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StInGeR

eG Foodblog: StInGeR - An Australian in NJ

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Well today I'm going to start this blog very slowly as I had a very bad night with the youngsters of my family (read too many beers and way too many shots). I'll start with an introduction and then later today I'll post about the mayhem and madness making and devouring Easter lunch :biggrin:

My wife is a NYer born and bred - Me, I'm Australian through and through. We met just after 9-11, when I was across here on an exchange with the fire department. AFter spending 3 weeks in NJ and NY together, then my wife (I'll call her V) visiting me for 2 weeks in Australia, we got married last April in NJ - tomorrow's the big one year anniversary. For those of you wine conniseurs, we currently live in the Clare Valley in Australia which is the home of such great wineries as Taylors, Wolf Blass, Penfolds, Barrys and MANY other smaller boutique wineries - god I could spend a day here just writing about the wineries in our area. I believe grand total it's about 120 wineries both big and small, good and bad :biggrin: The unfortunate part of living where we do is that restaurants and supermarkets are few and far between, and sometimes it's just basically a pain in the ass trying to get the supplies I want for a meal.

Our family over here actually moved to NJ from the Bronx back in the 80's. They're Italian-American, so food is definitely a thing of importance which is great for me because good food is damn important to me too. I'm the youngest of the "kids" so I get ALOT of perks until it comes to cooking and then they basically shut the kitchen door and leave me locked in there until the food is ready :blink: They're slowly realizing that I'm a better cook than the MIL, so every time we come back for vacation I get an email from my FIL requesting various things. One day I'm going to have the nerve to tell him that grilling when it's like 32F outside is just not fun!!!!!

Food wise, V and I will basically eat anything - Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Greek - you name it, we'll eat it. OK I'm lieing, the only offal I'll eat are kidneys and V will eat nothing of the sort. Call me a wuss if you like but that's just me, other than that everything's fair game.... those deer and groundhogs in Dad's backyard are looking pretty damn good. Anyone know what groundhog tastes like?? :biggrin:

Anyway that's all for now, I have Easter lunch to hook into and make (read create :biggrin: ) and then later today I'll post about dinner last night and lunch today.

Cheers

Tom

PS I hope everyone has a great Easter and just keep on smiling :biggrin:

NOTE: sorry guys I'm yet to move into the 21st century so there won't be any pics just verbal descriptions of what we're eating :sad:


Edited by StInGeR (log)

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Good Luck. Looking forward to it!

Brooks

Hmmmm that's always a bad omen when someone wishes you luck :biggrin:

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It could be worse ... he could have said "break a leg"!

I'm looking forward to your blog!

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What a day and all I can say is "THANK GOD IT"S OVER" :biggrin: The day started early with some food prep - dicing of potatoes, making of sausage stuffing, salad making, other and other veg prep and then moved onto roasting a turkey, a leg of lamb and a spiral ham. It's days like today I'm so glad my FIL has a beer machine :biggrin: Everyone started arriving early, about 12pm, to be precise for a very, very, very late lunch to be served at 3.30pm. Arms full of such goodies as chocolate bunnies, baked cheescake, cannolis, chocolate covered strawberrys and enough eggs to feed a mid size third world country :wink: I don't know about anybody else here but after a very full morning of cooking and food prep I never seem to be hungry when it's actually time to eat so I usually just end up picking.

