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July 5, 2010


Posted by dogpossum on July 5, 2010 4:27 AM | Comments (1)

This is how we make lasagne.
It's easy and it doesn't take all that long to make. We don't like bechamel sauce, but we _do_ really like the layers of tofu - fu sucks up flavours. We occasionally replace the 'fu with some home made cheese, but that's an added layer of fuss. It's also an added layer of dairy if you're going vegan.

We make vegie lasagne because it's nice. We have also discovered that simple is best - just like pizza.

1. Make some red sauce.
Get some chopped onions and make them transparent in a pan with some olive oil. Make some crushed garlic cook a bit. I add it after the onions are almost ready, because I hate the bitter taste of burnt garlic. I cook the garlic until it's almost brown. If it's not cooked enough it's not sweet enough and it kind of boils in the red slop.

We like to brown some sliced mushrooms (button, swiss brown, whatevs). I take the onions out of the pan and do the mushrooms in the pan.

Add the canned tomatoes, or a bunch of fresh ones if they're really really ripe and nice.

Add a can of brown lentils. These are really important - their nutty flavour is important. If you have some soaked and cooked dried ones on hand, use those. Red lentils are a bit dull - use the tastier ones. The French ones would be wicked.

Let it simmer for a while, til it gets thicker and richer. Add some scrumpled up fresh basil and some salt and pepper if you like.

2. Slice some pumpkin REALLY thinly.

3. Slice some firm tofu (not firm silken tofu, but actually quite firm tofu - firm like a wobbly cheese) about a centimetre thick, or as thin as you can get it.

4. Get some fresh baby spinach.

5. Get some lasagne sheets.

6. Layers, baby. Alternate the ingredients - tofu, red slop, lasagne, red slop, spinach, lasagne, red slop, pumpkin, lasagne, red slop, tofu, lasagne, red slop. I try to get the red slop directly onto the lasagne, because you need the moisture to cook the pasta. But the spinach is usually good enough, and has enough water in it to help make things moist and cook the pasta. If you're making 'real' lasagne, lots of layers of pasta is good. But we tend to prefer the vegies to the pasta, so we don't use as many layers - maybe 5.

7. The final layer should be a layer of pasta. I then add a layer of thinly sliced fresh tomatoes and shredded fresh basil. Then I grate some cheese onto that. But not heaps and heaps of cheese, because it's very rich. I use something tasty - the point isn't a melty mass (like you might get with a mozzarella), but a crispy or tasty layer. It's cool to skip this layer if you're going vegan - the tomatoes and basil will be nice enough without it. I like the cheese, but the Squeeze doesn't like it when it gets really crispy.

8. Cook it for a long time in the oven. It takes ages, usually an hour. You know it's cooked when you can push a skewer in easily. You want the pasta cooked al dente, or to your taste. We like it pretty well cooked.

"lasagne" was posted in the category domesticity and fewd and gastropod

April 15, 2010

kids and kultcha

Posted by dogpossum on April 15, 2010 4:32 PM | Comments (1)

I'm trying to keep track of interesting links.

First, ProgDinns have another great post up. This one's about kids and food and kids as critics.

This post led me to the Mammalian diving reflex site. That's where I read about the kids reviewing stuff at the festival, giving adults hair cuts and going to restaurants. I also read the stuff about the experts on aging.

Then I read the article about the kids doing the reviews and it was great.

Then I read the eat the street mowbray heights blog and then I read the eat the street toronto blog.

And finally I read the Childrens' Choice Awards blog.

All of these things are just great.

"kids and kultcha" was posted in the category clicky and fewd and gastropod

gingerbread noms

Posted by dogpossum on April 15, 2010 2:17 PM | Comments (0)

This is a recipe I've used lots of times. I've tried the 2 Fat Ladies one, but this one is better. It's from Vogue Entertaining Aug/Sep 1996. It's from a special they did on 'country cakes', and every cake I've made from that collection has been really really good. I'm not very good at cakes, but this one is heavy and solid and is difficult to ruin.

250g butter
1 cup sugar (I use a soft brown sugar)
1 cup treacle
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 tsp bicarb soda
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger (I replace this with fresh grated fresh ginger. In fact, I think the fresh ginger is the most important part. I use the youngest ginger I can find, and grate a heap of it - 2.5 big tablespoons. The amount you use should depend on the ginger's freshness and age and your own taste. I like the cake really gingery, but not everyone does. Also, you might like to be careful about how finely you grate it. I like chunks of ginger, but it's not for everyone)

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg (as per usual, grate it freshly yourself and the difference will be amazing)
I also add 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp ground mace, but these are quite aromatic and not really to everyone's taste

Butter and flour the sides of a 23cm square cake tin and line the base with baking powder (this is a big cake, so I use my larger loaf tin). Preheat the oven to 180*C

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the sugar and treacle and set aside to cool.

Beat the eggs and milk together in a bowl and add the bicarb of soda, which has been dissolved in a little warm water.

Pour the egg mixture into the cooled treacle mixture. Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg (and other spices - but perhaps don't sift the grated ginger, just add it) together in a large bowl.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture.

Mix well with a wooden spoon (I usually use the electric mixer here as I always find it hard to get the lumps out otherwise. But beating can make the cake a bit too light and fluffy, and while it settles a bit as it gets older, the fluffiness doesn't really suit the cake).

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, let stand for 1 to 2 minutes and turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool.

The recipe says to serve it with whipped cream. But I like it spread with butter. It gets better if you leave it in a sealed container (or tied plastic bag) as the outside softens and gets stickier.

"gingerbread noms" was posted in the category domesticity and fewd and gastropod

February 9, 2010

twitter continues to swallow up my intertubes brain

Posted by dogpossum on February 9, 2010 5:28 PM | Comments (0)

Things are kind of rolling along here in Sydney.

It rained all last week, every single day, and that was terrible. But today it's sunny again. SUN!

This is what it was like last week (and this is WHY I couldn't go out running yesterday morning when it was raining, TWITTER):

I've started doing the couch to 5k, which is really just an interval training approach to running 5km. So far I walk/run about 4km. It makes me feel like a gun. I didn't think I'd like running this much, but the endorphines are fabulous and helping me stave off a case of the unemployed-understimulated-uninteresting-s. It also helps me keep my mood stable - no 'what am I doing with myself?' introspection and anxiety... well, a little bit. But mostly that sort of thinking is under control. I'm also delighted by the effect just a couple of weeks of the program has made to my dancing. That, as well as finally ditching the wedding-exchange cold has me feeling fit, collected and energetic on the dance floor. Yay.

In other news, I'm all signed up for a pgrad diploma in Information Management. It will cost a ridiculous amount of money, but at least this degree will get me a job. I'm especially interested in digital archiving and increasing the accessibility of public collections like the Powerhouse's, the National Archives, the State Library, etc etc etc. It's all a bit exciting. I was asked to teach some undergrad subjects when I contacted the postgrad coordinator, but I said no because a) that's too weird, and b) I want to focus on my own study and to (brace for ridiculously over-achieving ambition) do really well and kick arse. There's a complicated online enrolment process (not like in my day, when we had to line up at the office to hand in our forms in person) and a heap of screwing about to do yet, but it's all happening.

This is a fairly demanding course, so I'm not sure just how much traveling for dance I'm going to be able to do this year... not that we could afford much, what with the zillions of dollars this course will cost. But I will make do with local Sydney and Canberra stuff and a mid year trip to Melbourne and November trip to Melbourne for MLX. The latter are combined with family visits, of course. This means, sadly, that I won't be able to go to Hullabaloo, which I tend to think of as one of the Big Australian Events, both in terms of DJing and dancing. The dancing is good and the music is good at Hullabaloo, and Perth always puts on a quality event with lots of attendees. I'd also have liked to DJ at Hullabaloo (if they'd have me), but we simply can't afford $1000 in plane fares plus assorted expenses. That's a subject and a bit of my course right there.

In other news, I've been experimenting with bread baking. I'm not hugely good at it. It looks ok, but it tends not to taste too good. Sort of sweetish and overly yeasty. I'm going to try some sourdough next (as inspired by Tammi to see if that improves the flavour. A different sort of yeasty taste. But I've not had a chance to get the starter going, yet, so that's a way off. In other food thoughts, we've been eating well, but the shitty humidity has sapped our appetites. Lots of boring salads and little interest in anything else.

On the DJing front, things continue as usual. Lately Sharon has been DJing like a demon, inspired by international travel and an unfortunate laptop theft. I think the theft was actually a good thing, as she's been going through her music, re-adding CDs and transferring files from her other computer, rediscovering forgotten stuff and adding new things. It's meant that her DJing has suddenly had a burst of inspiring energy, and is absolutely great for dancing. She's a madkeen balboa dancer, and much of the music she loves dancing bal to is my perfect cup of lindy hopping tea. Yahoo.

The tempos in Sydney have also jumped up quite a bit (interstate visitors over the wedding exchange weekend last month commented on the speediness), and I have to say that this also delights me, as I really do prefer the higher tempos for dancing. By higher, of course, I mean over 160bpm. Tempos at other Sydney venues remain ridiculously low. I'm not interested in a majority of songs below 120bpm (srsly) with the odd dodgy 'faster' song for 'balboa'. Egads.
We've also got a Swiss DJ in town who's also a bal nut and a solidly swinging classic jazz fan, so nights at the Roxbury have been really, truly great dancing. For me. One thing we've noticed, though, is that the beginners have sort of dropped away a bit. In part, I think because the first half hour (8.30-9 or so) is super-fast tempoed for bal-nuts and crazyjazzlindyhopfools. By 9, things return to normal, but the tempos over all have been a bit higher.
This is great for me, and great for the scene as a whole, I think, as Sydney really needed a wider range of tempos in the classic swing vein. There's lots of superfast neo at Jump Jive and Wail, but that's not much good for lindy hop (well, for my lindy hopping taste). So we just needed some faster stuff. Right now, though, I think we could perhaps re-administer a little more at the lower end of the spectrum (120-140) just for variety's sake, and then we're laughing.

When I DJ I'm very conscious of working the wave (moving up and down the range from 130->200 and down again), and the mega-humidity and heat have made this even more important. My last few sets have seen me working a fairly predictable wave: 140-160-180-200-180-140- etc. It feels as though I'm covering the tempo bases pretty well and managing dancers' energy levels more effectively. I think in the recent past I've tended to clump at specific tempos, neglecting the wave. I've also tried hard to manage energy levels as well. Though dancers are more interested in higher tempos, now, they simply can't hack the physical demands of fast lindy hop in 90% humidity (which is where we've sat for the last two Roxbury nights) and mid 30s temperatures. It's just too draining - the humidity in particular.
I think that balboa has, once again, to be thanked for many dancers' comfort, or willingness to experiment with, faster tempos. Faster tempos simply seem less threatening when you hear them more often. And when you hear really fast tempos, 180bpm just doesn't seem too fast at all. Which is very nice. My own increasing fitness has made it much easier to deal with the humidity and to enjoy faster dancing again. Yay.

Though we have perfect growing weather now (warm, wet, sunny), we still haven't put in a proper herb garden. We are feeling its lack quite seriously, but we just haven't had time to get to the markets for plants, or to get some seeds sprouting. We must get on that ASAP, as fresh herbs are so important in our day to day cooking.

Twitter continues to swallow up my intertubes brain. It's the instant gratification that I like. I'll try to do better.

I'm sure there's more to write about, but I can't think of it. So, enough, then.

"twitter continues to swallow up my intertubes brain" was posted in the category academia and djing and domesticity and fewd and gastropod and lindy hop and other dances and music

January 7, 2010

vegie lasagne

Posted by dogpossum on January 7, 2010 7:30 PM | Comments (0)

- paneer (yes, again)
- baby spinach
- red slop: canned brown lentils, canned tomato, onions, garlic, fresh basil, olive oil. Would usually include mushrooms, but they were skanky
- very think slices of butternut pumpkin
- top layer of sliced basic and tomatoes.

It was finally topped with a layer of ordinary yellow cheese (some sort of cheddar situation).

"vegie lasagne" was posted in the category domesticity and fewd and gastropod

January 5, 2010

horror trifle

Posted by dogpossum on January 5, 2010 7:44 PM | Comments (0)

Looking over the CSIRO trifle recipe, I'm grossed out. What a pale, stupid arse version of a very nice dish. Berries are in SEASON in a southern hemisphere christmas! What about those lovely stone fruit?! Jelly is WRONG in a trifle!

The ONLY trifle to have is pavlov's cat trifle!

"horror trifle" was posted in the category fewd and gastropod

a revision of my comments about CSIRO's approach to vegetarianism

Posted by dogpossum on January 5, 2010 10:50 AM | Comments (3)

I want to add something to my first post discussing the CSIRO diet.
Here is some very basic information I've found in the two CSIRO books. I haven't looked further afield (yet).

The acknowledgments in the second book write:

CSIRO gratefully acknowledges all those who have contributed to the funding of research on higher-protein diets for weight management: CSIRO Human Nutrition; Dairy Australia; Goodman Fielder; Meat and Livestock Australia; The National Heart Foundation; The National Centre for Excellence for Functional Foods; The National Health and Medical Research Council

My immediate response to this funding from particular interest groups (especially Meat and Livestock Australia) is to wonder just how trustworthy the findings of this research can be. But then I think about the realities of funding for research in Australia. It is probably not so much that the funding bodies dictated the terms of the research, but that there wasn't funding available for research into alternatives to a high-meat diet. I'm reasonably confident that CSIRO (and the authors of this book) are reputable researchers. So it's not as though we're reading a diet book written by me.

