Library liberties


What to say? Overcome with joy at finding them in a council public library, I actually took photos of the Encyclopaedia of Food and Culture (edited by Solomon H. Katz and William Woys Weaver) and The Cambridge World History of Food (edited by Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Coneè Ornelas). I took out my iPhone in Hornsby Council Library and took a picture. Of my textbooks. They aren’t as pretty as this one on my desk, so you got it instead. But they are most definitely there, on my phone.

You have to understand something about my masters if you are to begin to understand why I took those photos. Studying food in the humanities has been one of the best professional and personal decisions I have made. Intelligent and scholarly discussion about food issues? Yes please. Honour for the centuries of human culture expressed and shaped through food interactions? Yes again. A chance to develop, and actually delight in writing about something I feel deeply about? Oh, yes. Yes indeed. However, interesting content and the convenience of online learning aside. It has been a lonely road. Yes, my mum and my husband read my essays. Yes, my dad listens and my grandma hears the stories second hand from mum. But these are issues I want to shout about, I want to announce from a podium, I want to show and teach and demonstrate how important they are to the world, to anyone and everyone who would listen. Who needs to know. People and their food are bound up in a precious and interdependent relationship that we ignore or neglect to our peril. But, for now, my place is at my computer. Typing more notes. Reading more books, adding more references.

These are some of the books that caught my eye that day last week in Hornsby; and some have made it all the way from my uni in Adelaide via courier and postal systems;

On Food Writing:
(because I wanted some good examples as I am studying this as a subject this semester)
Kitchen Table Memoirs; Edited by Nick Richardson for Foodbank.
Plenty and On Digestion, by Gay Bilson
Farmageddon: the True Cost of Cheap Meat, by Philip Lymbery and Isabel Oakeshott.
(because this really is an issue, and not just for cheap meat, all cheap food)

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child.
(because the movie, it is a classic and I am tempted to buy it every time I see it in a shop – maybe I’ll even have a go at the Boeuf Bourguignon recipe!)
Food Safari, by Maeve O’Meara

The French Women Don’t get Fat Cookbook, by Mireille Guiliano.
(because there really is something to delicious food in small serving sizes and I was curious)
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.
(because this appears to be the grandmother of many of the non-refined sugar, protein-from-pasture-raised animal-meat, fats-from-butter-and-cocoanut oils and lots of fermented-dairy-and-vegetable-dishes diets-come-live-come-eating-regimes and I was curious)
Dinner: a love Story, by Jenny Rosenstrach.
(because it is true and she’s a very experienced food blogger and I want to learn)

Assignment Research Books:
The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, by Alice Waters along with Alice Waters & The Chez Panisse, by Thomas McNamee.
(because I’m doing an assignment on Chez Panisse – a restaurant that evolved out of a particular time, moment and place and has remained grounded in those early influences throughout the years, to great success … hence a number of other books on my shelf are to do with the history of American cuisine with sections about the same restaurant)
9 books and a magazine on bee keeping
(because I’m also doing an assignment on Canberra Urban Honey – a great example of a food product with a distinctive urban terroir (a geographically and historically unique heritage that makes the product unique)).

Wish me luck as I read, process and write. Maybe one day I’ll tell you what I learnt!


“Getting fancy with the spices”

Well, maybe not the spices but this recipe was probably one of the most complicated dishes I’ve made, at least since I did Commercial Cookery at TAFE. After getting excited about the recipe we saw on the French Food Safari, Asher and I decided that this was the recipe to cook when my parents visited and we all shared a meal; us, Rosie and Andrew, Christine and Lindsay. Mum and I were the kitchen workers while the guys worked magic in the veggie garden. It had a strong flavour and I would probably try a different, and slightly less complex, version of the recipe next time but it was fun to try. We served it with cauliflower ‘cous cous’ and green vegetables.




Layered Mexican Salad with Chicken and Wraps




Friday night movie and dinner with Asher, Mum and Dad. Mexican inspired fare and Frozen to entertain us. Good fun and company all around. One of my students made a Mexican salad a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. I thought I would have a go at making a creamy dressing with a lower fat content than sour cream (despite the cries of the sour-cream lover in my family!). After a little Google research I ad-libbed a bit and in the end, everyone was happy – and we were all glad of it the next day for lunch too!

