A word about placement.

16 11 2013

We have a lovely cafe, deli nearby, which sells a lot of fresh produce, and I normally go there to pick up a nice big sandwich, or some chicken or maybe a pie, which I’ll often take home and freeze to eat later that week.

but they have some items which I’d never buy, fresh liquorice, which looks delicious, an assortment of sweet rolls, and a rack of fresh bread.

I’d love to buy it but won’t, because it’s on the counter, where people will cough and sneeze over, little kids who just had their finger up their noses, will prod, and as for the bread on the rack behind the counter, it’s just at the right height to be farted on.

Now this isn’t some sort of an attack on one shop, as I love the place, indeed I’m a regular customer, I have been for years. No, This is something which is common to a lot of similar shops.

And the problem that I have as a customer is that I’d really like to tell them how I feel, but don’t wish to offend.

I am uncomfortable with saying “I’d really like to buy this stuff, but…”

So I’ve written it here, because it’s incredibly common to a lot of places, I dare say it’s worldwide.

It can’t just be me who has thought about this, surely?

One day in Geelong.

30 08 2012

In the 70’s, Mum and Dad owned a holiday house, at 40 Harvey Road, St Leonards.

St. Leonards is a small town not far from Melbourne, and it sits close to the ocean, in fact all we needed to do to get to the beach, was simply walk to the end of the street.

Though we rarely ever went there, because it was generally too cold.
So we’d be inside reading or playing records, or watching television.

“Holiday House” wasn’t really the proper name for it as something always had to be done.

Dad always seemed to be mowing the lawn, or fencing or painting, or digging a big hole for some reason, while Mum did exactly the same sort of things she did at home.

We had a problem too, whenever we had a few days down there, I’d get sick, and nobody knew why until the day Dad was doing something under the house, and discovered a huge lake of water, directly under my bedroom, so he drained it. The water ran out from under our place…but collected under, and around the house next door, the neighbour was not pleased.

It was towards the end of one of these bouts of ill health that Mum and Dad made a fairly poor decision to go to Geelong for the day.

The day was lovely and sunny as far as I can recall, and We stopped in front of Coles Cafeteria, I think we all loved those, but they’re not around anymore, sadly enough.

We went inside and up the stairs, to where all the food was.

The idea was to take a tray and slide it along the counter, taking whatever food you fancied, and paying at the end of the line.

Mum hoped I’d find something I’d actually eat, since I had not eaten much in several days.

And then I saw it, it was some kind of a milk drink, in a very fancy glass, and had a straw poking out at the side… and it was a lurid green, so of course I wanted it.

Now if you’re hoping Mum told me “NO” and made me get something else, I’m sorry… because
She allowed it, Much to her eternal regret.

So we returned to our table and hopped into our goodies, and I drank that lurid green concoction, whatever it was, I’m not sure if I had anything else, not that it matters.

And then I said those words that nobody wanted to hear.

“Mum, I’m going to be sick”

Mum and Dad leapt to attention, as the first eruptions began to rumble, and grabbed my hand and ran down those steps, towards the glass doors as quickly as they could.

I don’t know how Mum did it, She was so “un-co” that she could trip over a pin, but she bolted down those stairs with the finesse of an athlete.

And just as those glass doors were pushed open, lurid green spew went everywhere, which left a massive green splodge over the footpath as though the Ghost busters had run over Slimer with a Steam Roller.

Mum frantically apologised and was completely red faced, But I think she was relieved that we had at least made it outside the building.

I don’t remember much after that, except that versions of this tale had been told by Mum over the years to practically any sympathetic Mum who’d listen.

Oh, and we never went there again.


A little pudding thing

24 08 2012

I saw this very nice recipe for what was supposed to be a bikkie but sort of turned out like a little pudding instead, but that didn’t matter, it was completely delicious.

Now I’ve tried these three minute cup cake things in the microwave before, and the results have been terrible, so my expectations were very low, but instead I was delighted.

I’m going to Ozzie-fy the recipe here so that it makes sense, although it wasn’t hard, and give you a few extra suggestions.

