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Everything posted by loiosh

  1. Consulting my library to add some historical perspective to this debate, I've come across two volumes which may shed some light on the (fairly recent) past. Both are copyright 1965. Saucepans and the Single Girl, an American book, touts itself as "the cookbook with all the ingredients for that light-hearted leap from filing cabinet to flambe!" The book is aimed at single, working girls who want to feed themselves in addition to wooing a man. Recipes include a burger with banana topping, and English muffin pizzas. Different types of man, of course, require different food, but most of it can be bashed together from tins and a few fresh ingredients (remember, too, that the variety of produce available fresh to us forty years on is much greater). The book is, well, kind of sexist, despite being penned by two women, though it's meant to be humourous. The other volume, Cooking for Brides, is a shade more ambitious. The book largely sticks to classic French/'continental' dishes. Plenty of explanation is given with regard to techniques for sauces, mayonnaise, etc. There are numerous cartoon illustrations which remind one of men's magazines of the era. The book's tone is conversational, but rather than expressing himself as a confidante in the kitchen (like, say, Julia, or the Rombauers), he comes off as quite authoritarian, snobbish, and pedantic, and pauses between giving orders to relate the details of overseas trips that most likely would have been extravagantly out of reach for the majority of Australians. And, to paraphrase slightly, anyone who cooks with dripping is a terrible cook (which many brides' mothers would have done). Technically, it's a much better book than Saucepans, and it's certainly more ambitious. A woman I worked for a while back said that men in our workplace tended to speak to women as if they were slow children, and that is what this book reminds me of. I have a few earlier books in my collection. Many, like the Country Women's Assoc. ones, are vague in the details of the recipe -- you are expected to know some basics prior to using the book. Does this mean that women prior to 1965 were all wonderful cooks? Not in my mind. It was a job they had to do. Some had the skills and were able to use the recipes from these books well, others didn't and ended up with library paste. Some of the latter women learnt from their mistakes; others did not. One can learn to cook well, but many people simply are uninclined to do so out of lack of interest. The point is that many young women don't know how to cook, but that this is quite old news. Jokes about "brides' biscuits" have been going around for ages. Mr Ramsey is wrapping yesterday's fish in today's paper by acting as if "women can't cook" is a new thing. As stated many, many times previously in this thread, he is singling out women to gain publicity by acting the role of the un-PC 'bad boy chef'. Casual, "humourous" sexism, which the aforementioned books provide ample evidence of, is old as the hills. Picking on women is still 'safe' -- imagine if he'd said "[nationality] can't cook". He'd be tarred and feathered. ps - Today's women can't really mix a cocktail either, Gordo. Been to a party recently? I'll gag if I'm offered one more "c**ks*****g cowboy" -- both because of the awful, homophobic name, and because sweet, cloying, creamy drinks make me barf.
  2. Lik 'Em Stix is what they were called here. I loved them too. ← Lik-M-Aid 'Fun Dip' You were close.
  3. If you plan to cook and eat while staying in Sydney, I seem to recall that the Radisson near Chinatown has rooms with kitchenettes and was reasonably priced the last time we stayed there. It's also handy to Sydney's small Spanish Quarter, which has some cool delis and a few tapas places, at least one of which is really good. From there you could easily walk to Cockle Bay Wharf (yes, it's touristy, but it's not too bad), which has a few good restaurants, and of course it's handy to transit (including scenic boat rides over to Sydney Harbour). Check wotif.com.au for good hotel/apartment rates (I'm not shilling for them...it's just a useful site non-locals might not have known about).
