap over there, and he could pick up an Armani or Hugo Boss suit for less than $500.

Hmmmmm.. Furry in Armani?

Hawt!

Although, until he starts drawing a wage, he'll just have to get the maid to air out his good old Aussie David Jones microfibre one! (Yes, I just casually said "maid". He also has a "driver".. more on that next post.)

So, with Furry as done and dusted as he can be during this hideous long and drawn out process of him actually becoming officially employed, I am adjusting to single life once again.

And I have to admit, I LOVE it.I get ALL the bed real estate to myself, I can have yoghurt for dinner, I am not serenaded by Furry "humming me a love song with his nose" overnight, and I can do what I want, when I want.

I am taking Arabic lessons (emphasis on food terms and shopping skills), and...as always.. shopping and cooking seasonally.

The Spring weather is a bit fickle at the moment, so we're going from the heater on overnight, to the cooler on by the time we get home. It's playing havoc with my menus! But recently, World's Best Son and I bought up big on broad beans.

Now, broadbeans are a much maligned veggie. Most people my age remember them as vile, bitter, grey nasty lumps of pap.

Which they most certainly are if not cooked properly. When prepared correctly, they are delicious sweet nuggets of legume-y goodness.

pg and Lima Bean's Asparagus and Broadbean Bruschetta.



Buy good bread. We chose a pasta dura from our local bakery and we cut it into doorstop wodges. While Lima Bean toasted these and rubbed them with some freshly cut garlic, I podded the broadbeans and snapped the asparagus.

Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil and throw in the asparagus. after 1 minute, throw in the broadbeans. Let them cook for a further 1 minute or until the asparagus is vivid green.

Drain and refresh in cold water.

Drain again.

Pick up each individual broadbean and squeeze it. Out should pop the most brilliant emerald green nugget. Discard the grey skin... this is the source of all your childhood angst. THIS is the offending wrapper that has assigned broadbeans along with Brussels sprouts as the 2 most maligned veggies in history.

Fry up some bacon/pancetta/prosciutto, combine with beans, asparagus, maybe some shaved leek and some crumbled fetta. Drench the whole shebang in some fresh lemon juice, a goodly slurp of olive oil some freshly ground salt and a generous grind of fresh black pepper. Mix all together, top bread with said mix and scoff.

And the next day, add some freshly cooked and peeled prawns to it and you gots an amazing seafood dish for some lovely organic bucatelli! (I reheated it over a low heat with a small knob of unsalted butter)

And, because Lima Bean is possibly the funniest, smartest young man in the world, the conversation over said scoffage was all about Dan Savage and inscrutability, so I offer you:

Did you know that my left nipple is really the vestigial nose tip of my malabsorbed twin?

Hey, you TOTALLY just read that on the Internet so it MUST be true!!

**snigger**

So, if you think that random "information" and "facts" gleaned from the "Interwebs" are permissible as "facts" or indeed, "evidence", I gots me some cyber "real estate" you might be interested in.

You might also want to look up the definition of "poetic licence" and "satire" and "semi-fictitious"

Have fun, kiddies!!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Dubai, my love, Dubai...


Dubai Airport. Looks nice, doesn't it? You could cheerfully spend a couple of hours wandering around, sniffing out stuff, don't you think?

This is where Furry just spent nearly 30 hours.

The gig with Emirates is, that if you have a long layover in Dubai, you get a hotel room.

Which Furry did. Where he had a shower and slept and Skyped me and shook off some jet lag. There was a small issue with his meds, the customs officials weren't keen on letting him out of the airport with 20kgs of cardiac/diabetes medications, so they held them over while he had his layover snooze.

Pretty simple, eh?

Well.. no.

Like EVERYTHING in my husband's life, NOTHING is simple.

He got the the airport 3 hours ahead of his scheduled departure. Was given a bum steer on directions to get his bag of meds,  spent nearly an hour finding and them finally retrieving said meds.

All good so far.

So, on his way from customs to the departure gate for his flight to Riyadh, he asked an airport security guard for directions. And said guard most politely gave those directions, swipe his access card, and let Furry out of the terminal, with the instructions: "Walk up here, around the corner, and through the door on the right"

Again, all good so far....

Until..

He attempted to re-enter the terminal at said "door on the right", to discover, he'd left the security of customs and immigration, and was now OUTSIDE with 20kgs of meds in a bag.

Not cool.

Customs officers took him to a "special" room where, thankfully, all the paperwork in triplicate was in order.

But.... there was still a language barrier that was not that easy to cross.

After repeatedly describing the contents of the case as "medicine" and pointing to his heart and saying "tablets".. tapping his wrist and saying "blood tablets" he uttered the OTHER word to describe the contents of said case:


"drugs"


And that, dear reader, is when things went South.

From here, he was taken to an even more "special" room, where he was strip-searched and drug swabbed.

And all he could think of was that he'd borrowed the suitcase from our darling friend Peakie, who had recently been to Bali.

Apparently his happy-place mantra while he was being "probed" was:

"Please don't have let her walk past some random person smoking a joint, whose smoke got on her t-shirt that was stored in the case"

So, needless to say, he missed his connecting flight to Riyadh, and after (most apologetically) being given drug-free clearance, was told NOT to leave the airport for any reason whatsoever.

Oh, and by the way, the next flight to Riyadh isn't for another 26 hours.

So, I can tell you, Dubai airport is a WONDERFUL place, unless you are a sleep deprived, recently-probed, unfairly accused drug mule who has to spend 24(ish) hours sitting in a plastic hair and eating airport food.

And, in closing, for all you international travelers who may suffer from diabetes,

Januvia, apparently, looks like Ecstasy.