You need:

Two Tablespoons of Butter (The original said unsalted, but please!)
One and a half Tablespoons of Sugar (US = Granulated)
One and a half Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
Five Tablespoons of Plain Flour (US = All Purpose)
One Beaten Bum Nut (or Egg)
A few drops of Vanilla Essence (Use the real stuff, please!)
A quarter of a teaspoon of baking powder (Not Bicarbonate!)
Pinch of salt (So why did the original ask for unsalted butter? Skip this)
One snack pack of sultanas (I like fruit)
A Dessert spoon of Choc Bits

Sift the flour into a bowl and add everything except the egg

Beat the egg and add it to the dry stuff.

Mix everything together till it’s nice and smooth.

Pour into ramekins.

Bung it in the Microwave for two minutes on high.
(You may have to adjust this for your microwave)

I used a ramekin but found the mixture bubbled up and over in the microwave,
So use two, and share one with a friend or save it for later.

Here’s a converter for Australian/US Food, which was useful

And here’s a link to the original page, with photos.


Chicken Poi

14 05 2012

There’s a certain kind of Aussie accent which causes people to say words like Pie as Poi… So yes, it’s Pie.

I have been under pressure from at least one of my Twitter followers to release he recipe for the Poi, after uploading photos of it here and there.

It’s a bit fiddly, but I can make it on one day in the week and slice it up into about six parts and that means I get quite a few meals out of it, which is very handy if you’re single and in a bit of a rush most of the time, it’s also a lot nicer than pre-packaged food.

You should note that there was an original recipe which I started with, which is available on the Burkes Backyard website, under “Fact Sheets” (Be warned “Burkes Backyard” is two things online, an Aussie TV show (Correct) or a pr0n site (avoid)). BUT I modified it because I’m a lazy bastard and I don’t want to roll my own pastry or fry my own chicken.

So, Here’s what you’ll need.

A baking tray, a good sized one that you could do a nice roast in. (now everything I list is *roughly* not *exactly*… have a fiddle around with things and you’ll be fine.

Baking Paper.

Pampas ready rolled puff pastry, I generally have some left over so I wrap up some sausages and cook those in the oven.

Campbells stock, or your own… about 2 cups worth.

Flour… It should be plain, but I had self raising, it won’t kill you if you use the wrong sort.

Butter, Yes, actual butter… not margarine, that’s shit.

One whole roasted chook, Yes you could cook your own chook, I don’t care… Americans, Chook is Aussie slang for Chicken. This chook should preferably be stuffed, with stuffing.

Vegetables… Anything will do, I use a collection of corn, peas, broccolini, carrots, celery… fresh or frozen, nobody cares. use whatever you’ve got.

Sesame seeds for the top of the pastry.

Line your baking dish with baking paper, then line the dish with pastry, join it up as best you can with not much overlap, but leave an inch or two hanging over the pan.

Stick this as it is into the oven to cook… a little… it will puff up… yes you can use other types of pastry, I just use this, it might be wrong but I don’t care. there are apparently little stones that you can use to weigh down pastry so it behaves, or uncooked rice, I think… But I don’t bother… just watch it so it doesn’t puff all over the place, remove it from the oven if it does.

Get a saucepan and put the stock into it, add about two tablespoons of flour… A friend was surprised once when he cooked here and asked for a tablespoon and expected a plastic measuring thing… I handed him an ancient, metal, table spoon.

Add a knob of butter and stir.

A tip from my Mum is this, when you make custard you stir and stir, making sure that the spoon is scraping anything off the bottom, or you’ll get lumps. Well the same is true for this so DO NOT stop stirring for anything. The moment you stop… LUMPS.

Not that it really matters, but still.

When it looks a bit like condensed soup, it’d done… remove it from the heat.

Right, pull the dish out of the oven, the pastry should be more or less cooked, sort of.

Take your  fresh and frozen veggies and dump about half a cup of each INTO the sauce you just made, and give it a good stir up so that it’s all combined.

Get the chook and begin doing the most terrible things to it’s body, put bits of meat evenly on the bottom of the pie, then cover with the sauce… save the bones for the cat (and save a bit of meat for the dog… don’t give chicken bones to dogs unless you want a hefty vet bill).

Use the skin and the stuffing, The stuffing saves you from having to muck around with herbs and spices. and the skin may have marinade or something on it… so use all of it.

Then cover the pie with the remaining sheets of pastry, brush with some milk, and sprinkle poppy seeds on top.

Bake at about 180c until it looks done… 30mins?

Then take it out and serve.