The table was slowly overloaded with the carved lamb, turkey and ham and then further filled with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, stuffing, 2 types of gravy (my home made turkey gravy was of course the best :biggrin: ), corn and bread rolls. What a spread!!! And to tell you the truth I ate so much I can't actually describe how good everything was - the picking sort of went way out of the window today. After clearing the tables, having a few more beers, spinning a ton of BS it was dessert time. Dessert was just as much a meal as the actual main course - 1 huge chocolate fudge and vanillla birthday cake (3 of us celebrate birthdays in the space of 2 weeks), cannoli, chocolate covered strawberries, vanilla fudge cup cakes, and I made an Australian favourite lamingtons. For the uniniated lamingtons are sponge cake dipped in a chocolate sauce and then rolled in desicated coconut. Why couldn't I just stop at one cannoli - why oh why did I have to eat 10 of the damned things?? Do I detect lactose intolerance coming on?? And now we all know what time it is - it's time to the dishes. I think my MIL is one of the last people in NJ to get a dishwasher, then again who needs one she's got my wife and I :biggrin: I'll probably check in a little later if not tomorrow's issue will be coming live from Manhattan - lunch god knows what for lunch but dinner is Jewel Bako. I hope everyone had as good an Easter as me.

Happy Easter

Tom

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V just read the blog and said that I should describe how I make my gravy for turkey, so here it goes. Basically I start out with a homemade turkey stock. I take turkey bones (or chicken depending on whether I can get turkey) and root vegetables (celery, carrots and onions), then very slowly roast them for about an hour. They should be coloured but not too dark. I then place these in a slow cooker with about a dozen bay leaves, some sage, a touch of oregano and some dried shitake mushrooms. Because of the earthiness of the mushrooms they give the stock more body. Next you just cover all of this with water and LEAVE. Don't open, don't taste just LEAVE. FIL got yelled at 3 times yesterday for opening the slow cooker - call me pedantic that's just me. I usually leave my stock simmering very slowly overnight . When it's time I place the stock in the freezer so any fat solidifies, then skim, then push through a sieve. V's job is then to shred some of the meat from the stock and place in with the stock. When it's almost time to serve, I usually thicken with corn starch, not too much or you end up with a really floury gravy :biggrin: There it is people an Australian turkey gravy :wink: Enjoy

Tom

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7.48am Monday morning and all is well in the world - Well except for the fact that it's sposed to rain for the next 2 days of which we're spending both in Manhattan. Seeing it's V's and my one year wedding anniversary today I decided to spoil her rotten and spend a couple of nights at the Waldorf Astoria, then have dinner at Jewel Bako. Tomorrow the plan is to head across to the Javits centre for the auto show, as for dinner that's another story - I'm tossing up between Les Halles or Nobu (even Nobu Next Door). So far Les Halles is winning out seeing that we're both big fans of "A Cook's Tour", but that's all a we'll see. For all I know we may end up meeting friends she used to work with in the UBS building next door to the WA, and just going to a bar - either one works for me :biggrin:

Just to add more to the original intro. I spent 10 years in the Army before becoming a firefighter, I think both of these added to my interest in cooking and restaurants. The Army due to the fact that I got to travel throughout the world trying different cultures and foods, and being a firefighter because we have the brigade kitchen and all take turns trying to outdo each other with our culinary "expertise". During the Army phase of my life I was lucky enough to travel throughout Asia, a country in the Middle East (we can all guess which one), a small backwater in Africa (only one guess allowed here) and then did a stint on exchange in the US. The Asian side of things really set me off with such ingredients as lemongrass, chilis, galangal, and tumeric - I make one seriously mean curry if I do say so myself :smile: Asian influence is a big part of Australian cooking seeing we are so close and we can usually get fresh herbs and spices all year round, and we have a fairly large population of Asian background. V is a fairly "boring" cook but that's what happens when you've lived by yourself for 7 years and after getting home from work in Manhattan (a 1 1/2 hour commute from where she used to live in NJ) - but now she's slowly branching out into making and trying different things.

Well it's almost that time of the morning where we head to Manhattan so I'll sign off for now and report later from the thriving metropolis of NYC.

Cheers

Tom

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Sounds like a damn good gravy. I lived in North jersey for four years and wondered where all that food was going from the Shop-Rite on holiday weekends - apparently the bulk of it to your in-laws house!

Just curious - did you gain some of your cooking experience and expertise at the firehouse as many American firefighter do or was it elsewhere?

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Just curious - did you gain some of your cooking experience and expertise at the firehouse as many American firefighter do or was it elsewhere?