  4. Leftover slices of grilled leg of lamb, if not devoured hastily by refrigerator light, can be deep-fried to make homemade shwarma kebabs. Yum. For those who don't like lamb, a gentle introduction might be something like the roast my friend Kelly made a couple of weeks ago. Her secret is long cooking in one of those oven bags, resulting in something like a lamb pot roast. She seemed a bit shameful in admitting to use of oven bags, but then I told her about sous vide. Obviously we have a lot of lamb here in Australia. Sunday dinner roasts accompanied by pumpkin, potatoes, etc. roasted in the lamb pan are a big thing here. Roast lamb or chops are excellent when served with Fergus Henderson's 'green sauce', a melange of finely-minced herbs (parsley, mint, dill, hint of tarragon), capers, anchovies, and garlic. We also use a Chez Panisse recipe which involves marinating a leg of lamb in onions, evoo, and white wine overnight. One can also get bony 'chump chops' here quite cheaply. I tend to use these in stews and braises, as I think they are too bony for plating up as a chop, though they can certainly be grilled and gnawed at. Oddly, most people have no problems with lamb here, but a few of my lady friends will not eat pork (strictly for reasons of flavour, etc., and not due to any religious practice). I think the pork here is less mild and more 'porky' in flavour than in the US. As a semi-related side note, Australians tend to have smaller fridges than Americans do, for a variety of reasons...I think (and kind of hope) one is that people tend to shop more often because they use more fresh ingredients. If you have a small fridge and need to marinate or brine something large like a roast, do what we do and clean well one of your crisper drawers, then use it as the brining vessel.
  5. I thought Viva Zapata in Dunedin was pretty decent overall. Great tequila list.
  6. I buy bread flour here at health food type shops which have lots of bulk items like nuts, dried fruit, legumes and grains. They're also a great source for rye flour and other things like that. I personally find that the plain flour here is softer than in the US. I'm not an expert though, so this is just my perception of it. I would suspect that it's geared toward the end products which people are most likely to produce, like scones, maybe cakes. I actually also use plain flour a lot of the time in making bread, since it's easier to find. Most of the bread I make involves multiple long, slow raisings, which seems to help develop the gluten. I've done it enough times that I've gotten good at judging the way the dough feels and adjusting the flour and water proportions based on that. I'm glad that I can do this as the humidity of the air seems to fluctuate quite a lot here. Most of my friends have bread machines, but I do it all by hand. It doesn't take very long, but it does leave quite a mess to clean up.
  7. Count me in. I had cooked up a similar idea recently. I think the best way for this to work is something along the lines of the CDDB model. For those who aren't familiar with it, the basic idea is that if you have a new CD that no one's entered into the database yet, you can type in the artist, song titles, and other information. When you use a CD with a music player program on a computer, it looks up that information based on the length and number of the tracks on the disc. My proposed model, then, is like a cookbook database. Trusty eGullet volunteers enter information for the cookbooks which they own, including recipe titles, applicable page numbers, main ingredients, maybe, and other details. This information could be housed on a publically-accessible website. Each user can have an account which stores their preferences. The most important bit of that, of course, is the list of cookbooks on the site which they own. The users can then search the books which they own. Copyright, etc., shouldn't be a problem since the recipes themselves won't be stored, just indexing information. And lots of people probably have the same cookbooks, so if each person volunteers to index just one or two from their collection, the site should be pretty useful to everyone. I don't know of a ready-made software solution to host this type of a website but it shouldn't be too horrible to bash something together. I am an unemployed coder/sysadmin (due to visa limitations), so if people are interested in having a go at a project like this, either in terms of code or contributing data, it would be a fun thing for me to work on. If there's sufficient interest, it would be good to start a separate thread to discuss design and other issues. I think this would be an excellent resource for both the eGullet community and the general internet public.
  8. loiosh


    Thai green papaya salad would be good. It's really hard to get the papaya thin enough by cutting by hand.
  9. Probably one of the best known of these is De Bortoli "Noble One". A quick Google search shows at least some availability of it in the US, so if you'd like to give it a try, have a look at one of your larger local wine merchants. Personally I don't drink a lot of 'stickies' with sweet desserts; I prefer them with cheeses. Your tastes may vary. Sticky date pudding, of course, is another subject entirely.
