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Everything posted by Snadra

  1. So, confessions time: I have been known to shop at Aldi, and what's more, I like it. The selection is limited, but not unchanging, (some of) the quality is good and it's easy to get in and out pretty quickly. After a bit of experimentation, there are a few things we buy at Aldi quite regularly, including: Unsalted butter $1.49/250 grams: I do more baking than my hips need. Their butter is always fresh and sweet and the price is excellent. I only buy it elsewhere if I have to. Rye bread $1.99/500 grams (approx 8 slices): This is the brick-like stuff that has no preservatives and yet seems to last forever. It's as good as anything I remember having in Germany, and the nearest equivalent I can find elsewhere is much more expensive and I've frequently found stones/hardbits in it. Chocolate Moser Roth $2.49/125 grams; Choceur $2.49/200 grams: I suspect that when Aldi first came here Whittakers supplied their chocolates - the blocks looked the same as Whittakers and they had an odd mouthfeel and almost artificial flavour. They've since changed and the quality is really good. The Choceur 'dark' isn't nearly dark enough for my taste, but it has a nice smooth texture and no off flavours; it's perfect for baking applications - I chop it to use instead of chocolate chips and find the flavour superior. And the Fruit & Nut version, which is filled with sultanas and hazelnuts is addictive. The Moser Roth chocolates are excellent, with a nice snap (except in summer in my kitchen), and are conveniently packaged in 25gram tablets to prevent over indulging. Potato Gems/Jewels $2.49/750 grams: We don't buy much in the way of prepared food (the great lean cuisine experiment of '06 ended in a freezer full of expired frozen meals) and I don't like oven baked fries but the potato jewels are very good as a side to almost anything. And anyway, it's not my fault see, because eGullet has this whole thread on tater tots, and it brainwashed me. Obviously there are a few more things, but I'd like to hear from you. Do you shop at Aldi? Why or why not? What have you found to be worthwhile and what was disgusting?
  2. So, I thought I was rather good at google searches, until today when a newspaper article mentioned an online store for organic products, and I realised I'd never come across them, despite recently searching for a few of the ingredients they sell. Aaargh! So, I thought it might be useful if there was a running list of food websites that do online sales. Here's a few to kick us off, I hope you'll keep adding to the list: Totally Local: http://www.totallylocal.com.au/ Sells products from the Orange, NSW district, including wines, cider and spirits, venison, goat, nuts and preserves. Honest to Goodness: http://www.goodness.com.au/ Organic & Natural products. Herbies Spices: http://www.herbies.com.au The online face of Ian Hemphill's spice store in Rozelle.
  3. A few years ago I was given a KitchenAid Artisan for my birthday. I have used frequently since then, but have never been as theiled with its performance as I was with its looks. Yesterday, it caused me to make the most expensive loaf of ciabatta ever: the knob covering the attachment drive came loose as it shuddered it's way through the dough beating, fell into the bowl and jammed the paddle. The gears are now stripped and I won't know until I get back to Sydney in a few weeks whether it's repairable (or worth repairing). In the meantime, I want to work out what I should get if it needs replacing. I never got any attachments for it as they are so expensive (and I already had a marcato and an ice cream maker anyway). At the moment I'm leaning towards a magimix processor (4200xl or 5200xl) and maybe getting a used Kenwood or Breville mixer on eBay. I've seen Bosch mixers trickling onto the market here too. I still want to be able to beat buttercreams, cake mixes and that blessed ciabatta, and to eventually make marshmallows (in fact I had been planning on doing that this week....). Does anyone have any opinions or advice? I'm not super keen on another kitchen aid simply due to cost.
  4. Snadra

