Sunday, 25 April 2010

Jumping on the B B Bandwagon

Almost every blogger worth a sack of salt, who holds an any sort of interest with food, will be aware of the resurgence in popularity of Julia Child.

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Many will have, in recent times attempted, or promised themselves they will attempt, her Beef Bourguignon recipe. I too jumped on that particularly squishy bandwagon and last night was my night to take her on.

Yesterday was a moody, wet, heavy-clouded, light-the-fire type day here in Taswegia, perfect for attempting the B.B. I made my decision late in the day and being that we are extremely limited in our fresh produce choices at our nearest town, I headed in at 3.45 pm knowing I would be pushing my luck.

I arrived at the store at 4pm and they were just shutting up shop, but they let me in. A lot of head chef decision making 1A was called for. No gravy beef or stewing steak (is it just me or is the word "stew" one of the most unappealling in the cooking lexicon?) to be found, so I had to settle for a few not-so-thick pieces of rump steak. No pickling onions (that would have been some sort of miracle) so I fossicked for a handful of the smallest I could find. No slab of bacon or speck, so a standard pack of poor old bacon rashers would have to do. Luckily I had home-grown garlic, mushrooms, bay leaf and thyme.

Back home and I laid out all my ingredients and set to recalculating the measurements as I only had 2/3 the quantity of meat Julia's recipe called for. This was no easy feat with a mid-life challenged brain like mine.

Once all the chopping and preparation was out of the way, I read through the method for the cooking process. What a bucketload of old cods! I am a great lover and worshipper of the one pot cook yet, Julia seems to favour the more-pots-and-mess-the-merrier method. I made another executive chef decision and went for the all-in method. I did lovingly pat dry the meat and browned it to perfection. Then, I fried off the onions and mushrooms separately and threw them in with the rest just before it went in the oven for the long slow cook. Surely having everything in from the start has got to impart more flavour, right?

Julia's fusspot recipe tells us we must strain off all the cooking liquor once the meat is cooked, and then strain the fat from the top of the liquid and reduce it to an unctiously silky sauce consistency before returning it to the pot. Sounds extremely dangerous all that straining of boiling liquid from a heavy cast iron pot! I lifted out all the ingredients with a slotted spoon into my pasta strainer on top of the pasta pot and then poured the sauce over all of that so it fell through in to the bottom of the pot. Success!

My sauce was a little thin, so I added a little cornflour to help it thicken up.
Anywho...finally after much mess-making and clanging and sighing and swearing it was done.

It was indeed a taste sensation. It was a 31/2 hour process from beginning to end and a bit more farnarckling around than I like in my kitchen. And to think, I cut corners!

I poured myself my first glass of wine as it went in to the oven, 3 hrs later it was served. You may want to take this in to consideration when you have a go. Just saying.

Although, it was a gorgeous wine in a sensational bottle from a bunch of young winemakers at Some Young Punks (just click on the name to have a squizz at their fantastic website)

I am a little puffy-chested at having ticked this off my to-do cooking list.
Interestingly, as it has been with me my entire life, I will only go along with the rules as long as it suits me, if not I break them or find another way.

I reckon cooking really reflects what life's all about - finding ways to make it work for you.

What about you?

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Magazine Madness

My name is Michele and I am a magaholic.

If I had the finances and the space I would have many, many, many magazines from around the world. I love a home styling mag, a foodie mag, a not-too-wanky architecture mag, an indy/arty/style mag, a down-to-earth/greenie/hippy lifestyle mag, and an occasional monthly literary mag (well prior to a puffed-up-little ponce taking over, I did!)

I don't mind your trashy-mag (junk-food-for-the-brain) either, I just can't come at paying for something that will be devoured in 10 minutes and leave me feeling empty, guilty and a wee-bit brain dead. So I pop off to "the library" (read 'large newsagents') where I grab a quick glance or I help myself to a bit-of-a-read whilst in the queue at the stupid-market.

Not long after we moved down to Taswegia, I came across this incredible stash of original 1946 Australian Women's Weeklys. They cost me $3 each and are a joy to behold. The cover art/photography, that gorgeous 40's style and some hilarious articles and ads inside. Every now and again I sit and read them cover to cover and they reveal something new each time.

A side swing of silky hair and a knitted rug. Check out the slacks on these two in the snow, not to mention the scenario?!

These kids are apparently all "starlets" of 1946 and Ms yellow-shirt appears to be chanelling Katherine Hepburn whilst pondering her cactii.

Here's a darling ad from Ponds before they established their institute and one for some striking knitwear fashions modelled by a freak-of-nature, I mean WHAT is up with that waist-to-shoulder ratio!?

These Winter fashions seem a tad sparce and very Wild West but they do include a some fab wedge heels and some "post war glitter" or is that "clitter"? Straw-hat-lady seems to have been hypnotised by the sheer woolen fabric she is holding or has found a way of hiding the sun spots on the back of her hands.

My favourite old mag find has to be the stunning 1956 Italian food magazine La Cucina Italia snaffled up for $4 from a 2nd-hand bookstore in Fitzroy St. St Kilda a few years back.

Here it is...isn't she stunning?

I'm a sucker for a spot of nostalgia and the 30's and 40's has always felt like somewhere I'd like to pop back to and feel very comfortable slotting in to. Although, I'm sure I would DEFINITELY have a more matronly figure than most!

What about you?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Marvellous Memories

My cousin sent me this amazing photo of my maternal grandmother, Molly (Granny), taken on her 50th birthday.

