Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

14.1.17

Paris: nice at this time of year.

Taxpayers coughed up nearly $200,000 to send 22 bureaucrats from Canberra to Paris for a three-day conference to discuss savings measures.
Time to drain the billabong.

3.1.17

Spaghetti with zucchini and chicken meatballs.

Yes. Zucchini in meatballs! But chicken mince is the main actor here.

Combine 750 grams of chicken mince with half a cup of breadcrumbs, an egg, two tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic, half a very finely diced zucchini, half a cup of milk, a handful of chopped parsley, and salt and ground black pepper to taste.

You are aiming for a consistency that sticks together but isn't too dry, with the milk balancing the added dry ingredients. Form the mixture into egg-shaped meatballs.

Have your tomato sauce ready in a large pan - a couple of cans of pureed diced tomatoes or a jar of passata cooked with some onions browned in oil and herbs of your choice: I tore a few sprigs of parsley, a leaf or two of mint and some chives out of the garden and chopped them finely and threw them in.

Drop your meatballs into the pan and simmer low until meatballs are cooked. Twenty minutes will do it; probably less. Add torn strips of basil if you have them.

Cook spaghetti, pour meatballs ands sauce over and add parmesan.

24.12.16

History of Keilor St Bernard's Athletic Club: now out.



Extract:
In 1965 we took our running very seriously. Tubby Atkinson, Beau
Kearney and Tex Tyrrell would compete in the sprints or middle
distance at Melbourne University oval and acquit themselves well
before waiting for their next commitment late on the program, the
4x100 yards or 4x220 yards relay. Not being ones to miss an opportunity,
the three would jog over to Naughton's hotel in Royal Parade for three
quick pots in the meantime before returning to run the relays with a
responsible Steve Vosti.

New track for '68.

St Bernard's has been transferred from the Beaurepaire track at Melbourne University to the Poplar Road track in Royal Park. Although we were not altogether happy with this switch we will have to bear with it for the time being. The change was necessitated by the formation of new clubs, expansion of old clubs and the plan to marshal clubs into geographic regions.

Available from Keilor St Bernard's Athletic Club.

21.12.16

Curried sweet potato and carrot soup.

Boil a peeled sweet potato and two carrots until soft.

Meanwhile, saute two large chopped onions in some peanut oil in a frying pan, adding a scored clove of garlic after a few minutes.

When the onions are golden brown and soft, reserve a few tablespoons of the cooked onion. Process the rest with the sweet potato and carrot together with a cup of the cooking liquid, or stock, along with a raw hot chilli pepper and two cardomom pods. Adjust stock as required.

Before serving, reheat, adding half a cup of full-cream milk and salt and pepper. Top with remaining fried onions and yogurt.

19.12.16

14.12.16

Pumpkin Goes to Town, Chapter 7.

Cut six slices of prosciutto into small squares the size of a Christmas stamp, and fry them in a large non-stick lidded pan for half a minute in some oil.

Chop a kilogram of pumpkin into one-inch cubes, and two onions finely. Add these to the pan. Sauté on the lowest heat, lifting the lid to stir every now and then with a wooden spoon, until the pumpkin starts to soften.

Chop a bunch of spinach and add to the pan along with a drained can of corn. Stir again, then place the lid back on the pan. Continue to cook very gently. Add salt and pepper.

Serve as a main with torn basil and Greek-style yogurt, or as a warm salad with tahini, toasted pine nuts and a squeeze of lemon.

Eat before midnight when it will turn back into plain boiled pumpkin.

9.12.16

G'day, mussels*.

Mussels in garlic and white wine.

This just about cooks itself, so you don't need to miss a ball of the cricket.

Take a kilogram of Portarlington mussels.

Chop an onion and four or five garlic cloves finely. Warm these through in some olive oil in a large pot.

Before the garlic starts to change colour, add a cup of white wine. Bring almost to the boil and quickly add the mussels. Grind some black pepper over the pot, and add a finely chopped chili or two. Then scatter some chopped parsley and a few chopped spring onions. Salt to taste.