Monday, 11 October 2010

He's gone.

Ok, it's now official. He's moved to Saudi.

For the past three months, we had nothing.. nada.... to hang our hats on. While all this talk of "moving to Saudi" has been the focus for us, the reality has been that nothing's been in writing.. in reality we hadn't actually had a "real" job.

The contract was signed was dependant upon the visa, which was dependant upon the medical which was dependant on the whims and vagaries of the Saudi Consulate... which at one stage rejected the visa..

On the grounds that their own paperwork was out-of-date.

And while he's in the air, winging his way to Dubai, we're still far from home and hosed.

His actual employment.. that thing he does that will earn us money.. will be dependant on FURTHER "requirement" being met once he hits the ground in Riyadh.

The issuing of his iqama.

Everything hinges on that.

So, while I dropped him off at the airport last night, and we're all full of the hope and possibility of this new life.. we do have a small way to go yet before he is officially "employed"

Still, that meant nawt last night when I had to do the kerbside drop, knowing it could be MONTHS before I see him again.

And in true Instant Kharma fashion, I turned on the radio to cover my sobbing on the way home.

Did I get "Bohemian Rhapsody"?

Did I get "Tainted Love"?

Did I "Too Drunk to F**CK", or some other uplifting, quirky and funky mindless 80's one hit wonder to whom I could have sung away my tears?

No.

My drive home playlist consisted of:

Lou Reed's "Dirty Boulevard" ("fly, fly away...")
Hunter's and Collectors "When the Rivers Run Dry" ("You got nothin' but your soul to sell, you got nothin')
Foo Fighters "Next Year" (pretty much the whole damn song")
Nickleback "Far AwaY" ("I keep dreaming that you'll be with me and you'll never go")

I swear I was waiting for REM's "Everybody Hurts" to come on and suck my soul dry.

"Nothing Compares 2U" would have made me punch myself in the throat.

So, today, I sit at work, with eyes like a sad panda with hay fever AND conjunctivitis, counting down the minutes until he lands and we can skype. I'm like a 16 year old waiting for the phone to ring.

If I start doodling  hearts over my i's and writing "Mrs Lee 4 evah" in cursive script on my pencil case, you have my permission to kill me.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Syncronicity

A few weeks ago, I needed some serious R&R.. like "if'n I don't get outta Dodge, I might go postal" kind of R&R. And in one of those random moments of epiphanatious-ness, I completley, 110% knew EXACTLY where I had to go to heal myself.


Over 18 months ago, the girls and I had headed up to Nojee for a Goddess Weekend, and I had met Sue, the owner of Nana's Place. I hadn't actually stayed there, but I'd seen it and had fallen in love and promised myself I'd come back and stay there... one day.

But when my gaskets were screaming on mach 11, for some strange reason I felt inexplicably called to go there. So after some random hunting (cos I actually had NO idea how to contact this person, who I only knew as "Sue from Nana's in Noojee", I had a phone number and my weekend was organised.

Three totally relaxing, delicious, self-indulgent days later, my nerves were screaming less, my shoulders were where there should be, in relation to my neck.. not somewhere up around my temples, making me look like a transvestite version of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, and I had ALMOST convinced myself NOT to kill certain people (yes, I AM talking about you, Furry)...

And, as you do in these social-media-savvy times, Sue and I exchanged Facebook details.

Which meant she read my previous note about what happened with Stella and Mrs Peaches.

So guess what?

Mrs Peaches is going to live at Nana's Place, in Noojee, with Sue!

We went up yesterday, and they met, and fell in love.. and Mrs Peaches frolicked (off her lead!) in the wild dandelions, and sniffed to native orchids and discovered the delights of rolling in duck poo.

And was hand fed corned beef and a wee bit of Jindi triple cream brie, with a dried cranberry in it, and was loved and snuggled and tickled.. and even Sue's wonderful partner, Wayne fell in love with her and those stupid fucking fairy wings!!!

So she's back at home with us, as yesterday was just the first meeting, but Sue is coming for dinner on Wednesday for a love-in.. and then next Saturday, Mrs Peaches will be ready to go and live in Noojee as a single dog.

And if you could have seen Mrs Peaches yesterday, leaping through the lupins, with her ewok smiley face on, you'd be as completely and utterly as happy and contented as I am right now.

You can follow Mrs Peaches story here

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Tarcutta



On the way back from Sydney, after I'd calmed down, we stopped in a place called Tarcutta... it's a dodgy outback town, famous for being 1/2 way between Sydney and Melbourne.


So it's a famous long-haul truckie stop. It even has a "Trucker's Museum" and a monument to the brave truckies killed on the highway **eyeroll*
BUT that also makes it a great place for truckie stop food...

BUT, It also makes it a place frequented by truckies... wife-basher blue singlet wearing, speeding of yer tittties, bigoted anti-everything Neanderthals with barely a functioning synapse between the lot of them.

So we're in Tarcutta, with a dog who's shit-faced stoned on Valuim, wearing a pink tutu and a pink fairy wing harness, and I need to pee... So I get out and go and pee and come back.. and Furry and Peaches aren't in the car... and I look around, and Furry is carrying Peaches, and exiting the men's loo.

This is a man who took a small fluffy lap dog, dressed as above, into the men's toilets ar Tarcutta MEGA Trucker's Stop... and survived.

And when I asked him why he didn't just leave her in the car while he had his pee, he answered " I don't think she's ready to be left on her own, for the first time in her life, yet"

Despite the fact, that at that very moment in time, we didn't have a ratified employment contract, so we were giving away our babies on a hope and a prayer, he's pretty hard to hate, sometimes.

