Tuesday 27 May 2008

I have solved the world's energy crisis!

Yup. Little old me. Did it by observing a fact only known to an esoteric group of people within a sub-strata of the community.

Mother's of teen aged boys.

Here's how my research developed.

Last Wednesday we received our usual delivery of goodies from Aussie Farmers Direct. It included some bananas, some green apples. some red apples, some oranges, some pears, a bag of red grapes, some kiwi fruit as well as a whole passel of veggies.

On Thursday night, Lima Bean was over. On Friday night, Els was over.

I watched in amazement as these two teen boys defied scientific debate and actually converted the molecules of fruit and transported them vis some unknown process that has to do with the peculiar smell of teen boy's socks, and the rampaging hormones.

Note: 2 teen aged boys can ingest a bowl of fruit, simply by passing it, in the kitchen.

When I asked Lima if he had eaten all 4 bananas, he replies "I dunno".

And Ells and the oranges... "I dunno"

I went out to our local orchard and got a further 2kg bag of Pink Lady's, some pears and a few more bananas.

All gone within an hour of being placed in the fruit bowl.

And when the fruit did not magically re-appear again, I was hounded into handing over some cash, as the boys were "hungry".

Now, if only I can get them to transport their siblings to and from sport, and their mother to work, and get them to use their powers to spin the washing machine and "beam me up" to a Greek island, I'll be able to retire and live the life of Riley!

Just remember, when science discovers a causal link between teen aged boys and that transporter thingy in Star trek, you heard it here first.

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Lime glazed pork spare ribs

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a poor little goddess who was held captive by the evil and terrible Chronic Acid Reflux monster. This monster held her captive for years, barring her from the joys of Pork and All Pork Products.

Occasionally she would forget the evil monster's hold over her, especially at Xmas, and she would frollick gaily with Roast Pork and Crackling. But the evil Acid Reflux Monster was a jealous guardian, and would make her pay for her fleeting moments of illicit love with HOURS AND HOURS of excruciating pain. Many Proton Pump Inhibitors tried to wrastle the evil monster into submission, but to no avail.

So, for many years, the poor little goddess looked on tragically while others around her swooned and raved over the joys that are Pork and All Pork Products.

Then one day, a Knight In Shining Armour came to the little goddess (Dr John Colman, gastroenterologist, 9548 2833) and told her where she could get a magic pill (well a whole lot of magic pills, actually) and said to her "Little Goddess, I know the secret name of the Acid Reflux Monster, and if you take this magic pill and say the Monster's real name, it will leave you alone for ever and you and Pork and All Pork Products can live happily ever after!"

So the little goddess thanked Dr John and went to Miracle Max to get the magic tablets.

Later that night, she sat in her kitchen, remembering all the vile pain and evil wretchedness the Acid Reflux Monster had wrought on her tender body over the years. She steeled herself, girded her loins, took the first of the magic pills and yelled mightily into the gloaming..

"Helicobactor pylori!!!!"

For a week, the Monster wrested with the magic pills, leaving the little goddess feeling rather wan, and oft wondering whether the occasional bout of reflux wasn't somehow better than the constant roiling nausea, but she bravely persevered.

And eventually, one day, she heard again the siren call of Pork and Pork Products (in the form of slow braised pork belly) and ran willingly into its warm unctuous embrace, never ever again to be tormented by the jealousy of Helicobacter pylori.


Sunday 18 May 2008

Steamboat Willie!!

Hmmm.. given this is a food obsessives blog, read (presumably) by other food obsessives, the title of this post conjures up images of Helen Mirren in The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover.

Sorry 'bout that.

Last night I got to christen my Mother's Day present. My new steamboat (Thanks, Mousie!). These things are available at most Asian grocers and come with little wire baskets for cooking/retrieving the food. Given that I recently talked to Ed from Tomatom about what I had in my kitchen, I have, in one Mother's day, gone from being a bit of a purist and only owning 2 decent pots, a heavy duty dutch oven, a single set of German cook's knives, a Le Crueset-style casserole pot and a Mull-O-Matic, I am now the proud owner of a steamboat (and accessories) and an ice-cream maker!