The mussels will clatter around in the pan as they open in the boiling fluid. I give them about two minutes.

Place mussels in large bowls, pouring cooking liquid over the mussels, ensuring you scoop up the garlic and chili that tends to settle at the bottom of the pot.

Serve outdoors on a hot evening, with the sun sailing away to the west and day-night cricket on the big screen. Cold beer or white wine.

Serve with thick Turkish bread or the like to mop up the salty, garlicky juices.

(This is not good manners, but I build towers from the empty mussel shells in a spare bowl as I eat the mussels. My record was a cross between a minaret and the Sydney Opera House that topped eighteen inches. I should have photographed it, but one of the children knocked it down before I could get the camera.)

*A word-play on 'muscles', an Australian slang honorific used in place of 'mate' or 'champ'. Another alternative, now sadly slipping out of usage, is 'sport'.

7.12.16

Timorous CEOs skewered.

Australia's Mark Steyn is Terry McCrann:
Their (energy engineering pioneers) efforts and inventions enabled the use, directly or indirectly, of hydrocarbon-based energy so fundamental to ending the Hobbesian "nasty, brutish" and short-lived experience of literally everyone who had ever lived, well into the 20th century; and still, many of the 7 billion alive today who do not have good access to hydrocarbon-based energy. ... even if one doesn't care for the two billion or so in that category — let them breathe deadly burnt dung particles or literally pedal for power, as pompous pampered Western greenies vicariously propose — a CEO of a company like BHPB should take at least some pride in its contribution to the long and difficult march of civilisation.

1.12.16

Steamed salmon and asian greens: singing a song of summer.

But first, the recipe.

Poached salmon and greens.

You don't need to mess around with Tasmanian Atlantic salmon too much. Fish doesn't get much better than salmon and it is economic, holding its density and shape while staying tender; where basa, for example, seems to melt away to nothing.

I placed four salmon fillets in a bowl with a few shakes of soy, a teaspoon of powdered ginger and a chopped garlic clove and put it in the fridge for a few hours.

I poached the fish gently in a non-stick pan with a lid, adding a little water. Meanwhile, I wok-tossed two bunches of choy sum, a dozen chopped spring onions and a handful of trimmed snowpeas in some peanut oil and a few drops of sesame oil until they were sweating lurid green and still snapping; not to the wilt stage.

Then I cooked some fresh udon noodles, drained them, added them to the wok, and folded them through with a dash of oyster sauce.

Noodles and greens on serving plates; fish fillets on top.

*

Kitchen Hand's Top Ten Best Summer Songs Ever Recorded.

1. Summer in the City - The Lovin' Spoonful. Complete with jackhammer and a band member's Volkswagen in the mix.
2. Summertime- the Zombies. Pick your own version of the Gershwin lullaby.
3. Summer Wind - Frank Sinatra. The master.
4. Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochrane. What it feels like to work on a summer day.
5. A Summer Song - Chad and Jeremy. Sixties psychedelic folk with perfect harmonies.
6. Summer Rain - Johnny Rivers. Hopes and dreams, before they come crashing down.
7. Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer - Nat King Cole. The 1950s expressed, by the other King.
8. Summer Wine - Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood. Drunk on summer.
9. In the Summertime - Mungo Jerry. Best jug band ever.
10. School's Out (For Summer) - Alice Cooper. Shock rocker who wrote touching ballads, which this wasn't.

Kitchen Hand's Top Ten Worst Summer Songs Ever Recorded.