Credit to Deb for showing me that I could use a whole roast chicken if I wanted to, rather than fry up chicken pieces myself… and also to use baking paper instead of greasing the pan, which cut down on a lot of washing.

Wolfie! (Hoping I haven’t forgotten something, but I think that’s it)

Thinking about Food

19 01 2012

Each year I buy lots of food, and although I eat a lot of it, I find that I throw out a lot of it too. I think that’s probably true for a lot of us.

Food often gets pushed to the back of the cupboard, the deep freezer or the crisper and is simply forgotten, though I think it’s often to do with not realising that if I added this to that, and that, and that… That I would have a reasonable evening meal.

I’m a fairly good cook, but lack the nous to see separate ingredients could make something quick and tasty.

So I thought that perhaps there could be a sort of webpage where I type in all your items and then it comes up with recipes for me, or if I haven’t quite got enough it will advise me to buy a couple more items in order to make the meal.

Then I thought that would take too long, and nobody would want to do it.

Then I considered scanning the barcodes with my phone, and getting the list of my items into the database that way…but again it’d take quite a while to do.

So how is this?

You’re at Coles checkout,  where your items are scanned and you get a docket, the docket would have a number on it, which could be typed into a third party website, let’s call it “Pantry” for instance.

The Pantry site asks you to log in, then asks for your docket number and asks you to choose the shop that you went to… Coles, Franklins, Big W, Foodmaster etc.

This accesses the computer at that shop and finds the list of what you bought.

So now the Pantry site knows exactly what you’ve bought, and it only took about five minutes of your time.

Of course we sometimes run to the milk bar and buy some milk and bread, or our neighbour gives us some fruit or eggs.  There’s no docket for those, so you can just add those in manually.

Then you can access the Pantry recipe page and it will show you all the things that you can make tonight, because it only shows you recipes that use the ingredients which you already have.

The recipes could be sent in by yourself and other users, and given a score by people who have tried them, a bit like ratings points on youtube, with comments, good and bad.

Users could receive points, badges, discounts at certain shops for contributing.

I am sure there are pages like this… but to have one which knows every ingredient you have in the house could be particularly useful.

Comments please?


Wookiee Food

23 03 2011

Here’s an odd, and slightly nerdy sort of question.

But I want to pose it seriously, rather than as a joke.

What does a Wookiee eat?

I don’t think it was specified in the movies, so we can only guess, and this could be a nice exercise for our minds to think about in the wee hours.

Normally when a “new” animal is found, the teeth and other parts of the body are examined, and it’s possible to get a basic idea of what the creature ate… a good example would be dinosaurs, we have not seen living dinosaur, but their bodies can often reveal whether they ate meat or greens, or a combination of both.

Teeth not only evolved for eating, but also evolved for fighting, Tusks are a good example. and some types of monkey have very long teeth, which are for display more than anything else.

So although a Wookiee may appear to be a meat eater, perhaps they’re not.

And yes, we all saw that Holiday Special, but let’s not colour our thoughts with that too much.

So, Fingers to chins, let us speculate.


That nasty little half-truth

10 03 2011

I am a great supporter of science, always have been, I prefer the rational facts of science to the delusion of religion.

But one thing I don’t like, support, or want, in genetically modified food, whether it’s safe or not I really can’t say, but whether it is or isn’t, I don’t want it.

Now if I were to say that I don’t want sardines, everyone is fine with that, but mentioning that I don’t want GM food can, at times cause an argument.

If you like seafood, go ahead and eat it then, that’s your choice, shouldn’t I be allowed to have mine?

The only problem is that all food could be GM soon, and that choice will be taken away from me, and I’m very annoyed about that.

Will I have the ability to go shopping and come out with food which hasn’t been tweaked in a lab?

If not, tell me why that is not unfair.

Now there’s this nasty little half-truth which is thrown about by supporters, and that is “Oh don’t worry, we’ve been modifying genes for centuries”.

Well yes we have, I quite agree, but….

While we have been mating various types of cattle to say, produce a Holstein, which occurs nowhere in the wild, or to produce beautiful sculptured Arabian horses, what we have not been doing for centuries is to take genes from a fungus, for instance, to make mice glow in the dark, or to take a gene which produces insecticide and make cotton, which kills vermin on its own.

We have not done this until last century, all this science is brand spanking new, and I think that telling the public that gene modification includes what we know as breeding, is a bit of a porky, and scientists really ought to know better.