This of course raises all sorts of interesting questions about the role of public bodies - government research bodies - as 'reputable' or authoritative sources of knowledge and information. It also makes me wonder about the way we are willing to accept 'scientific' research about health and bodies as 'objective' and 'reputable', but are far more sceptical of research on these topics from the humanities. I have read some really, seriously dodgy published work in the humanities on bodies and diet and food and so on - stuff that's really theoretical supposing and not at all substantiated by solid data - but I've also read some equally dodgy 'scientific' work. I think, though we could probably accept that CSIRO is quite good at doing 'scientific' research, that it would be wrong to assume that this study (as with any 'scientific' study) is objective or neutral or reporting 'just the facts'. This study is as guided by ideology and notions of 'body' and 'health' as any other. Science isn't neutral; it's just institutionalised in a different way.

At any rate, I approach the CSIRO diet with a degree of critical engagement. I want to 'trust' this study and diet, but at the same time, this is my body and I don't want to fuck it up with the consequences of bullshit research.

With this in mind, here are a few issues that I have with the CSIRO diet's approach to food, and most importantly with its recipes. Firstly, it's worth pointing out that the books have three general sections:
1. a discussion of the research into health and nutrition upon which the 'diet' is based;
2. a section outlining exercise, and providing some basic exercises;
3. a section of menu plans and recipes.

The books do not position the diet (and its approach to food and nutrition) within political, social, cultural context. There is no discussion about the political economies of food. There's no talk about the social and environmental sustainability of particular diets and lifestyles. There's no discussion about (or even reference to) class and how spending money on food is not dictated entirely by 'lifestyle choices', but my the basic economics of living within a budget. I do quite like the way it avoids discussions about body image and gendered notions of 'beauty', instead emphasising the benefits of fitness and good health: feeling good. I could also discuss the pictures (which are quite heterocentric and feature far more women than men), and I might later in another post.
Generally, the books remind me of the ABC. Sort of middle class aesthetics, careful with its gender talk (but still gendered), articulate but not alienating in its language, lots of nice san serif fonts. It appears 'neutral', but of course it's not.

The one issue I want to take up here is the books' approach to (or neglect of) vegetarianism and veganism.

I wrote this in my previous post:

There are also questions to be asked about the CSIRO diet's funding (which was in part from Australian primary producers - meat farmers to be specific) and how this affected their research and findings. Their very brief section(s) on vegetarianism are really quite bullshitty. There's a line something like 'there's no evidence that vegetariaism is bad for you...' Which of course is misleading if not downright deceitful. A vegetarian diet is much better for you than a meat diet, so long as you're eating well. No diet is good for you if it doesn't have mostly fresh fruit and vegies, wholegrain foods, dairy products and then protein, and finally a small amount of certain types of fats. You can skip the dairy stuff (so long as you replace it), but you certainly don't need to eat meat.

But I wasn't entirely accurate. I was actually a bit full of shit, there. Here's what the CSIRO books actually say:

The first book has this to say about vegetarianism:

Our bodies have evolved to thrive on a wide variety of both animal and plant foods. Many people eat a plant-based diet by way of necessity, but others choose to for a wide range of reasons. Population studies have shown that vegetarians have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer - but it is not clear if this is due to their diet or their lifestyle. However, if you are a vegetarian, you need to plan your diet carefully to make sure that all essential nutrients are included (p 39-40 Book 1)

And this (within a very serious section about the importance of calcium, particularly for women:

Vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium than do non-vegetarians. Vegetable greens such as spinach and broccoli, and some legumes and soybean proucts are good sources of calcium. Vegetarians who eat dairy foods will obtain sufficient calcium (p 46 book 1).

There's even less about vegetarianism in the second book (in a section addressing readers' questions):

Is there a diet for vegetarians?
We have not investigated whether a high-protein vegetarian diet is as effective as a high-animal-protein diet, but we do know that vegetable protein confers a similar benefit in reducing hunger. You may want to consult your GP or dietician to modify the Diet for your needs. If you wish to substitute non-meat protein, we would suggest eating 200g tofu or 260g cooked chickpeas, beans or lentils instead of 200g meat, fish or chicken (p33 book 2).

The context of these quotes - sections 'warning' about the dangers of inadequate amounts of calcium (for women especially), about malnutrition generally - is significant. Vegetarianism is framed in terms of nutritional failure or of malnutrition. It is pathologised. This is the most common criticism I've heard of vegetarianism: that you have to eat really carefully or else you won't get the nutrients you need, and that this is very difficult (if not impossible). My immediate response is to wonder whether most omnivorous human beings in mainstream Australian society eat 'properly'. Eating meat does not automatically ensure proper nutrition. The meat is far less important than the other stuff you should be eating. A standard 'meat and three veg' diet with its emphasis on white bread, processed foods and meat rather than vegetables and fruit is not as nutritionally balanced as it might appear. There's lots of interesting stuff written about the way this type of diet developed in Australian culture, with attendant discussions of mid- and post-war shortages, the rise of supermarkets, gendered division of labour in the home, the economics of mass-production and distribution of food and so on.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this literature (with which I am not terribly familiar) is the idea that science (and the idea of 'Science') defined or shaped 'modern' living and food. We could go on here about a movement away from diversity in food plant stocks and towards the genetic 'management' of food my corporations. We could also talk about the way diets are shaped by supermarket wholesale purchasing and relationships with growers. And we could discuss the role of class in 'whole food' or 'organic' counter-movements. But I don't really have the brain for it today. Really, what I want to say here is that the 'meat and three veg' diet is culturally specific. It's shaped by class and gender and ethnicity and so on. It's not 'natural' and it didn't 'just happen'. It is a product of economics and capitalism, of patriarchy, of mass media discourse and so on. It's also, ironically, the product of government policy and 'education'.

So, what I really should have just said above, is that vegetarianism is presented as deviance from a 'normal', 'healthy' diet in the CSIRO diet, and that this reflects broader mainstream notions of vegetarianism. But, of course, it's not. Vegetarianism is as difficult/easy as omnivorous eating. It is, however, more difficult socially and culturally in many contexts. Dining out offers the best example of this: vegetarian restaurants are fewer in number than omnivorous ones in Australia, and vegetarian dishes are marginalised within mainstream menus at Australian restaurants.

A prioritising of meat of course makes sense in the CSIRO diet: this is a diet focussing on high-protein diets. More specifically, it is concerned with the importance of meat in a high-protein diet. I think that the issue not so much the neglect of vegetarianism, but the over-emphasis of meat and neglect of non-meat protein sources.

What this means, in terms of the menu plans and recipes, is that the dishes are all constructed around meat. The meals are still thinking of the 'meat and three veg' ratio, rather than thinking of meals as a combination of elements. This basic point is one that we find most difficult about the CSIRO recipes. Each meal is constructed as one item + one item + one item. This is almost diametrically opposite to the notion of constructing a meal as a complex, harmony of flavours and elements. As an alternative, we might construct a meal that is composed of a series of small dishes, each representing one of a series of flavours: salty, sweet, wet, dry, etc. Or we might select ingredients that balance the 'humours' of the body: cooling, heating, etc. The meat and three veg diet lumps vegetables into one or two groups: greens and 'others'. We might instead think of the role of brassicas and leafy green vegetables in relation to pulses and grains and root vegetables. Though the CSIRO diet does explore the sources of particular minerals and nutrients, the meals themselves are still imagined as 'meat and...':

Tandoori chicken with garlic spinach
chicken with djon mustard and white wine
chicken and tarragon meatloaf
(book 1 recipe titles)

And vegetable dishes are then served with them (if at all).

In practical terms, this means that you buy the meat first, then look for vegetables to go with it. This tends to suggest that cooks will look first to their meat, then their vegetables. Which means that they're more likely to use fresh meat and less likely to use fresh vegetables. If meat is the priority, then the veggies are the 'add-on' rather than the central taste and ideological ingredient. Financially, it's challenging to build a menu around meat - it's one of the most expensive ingredients. But then the CSIRO diet is not cheap. In part because of its emphasis on meat, but also because of its neglect of seasonal variations in ingredients. I think it's worth emphasising the importance of cost: this is not a diet for those on a low budget.

Of course, this leads me to an interesting point: the idea of meat as a luxury good. This line from the CSIRO book works with this point:

Many people eat a plant-based diet by way of necessity, but others choose to for a wide range of reasons.

The line about necessity is key. I wish they'd expanded. What issues do they feel necessitate vegetarianism? Poverty? Religious restrictions? Geographic location? Allergies? I also wish they'd referenced some of the reasons vegetarianism is chosen. A few million spring to my mind immediately: ethical (preventing cruelty to animals, treading lightly environmentally, avoiding unjust labour and economic practices...), religious, economic... Surely vegetarianism for these 'reasons' is a necessity. It is necessary that they choose not to exploit animals. It is necessary that they live simply so that others may simply live. It is necessary that they honour the teachings of a holy figure by not taking lives.

Finally, the point I'd like to return to at the end, is the one of eating seasonally. The CSIRO diet does not in any way account for seasonal variation in fresh produce. It relies upon its users shopping at conventional supermarkets and having access to all ingredients at any time. We found that the preponderance of particular ingredients (tarragon!) made shopping expensive. The neglect not only of seasonal variation, but also of regional availability made shopping difficult and expensive. This is where we first began varying the menu plans: we didn't want to eat manky out-of-season tomatoes, or to walk past gorgeous fresh asparagus.
One of the delights of a vegetarian diet is that you supplement dried ingredients (grains, pulses) with fresh produce. Your diet changes with the seasons. In practical terms, this means that you're eating a menu that changes over the year; you don't just keep eating the same old stuff, day in and day out, regardless of its freshness or availability. Seasonal produce - stuff that's in season is fresher, tastes and looks better and is cheaper than stuff that is not. So it simply makes sense to build meals around ingredients which are in season rather than force-grown in a greenhouse, shipped in from overseas and riddled with preservatives and generally sapped of any flavour.
Eating seasonally does require some knowledge of the seasons, and also, by extension, of local farming practices. But this sort of knowledge can come almost osmotically if you're not shopping in a supermarket. Supermarkets stock the same products, day in, month out. Greengrocers and fresh food markets tend to buy most what is cheapest as well as keeping in stock perennial favourites. But when you're shopping at a greengrocer every week, you see the biggest piles of cheapest vegetables change with the seasons. Even if you're not buying organic.

Of course, buying organic is something the CSIRO diet does not make simple. Meat-centred meals with un-seasonal menus do not support a diet of organic, seasonal produce. While the second does not refer to it at all, the first book has this to say about organic produce:

We are often asked whether or not it's better to buy organic produce. Although organic fruit and vegetables are probably no more nutritious than conventionally grown varieties, they may taste better. Some organic leafy vegetables and potatoes also seem to have higher vitamin C contents, which may be due to the fact that organic produce is often smaller and therefore denser than conventional produce, which has a high water content. The bottom line is that eating more fruit and vegetables, whether organic, conventional, fresh, frozen or tinned, will increase your intake of protective compounds and is important for good health (p50)

There's a whole world of wrong in that paragraph. I'll let other people explain why.

I know I've rambled off-topic a bit here. I began with an argument about the CSIRO diet's anti-vegetarian stance. But I think it's important to point out how a meat-centred diet which neglects seasonal variation discourages the consumption of organic produce and encourages the consumption of processed foods (including canned and frozen food). I think that eating out of season is a matter of swimming upstream when you're trying to convince people to eat more fruit and vegetables. If the fruit and vegies they're eating don't taste too good (because it's out of season, loaded with preservatives and pesticides or simply sat around for too long), people won't eat them. If the fruit and vegies they have do taste delicious, they will eat them.

I think this is at the heart of a 'healthy' diet. Eating well should be a delight to the senses. It should be about pleasure. This means that a 'good diet' not only avoids discussions of 'restriction', 'denial', 'guilt' and 'suppression of appetite', but actively encourages pleasure and interest in food. Healthy eating is about enjoying food, about taking an interest in the growing and preparation of produce. It is about the provocation of appetite, the association of food with pleasure and happiness.

It's no wonder that hardcore cooks become interested in . An interest in cooking leads to an interest in sourcing produce. And this leads to producing your own food - even if only your herbs. For many foodies, an interest in gardening leads naturally to an interest in water and sustainable food production. But not all foodies. I think it's worth pointing out that being interested in food and growing your own veggies does not necessarily mean you'll end up a hardcore hippy growing organically. I think it's also worth pointing out that availability (or lack of it) often pushes cooks to gardening. I'm thinking about migrants in particular: tomatoes in Brunswick, bok choy in Ashfield. Frugality is often a prime motivator for gardening: it's far cheaper to grow your own organic produce from seed than buy it from the shops.

While the CSIRO diet has been very useful, I think that its neglect of these sorts of social, cultural, economic and scientific issues is a profound weakness.
Having said that, though, I think that its success is largely owed to the fact that it does not address these issues. Perhaps, then, it's worth thinking about the CSIRO diet as a gateway drug, encouraging an interest and food and cooking and nutrition that might lead to experimentation with other recipes and food types? Unfortunately, I think that the CSIRO diet's books discourage this type of exploration. Though the book suggests that once the 'initial' 'weight loss' part of the diet is achieved, users should move on to tailoring their meals to suit their (new) lifestyles, I wonder just how many users do stay with the diet long enough to reach that point.

Ultimately, the CSIRO diet is not so much a 'diet' as a manual for lifestyle change. But it is not, unfortunately, a manual for ideological change in terms of approaches to socially and environmentally sustainable food production and preparation.

"a revision of my comments about CSIRO's approach to vegetarianism" was posted in the category fewd and gastropod and greenies and ideas

January 4, 2010

making paneer: add acid

Posted by dogpossum on January 4, 2010 8:38 PM | Comments (2)

Basically, to make paneer, you take the milk off the heat just as it boils, add the acid and stir while it's on a lower heat. It just separates like magic, greeny whey, white blobs of curd. Awesomely satisfying.