Oh, and by the way, the Tarcutta Chicken Shop, the mainstay of my kids childhood trips to and from Sydney, is gone. **sad panda**

Monday, 4 October 2010

It's not always about the food...

Man, Saudi Visa land is a place you can get lost in.. I seriously haven't even been on here in over a month. But in my defence, I have been busy. And sometimes things happen in my life that are NOT about food.

I know, crazy talk, right?

Well... I've spent the past month doing the hideous deed of re-housing my beloved dogs, so I hope you'll forgive me for my absence.

Ok, here is the BRIEF version of my weekend… We set out for Sydney (about a 10 hr drive from us) at 2.30am on Friday morning. I was pretty much hysterical the whole way. Stella is VERY sensitive to my moods, and so I had to suck it up.. but basically I told Furry that if I was giving away my babies, and he FUBAR'd this Saudi thing, I would kill him for making me do this.

In his defence, he was also in tears.

So we make the long trip to Sydney and arrive at their new owner, Helga’s at about 11.30am and proceed to meet Helga and her Mum.

Who are, without doubt, the most beautiful, wonderful dog owners in the world. Helga has an illness that stops her from working and her Mum is her full-time carer, so they are both pretty much always home. They have made notes over the past few weeks, while we’ve been talking via phone and have gone out and bought Stella’s favourite chips (lime and black pepper Kettle chips) and a coat for Mrs Peaches to wear when it rains.

The coat is pink and has fairy wings.

They’ve roasted a pumpkin for the girls, bought some Bach Flower rescue remedy for them and made Furry and I a cake.

They bring out their boy, Bailey, who is a neutered male Briard, who was also abused and abandoned… so they know what they’re taking on with Stella.

Stella and Peaches and Bailey do some sniffing and there is a bit of growling and teeth baring.. but that is TOTALLY normal with Briards.. It’s what they all do whenever they meet.. but there is NEVER and contact….

So after a while, we let the kids off the lead.. and Bailey is showing keen interest in Mrs Peaches butt.. he keeps sniffing it…


Now for those of you who don’t know.. Mrs Peaches is a fluffy black lap dog.. and Briards are pretty much the size of a BIG German Shepherd…. With long long LONG hair.. and the blonde ones look pretty much like male lions.



So Peaches gives him a bit of a growl and he backs off.. and I mention to Helga that if he keeps doing that , she WILL nip him.. but they need to work it out.. and I am sure that all will be well.

So in the end, Furry and I leave…

We’re hysterical.. we can barely see thru the tears.. but we also feel like we have TOTALLY done the right thing.. These women are just lovely and our girls are going to be so so SO loved.

We ring that night and apparently Peaches and Helga’s Mum have totally bonded and she is had feeding her roast chicken… and Stella and Bailey are getting along famously and all is well… and Helga and her Mum (who are both vegetarian Buddhists) have bought chicken Marylands for the girls and apparently Stella didn’t like the raw carrot sticks for snackies so they’re going to STEAM them tomorrow for her.

And Furry is TOTALLY like “Can I come and be your dog, too?”

So we go to our friend's place with a really REALLY good feeling about this..

Furry and I proceed to have the FUNNIEST night of out lives and it ROCKS.. and we go to bed ad I say to Furry “Who knew that THIS night was going to be as easy as it has been?”.. and we go off to sleep knowing our girls are just going to be so loved and spoilt.

So on Sat morning, we ring them up and get a report.. and Peaches and Stella have slept on Helga’s bed and being hand fed doggie chocolates. And Peaches is getting a bit growly with Bailey, but they’ll work it out.. and Helga has a spray bottle of water called a “boo boo” and every time Peaches gets a bit too growly she gets a spray… “because we don’t ever raise our voices are smack”

And I am like “WTF? I want to go and be their bitch, too!!

And we decided that we won’t drop past on the way home, as it won’t be good for the girls.

It's done.. and we are actually a LOT more ok about it than we thought.

So off we go and hang out, up in the Blue Mountains and we have a picnic and we are totally hanging with friends and picnicking in the mountains on luscious food and our girls are happy and loved.

And we get a call that night that Bailey and Stella are totally in love and Mrs Peaches LOVES beef minced by hand and doesn’t really like the doggie chocks but LOVES being hand fed strawberries..

And now we’re ALL like “Can we come and live with you?”… and I end by saying:

We’ve poured so much love into those girls and now they’re with you, so our love is with you now.. so you're family…

And I go to bed thinking that everything is going to be juuuuuust fine.


Until…..







The phone goes at 6.15 AM on Sunday, and it’s Helga’s mother and she is HYSTERICAL… and I mean it in the medical sense of the word… She’s crying and screaming and we can barely get a word out of her…


There’s been a fight… and Helga and her mum tried to separate the dogs… and they couldn’t.. and there was a total all out dog fight in Helga’s bedroom…

Between…. STELLA AND Mrs PEACHES.

And I am like: WHAT THE ......?


These are the dogs that can’t even be bathed separately because they get anxious when they can’t see each other?

They have NEVER EVER fought.. growled over a piece of food maybe. But fight?

And drawn blood?


Apparently Bailey and Stella and Peaches were on Helga’s bed and Peaches just LAUNCHED at Stella… and there was a full on to-the-death fight…. And Helga and her mum couldn’t separate the girls and in the fray, one of them BIT Helga’s mum… and there was blood everywhere.


Eventually they got the girls apart and took Peaches outside and loved her up and calmed her down.. and had them apart for a good 20 mins and then bought her back inside… and Bailey and Stella had moved to the couch together and when Peaches saw Stella she just  LAUNCHED at her and it was on again.

