Entries from June 2009 ↓
June 30th, 2009 — Bachelor Fare, Drink and Drunk, Recipes
A very seasonable recipe based on litres of tradition and extensive hands on research. Works fine with all hats.
First catch your flu.
Blend half a bottle of fine coloured spirits – preferably brandy, whiskey/hy or rum, with a couple of glasses of fishpiss (water) in a saucepan and bring to fingerhurting but not boiling heat.
Then flake in a cinnamon stick the size of Donald Trump’s real dick, half a dozen cocktail-sized lemon slices, a pinch of hammered cloves and some grated nutmeg if the mood takes you..
Now add a big swingeing tablespoon of unsalted butter from happy cows, another equally butch dollop of honey from busy bees and simmer, stir occasionally and sneeze for the length of four good 60s pop songs.
Decant contents of saucepan into thermos flask. Recline on bed or sofa with flask and glass to hand. Place hat on foot and starting imbibing your hot toddy.
When you can’t focus on the hat anymore, that’s when the hat flu cure is kicking in.
June 26th, 2009 — Donger dinners, Eating Out, Entertaining
Read the full series
As I type this a gentle rain is falling on an empty vegetable patch in my backyard in Canberra. There is little evidence of the tomatoes and chillies laden with fruit that I left behind three months ago. The plants are gone and the soil has been turned over and the garden is now littered with the newly-chewed bones of a desert dog called Sailor, my sole companion during the four day drive home from the Lands.
The journey south was broken up by a week in Melbourne spent re-civilising my wardrobe and my palate. I dodged swine flu but not the inevitable hangover that accompanied a night of fine dining with the man you may know as Nabakov. Should any of you ever have the pleasure, take note: he doesn’t do sardines or tofu, or any combination of the two, and likes his Scotch neat and in large quantities. I would have written a review of the evening but due to my own excessive consumption of wine and whiskey, details have been lost and I am left with only fragments and vague impressions. I do recall the barramundi was excellent and the cognac expensive, and that I laughed rather a lot and probably too loudly in between smoking all of Nabs’ cigarettes.
When I first got back to Canberra I took a few days to unpack, catch up with friends and try to get my head around the fact that I now have to write a very large thesis. It wasn’t until yesterday when I baked a batch of muffins that I finally began to relax. Baking, I have come to realise, makes me feel at home. For what it’s worth, here are some other reflections related to my original motivation for this blog. Over the past few months I have been constantly struck by the great efforts that people go to in order to eat well when they are living in difficult circumstances. Good food is celebrated and treated with respect. In this generalisation I include not only the many non-Aboriginal staff I met who delight in devising elaborate menus from basic items, hoard special ingredients and pay outrageous amounts of money for fresh green vegetables, but also the many Aboriginal men and women, some of whom are greatly advanced in years, who continue to make the effort to walk great distances across country in pursuit of the foods that they love: tirnka goannas, yams, kangaroo, bush onions etc. Sure, we are all guilty of the occasional chicken wing-ding from the local roadhouse, but that’s just what you eat when getting the food you really want is just too hard or too expensive.
My other observation is that it is the most temporary of places with the most transitory clientele that suffer the most from lack of care about food: the roadhouse restaurants along the 800km stretch of the Stuart Highway between Port Augusta and Alice Springs; the cafes at Yulara resort servicing the many thousands of tourists visiting Uluru every year; and the make-do meals I prepared for myself when spending a night camped on the side of the road.
One final recipe to share from my travels. During my last week in Lands I finally managed to secure the meal I had so greatly desired and long pursued without success. In their humble Warburton home, made cosy with a mix of boho Melbourne decor and wild desert paintings, the lovely Kate and Ben served me a fabulous feast of roast of camel. Our humped friend had been secured by the local camel hunter and did not disappoint: tasty without being overwhelmingly strong, firm but tender, no stringy bits and very little fat. Meat doesn’t get much better than this. With half a million feral camels wandering around Central Australia, I have to wonder why we aren’t eating more of it. Let’s get more humps on tables, I say.
Mr Fox’s Roast Camel
Embed numerous garlic cloves deep in the flesh of a large fillet of camel, preferably obtained from the back strap under the hump. Baste with red curry paste and top with bacon and other stuff as takes your fancy. Cook for a couple of hours in a slow oven – the longer it is cooked the more tender it will be. Serve with sides of baked polenta, rocket salad fresh from the garden and a spicy green tea. Yum.