Following a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, I began by adding some white vinegar, even though I've added lemon juice in the past. It didn't work. As you can see at the beginning of the clip it just looks like sort of lumpy milk. But then I added a couple of table spoons of lemon juice and it DID work - the curds and whey separated just like magic. Or just like science, really.

I have to add here: this recipe (for both paneer and the final dish that I made) are from some charmingly annotated photocopied pages from a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook that Kirsty sent me aaaaaaages ago. As in _years_ ago. Kirsty is my first choice for recipe-book-testing. I gave her my mega Jaffrey recipe book and told her to 'find good stuff' because I couldn't handle the text-heavy-ness of it. She found fully awesome stuff. But I think these photocopies were from another book.

Jaffrey is wicked cool. I find her recipes quite simple and easy to make, but the style of the directions can be a bit confusing. I think she's often making dishes from memory, so she might describe quantities in a mixture of teaspoons, cups, ounces, grams, handfuls and so on. But it's worth dealing with this stuff for her lovely historical and social introductions and commentaries to recipes.

"making paneer: add acid" was posted in the category domesticity and fewd and gastropod

January 2, 2010

carrot salad

Posted by dogpossum on January 2, 2010 7:40 PM | Comments (0)

We had this with some aloo palak for dinner. Nom!

This recipe's from 'Cooking With Kurma.' This is basically grated carrot, lots of chopped coriander, lemon juice, a bit of salt and some spices cooked in a bit of oil: cumin seeds, urad dahl (I had none so used some toasted sesame seeds), curry leaves and asofetida.
It was very light and fresh and tasty with the spices adding that darker, dirtier flavour.

"carrot salad" was posted in the category domesticity and fewd and gastropod

December 21, 2009


Posted by dogpossum on December 21, 2009 12:23 PM | Comments (0)


These little things are amazingly tasty. They're a bit time consuming (what with all the resting in the fridge), but it's worth doing all the steps (including the glaze) as the taste is so complex and rich.
While they have no butter or oil, they're mostly sugar, so diabetics beware!

450g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp each ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground cardamom
(I used my spices from the Indian grocer and they're MUCH stronger/more powerful than the supermarket stuff)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2tbsp very finely chopped glace citron (cedro)
2 eggs
220g brown sugar
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1tsp instant espresso coffee dissolved in 2tbsp boiling water
60ml brandy

1 egg white
70g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
NB: combine 1tsp aniseed with the icing sugar and leave in a jar for a day, then sift icing sugar to remove aniseed)

1. Sift flour, almonds, baking powder, pepper, salt and spices into a bowl, then stir in citron.

2. using an electric mixer, beat eggs and brown sugar until thick and pale. Add lemon rind and coffee mixture and stir to combine, then stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough.
(my eggs were very small, so I added some extra water to get to the dough stage)

Divide dough into quarters, then roll each quarter into a 2.5cm diameter cylinder shape, wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

3. Using a sharp knife, cut logs into 1cm thick slices and place on greased oven trays, then leave biscuits for 8 hours or overnight.

4. Turn biscuits over on trays and brush moist undersides lightly with a little brandy, then place, brandy side up, on same trays and bake immediately at 160*C for 20 minutes or until golden, then transfer to wire racks to cool.

5. For glaze, combine egg white and icing sugar in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush top and sides of biscuits with a little glaze, adding a little warm water if glaze becomes too thick. Place biscuits on a wire rack until almost set, then dust generously in icing sugar to coat all over. Store biscuits in an airtight container for 1 day before eating, to allow flavours to develop and for biscuits to soften. Biscuits will keep up to 2 weeks.

Things you can do with pfeffernüsse:

  • Stuff halved and stoned nectarines or peaches with a mixture of crushed pfeffernüsse, soft butter, chopped crystalised ginger and an egg yolk, then bake or grill until golden.
  • Mulled wine makes an excellent accompaniment for pfeffernüsse - combine red wine, brandy, cinnamon stick, cloves and a wide strip each of orange and lemon rind in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, then strain and serve immediately.
  • Coarsely crush pfeffernüsse, then scatter over cinnamon or chocolate icecream and top with roasted almonds.

"pfeffernüsse" was posted in the category fewd and gastropod

November 29, 2009

eggs @ MLX9

Posted by dogpossum on November 29, 2009 2:24 PM | Comments (0)

This is a crap way of poaching eggs. But they turned out better than our first go. We are so fucking tired. I wish we were eating nice food, but we aren't.

Yesterday (Saturday) I managed to bully my friends into going to Bismi's on Sydney Road for fully sick rotis. They are fully sick. I can't remember if they're roti chani or what.

We ate:
3 plain roti (these are served with dahl)
1 garlic roti
1 plain rice
1 indian fried rice (lamb) - this was super tasty and my fave. Lots of fresh coriander and spinach as well as other vegie bits, fried egg bits, lamb, etc.
lassi (plain and mango - I like the salty ones)
2 chicken fry (a thigh/drumstick chicken bit fried in nommy spices)
1 samosa
1 fried fish
paneer in spices (cheese blobs in red spicey nom)
goat m... something (goat curry - a bit tough, but tasty)
chicken in something (this one was chosen by sight and not name)

...and some other things I can't remember. It cost us $18 per head. We ate til we felt strange, then we went dancing and felt even stranger.

Bismi is really really delicious. It's cheap as chips, it's served from bai maries (sp?), but that's ok because it's so popular with locals (esp Indian, Malay and Singaporean students, a table of who next to us asked for a bunch of things "make them all really spicy!") and the turn over is really quick. It's very spicy: spicy in that there's often a lot of chilli (of various types), but also spicy in that the tastes are really complex and interesting. Dishes like the fried rice have all those lovely dark, lower notes, but also bright, fresh green flavours. The chicken fry is kind of dry on the outside and moist inside, perfect with lemon squeezed on it, and with a tasty dry spicy taste.

I'm sorry I'm not writing very well. I'm very tired. And, as with many of my women friends this weekend at MLX, I am riding the crimson wave. All about the jam sandwich. Having a visit from a friend/aunt. And other coy euphemisms. This has made me a bit tireder than usual. Also, quick to anger. Not really ideal DJing conditions. But I am tough.

Tonight I'd quite like to have some really good Lebanese food. Possibly at Tiba's. We are a bit poor atm, so we are eating at cheap eatery places. Places we love. I'd like to have salads with lots of lemon: chick peas, broad beans, long beans, lentils, tomato, cucumber, greens. Yoghurt. Mint. Garlic. Lamb. Felafel. Octopus. And lots of flat, skinny pide with hommus rubbed all over it. But mostly I'm thinking about the lemon and the salads. Tiba's is very cheap and does a range of very delicious fresh salads. That's what I want.

"eggs @ MLX9" was posted in the category djing and fewd and gastropod and lindy hop and other dances and melbourne and travel

November 27, 2009

Monsieur Truffle on Smith St

Posted by dogpossum on November 27, 2009 5:23 PM | Comments (0)

Monsieur Truffle on Smith St

Originally uploaded by dogpossum

We are fooding and lindy hopping our way through Melbourne, visiting all our old favourites and discovering a few more. Monsieur Truffle on Smith St in Collingwood is run by a bunch of hippy chocolate nerds. The truffles were so rich, this is all I could manage - half of these three. I just said to the guy "just a few little blobs to taste, please. With a milky coffee." The Squeeze got angry coffee and a gluten free chocolate cake.

It's a lovely shop and it smells nice.

We also went to Books for Cooks on Gertrude Street to buy books. I got a big, colourful one about Cajun cooking - expanding from my passion for Mexican fewd to cuisines within gastronomic proximity.

And we began (after a painless bus trip down Bell Street to Sydney Road) at A1 bakery for baked goods. It was difficult to pass my favourite Italian patisserie on the corner of .... Moreland and Sydney Roads? Perhaps it's a little higher. And I was also a bit keen for serious felafel or doner kebab at the Kebab Station in Coburg. But I held off for pide goodness.

And then, finally, we bought ourselves much-needed shoes. PHEW.

Oh, and last night we went to day 1 of MLX9. It was fucking crowded. Hot. Busy. Exciting. The band was made up of dancers and was really very good and fun. With dancers coming up to sing or take a turn on an instrument all night. My favourite was arriving as the brass section wandered through the crowd (as they did all night) playing 'When the Saints' at a slow, sauced-up funereal pace.

This is the biggest MLX so far, and it's the biggest event in Australia. I'm DJing a prime lindy hop set tonight at 1.30am and I'm a bit nervouse. Doing some hardcore prep now.

We've also done some quality family time (visiting the elderly, yet seriously bad-ass nanna yesterday morning, a father at lunch time, and tonight we dine with the aunt and mother) and spent some time with our extra-favourite buddies.

Oh, and last night we had tea at the Town Hall Hotel, and I was reminded of the awesomeness of Melbourne pubs and the fuckedness of Sydney pubs.

I will continue to nom and dance my way through the weekend. My ankle is a bit sore, but not as bad as expected. I did not bring enough Tshirts to get me through the weekend. Thank goodness it's cooler!! Knock on wood....

"Monsieur Truffle on Smith St" was posted in the category brunswick and djing and fewd and gastropod and lindy hop and other dances and melbourne and music and travel

November 23, 2009


Posted by dogpossum on November 23, 2009 9:19 PM | Comments (0)


Originally uploaded by dogpossum

Finally, we have kitchen. Finished on about Monday the 9th November, we had a party on the Wednesday and cooked for 10 people. It was freeking horrible cooking in that tiny space. There is NO WORKSPACE. Click the pic to see all my notes.

I have big plans for this kitchen, but only a tiny budget, a budget which must first accommodate the scary bathroom with its 1970s approach to water proofing.

"kitchen!" was posted in the category dogpossum and domesticity and fewd and gastropod

in which i am disappointed by packaging

Posted by dogpossum on November 23, 2009 9:15 PM | Comments (1)


Originally uploaded by dogpossum

I thought they'd be just like the pictures. I was imagining a whole series of miniature, dried up sushis. But they looked like this. But, strangely, they tasted like every sushi on the packet. All at once.

"in which i am disappointed by packaging" was posted in the category fewd

October 11, 2009

fahim's fast food do orsm tandoori

Posted by dogpossum on October 11, 2009 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

194 Enmore Road, approximately.
We ride our bikes there from the hood. You can get the train to Newtown then walk up Enmore for a few blocks, past the theatre til you get there. It's crowded and busy and not super clean. They do really good tandoori and really good naan. The rest is neither here nor there. Go there for the meat-on-sticks. They have some veggie dishes, it's not very expensive to eat a whole dinner there, and you can take your kids. If they eat hot food. It's a little more than Skip-hot curry, but not as hot as Indian-hot curry. As the doods at Bismi used to describe it.

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"fahim's fast food do orsm tandoori" was posted in the category fewd and gastropod

September 18, 2009

8 songs about food

Posted by dogpossum on September 18, 2009 11:03 PM | Comments (1)

8 songs with lyrics about 'eating'. And when I say 'eating', I mean 'sex'. Well, mostly. Some are actually songs about food. Probably. But not the Fats Waller ones.

There are approximately 60 squillion billion jazz and blues songs about 'food' and 'eating'. These are only 8, but 8 that I really like, or that we sign around our house, or that are just plain good.

Bessie Smith's 'Gimme a Pigfoot' is the best, because it's a song about simple culinary and social pleasures - a pigfoot and a bottle of beer. And she's not going to be payin' 25c to go in NOwhere.

"8 songs about food" was posted in the category 8 tracks and cat blogging and djing and fewd and lindy hop and other dances and music

July 5, 2009

things i have done regularly lately

Posted by dogpossum on July 5, 2009 9:53 PM | Comments (5)

Cooked a large piece of meat in milk for a long period of time. Pork, chicken, whatever. I'll cook it, you can eat it.

While searching blindly in my backpack, felt something soft and hanky-like, pulled it out and discovered it was a single maxi-sized pad*. This has happened: at the bi-lo checkout with a middle aged woman cashier, trying to pay for bread with a cocky indie boy salesman, rummaging for cables at the DJ booth while sitting next to a very-christian tech-dood (this happened twice in one weekend with two different christians), looking for a hanky, desperately, while trying to obscure a post-sneeze-excitement nose. The one time I actually _needed_ a maxi (as in badASS absorbency) pad I couldn't find the fucker.

Played more than one song from The Spoon Concert album while DJing for a bunch of spazzed out lindy hoppers. It's like a sickness. Not the lindy hop - my playing stuff from this album. I just can't help it. I need to get some sort of clue.

Wandered why mormons bother with plural marriage** where the arrangement is one man + many women. While I know that many women is a fully sick option when you're looking at running a conference or a university degree or planning a lindy exchange, I'd have thought the ideal solution is one woman + many men within a marriage. Because I sure as fuck know The Squeeze is run a little ragged riding back and forth between the couch and DVD shop and could do with a sub some time soon.

Thought I might like to re-watch Aliens, mostly for Bill Paxton.***

I like imagining him ranting "Game over, man, game over!" when the Law discovers he's a polygamist.

Wandered why I didn't believe people when they told me Veronica Mars was good. I used to enjoy that bit in Deadwood when Kristen Bell was eaten by Woo's pigs. Now I can't believe I wasn't into this shit.

Wished we had broadcast TV. But only when people are tweeting like motherfuckers about freakin' Masterchef. Whatever _that_ is.

*as in PERIODS.

**this is what happens when you re-watch Big Love.

*** Big Love, again.

"things i have done regularly lately" was posted in the category djing and domesticity and fewd and fillums and gastropod and lindy hop and other dances and television and veronica mars

May 10, 2009

every day is blog amnesty day for me

Posted by dogpossum on May 10, 2009 2:09 PM | Comments (0)

...because I feel no shame, and publish every entry I begin. For which I apologise.