10. Summer Rain - Belinda Carlisle. Annoying enough to be satirised on Top Gear.
9. Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard. Also savaged by British comedians, on The Young Ones.
8. Boys of Summer - Don Henley. Get over it. She's gone. There's plenty more fish in the sea.
7. Summer Love - Sherbert. Horrible repetitive bogan rubbish played too loud in HQ panel vans in 1975.
6. Summer Breeze - Seals & Crofts. Overplayed; so no-one remembers their superior 'I Will Never Pass this Way Again'.
5. Summer Nights – John Travolta & Olivia Newton John. Just destroy the master.
4. Come Said the Boy - Mondo Rock. They didn't dare put 'summer' in the title because it was a rip off of Bobby Golsboro's lyrical and suggestive 'Summer (The First Time)' complete with sand and seventeen.
3. The Other Side of Summer - Elvis Costello. Elvis's glass is half empty, as usual.
2. Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams. Too much detail, thanks Bryan.

and the worst ever:

1.. Summerlove Sensation - Bay City Rollers. God knows what they were doing in the studio between takes.

30.11.16

That's not umpiring; this is umpiring.

AFL umpires' coach Hayden Kennedy, talking to the Herald Sun about a world tour of 25 elite umps he led to 'pick the brains of the best officials from soccer, rugby, tennis and cricket'.

According to Kennedy, " ... one EPL ref said he makes about 200 decisions a game and runs 12km over 90 minutes. We'd do that in the first 15 minutes of a game."

29.11.16

He lives.

I was walking the children home from school on Tuesday.

It was a sunny afternoon, and we had crossed the Upfield railway line and were passing the old TAFE building where the pathway is overgrown by ancient oleanders.

A figure approached from the other direction and disappeared behind us. I caught a glimpse of him. He had some kind of a hat or cap, a grey straggly beard, a hook nose, and a haunted look. It's amazing what you can catch at one glance.

"Hey," said Thomas. "Wasn't that the old guy in the paper?"

"What old guy?" I asked.

"The one with the cap and the grey beard."

That didn't tell me anything more than I had seen, but I knew staright away who he meant.

"I know who you mean," I said. "Now let me see." We turned the corner heading north. A plane came low overhead, heading for Essendon airport.

"Didn't they cremate him straight away? I believe they did. They used to let people see them afterwards."

"That's horrible," one of them said. I forget which.

"They'd lie in state," I said, "So you could pay your respects."

"So if that was him ... " Tom said.

"He would have had to have been smuggled out several days ago."

"And flown here in a disguise."

"And released in an obscure area where there are not many houses but lots of old factories and warehouses that are no longer used."

"And then his death would have been announced."

*

He told everyone at school on Wednesday that Fidel Castro is alive and well. He'll probably fit in quite well in the City of Moreland.

23.11.16

Old name rejected.

Black Flat? Let's ask someone who lives there and has taken that original title as their strangely appropriate business name:
Black Flat Coffee Brewers was named after "Black Flat", the original name of Glen Waverley before it was renamed in 1921. Originally developed as orchards and farming lands, Black Flat ... was in reference to the dark, rich soil and flat ground.
Being precisely descriptive, the original name makes Glen Waverley - a name doubly adopted from a Sir Walter Scott novel via Edinburgh - seem a little pretentious. Perhaps that is why the suburb within a few decades became synonymous with the somewhat pretentious 'Sherry Belt', a sardonic Barry Humphries reference to 1960s stay-at-home upper middle class wives who, bored, took to entertaining their guests with sherry parties.

22.11.16

Quote: "If you don't like the roads, take up croquet."

The book is to be ready by the end of 2019. I have plenty of time but I like to get onto things.

Story from the archive:
Our route outwards lay through Caulfield till the Waverley Road is reached, thence a straight run to Black Flat, when a sharp turn to the left brought us into the aptly-named Mountain View Hotel, which is about fourteen miles from the GPO. After dining sumptuously and well we inspected a couple of mines, which are to some day make Black Flat famous, to which one is inclined to say – Heaven Forbid! – if it is to ruin the present rustic beauty of the surroundings. Returning, we took a cross road to Tally Ho, thence through Burwood to the Riversdale Road, and through Richmond to town. The road after leaving Caulfield was wet and sloppy and in a state of being repaired, which in these latitudes seems tantamount to a state of disrepair. But the cyclist who never expects to meet with bad roads on a trip should confine his attention to croquet.
The story was published in 1902.

(And where is Black Flat? Answer tomorrow.)