Chicken –
Chicken thighs
warm and spicy flavouring (your choice of paprika, turmeric, garlic powder, chili powder and salt …)
Oil for frying

Salad –
1 x 400g can of beans of choice
1 x 400g can of corn kernels
carrots (we grated them and I would recommend this!)
low-fat cream cheese and greek yoghurt in a 2:1 ratio
corn chips

1. Slice the chicken and allow to marinade in chosen spices (these are really only a guide but I think they were the ones I used – all were happily received!)
2. Make the salad by preparing the vegetables and layering them with alternating colours attractively front the base of the bowl up. Again, those listed are a guide but they did work well.
3. Combine the yoghurt and cream cheese and spread over the top of the salad. Top with crushed chips. Refrigerate till serving time (2-3 hours allows the dressing to soak down into the salad a little, yum!).
4. Pan fry the chicken pieces and serve in wraps with salsa!

How to make a birthday






When it’s for this particular muso there must be lots of instruments, lots of friends and family and lots of good food. We celebrated another year of Asher with pizza, playing and partying last week and it seemed to come off! People seemed happy and relaxed, enjoying all the different aspects of the night. The birthday boy was pretty wrapt … it may not be last birthday we celebrate like that! Special thanks to my dad for teaching me about all things yeast, including this particular recipe. I’ve even adapted his instructions here. If you would like to make some pizzas like his/ours (or really, like Donna Hays – see Issue 8, Autumn 2003 for the original recipe) read on …

Makes 3-4 thin based pizzas or 2-3 thicker based pizzas. For a family of 5 we often doubled it. 7 batches worked well for this party and there were 20-25 people.

2 teasp active dry yeast
½ teasp sugar
1 cup warm water
2 ½ C Plain Flour (approx 360g) (doesn’t need to have very high Protein)
1 teasp Salt (6g)

Tomato pasta sauce (or a mixture of this, tinned tomatoes and tomato paste) + Bocconcini cheese + Basil leaves
Basil Pesto + pan fried chicken thighs + shaved parmesan + rosemary leaves
Dad also likes doing garlic + olive oil + rosemary leaves + parmesan and its a bit of a winner too!

1. Put yeast, sugar and water into a small in a small bowl, mix to combine. Let sit for a few minutes. Check for bubbles – if there are none, the yeast is dead and you need to find more yeast! Otherwise continue …
2. Put the salt and flour into a bigger bowl, pour in the water mixture and then mix till a dough forms. Knead this for 5-10 minutes. Divide the dough into 3-4 (2-3) balls.
3. Preheat oven to 2200C (2100C fan forced).
4. Let this rest for 30mins-2hours (if you are that patient, 30mins is fine though!). Dad says to cover with a damp cloth, I just covered mine with glad wrap. Either will be fine.
5. Roll out each one to desired shape – round or rectangular, on a floured surface if necessary. Dad says in his instructions to get them as thin as you can. I like mine a bit thicker I think, I let them stay about 1-1.5cm thick and they were great too. Depends on which result you want! Thin and crispy or thick and doughy! At this point Dad also makes a border round the edge, pressing with his fingers … its does work, I just didn’t do it this time and it was also fine. Follow your intuition!
6. Spread with desired toppings and cook for 12-15 minutes or till golden and crispy on top and toppings are looking and smelling very tasty!
7. Cut into several slices (we do rectangle pieces – a pizza cutter and or kitchen scissors work well) and share!

Tomato and Cheese solve nearly every problem …


… its very true. At least in my life. Even the slightly-too-sour-kind-of-like-a-brick-sourdough from a few posts ago was redeemed in the presence of tomato and cheese. This Bread and Zucchini ‘lasagna’ is mostly based on Matthew Evan’s recipe p40 in Feast Magazine, April 2014 … I did a few things differently though. It was very tasty and a wonderful example of things turning out for the best even when it didn’t seem like they could – redemption at its best!

2 tablespoons olive (or other favoured vegetable oil)
2 onions
4 garlic cloves
1lt passata
1 small bundle of basil leaves
1/2 stale loaf of chewy sourdough (or the abandoned sourdough trial loaf that was too hard to eat!)
5 zucchini (about 500g)
450g bocconcini
100g parmesan
50g light tasty cheese

1. Slice the sourdough into thin strips, dice onion finely, crush garlic and shred basil leaves. Thinly slice zucchini and bocconcini.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
3. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute till clear and the room smells delicious! Add the passata and basil and simmer for about 10 minutes or till the sauce has begun to reduce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Grease a 3L baking dish with oil and smear a little of the tomato sauce on the base. Layer the bread, sauce to soak through the bread, zucchini and then cheese – aim for three layers of ingredients. After each of the three sets of ingredients drizzle with oil and a little more salt and pepper. If you forget one layer … it still works fine! Top with parmesan and extra tasty cheese (in case you don’t quite have enough cheesy coverage) and then bake for about 25 minutes or till golden and gorgeous!
5. Enjoy the soul satisfying tomato and cheese combination with a friend and some salad!


