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"itty-bitty - extremely small (see also itsy-bitsy)" - Cambridge Dictionary

Remember the nursery rhyme Itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout? Well this rather lovely lunchbox for a kindergarten age child is build around that concept. When I see fancy lunchboxes like this I often wonder whether anyone does this kind of thing. I mean it takes time and thought doesn't it? And children are notoriously fussy, but then I guess this sort of arrangement might tempt them to eat it - like the pleasure of eating jelly babies - starting with biting off its head. Children are after all attracted to the gruesome are they not? And looking at the components of this particular lunchbox I guess it's not really all that difficult to assemble, and I would expect there to be millions of ideas on Tik-Tok and suchlike. Are those eyes edible?

And here's another one. They're very cute.

Back to that definition though - obviously a lead in to one of my bits and pieces posts. I was struck by the examples the Cambridge Dictionary gave for usage in its definition:

"All I'm asking for is one little itty-bitty bite.

The basil plant had these little itty-bitty beetles on it.

I love those itty bitty buttons you get on baby shirts.

He came out with this itty-bitty jam doughnut for our dessert and it was just phenomenal.

It's all about big summer flavour packed in an itty-bitty bottle.

It has an itty bitty bathroom you can't turn around in, and nothing works.

Trying to read recipes on my itty bitty phone is a difficult."

Look - almost all of them were related to food in some way - even the smart phone example was related to recipes. In fact only two of those examples were non food related. Which makes me feel a bit better about wasting my time - many would say I'm wasting my time - with this food as a subject for this blog.

Of course if you turn to Urban Dictionary for definitions, after the same one as above, you quickly turn to sex - I suspect most of the definitions are contributed by young men:

"She is that first young love that takes hold of your heart. She remains the apple of your eye throughout your lifetime."

"Often used (vulgarly, insultingly and/or appreciatingly) for women with small breasts."

And from there it gets even more crude and sexual. Mind you at the same time, Urban Dictionary actually offers a bit of etymology - and interestingly the two terms seem to come from different sources:

" Itty-bitty: A term that means something small, tiny. Possibly derived from the term ittle bitty which in turn comes from a twist of the expression "little bit".

"Itsy-bitsy comes from the word "ici-pici", which is used in Hungary [for] tiny, small things."

And let's not forget that "Itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka-dot bikini"

Bikini's don't seem to be so popular now do they? I was going to insert a photograph here of me wearing a bikini in a French market - i.e. in town, not on the beach - long, long ago, but it's all just too embarrassing. Suffice to say - a bikini - in town?

Suffice to say also, after this lengthy introduction - not itty-bitty at all - or only in the sense that it's all over the place - let's move on to some itty-bitty items from here and there.

Flat white day

This is long overdue, because Flat White Day - a day made up by the website Eater apparently - was way back in March. I wouldn't have known about it but Google had this meme (I think it's a meme - (I'm not really sure what memes are) - on their Home Page, and it grabbed my attention. I mean they don't celebrate every food day out there. so what is so special about this one?

Well let me refer you to this wonderful - and long - Facebook item which amongst other things says:

" To me, a flat white is like the Supreme Court’s 1964 definition of pornography; I’m not quite sure how to define it but “I know it when I see it. ... A good flat white is all about packing as much taste as possible into a small package. ... Why are we fighting over coffee? One common point of confusion is when people say a Flat White is “like drink xyz.” because their definition of drink xyz may not be the same as everyone else’s. So we’re building on quicksand."

It's March 11th by the way because:

"March 11 marks a very important date for flat white lovers as it commemorates the addition of the term "flat white" to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011." Evening Standard

Have a look at that Facebook page if you want to see how passionate people get about silly things like flat white coffee and if you want a really good summary of the many articles I found out there on the net that got people all worked up about what a flat white is. Only in Australia I'm tempted to say, even if Google is American and the British and New Zealanders claim its invention.

Remember them?