Except this time Peaches had Stella by the throat and Stella is SCREAMING.

So eventually they separate the girls, lock Peaches in the bathroom, where she just lies down and is totally calm, and ring us.

So Furry and I are running around Gabby’s apartment in the nude, trying to pack and clean up and I am pretty much hysterical and Gabby offers to come with us and sort this shit out and we jump in the car and take off.

And we get there and the Mum comes out of the house holding Peaches who looks TOTALLY subdued and has her naughty face on, and Furry shoved 1/2 a Valium down her throat and throws her in the car.


And Gaby and Furz and I go in, and Helga’s Mum’s hand is bandaged and Helga is rocking foetally in her bed and Stella…. My precious, beautiful baby…

Looks at me totally like “oh, it’s you”.. and lies down and totally starts MAKING OUT with Bailey!

And I search her all over for damage and there isn’t any and I tell her I love her and I hug her and Helga, and Bailey gets in on the love in.. and Stella is like “whatever, nice to see you but YOU never bought me chicken Marylands”.. and totally snubs me and starts cuddling her new squeeze.

I swear it was "Talk to the dew-claw, lady"

And they’ve changed her name to Isabella.. and I swear, it’s like “I am totally grown up now, and I have a boyfriend and I am in lerve and I am going to change my name and move in with him” and she has totally dropped Peaches, Furry and I like a hot potato.


We are totally living in the Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie saga, except the Nicole character is a little black fluffy dog, wearing a pink tu tu and fairy wings, munted on Valium in the back seat of my fucking car!

So we just leave.. we just hug Gabs and say goodbye and leave… and Peaches is off her tits and so groggly. And it takes us hours to get home and she won’t eat or drink and I am completely BESIDE myself.. and I am getting all anthropomorphic and starting to HATE Stella. And I ring the Tanya,  who organised this and she confirms what we suspect. Stella has bonded with Bailey and abandoned Peaches.

So we get back to Melbourne and Peaches is a total mess.. She is so so so SO sad.. she is all whimpery and cowering (as your would be after your best friend and soul mate that you had NEVER been parted from ALL YOUR LIFE tries to gnaw your goddamn head off)

And she’s so bruised and sore and so sad and forlorn.

And I remember something that Gaby said “Where do you think the word “bitch” comes from?”

And I am just so incredibly sad for my little fluffy “chew toy”

......TO BE CONTINUED.........

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Good friends, good food.


Ok, Y'all know how I tell you guys I love you.. and show you how I care for you, don't you.. that's right.. I cook for you.


So on a recent Girls Goddess Weekend, the weather was going to be nasty and miserable. I was thinking roast pork belly with sauerkraut, caraway and apple on mashed potato for dinner on Fri night.(I got a rolled pork belly and did it on the rotisserie).

I also made the most of in-season Winter veggies and did a roasted beetroot dip with caraway.

The past 18 months have been a roller coaster of uncertainty, insecurity, anxiety and a lack of clear direction, but hopefully all of that is about to change. And there is nothing better to make a girl feel like the Dark Tea Time of the Soul is ALMOST over, than a weekend away with the girls.

I've blogged about girls weekends several times. I'm blessed to be surrounded by women who understand me. Who can complete my sentences. Who know what "that look" means. Around whom I can relax and let my hair (and my freakish Type-A, control-freak personality) down, and just "be".

And to thank them for being them, I decided to put up a retro dessert with a twist.

PG's chocolate ravioli, filled with vanilla bean cream, served with blood orange syrup and fresh basil. (It's a variation on Paul Young's recipe from Good Food Live, btw. )

Ingredients
1 cup '00' flour,
50 g cocoa powder,
2 eggs, plus beaten egg for brushing
2 tbsp water,
I goodly splash of Champagne

Filling:

1/2 vanilla pod, split and scraped
125g cream cheese or ricotta

For the blood orange sauce:
4 blood oranges,
100 ml sugar syrup,
6 basil stems, leaves stripped and roughly torn and top florets put aside to garnish.

Method

1. First make the chocolate dough. In a food processor place the pasta flour, cocoa, eggs, water and Champagne

2. Blend together until a soft but firm dough is formed. Wrap in cling film and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

3. Using a pasta machine, roll the pasta dough out into thin sheets. Use a circular cutter to cut out 10cm discs from the pasta sheets. Lay the circles on a plate, cover and chill in the refrigerator until required.

4. To make the filling, split the vanilla pod and scrape out seeds,

5. Mix in vanilla seed, and cream cheese. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until required.

6. To make the chocolate ravioli, take a disc of chocolate dough, brush the edges with beaten egg and place a teaspoon of the vanilla cream filling in the centre.

7. Fold the disc over the edges, forming a half moon shape, and pinch the edges together, sealing well.

8. To make the blood orange sauce, zest the blood oranges on a fine grater.

9. Peel the oranges and segment them over a bowl so that none of the juice escapes.

10. In a saucepan, place the zest, juice and sugar syrup and simmer for 2 minutes.

11. Remove from direct heat and add the orange segments and torn-up basil leaves

12. Bring a large pan of water to a simmering boil. Drop in the ravioli and simmer for 3 minutes or so until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

13. Divide the ravioli among 2 serving bowls, spoon over the blood orange sauce and segments, garnish with basil sprig and serve at once.

Id put up a photo of the finished dish, but like many things I cook, they taste AMAZING, but look like a cat mistook my serving plate for its litter tray.

As well as the above, no Girls weekend away would be complete without something sweet for dipping fruit, fingers and Teddy Bear biscuits in. We've done the Tim Tam Slam, so this time I decided to make a fleur de sel salted butter caramel.




