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Showing posts from November, 2010

What to do with a pumpkin.

Peel it and chop it up. This is easier said than done. Pumpkin's dense texture means a good knife and a steady hand are essential. One slip and you'll lose a finger. The following recipe means the peril is worth risking. Pumpkin with spinach, corn and fresh basil. I am fond of the vegetable known in some parts of the world as being food fit only for pigs. ( Only ? The pig is one of the noblest creatures, if your moral universe extends to an animal pecking order. Orwell was right, but he got the order wrong. Squealer should have been a snake.) I like pumpkin’s sweet, mellow flavour when it is baked or sautéed, especially when eaten with contrasting flavours or textures. I’m not so fond of it when mashed together with potato, a common childhood side ('golden potato') and one which, it seemed to me, masked the assets of both vegetables. Having arduously made small cubes of a one-kilogram pumpkin, don't put away the knife. First, chop two onions and then cut six


Sunday. Late afternoon walk under grey skies heavy with the threat of more rain. It had rained all the previous night, a welcome soft hissing sound with a background slash and groan of the midnight traffic. Merri Creek was in spate, flooding the bicycle pathway that runs beside the northbound path on its left bank at several points. I followed it past its junction with Merlynston Creek, detoured at Bakers Road, crossed the baseball park to Mathieson Street and back onto the pathway. Blocked again, I backtracked to Queens Parade, and rejoined the creek where it turns east. Here, it was running as wide as a river. I hit water again and climbed the hill to the Fawkner plain where the creek turns north again and drops into a valley. It was running brown and fast and flattened reeds on either side showed its high point, reached earlier in the day. There is a new bridge here that crosses to Reservoir, but I turned west with the creek, followed it around, and eventually came out at Sydney R

Duelling bands: a timeline. The first eleven years.

1964 The first sung words of my younger sister, born the previous year, are ' yeah yeah yeah ', from the Beatles’ She Loves You . Father brings home plastic Beatle mop-top imitation wigs, a giveaway at Golden Fleece service stations (or were they?). They resemble punctured black soccer balls with a section missing. 1967 The battle begins in earnest. My older brother purchases the Rolling Stones' Ruby Tuesday single with Let's Spend the Night Together on the B side. Neither mother nor father impressed with lyrics of latter song. Older sister trumps with the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band . Ten-year-old Kitchen Hand doesn't buy into the debate, considering Tom Jones' Green, Green Grass of Home to be the vocal performance of the year. 1968 Older sister triumphantly brings home the Beatles’ double white album. Travelling to a cub camp in the family car one day, I boldly turn the car radio to full volume when a newly-released song comes

What happened to 'good morning'?

People used to approach me in the street with a loud greeting and a smile and I would open my mouth to answer them, and then they would walk straight past me and I would realise they were talking on phones connected by wires to their ears. Then I would shut my mouth and determine not to be fooled again by such an obvious if unintended trick. But I always was. Now it's different. No-one looks at you any more because they're walking down the street with their heads down, gazing into 'apps', a word I don't like.

The old spice jar and this year’s best barbecued chicken.

There comes a time when a spice jar gets so old you keep it anyway, for curiosity value. I have a nutmeg jar, nearly empty, that has ounce weight on the label. That makes it pre-1972, when we changed to decimals, much of which nobody understands. How tall is a 165cm gangster? Beats me. The nutmeg jar is a nice imitation cut glass design with a silver and blue label and a red Hoyts logo. Since spice jar use-by dates give you a few years, someone must have bought the jar in the late 1960s, possibly when Hey Jude was topping the charts. How did it come to be in my kitchen? No idea. Picked it up somewhere. Probably borrowed it from my mother's kitchen years ago. Spicy barbecued chicken. One tablespoon each chili and coriander powder One teaspoon each turmeric, fenugreek leaves, peppercorns, and salt 5 green cardomom pods 1 black cardomom pod 1 piece star anise 2 cloves garlic 1 inch peeled ginger 1 inch cinnamon 1 clove 1 pinch asafoetida 1 grate of nutmeg One half-teas

Decision reached after 47-year deliberation.

I started thinking about this in about 1963, or around the time car model names started ending in '-a' (e.g. Falcon Futura, Vauxhall Viva, Toyota Tiara); and I have made a decision. The Rolling Stones were better than the Beatles. Your indignation, concurrence, outrage, praise, fury, shock, abuse, favourite songs, sightings, anecdotes etc etc in comments below.