I think she looks absolutely gorgeous and so happy!
How's the FROCK and the gladys?
I have been told all my life how much like her I am...until I saw this photo I never really got it. It's bizzare!
It's one of life's great frustrations that we usually don't get the chance to sit with our grandparents as adults and really get to know them. You know, ask them questions about your Mum or Dad and to find out all about their young lives.
I know some things, but I want to know so much more!
Granny was a party girl, she managed the Paterson Lakes Country Club with a girlfriend a million years ago. It's gone now (of course). She was also a JC Williamson's showgirl and worked at Fletcher Jones.
She loved to entertain and show off her good-set-of-pins.
In her later years, all the shop keepers at her local shopping centre knew her and she went to visit elderly friends in aged care facilities to brighten up their days.
I miss her.
I have some of her things and this beautiful well-worn old platter is one of them.

Interestingly it features roses and if you have been through my posts you'll know that I have a bit of a thing for roses!

Last night's pavlova fest on Master Chef triggered sweet memories of my Mum teaching me how to make pavs using our Sunbeam mixmaster. The splash of vinegar, the vanilla extract and the corn flour all vital ingredients. I did not have my own mixmaster and have long lusted after one. A few months back I found one in a 2nd-hand store in Hobart for $35 I was VERY, VERY happy. Here it is along with some snazzy old plates (all found at different locations) with a pattern called "GAYTIME" you gotta love that, don't you?

Pleasing Publications

Whilst fossicking in the oppy yesterday, I came across these lovelies...

An amazing Australian-published world atlas with beautiful photos and colourful maps, yet strangely, no year of publication but it looks 50's to me.

Some absolutely HILARIOUS old knitting patterns, honestly what were they thinking when they posed these people? Did they think that's how people look whilst hanging around in their knitwear? Seriously?

Check out the smouldering sexual tension between the gents!

Miss natural-pose here along with buttoned-up creepy-cult mother & daughter!

Very excited about the FAB 1965 edition of This is San Francisco and another lovely old Golden Book to add to my collection.

But THIS pattern is my absolute FAVOURITE! Look at her brilliant hairdo! Her coat design is stunarama, but I am so incredibly itchy just thinking about wearing it.

I love old magazines, books, catalogues, patterns and brochures because they offer such an amazing flashback or glimpse in to another time and a seemingly completely different way of life.

What about you?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Autumn Bounty

I just harvested a bunch of beetroot and a green beans...
This arvo I will be replanting the vegie garden and putting toilet roll tubes around all the seedlings, 'cause some voracious munchers chewed up all my last planting! BASTARDS.

Then I'll need to come up with a plan for the beans, the beetroot I'm having for lunch, a little bit of mayo, low-fat yoghurt, parsley and seeded mustard Mmmmmm.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

10 Things...

Miss Pip over at Meet Me at Mikes suggested we join her in listing 10 things (about me)
So here I go...

1. I was once featured in a half-page story in the Drive section of The Age with my beautiful FB Holden. I loved her, had her for 8 years, then some low-life, scumbag STOLE her...I have never recovered.

2. Music makes me cry. It also makes me dance and sing and laugh and smile and gets right down deep inside and stirs up all my emotions. I am constantly on the hunt for new music and discovering new listening pleasures.

3. I was MEANT to be some brilliant artist's muse residing in a rambling, shambolic, gothic castle on a "wild and windy moor" with a secret garden and massive walk-in fireplaces, grand shadowy staircases and hallways, ancient and modern artwork all around and magnifient rugs strewn through-out. Oh and a grumpy cook and a wizzened-up, wise and lovely old gardener.

4. I have lived in 13 different homes, 12 of them in Melbourne...sadly for me number 13 is proving its unlucky reputation to be correct.
Update: moved on, again! And number 14, in Fryerstown Central Vic is proving far x

5. I had 3 children under 4 and no caesareans and I was tiny. I had no child care or day care or creche. We lived pay to pay. It was very, very hard, I nearly lost my mind. My kids and I survived.

6. I have Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria. This means I suffer from hives (I call them hot continents, 'cause the white welts form continent - like shapes and are VERY VERY hot and itchy) and the "idiopathic" (my favourite medical term) means they have NO idea why!

7. I was naughty at school. A loud-mouth. It was an all girls' school for my entire schooling. There were nuns. I liked it...those Nuns showed me how to be feisty and that you didn't NEED a man to run the show. Some of them were very mean and bitter and some were sweet and kind.

8. I had my tonsils out when I was 7. My parents were not allowed to stay with me. I got my own toiletry bag with special kids toothpaste and a Mr Potato Head!

9. I have 4 tattoos accumulated over the past 17 years, this is my favourite as it represents my family

10. I wish I had the confidence, the know-how and the talent to write a book, play an instrument, sing like an angel, paint a masterpiece or create something amazing - Oh wait, I DID that - my 3 spectacular and beautiful offspring! Yay to me!

What about you?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Cookbook & Recipe Pondering

I love a cookbook or a foodie magazine

I love the possibilities within and believing I can and will make the mouth-watering delights I find between the covers

I love the way cookbooks have evolved in to slick and fabulous tomes of food porn

I love the old-fashioned cookbooks with their line drawing illustrations

I love old-school gaudy unappetising food styling

I love my well-worn and thumbed Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book which brings alive the memory of my kids fighting over whose turn it was to take it to bed to drool over.

I love that I managed to successfully make cakes from it!
I love slothing on the couch reading cookbooks cover to cover and then going to the kitchen and making up something of my own
I love my stuffed-full old green folder full of recipes torn from newspapers and magazines that I hardly ever look at!

I would love a flash, fancy, fabulous, entire wall bookshelf, chock-a-block full of cookbooks.
As it is I have an overstuffed op-shop wooden number that serves the purpose until I can fulfill my dream.

What about you?