I was just thinking: why do I alway recognise an Ellington song? Is it the arrangements or the soloists? Ellington's band carefully showcased each soloist with personally tailored and arranged solos/parts for specific people. So I guess it's a combination: parts and whole.

Then I was thinking about my obsession with various jazz pianists. I thought I might do a post with little bios and pics of each one. Then I got distracted. But here are some I love:

Willie 'the Lion' Smith. Wasn't a big band leader, but did a zillion songs with a zillion bands. One of my favourites is a song called '4,5, and 9' with Leadbelly in 1946 from a CD my mum bought me at the Smithsonian in Washington. It's (the song, not the Smithsonian) fairly sparse - piano, guitar, harmonica, male vocals. It has a rolling, rollicking rhythm that makes me want to roll and rolllick around the house. You can't lindy hop to it. You can only roll or rollick.

Fats Waller Duh. Was a band leader. Died younger than we'd like, but not surprising considering his lifestyle. His band was famously loyal and stayed with him for a very long time. He began his career with bands like the McKinney Cotton Pickers in New York. I love his light, tinkly playing, his chunky left hand rhythms and his lovely lyrics. I love the combination of light-hearted humour and melancholy.

Mary Lou Williams You tend to find women in jazz bands at the piano or behind the microphone, mostly because they were considered 'ladylike' musical pursuits. No tubas here. Williams was in Andy Kirk's band, and was important not only because she could play like a demon, but also because she was a badass arranger. She didn't sing (that I know).

There are plenty more, but these are the ones I'm currently interested in.

I was going to write something else about something else, but I've forgotten what it was.

Oh, that's right. I've been playing Flight Control on The Squeeze's ipod touch. I've been getting quite high scores. I don't like any of the other games. I don't play computer games at all, usually.

I was hardcore into sourdough recently, but my interest has waned. I am now interested in ... well, nothing much else, food-wise.

On other fronts, I've been doing an awful lot of reading about jazz, jazz history and jazz studies. Soon my brain will blow up. I think I'm procrastinating about another book I have to read and review for a journal. I'd better get onto that one quick-smart. But I just can't be arsed - I know how it'll end, it's not hugely well written, and while the content is very interesting, I just can't stick with it.

My foot has been much, much better. But yesterday and today it was a bit sore. Podiatrist in about a week for an update, and a verdict on whether or not there'll be dancing again in my future, ever. Let's cross our fingers, shall we?

There is a cafe on the main drag of Newtown called Funky which made me a freaking wonderful prawn raviolli the other night. It was home made pasta, in large sheets, folded around some perfectly prepared prawns, in a light, fresh tomato, tiny-bit-of-cream and smidge-of-butter sauce. It was simple and perfect. I was amazed. The manager is a lovey and always seats me carefully when I come in on my own every other Friday evening for a quick before-DJing dinner. It is a delight to eat there. Especially as the cafes on that strip can suck bums. But it's really too nice to be called a cafe. And on the last few Fridays they've had a small, very excellent latin combo playing in their tiny restaurant. They had a double bass, guitar, bongos, vocals and ... something else last Friday. They were so good I wished I could dance salsa. I didn't even feel I needed to read my book, they were so nice to watch and listen to. And I do like a quiet sit-and-read on my own over a nice meal in a restaurant. I know it's not cool, but it's one of my greatest pleasures - eating alone in a restaurant.

That's all I've got for now, I'm afraid.

"every day is blog amnesty day for me" was posted in the category djing and dogpossum and fewd and lindy hop and other dances and music and research

May 6, 2009

hygiene - we haz it

Posted by dogpossum on May 6, 2009 9:34 PM | Comments (0)

I just made an awesome dinner that involved cooking some beef in some slop on the stove with a bunch of other things for an hour. I just had a look and found a bunch of tiny beetles floating in it. Who knows where they came from, but I'm suspecting a grotty unsealed bag of paprika. What was I thinking.

I picked out all the bugs.
Should I start again from scratch? They're tiny bugs. But there are a lot of them. I think I got them all.

Ten years ago, when I had a crazy Brisbane organic herb garden, I used to just make sure I chopped the herbs really small so the inevitable bugs and caterpillars were smashed beyond recognition. But today I'm not so cool about bugs. All those years in Melbourne, land of no-bugs, has made me weak. Weak and squeamish.


I think we might eat it anyway. The Squeeze, king of picky eating, has declared it safe. But then, it's big pieces of food he's particular about. And these bugs are real small.

"hygiene - we haz it" was posted in the category fewd

February 26, 2009

today i:

Posted by dogpossum on February 26, 2009 6:06 PM | Comments (0)

Got up earlier than usual so as to begin preparing for my (fuckful) early teaching starts in a couple of weeks. Not too early (only 8.30), but I find it very difficult to change my sleeping pattern, and it's a long road from 9.30am to 6.30am when you're going at half hour intervals. I'm considering just moving all at once, but I don't like the way I'm going to feel that one day of craptitude. I also find my body just ignores that sort of massive all-at-once change. I am a creature of habit. This will, of course, make late night DJing tricky. The early start is a Monday, with a day of lectures and tutes, then a day of tutes on Tuesdays. So Saturday late night DJing will be a bit of a pain. Last semester I found the traffic noise on our busy road very difficult to deal with and had to resort to ear plugs. I hope - and don't think - that'll happen again as I've adjusted to the noise.

Rode my bike to Petersham for lunch (why Petersham? Well, two words: Sweet Bellam the 'cake boutique'). Had bunny and a nice broad bean salad at a Portugese joint. Watched a bunch of middle aged blokes from the train station eating whole chickens and chips. Then realised that they were actually only young men, just carrying the bodies of middle aged, beer-belly-wearing, overweight, unfit men. It was a bit scary. I'd seen the same lot having lunch there the day before. Bunny and salad was kind of a special meal for me (it was quite nice, actually, though I hurt my tooth on a bunny bone), but to eat chicken and chips every single day? I was just thankful they had to walk up the hill to the restaurant. Though they probably drove. I wanted to yell out "Don't! Don't eat that again! Have a salad! Have a sandwich!" but I figured it wasn't such a good idea. I did plan on a cake, but decided to push on to my next destination first.

Printed out a road map from our place to Newtown. Petersham, I discovered yesterday, is only 10 minutes (if that) from our place. Which is such a tiny distance. On the map, that's only about a third of the way to Newtown. But the main roads to Newtown are scary: narrow, busy, fast-moving traffic on a single lane, poorly surfaced road. All bad news for a baby bike rider like me. Then I noticed this:

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Street view showed me this:

View Larger Map

Which is pretty exciting. You can't look at them using street view, but Sydney has a whole system of these sorts of alleys. They're not cobble stones like Melbourne's, though - they're sealed. Now, alleys are notoriously dangerous ways of getting around by bike. Things come out of blind corners, cars drive down them at speed, weird blokes grab you off your bike (that's my nightmare).

So I was kind of careful. But I chose to ride along this one anyway, all the way to Newtown. I'm really glad that I did. I saw lots and lots of good scrumping opportunities. Lemons, Grapes (ripe! accessible!), longans (you know I have no clue what to do with them), plums... all sorts of neat stuff. I also came across a few doozers and their mini digger. I couldn't get past on-bike, so I had to carry my bike over the ripped up concrete, and then up and over the edge of the digger. The doozer bloke (young, mediterranean, well-trained) offered to carry my bike. I smiled and said "no thank you" and hefted it over. I'm glad I'm not one of those steel-is-real nuts. I'm also glad I didn't bring a big bottle of water this time. But dang, I felt tough. It was all very interesting. And riding there from Petersham was ridiculously easy and quick.

Dropped in on a friend's shop to say hi, then went up the road to the bike shop.

Bought stuff at the bike shop. I bought a new helmet (because mine was old and skanky and really kind of crapped up through mistreatment), new lights (because we've lost our lights and I needed new ones for getting home from yoga) and new grips for my handlebars. It cost me far too much money.

I also looked at cleats/click shoes (I am mad keen on these ones, but not too hopeful). I'm not sure of their names, though I did ask the bike guy. Wikipedia tells me cleats are just specialist sports shoes with spikes. So who knows what you call the cycling ones. Basically, they're special shoes that have a little locky thing on the sole that clicks into a locky thing in your pedal. Why bother with that rubbish? It makes pedaling more efficient - you make better use of your muscles and your foot moves around less on the pedal, stopping you wasting energy with wiggling. So to get this set up happening, you need special pedals and special shoes. The shoes are quite stiff and can be super-daggy or fairly ok. I think I only want them because The Squeeze has them. New click-wearers tend to stack it a few times at first until they learn how to work the quick release.
I'm not sure whether these things will make me cooler/a better cyclist/a consumption stooge. But for a girl who's been browsing far too many (make sure you check out the little movie on that one) bike sites, it's actually pretty impressive that I haven't suddenly decided to dump my perfectly serviceable Apollo road bike for something ridiculously expensive and terribly sexy. ..
.. it is sexy, though.

Anyway, after a little wander through the bike shop and a quiet (private) mock of the fashionista bloke buying his first fixy (enjoy that no-gears, no-break thing, dood - especially with your perfectly white dunlop volleys, immaculately shaved and tanned legs and perfectly perfect designer shorts), I left Newtown.

And went to Petersham for a cake. The flourless chocolate cake at Sweet Bellam is fabulous. Their coffee is ordinary, but it's a very nice place to have a sit and a read and a cake. Petersham was rocking with groups of senoras on the lookout for spunky older gentlemen and "coffee! coffee!" so I had to be very careful making my way down to the other back-roads path home.
There is a system of back-road designated bike routes which I don't really understand. The one I used a lot is the 'L5', though I'm also into the 'L10'. I thought they were prepaid only bus route numbers. But there're also pretty well-signed bike routes. Roads are usually shitfully bumpy and crap, but they're quieter, wider, safer roads. Don't seem to join up properly, but that could be because I'm not following them properly. Anyways, they're worth the look.

Looked at lots of bike pron. I've just waded through a heap of sites, including:
- this RTA bike route map collection which I can't seem to understand.
-the city of Sydney's new Cycle Way, which ties into the Jan Gehl assessment of Sydney (as discussed here on City Of Sound. I don't really understand the new cycle way yet because I don't know the city roads or areas well enough to understand the practicalities and issues involved.
- a lecture on the Powerhouse's bike collection via their their weekly lecture series
- bike bus project website, where I felt a little bit frustrated. I'm not interested in getting into the freakin' hardcore yahr! masculinity of the real-steele/fixy scene (mostly because I'm packing a uterus, and they're not really appropriate in that scene - apparently you're harder hardcore if you risk your gonads wearing them on the outside while you cycle), but I'm not really into these semi-lame government/council initiatives, either. I'm just not sure where I stand, really. With my friends or The Squeeze or on my own, probably.
- and, finally wished I'd seen this rider spoke thing earlier.

Had a little think about my 'goals', as a badass cycling feministah. I'm very attracted to the steel is real/fixy thing. If only because it is so tattooed, no-cleats, RAHR! badassin' hadcore. And male-dominated. I like to think of myself as all those things (sans tatts, though), and I do like to push myself into male-dominated scenes. I also like it as an alternative to the happy-clappy, hand-holding hippy cycling world. Or to the shave-your-legs, wear-lycra, ride-down-highways-really-quickly crowd. But I don't think I could really be bothered.

I want equipment that's tough and hard-wearing, so I don't have to replace it.
I'm not really interested in brands, but I'm not like those fixy-fashionistas who peel all the stickers off their bikes to be cool in a sort of faux-op-shop Revival sort of way.
I want to get maximum efficiency from my body by using the right equipment, but I don't want to buy stuff 'just because'. My old bike is perfectly adequate. My flouro yellow rain jacket is daggy but safe (and kind of stinky atm). My new helmet isn't skatin' rad, but it is safe and good quality. Do I need clicks? Do I need lycra pants? In the latter case, I definitely need some sort of new shorts situation - I've lost so much weight none of the shorts in our house fit me any more.
All of this is, of course, some sort of desperate attempt to distract myself from not dancing. It's classic transferral. I need to resolve my feelings about not being able to dance. Or I could just throw myself into another activity obsessively. I'm sure as shit not doing any sewing these days. But gardening... that's another story (remind me to blog our seedies' progress).

So it's been kind of a big day. I'm so glad I'm back on my bike, and back exploring Sydney. Next I'm going to find some way to explore the beaches. Possibly a train/bike combo.
Yes, please.

"today i:" was posted in the category bikes and clicky and fewd and gastropod and sydney

January 19, 2009

pumpkin: pwn; fish:pwned

Posted by dogpossum on January 19, 2009 8:34 PM

fom.jpg I'm sure I've crapped on about this great little cookbook before (potato salad, orange salad). It's called Flavours of Mexico (in the 'Good cook's collection', published by Fairfax in 1998). Yesterday, as we searched through The Diet Book for something even remotely interesting, I suddenly remembered this nice little Mexican cook book and its lovely salads. This book is about how I like my cookbooks - large pages, bright, coloured photos. I could do with something a little more substantive (82 pages isn't quite enough, thanks), but when every recipe you've made from a cook book has been gold, you kind of figure you're getting all-wheat, no-chaff.

Tonight we made 'Squash with Green Onions'. I was actually cooking a fish in the oven using a recipe from the book (Roasted Garlic Fish) which didn't turn out so well. The fish was a poor choice - I'm just buying everything one by one, figuring out their strengths and how they should be cooked as I go. So far The Squeeze (who's only new to whole fish and was at first entirely suspicious) is a big fan of the Coral Trout. I've forgotten this one's name, which sucks. I should have gone with my instincts and gotten Snapper, but I didn't. But as the oven was on and I was flicking through the book for a nice salad dish, I came across the squash recipe.
I didn't have any squash, though. Just pumpkin :D It was freakin' wonderful. As it was cooking, we almost expired from delight.

