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Dribs and drabs

"In small scattered or sporadic amounts." Oxford Languages

"In small amounts, a few at a time." Cambridge Dictionary

It's Sunday, and not much time available, as we are off to the big Dearman birthday bash - the August birthdays. Where does the phrase come from? Well dribs is a dialect word from at least the 18th century which probably is derived from drips. Drabs they think, has nothing to do with an untidy woman or something that is sort of shoddy, but is an invention to make a catchy phrase in line with dribs. Nothing to do with food I suppose, other than if you were sitting in a café waiting for a meal that was a long time coming and then only a bit at a time. "It came in dribs and drabs."

Australian potatoes

As you know I follow a lot of UK cooks and cookbooks, whose recipes frustratingly tell you to use a particular kind of potato that you can't get here. Americans too. Maris Piper and Yukon Gold are two in particular that crop up over and over again. So it was really good to find a detailed list of equivalents that we have here from Alice Zaslavsky in the Australian edition of The Guardian newsletter. It was a pretty comprehensive list so if you are interested check it out. Indeed print it out for reference. For example:

"Yukon Gold = pontiac, coliban, kipfler, sebago, mozart, rodeo, Kestrel, golden delight, toolangi delight

Maris Piper = dutch cream, king edward, carisma, royal blue, russet, burbank"

She also goes on to talk about what best to use for what. It's a very informative read, so check it out. And I should really look into potatoes some time soon. I adore potatoes.

A couple of editions ago the Coles Magazine had a one column summary of Fairtrade products. They were of course doing their thing of what wonderful people they are by supporting Fairtrade, but it made me think that I too should do the right thing and at least point you to the Fairtrade website. It's an international organisation now, but each country - well in our case Australia and New Zealand - has their own website.

It was begun back in in 1994 - to show, on particular products that farmers were being paid fairly for their goods. The tea, coffee and chocolate industries in particular get a lot of attention. As well as working with farmers to guarantee fair treatment, Fairtrade is also involved in issues such as child labour, forced labour and impacts on the environment.

Does it work and should we buy Fairtrade goods? Well yes and no. Like everything it's not perfect - the first being the same old - it costs more and therefore the poor don't benefit:

"The price point that separates Fair Trade produce from the rest of the market is often significant enough that lower-income households cannot afford to budget for it. This means that Fair Trade cannot reach mass markets in a way that would really affect wide-scale change, and instead serves as a token gesture to alleviate the guilt of middle-class consumers. ... if it is not of sufficient quality to merit this price tag, then it risks turning consumers away from Fair Trade produce, and further impeding its reach to mass markets where it can truly make an important change to consumer habits." Sustainable Living Organisation

Depressing really. You just can't win can you?


It seems that never a month or so goes by without some new amazing spice mixture popping up. This one is Mexican and it came up as a favourite ingredient of one of The Guardian's columnists. It sounded mildly interesting, though not for this household because of the inevitable chillies, although it does seem to be mild chillies that are the thing here. It's basically lime, chilli and salt, with the lime being dehydrated. Can you get it here? Well yes, but not in Coles and Woolworths. If you live in Eltham, just cross over the road and go into Dan Murphy's where apparently it is on sale. Weird. I can only assume that you put it on the rim of glasses of some kind of Mexican drink - or something like that. Or maybe it's a common cocktail ingredient. However, you can make your own although most of the recipes specify chillies that you might not be able to find. So perhaps, just adapt to what you can find.

The recipe on a website called Bonappeteach seemed the most approachable. So if you are into Mexican food (and I confess I'm not really), give it a try. People seem to put it on fruit and/or cheese, in drinks.

It was invented in 1985 by a man called Horacio Fernandez who named the company and the product Tajin, after an archaeological site in Mexico.

They say it is ubiquitous in Mexico. I think it's a sprinkle kind of thing rather than a spice mix for stews and the like. I saw it suggested that you sprinkle it on fruit, popcorn, corn on the cob, drinks and even avocado on toast.

Ok - Time's up - time to go and make the sausage rolls for the party. We have to be there first - these are the nibbles.


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