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"Trifle - a matter or object of little value or importance."

Cambridge English Dictionary

I guess I'm hoping that what I write, although of little importance, might be of at least small value - either in mild entertainment or in small pieces of knowledge acquired. I try.

Anyway trifle - the food deserves a whole post of its own as this example from Adam Liaw of a Christmas trifle. demonstrates.

It also demonstrates that a trifle - the English dessert - is actually no mere trifle - being something that often requires a lot of work and possibly some skill. This one for example has seven components to it - Adam Liaw's terminology not mine - the panettone and blueberry base; Drunken fruit; Anzac crumb; Caramelised smoked almonds; Ginger beer jelly; Brandy custard; Vanilla chantilly. And each of those components has a list of ingredients and whole paragraphs of instructions. It's a long recipe. But I have to say it looks rather glorious. So I hope this collection of oddments will be of some small value or at least interest. Shall we try for seven trifles - like the seven components?

Still with Adam Liaw this is one of those many things you can do with Parmesan or Grana rind. You scrape off the wax on the outside; wash and dry the rind; cut it into small pieces; place on plate - well spaced and cook in the microwave for 60 seconds or so. Cool before eating. Who knew?

I actually first found this in a Guardian Newsletter post by Anna Berrill which was all about what to do with Parmesan rind. There were lots of suggestions besides the obvious one of adding a piece to soup so give it a look. But I will repeat this one from London chef Theo Randall for actual chips made from the rind - apologies I cannot find a picture of these. It's a bit more complicated than the microwave crisps but not much.

“Soak the rinds in about a litre of boiling water [from the kettle], then, once they’re soft, cut them quite thinly and bake.” The key is to get the rinds nice and soft – “you get a much nicer flavour that way” – so if soaking them doesn’t do the trick, transfer the lot to a pan and heat on the stove." Theo Randall/Anna Berrill

Tea towel gift wrapping

Going back to Christmas - the latest Woolworths Fresh Ideas Magazine suggested using tea towels to wrap your Christmas gifts. This is not the Woolworths picture but another one I found on the web - there are lots - because of course it's not an original idea. But it is a thought is it not? Particularly when it comes to foodie kinds of gifts. I love tea towels and always have to resist buying yet more. I definitely don't need them. I'm not quite sure what it is about them that appeals, but I am beginning to think it's their soft comforting texture. And somehow they bring to mind the colourful nature of India for me. The designs these days are gorgeous - even the standard Madras kind. Aldi often has almost unresistable varieties. And it's a gift given twice isn't it?

Woolworths also give a very alarming statistic - Australians use 150,000 kilometres of wrapping paper annually. And probably most of that goes into landfill. So start thinking about tea towels.

A Woolworths recipe. Not that there is really anything out of the ordinary in a zucchini slice but there were two things about this one that caught my eye. The first was the addition of chick peas - the healthy bit I guess, and the second was the method.

I confess it seems to me a little fraught with disaster because the thing is you mix it all up in the tray. I mean even if you grease your tray really well and really work hard to press your baking paper into it - will it stay there I wonder? You might just get away with mixing the zucchini and flour together - though be careful you don't tear the paper - but whisking eggs into the mix? I'm not sure about this, or about then whisking yet more when you add the chickpeas. I mean you have to do a really good mix 'until no lumps remain'. Then you top with the rest of the zucchini and some cheese. Now that's Ok. Really though why would you do it this way? Wouldn't it be simpler to do the mixing in a bowl and then tip it into the dish? I suppose their 'cheat's' bit is doing it all in the dish and saving on a bit of washing up. Although tinned chick peas are also a cheat. Let's face it - it's just a gimmick to draw you in. Silly I think, although the end result could be good.

"Squashing brown bananas in your hands is surprisingly sensual: it oozes out between your fingers into a squidgy mess that can then be massaged into your feet as a surprisingly effective, if rather odd, deodorising foot moisturiser. Alternatively, freeze it, then blend into an instant “ice-cream” or ferment it into a vinegar." Tom Hunt

So begins Tom Hunt's brief article in The Guardian on how to make banana vinegar - which is very simple albeit possibly a little alarming. Well any fermentation process is. Why would you do it though - other than wanting to save the planet one banana at a time? Well apparently:

"Banana vinegar is aromatic, rich and has a funky, sweet and acidic flavour that’s ideal in a tropical-flavoured vinaigrette dressing, cordial, ceviche or simply to use in place of regular vinegar."

Bananas, as I have said before are one of the most wasted foods in Australia, so here's another idea for what to do with them. Will I try it? I doubt it. But I thought I should pass the idea on.

No more plastic bag recycling

The big news of the week. Just when we were patting ourselves on the back for doing a great recycling job - and one which seemed to be enthusiastically embraced by the public it all came crashing down. I guess the signs were there. Frequently the bins for collection outside the supermarkets were full to overflowing, so obviously a lot was being collected. And there were rumours of overflowing warehouses. Just like those mountains of paper at APM.

It seems there are several factors that led to this. A fire at the factory of REDcycle's partner Close the Loop was the first one. Then there is probably unspecified mismanagement. The other is the fall in demand for the products produced at the end of the process. These included: "asphalt additives, concrete aggregate, garden kits, street furniture, bollards and shopping trolley products" .

All good stuff you would think. They said it was all COVID related - staff shortages, etc. I guess, but still ... Are these things exportable one wonders? And surely there's a big demand for some of them - the ashphalt thing for a start because there seem to be endless roadworks everywhere. Do we need more investment in developing, creating and marketing the products?

It's all very sad and fodder for those who like to scoff at such worthy enterprises. The CEO of REDcycle who started it

"started this program from my kitchen table when I looked at a bag of peas and asked why on earth can't this be recycled?"

Why not indeed? And the other big question is why is there so much plastic packaging anyway? When I went to England I was appalled to see that virtually all fresh food in the supermarkets was prepackaged, and I was proud of the fact that Australian supermarkets sold fresh produce loose. But alas there has been a gradual creep of packaging into that part of the supermarket - the prepackaged salad mixes for a start are a horrific addition to my mind. I don't even think they save time, as you have to sort through all the bits to see if they have gone brown at the edges and have long stalks that shouldn't be there. Much quicker to slice up a cabbage for cole slaw.

It's not just the fresh food though is it? A return to paper packaging - made from old rags, old paper, as well as responsibly sourced wood pulp is what is needed here I think. I shall try very hard not to buy things in plastic packaging from now on, although it's difficult. Let's hope the cessation of this scheme is temporary and/or other solutions are found.

I think I'll end with these rather wonderful looking dishes in the last Guardian newsletter - and no, it's not from Ottolenghi. The creator is José Pizarro a London based ex dentist, now celebrity chef. It's not a name I knew but he has recently become a Guardian columnist. He has written four books so maybe I should look out for them because his recipes in The Guardian have been very tempting - witness the two above, both of which feature potatoes which I adore. They are both pretty simple to make and homely. Maybe it's a new name to look out for. I might try the ribs sometime soon. I would try the chorizo dish too but David doesn't like chorizo - too spicy. If you look hard you can sometimes find a mild version or I guess you could use some other kind of sausage. It would meet my legumes once a week target after all.

So there's my seven - if you count the trifle as one. Enjoy.

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