Here's the recipe:
1kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped
350g yellow or green patty pan squash (those cute little yellow ones that taste like zucchini)
4 carrots, peeled and halved
2 tsp finely grated lime rind
1 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
155g feta cheese, crumbled

Green onion dressing:
12 spring onions, sliced
3 mild fresh green chillies, sliced
1/3/90ml cup olive oil
1/4 cup/60ml apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice

Ok, first thing to note: don't leave anything out (except those yellow squash - we did). Everything is essential.

1. Chop up your pumpkin and carrots. I cut them so they'd take the same amount of time roasting - so bigger pumpkin, smaller carrots. The Squeeze likes his pumpkin sloppily overcooked (he's just new to pumpkin too, but he's all over it now), I don't. I don't mind my carrots having texture. He does.
Grate that lime rind over the veggies. Do it - don't leave it out or substitute with lemon! And grate it very finely so it gets everywhere - not big chunks. Add that olive oil (even less if you can - you don't want this to get greasy). Grate some black pepper over it - to your taste (don't go nuts, but don't be too stingy).
Ok roast those suckers til they're done - golden and soft if you have a good oven. Cooked and kind of damp if you have a shitty oven like ours.

2. Make the dressing. We actually only had 750g pumpkin, 2 carrots, no yellow squash. So I only used 6 spring onions. That was a lot. Perhaps too much, as you're using white and green parts. But while you can reduce the proportion, do be generous with your onion - it's meant to be a key feature, not a tiny little decoration. Slice that onion diagonally - don't make tiny little circles.
Add the chillies. Don't leave those out. We only used one small red one, and we ended up with a salad that was a tad too sweet. Use those chillies. Use nice green ones, too. Add that olive oil. Add all of it and then be stingy with the final dressing - don't screw up the proportions before hand.
Add that apple cider vinegar. Don't use any other type of vinegar - that's your only option. You want that appley taste.
Add that lime juice. Do it.
Whisk that dressing.

3. Cut your feta cheese into chunks. Crumbled gives you a kind of feta slop.

4. Ok, put your roasted veggies on a serving dish (breathe in that fabulous pepper/lime combination - yum!). Add the feta. Pour over the dressing.


It's so good, it's just freakin' amazing. If you're not sure about the oil, then reduce the amount of dressing you add at the end - don't stuff up the proportions. It's actually quite a wet dish - you can afford to reduce the amount of dressing you use.

This dish is so freakin' good, we made do with it and tomato/mint/coriander salsa when the fish turned out crap. The fish tasted like dirt. I'm sure it wasn't mullet.

BUT the recipe was quite special:

1.5kg whole fish such as bream, snapper, whiting, sea perch, cod or haddock, cleaned
1 lemon, sliced
2 fresh red chillies, halved
3 sprigs fresh marjoram
7 cloves garlic, unpeeled
30g butter/splooge of olive oil
1/3 cup coconut milk.

1. Ok, get your garlic and roast it in a pan. I used a cast iron pan. You want the cloves to get charred and the garlic soft. When it's done, tip it into a bowl and squeeze out the guts. Get rid of the skins. Lick your fingers here - this is one sweet taste.
Add the olive oil. I substituted olive oil for butter and think I preferred it. I also didn't use very much - just enough to carry the flavour of the garlic.

2. Shove some lemon slices, the chillie and the marjoram inside the fish. Don't skimp on the chilli - you won't taste it much. Don't exclude the marjoram - it's essential.

3. Rub the garlic slime over both sides of the fish. Put the fish in a grill-proof baking dish. Cover with foil. Cook until flesh flakes (20-30 mins depending on your oven and the size of your fish).

4. Remove foil, place under hot grill and cook for 3-4 minutes until skin is crisp. Serve with a drizzle of coconut milk.
We didn't bother with the coconut milk. The fish tasted yuk, but the sauce was fabulous.

I did find a copy of this recipe book here. Look for it second hand. I've made many things from it and loved them all. It's kind of Mexican for beginners, but it makes you realise that some things are very important in Mexican cooking:
- limes
- coriander and mint (fresh of course)
- salady bits
It doesn't have any recipes that use mince. It does have recipes for roasted chili duck and quail with rose petals. It uses a lot of different types of chillis, most of which are hard to find in Australia (in both Melbourne and Sydney), so you might want to grow your own. If you're a hardcore Mexican foody, this will be too basic for you. If you want a few tasty salads and vegetable dishes and some simple, low-fat but high-taste recipes for meat and fish, this is a good option. We love it.

"pumpkin: pwn; fish:pwned" was posted in the category fewd and gastropod

December 26, 2008

i need that little nibble more

Posted by dogpossum on December 26, 2008 5:48 PM | Comments (0)

We are sitting on the malodorous settee listening to CW Stoneking (pwning present, Squeeze!) and playing on our laptops. I have just finished all the cashews. I have also eaten the last gingerbread tree biscuit. The Squeeze has eaten the last mince tart. Neither of us can bare another piece of turkey, though we are thinking about having meat cake* and tomato soup for dinner.
The Squeeze has been making his way through some chocolate hearts (the 2nd mother apparently has a standing order with her chocalatier). I thought I might fancy a nibble of milky chocolate.
"Can I have a lick of that chocolate?"
I look up to see him carefully transporting it from his mouth to the wrapper. It is largely intact and has only a thin layer of kiss. I decide I need that little nibble more than we need to adhere to The Rules.

*aka stuffing that has not been stuffed into anything.

"i need that little nibble more" was posted in the category domesticity and fewd and gastropod and melbourne

September 5, 2008

things i've noticed

Posted by dogpossum on September 5, 2008 4:37 PM

about eating out in Sydney:

- They are all about banana bread. I like it.

- On the whole, service in cafes is very ordinary - Melbourne does beat them out by a long yard on this. The number of times I've had to ask for water, for cutlery... and - this is the worst - there's often no table service. That last one kind of blows my brain. I'm kind of wondering if it's because Sydneysiders are generally friendlier and more laid back than Melbournians? I think it's the warmer climate challenging a rigorous approach to service.*

- They have freakin' AWESOME Thai food here.

- There are weird laws about licensing, so most places are BYO. I don't drink, but it feels a little... less cosmpolitan... less grown up than Melbourne? This reminds me of Qld. I'm not sure it's a good thing to be reminded of Bjelke-Peterson Qld.

- Pineapples, out of season, are always under $5. Civilization, at last.

- They don't have a proper, community pub culture. Most pubs are full of pokies, shitful cheap furniture and crappy beer. Also, they advertise '$5 pastas!!!' No thanks. I think I need to find a pub run by a nice middle aged gay man, where the food is good, the bar staff are friendly, and there are no pokies. Where will we meet our friends for a quick 'arf on Sunday afternoon?

- The seafood is sweet.

- There are a few too many places serving hot drinks in cups without handles. I can handle that in a French cafe, but it's just bullshit when we're talking cups of tea. This made me irrationally angry at 7am this morning as I waited for my train.

- There are far too few places selling decent gelati. This does not please me - perhaps emigrating was a mistake? Same goes for pide - people just buy 2, 3, 4 day old pide like it's ok. Maybe they just don't understand? Perhaps I am just not checking out the right suburbs?

- They have tiny steamed buns that are then pan-fried. This is apparently a Shanghai thing. I like them, which is strange, as I don't much care for steamed buns generally. I think it's because they're smaller.

Generally, I approve of fewd in Sydney. But I think they need to think more about their indoors recreation. Less with the giant flat screen tellies, more with the badass service. I don't mind if it's surly, so long as it's quick and efficient.

[*Edit: I make this startling generalisation based on a sample size of about 20.]

"things i've noticed" was posted in the category fewd

February 13, 2008

banana bread recipe?

Posted by dogpossum on February 13, 2008 8:09 PM

Ok, so I'm on the baking thing again. Made an amazing cake the other day - it's a Two Fat Ladies recipe for Danish apple and prune cake. It's more almond meal than flour (omg!), and I substituted figs for prunes last time, and this time I used fresh strawberries instead. Basically it's a rich, sweet cake made from a batter (ie don't over beat it) which you put sliced fruit on top of. Then sugar. Then cinnamon. Oh MAN it is AMAZING. Will post recipe when can be buggered.

But NOW I need a good banana bread recipe. I am distinguishing between banana cake and banana bread, here. I want something that's not as sweet and sticky and glucky as banana cake. I want something heavier or doughy-er and not as sweet. No icing. No way.

Anyone got a good recipe?

"banana bread recipe?" was posted in the category fewd

May 13, 2007


Posted by dogpossum on May 13, 2007 12:54 AM

fartechokes. We had them for dinner and it's added an extra level of interest to watching Eurovision tonight.

"jerusalem" was posted in the category fewd

May 7, 2007

excessive sensuality

Posted by dogpossum on May 7, 2007 2:02 PM

Last night I did some fancy cooking.

It's been a while since I really cooked - you know, the sort of cooking where you use every single pot and pan, the blender, the food processor and at least sixty zillion ingredients. Sure, I cook regularly, and have people over for meals, but I'm talking serious cooking. And for me, serious cooking means Indian cooking.

When I first moved to Melbourne I lived in a 4 person vegetarian share house. I took to it with a will, and relished our proximity to the Vic Markets. But it didn't take long for me to get into dancing hardcore, and then I discovered that not everyone in Melbourne likes to eat. I was incredibly disappointed by swing dancers' dining habits. And still am. There's far too much bullshit pizza and ordinary pasta. No Indian. No Very little Asian (meaning any Asian cuisine) and far too many over-priced variations on meat and three veg.
The hours that I kept, as a hardcore dancer, meant that there wasn't time to cook fancy food, and there wasn't really much point when I wasn't home long enough or often enough to enjoy it. I did enjoy the household - which had shifted from vegetarian to vegan, heavy on the co-op. I liked going to the co-op at UniMelb to pick up grains or to make my own peanut butter. I liked the Vic Markets very much, and eating sixty zillion types of veggie slop a week. But my inner epicure missed the challenge of serious cooking.

Seeing as how I'm now living the patriarchy's dream - the little housewife* staying home to keep house while her man goes off to hunt down the bacon** - I've started getting serious about my domestic duties. I've started cleaning again (and now I'm thinking of PavCat and her post which sticks in my mind - I should print it out and stick it up on the wall), so our house is nice and I don't have to wear thongs inside. I've been buying groceries regularly so we don't get scurvy. I've been doing laundry regularly as well. And I've decided I needed to step it up, culinary-wise.

I am more than a little ob-con. I like order, I like strucure, I like tidying and sorting and putting things in containers. When we moved into this house The Squeeze was worried he'd come home one day to find his underwear in jars, lined up with the flour and sugar and lentils in their brand new Arc homes. If I'm working on something acka, it doesn't matter if the house is blown up and there's nothing to eat, so long as the words are all lining up nicely and carefully divided into chapters. But now that the whole writing thing isn't working so well...
I've decided that I need to get into the hardcore cooking.

Last time I was into hardcore cooking, the rest of my domestic life wasn't going so great. My seven year relationship was crumbling, my Masters was being squeeezed out of me, very slowly, and my family was kind of exploding. But fuck, I was eating like a princess. Home made pasta. Six course Indian feasts. Chutneys. Baked goods out the wazoo. Etcetera, etcetera.
Now I realise all that was seven years ago - it's not long til I've been living in Melbourne for ten years. Ten years! I'd never made a definite plan for how long I'd live here, nor where I'd go next. Right now, I'd really like to go somewhere new, do something new. But that's not really an option. Melbourne is great - I love it. But it's getting kind of ... old.

But, look, I'm off track, and wandering on with the introspection in a way that's making my male readers uncomfortable.... holy crap, can you believe I actually wrote that?!?! GEEEZus. I really am slipping.

So anyway, back to me and what I want to cook.
Now I have this time on my hands, I'm thinking about getting jiggy with the food. Last night I was home alone for the third or fourth time this week (it's been a busy week for The Squeeze, what with APPA and work meetings and interviews and things), and decided that I wasn't going to cook stupid pasta again for my dinner, nor would I buy some dumb takeaway. I was going to use some of the neat veggies I'd just bought and get some curry action happening.

I have a few favourite Indian recipe books. Madhur Jaffrey, of course. A couple of others. And this great job. This is Camellia Panjabi's 50 Great Curries of India (though mine's cover looks more like this). It's one of those lovely books with lots of useful desriptions and histories and tips. The recipes, though, are freakin' hardcore. No canned coconut milk here - only fresh, grated coconut (which is kind of hard to get in Brunswick). Six zillion spices per dish. Whole Spices, though - no ground action. You roast them, then you grind them up. And spices and ingredients I've never, ever heard of. We're talking a level above black cardamon here, at least.
So last night (at about 7pm, I should add), I decide that I'd like to whip up a veggie curry. At first I was kind of clumsy. I couldn't figure out how to fit all the jars of spice on the counter. Then I realised all those spices were kind of old and neglected. Then I found my two cans of coconut milk had gone off (I subbed in a bit of dessicated coconut and some canned coconut milk for the fresh coconut - you have to fry the grated coconut a bit and the flavour is incredible. But adding too much dessicated coconut to a curry gives you a big pot of all-bran - chewy, kind of flavourless, frustrating). Things weren't looking too great, so I swapped recipes. And then it was like my fingers and some unconscious part of my brain suddenly remembered what to do. I was the queen of frying whole spices, grating ginger, chopping cauliflower.