I've always enjoyed cooking but I found once I joined the brigade I had no other option than to really get into it and become more adventurous. As a proby, every second night in the FH seemed to be my turn to cook and with a great ethnic diversity in our house -greek, italian, czechs, asian- the standard meat and 3 veg Australian meals just wouldn't cut it :biggrin: The variety that we eat in our FH is also different to alot of FH's around us - one day may be ribs, the next a curry of some sort, after that everything ranging from pasta through to roasts through to sushi if we catch the right guy on shift :biggrin: On top of that, every month we have a get together at someone's house (families invited) and it turns into a massive cookoff with prizes awarded at the end of the year for the best food :biggrin: Last November was actually my turn and we actually spit roasted an entire sheep, served up a couple of whole snapper (our red snapper in Australia are huge), added in a couple of roasts of beef and served it all with salads ranging from tabouli, to coleslaw to just a basic green salad. Unfortunately I didn't win the prize for the year seeing as how one of the other scumbags talked to his BIL, who's a lobster fisherman, and got about 100lbs of lobster, 50lbs of shrimp and 30lbs of crab - I call him scumbag affectionately :blink:

Ahhhh the life of a firefighter

Cheers

Tom

PS I didn't mention that usually just before a meal we'll get a job - so the chances of things being overcooked are usually pretty damn good :biggrin:

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Does your firehouse take reservations? :D

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This is Tom coming to you live from the Waldorf in Manhattan :)) What a day to celebrate your aniversary, cod ad seriously trying to rain oh well Jewel Bako should definitely lift our spirits. Sake and sushi always have a tendency do that. But before that it's complimentary drinks at Oscar's bar..... a couple of martinis will do down very well especially when they're free :)) Anyway I'll report back later.

Cheers

Tom

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Could you explain some of the basic details of cooking in a FH? In USA and Oz? Sounds an interesting twist on communal cooking.

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Could you explain some of the basic details of cooking in a FH? In USA and Oz? Sounds an interesting twist on communal cooking.

Basically cooking in a firehouse is a pain in the ass!!! Everyone has a roster to follow and then dcides on the day what they're going to cook. We all put in a certain amount of $$ each week and then work to that budget ie $25 per person would get my shift about $400 for the week. We also have a great relaionship with butchers and seafood shops in our area so we get great deals:)) Other than that ANYTHING goes -BBQing ad Thai are n all time favourite at my FH.

Cheers

Tom

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Great blog StInGeR,

As a fellow aussie I am keen to hear your take on the food over there and how it differs from Australia.

Keep up the good work :biggrin:

Happy Anniversary

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Happy Easter and Happy Anniversary, Tom!

A couple of years ago here in France I used to watch this T.V.show (very badly dubbed into French) about the trials and tribulations of a unit of Australian fire fighters. It sounds like you cook and eat a lot better than they did on the t.v. show. :biggrin:

Your Easter dinner sounds like it was an amazing feast. About your gravy stock - do you soak your dried mushrooms before adding them to the stock, or do you just toss them in and let them macerate in the soup?

Can you describe your FH's kitchen?? I would love to hear about that.

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Great blog StInGeR,

As a fellow aussie I am keen to hear your take on the food over there and how it differs from Australia.

Keep up the good work  :biggrin:

Happy Anniversary

Misgabi, the only thing I can say about US food is everything's a hell of alot dearer!!!!! I bought 4 steaks last week in Costco and nearly had a heart attack - $28USD for four sirloins. For those Americans reading this that's what they are called in Australia - over here they're called something entirely different :biggrin:

After beiing here for nearly 3 weeks I've now learnt - don't convert prices to AUD otherwise you'll just end up wanting to suicide :smile:

Cheers

Tom

Edit - because I drank too much last night and my spelling sucked


Edited by StInGeR (log)

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Happy Easter and Happy Anniversary, Tom!