Alos, make sure you have a hunking great big plank of wood (we had some off-cuts of oregon under the house) to put your Steamboat Willie on. These things conduct heat like Stokowski doing the 1812*.

We sourced some local flake, the last of this season's mussels

Some frozen Aussie (SA) prawns, some local scallops , and Furry got all unnecessary about something called "Lobster Balls" (insert naughty pre-teen boy snicker)

Which turned out to be made from that nasty seafood extender that I eschew. He declared them lovely, tho.

Some fresh fillet steak cut into strips and some La Ionica chicken, done the same. Add a bowl of local mushies and some bok choi from the local greengrocers.

Into your steamboat, whack about a litre of good quality chicken stock. I was going to flavour mine with star anise and lemon grass, but then decided the whole idea of this dish is to let the ingredients flavour the stock. Food is put in the reservoir and hot coals whacked down the spout (we used heat beads, prepared to glowing over the gas ring). The ideas is that people can pick and choose what they want to cook, and for how long, and the morsels are them picked out with wire baskets, transferred to your bowl and a variety of dipping sauces are used to further flavour the goodies. This time I had a selection of Hoi Sin, terryaki, oyster sauce, and Furry's fantastic Nam Jim sauce.

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large green chillie, chopped
2 coriander roots
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons grated palm sugar
3 shallots (75g), chopped
¼ cup (60ml) lime juice

Combine all above ingredients and set aside

(adapted from the Women's Weekly Low Fat Cook Book)

The idea is that after all the ingredients are eaten, you add mung bean noodles to the soup, let them cook off, and then ladle the noodles and the soup into the bowls, add more sauces if you so desire, and drink the noodly broth. However, by the time we finished this lot, there was no room for slurpy noodly goodness, so we strained the broth, put aside the noodles and will have them tonight.

Every home should have a Steamboat Willie!

Obscure Classic Music Footnote: * Stokowski was the conductor that featured in Disney's "Fantasia" and was the conductor that the famous Bugs Bunny "Long Haired Hare" conductor cartoon was based on.

Thursday 15 May 2008

"'The time has come!', the Walrus said..."

“O, Oysters, come and walk with us!”

The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The eldest Oyster looked at him,oyster
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head—
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat-
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

(From "The Walrus and the Carpenter", Lewis Carroll)

Oysters natural, freshly shucked and served with lemon
Ceduna oysters,
from Oysters aRe Us,
2/3 Dunlop Road,
ph: 9545 1333

Further to our newly established "date night" with our friends Joon and George, last night George warily acceded to Furry's request for 4 doz oysters. No, that's NOT a typo. FOUR. DOZEN. OYSTERS.

It's not so bad when you break it down and realise that it's only a doz each.

Just a snack, really.

I put up a shout out over at Chowhound, and got some really good ideas. . Broiled Oyster with Arugula Puree and Champagne Sabayon, Oysters Bienville, and many votes for simply au natural.

My ideas were pooh-poohed by my guests... it's traditional they wanted, so traditional they got.

Oysters done Mornay style. Meredith Dairy marinated goats cheese used.

And again...

pg's oysters with an Asian twist. freshly shucked Ceduna oysters, with terryaki, lime juice and crispy fried shallots.

The classic Oysters Kilpatrick

My fave? Surprisingly, the mornay. It's been about 20 years since I had an oyster mornay, but I think the use of the marinated goats cheese lifted it from the boring 80's dish I remember, to something creamy and sublime. Least fave? The Asian twist. I think I was a bit heavy handed with the terryaki sauce and it overpowered the delicacy of the oyster. The fried shallots were a nice textural component, though. I'd do it again with more lime, less terryaki next time. Furry is off to the supplier to find out more today... ask those pesky SOLE questions and all of that. I will report back what he finds! Stand by for next week's Date Night.

Sunday 11 May 2008

My "go-to" dish...

My family of Origin.. we've all got one... Mine are...ummm......welll.... errrr..... different. The really are the Family that put the Fun back in Dysfunctional... and I mean that in really, a fun way. I posted about our Xmas dinner earlier, and promised to give them all Internet names. Which I did, not EVER in a million years thinking that any of them would actually take the time to read the blog of the cuckoo in the nest.