    Morning Tea

    So, I'm a newly minted teacher and am now living in a very small town some 600km inland from Sydney, slowly getting into country town life and working out how to survive teenagers in the wild. At my new school (like at all the schools I've done professional experiences at) there is a weekly morning tea for teachers. Here it's hosted by a different faculty every Friday recess on a four week rotation and it's something we all look forward to. I would love to hear any ideas or suggestions you might have for things to bring. In the common room we have an oven and a microwave, so I can do some limited reheating, but i prefer to keep it fairly simple and not too messy, as forks and plates are at a premium! I also don't have a fully equipped kitchen here yet (most of it is still in Sydney), although I do have my kitchenaid and a mini-processor and most of my baking pans, including a brand new mini muffin tin. Some of the things I have seen here and elsewhere include sausage rolls and party pies, mini quiches, purchased biscuits/cookies and cakes, cut-up chicken, chips or crackers and dip, cut up fruit (there's been watermelon every Friday at the moment as it's grown here), cheese and a few simple cakes. And someone brought curried egg sandwiches last week which disappeared in a flash. I also have a faculty meeting every second Tuesday afternoon which I'd like to bring something too, as we are usually all starving by then! They are all interested in the fact I'm originally from Canada, so I'd especially like any suggestions that seem particularly Canadian or at least north American. Keep in mind that I can't get many north American products here (ie graham crackers, flavoured baking chips, jet-puff marshmallows) but I can usually find a substitute. Mind you, considering all roads east of us are closed due to flooding, I may not be able to get any products at all if the rain keeps up! On my list of potential candidates so far are: Buttertarts Nanaimo bars Brownies (already a hit in my staff room and at a pre-deluge BBQ) Blondies Chocolate chip cookies (I use Abra's recipe in recipe gullet) Devilled eggs Any good suggestions? Ideally I'd like to take two things along each turn, plus something on ocassional Tuesdays. In return I'm happy to let you know what does turn up on the menu (fairy bread, honey jumbles, etc).
  5. That's actually a really good idea. Certainly better than the frozen battered fish! I can get frozen Norwegian salmon at the local Foodworks occasionally. I don't sous vide but it grills nicely. Woolies and Coles are 100k away. Of course for my next contemplated move the nearest store that sells more than overpriced basics will be over 200k away. Hopefully the river won't be full of carp!
  6. Carp - is that an anagram? The NZ experience (well, mine, anyway) is the possibly-obvious observation that the further you are from the sea, the more rubbish are the F&C. Sometimes this theory falls down; I think the second-worst I've ever had were from a shop in Foxton, which is not at all far from the sea. But getting something other than Chux out in the wops is probably unlikely. Should any of you fine people be visiting Wellington, the place to go is Supremo in Hataitai. The fish is, I'm convinced, still warehou and is good, meaty and crisp; the chips likewise (OK, not so much meaty). Give me a call; I'll pop down the hill and join you. Lol. They are European carp, and thus crap. I'm beyond the line again this weekend. Locals fish on the Darling. Will have to ask what the favourite catch is. Funnily enough I've had brilliant f&c in Bathurst of all places. If they can ship it fast enough... But if I'm ever in Enzed will be sure to try something decent and local.
  7. So these days I live within spitting distance of proper outback (in fact spent last weekend in proper outback where we felt quite justified in driving 150km out to to Broken Hill and back again for a meal). We can get fish and chips here, but the first and last time I tried it at the local club it tasted like a battered and fried kitchen sponge. The menu said flathead, but I think it was chux. Much easier just to have the chicken schnitzel than risk going through that again. And don't suggest I go fish for something fresher. Most fish are carp locally.
  8. Snadra

