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

29.9.16

A Shorter History of the Bulldog.

Hawthorn has won four of the last eight grand finals, including the last three, for a total of thirteen.

Footscray has won one grand final, which no-one under 70 remembers.

It's impossible to think of Footscray (or the Western Bulldogs as they are now known) as having ever been a more successful club than Hawthorn. However, the situation was very different early in the 1960s according to one writer:
... they must be classed as the most successful of the three babes of the League - Footscray, Hawthorn and North Melbourne - since they entered the League in 1925. ... their record is nowhere near as dismal as North and Hawthorn's - and St Kilda for that matter, even though they've been in the League much longer.
Lou Richards made the claim in his book Boots and All published in 1963 on the strength of Footscray's 1954 flag and its near-miss in its 1961 grand final loss to Hawthorn, the latter team's first premiership. But Richards saw Hawthorn's flag as something of a fluke, in a chapter entitled 'Cinderella's Hawks':
As the Hawthorn Town Hall clock struck midnight on Sunday, December 31st, 1961, the greatest Cinderella story in League football history came to an end. The toasts finished and the champagne was gone, the effervescent bubble of premiership success went flat and Cinderella had to return to her rags. ... with the football world at their feet the Hawks suffered an inexplicable slide back down the ladder in 1962 and they cascaded to their far-too-familiar role as a member of the bottom four.
Richards saw Hawthorn as a shooting star, while Whitten's Footscray was on the rise.

It didn't turn out that way.

But there are still a few old Footscray fans around who, this Saturday afternoon, hoping for a reversal of fortune, will relive the past.

They just don't know whether it will be 1954 or 1961.

*

Boots and All by Lou Richards. Stanley Paul & Co Ltd, Melbourne 1963

From Kitchen Hand's library of obscure Australian sporting history.

27.9.16

Curcumin, the supplement you'd never heard of until about six months ago.

It's one of the health fads of the moment. I keep hearing it everywhere. Curcumin. For relief of inflammation. No-one knows if it works or not, of course, just like no-one knows if fish oil works. You spend your money on hope, like betting with Sportsbet. "If your team loses by less than ten points after leading at half time - CASHBACK!!!!!" Except there's no cash back with supplements and they're a lot dearer than a twenty-buck bet.

Turmeric - the source of curcumin - is a lot cheaper and tastier, as in the following curry I made last night:

Potato, spinch and eggplant curry - with tumeric.

Dice four large potatoes and fry them in oil in a deep frypan in batches until done. Remove.

Cube four eggplants and fry these in the same pan, adding more oil if necessary. Remove.

Chop two large onions and fry until golden, adding more oil if necessary.

Into the frying onions, stir a cubic inch (guess) of finely chopped ginger (a cousin of turmeric), a heaped teaspoon of crushed cumin seeds and a heaped teaspoon of turmeric. Fry for a minute.

Now add four fresh chopped green chillies, two cans of diced tomatoes and their juice and a teaspoon of salt.

Return the fried potatoes and eggplant to the pan, along with a bunch of roughly chopped spinach and half a cup of water. Add two teaspoons of brown sugar and cook uncovered until simmer recedes. Serve over rice.

12.9.16

Home made gnocchi with blue cheese.

Home made gnocchi is big in restaurants, but not many people except for Italians seem to make it at home.

It's no big deal; just mashed potato bound with flour or eggs. Any number of people will try and complicate it by saying you need potatoes of a certain age or waxiness. I've tried all the theories and no matter what you do the resulting gnocchi are always good.

Here's an example, with another link within that post using sweet potato.

Last night I made a similar batch, drained them, rolled them in some finely chopped parsley and crumbled some blue cheese over the gnocchi in serving bowls. Then I browned them under the griller and served them, scattering parmesan over the top.

8.9.16

The New Retail Account Part Four: Dinner in Toorak.

Previously published here.

6.9.16

The New Retail Account Part Three: The New Model - Self-Generating Stock.

ADVERTISING AGENCY BLAKE, BROWNING, BURNS HAS BROUGHT IN ADMAN CLYDE P. ULSTER TO LAND A PRESTIGIOUS RETAIL CLIENT. AMIDST A GALA PRESENTATION IN THE BOARDROOM CATERED BY VETERAN TEALADY JUNE, CLYDE SHOCKS THE ASSEMBLED STAFF BY ANNOUNCING RETAIL PAWNBROKER CRIME CONVERTERS AS THE NEW CLIENT. CLYDE HAS INVITED THE ENTIRE STAFF TO ATTEND A MEETING AT THE CLIENT'S FRANKSTON HQ THE FOLLOWING WEEK. THE ONLY STAFF MEMBER UNABLE TO ATTEND IS JUNE, WHO APPEARS TO BE THE MOST PRODUCTIVE MEMBER OF THE AGENCY.