Well they did. And they're not happy, Jan.... So at Mother's day lunch today, I promised to give them all BETTER Internet names. I will list them later, but suffice it to say that lunch today was rather different.

Only at my fam's table can you get a conversation about how the Billings Method of Birth Control might apply to mammals other than Homo Sapiens (specifically bovines) and the rational possibility of frozen sperm (all that liquid Nitrogen, you know) having a negative affect on a latex glove.

Don't even ask about the Spaghetti Tree and the Mop Up Bull. Really.. Don't. Ask.

One of the things my fam does is not so much talk TO each other, as talk AT each other. Amongst 12 different people, there might be 8 different and disparate conversations going on. People pick and choose which conversation to be involved with. Sometimes more than one convo at a time. It's like Speed Dating... on Speed. Or like Tennis fans... their heads going back and forward,...... on Speed... back and forward between one conversation and another.

You have to have your wits about you to hold your own in this fam.If you were to stand on the outer and just listen you might hear something like this:

And the Rotolactor
Just wanted to KILL the jetskier
And the young Mop-up Bull said
it's important to know if the underpants were Y-front or Boxers
So the grapevine took about 25 minutes to
wonder if you were out with a new squeeze
and I tried to stalk you through Docklands but
why do you need me to look at your computer?
and bra-Girl
and Mr Charisma By-pass
used electronic stimulation
on Jack Ass
but the Romeo and Juliet complex meant
Stormin' Norman is a pillock
and he keeps the glove in his bedside drawer..

Originally, Furry... who comes from a fam of 3 used to spend most of his time with my fam rocking foetally in the corner. It took him a LOOOOONG time to realise that my terrible habit of interrupting him mid-sentence is actually and ingrained family survival skill.

The one thing you CAN be assured of at one of my Fam dinners, is that I will be asked to bring my potato salad. They are MAD for it. I often think I might try something different, but it's my potato salad they want. And it's so freakin easy... boil at last 2 spuds per person. Allow to cool. Throw in a bowl with 1/2 sour cream and 1/2 a good quality whole egg mayo (I use best Foods or Thomy), some random spring onions, 6 boiled and sliced eggs and top with oven-crisped bacon (run over randomly with a mezzaluna)

My family aren't really foodies (I WILL post that Cat's Vom recipe one day, I promise), and poor Aunti Linney thought the bacon crisps were chocolate, but apart from that... and the conversation about how they get the sperm for artificial insemination into those tiny straws, (again, DO. NOT. ASK.. but the words "old man" and "condom drainage" were touted)), it all went pretty well.

I felt like I was having a bad acid flash-back.. but that's pretty much par for the course at one of MY family get-togethers.

So, without further ado, may I present MY FAM...

Mater Beige, whom you all know and love,
Uncle Maximus (he of the Mop up Bull Story)
Auntie Linney,
The Princess
M and M (If you read this M, take pleasure in the fact that I am not happy with this.. if you come up with a better one, let me know!)
Jazzy J,
Little Purple Princess
Uncle Mo
The Meringue

Furry and pg are proud to announce the arrival of...

Our very first (and only) organic pumpkin!!! We'd especially like to thank our midwife, Possumchops, who has been with us right from the start, when we decided to try to conceive (our organic garden). Without her help and support, we'd never have got this far. Who knew that someone, anyone? knew THAT much about vegetable sex?

We live in Glen Waverley, veritably the goegraphical heart of Melbourne, in a converted 1950's Brick Venereal, with a backyard slightly larger than a matchbox. And 2 dogs who like to dig. So we planted this beauty in the front yard (there's the Wog in me coming out again!) and trained it up over the dodgy 50's white iron balustrade. Under possum's careful tutleage, I have resisted harvesting her until the vine died back, but now.. here she is!!

I hand polinated over 30 plants (and developed a somewhat disturbing penchant for veggie sex), but this is the only one that took. Several more got to the size of baseballs and then went all manky and black and mouldacious....I think I meed some veggie IVF next year.

So, despite a few scars from the forceps, here is out baby... Stand by for futher reports of how she turns out (curried? soups? bakes? bread? gnocci?)

Saturday 10 May 2008

liquid lunch?

