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Tidying my desk

Still in a New Year's frame of mind I have decided today to deal with some of the little things in this stack of stuff waiting for me to deal with. The file labelled Wolfe, by the way has nothing to do with this blog - it's a family history thing. The rest though are lucky dip books, first recipe books, Christmas presents and various books, cuttings and magazines with little bookmarks waiting to be attended to. Some are worth an entire post. Some a mere mention. So today I am going to try and reduce the pile by dealing with the little things. A this and that post. So - starting at the top:

Oz Harvest, Second Bite et al. The supermarkets are always keen to push the good things they do - and they do indeed do some good things, so in the November edition of their magazine they had a little spot dedicated to Ronni Kahn of Oz Harvest, I'm pretty sure they also work with Second Bite. The whole topic obviously needs an entire post - are there hidden problems? I don't know. In the meantime at one or other of the main supermarkets - I'm not sure which you can currently round up your bill to the nearest dollar to give to these charities. Good idea. Small change which adds up to lots.

Herb and lime accordion potatoes - if you've got an air fryer you might be tempted by these, though I guess you could deep fry as well. I have to say I was a bit taken by the appearance. And you know what - it's a tik-tok craze apparently. Every day I feel older and older. I could join in on all of this - Instagram, Tik-Tok and probably something else that I don't even know about - after all I'm not computer illiterate, but I just can't be bothered.

The mention of Tik-Tok came from a blog called Good Food Baddie written by a lady called Capri Lilly (is that a real name?), who obligingly has step-by-step pictures and tells you how to cook them in the oven. A party special for the millennials perhaps, but yet another thing you can do with potatoes to add to the already existing million.

In the light of yesterday's thing on photographs though - they make a pretty picture.

One magazine down.

From Grass Roots - still with Woolworths and their December magazine we have yet another 'feel good' initiative - a podcast series featuring some of their farming producers.

"We celebrate resilience and highlight some of the most innovative and interesting growers in the country." says Edwina Bartholomew of Sunrise, and the podcasts' hostess. Well probably some marketers thought up the phrase, but it is interesting that Woolworths should do this. I don't know whether they feel under threat with their 'fresh food people' slogan but they have certainly, like Coles I have to say, been trying to make their fresh food section a bit more market like. and Woolworths has also been featuring large photos of their happy suppliers. I guess this is just a step further in a process which started with those labels on herbs and other packaged fresh foods, in Coles, of the people who produce them. And indeed some of the stories are interesting. I wonder how many people will listen to them. You can get them wherever you get your podcasts. Strangely I have never done podcasts. I don't know why.

Another magazine down!

Two marinades - In the first few pages of Nigel Slater's wonderful new book are two marinades.

"A basic marinade, a sloppy paste in which to soak vegetables, fish or meat before cooking under a grill. A quick no-messing way to transform your dinner into something really rather wonderful. I use two basic mixtures, using them to soak the ingredients for half an hour before cooking, but, just as importantly, with which to baste them as they cook. They couldn't be simpler or more effective. They are little kitchen lifesavers."

And oh so of the present moment.

The first is The miso marinade and consists of 135ml mirin, 4 tablespoons white miso paste, 4 tablespoons honey and a splash of vegetable or peanut oil. If only white miso paste was easier to find in my local supermarket. It's a case of now you see it now you don't.

The second is The za'atar marinade which is equally simple and consists of 50ml olive oil, juice of a large lemon, 2 large cloves of garlic, tablespoon of za'atar - which I think you can get but you can also make.

Obviously things I must try. And there are many more things to write about from this book. It's an absolute treasure trove. But not now, so it remains on my pile.

The goose girl - Today's painting from the Met's collection of Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist paintings, is not a painting, but a sketch by Camille Pissarro. It made me wonder if there are such people today. Maybe in the third world somewhere. Indeed do we still eat goose? Well yes, and the French definitely keep geese for foie gras - that somewhat barbaric luxury food. But roast goose? It used to be Christmas fare, and I remember an Australian Christmas in June with one of our foodie friends for which she cooked goose. I have no idea where she got it from, but I'm guessing there are élite butchers somewhere who provide them. We have white geese on the river just over our back fence. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to draw like that?

Crème Chantilly

"Crème chantilly is not just whipped cream; it must be flavoured with vanilla, be slightly sweetened and very cold. Whipping cream is not the variety to use, as it breaks down too easily, so use double cream. To give lightness, crushed ice is added halfway through the whipping process. ... like many good cooking techniques and old-fashioned principles, the proper way of making crème Chantilly is often overlooked, and its preparation slap-dash. Crème Chantilly carefully made, makes you realise how good simple things can be."

So says Simon Hopkinson in his little and now classical book Roast Chicken and other Stories. I would add that it has been bastardised in recent times into that dreadful cream that you squirt out of pressurised can. A sort of Mr. Whippy of cream. It's named Chantilly after the chateau of that name. The urban legend has it that in 1671 the great chef Vatel had to cook for his master - the Duc de Condé and his cousin Louis XIV and courtiers for several days of feasting. He was plagued by supplies - including cream and so he invented crème Chantilly to increase the volume of the cream he had. He is also said to have committed suicide because of all the problems. Well the crème Chantilly bit is not true. I don't know about the suicide and I also don't really know why it was called after Chantilly. Because it seems to have been a much older thing. Anyway whipped cream à la Française. And one more book off my desk and on to the shelves. It's a very good book and will be revisited.

Strawberry black pepper jam - on Monday they were selling punnets of jam at $1.00 each. I couldn't resist and bought four and so today I made jam. Strawberry jam is difficult to get to set, so in the end I only got four small jars, but I did add some cracked black pepper this time because I had seen that it was a good thing somewhere. And I have to say that it does have a slight kick to it which is rather pleasant. Will see if it sets or not. I made it in the microwave because of it being such a small batch.

Alas my pile doesn't look a whole lot smaller, but never mind. Little steps.


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