A couple of years ago here in France I used to watch this T.V.show (very badly dubbed into French) about the trials and tribulations of a unit of Australian fire fighters. It sounds like you cook and eat a lot better than they did on the t.v. show. :biggrin:

Your Easter dinner sounds like it was an amazing feast. About your gravy stock - do you soak your dried mushrooms before adding them to the stock, or do you just toss them in and let them macerate in the soup?

Can you describe your FH's kitchen?? I would love to hear about that.

OMG you watched that series?? I think it might have been shipped to France because no one in Australia wanted to watch it :biggrin: The kitchen in my FH is pretty basic in comparison ro some I've seen. Basically we've got 2 restaurant quality stoves and ovens -- they're both La Germania. 5 burners per stove top and the ovens are big enough to cook a small hippo :smile: Happily one of them has a rotisserie in it which allows us to "screw" around more with whatever we want. The only whine I have about the FH kitchen is there is NEVER enough counter space for prep --- other than that everything is perfect

Cheers

Tom

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OMG I want to live at Jewel Bako. I want to marry Jack's sushi chef :biggrin: I can now never eat sushi im Australia again.

As those of you in NY and NJ know last night was miserable, V and I caught a cab from the WA to JB and then she and I spent 10 minutes trying to find it. I knew I should have asked Soba what the exterior looked like -- It just does not stand out!!! We went into the restaurant and were promptly seated at the sushi bar where I had a great deal of pleasure watching the "junior" sushi chef removing the pin bones from some sort of fish (In Australia it looked like a garfish). V and I both got the omakase - mine with a sake flight and V's with the wine flight. Please note the descriptions of both flights will be limited, I was too busy enjoying the food and talking to Jack.

The amuse was a silken tofu with peas seated on a slice of cucumber. I'm not a big tofu fan but this was great. We then moved on to a plate of tako, a lightly cooked lake fish, a tuna tartare and a japanese oyster. Now V doesn't usually eat oysters or tako but I swear she was watching my plate to see if I ate all of mine. Next up was a broad bean soup with silken tofu - while this was very good I would have been happy with just a normal miso soup. From here I can describe the sashimi and sushi but other than that I'm screwed - I was too busy listening to Jack and the sushi chef :biggrin:

The sashimi was 6 different sorts - live shrimp, parrot fish. medium toro, Japanese snapper - and god knows what else. The shrimp freaked V out as it was taken straight from a small aquarium, deheaded and then placed straight on the plate. The freaky bit for V was the legs on the shrimp were still moving on her plate and that really did not impress her.

I have no idea where to start with the sushi as alot of posts on EG have talked about the sushi. I LOVED the seared otoro but I must admit I could have sat there at the bar all night eating sushi piece by piece. I also got a couple of extra pieces - a tako sushi and an unseared otoro sushi. Both of these were immaculate and really tasty :smile:

Dessert was a coconut and lychee sorbet followed by a green tea mousse. MMMMMMM Bonus I got mine and then got to devour V's. Can anyone say heaven :biggrin:

I'm going to have to post later about the sake and wine flight - I really need more time to think about the flavours besides it's time to head to the Javits centre for the auto show. I'll be in heaven but V will be bitching :smile::smile:

Hope everyone has a great day

Cheers

Tom

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...

A couple of years ago here in France I used to watch this T.V.show (very badly dubbed into French) about the trials and tribulations of a unit of Australian fire fighters.  It sounds like you cook and eat a lot better than they did on the t.v. show.  :biggrin:

OMG you watched that series?? I think it might have been shipped to France because no one in Australia wanted to watch it :biggrin:

When we first got here, I spoke no French, It was basically the only show I could follow - You're right it was a pretty wierd show. I learned all about rank and what counts as insubordination on the Australian fire fighting force. We also used to get another australian show about a vet who flew around in a helicopter. That was a pretty good show. :raz::raz: We have since thrown out our television and live T.V.-less. It was done for a very good reason. :rolleyes:

You're kitchen sounds really lovely.