June 22nd, 2009 — Celebrity Chef!, Food on the telly, Levity
You get home from work and start rushing to get the dinner on and you suddenly imagine George Columbaris at your elbow. “How are you going there? You’ve got TWENTY MORE MINUTES! Those SPUDS SHOULD BE PEELED by now!!!”
You find yourself thinking “Which Masterchef contestant would I be?” (Just because I identify with her in some ways, her cooking choices are not like mine at all. “Aussie”? “Baked dinner”? erp!)
You say “You eediot! Not that way!” at the TV.
Your twelve-year-old starts insisting on helping with the dinner (Can I say W00t!), and comes out with stuff like, “The onions are caramelising nicely while the sausage has taken on a whole new dimension of flavour.”
You yell “Booooo!” whenever Hat Man Chris “Boris” Badenough appears
You’re watching a cookie-cutter Fremantle Media reality show with a cast of characters who are holed up in a house and one is voted off each week, crying and the word “journey” mandatory – in other words, a massive yawning cliche – and although you’re feeling a bit dirty, you can’t look away.
Who else has been watching Masterchef? What are your impressions? Triumphs, disasters, heroes, villains? Has it changed any kitchen routines in your household? Anyone suddenly taken to wearing cravats?
June 21st, 2009 — Kitchen Garden
Today in Canberra it’s cool but not cold, although a grey and drippy sort of day. We’ve lots more heavy frosts to come, but the solstice is the right time for planting garlic so in they go. The kale’s doing a lot better since I viciously slaughtered the white cabbage moth caterpillars, the artichokes are going crazy and the raspberries are flowering.
In pots near the front door, the mizuna and sorrel have gone beserk:
The chervil didn’t make it, but there are three self seeded broccoli plants in its place, so no complaints from me. (Although I think they need some fish emulsion, the leaves are a little too yellow.) From the longest night tonight, gradually there’ll be a little more light each day and it will be Spring again.
June 6th, 2009 — Desserts and Sweet Things, One Dish Meals
Unlike Zoe, I don’t know if I can attribute my lack of participation in blogging lately to my daily use of Twitter. I was a fairly early user of the short message medium that has recently taken the mainstream media by storm, and for at least two of those years I managed to continue to blog with enthusiasm.
I think the source of my exhaustion arises rather from the fact that for much of the university teaching year thus far I’ve been reading and marking 50 blogs per week, all written by students enrolled in subjects to do with new media. If Twitter is to bear any responsibility for my failure to blog in any substantial way either here, at Sarsaparilla Lite, or at my own blog, then it’s because one of the other pieces of assessment that I’ve spent the semester drowning in has been the Twitter workshops I’ve co-ordinated in lieu of the usual face-to-face tutorials. All of these pieces of assessment have rendered me barely capable of reading, never mind making a comment on those blogs by people who like to write and engage in discussions for the sake of it.
Anyway, you’re not really interested in my work-a-day woes are you? It’s all about food here at the Progressive Dinner Party. And no doubt you’ll be pleased to know that it’s because of food that I bothered to mention Twitter at all in this context. It’s due to Twitter that I came to know of my most recent food obsession, when one of the people I follow declared that she was going to make 5 minute ice-cream for which she posted a link.
Continue reading →
June 5th, 2009 — camping food, Feeding people, Recipes
Installments one , two, three, four, five and six.
There are few things in this world as simple or as satisfying as the humble damper. There are many master damper makers out here in the desert, and I’ve recently had the opportunity to sample some fresh off the fire. Oh, the guilty pleasure of indulging in a bit of damper with butter and homemade jam for breakfast, lunch and dinner – all on the same day! I submitted willingly even though I could feel my soft bits getting softer with every bite.
This particular bush trip was part of a week of celebrations, workshops and cultural activities that is the “Blackstone Festival”, put on by Papulankutja Artists. Check out their blog at http://papulankutja.blogspot.com/. They make beautiful paintings at Blackstone, well worth a look if you are in the market for something sublime that is also ethically produced.
The first of our dampers from this particular bush trip was made by a great chick from Margaret River named Jodie. She put a lot of love into that damper but it was unmistakably the product of a white girl still learning, shaped rather like a very large Hershey’s chocolate drop. Nevertheless it was delicious, and we ate it with gusto and lashings of butter and slightly fermented fig jam (the pot I bought in Waikerie some weeks ago).
The second of our dampers was produced by an older lady who learned how to make it almost fifty years ago, at a time when there was a bounty on the heads of dingos and flour was the major commodity sought after by people from this area in exchange for “dog skins”. Here’s her recipe, and some photos of the process. Continue reading →