Is it Full Moon?? Every lunatic on the fringe-rug of life either rang or attended my office yesterday. If I get one more **insert nasal American computer-generated Marge Simpson voice** "CONGRATULATIONS!! YOU HAVE WON AN OPPORTUNITY TO......(at which point I always hang up) call, or some freak from Mumbai trying to sell me a better deal on my mobile phone, I am going to go grab a large bore automatic weapon and find the nearest clock tower.

My boss, Elvis (for what else are you going to call a middle-aged Jewish Surgeon?) and I are run off our feet at the moment. What with associate staff being sick and going overseas for 5 weeks, we're paddling hard against the current.

I am probably the most Type A person I know. If I don't start cleaning my house at the exact same point (by the microwave, on the left) every time and clean my house in a distinct order, then it's not "clean".. so chopping and changing theatre sessions at work, and re-organising patient lists has left me feeling quite frayed.

And on Friday, I forgot my lunch.

Long gone are the days when I could party like a rock-star until the wee smalls and then head off to work, not eat all day, and make it to 5 o'clock unscathed.

By the time I had repeated my "happy place" Mantra for the umpteenth time yesterday, I was feeling dizzy and most unwell.

And I recently discussed my alcohol consumption with a friend and remember distinctly saying "I don't ever recall actually NEEDING a drink"

Well, bugger me backwards with a spoon, but on the drive home last night, I counted down the minutes until I could get home, peel off the work duds and down a chardy or seventeen.

But, as I have mentioned.. I hadn't eaten a thing all day.

And we all know what happens to middle-aged women when they drink on an empty stomach. I just KNEW that within 2 glasses, I'd be caterwauling "Tainted Love" into an empty shampoo bottle and making trashy, tearful phonecalls to friends I have recently neglected. Hell, I might have even got out the wedding video and made Furry watch it... Who knows how low things might have got??

So what is a poor girl to do??

V-8 and vodka, that's what!!! It's got all the nutrition of veggies ("1 glass= 3 serves of veggies", the bottle proudly proclaims!)

A glass of V-8, a splash of Absolut, a splash of Wooster-Sooster, a drop of Tabasco and finish with a sprinkle of "Slap yo' Mama" cajun seasoning! Mix with a random spring onion that Furry had earmarked for garnishing dinner.

2 of these little beauties and everything is alllllll right in the world.

Except you forget to really look when you're taking pics for your blog and end up getting the dodgy lace cafe curtains you loathe with an consuming passion, in the background of your photos.


Wednesday 7 May 2008


I'm a capricious bitch. This blog layout has been annoying me for weeks. When I started blogging I went with my initial layout which was a shocking Pepto-Abysmal pink.. it was the closest to purple I could get.

Then I chose this layout... seemed to be redolent of smoke in a vineyard, calm, peaceful.

But I am restless, strange things are afoot at the Circle K, as they say in the classics.

There is "stuff" going on in pg's kitchen... random thoughts and opportunities. I feel I am at a crossroads, and I am not too sure which way to go. How to turn some recent opportunities into realities.

I look around at blogs I admire and they all have one thing in common (well, apart from food!).. They're well laid out and catch your eye.

They stand out.

So, I am off to research how to make this place less generic and more.... me.

So, dear regular readers, if you drop by the kitchen over the next few days, you may find it in a bit of disarray.

Renovating is a messy job.

Bear with me until I get this place JUUUUUUUST the way I want it.

There's always a chair in the corner, and a bottle of white in the fridge.

Just don't trip over the drop cloths.


Friday 2 May 2008

Free Icons From A Veggie Venture

Alana, over at Veggie Venture, has created a number of icons similar to this one. They are all free to a good home. Go over and check them out

Thursday 1 May 2008

Spaghetti Marijuana

I have NO idea why we call it that.. it's one of those stupid family things. Someone said it once, it was funny at the time and it thus entered the Furry Family lexicon.

NOT THAT I'D KNOW, but I believe that my marinara has similar properties to its illicit namesake. It leaves you feeling calm and replete, a warm glow from your feet to the top of your head. It is so good, that it has, in the past, led to fits of uncontrollable giggling. The upside is, it fills you up and there's no attack of the munchies!!