Midway through, I realised that I'd made this recipe before and not really liked it (I should have removed the cinamon stick rather than blending it in - it's too strong), so I decided to whip up a quick chickpea curry. Do you know how long it's been since I made chickpea curry?! That's how far I've fallen. It took me about 10 seconds and I even remembered the recipe, after at least five years! But then I needed some greens. There was cauliflower, sweet potato and carrots in the curry, I'd found some frozen peas in the freezer (ask The Squeeze about those) and I had a big stack of spinach. So, while the rice was cooking (brown rice, because we'd run out of Basmati (!!) and I felt like it), I threw some chopped garlic and mustard seeds into some olive oil, then some chopped spinach into that. And I cooked it just right - still bright green and full of watery goodness, but not underdone - and it was perfect!

And then I sat down to a plate full of lovely goodness and at least three episodes of Gilmore Girls (did you know that Sam from Supernatural was Rory's boyfriend? Or that Peter Petrelli from Heroes was her other boyfriend?!).

The smells! The aromas! How could I have gone so long without this?! I haven't cooked Indian from complete scratch in years - there's nothing at all like it. Nothing so sensual, so pleasing. And when you're in there, making that spice paste, about an hour in and with at least an hour to go before you even put the rice on, you think this is complete indulgence. No freaking housewife would take this much time and effort! Cooking like this is pure indulgence. It is luxury. It is taking a whole lot of time to do something that could take half an hour. It's taking cheap ingredients (all those vegetables) and making something truly special. And I didn't even get into naan (of which I am a master) or sweets!

But really, this sort of cooking is cooking for pleasure. When it's not the cooking you were raised with, or the sort of cooking you're expected to do, it's extravagance. Profligance even. And it makes me think about the way cooking means different things in different moments. It's the luxury of time - to cook, to hunt down ingredients, to research recipes and particular food items and utensils. It's also a marker of affluence and social opportunity. And when you get into things like Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, it's about ideas of luxury and being wealthy enough to afford Oliver's cuts of meat in London, or Nigella's kitchen accessories. Or - perhaps more importantly for women - being able to simply indulge, indulge, indulge. Without consequence. No calory counting. No expanding girth. No increasing weight. No guilt. It's the complete and selfish absorption in a utterly sensual and unnecessary activity. This isn't subsistence cooking, it's intensive gastronomy. It is about waste. There's time alone, cloistered in a lovely clean kitchen with just the right tools and raw materials. There are the physical sensations - the softness of fresh dough, the sting of cut chilli, the earthiness of ground spices. The intellectual and creative stimulation - considering how it will taste, making decisions about which ingredient to omit or increase and knowing how this will effect the end product. And the pleasure of expectation - imagining how it will taste, how it will look, how it will smell when it is done and displayed on just the right plate.

It all sounds very artyfarty, wanky, ridiculous. And that's because it is, and that is what sells television like Nigella's stupidly ill-focused and unsteadily filmed program and creates cults for cooks and chefs. There's certainly an element of power and control - at least for me. When I'm cooking, I'm the boss. If there are mistakes, they're my mistakes. If there are successes, they're my successes. And there are always new and uncharted territories to explore. Or more excitingly, reams and reams of charts to be ferreted out of bookshelves, stalked in book shops and television guides and on the internet.

So I'm off to the shops in a minute. The Indian grocer is next door to the fresh pasta guy on Lygon Street, just up from a middle eastern nut shop. And then I have to get to the greengrocer on Sydney Road before I finish off at the Halal butcher for some goat. Or perhaps some lamb mince - Madhur has a nice recipe for boiled eggs wrapped in mince and then cooked in curry. Something The Squeeze would like.
Or perhaps, even better, I'll just get a bunch of things I know I'll like and make them for myself.

*I should point out here that 'housewife' is meant to refer to that imaginary beast who happily spends her entire existence thinking only of others, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, buying white goods, fetching, carrying for children and husband. Career? Are you kidding?! She doesn't write books (or blogs) or draw pictures or sew anything other than clothes for her children or herself. She doesn't teach or talk about anything more interesting than which brand of soap she should buy. She aspires to nothing more than domestic harmony and pleasing other people.

This housewife is not the same person as the woman who chooses to be the primary caregiver in her family yet doesn't switch off her brain. This housewife is the person whose entire being is validated and justified by her service to her family, and she would never, ever consider dropping it all for a quick trip across to Richmond to chase down Japanese quilting fabrics, or that mythical Jazz shop in St Kilda or to take photos of installation art in the CBD.

**There is more than a little bitterness here. All that tertiary education and no corrections, and for what? A clean fucking house? Nice. Glad I put that effort in. Sure, being a housewife is fine, but not for me. In fact, for me, it's like the world is saying "hey, you know how you're really clever and can really write and research and stuff? It means nothing. Everything you are - it is worth less than your ability to wield a broom.

"excessive sensuality" was posted in the category fewd and gastropod

January 15, 2007

monster rabbits

Posted by dogpossum on January 15, 2007 9:27 AM

Remember this fuzzer?

Apparently he's become a bit of an international celebrity. The breeder, not the bunny.

An east German pensioner who breeds rabbits the size of dogs has been asked by North Korea to help set up a big bunny farm to alleviate food shortages in the communist country. Now journalists and rabbit gourmets from around the world are thumping at his door.

Read the entire article here.

I can't imagine an 8 kilo bunny. That's fricking HUGE.

"monster rabbits" was posted in the category coooteeewooteee and fewd

December 31, 2006

by the by

Posted by dogpossum on December 31, 2006 7:23 PM

Anyone have any good cake recipes that use oil rather than butter? I'm always after a good lacto-less cake recipe.
Actually, anyone got an unusual (yet rocking) cake recipe that they'd like to share? Please.

"by the by" was posted in the category fewd

December 28, 2006

pav's cat is blowing me up

Posted by dogpossum on December 28, 2006 10:23 AM

Now I need to make this. Curse you, pc - I was trying to be good after the christmas binge.

"pav's cat is blowing me up" was posted in the category fewd

December 26, 2006

trifle = go

Posted by dogpossum on December 26, 2006 11:45 PM

We made the trifle and it was wonderful!
I made custard for the very first time (and it was amazingly light, fluffy and lovely), we used lots of lovely fresh berries (though I'd have used even more, and forgot a few of the things in the fridge - fresh figs, blueberries, etc), I forgot the jam layer (but we decided it wasn't necessary as it would've made this even sweeter, and we liked the tartness of the fruit), we used lovely local Taswegian plum liqueur stuff instead of kirsch on the cake layer, we had to use bodgy bought cake for the bottom layer because we only decided to make the trifle at the last minute, but it was all GREAT.
Now I will have to make it with old sponge cake (for historical accuracy), or perhaps a dryer cake/bread base.
Follow the links from this photo on my flickr account to see a sort-of/abridged fewd bio.
pav, you're the BEST! This recipe has convinced me trifle is worth my time: no jelly! No urky rum or cooking sherry! No sloppy custard! No runny cream! No canned fruit! YAY!

"trifle = go" was posted in the category fewd

December 24, 2006

berry it up, baby

Posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 9:37 PM

The wonderful pavlov's cat has blogged her recipe for trifle and I figured, what better thing to do with some of these sexy beasts?

These are wonderful organic raspberries, purchased at the Salamanca Markets yesterday. We will make trifle with them tomorrow (though I must admit, I find it difficult to resist nabbing a couple each time I go into the fridge): YUM.

And of course, thank you so much, pav: you've saved me from urky trifle! And prevented family dischord! Huzzah!

"berry it up, baby" was posted in the category fewd

hot christmas fewd action

Posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 9:29 PM

Yesterday we made mince tarts. Well, actually, a few days earlier we made the mince meat (currents, sultanas, a couple of golden delicious apples, a ya pear, orange and lemon rind, brown sugar, butter, contreau... and some other stuff I've forgotten) and then kept it in the fridge. But yesterday we made 20 odd mince tarts. The Squeeze is King of Pastry - I am crap with pastry - and these were fabulous.

Here I am adding the filing to the shells. Check out the rest of the pics for more enthralling fewd action.

"hot christmas fewd action" was posted in the category fewd

December 22, 2006

yay! pears

Posted by dogpossum on December 22, 2006 3:36 PM

yapears.jpg There's something about the smell of ya pears that drives me wild. There are a couple in the kitchen right now, and I can smell then whenever I go in there (which is quite frequently). I love the smell - it's a perfume.

I love them. I love ya pears. I do. Unfortunately, I can only find them in the supermarkets and I'm sure they're full of chemicals and are a scary hybrid thingy. But I just imagine what they're like if they're organic. Mmmm...

"yay! pears" was posted in the category fewd

December 21, 2006

more fewd

Posted by dogpossum on December 21, 2006 10:40 PM

Last night we went to Fish in North Hobart. The father had the stripey. The mother had flounder. The Squeeze and I said 'no thankyou' to interesting fish dishes, opting instead for the glutton option. I love seafood more than anything and simply can't pass up the opportunity to stuff myself on it when we're down here. So we ordered a platter thing. It had giant fresh prawns (of course) half a dozen oysters (of course - huge and awesome and fresh, though a bit gritty for my liking. I take that as a sign they didn't do an excellent job shucking them), some calamari in an interesting batter, some giant, lovely white fish in a light batter, some interesting fish cakes (sort of shaped like fat little sausages and very tasty), some awesome smoked salmon and... it all came with their house salad - rocket + pear + parmesan.
All extremely awesome.

Tonight we had some family friends around for dinner, and because The Squeeze loves ham, we baked one for him. The mother and I had had a minor miscommunication and she'd ended up scoring a raw ham. From a butcher in the glorious Eastlands shopping center. Now, a raw ham is a rare beast (ahahhaha... sigh), and I had to ask for advice from the butcher about what to do with it. He suggested simmering it (ie boiling it) for 2 - 3 hours, then roasting it. So I did. In fact, we over cooked it a bit, so it was kind of falling off the bone when we took it out of the pot. I can assure you, there is nothing so unappealing... no, so utterly gross as a giant, boiled ham joint with the fat still with a few bristles in it and kind of slobbering away from the meat. And the smell...
So the father and I quickly peeled away the fat (though, in retrospect, we should have left it on to keep it moister... but I don't like to cook ham with the fat on), poked in a few dozen cloves, and popped it in the oven with the glaze. The glaze is an orange and mustard one from Gourmet Traveller 2004 and is very very lovely. It cooked longer than it should have, looked a bit dry to me, but tasted quite spectacular.
We really like that glaze - it's very tasty. And while the boiling was a pain in the arse, it sure added to the depth of taste (like I know what that means).
We had it with a nice big green salad (our standard - baby spinach, rocket, tomatoes, red capsicum, a few boiled eggs, some pieces of cheese, fresh mushrooms and with a dressing of olive oil + red wine vinegar + garlic + honey + seeded mustard) and the potato salad with the red onions, capers etc (though not the chilli - :( ). It was all very lovely. After that we had some blueberries, raspberries, assorted other fruit and some King Island Dairy yoghurt (insanely expensive but very lovely) and/or mascarpone. It was quite lovely.
We also put together the mincemeat for the pies yesterday, so had some contreau left.
I don't drink, ordinarily, but the father has such good taste in wine, I'm always tempted to a half glass of something. This time it's been a few nice New Zealand wines - Vavasour savignon blanc last night at Fish. And tonight a guest brought another nice New Zealander. Then we had a spot of contreau.

The food has been really bloody ace so far. And I haven't even mentioned the pies we had at Jackman and McRoss yesterday lunchtime.

But here's the ham glaze recipe. I thoroughly recommend it if you're doing a ham this festivus.

Cider-mustard glazed ham (serves 15-20 as part of a buffet)
560ml dry apple cider
100g firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2tbsp cider vinegar
40ml port
finely grated rind of 1 orange
1/4 tsp each ground allspice, ground mace, ground cloves
5kg leg of cooked ham rind removed and fat scored in a criss-cross pattern
cloves to decorate

1. Combine 1 cup cider, sugar, mustard, vinegar, port, rindand spcies in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then simmer for 2 minutes.
2. Stud ham with cloves, then place on a rack in a roasting pan, brush with cider mixture, then pour remaining cider and cider mixture into base of pan and bake at 180 degrees celcius for 1 hour or until glazed and golden, brushing frequently with pan juices. Remove from oven and stand for 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.

I often cut off as much as the fat as I can and it's plenty moist enough. The layer of fat can be really quite revolting, and I say this as the sort of person who quite likes a bit of fat on meat. As I said, the boiled ham was far tastier than the usual supermarket one we cook (we prefer a 'boneless ham'... though it disturbs us to think of the boneless piggies on the farm - all that fat comes from an (understandable) lack of exercise on their part), but it was a pain in the arse. If you're up for that action, just boil it on a low heat for 2 - 3 hours.

We also find that there's a lot of the sauce left (make sure you baste regularly, btw), so we pop it in a little jug on the table, just in case people are after a little sauce. The Squeeze prefers to add his own mustard, though.
And, of course, this ham action is perfect for sandwiches the next day.

"more fewd" was posted in the category fewd and tasmania

some more salad recipes

Posted by dogpossum on December 21, 2006 10:32 PM

Here is a 'salad' I've been making a lot lately. It's one I ripped off Maria in Brisvegas taught me and it's very nice.

Basically, you make some couscous (I just rinse it under warm water, then sit it in a bowl with some warm water til it gets fluffy. I usually have to nuke it to make the consistency right as I'm crap at making couscous).
While that's sorting itself out, you chop up some tomatoes (I've found just slicing cherry tomatoes in half is good enough), chop up some fresh coriander and fresh basil and put it all in a bowl. Add a can of rinsed chickpeas (of course, avoid brands like master food - use a decent brand). Make a dressing of vinegar, olive oil and crushed garlic. Mix everything together.
I like to make enough dressing to make everything taste nice.