And the sushi! :smile:

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I have now managed to fall into the category of "unegullet" foodblog. After spending 5 hours at the NY auto show V and I headed to Time Square in search of anything resembling food!!!! Please note the weather in NY at the moment is FOUL!!! I'm absolutely saturated, walking up Broadway, getting pissed off with tourists so what do I say to V--- that's right the comment was " F^&k it TGI Fridays will do". As far as chain restaurants go in my mind TGIF isn't too bad, it's not great but when the weather is like this anything will do ... ok not quite anything, notice I skipped McDonalds, KFC and Wendys :biggrin: The pot stickers weren't bad (not China Town good but ok), the burger I had, while cooked MRare the way I like my burgers, was ok. Then again I didn't expect anything more than ok so at least I wasn't disappointed :biggrin:

Tonight is drinks with V's old work collegues from UBS then god knows what, somehow I think Les Halles has gone out of the window. This is only due to the fact that V has to keep up her reputation with her ex coworkers and drink them under the table :biggrin: I might just follow her lead

Cheers

Tom

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Sorry about the weather here!

I'd love to hear more details about spit roasting the sheep. Would you mind?

Thanks for blogging....and I hope the sun does come out at least a little bit while you are here. At least you can buy cheap umbrellas!

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The shrimp freaked V out as it was taken straight from a small aquarium, deheaded and then placed straight on the plate. The freaky bit for V was the legs on the shrimp were still moving on her plate and that really did not impress her.

great blog. :smile: i was curious about your own reaction to the shrimp? and, are there any foods that you can't get here that you especially miss?

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First of all I'd like to apologize for going AWOL for nearly 24 hours. We met up with friends in Manhattan last night and ended up going to Connolys (47th between 5th and Madison) for a few drinks and catch up. We then headed to a bar called snafu - in all honesty the bar well and truly lived up to it's name!! I slipped on some metal checker plate, did some major soft tissue damage and then ended up in the ER at Newton hospital this afternoon for 3 hours. As much pain as I was in last night. it didn't stop us heading down to another Connolys for food. While I'm not going to say the food was great it was definitely edible.... we started with jalapeno poppers and onion rings. I'll admit these were pretty decent.. there was no hint of oil which for me is a major thing. We then moved onto a burger for me (Rare and good), a turkey club for my wife which she enjoyed - and to be honest I have no idea what the other 2 had. Hell by this stage pain was really starting to kick in :sad: and I had to resort to the natural pain killer of Guiness. It's times like that I'm thankful for alcohol :biggrin: Tonight is going to be take out Chinese from Chun Bo - at the moment that doesn't really bother me because the pain killers I was prescribed are GOOOOOOOD :rolleyes:

Onto a couple of questions I've been asked. Re the spit roasted lamb: There's actually a company down the road from the FH that rents out catering rotisseries and we usually get a great deal from them. Basically it's a large charcoal BBQ (think BIG Weber) and you're on the right track :biggrin: I usually set the lamb over the coals and as they burn down add more that I've previously lit and set in a 22gallon drum. By doing it this way you don't lose alot of the heat from the coals and everything works out well.

The live shrimp really didn't bother me at all. I'll try anything twice so for me it was just some damn tasty shrimp sashimi :wink: Foods I miss, hmmmm that's a good question. Usually I bring a jar of vegemite but other than that I think we can pretty much get alot of our Australian favourites over here. One thing I can't get used to is Maine lobster.... in Australia, our lobster are the spiny tailed ones like you can get on the west coast and nothing like Maine lobster. Seeing as V and I are moving back here later this year, I have to admit I've stocked our cases with such things as tootsie pops, smuckers jelly and a few other things we can't get at home. Customs are going to have a field day with my bags in Sydney.

I need some more pain killers but hopefully if they don't knock me out I'll be back later

Cheers

Tom

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:shock: Tom, that sucks! hope you are feeling a bit better. take it easy, OK?

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