I object

I’m really getting fed up with the writers and reviewers at good living/good food. The entire reason I have a subscription to the newspaper is to get the Tuesday liftout about food, but I’m at that point of cancelling the subscription.

1. Tomato sauce
There’s more to tomato sauce than the big American brand Heinz. So why did they review two products from Heinz in their GL tomato sauce taste test?

Why not include three-threes? It comes in a snazzy glass bottle, they’re stocked in IGA stores, they’re an Australian family owned business, and they do pickles and tomato sauce.

What about Rosella? Available in Colesworth, and it’s Australian owned too.

I actually shifted from Rosella’s to three-threes, mainly from when Rosella’s went into receivership in 2012 and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be available any more.

I’ve actually noticed that the little takeaway tomato sauce sachets from McDonalds have gone from being tomatoes/salt/sugar/vinegar/water to containing high fructose corn syrup, produced by Heinz.

2. Farmers Markets versus Supermarkets

I recently read Matthew Evan’s autobiography, who used to be a reviewer for the good living/good food liftout. In his book, he says that when he wrote for the food & travel magazine, there were a lot of puff pieces that had been paid for by an advertiser – such as yet another article about a Noosa resort that no reader was going to be able to afford to visit anyway. He said that it was a breath of fresh air to have a budget to eat out with and review food places during his time at Good Living. But I wonder, with the recent budget cuts, has the mood changed?

My objections to the “article” include
– why compare locally grown valencia oranges compared to imported navel oranges? They taste completely different! It would have been a fairer comparison to compare a local navel orange to an imported navel orange.
– fruit & veg that I buy from the farmers markets lasts much longer than that which I purchase from the supermarket. It also tastes better. Generally, I have found the prices to be comparable per kilo.
– Meat tastes better! Bacon Tastes better! (And you have to admit it is all about the bacon). I also find that the meat lasts longer from the farmers markets.

I try and do most of my shopping at farmers markets, the food co-op, or the local green grocer and butcher. I make a conscious decision to buy locally owned or made; or Australian made products. If the lemons, kiwi fruit or asparagus are imported, I will use something else.

What about you, dear reader? Can you spot the difference between farmers markets produce & supermarket produce? What do you go out of your way to purchase that is made or grown locally?

Long, Hot Summer

Sydney has just had its longest run of hot weather, with 39 days in a row of temperatures over 26 degrees Celsius

In the western suburbs, where my garden is, it has generally been above 30 deg C.

The poor garden has definitely felt the brunt of this. I got blossom end rot in the zucchini plant, apparently caused by infrequent watering (and a plague of slugs). One half of the double graft mini royal/royal lee cherry tree got cooked. The regular starkrimson cherry tree lost most of its leaves. Another north-facing rhubarb plant, never very strong, bit the dust.

It’s April, and the days are *still* hitting the high 20s, let alone the hottest April day since 1986.

So…even if our government denies the existence of climate change/global warming by repealing the carbon tax, I’m not so sure.

In other news, to make this a harvest monday post:

Lemongrass

Lemongrass! I had to cut the lemongrass back to reduce the number of hiding places for the slugs and snails, and give a little more light for the rhubarb. What to do? Let’s chop into usable sections and freeze for later.

Pyrmont Farmers markets is closing

The granddaddy* of farmers markets in Sydney is closing down!

I think my sister heard rumours about this before it was announced in the paper.

I was quite sad to hear about this, it was probably the first farmers markets that I attended.

Looking at my earlier posts, although the first dated post discussing the markets is in 2009, I had definitely been going in the years before. I remember overhearing someone declaring “these are the best markets ever!”, and me thinking: Hmm, you don’t get out much, do you?

I wonder – was it because there’s now a lot more competition for farmers markets, the one at Pyrmont being one of the first?
Was it because the rent charged by the nearby casino got too expensive?
The lack of parking and public transport?
Or has Sydney followed America’s lead, and reached peak farmers market saturation? I did ask a producer at my local market, and it was agreed that market sales had been slowing down.

Saturday 2 April 2016 will be the last growers markets for the forseeable future. I do wonder if there will be a special one off for good food month later on in October.

*I acknowledge that the Orange grove markets in Rozelle were in-place before the Pyrmont markets started.

Harvest Monday 7 March 2016

1 x tomato, from a plant planted by my neighbour.
1 x bolero apple. It tasted kind of mushy – a bit like a golden delicious.

I’m working on a post that tells you all of what I have harvested this summer, but since that’s still in progress, I figure short n sweet is the go.

Harvest Monday march 2016

The Pique of Pickled Chillies

I had a kilo of long red chillies sitting in my fridge, purchased about a month ago. I had intended to make another batch of nahm prik pao (chilli jam) from David Thompson’s Thai Food cookbook. This takes to a total of four recipes that I have cooked from this book. I actually have had a Laotian friend go through this tome and bookmark all the recipes that she would cook on a regular basis. The chilli jam was one of them.