Salted Butter Caramel Sauce Recipe

From Almost Bourdain's blog.


(Adapted from David Lebovitz's The Sweet life of Paris)

Makes about 2 cups (500 ml)

Ingredients

2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 2/3 cups (400 g) heavy cream
2 tbsp (30 g) salted butter
1/4 tsp fleur de sel or coarse sea salt (or to taste)

Method


Spread the sugar in an even layer in a large metal Dutch oven or casserole, at least 6 quarts (6 L). Set over moderate heat and cook without stirring, until the sugar near the edge just starts to liquefy.

Using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, begin gently stirring, encouraging the melted sugar around the edges toward the center and delicately stirring up any sugar melting on the bottom as well. The sugar will start to look pebbly as it cooks, but keep going; it will melt completely as it turns amber.

Continue to cook until the sugar turns deep brown and starts to smoke. (Don't worry about any large chunks of caramel.) The darker you can cook the sugar without burning it, the better the final sauce will taste. It's ready when it's the colour of a well-worn centime, or penny, and will smell a bit smoky.

Remove from heat and quickly stir in about a quarter of the cream. The mixture will bubble up furiously, so you may wish to wear an oven mitt over your stirring hand. Continued to whisk in the cream, stirring as you go to make sure it's smooth. Stir in the butter and salt. Serve warm.

Use as dip for strawberries, sponge fingers, your finger. Laugh uproariously as two of your closest girlfriends fight over licking the spoon and attempt to lick the pan clean at the same time.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A Taste of Melbourne (free tix)

AGITK has some free tix to either this Thursday or this Friday's sessions of A Taste of Melbourne, along with some luscious Green and Black chocolate.

If you would like complimentary ticket AND a block of G&B chokkie, tell me why, in the comments section. The best responses will get themselves a ticket.

Note: the tickets are for THIS Thursday night, and one of the 2 sessions on Friday, NOT for the weekend.

Le 'em rip!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

A Taste of Melbourne


What's not to love? Some of the finest restaurants in town, all getting together to present punters with bite-sized.. taste sized, if you will morsels of their best dishes.

Longrain Bar are doing mohitos. Dear got in himmel, I am doomed before I begin!! Charcoal Lane is doing a wallaby tataki with ginger, soy and horseradish, MWR and Mr Wolf are putting up a vanilla pannacotta and blood orange jelly. However, Sarti is doing a pistacio "Panna cotta" with caramel salted popcorn.

Taste of Melbourne is unlike any other food and drink event.

For four days, selected restaurants will set up full professional kitchens to deliver a degustation menu like no other. These restaurants are offering over 40 of the city's most tantalizing signature dishes and this is just the start. It all takes place under one roof at the fabulous Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton from 26-29 August and will be the ultimate dinner party experience.

These taste-sized signature dishes are purchased with "Crowns" – the festival currency which can also be used to buy fine wines, champagnes and specialty beers from a range of bars and quality drink purveyors. Each signature dish will cost just 8-12 Crowns ($8 - $12).

A Taste Session lasts for 4 hours (5 on Sunday) and allows you enough time to browse around the event and enjoy the various features such as The Australian Gourmet Traveller Taste Kitchen, Taste Wine with Gourmet Traveller Wine, the Australian Gourmet Traveller Chef's Table and the Producers Market with over 100 fine food and drink exhibitors.
I'll be there, and will be roving reporting for SBS Food.

You can follow us @SBS_food on twitter while I gorge myself senseless, all in the name of taking one for the team.

Only for you, dear readers, would I put myself out like this.


Head over here for the whole programme.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Lost.

This is the coat of arms of Saudi Arabia.. the place I am planning to move to sometime in the next few months. We've expatted before.. the last time to PNG. Where, and I kid you not, you jump on a plane with your Aussie passport and turn up at Port Moresby airport, wherein you ask the customs man "May I buy a visa, please?". You hand over 100K (that's Kina, not short hand for thousand) and off you go. In fact, they are so laissez-faire about it, that on my first trip up there, they didn't have change, so HAND WROTE IN MY PASSPORT.. "Please buy one on the way out".



I kid you not.



So we were HORRIBLY unprepared for the lengthy hell that is the Saudi visa process. Furry was offered the job, signed the contract more than 3 weeks ago, and to date, we STILL don't have a date for him leaving.



Our paperwork has yet to be submitted to the Embassy.



We've spent the past 3 weeks collecting various bits of information about ourselves to submit for perusal by the Saudi Embassy, who will then decide whether we are fit to enter The Kingdom. Then and only then, will the employment contract become binding. So, right as of now, we're still no better off than we were a month ago.

**sigh**

So far we have had to provide chest x-rays, blood tests, urine and stool samples, original documentation of qualifications, prove our HIV/AIDS status (which will be re-tested again once we enter Saudi, just in case ). We've been tested for bilharziasis, had malaria screens, had our eyes, our ears, our stomachs poked and prodded. I've been fitted for and bought my first abaya (being 5ft 9 was a bit of a problem, cos with the abaya it's ALL about the length)

And all just to get in to The Kingdom.

Friends I have made on various Saudi forums tell me this is par for the course, but it's driving me batty.

And we STILL haven't received the requisite paperwork from Saudi to even begin to submit all of the above to the Embassy.

And now that Furry's generic blood screen has thrown up some odd LFT's. we have to get a 2nd opinion from an heptologist as to why. (Don't sweat it, its all elevated because of his cholesterol meds!)

Meanwhile, we're packing up GW and plan to rent it out ($400 pw, if you know anyone) and are re-housing the pups (again, if you know anyone...)