A COLD, BLEAK MELBOURNE MORNING IN LATE WINTER DAWNS. AMONG THE THOUSANDS OF TRADIE UTES PROCEEDING SOUTH ON THE NEPEAN HIGHWAY IS A CONVOY OF EUROPEAN LUXO-BARGES; SLEEK SILVER AND BLACK MACHINES DESIGNED TO DO 250 K/MH BUT CRUELLY DESTINED NEVER TO BREAK 110. HOWEVER, THIS PARTICULAR MORNING THEY ARE SULKILY CRAWLING ALONG AT 40K/MH DUE TO ROADWORKS ON EASTLINK AND AN ACCIDENT AT SOUTH ROAD.

DECLAN: Fucking traffic. And why do we always get clients who have their headquarters in places like Blackburn South, Ringwood, Vermont and now fucking Frankston.

JESS: Is that a statement or a question, Deccy? And cut the language. I haven't eaten breakfast yet.

DECLAN: You'll eat like a king in Frankston, Jess. If Clyde lets us out of Crime Converters for a pleasant walk around Playne Street.

JESS: What time are we meeting?

DECLAN: Nine o'clock. If we can get through this traffic, we'll have time to stop for a takeaway cappucino and a donut from the Seven Eleven in Seaford.

JESS(GRIMACES): I might pass. But you go ahead.

NINE A.M: AGENCY PERSONNEL ARE CROWDED INTO THE MEZZANINE BOARDROOM OVERLOOKING THE SHOPFLOOR OF A CRIME CONVERTERS MEGASTORE, SITUATED IN FRANKSTON'S MAIN STREET NEAR THE MONEY-LENDING SHOPFRONTS (BANKS WON'T LISTEN? WE WILL!), THE ALL-NIGHT X-RATED BOOKSHOPS, AND THE CENTRELINK OFFICE.

MR CLIFFORD KLOPPERS, THE MANAGING DIRECTOR, IS ADDRESSING THE AGENCY PERSONNEL. CLYDE SITS NEXT TO HIM.

CLIFFORD: Gentlemen, welcome to the world's most advanced retail model. And ladies, of course. (HE REALISES THE PARTY INCLUDES SEVERAL NON-MALES)

DECLAN: Ah, what makes it that, Mr Kloppers, exactly? The most advanced model, I mean.

CLIFFORD: Call me Clifford, Declan. Hell, call me Cliff! Crime Converters has developed a new age retail system that allows us to completely eliminate one entire level of personnel and thereby create the opportunity to produce a far higher ROI ...

CLYDE (INTERRUPTING): That's return on investment for those in creative.

CLIFFORD: ... thanks Clyde; a far higher return on investment than any other retail model existent in the current business environment.

We have no buyers. At all. None.

(BUYERS IS THE TRADE TERM FOR THE IN-HOUSE PURCHASING OFFICERS WHO OBTAIN STOCK FOR RETAILERS)

SOPHIE: Then how do you obtain your stock, Mr Kl ... Cliff?

CLIFFORD GETS UP FROM HIS CHAIR AND DANCES OVER TO THE FULL-LENGTH GLASS WINDOW THAT OVERLOOKS THE SHOP FLOOR. HE POINTS DOWN TO A SECTION, ENCLOSED AT GROUND LEVEL BUT VISIBLE TO THOSE IN THE ELEVATED BOARDROOM AND TURNS BACK TO SOPHIE AND THE OTHERS.

CLIFFORD: Watch.

THEY GAZE DOWN AT THE SHOPFLOOR. ALMOST BY MAGIC, BUT PROBABLY SOMETHING MORE LIKE COINCIDENCE OR SHEER FREQUENCY OF OCCURRENCE, THE EXTERIOR DOOR OPENS SLOWLY, REVEALING SOMEONE'S SHOE AND A SHAFT OF MORNING SUNSHINE. THE FOOT IS FOLLOWED BY ITS OWNER, A YOUNGISH BUT HAGGARD-LOOKING MAN WITH A PINCHED, TIRED, SUNKEN, SALLOW FACE TOPPED BY A JIM BEAM BASEBALL CAP. HE IS WEARING A TOO-LARGE HOLDEN DEALER TEAM TRACK JACKET. ADIDAS TRACK PANTS DRAG OVER HIS FILTHY RUNNING SHOES. THE MAN IS CARRYING, AND TRYING NOT TO DROP, TWO VERY LARGE L.E.D. TELEVISIONS, HENCE THE NEED TO PUSH OPEN THE DOOR WITH HIS FOOT.

CLIFFORD (WITH A FLOURISH): See? The world's very first outsourced retail store buying department!

