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Everything posted by Snadra

  1. This looks delicious! I'd love a recipe!
  2. Mud Hen Bars! I came across them on Pinterest: a cookie base with brown sugar meringue topping, and chocolate and marshmallow inbetween. http://www.cookingwithk.net/2012/01/mud-hen-bars.html This is the recipe I used, except I baked the base for 10 minutes before putting on the topping. They were quite a hit and completely devoured. Of course the best thing for me at morning teas this year was the opportunity to eat lots of delicious sponge cakes, scones and pikelets with jam and cream.
  3. So last day of school yesterday and the end of the academic year. At my faculty's last morning tea we did an ice cream bar, with purchased toppings, lollies, marshmallows and fruit (cherry season is in full swing!). It went down a treat, and my Year 7 class appreciated the leftovers in a cone in last period. Some of my hits this year: cucumber sandwiches with herbed cream cheese lighter-than-air chocolate cake with vanilla whipped cream butterscotch squares with chocolate chunks, dried cherries and pecans mud hen bars mini brocolli and cheddar quiches cocoa brownies flourless peanut butter cookies tzatziki Although the food I've brought in has always been appreciated, it is hard to keep up the momentum through the year, particularly this last term! As a few others predicted not everyone makes a full effort, but as a rule we've had some enjoyable teas. I'm always on the lookout for more ideas, and we've recently had a stove and oven hooked up into the common room, so I'll be able to do a few more exciting things.
  4. Snadra

    Cooking for One

    This is the type of thing that bites me when cooking for myself. Sure, making a BLT for one is accomplished easily enough, but then I'm left staring at 2/3rds of a tomato, a largely whole head of lettuce and a bunch of bacon. Okay, well, the bacon will keep ok, but the tomato and lettuce? Not so much. Some meal planning can help, but planning around a BLT? Don't buy they giant tomatoes - I use the mini romas that come on the vine - taste better and no cut tomatoes to keep. Two or so of those usually does a sandwich. Lettuce is useful for a next-day salad and keeps nicely in the fridge, and butter lettuce is much nicer on a BLT than iceberg, so you can get a lot on it. Bacon is useful in lots of things - but here I can also get just a few slices from the deli counter. Get an extra slice and make bacon and eggs or use it in a pasta sauce.
  5. Snadra