So, if you wonder why there has been so little activity here, that's why. I am lost in the ongoing and never-ending hell that is organising a Saudi visa.

Hopefully, soon, I'll be back posting more on my ongoing learning journey to master Saudi food!

Oh, and I can't possibly post here without some reference to food, so:

Did you know that nutmeg is illegal in Saudi as it is considered an aphrodisiac?

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Mandhi cooking


Further to our Saudi odyssey, I am exploring Saudi food right now. When some people move to foreign climes, they learn rthe language. Me? I learn the food. I have got Khabsa coming along, so it was time for me to turn my hand to Mandhi. Mandi is usually cooked in a pit in the ground, but that's a wee bit difficult in the 'burbs.

Noor, over at Ya Salam (which means "Oh, WOW!" in Arabic)) has an awesome smoking technique that adds the most amazing depth to the dish.

1 chicken cut into 4 pieces or 1 lamb fillet/backstrap
2 tablespoons Manhdi spice mix (2 tablespoons cardamon pods, 2 tablespoons cloves, 1 whole nutmeg, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, 4 bay leaves, processed to a fine crumb in a coffee grinder)
1 teaspoon salt

1. Rub spice and salt all over meat. Allow to sit for 30 mins and then bake in a hot oven until chicken is cooked or lamb done to medium rare.

1-1/2 cups basmati rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, finely chopped and removes all the seed
1 cinnamon quill
4 whole cloves
6 black peppercorns
3 cups chicken stock (or just enough that about an inch is above the rice)

2. Next, Saute onion with butter until tender and brown, add whole spices, salt, rice, water, stir, boil then add chopped tomato, simmer cover, cook on a very low heat for 20 minutes.

3. After the meat and rice is cooked, arrange meat on top of rice and smoke.




You need to watch Noor's video to get the smoking technique! It's awesome!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Everything I know about life, I learned from Ferris Bueller


Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. —
Ferris Bueller


For those of you who haven't heard. Furry got the job in Saudi Arabia. Got home from Dubai on Friday with nothing on the table. Got an email from a PNG contact on Friday afternoon. WAS flying out to take up the PNG role on Monday, but got an offer from Saudi on Sunday.

"When Cameron was in Egypt's land...let my Cameron go" - Cameron Frye


And while it's not quite Egypt's land, it's pretty freakin close to it! So far my research has thrown up the way to survive Saudi is to get out often, and the money they're offering makes that so very doable. There are four-wheel drive tours into Qatar, cheap flights to Cairo or Rome, all sorts of things to do.

"My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious."- Simone

The serious stuff is pretty damn serious. Gender segregation, wearing abayas, living under Sharia law. Nothing to be sneezed at, but everyone we know whose been there says that the biggest threat is the boredom. Compound living makes the transition somewhat easier, and while Furry's working away, I'll do what I do best.. and that's network.

"The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude".- Grace.
I've already got myself invited to a coffee morning, and have several numbers for my new Saudi phone, when I get it. For me to survive over there, I need to have people to play with. And just like our time in PNG, I've already made contact with some other wives over there. And at the end of the day, we're not the first wide-eyed Westerners to do it. If other people have gone to Saudi and survived, we can do it, to.

"Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off people. " - Ferris Bueller


I was a bit worried about not being able to drive, until I realised that in Saudi they drive on the US side of the road. Bugger that.. I'll have me a driver, thanks, or take the compound bus. After 2 weeks in Florida, driving on the other side of the road, my head hurt. And that was just as a passenger. The Sharia law is also a worry, but I promise you all, that I won't get deported for distributing feminist literature. There's too much at stake here. And JUST like PNG, we're going to think globally and act locally. Of we can affect empowerment in one single other human being, then we've done out job. And one needs to move away from the First World-centric notion of empowerment for that statement to make sense.

Look, to all my nay-sayers.. and there ARE a few of them, it's a BIG move.. big in all sorts of ways. Culturally, economically, spiritually... but the rewards are so very worth it. Financial freedom by 50. Getting to experience one of the great cultures of the world, being within 5 hours of Europe. And the food.. Man, I am going to be living near a spice souk!! All that Kabsa I can poke down with a stick! Weekends in Dubai. And what my nay-sayers have to remember is that Furry and I are FAR from idiots. We've done our ground work, we've spoken to people with hands-on experience in Saudi... specifically Riyadh.. we're aware of the issues, both good and bad, and as adults, we're making an informed, rational and educated choice.

Oh, and Nurses over there are in HUGE demand and earn a freakin MINT!! Hello, a week long holiday in a villa in Tuscany. Hello, a garden tour of Lucca! Hello, a week in an Algarve B&B

"Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive. " - Ferris Bueller.

So, my dear readers, very soon, AGITK will be coming to you LIVE from Saudi! Stand by for further adventures!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

I'm like a baracuda with ADHD


Yes, I KNOW I said I was on a Middle Eastern thang, but seriously,sometimes all someone has to do is wave something bright and shiny in front of me and KAPOW.... my tangential brain skewers off in a random and new direction.

Middle East Mindy cooking which WAS on the hob for dinner last night, got put on the..err... back burner because the very delicious Jules from Stone Soup and the equally moorish Kathryn from Limes & Lycopene tempted me via a random tweet.

I intercepted a tweet about salt and vinegar potatoes. Not chips, potatoes.

Now my love for all things crunchy and salty and starchy is well known. But add vinegar into the mix and you had me at white/malt/apple/cider.

I was one of those weird kids who drank vinegar out of the bottle. One of my favorite smells is a slow boiling pot of balsamic vinegar, with maybe a star anise and a cinnamon quill.