Pique, from Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling:

“The simplest hot sauce of all – and one that is immensely popular in the West Indies – is a vinegar in which hot peppers have been stepped. In Puerto Rico a rum bottle full of pique sits on every restaurant table, displaying long, thin peppers in assorted colors.”

Pickled Chillies, from Adam Liaw’s Two Asian Kitchens, focuses more on the chillies. It doesn’t have the extra flavour additives like garlic and peppercorns that the Pique recipe has.

One focuses on the Vinegar, one on the chillies.

So instead of making nahm prik pao, I decided to make the simplest preserved chillies recipe of all. Stick ’em in vinegar!

Wash, boil, and the dry off in a 100 deg C oven your jars so that they’re sterilised.

I found that the vinegar/liquid quantities in Adam’s recipe not enough to fully cover my deseeded chilli slices. From the looks of it, this would have also been a problem with Linda’s recipe. I had to make double the quantity of liquid. I used a combo of no-name brand supermarket vinegar and apple cider vinegar.

Here is the final product:

Pickled chillies

They look so pretty, I am now regretting tossing the rest of the chillies into the compost bin!

West Village, Petersham

I’m so early in visiting this place, they’re still swapping out the old bar stools and unwrapping the new ones.
I count six style of ‘seat’, which looks pretty, but will be a pain to replace in future. The smell of fresh paint is still in the air. I’m that early, the kitchen hasn’t opened yet.

I’ve just visited the dentist, so I’m limited in my selection.

Kimchi Poutine ($12):

Kimchi Poutine

Fries topped with kimchi, melted cheese, spring onion and crème fraiche. This is not poutine as you know it. It is described by my Canadian friend as “the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard of”. I counter with “well, poutine doesn’t exactly sound that great either “. I don’t think that this dish will endear the poutine lovers. The main aroma I get is from the crème fraiche and spring onion. I’m not sure what kind of cheese has been used, but it’s sort of generic and oily. I’m thinking truffle pecorino would work really well here – perhaps I’m thinking of the truffle fries from Charlie & Co. The kimchi is OK, I quite like the shreds of grated carrot intermixed.

Blue Swimmer crab roll ($12):

Blue swimmer crab roll

I have been reading a lot about blue swimmer crab recently. I think it’s in season, but about to go out of season. What will the chef do once we are out of season? Reprint the newly printed menus?

This is a teeny tiny serving. You know the bakery dinner rolls you get from the supermarket in the pack of six? Like that. Or the size of your computer mouse. I get it, it’s frustrating picking out crabmeat from the shell. Plus seafood is expensive. It was just unexpected.

The crab roll itself is really nice. The celery has been very finely sliced, and it’s in the mixture with the crab and Mayo. The avocado is presented as separate wedges.

When I can chew properly, I will have to head back and try the Seafood Chowder Pot Pie and the Herb Crusted Pot Loin.

West Village
street: 30 Terminus Street, Petersham NSW 2049
web: http://westvillagesydney.com.au/
phone: +61-2-9569-4679
Pub hours:
Mon-Sat: 1100-0000 Midnight.
Sun: 12noon – 2200.

Kitchen hours from 12noon.

Kombucha me, baby

I had seen some kombucha ready to drink at the Castle Hill markets for about the past two years. I bought a bottle, didn’t hate it, but also didn’t go mad for it either. I looked it up and realised that my mum had been making this kombucha around twenty years ago. Go mum!

Harris Farm had bottles of kombucha fizzy from another brand to buy, and I brought some of these along to try at our yoga class end-of-year party. At the end, we had a little bit left, so I looked up to see if I could make my own kombucha jellyfish from this store bought stuff.

The instructions I followed were from PaprikaHead.

As I would be away for several weeks, I started it growing by putting it first on the counter for two days. Outside temperature was about 35 C (95F). I did this because the label on the bottle recommended consumption within a week of opening. The jar was returned to the fridge whilst I was away, to slow the fermentation process.

Here she is, after about 1 week on the counter with 35 deg C temperatures:

Baby kombucha

The baby kombucha is about 3mm thick (1/8 of an inch). The liquid is that gem-red colour because I didn’t read the instructions properly, and started with a no-tea leaf raspberry herbal tea.

I then transferred to a larger container, fed the mother 1 litre of water, 1/3 cup of sugar, and two black teabags. I was supposed to leave this on the counter for a futher two weeks. However, after a week of hot and humid weather, she looks like this:

Kombucha mama

The thickness of the jellyfish ranges from 5mm to 10 mm (1/4 inch to 1/2 inch). I think that I’m ready to brew!

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