1.9.16

The New Retail Account Part Two: The Announcement.

IN PART ONE, ADVERTISING AGENCY BLAKE BROWNING BURNS HAS BROUGHT IN RETAIL ADVERTISING EXPERT CLYDE P. ULSTER TO LAND A PRESTIGE RETAIL CLIENT. CLYDE HAS BRIEFED THE AGENCY ON THE HISTORY OF RETAIL ADVERTISING AND THE STAFF ARE AGOG, EXPECTING AN ANNOUNCEMENT ANY DAY.

LOUDSPEAKER: Attention please, would everyone proceed to the boardroom immediately for an important agency announcement from Wayne. Wayne is flying interstate shortly so would you please move to the boardroom swiftly for this meeting. Thanks.

TEN MINUTES LATER, STAFF ARE STILL WANDERING LIKE LOST SHEEP INTO THE BOARDROOM. FINALLY, EVERYONE IS THERE AND WAYNE (AGENCY MD) ENTERS, ACCOMPANIED BY CLYDE. P. ULSTER, WHO LOOKS EXTRA PLEASED WITH HIMSELF.

WAYNE (DOES SARCASM WITH A STRAIGHT FACE): Thanks everyone for being so prompt. I love the way you all jump to attention when the need arises.

I have a great announcement to make today. Clyde here (LOOKS AT CLYDE) has worked his arse off for several months on a very important project for this agency. He has dedicated himself day and night to win us a piece of business so important, it will propel us to number one position in the advertising industry in this city, this State, and in fact, in this nation.

PAUSE. WAYNE LOOKS AROUND.

And now I will leave it to Clyde to reveal to you the identity of this prestigious retail account; a piece of business that will give you opportunities you only dreamed about when we had Kmart. Or Autobarn. Or the Good Guys.

Over to you, Clyde.

CLYDE: Thanks Wayne. That was a very nice introduction. Thank you. And I'm sure Kmart wasn't that bad.

SLIGHT PAUSE AS JUNE THE TEALADY CRASHES HER TROLLEY THROUGH THE DOORS

JUNE: I've got a client coming in at ten o'clock and I've got to set up so can you get this meeting over with?

CLYDE: Won't be a minute, June. I am sure all of you understand the traditional glow of pleasure that occurs in working on a prestige retail account. Retail was in fact the very origin of advertising, going back to the magnificent high-class fashion illustrations in the prestige broadsheets, and the glossy department store catalogues of the early twentieth century. In the USA and Europe, the grand old retail houses competed for the best illustrators, copywriters and photographers to create advertisements to attract the rich and wealthy.

LOU (PRINT BUYER) ALMOST UNDER HIS BREATH BUT NOT QUITE: Cut the bullshit and get on with the announcement, you fat tosser. And what's the difference between rich and wealthy, anyway?

CLYDE: What was that? All right, let's move on. With that background, we carry on a proud tradition with the arrival at this agency of a great name in the retail business:

HE PRESSES A BUTTON TO BRING UP A LOGO UP ON THE BIG SCREEN. IT IS OUT OF FOCUS BUT ALL EYES IN THE ROOM CAN MAKE OUT:

CRIME CONVERTERS

A SHOCKED SILENCE FALLS ON THE ROOM. NO-ONE SAYS A THING FOR FIVE SECONDS; AND THEN MUFFLED COMMENTS BREAK OUT TOWARDS THE BACK OF THE ROOM.

GEORGINA (MAC OPERATOR): You've gotta be kidding. I was expecting David Jones, at least.

PAUL (PRODUCTION GUY): If Crime Converters is a prestige retail account then I'm Prince Charles and Pope Benedict rolled into one.

GEORGINA: He's dead.

PAUL: My point exactly, Georgina.

JUNE (CRASHES HER TROLLEY AGAINST THE BOARDROOM TABLE; YOU WOULD THINK SHE WAS DOING IT ON PURPOSE): Come on, everyone out. The next client's waiting in reception. SHE PLONKS A TRAY OF GLASSES ON THE TABLE

DECLAN (COPYWRITER): How's your CV looking, Jess?

JESS (ART DIRECTOR): Suddenly a lot better, Dec. Six months of photocopying bar charts and he comes up with Crime Converters. Christ.

CLYDE (BEAMING): I'm sure you're all well and truly looking forward to starting work on this great new piece of business! (HE LOOKS AROUND IN VAIN) There will be a brief arriving next week; but the really good news is that, this Thursday, we will be taking the entire agency on a field trip ... to visit the Crime Converters head office!

I'll see you all in Frankston at 8am on Thursday morning.

HE SHUTS UP HIS LAPTOP AND WALKS OUT

JUNE: I won't be going. I'm far too busy.