  10. Must agree with you on that one. The food at bills is great, but I think a lot of it is about the ingredients and care taken, and not really about the recipes. I've tried a couple of his recipes from Delicious and they were kind of 'eh'. I think a lot of the newer cookbooks gravitate towards a philosophy of everything being fast, easy and simple. I have no problem with that, but the material isn't really presented properly, IMO. Most of these recipes are geared towards people who are trying to get into cooking more. Fast, easy, and fresh is a powerful lure for people used to stirring up a bit of Chicken Tonight. But these cookbooks and magazines forget to provide information that would really help people make things properly. It's one thing to tell someone to brown a chicken breast, but how will they do it properly if they don't really know what that means? How will they know when it's done (or overdone)? People who already know how to cook reasonably well won't find anything new in these types of books and magazines, beyond perhaps an idea for a flavor combination or presentation. People who don't know how to cook well will still find these "easy" recipes difficult, because they haven't yet gained the skills they need to actually carry out the recipe in the quick and easy way the magazine might suggest. It kind of saddens me because they might, after experiencing a couple of failures, dismiss the idea of cooking simple meals from scratch entirely. I really wish there were more of an emphasis on technique in these books for folks who could really benefit from it. I'd also appreciate it if they gave more advice on seasoning, lest I be required to eat any more dry, saltless, rubbery, baked chicken breasts from bill, Jamie Oliver, Donna Hay, or whoever.
  11. My friend Dan made his mom's awesome chipotle sweet potatoes at our feast a couple of years ago. You could always, say, cook up a batch of sweet potatoes or some other ingredient relatively plain and flavor it up two different ways.
  12. IANJ, but I do like this recipe for mujadra. I used a bit less oil and added some garam masala. I like it kind of mooshy. At the Middle East in Cambridge they serve it with a little dab of harissa (or a similar condiment).
  13. I can't believe I haven't asked this yet, but I'm getting some strong cravings for slow-cooked, smoky ribs, brisket or hot links. I need barbecue. Does anyone know of anyplace good in Sydney or Canberra? (I'm doubtful about Canberra because I would've heard about it by now.) I heard there's a Tony Roma's (American BBQ/ribs chain), but I'd like to see if I can get something a bit better than that.
  14. My posse informs me that the Ruth's Chris in SF is still damn good. I asked another friend at lunch today, and he recommends seeking out sushi in Roseville. You'll have to take his word on that.
  15. The Larkspur Landing is great! We've stayed there a few times and it's very comfortable. They have rooms with kitchenettes, so if you feel like cooking, you can. The area right around there is pretty chain-heavy and near the mall. There's an Il Fornaio in the mall complex. The most convienient thing to the Larkspur Landing is the Tahoe Joe's steakhouse across the parking lot. It's yummy, but not quite fine dining. It's steaks with baked potatoes and nachos, wings, etc. for appetizers. It's extremely good, for what it is. I'll ask some friends for a few more recommendations. There's always In-N-Out burger.
  16. In Nigella's "Forever Summer" book, she has a watermelon and black olive salad that sounded weird, but was quite good. Basically, you macerate some thinly sliced red onion in lime juice, add some Spanish black olives (not specified as such in the original but I think the flavour contrast with the watermelon is better than with, say, Kalamata), little cubes of feta, and watermelon chunks, and toss it all together with some oil and S&P. Fresh mint and/or parsley can be added and I tossed in some diced mild green chiles. For a hearty but cooling main dish salad, an old favorite is to take some chopped raw veggies (flexible, but should include cucumber, radishes, and tomato for sure, and some green onions or red onion) and mix with sour cream plus cottage cheese. Season it generously with S&P. You could also add some fresh dill. This one is vaguely Polish in origin. You could substitute yogurt for the sour cream if you like. Yogurt plus more finely chopped veggies, with some cumin and cayenne makes a great dip which you could serve alongside some homemade or store-bought hummus and pitas for a light lunch or supper. I also like to make very simple main dish salads with precooked seafood like prawns, crab, or 'bugs' from the fishmonger, plus salad greens, a light, lemony dressing, and possibly any other salad veg that would go well. The Moosewood Cookbook has some nice salads and cold soups, including a great recipe for gazpacho if I'm remembering correctly.