Marinara, like Carbonara, is one of those dished that is fought over constantly in food forums... is it authentic?, Does the addition of **insert random ingredient** change it from its very Marinara nature to something else? Chowhound et al abounds with hundreds of posts devoted to whether the addition of cheese or cream or tomatoes or peas creates something, but it cannot be called Marinara.

I don't subscribe to the traditionalist view, and the nature of "authentic" food is a whole 'nother post. The only thing I insist on is either a) making the marinara mix myself, or b) buying SUPERB quality pre-mix.

What, in our house, is clearly NOT marinara, is anything with pre-cooked shrimp and/or that revolting seafood "filler"

This is a question from ABC2's Science forum:

Dear karl,
recently, while shopping for ingredients to make a spaghetti marinara, i purchased some "seafood extender", in the large part due to the incredibly cheap price of the product.
Seafood extender, incase you are unfamiliar with the substance, is a processed product made from seafood off cuts, which is generally white-ish in colour and has one side painted orange to emulate crab meat.
Upon making the spaghetti marinara (mostly from genuine seafood ingredients), i was left with quite a bit of surplus seafood extender. Given the price, i had no hesitation in throwing the surplus into the bin.
The following evening, after coming home quite late, i opened the cupboard door where the bin is located, and noticed a dim light inside. Further investigation revealed that the light was in fact the remaining seafood extender GLOWING!
The small chunks continued to glow until the following evening, each having a consistent light blue glow.(Seafood extender, by the way, does not exhibit the same odorous effects of other seafood, adding further suspicion to it's origin).
Why is this so?

As a scuba diver i know that the ocean has a considerable level of phosphorous present, which glows green when the water is agitated in the dark of night. Crustaceans, being the scavengers of the ocean, and assuming that they are in fact the main ingredient of seafood extender, would therefore be expected to consume a large amount of phosphorous in their lives.
However, this does not explain why my seafood extender glowed blue, and why therefore don't prawns and other crustaceons glow (not that i have left them in the bin long enough to find out).

Much as the story is quite entertaining at parties, for health reasons i am curious to know the answer, and would be very appreciative if you could provide one.

Our friends, Joon and George provided last night's bounty. Joon, bless her curly red locks, is a most wonderful person. But a cook, she ain't. She holds the dubious honor of once cooking tuna mornay, only to forget to add the tuna. I once physically removed her from her own kitchen, when I watched her make **ahem** risotto. She was very nearly charged with Crimes Against Arborio, and I have warned her, that when I am Empress of the Universe, it will be illegal for her to touch foodstuffs.

She is perfectly okay with this.

George, bless HIS little heart, obviously listens to my maniacal ravings about food. Last night he presented my with not only the BEST pre-fab marinara mix I have ever eaten, he also provided a dozen fresh oysters and proudly declared their origin (Ceduna). My Sole Mama rantings are coming home to roost!!

Apparently he got this mix from a seafood wholesaler in Clayton, somewhere on Dunlop Road.

As you can see from the pics, this marinara mix was the real deal... plenty of goodly chunks of salmon, baby octopus, calamari, mussels and RAW prawns.


No seafood extender, no pre-cooked shrimp,

I did the oysters Kilpatrick, Joon's favorite. I was going with an Asian theme (terryaki, crispy shallots and lime) but her pathetic pleadings for Kilpatrick touched my soul. Sorry.. no photos as they were scoffed as quickly as I could serve them.

For the marinara, here's what I did.. Traditionalists might sniff and scoff, but this is my food blog, so bite me.

pg's Spaghetti Marijuana.

Make up spaghetti as per preferred method.

In a large cast iron frypan, wilt a single chopped tomato in good olive oil. All you want is to melt the tomato somewhat, and flavour the oil with a hint of fresh tomato. You cannot sub tomato paste/sugo/passata for this. They're too rich. You gots to use the real thing.

Once the tommie has melted a bit and the oil has taken on a pale red colour, add the seafood and crank up the heat. cook until the octopodi legs have curled. This is the perfect mark, as this will leave the calamari tender, the prawns pink and juicy, the mussels perfectly done and the octopodi untoughened. Add a handful of chopped parsley and a splash of cream. Seriously, just a splash. You just want to bring all the ingredients together and create a small amount of "gravy" to coat the pasta.

Serve and scoff with a Haughton's White Burgundy