This year's poppy.

I don't plant them any more, they come up all by themselves right on cue for November 11. Previous poppies: 2009 , 2008 (scroll down to November), and 2007 . * I was in town this morning, waiting to cross Swanston at Collins, close to 11 o'clock. Before the town hall clock struck the hour, two cops stepped onto the road and stopped both directions of traffic. Trams heading in three directions ground to a halt and the horses pulling carriages for tourists shook their heads. A few pedestrians ignored the cops and crossed anyway. Cars idled. Then a howling roar. Four RAAF planes in formation screamed overhead, following the spine of the city towards St Kilda Road and the Shrine of Remembrance, and were gone. In the sudden silence, a uniformed bugler stepped out of the shadows on the north-east corner of the intersection and marched onto the road. You could hear his footsteps. The horses shook their heads. The bugler raised the bugle and played The Last Post . Then a minute&
It was early evening on the day after the Melbourne Cup. I was walking up Sydney Road towards Dawson Street past the cafes and bars and vintage clothing shops and second hand book stores. It must have been almost eight o'clock. The footpath and road were partially taped off and a large vehicle with a flashing orange light was standing in the blockage and its crane was propped against the Brunswick Town Hall and workers were at the top of the crane in a cherry picker. They weren't putting out a fire; they were hanging the year's first Christmas decorations on the town hall. Merry Christmas. * I came out this morning about five-thirty to get the paper from the shop around the corner and the world was red. It wasn't just in the east. Bars of orange and pink hung in the sky right over to the west. It was gone within half an hour. There is stormy weather expected.

Rigatoni with asparagus and broadbeans.

One box rigatoni. One bunch new asparagus (i.e. local rather than Peruvian or Chinese). One cup fresh shelled broadbeans. One pack fetta (local is fine; it doesn't have to come from Greece or Bulgaria or Denmark). Olive oil. Garlic. Boil rigatoni, adding broadbeans and asparagus chopped in two a minute or two before completion. Drain. Return to pan having added a little olive oil and a finely chopped garlic clove. Stir over low heat to coat in oil and garlic shards. Serve with fetta crumbled over. Drink: chardonnay, if you can find one that still tastes like chardonnay. They used to call it the red wine drinkers' white, but that was a long time ago.

Arnott's biscuit sales to crash in upcoming home-baking frenzy.

Tracy, the gin and tonic thief, submitted the following recipe to this year's most important publishing event, the kindergarten cookbook. Ingredients 250g butter, softened ½ cup icing sugar, sifted 12/3 cups plain flour ¼ cup rice flour Baked in a pre-scored round for easy dividing into segments, the secret to this shortbread is kneading the dough minimally, resulting in the crumbly texture characteristic of traditional Scottish shortbread, not found in the commercial product. Children love a segment of this shortbread with milk for morning tea. Method: 1. Beat butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. 2. Sift in flours and combine well with a wooden spoon. Press dough into a ball. Lightly knead. Over-kneading will result in too fine a crumb. 3. Cut dough in half. Shape into two balls. Pat into rounds one centimetre thick. 4. Place rounds on a greased baking tray. To decorate, pinch edges with floured fingers, score radially into ei

When the Melbourne Cup was run ...

It's funny how you remember where you were. 1962: Even Stevens. In the garage shed with my father in a sea of wood shavings. HMV radio on shelf. He was building a boat. I was five. 1963: Gatum Gatum. The shed. The boat. The radio. Bert Bryant, 3UZ. 1965: Light Fingers. In the backyard. Family lunch. Mother won the sweep. 1968: Rain Lover. Inside the rail at Flemington with my father, photographer. Watched the horse round the turn alone. It won by eight lengths. 1971: Silver Knight. At home in the living room. Bert Bryant on ancient radiogram. 1973: Gala Supreme. In father's studio in back yard. I used to paint and read there. Taped the race on my new cassette recorder. I still have a scrap of Bill Collins' call on 3DB. 1974: Think Big. Living room at home. 1975: Same horse, same place. 1976: Van Der Hum. Abandoned picnic in Dandenongs due to weather. Pulled car over halfway down mountain due to heavy rain. Read Peter Smark's Epicure column in The Age w