    Cooking for One

    I have been on my own the past year in a fairly isolated place and I understand the boredom factor... Some of my current favourites: Poached egg over asparagus Steamed Broccoli with hollandaise Steak sandwich on Turkish bread with a side of coleslaw Greek salad with Pita bread Wholemeal toast with avocado, tomato and melted cheese Traditional beef stroganoff (the quick type made with filet) and steamed green beans BLTs. With homemade mayo 'Cajun' seasoned chicken breast with salad Scrambled eggs with plain boiled potato, sliced tomatoes and lots of fresh chopped herbs Stir fried eggs and tomato on rice Fried rice on a bed of shredded cabbage with sliced cucumber on top Pork and capsicum stir fry (from fuchsia Dunlop) which works well as lunch next day The usual pasta subjects (Marbella hazans tomato butter sauce is good) Steak tartare with toast and sliced cucumber and tomato During the winter I frequently made a pseudo-goulash with veal in small quantities - just enough to have a second serve two days later, which made it seem less like leftovers, as well as red-braised beef, which also went nicely into fusiony soft tacos I have been making a few longer lasting salads (lentil, potato, etc) then making a different grilled meat to go with it, which I find cuts down on prep and still let's the meal feel slightly different. I do enjoy breakfast for dinner as I don't get a cooked breakfast during the week. As far as veggies go, I prefer cabbage to lettuce as it lasts so long and is so versatile, and sliced tomatoes and cucumber make a perfectly fine side as far as I'm concerned.
  6. You could possibly try a double-strain: squeeze/press the juice out of the solids, then let that cloudy liquid slowly drip through the bag. Of course, my experience with jelly bags is hazy memories of my mother making preserves 30 years ago.
  7. If glucose is an acceptable substitute you can get it in the baking aisle at Coles and Woolies. Like you, the only light corn syrup I see here is vanilla flavoured.
  8. Two days ago I had the...pleasant experience of brushing my barefoot against a nettle when clearing out the chook pen. When I was telling an older local fellow about my silliness is not realising it was nettle until the damage was done and he told me that his mother and many people in her generation used to collect nettles from around the woolsheds to use for cooked greens. Why the woolsheds - I don't know...
  9. Eat your books is brilliant! I use Evernote a bit to keep web based recipes, but am relying more and more on pinterest to bookmark Internet recipes I come across. It's not easily searchable in terms of ingredients, but it's a nice visual scrapbook of things that interest me, and I organise my boards by intended use, and repin to a 'tried this one' board with notes when I've had a go at it. If something (from any source) turns out to be a multiple repeater I add it to my 'mini cookbook' which I edit and reprint every second year or so. It's about 120 pages, formatted to be cut into A5 pages with 1recipe per page, and originally was bound on a coil wire binder. But I'm changing that for an A5 ring binder in its next incarnation, because I no longer have access to the binding machine. It's a nice size and easy to flip through. Plus an edited version makes a sweet gift in a basket with a few key ingredients included.
  10. Elisabeth Luard's European Peasant Cookery would fit this bill quite handily, although its not a historic document itself. http://elisabethluard.com/page6.htm I haven't cooked from it extensively, but it really is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in everyday traditional foods. Even without any pictures or illustrations, I can quite happily spend a while flipping through it without any intention of cooking from it - her writing is that good. Lillian Beckwith's Hebridean cookbook, published in 1976, reflects the foods of her childhood and the time she spent in the Hebrides - a place where a child could not get bi-carb soda on a Saturday afternoon because the seller thought the child mother might use it to bake with on the sabbath. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lillian_Beckwith Darra Goldstein's Georgian Feast or Russian cookbooks and Madame Benoit's cookbooks also come to mind.
  11. Things where I am now are so casual that guests will often bring a large portion of the food! I love the more casual way of entertaining, where nothing is particularly timed and guests can join in. My most recent success was spaghetti and meatballs for 16 - yes, the big pot of a weeknight standard and all, but still very enjoyable. If you re looking for new ideas, one way to mix it up a bit might be to think along themes: say a winter lunch of perogies and cabbage rolls, and snacky things that go with it. Or a Chinese red-braised dish with rice and a few simple side dishes, and tea eggs and dumplings for appetisers. As far as desserts go, go with Heidi's approach and keep it simple. A fruit plate is nice in summer, and we often just do a big plate of little sweet things that are mostly purchased: broken up dark chocolate, special cookies/candies, dried fruit and spiced nuts served with coffee and maybe port.
  12. That's what we did when we redid our last kitchen. I also asked the designer to specify that the overhang was a reasonable thickness to ensure the clamp could grip properly. If it had to do it again I would probably get a mix of countertop materials instead of all granite, including a nice, thick wooden countertop just for clamp-y sorts of things.
  13. That soup recipe is on his website and I'm planning to try it before the end of winter. His intro made perfect sense to me, and I love the frugality of it. Glad to hear its such a success.
  14. For me its water almost all the way. I rarely use stock for anything - just stock-based soups (ie chicken noodle) and the very ocassional risotto. Purchased stock isn't all that great, and homemade stock takes time, effort and money. Like others i went through a phase of using stock for everything, but ... the most delicious and clean-flavoured soups I make are with just vegetables, herbs and water. Rice cooked in water is always preferable to stock (unless it's hainanese chicken rice) and potato should taste of potato. I will make stock from a roast chicken carcass and use it in a gravy or chicken soup, and quite happily use meat trimming as the basis of a sauce, but unless it's a very special and particular recipe, stock ain't stocked in my place. And having read the different variations on risotto using mostly water, I'm keen to try those too!
  15. This is my go-to now for tapioca/sago. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fruit-on-the-Bottom-Tapioca-Pudding-354132 I use only 1/4 cup of cream though, at it seems rich enough. I make it with many different fruit bases. Mango and lime is nice in summer, stewed fruit of any kind is great in winter, especially eaten warm. Basically whatever is hanging about.
  16. Snadra