So, as much as I was planning practicing my Mandi smoking technique, I had no option but to be culinarily kidnapped by these two enablers and just HAD to try the recipe.

Please note, my camera in in transit, on its way to Dubai, as we speak, so this is an old stock photo. But last night's end result was almost identical to the header pic for this post. But the smell, oh god.. the glorious, GLORIOUS SMELL! Go out and buy a packet of Kettle Chip Slow Cooked Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar Chips. Sit in front of this post, open on your computer. Close your eyes. Put the bag of chips close to your face. Open the packet, stick your schnozz in the bag, inhale deeply and open your eyes.

THAT"S what they tasted like.

Cut 8 waxy potatoes into slices. I used tiny Dutch Creams, almost chat size, and cut them not into slices, but into chucks.

Place them in a medium saucepan and cover fully with vinegar. I used a small bottle of white wine vinegar and some mirin to add a touch of sweetness.

Bring to the boil and cook for 5 mins, until JUST fork-tender.

Allow to cool in the vinegar.

Remove from liquid and dry on a clean tea towel.

Place in a single layer in a baking dish, liberally dotted with duck fat.

Place in a hot over (200c) and cook for 5 mins until the duck fat has melted. Toss potatoes until covered in duck fat.. you want them nice and glossy. Sprinkle liberally with flaky salt and fresh pepper. Return to oven and cook for a further 20 mins, shaking the pan frequently.

Potatoes should be nicely browned all over, with luscious crunchy bottoms.

Serve with a roasted free range chook with a handful of thyme and an orange up its bum.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Chicken Kabsa

For various reasons that may become apparent later this week, I am on a middle Eastern cooking kick at the moment.

Perhaps it's a reaction to my recent American Odyssey, who knows but I am exploring food beyond the usual baba ghanoush, falafels and borghul. I am attempting to cook for my family for a whole week without using bacon or any pork products. Unfortunately, World's Best Son, the Lima Bean has also developed my hideous reaction to pork and pork products, and we're trying to cut down on our reliance of bacon and its fatty goodness.

Enter, Kabsa.

Wiki says:

Kabsa (Arabic: كبسة‎) is a family of rice dishes that are served mostly in Saudi Arabia — where it is commonly regarded as a national dish — and the other Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Kabsa, though, is believed to be indigenous to Yemen. In places like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait the dish is popularly known as Majboos (Arabic: مجبوس‎) or Machboos (Arabic: مكبوس‎), but is served mostly in the same way.

These dishes are mainly made from a mixture of spices, rice (usually long-grain basmati), meat and vegetables. There are many kinds of Kabsa and each kind has a uniqueness about it. Pre-mixed Kabsa spices are now available under several brand names. These reduce preparation time but may have a flavour distinct from traditional Kabsa. The spices used in Kabsa are largely responsible for its taste; these are generally black pepper, cloves, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, black lime, bay leaves and nutmeg. The main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat, such as chicken, goat, lamb, camel, or sometimes beef, fish, and shrimp. In chicken machboos, a whole chicken is used. The spices, rice and meat may be augmented with almonds, pine nuts, onions and raisins. The dish can be garnished with hashu (Arabic: حشو‎) and served hot with dakkous (Arabic: دقوس‎) — home-made tomato sauce.

Meat for Kabsa can be cooked in various ways. A popular way of preparing meat is called Mandi. This is an ancient technique, whereby meat is barbecued in a deep hole in the ground that is covered while the meat cooks. Another way of preparing and serving meat for Kabsa is Mathbi, where seasoned meat is grilled on flat stones that are placed on top of burning embers. A third technique, Madghoot, involves cooking the meat in a Pressure cooker.


Alas, I don't have access to Mandi cooking holes, so I followed the recipe (see below) and when I removed the chicken from the sauce, before I added the rice, I threw it in a blazingly hot oven for about 10 mins to crisp it up. I omitted the raisins, added a splash of rose water and used slivered almonds.


Good tucker!


Chicken Kabsa

Chicken kabsa is one of the most popular dishes in Saudi Arabia. It is considered a staple.

  • 1 2/12 - 3 pound chicken, cut into eight pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 (12 ounce) can tomato puree
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • Grated rind of one orange
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • Sale and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound long grain rice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

METHOD

Sautee onion in oil until it begins to brown. Add chicken pieces, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and garlic and stir for about five minutes over low heat. Stir in three cups hot water, grated carrot, orange rind, spices, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, covered, about 20-25 minutes, until chicken is done.

Remove chicken. Set aside to keep warm. Stir rice into the liquid inthe pan, and cook, covered over low heat for about 35 - 40 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.

Put rice on a serving platter with chicken pieces arranged around the circumfrence. Toss raisins and almonds over all.

Serves: 6

recipe from www.inmamaskitchen.com



Thursday, 8 July 2010

"American food"


American food is obviously bigger than the sum of its parts. I get that. It's like trying to define Australian food by eating only a Four 'N' 20 and a Chokito. And I am aware that I was in The South, the home of deep fried coke, but I have got to say that most of the meals I ate in Florida defeated me with the sheer size.

Now, as most of you know, I am pretty good on the fang, but as you can see from the above breakfast shot, the Yanks do it BIG.

The above pic was a small serve of corn beef hash and eggs. And, as you can plainly see, it came with toast, several slices of thick, hot ham, toast, sweet butter and apple sauce. AND a hash brown. The actual corned beef hash is peeking out under the ham, to the left of the toast in the pic.

AND, the hash had been served into patties and fried.

One of the first problems I encountered was the American idea of appetizers. In my feeble, jet lagged brain, I thought of small plates of tasty nibbly bits to whet my appetite. This was also promoted by the fact that after the Appetizer section of the menu, comes the Entree.

