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Some more weekend oddments

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

"Make everyday your weekend. Make everyday a play-day …”

James A. Murphy

It's the weekend again and again I find myself searching for something to write about. You seemed to like my last oddments post, so I'm going to give it another go. You never know it might morph into a tradition.

In no particular order.

1. Port Douglas

Here I am in beautiful Port Douglas anticipating a tasty meal in the magical setting of the local Yacht Club, which is not at all posh - more like a semi open-air pub. It's the picture I chose for the frontispiece, if that's what you can call of it, of my entire new website. So why is it here? Well 2021 is a big year in the Dearman household. David turns 80 mid year and so we are taking the family up to Port Douglas for a week. In September, so a long way away yet. June/July was full so we had to move on to September, which I think is better weather-wise anyway. And this week has been largely taken up with worrying about the organisation thereof. But done and almost dusted. Amazing house booked, flights booked, so now only have to book cars - easy and travel insurance - not so easy. Anyway - not that food related, except that I am looking forward to the Yacht Club and other lovely venues and also home-cooked goodies. But it has sort of dominated the week.

Dare to dream.

From the sublime to the mildly ridiculous. Thursday's Age has an item called Home Made which features a recipe from one of their celebrity chefs. For all I know it is a daily feature, but we only get The Age on Thursdays. Anyway this Thursday it was the genial Adam Liaw presenting a Snag parmy with the words:

"A "snag in a bag" or "sausage sanga" is the king of everything from a backyard barbecue to a trip to the hardware store to an election. But what if it got to know that other icon of Australian cuisine, the parmy?"

The parmy, for any of you 'foreigners' unfamiliar with this now Australian dish is chicken parmigiana, which is sort of an evolution from the Italian melanzane parmigiana - aubergine topped with tomatoes, cheese and basil, via an Italian veal version, and an American version. Anyway today it is a top dish in pubs in Australia where it is affectionately known as a parmy or a parma. So above what you have is a tongue-in-cheek version with sausages - boiled, crumbed and fried, and then put on a slice of white bread covered with passata, ham and cheese and toasted under the grill. It looks quite tempting but I'm just not sure I'm convinced about this one.

And he didn't stop there. On another occasion he did another parmy marriage - this time between the chicken version, completely with the mandatory chips and a pea floater, which he called a green parmy. Again, I'm not sure, but full marks to the food stylists for both of these dishes for making them look tempting. The kids might like the sausage version!

Together with The Guardian newsletter, on Thursdays I also get the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival newsletter - which is mostly about restaurants and cafés I am never going to visit. But this time there was a new sort of project - Melbourne's best snacks, which features 40 different snacks that you can find in trendy parts of Melbourne, illustrated by nine apparently trendy illustrators. Some of the suggestions for a snack did not seem that snacky to me, but then the compilers, I think, also found this a bit difficult:

"The question of just what constitutes a snack was closely interrogated along the way. Our focus group didn’t find perfect agreement, nor an absolutely definitive answer to the question, but zeroed-in on standalone eats that were more portable than not, and definitely not part of a tasting menu" Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

Our part of Melbourne does not feature. Indeed it never features in any foodie writings. The snacks thing is divided into four sections - CBD, North, West and South East. We are sort of North - but not according to the food gurus of Melbourne. It's a dead zone to them - always - although it certainly isn't. Anyway, the thing that struck me most about it was the vast number of Asian dishes that were featured, and the almost as vast number of Middle-eastern ones. Now I am not complaining about this at all. I simply note that it shows how Melbourne's multi-cultural population has shifted from a European bias. If you are interested though, click on the link.

4. What to do with leftover pickle juice

To my shame, the other day, when David finished a jar of home-made pickled cucumbers, and asked me what to do with the juice I told him to throw it out. Which he did. He threw it on some weeds.

The Guardian newsletter, however, had a short piece on all the many different things you can do with leftover pickle juice, including a recipe for pork chops. Indeed it only referred in passing to other things you could do.

So today, for this article I 'researched' further and, in fact, was almost going to do a whole post on the subject, because there are so many things you can do with leftover pickle juice, whether it be home-made or shop bought, including killing those weeds, cleaning out your copper pans and your greasy cook top, to making some more pickles, cocktails, mayonnaise, marinades - and on and on it goes. In the end I decided to just give you some sites to have a look at, if you are interested. Some of the ideas were really interesting:

Bon Appétit - 15 ways which included this rather tempting Pimiento mac 'n cheese.

Indeed Bon Appétit were so enamoured of it that they said:

"we're not sure why it isn't bottled and sold as its own entity. (We sense a business venture coming on.)" Bon Appétit

So maybe one day I should revisit.

5. Boiled lemons

Claudia Roden it seems likes to boil lemons:

"It’s not that usual to boil citrus. I haven’t heard of anyone doing this and certainly, people that have eaten it at my house all want to do it afterwards.

It is wonderful; it tastes very much better than preserved lemon. A lot of the preserved lemons you find in shops have a flavour that doesn’t taste homemade or artisanal."

I'm pretty sure she makes her own preserved lemons too. I think I learnt how to do them from her. But it would be a much quicker solution. A different taste though surely? Which isn't to say it wouldn't be a good taste. Just different.

And finally, what am I going to make for dinner? I'm uninspired here too. I took some mince out of the freezer and, of course, I can be lazy and make lasagne. Another statement which demonstrates how different the world is now to the world I grew up in. But really it's the weekend, there will be wine, I have nothing else to do. Surely I can think of something more exotic? Maybe some carrot meatballs - I saw a recipe for this when I was doing that carrot post. No I think they would be better with chicken mince. Ok - off to the bookshelves, or the net to look for stunning ideas.

6. End of an era?

On today's walk I passed this abandoned face mask hanging on a tree. It looks home-made. Victoria has just been allowed to abandon them too - unless you are travelling on public transport or a taxi or Über vehicle, or visiting a hospital - probably the doctor too. Anyway to all intents and purposes life is back to normal. We have still to all be vaccinated. We are a bit slow with this, but in just about every other way life is normal again.

I just hope that some of the changes we made along the way stay in place - more time communicating with friends and family, trying out new things, learning new things, being generally kinder, spending more time at home. It will be interesting to see what happens. Yes, I know. Nothing to do with food. Well maybe. It seems that we all cooked a lot more. Lets hope that continues too.

Happy weekend.


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