    Salty Snacks

    I adore crunchy snacky things, but I find it impossible to stop eating potato and other kinds of chips, so I rarely buy them, even in the tiny fun size packs. On my last trip to Sydney I picked up a couple bags of 'salad mix' rice crackers, some soy snacks and 'falafel snacks'. The rice crackers are the smaller ones without much seaweed, the other two are extruded and fried bits, not too greasy. The falafel snacks have a particularly nice bite to them. I mixed them all up and have started taking them to school for a bit of a treat, but they also go nicely with an evening drink. And I'm not tempted to eat them in one sitting! My husband likes the roasted chickpeas he gets from the Indian grocer.
  17. I always bring knives (paring, chefs, bread), two cutting boards and a cast iron frying pan, plus extra tea towels. The frypan is great for cornbread (a vacation tradition for us), quick stovetop meals and bacon and eggs. I've only been in one vacation house that had a decently equipped kitchen and those were still handy. The last few times I have also brought my stick blender with its mini processor and whisk attachment and it's been very handy for mixing cakes, smoothies, making dips and pesto. We have a stiff plastic storage box with a lid that this all goes into. If I was with a big group I would also bring al foil, baking paper, plastic wrap and paper towels. The suggestions to bring condiments are good: vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, olive oil and other sauces are always useful. As far as meals go, the standards of grilled meats, burgers, corn and salads seem pretty good to feed a crowd on a summer vacation. Two of our bigger holiday successes have been Asian-ish marinated grilled meats with rice, cucumber salad and noodle salad, and lamb kofta with pita, hummus, tzatiki and salad. For lunches you might go the bread board route: a mix of cold meats and cheeses, hard boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers etc and bread and condiments for make your own sandwiches - little fuss, prep or clean up. If you are thinking of desserts, simple cakes topped with fruit and whipped cream or puddings make a change to ice cream. Plus the kids might like to bake cookies or brownies - take any pans and a large bowl you might want to use for this. Also, if people are active all day drinks and snacks in the afternoon are always a nice way to delay dinner.
  18. According to http://www.fwa.gov.au/documents/modern_awards/pdf/MA000009.pdf, which I believe is the current and relevant award, F&B attendants get $15.96 to $18.58/hour (page 18) although I'm not sure what determines the highest grade. Penalty rates (page 36) range from 125% on Saturdays to 250% on public holidays (higher for casual staff). I would guess the $40/hour in that article is for kitchen staff, not most front of house. Obviously these are pretty high wages for a low margin business. Many employers mitigate this on weekends by employing junior staff (lower wages), fewer staff and imposing surcharges on weekends and holidays. Also, this is a business that is at the mercy of trends and fashion. In my circle of friends and acquaintances, those who eat out frequently in the eastern suburbs are looking for more casual and quirky experiences than they did a few years ago. They don't generally enjoy the 'big night' at a top level restaurant the way they used to, and these are people who have high disposable incomes and either no kids or nannies for them. But these restaurant closures don't seem all that 'new'. My memory may be off, but this seems to happen in a cycle pretty regularly - if I had access to the last 15 years' worth of the Good Living supplement we could probably chart it. Doesn't make it any less unpleasant for those whose lives are affected by this though, and I really feel for them.
  19. When I'm in the mood for mashed potatoes, but can't be bothered with the peeling and mashing I often make polenta instead as it is pretty unfussy and still has that soft texture. Plus, like Pierogi pointed out, you can use the leftovers and some ragu to make an ersatz and delicious lasagne. I make a sort-of paprikash that works well with it, as does any wine-stewed meat. And frankly it's also quite good with a simple tomato sauce, or a sort-of ratatouille. Or sausages and onion gravy. You can also do a polenta version of roman gnocchi with it. But I love it best with http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Georgian-Pork-Stew-103831. And it works as a hot breakfast cereal too, if you're bored of oats.
  20. I always use a micro plane for ginger and garlic - no problem if you rinse immediately. Is the grating issue due to fibrous ginger? I've never tried to grate frozen ginger before. Can you tell the difference in the finished dish? I'd like to not waste so much of it, that's for sure.
  21. Surely you'll have homemade ice creams??? Yeah....sure we will! I'd love to, but not to feed thirty people. Plus my ice cream maker died.... They will have blue ribbon and like it!