I have no idea where I came across this particular item. The picture however is from a website called A Baking Journey, which is not one I regularly come across so either I chose it because of the rather wonderful photograph, or because somebody else referred to it. Probably the latter. And really there's not much more to say other than this is one of those childhood things that one remembers well into old age - or rather one temporarily forgets until somebody gives you a nudge.

There are two reasons why I am featuring this particular recipe, of which the author Bee Wilson says:

"Properly, it should be called a tian, because unlike classic ratatouille, it is not stewed in a pan but constructed from very thinly sliced vegetables, baked in the oven."

The first was because it looked so beautiful, prompting me to think of making it sometime soon - maybe for that birthday party - but no my younger son hates capsicum and my vegetarian granddaughter hates eggplant. Sometime soon however.

The second reason, however, was to point you to the article itself by Bee Wilson as it said so much that was meaningful about the ways that cooking can help with trauma. In the case of the author herself she was recovering from her husband leaving her after 23 years in the middle of COVID. An example:

"We spend so long in the modern world talking about the stress of cooking that we can miss the ways in which cooking itself can be the greatest of all remedies for stress. Cooking brought me out of my thought loops and back into my senses and into a world of good smells and sounds."

That ratatouille was in memoriam, as it were, for the husband of a good friend who had died of a stroke at the early age of 54. However, at the same time as posing the notion of cooking as a healing process, she is realistic enough to say:

"I am not pretending that cooking mended my broken heart. When life sucks, it doesn’t stop sucking just because you have cooked the best pavlova of your life or figured out how to make a vinaigrette that works every time. But these things also don’t hurt."

There are so many words of widom in the article that I should revisit it some other time. And she also has quite a few shortcut suggestions as well. Not to mention that gorgeous recipe.

Somehow or other I came across this page on the Recipe Tin Eats website, and learnt that not only did Nagi Maehashi have a pretty wonderful and very successful website, but that she also had set up a kitchen to provide 2000 meals a week to those in need on the Northern Beaches, and the CBD in Sydney. The kitchen in KIngs Cross was set up in 2021 and is run by three professional chefs. There is a partnership with Sydney Food charity One Meal who handle the distribution side of things.

The whole thing is currently funded from commercial profits from her Recipe Tin Eats enterprise, because at the moment they cannot acept donations, volunteers or fundraising efforts. Which seems a bit surprising and probably bureaucratic. If you want to support however:

"you can support RecipeTin Meals simply by browsing and enjoying recipes on this website! Revenue raised from visitor traffic to RecipeTin Eats provides the funds that makes RecipeTin Meals possible. Website clicks pay for meals, so spread the word!"

All of which tells me two things about Nagi Maehashi. She makes a lot of money from her website, and so is very canny - and she has a good heart. If only a few more rich people would do similarly good things. Well a lot of them do, but probably not enough.

Keeping avocados green

This is for all you avocado lovers out there. Not in this house - well it's one of David's hates. My Smitten Kitchen newsletter pointed me to an article on the America's Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated website which reported on testing 11 ways to keep those pesky avocados going brown whilst you did other things. It's all very informative, but their conclusion was:

"For our money, tightly covering the avocado with plastic wrap and refrigerating it is the best method. It’s easy and practical, and while it won’t keep an avocado totally green, we found the discoloration was minimal. Plus, there’s zero flavor change." Cook's Illustrated

A recipe to try - actually two with fennel

And yes it's Ottolenghi. Maybe I should have used the header - Ottolenghi recipe of the week or some such. Not that it's of the week. Anyway here we have - on the left above - Citrusy chicken, fennel and potato traybake well I love those flavours and I am a recent convert to the traybake principle. On the right - Lamb meatballs with braised fennel - a little more troublesome. It takes a while to make meatballs. And I guess fennel is a bit expensive at the moment, although should it be?

So yes, itty-bitty and inconsequential like this whole enterprise, but I hope it will get you cooking something different at least. It's cold out there. Time to get into the kitchen where it's warm.

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Jun 20

Mine was incy wincy spider!

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