    Quartz Counters and Stains

    I have natural granite countertops with a matte finish. There has been a bit of staining, but it comes out quite well with a light bicarbonate soda scrub. I use it to polish the stainless steel sink as well.
  9. Traditionally non-jam preserving in Australia is done with Fowlers Vacola, which I believe starts in cold water. Mason jars, as well as European jars are becoming more available, but are quite expensive compared to their cost in The US/Canada. When I first arrived here the only jars I saw were Quattro stagionni (one piece lid) and Fowlers. The US style of preserving fruits and vegetables is pretty niche here, although as someone mentioned above tomato sauce preserving is big amongst Italian migrants. Most people I know who bother stick to jams and a few pickles/relishes and seal them in recycled jars, sometimes with cellophane. In 'black kettle and full moon', Geoffrey Blainey says families used to cut down old bottles to turn into preserve jars, and if I recall correctly he says jam was a popular method of fruit preserving because sugar was relatively cheap. My father-in-law grew up in the thirties and all his contemporaries have strong memories of lemon and melon jam, because it could be made with cheap sugar and scrounged ingredients. http://www.abc.net.au/tasmania/stories/s1463201.htm http://fowlersvacola.com.au http://www.cwaofvic.asn.au/content.asp?pid=140780
  10. I don't know what a "jaffle" is, and I'm not a "Dude!" even without the exclamation point. I recall the cheese getting pretty hot, but then, so does most, if not all, cheese that's grilled. In which case apologies for the casual salutation of excitement. A jaffle is indeed a toasted sandwich made in a jaffle iron (known to you as a Toast Tite), which seals the edges in a square or round shape, and sometimes even divides the sandwich into two neat triangles. Jaffles can be made in a low-tech jaffle iron, over a fire or hot plate, or in an electric jaffle maker, Aussies being so fond of appliances. They were passe for quite a while but a making a comeback these days. In my staff room a jaffle maker and sandwich press sit next to each other and are used equally, country people being less inclined to throw out perfect good ideas just because they've gone out of fashion. Ham, cheese and tomato is pretty traditional. Possibly because its delicious http://www.dailylife.com.au/dl-food/food-features/hot-food-trend-jaffles-20130410-2hkoy.html
  11. Dude! That's a jaffle! Contents get nuclear hot though.
  12. Mayo on the outside makes a beautiful golden crust. Sliced white bread, medium cheddar (so-called "tasty cheese" here), a bit of fresh pepper. And sometimes it like to pry it open and put some butter lettuce inside afterwards. Love the contrast of the sweet freshness against the golden richness. Or Turkish bread, no need to butter the outside, sharp cheddar and a thinly sliced Granny Smith piled in afterwards. In the long-ago I used to like grilled cheese and peanut butter. They ooze (or should it be gooze now?) together beautifully. The tradition in Oz is the jaffle - I like them a lot, but the interiors can be deadly hot!
  13. Was always fascinated by the crosshatch grill marks on the steaks at Mr Mikes when I was a kid - and you could see the steaks lined up on the grill, so they definitely weren't painted on. I thought the cooks must be rather special to get those marks so perfect. Oh, the excitement of the self-serve salad bar, foil wrapped potatoes and grill-marked steaks! These days they strike me as sweetly retro.
  14. In my experience they don't require a lot of work. Fairly secure place to be locked up at night, yard to scratch about in. On a daily basis it was more about throwing down some feed, making sure the water is fresh and locking them up safe each night. I used to scrape out their roost area once a week or so, more in summer, less in winter. And as a bonus all those kitchens scraps have a good home. Here weather isn't an issue but you will obviously need to do more if you live in an area with properly cold winters. And foxes are wily things, and good at fence climbing. Learn from my scattered feathers...
  15. This looks incredible. And the words 'viciously delectable' are so perfectly descriptive!
  16. Snadra

    Potato Salad

    Floury potatoes, cooked until just done, then gently tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs and minced green onion. It's a quick salad, and can be eaten at any temperature, which makes it handy. I love the slight creamyness from the edges of the potato breaking down. My other method is the classic-style: mayo, sour cream, dijon, boiled eggs, dill and green onion. Still delicious!
  17. Snadra


    In my local bit of Aussieland the general consensus is a pav should be marshmallowy in the centre, and toppings must include banana and passion fruit. I don't make them often myself (too many locals do a far superior one to me) but I believe the cornflour stabilises the mixture and contributes to the interior softness. If your pav was slightly beige and only a little soft I think your temp was too high, and possibly too long in cooking. To make mine last longer in a small household, we usually cut a piece then decorate individually with cream and fruit. Less spectacular, though.
  18. I remember a few food firsts: my first shockingly emerald kiwi fruit at age 12, my first fresh mango at age 23 and my first refried beans at age 9, served at a brand-new Taco Time, a Mexican restaurant so authentic the tater-tots had a dusting of spice powder over them instead of plain salt. Ever since then I have loved refried beans (and all kinds of other beans), but while I generally cook most of my bean dishes from dry beans (with the occasional tin of chickpeas used for quick hummus purposes), when it comes to the refried kind they usually come out of a can. A few years ago I managed to get my hands on pinto beans and black beans (not easily found in dry form at the shops here) and have made a few attempts at home-made refried beans using a few recipes found on the net. But I'm not really happy with them. They're lacking in flavour, they're rather pasty in texture and they're just not that enjoyable. Please note that when I eat the pintos before trying to mash them, they have a great nice flavour, but it seems to disintegrate upon mashing. I have had some success with roughly squashing pintos or blackbeans to form part of a quesadilla along with some mild feta and cabbage and coriander (cilantro). The truth is, I'm over the canned stuff - it's pappy, high in salt and kind of pricey. BUT, I still want some good beans! So, can you help me? How do you make your refritos? I'm particularly interested in: How far you cook the beans at the whole bean stage The amount and type of fat you add Your mashing methods The seasonings you add How long and in what you fry them Finally, I'd love to know how you serve them and what you eat them with. I have easy access to most spices (however no epazote until I get a chance to grow my own), and can currently even get my hands on good lard (I don't expect that to last unfortunately). Amazingly Cholula hot sauce is pretty readily available at the supermarket and delis, and I have a mail order source for dried chiles. Cheese is more difficult - there is only one source I know of for Queso Fresco, and it requires more coordinating than I am currently willing to do. Personally, I can only use dry beans - although I can access tinned pintos and black beans their cost makes them unappealing. However, I'd still be interested in hearing how you season them.
  19. Snadra