Chicken Caesar Salad


This is the Chicken Caesar Salad that we make at home … it was conceived by Fast Ed and was demonstrated by him on Better Homes & Gardens 27.11.05, although since using it to teach my Year 9 students about hygienic preparation of both raw chicken and salad ingredients for several years, the method has been slightly adapted! I particularly adapted it this time as I needed to use up some of my not-so-successful sourdough (see a few posts back!). At home we sometimes made it with rye bread and that was also tasty. Turns out it made quite delicious croutons (as did the almost-failed-pumpkin-scones, but they were used in another salad!). Hope you enjoy it as much as the Year 9s and I do!

1 chicken breast
1-2 small cos lettuce (1/2 a large one)
1/2 baguette bread stick (however I used the sourdough I made a little while ago toasted as croutons!)
vegetable oil (eg. olive or grapeseed)
veggie salt
Chili, salt and garlic spice mix
4 rashers bacon
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle

Dressing Ingredients:
4 eggs
2 tsp Dijon mustard
10 capers
4 anchovies
4 Tbs olive oils
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper

1. Slice chicken breast into strips approximately 1.5cm by 3cm.
2. Heat a little oil in a fry pan, pan fry the chicken pieces slowly till golden and cooked though.
3. Drain on plate covered with kitchen towel, cover with a plate till ready to serve.
4. Soft boil the eggs, see instructions below.
5. Chop the cos lettuce leaves roughly, place in a large serving bowl.
6. Defrost the sourdough after removing from its hiding place in the freezer. Paint with a little oil and sprinkle with spices and salt. Bake in a moderate oven till golden and crispy.
7. Slice up the bacon 5mm thick, and then dice.
8. Fry the bacon in a fry pan with a little oil till browned and crispy (if using bread that is less deep and meaningful than very heavy sourdough, this can be fried off in the fry pan before the bacon instead of being oven toasted).
9. Drain the bacon (and bread) on greaseproof paper.
10. Make the dressing: mash the eggs using a fork in a medium bowl, add other dressing ingredients to the eggs, combine.
11. Add the baguette slices/croutons, chicken and ham to the lettuce. Add the salad dressing and toss to combine all ingredients.
12. Shave cheese and sprinkle over the top of the salad.

How to soft boil an egg –
1. Fill the saucepan with enough cold water to cover the eggs
2. Fill a bowl with cold, iced water and set aside
3. Bring it to boil over high heat. When boiling, add the eggs gently.
4. Boil for 4:30-5 mins (start timing the cooking once the water starts to boil)
5. Remove eggs gently from saucepan and gently place in chilled water
*Variation: boil for 8-9 mins for hard boiled eggs.

Rising to the Occasion: Pavlova






My mum-in-law had a birthday a while back and now, with a uni course on celebrating with food, and having enjoyed cooking a couple of other desserts recently, I decided it was really time to post these lovely pictures of the Pavlova I made for the family dinner held in honour of her day!

4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp white vinegar
300mL thickened cream
250g strawberries
2 nectarines
2 plums
1/4 cup raspberry jam
3/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 130°C. Line oven tray with baking paper, dust with cornflour.
2. Ideally you would beat eggwhites with electric mixer until soft peaks form, then start to gradually add sugar, beating until sugar dissolves. I forgot this in the heat of the moment and was relieved to discover that when I beat them up anyhow a meringue still formed! This doesn’t always happen though … best to do it as the recipe prescribes! Once all the sugar has been beaten in, add extract and vinegar; beat a little more until combined.
3. Spread meringue in an attractive looking circular shape on the baking paper, building up a disk of meringue with an even thickness and smoothing the ‘walls’ making decorative grooves round the sides of the Pavlova.
4. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours and then let the Pavlova cool in the oven with the door ajar.
5. Slice up the strawberries, nectarines and plums. Combine and set aside till serving time.
6. Add the jam and water to a small pot, stir over a medium heat till jam has disolved and melted into the water making a runny pink sauce.
7. Just before dessert time, whip the cream to soft peaks, spread over the pavlova, sprinkle with fruit and drizzle over with raspberry sauce. Enjoy with a few other hungry friends or family!