  17. Took some coworkers to the original Uncle Frank's in EPA. Great stuff, though I had to endure some pretty lame cracks from some of the crew about getting their tires stolen and so on. Hopefully the new location will persuade more folks to try his 'cue. I'm also a huge fan of the more gentrified 'cue at Memphis Minnie's in the city, in part because it was closer to my old house than Brother-in-Law's.
  18. An exciting variation is when the server fills each wine glass almost to the rim, and when you try to get it down a bit so you can hold your glass without spilling it on yourself, they come round and top it up before you can say anything. Crikey! I'm not expecting every Tom's Cafe, Dick's Restaurant, and Harry's Bistro to have a sommelier, but the staff could at least get a few pointers on wine service. Particularly annoying when you've driven and just want to have a small taste of the wine.
  19. Awesome. I was in Queensland last week, but I should be in the area for the duration. If any other Canberra visitors or locals want to meet up perhaps we can make it an official eGullet event. I always bring a slab of VB tinnies to California for the guys, and last time I also brought in Cooper's Vintage. I put each bottle inside a sock to make sure it wouldn't clank around in my luggage.
  20. Last time I shopped at corporate mega-mart I was buying kumquats. The cashier-kid picked them up and gave me a kind of "these are cool- mini oranges!" comment. I agreed, being one who also likes mini-things. He then asks out loudly to the station next to his: "Hey Lucile! To look these up... is it c-u-m?" I giggled out that they are spelled with a K... I guess I have to give him credit for knowing they were kumquats... or was that cumkuat? ← Actually, cumquat is a valid alternate spelling. We have some put up in brandy in a litre jar in the cupboard.
  21. A good fruit crisp that can be made with margarine (read the label carefully to make sure there aren't any dairy ingredients, as many commercial brands will contain small amounts) is "Quick Cherry Crunch" from Joy of Cooking. I've always made it with apples instead of cherries, which I think might be too sweet. It does portion out a bit messily. Another interesting avenue might be to experiment with some of the raw food cookie/brownie type recipes, many of which are mooshed-up dates, coconut, bananas, and/or nut butters. They do look a little homely, but I kind of like the taste of them. We used to make Betty Crocker mix cakes with Ener-G egg replacer. They reminded me of the microwave cake mixes they used to have when I was a kid -- moist, but in a kind of strange way, and a little heavy.
  22. Waters Edge is definitely excellent. I'm a bit surprised, though, the Chairman is usually pretty good, though they don't change up the menu that often. I think one of the chefs from there is at Dijon now, and their menu certainly reflects an increased Asian influence, more so than when they were back in the Ainslie shops. Dinner out in Canberra is really another thread, though.
  23. Man, if I'd known there were eG members passing through I would've shouted you a drink! The Russian Imperial stout is also amazing -- the espresso of beers. I have had a couple of clunkers (whatever their light beer is, and some seasonal one with pumpkin, I think) but overall you can't go wrong, and the wedges are fantastic. Anyone else from out of town should make time to drop in.
  24. loiosh

    slummin' it!

    You can buy cheez powder from the King Arthur Flour catalog. My housemate bought it to make cheese bread and I bogarted it to make Kraft Dinner. It's good. You can also make up the macaroni cheese from the box with sour cream instead of the milk and butter if the fridge is empty before payday. You cannot, however, put sour cream in coffee.
  25. I'll butt in and say that eggs are not refrigerated at the supermarket here (in Australia). The theory is, I'm told, that the cycling from cooler to warmer and back that occurs in the fridge causes the eggs to go off faster, and they typically don't spend more than a day or two in the shop. Most people I know refrigerate them at home, though.
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