    Morning Tea

    We are already 1/4 of the way through the new school year and there has been little to report on the morning tea front so far this year. My faculty hosted two teas in term one - cocoa brownies and blondes with chocolate were my contributions. Yesterday we hosted our first for term 2 - there was a pumpkin soup, some party pies, mini quiches and individual cheesecakes amongst other things. My own contribution was a vaguely trashy warm bean dip with tortilla chips (a gluten free and vegetarian offering so it ticked two necessary boxes) and people went pretty mad for it. Given the cool weather, I'd like to try a few more warm dips next time - does anyone have any suggestions? Here is the 'recipe' for the bean dip: combine two tins of refried beans with about two cups of shredded cheese, 1/2 cup of crushed tinned tomatoes a bit of garlic powder and some chiles (I used Vietnamese pickled ground chiles because I had them) and just enough water to make it a little loose. Microwave until cheese is melted then top with chopped tomato, avocado, green onion and fresh coriander mixed with a bit of salt and lime and sour cream. Stupidly simple and it took me less than 10 minutes to put together at home that morning, and just needed heating and topping at school.
  20. Snadra

    Food preservation

    I have a smaller version of this machine (also in Australia) and the instructions are pretty specific that the vacuum saver is not a substitute for refrigeration of perishable goods.
  21. Snadra

    Blueberry Muffins Project

    The blueberry muffins from Stephanie Alexander are rather nice. They have a strong blueberry flavour and are fairly sweet - I would just cut the sugar a bit. Her recipe has you cut each berry in half which is time consuming but distributes them nicely and allows the flavour to go through the muffins. The halves stay reasonably intact.
  22. This must be the the problem. If you look at the original Lahey recipe, it calls for 345 g water and 430 g flour, which is a hydration just over 80%. Your ratio isn't quite 69%. No wonder you can't mix it with a spoon. I've worked with that hydration for a kneaded bread. I needed a machine. As for how much to mix, he says "Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute." I'd call that a lot more than "the merest stir." Ditto. I mostly make the dough for pizza really, but 345g water:430g flour is the ratio I use. At that ratio it tends to hydrate any dryish bits easily. But if it continues to be an issue, you could always try mixing half the flour with the water until its smooth (which should only take a minute), then incorporate the remaining flour.
  23. Snadra

    Half a pig, need ideas

    This afternoon I had to rush out and buy a freezer for delivery tomorrow because somehow I have just agreed to buy half a pig from the folks three properties down from me. Good price for $60 (excluding the $$$ for the freezer...) but now I'm trying to work out what I'm to do with it all! The weather turns cooler here soon (I hope!), so I'm thinking of trying my hand at some kind of smokeless curing, and will no doubt host a large lunch or two as well. Sauerfleisch is probably on the menu too, because I love it so and haven't had it in years. At this point I'm not even sure how it will be broken down. I'm hoping they've gone through the local butcher who still breaks down carcasses so that at least I'll get manageable pieces. Anyone have any new ideas or successes since the last post here?
  24. In Sydney I sometimes used the brita jug for cooking water but didn't notice a massive difference. Where I am now everyone swears by rainwater to the point that many take jugs from home to fill the kettle at work with so I use rainwater for cooking (but still put it through the brita for fridge storage). I have noticed a taste improvement in the rice especially when using the rainwater - enough that I'm going out to take it directly from the tank at the moment because I broke the tap in the kitchen!
  25. Snadra

    Help with Cooky Bars, Please

    I make a fair few bar type cookies for morning teas - so much quicker than individual ones! I use a fairly generic blondie recipe from an old 1950s Betty Crocker - add chunks of dark chocolate, pecans and dried sour cherries. The cherries aren't particularly soft, but they provide a nice counterpoint to the buterscotchy sweetness of the base. The real trick with these things is to not overbake - I find that's when they go hard. These might also work for you - sub dried cherries for the marshmallows. I've made them several times as written (baking the bottom layer for 10 minutes first). They are a bit sweet for my taste but very popular with the hordes and dried cherries or something relatively tart would be a nice swap. http://www.mommyskitchen.net/2011/04/mud-hen-bars-my-new-addiction.html