I've made this a few times lately, serving it with barbequed sword fish (my most recent passion) and another salad:

dice one green apple
dice a small cucumber (you know the type - not the giant ones, but the small ones)
slice some mint finely (not too much, but not too little)
add a generous handful of bean sprouts (the usual type - mung bean sprouts I guess)
and mix in a bit of white vinegar to give it all bite

This is an awesome salad to have with fish. I often make it with pineapple instead of apple, though I simpy can't bring myself to pay more than a dollar for a pineapple... and when they never seem to get below $3 in Melbourne... It sucks, because I have a few really good recipes which use pineapples, but they were so cheap in Queensland, I just can't bring myself to spend up big on them.

Anyway, these two salads go awesomely with fish. Especially big, fat swordfish steaks.

"some more salad recipes" was posted in the category fewd and tasmania

December 2, 2006

the Great Barbeque Effort of 2006

Posted by dogpossum on December 2, 2006 6:15 PM

I had considered blogging each of the photos from the cooking efforts last week, but decided flickr was the appropriate tool for this job.

I suggest beginning with this photo in flickr, then following the 'more' arrows to the right.
Duh me for uploading in the wrong order.

NB: for recipes consult the Gastropod Wednesday entry.

NB2: Thai sent me an email with the following:

This cookbook that has all the recipes that I made on Wed:
How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques (Paperback)
by Steven Raichlen

Via Amazon's search-inside-the-book feature, I believe you can just
search for "asparagus rafts", "corn on the cob", and "portobello
mushrooms" to see the recipes in the book without needing to buy it:

Sneaky googlers.
NB3: I believe Thai is mistaken.

"the Great Barbeque Effort of 2006" was posted in the category fewd and gastropod

November 22, 2006

quick fewd update

Posted by dogpossum on November 22, 2006 1:12 PM

The quails were $10 for 4, so I ditched them (after scaring myself at the green grocer with the bill there - but really, veggies are the important thing). Buying a dozen awesome rolls for $3 made up for it.
Otherwise I picked up some cute mini sausages, chicken wings and chicken thigh.

I'm off to the supermarket now (only the safeway, not the mediterranean supermarket as I really can't be arsed) as I forgot my list before.

Then I'll put meat in to marinate, cook some rice for the salad, and then sit about on my arse for a while.

If we plan to eat at about 8-8.30pm (provided all the planes arrive on time (around 7.30) I will do the potatoes for the salad about 6pm, and get into the fish salad about 7.30.

Who knows, re the meat cooking times. I need Crinks to think of that.

But I have added corn to the bbq list, and bought some medium-sized mushrooms as well.

...I am half tempted to do a delicious brown rice salad. Quick post your favourite brown rice salad ideas!

"quick fewd update" was posted in the category fewd

November 21, 2006

gastropod wednesday

Posted by dogpossum on November 21, 2006 7:00 PM

We are organising a barbeque for our houseguests and selves (and a few others) tomorrow night.

Here's the menu:

  • Fish and Herb Salad
  • Orange and Spinach Salad
  • Kumara Salad
  • 'Mexican' Potato Salad

and assorted meats, including these possibles:

  • chicken-on-sticks (thigh meat marinated in coriander, garlic, lemon, etc)
  • chicken wings (in soy, ginger, etc)
  • quail (possibly a la Maggie)
  • Nino and Joe's sausages
  • possibly ribs

As you can see from my lack of decisiveness on the meat front, the salads are the main focus.
Here are the recipes I'll use:

Fish and Herb Salad
300g smoked cod
3 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup cooked and cooled jasmin rice
1/2 cup chopped fresh Vietnamese mint
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
8 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded

1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander root
2cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped lemon grass (white part only)
3 tbsp chopped fresh Thai basil
1 avocado, chopped
1/3 cup lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut oil

1. place the cod in a large frying pan and cover with water. Add the lime juice and simmer for 15minutes, or until the fish flakes when tested with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool slightly before breaking into bite-sized pieces.
2. Brown the coconut. The recipe reccommends doing this in the oven, but I dry-fry it. Discard if it burns.
3. Place the fish, coconut, rice, Vietnamese mint, mint, coriander and kaffir lime leaves in a large bowl and mix to combine.
4. To make dressing: place the coriander root, ginger, chilli, lemon grass and basil in a food processor and process until combined. Add the avocado, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and peanut oil and process until creamy. I find that just smooshing it in a bowl is enough. Or you could use a barmix.
5. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

This salad is AMAZING. But it doesn't keep, so eat it all on the day - it's very ordinary cold.
(this recipe is from this useful book).

Kumara Salad
1kg cubed orange sweet potato (kumara)
2 tbsp olive oil, plus 2 tsp
1/2 tsp yellow asafetida poweder
3/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp seeded, finely chopped green chilli
2 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely shredded coconut
2 tbsp roasted peanuts, powdered
1 tbsp sesame seeds, preferably unhulled, dry-roasted and powdered
2 tbsp fresh coriander leavs for garnish.

Boil sweet potato until tender but not overcooked. Remove, drain and keep warm.
2. Pour 2 tsp olive oil in a wok or large pan over moderate heat. When hot, add the yellow asafetida powder, stir briefly, then remove the pan from teh heat. Allow the oil to cool a little, then add the garam masala, cayenne and chilli. Mix well, then add the lime juice, salt and the rest of the olive oil. Fold in the potato and stir gently to coat with the spices. Add the coconut, peanut powder and toasted sesame seed powder and stir gently to combine.
3. Allow the sald to cool and the flavours to mingle, then serve with a garnish of fresh coriander leaves.

I don't bother powdering the peanuts and seeds, I just smash them a lot with the mortar and pestle.
This is a tasty salad that I make when we do Indian feast. It's especially nice as a sweeter accompaniment (ditching the chili) with hot curries.

(This recipe came from this great veggie cookbook which you can pick up all over the place - I got mine in Community Aid Abroad. I don't think they sell it at the ABC/SBS shop any more).

Mexican Orange Salad
6 oranges peeled and all white pith removed, sliced crosswise
2 red onions, sliced
90g/3oz toasted almonds, chopped
2 medium fresh chillis, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
4tbsp fresh mint leaves
1/4 bunch/125g/4oz English spinach, leaves shredded

Place oranges, onions, almonds, chillies, coriander leaves and mint in a bowl, toss to combine and stand for 30 minutes. Line a serving platter with spinach then pile salad on top.

This salad is really nice and fresh. I find it's a good idea to keep the juice which spills when you slice the oranges. I can't remember if I add a basic vinegrette (sp?), but I doubt it. I usually ditch the chilli if I'm doing the following potato salad as well.

(This recipe is from this book which I picked up somewhere cheaply. It has some really neat recipes in it, including some fairly detailed descriptions of bean dish preparation. It doesn't, though, have a recipe for tortillas and other breads from scratch :( We are fond of Mexican type foods in our house)

Potatoes in Chilli Vinegar
2 kg baby new potatoes, halved
2 red onions, sliced
3 jalapeno chillis, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp capers, drained
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
4 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water

1. Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and put in a serving bowl.
2. To make dressing, place onions, jalapeno and red chillis, garlic, sugar, capers, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, vinegar and water in a bowl and mix to combine. Pour dressing over warm potatoes, toss to combine and stand at room temperature for 2 hours before serving.

This potato salad rocks. We are a bit over creamy spud salads (though I do make a good one with kalamata olives and ham and a mayo/yoghurt dressing), and this one is really nice - really fresh and sassy. I have found, though, that timid guests who don't eat chilli very often find it a bit scary - it's pretty bitey for noobs. It's important to let the warm potatoes sit in the dressing for a while at room temperature - they suck up the flavours.

(same souce as above).

I'll see if we can get some preparation photos as we go along, but it'll depend on whether or not The Squeeze is around and interested. You can see some of the dishes we cooked last year for the Bandidos party here.

"gastropod wednesday" was posted in the category fewd and gastropod

September 8, 2006

Gastropodry: bunny and Jay

Posted by dogpossum on September 8, 2006 8:12 PM

Right now I have a bunny (on) the oven... oh, look, I'm sorry. That was far too desperate.

To restart: I've finally succumbed to the temptation and am cooking my first rabbit. It's the perfect opportunity: The Squeeze (who loathes meat on the bone, and finds the thought of eating bunnies distressing) is out, it's Friday night so I can stop worrying about all the things I have to do - until tomorrow, and my new Jay McShann album arrived today. Gotta love that Kansas City action.

I'll report back later on the bunny.

"Gastropodry: bunny and Jay" was posted in the category digging and domesticity and fewd and gastropod and music

June 2, 2006

nutella bad? no!

Posted by dogpossum on June 2, 2006 11:21 PM

I've just stumbled across choice, the mag produced by the consumer affairs association. I'm not sure how I feel about it, beyond the fact that it's perfectly suited to generating low level anxiety about rather inconsequential things.*

Perhaps the most upsetting thing I read in this mag was that nutella has so much trans fat it'd be banned in Denmark.
This distresses me because nutella is the one sweety we buy at the supermarket and keep in the house. All other lovely sweeties are bought spontaneously and randomly.

And what is trans fat? Bad. And it's in manufactured foods. Here, read:

Trans fat is found mainly in deep-fried fast foods and processed foods made with margarine or shortening. It’s created by a process called hydrogenation that’s used by food manufacturers to improve the stability of vegetable oils and to convert liquid oils into the solid fats needed to get the right consistency in foods such as cakes and pastries. Trans fat is also created naturally by micro-organisms in the rumen (or forestomach) of cows and sheep — so beef, lamb and dairy foods also contain small amounts of trans fat, depending on the overall fat content.Trans fat is bad for your heart. Weight for weight, it’s probably worse for you than the saturated fat that we all know to avoid. Trans fat increases the level of bad LDL cholesterol in much the same way as saturated fat. And worse, it seems to also lower the concentration of good HDL cholesterol that’s protective against heart disease.
(from this page)

I guess the bottom line is, eat organic fruit and veggies, if you're going to eat cakes and biscuits, make your own (using butter or olive oil) and don't eat shitful takeaway food. Not really big news, is it?

*no, don't be silly. of course i'm not implying that the consumer affairs people are carp. i's just being picky.

"nutella bad? no!" was posted in the category clicky and fewd

May 21, 2006

gastropod Saturday

Posted by dogpossum on May 21, 2006 7:36 PM

In the spirit of practicality, I think I'm going to declare Saturday or Sunday gastropod day, seeing as how we only eat crappy food on Friday nights. This time it was an awful 'middle eastern' chicken and cous cous dish which I once knew how to cook but now, obviously, can no longer manage.
Thank god I followed it up on Saturday with an easy 'Moroccan chicken'* dish which was delish.
Basically, you grate up some ginger, crush some garlic (however much you dig), chop up an onion, fry it all til the onion is transparent, then add an overflowing tsp of ground cumin**, 2 massive tsps of ground coriander, 1 tsp paprika, fry for a minute or til it smells good, then add some water, stirring or whisking to get the stuff combined well. Add some chicken legs and cook for 20 mins. Then pop the chook legs in the oven for 20-30mins (til they're done), simmering the wet stuff on the stove top til it thickens and reduces. Plop the cous cous on the plate, pop the chook on top, stir some fresh parsley and coriander (I add quite a lot as I really like this bit) into the wet stuff and serve immediately (rather than dropping the herbs on top - this way they flavour the wet stuff nicely) with lemon wedges and fat olives. And a salad of greens, mint, tomato and cucumber with an olive oil/lemon juice/garlic dressing.

ROCK the kasbah!

*I'm not quite sure what 'Moroccan' means in this instance, but heck.
**That's pronounced 'kew-min' in our house, thanks. None of this 'kumm-in' rubbish.

how much chicken? as many drumsticks per person as you can manage. That's eleventy for me and 0.5 for The Squeeze, who is revolted by meat on the bone.
how much water? ti it covers the chicken.
what's reduced? when the wet stuff is thicker, and there's enough to wet the cous cous on the plate properly, but not drown it.
how do i make cous cous? now you're scaring me. put some in a bowl. take it out and rinse it in a sieve til the water runs clear. put it back in the bowl. cover with hot water, stir. let it sit til it's absorbed. stir with fork. if the grains are soft, rock on. if not, add a bit more water. or follow the instructions on the box. or google.
how do i make the salad? get a recipe book, or get a CLUE.

"gastropod Saturday" was posted in the category digging and fewd

May 19, 2006

gastropod friday - last week

Posted by dogpossum on May 19, 2006 2:30 AM

Forgot to note: bought some ace pancetta from nino and joe's last week, then chopped up a bunch, fried it in virgin olive oil and garlic, added a hydro tomato, then some baby spinach and rocket and a bit of dried chilli. Served with pasta from pasta man, local parmesan on top, and some lovely fresh bread from the mediterranean supermarket.
It was so wonderful i nearly died. Fat? Hell YEAH! We're not babies here! That pancetta is the serious shit (I'm pronouncing it the way everyone in Brunswick does - pan-che-tta - as I type). It has such a ... robust. I have to say robust, even though it's wanky food talk. It's saltier and gamey-er than bacon, and has a more full-on flavour than insipid bacony rubbish. You don't need as much in your dish, and it has a more fierce taste that really works well with stronger flavoured Italian greens or cheeses. I hadn't cooked it before. It comes in a piece, a bit like spec (specula? that bacony-type thing), sort of like the bit of bacon rashers that's not the eye. Well, the piece I bought was. It's darker than bacon, keeps for aaaaages, is kind of greazy but is harder than bacon. I guess it's cured for longer. One piece cost me $4 (or 6, I forget) and lasted me 2 dinners. Dunno how much it weighed.

The local parmesan is stinking out the fridge.

"gastropod friday - last week" was posted in the category fewd

May 5, 2006

gastropod friday

Posted by dogpossum on May 5, 2006 4:13 PM

Today is, as declared in previous entries and enthusiastically promoted by galaxy gastropod friday.