  22. When I was on holidays in Tonga the place we stayed at made their own yoghurt using UHT milk and it was quite good. But thinking about it that's probably all you have access to anyway, so i guessing full fat milk doesnt come in any form! Some things just can't be done easily, can they? Where I am living now I can't access al kinds of things, including decent fresh fruit and veg, but that's part of living way west... In Australia in general, it's hard to get American products from either continent (unless you are willing to pay through the nose), but ifyou live in the city all manner of Asian, middle eastern and subcontinent goods are available. I personally miss northern and middle-european goods, as most delis focus on Greek or Italian products and they are often mass-produced and just okay. Finding a Polish deli was a godsend, because suddenly I had access to delicious smallgoods. Now I'm looking forward to my next Sydney visit so I can stock up. Things I used to think were basic that are unknown here include frozen drink concentrate, plain marshmallows, canned pumpkin (pumpkin is eaten in such huge quantities visitors pre-WWI frequently commented on it, but now it's always either roasted or as soup), chicken breast bone-in and skin-on. Also, black currant is the predominant flavour in drinks or sweets that would be grape flavour in NA. Also unsweetened chocolate is unknown, as are flavoured baking chips (butterscotch, mint-chocolate, etc). And partly skimmed milk is completely unknown. You can get whole milk, skim, or the horror known as light white, which contains skim and concentrated milk solids and tastes too much of powdered milk for me. There is a 'new milk' recently advertised, but it still has concentrated milk in it, I understand. I stick to whole.
  23. So, my faculty has hosted two or three morning teas since I was last here. Yesterday was a bit of a disaster in some ways, because we are all in the middle of reports and a zillion other end-of-term things, so the last thing any of us wanted was a marathon cooking session. Still, we did well. There were home made brownies, little cheesecakes, party pies and spring rolls, oranges (because it's orange season now) and other things. I made shortbread, which was slightly overbaked, but still disappeared. I make the kind with rice flour after a friend introduced me to it. She pats the mixture into a pan, scores it, bakes it then cuts through agai Whe it's just out of the oven. No fancy shapes, etc, which makes it very quick! I also did homemade tzatiki (with fresh mint) and hummus with pits bread triangles and cut up veggies (my houseguest did the cutting while I whirled the dips). The tzatiki was a huge hit and I will do it again (as long as cucumbers don't go back to nearly $5 each). we had a lot of people out so it didn't all get eaten, but I put out the left overs at lunch and they disappeared. At the one we hosted before some enterprising people brought out their crockpots, and put out some hot dishes. Unfortunately I was supervising a makeup exam so I completely missed out, but apparently they were really popular and totally cleaned out at the end of the 20 minutes. When the weather warms up we have decided we will do an ice cream bar, with home made sauces and lots of different fun toppings.
  24. Contrary to most people here, I like the very commercial varieties of peanut butter with a touch of sweetness rather than the hardcore peanuts and salt only kind. I have been known to enjoy a grilled cheese and peanut butter - surprisingly delicious - but as a rule banana is my 'and' option. Right now though I have a large jar of grape jelly which I am enjoying, jelly being hard to get here. Turkish toast is awesome topped with peanut butter and honey, if I'm in the mood for a bit of sticky breakfast. Definitely not car food, though! One of the things I am sometimes asked is 'do people really eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?' usually accompanied by a look of wary disgust, because here jelly isn't pipless jam, it's flavoured gelatin!
  25. http://www.smh.com.au/national/canned-why-local-tomatoes-cop-a-pasting-20120526-1zc2q.html This article from the Sydney Morning Herald looks at the woeful state of the local tomato processing industry, and why Australian shelves are being taken over by tomatoes processed in Italy. Here farmers face climatic difficulties, as well as competing against heavily EU-subsidised producers. Locally produced and processed tomatoes were absolutely woeful when I first arrived in this country, and so I started buying Italian tomatoes and never looked back. But I am ashamed to admit that I never wondered why italian tomatoes have become so cheap lately, and never considered there might be a human cost. What do you know about the Italian tomatoes you buy? Does reading stories like this make you reconsider your purchasing decisons? For my part, if local producers can't give me a decent product, they don't deserve my business, but I think it's worth doing an unscientific product comparison of my own. What do you think the best comparison might be? I thought maybe Marcella Hazan's simple tomato-butter sauce might work.
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