Erm. No.

Appetisers and entrees and entrees are mains.

And appetizers are freaking HUGE.

I ordered an appetizer of fried green tomatoes, naively thinking I'd get a wee tapas-like taste.

Newp.

I got 4 whole sliced tomatoes. Deep fried and covered with cheese and salsa. Absolutely delicious, bit terrifying when I realised that I had also ordered another "appetizer" and an entree while I searched vainly for "mains"

That first night in Florida, I ate for Africa. I ate for King and country. I ate for my very reputation. Like a foie gras goose, I was pushing those last little bits of seared tuna with wasabi mayo, and those blackened grouper cheeks down with a stick.

And the other cah-WAAAZY restaurant thing I took a while to get my head around, was the sheer amount of choices.. both in supermarkets and restaurants.

Would you like fries, soup or salad with that? (Soup? With a sandwich?) White, brown, multigrain, farmers grain, rye or sourdough? Toasted or fried? Butter or mayo? Dressing with your salad, ma'am? Ordering a Coke became a battle of wills to see who would crack first. Cherry? Vanilla? Diet? Ice? Lemon?

Invariably, everyone I met was amazingly polite, but the number of choices and decisions I had to make simply to get a salad sandwich and a Coke, left me feeling quite wan.

I went to the supermarket (and yes, they do actually have Piggly Wiggly's in Florida!) and stared like a numpty at a whole aisle devoted to more than 30 TYPES (not brands) of Cranberry juice. Low-fat, added fibre, Cran-apple, Cran-respberry, Diet Cran, Sugar-free Cran.. the list went on and on.

Later in my trip, a bucket of steamed shrimp (no, that is not a typo.. I mean it.. a BUCKET of banana prawns) was ordered in the vain hope of consuming something neither fried nor covered in condiments.



I admit to developing a penchant for chips and ranch dressing while I was away, but only Lay's Kettle Chips, any other chip I tried was just too salty... like cave-your-mouth-in-seawater salty.


I was fed fried green tomatoes and cheese grits with boiled salted ham for breakfast, by two Southern Belles called Aunt Wee and Aunt Tee. I had iced tea, I ate a hotdog from a roadside diner. I had my very first coke slurpee, I ate a 7-Eleven Cherry pie, consumed mojhitos, Apalachicola fried oysters, soft-shell crab legs, Michelob beer and more.

And loved every damn mouthful!

Although, there was one thing I found, in a roadside gas station cum fast food joint, deep on 98, in the middle of the panhandle, that even I didn't attempt.

And no, they're not strange candies. They REALLY are what they say they are.

Monday, 28 June 2010

I'm back...

And here's a quick sample of my delights to keep you occupied until I a) find my luggage and b) get over my jet lag!


Fried green tomatoes from Thirsty Marlin

Blackened Grouper cheeks, with a side of red beans and rice.

road trip food.

Hush puppies at Rusty Bellies Restaurant.


Sunset over the Anclote River, from the balcony of Rusty Bellies.

Monday, 7 June 2010

It's the final countdown!




For those of you NOT following me on Twitter or FB, you may not be aware that I am off this week to the US.. specifially Florida, to fullfill a promise to a friend of mine that suicided this year. We had planned to meet last year, but what with Furry being out of a job, I just couldn't justify it.

What Bella's death has taught me is that I need to live more in the moment, Live less for "what if..." and more for "Why not......." Spend more time with people who fullfill me, and less time with those whom my relationship can be best described as "habitual"

So, despite the fact that Bella won't be there, I am heading to Florida to meet with several women that all know each other via a women's forum that I run. I've been moderating The Tavern for about 5 years now.. and have know these women online for about 8.

It's the first time that many of us will have met IRL.

**gulp**

My kids have grown up with me being involved with Internet forums, way back in the early days of MSN Groups. My kids think nothing of getting birthday cards from Auntie Lunchbox, or Auntie Catnaps. Random people with accents and names like "Narf" ring asking for "pee-gee" quite often!, so noone in my house even batted an eyelid when I announced that I was off to Florida to hang out with some internet peeps.

Neither is anyone suprised when I presented my list of "Must Do's" for my trip.

My Must Do's include:

eat biscuits and gravy
eat collard greens
eat po boys
eat a slider
eat hush puppies
eat a crawfish
eat gumbo with file powder
eat andoille
eat a poke salad
eat BBQ
eat blackened grouper
eat real Mexican


eat at a seafood shack
eat chowder with conch
eat Cuban bread and cafe con leche
eat stone crab
eat chayote
eat a Cuban sandwich
eat grits
eat Key Lime Pie
eat Cajun/Creole
eat oyster crackers
eat peach cobbler
eat red beans and rice
eat chitlins
eat an American hot dog
eat an American pizza

Apparently there are places in Florida called "tourist attractions" and consist of things like "Disney World" and "Dali Museum" and a place called "Miami", but none of my Google searches threw up anything about them, so they can't be that important. Or maybe because all my holiday research has involved searches like "best food in FLA", "history of soul food in FLA", "traditional food in Tarpon Springs"

I am heading to the Florida Panhandle for 4 days, if the BP oil slick doesn't bugger up that plan, and then spending the rest of the time eating my way around the Tarpon Springs area.

If any of you, dear readers, have anything I should add to my list, please feel free to drop me a line.

And I somehow think the 12kgs I have dropped this year might be waiting for me, lurking in some fabulous U-Peel crab shack in Apalachicola.

I will try to post when I can, but if not, be prepared for an ONSLAUGHT of photos and recipes from Southern US of A when I get back!

Happy eating from Auntie PG, until I get back!