I haven't a whole lot of impressive things to say, what with Friday usually being 'eat out day' because it's the end of the week and we're tired.
Yesterday I went to the pasta dood over on Lygon St (upper Lygon St, thanks, not that tourist trap end) and spent another ridiculous sum. Mostly because The Squeeze had pleaded tearfully with me to buy him some more fresh pasta from the man.

The pasta shop is great. It only sells pasta, a couple of cheeses, olive oil and tomato paste. If it sold garlic, we'd be set. It might, actually, but I haven't seen it.
They sell mostly plain pasta, but in every single size and shape, dry (still better than store-bought pasta), frozen (mostly filled, and including gnocchi to die for) and fresh (all in trays like ham at the deli - you buy by the weight). I bought a kilo (or half a kilo?) of frozen cheese-filled round ravioli things (I can't remember their names - I'll have to check), a kilo of dry curly-edged fettucini (like parpadelle, but narrower), a kilo of half-circle tubes with frilly edges (dry). I figured it was time to stop at $20, even though the pasta man, once again, was disappointed in my failure to purchase fresh pasta. But I couldn't be sure of when we'd eat it, and I was running out of room in my backpack.

This pasta is amazing. It's not a chic, foody-porn shop like the ones in lower Lygon St, with fancy 'hand tooled' wooden shelves and quaintly aproned middle aged maggie beer types. It's got white tiles on most surfaces, big freezers with semi-legible hand-scrawled tags that don't actually list all the pasta available (but that's ok as the dood follows you around, fetching stuff out for you), and stacks and stacks of piles of pasta all over the place. There are some wooden shelves, but they're stacked with bags of pasta, so I'm not sure how chic they are. This is pasta-ville. And you can get decent olive oil (though everyone who Knows pops over to the Mediterranean Supermarket for oil - Note To Self: buy tin of virgin olive oil NOW).
The best bit is the old dood serving you. Quite often when I arrive and push through the not-chic plastic anti-fly strips in the doorway, he's sitting on a stool in the kitchen area out the back napping. I make sure to stomp so he hears me. I should yell out 'bon gorno!' like everyone else in Brunswick, but I'm shy. Then he walks out a little unsteadily to help. He is REALLY old. And really helpful. He knows pasta like nobody knows pastas. He's also Italian (duh). And nice. And very old-school gentleman, so he's a little ruffled by the way I stuff everything into my bike and then take it all out to lug on the bike home. We have shared a few chuckles over my having to ride really fast so my frozen stuff doesn't melt on summer days.

Anyhoo, after that, I busted in on a new veggie shop over the road where i wrangled free home delivery for my goodies from a Russian chick who scared me a bit. It's cheaper than La Manna, but doesn't have the range. But still, home delivery. It's good. Seeing as how I can't carry all our veggies home in my backpack with pasta.

Then it was off to the IGA on Sydney Rd near Albion St for 'local' parmesan. I don't know what 'local' means, but it's some awesome stinky shit. Hey, anyone know what the difference between pecorino and parmesan is? I also bought some procutio, some ham, some awesome mozarella, some spicey sausage slices (dunno the name), some semi-dried tomatos, forgot to count varieties of olives (there are 12 at the safeway near the bike path), got some shitty skip wafer biscuits (i couldn't find the italian ones which rock - need to go to the med. sup.) and went home.
We had less than excellent pizza (Squeeze liked it, I wasn't convinced) that night and enjoyed all that good shit.

But tonight is pasta night. Filled pasta with some little meat balls I made a while ago with Nino and Joe mince (man they rocked!) and froze raw. They'll be served with either a tomatoey sauce or a spinachy one. I will see how I feel. If I'd remembered I'd have picked up some boconcini to make yum-o basil, tomato, baby spinach and boconcini salad as well.

So I guess it really was a gastropod Thursday, what with me stuffing all that goodness into my excellent backpack. I was a little, wheeled snail with a house full of food on my back.

"gastropod friday" was posted in the category fewd

April 21, 2006

rolled shoulders

Posted by dogpossum on April 21, 2006 4:54 PM

So today I scored a new haircut (scored as in paid for).
It's slightly different to my usual very-short. Uli said "what will it be this time? short?" and I said 'Yes, but I think I want something different".
So now I have 'girly bits' at the front.


Which is nice. And anyway, I tried to colour it myself. Two problems:
1. dud colour (some crap Loreal product - I need their oldschool hyper-red but can't find it)
2. missed some bits at the front through conservative application of colour
3. I got no idea what's going on at the back there.

I guess it'll look ok. It's kind of tame, though - it looks like a 'natural' red (well, as natural as a chick with black eyebrows and eyes can look with red hair) and I like toxicly unnatural reds.
Will see what I can find out at the shops tonight.

On other fronts, a trip to the hairdresser is always a great opportunity to secure local community gossip. Uli is a member of the Sydney Rd Assoc (I think it's called) and has lots to do with the council. Apparently the giant Sortino across the road (Sortino = wonderful Italian furniture. Say yes to white, to gold, to marble) will soon become a Priceline. So I might be able to get my hair colour there soon. The big old reception place/furniture store place is to be an Aldi, which we're not pleased about in Little Sweden's home of Fine Hair: the local small businesses will suffer. And I agree. I'm not sure why they think a German supermarket will do well in Brunswick (land of Middle Eastern, Mediterannean and Subcontinental -ness), but heck.
I passed on the wonder that is Nino and Joe's and we tutted over the urban renewal generally.

Speaking of Nino and Joe's...
went in for a bunch of sausages, came out with $50 worth of fucking amazing meat.
We got:
- 8 fat sausages (2 pork spicey, 2 pork normal, 2 beef spicey, 2 beef normal) because I wanted to test them all. These aren't the pale and insipid bangers filled with beige paste you find tagged 'BBQ' in the supermarket. They're fat, they're textured a little like my thighs (helloooo cellulite), they're kind of blotchy-coloured, owing to the combination of stuff inside them. They taste FANTASTIC.
- 1 rolled beef shoulder roast (1.2kg at $12.99 a kg) - pancetta, swiss mushrooms, garlic, etc. It looks fantastic. It had better be.
- 1 pork chop (because)
- some beef 'stir fry'. Ordinarily I buy steak and we cut it up ourselves, but I trust Joe. Well, I'll trust him just this once
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 pork loin (hellloooo stir-fry)
... and something else I've forgotten. At any rate, it took two bags and I had to squish it into my bike bag. This is enough meat to feed us forever. I should perhaps buy fresh rather than freezing, but I wanted to be sure we were stocked up.
I'm a bit excited about the rolled beef. The Squeeze barely tolerates roasted meats, but he likes beef. And I was excited by the pancetta. Though I'll probably die from botulism, leaving cured and raw meat cohabiting in the fridge for 24 hours.

And from whence does the funds for all this bounty come?
Well, we can thank the Melbourne lindy hop community for the most part - I've DJed 9 times since the 23rd February. That's 9 times in an 8 week period. Going from 0. DJ drought? Naaaah.
I'm certainly learning quickly. Well, I guess I'm learning quickly, because it seems to be going well. Last night was my second time doing the second set at CBD and the room was PACKED and FRENZIED til 12. I DJed for 2.4 hours for $25.
I was abused and been-mean-to by some loser arseholes, but everyone else seemd to really dug my action. I know that the floor was always full, and the reports from dancers were overwhelmingly positive - "Man, it's really pumping out there. There's a really great vibe in the room." That's really nice to hear, but it's a bit hard watching your mates flail about in a sweaty, endorphine-charged euphoria while you have to stand up there playing the best music in the world. Thankfully, people seem to have grasped the idea that I like to be visited when I'm DJing, so I spent a large part of the set laughing so much with the Rubinator I thought I'd broken my face laughing.

The few dances I did have were quite awful: I have forgotten how to dance. But I think perhaps it's recorded music. I only dance to live bands now. heh.

I'd like to end this post with a witty reference to sausages or perhaps rolled shoulders... no, I won't go near that awful punnage about my own rolled right shoulder impeding my following. Even I won't stoop that low. Though I could, now that I have super-dooper yoga-strength.

"rolled shoulders" was posted in the category fewd and lindy hop and other dances and music

March 31, 2006

I like Brunswick.

Posted by dogpossum on March 31, 2006 3:42 PM

Right now there's 3/4 kilo of beef bones sitting in 3L of water with some onions and garlic and a bay leaf. I know they're enjoying themselves - I can smell it.

This is in preparation for a pumpkin soup I'm making this evening. See, the "potatoes, potatoes, fresh and new" guy came around this week and I bought a whole pumpkin. And the most amazing onions. I'm not usually one to wax lyrical about onions, but these... they're purple spanish onions, and when you slice them they're so fresh and bright - the layers seem clearer and crunchier than usual onions. We really enjoyed cooking with them and making them into onions last time (don't get me started on the tomatoes - oh MY GOD!!): organic = yes baby. The taste is far superior to chemicaled crap: you don't need so many herbs and spices to make flavours, and can really explore simple, effective flavour combinations. Plus everything is so happy and healthy. No gross chemical urk to wash off. Yay!

any hoo...

So I check out Stephanie's big orange book for pumpkin options - I wanted an interesting pumpkin soup or curry recipe. I love love love a pumpkin and mustard seed curry I've had at Nepalese restaurants, but don't have a recipe. I also like Thai-ish pumpkin and coconut milk soups. But I settled for a sort of Spanishy/European pumpkin soup. Uses bacon bones to make stock, then add pumpkin and spud (oh, what's that I see? Some organic potatoes (fresh and new)? how wonderful!), and finally some chorizo to finish.

Yesterday, after lunch with J I stopped off at the Spanish supermarket to get some Spanish chorizo (no, not Portugese. Spanish).

Today I got my veggies from la manna, then went over to the Mediterranean supermarket to get some fresh Italian sausages (no thanks to the Italian chorizo - I'm good), side-stepped a brawl between two Italian nannas and tried (in vain) to find that good parmesan Brett buys. Looks like I've got to go up to the IGA to get some. Yes, our local IGA sells fucking AWESOME Italian cheeses. We live in BRUNSWICK - home to spotlight and the best food shops EVER.

Then, I dropped in at Nino and Joe's, a new, fancy (and huge) butcher I'd not been into before (we usually go to Istanbul Meats or up to Coburg to the Chinese dood) to get some bacon bones to make the stock for the soup. No joy on bacon, but they did give me 1 1/3 kg of beef bones for free with some awesome lamb shanks, steak, etc etc. That butcher ROCKS. They do huge, sexy boned lamb leg roasts, a sweet looking rolled beef roast, and even their pre-prepared chicken dishes looked good (marinated drumettes). I don't usually eat that sort of shit because I hate jarred sauces and stuff - too much salt, too much sugar, too many preservatives, too many extra 'flavours' - and frankly, why would you buy that crap when you live 5 minutes by bike from such AMAZING delis? But the ones in that butcher looked good. The herbs were actually fresh herbs. Plus the Italian nannas were buying it, so....

So tonight we're having soup. I had thought to do the sausages with a fennel salad on the side, but I don't think I could fit it all in my belly...

Anyway, I do love living in Brunswick very much. And, if you followed those links to the various providore I frequent, they're all listed under 'ethnic'. Which is so weird - the crappy skip butcher next to spotlight isn't listed under 'ethnic' (even though it should really be listed under 'don't fucking buy meat here'). Sure, sure, I could get onto the whole whiteness = ethnicity thing, but you know the drill. And can google.
But it just seems weird to hear these places popped in the 'other' basket, when for me they're just my local shops. I go to la manna because the veggies are good and fresh and they deliver (though which days they deliver vary depending on who you ask). I go to the mediterranean supermarket because it's across the road from la manna and sells canned tomatoes for 55c (as well as dried pasta for 90c, fresh pasta, dried fish, chorizo (Italian, thanks) and has a coffee shop full of Italian nannas and poppas and cakes). I went to Nino and Joe's because it's around the corner from all these other places. And of course, Spotlight is right there in the middle of it all. All on one block in Brunswick.

The people I see in all these places are my neighbours, and I often run into them at each place or on the bus or street. I like it that the skips are in equal proportion to the Greeks and Lebanese and Syrian and Lebanese and so on.

And I can't imagine the sort of shit that went down in Sydney going down here in Brunswick... though I did worry when that nanna got shitty in the supermarket. She would totally kick my arse. It just seems like such a mellow, friendly family area. The local high school has kids from at least 30 different ethnic and language groups enrolled. The Chinese butcher in Coburg greets the Greek and Italian nannas with "ciao senora!" The Hope Street Bus* driver will stop to pick you up, even if you didn't waive him down, just because he saw you walking along the road (and he always waves to me on my bike). I don't much care for all the young hipsters moving into the area - they're far more interested in the pubs than the greengrocers and care far too much about their fashion. Arseholes.
But I love Brunswick.

Remind me to tell you the story of the three old Greek doods and the the time I carried three giant plastic crates home on my bike. It's a good one.

*yes, the Hope Street Bus route is only about 1.5km each way (roughly 10minutes by leg or 3 terrifying high-speed minutes by bus. If you see/hear the Hope Street Bus coming when you're riding down Hope Street you get on the pavement. You just do). It's for nannas. And you can get on or off it anywhere. Everyone sits up near the front and talks. Most people get it if theyr'e too tired to carry 10 kilograms of lamb or a charcoal grill home.

"I like Brunswick." was posted in the category fewd

January 2, 2006

mince pies

Posted by dogpossum on January 2, 2006 12:07 PM

Dave demonstrates his mastery of pastry once again. I'd add a photo of the pies I made for Christmas day, but they're all gone, and his were so much better it'd shame me to show mine.
Long live the home-made mince pie, with home-made fruit mince and home-made pastry... oh, and home-made stars.

"mince pies" was posted in the category fewd


About dogpossum

i live in melbourne sydney, australia, like jazz music and dance, swear too much, sew, drink a lot of tea and adore puns. ask me about my phd.