There Are No Leftovers

Not in a siege. There is only the next meal.

We eat everything. Not ” we eat everything that moves ” – that’s apparently what got people into this mess in the first place. I mean in this house we eat everything on our plate and everything that got cooked.

Today, tomorrow, the next day…it doesn’t matter. As long as it all goes into the people and not the bin. The cook will do his best with what is available and will get better at estimating quantities. Obvious traps will be avoided. There will be no liver and onion smoothies.

And we will try new things. There are tins of mystery in the pantry that call for exploration. Buckle up your tongue and follow me.

” Compliments To The Chef “

Never mind the compliments. To hell with the food reviews. Stick your Michelin star.

The only criteria of success is whether the family was fed and whether they ate everything. If you got nothing left over, you won.

Today’s victory was brought to you by leftover mac and cheese combined with curried hamburger, onions, and green peppers in a cream sauce. What the daughter christened ” Bangladeshi mac and cheese stroganoff “.

The pan was easy to clean. As I’ve said before – there are no leftovers – just rescheduled cuisine.

Take That, You Bastard Virus!

You’ve got us bailed up in our house scared of touching petrol pumps or each other – compulsively looking at news feeds that try to outdo themselves in fright – and wondering if the bog roll will outlast us…

I can’t answer the toilet roll question, but I can do something about the fear. I can do macaroni and cheese. Big time, weapons-grade macaroni and cheese. The food that puts heart in the faint and fart in the pants.

It was a standard of home life for many of us…either as the weirdly-orange Kraft product or the better-built home cooked version. My wife and I were thin, hungry, and poor in London in 1972 and we reserved one night a week to go to a small cafe on the Bayswater road called Panzer ( ? ) to eat M&C. It was cheap and hot and wonderful. I hope they can  still open one day.

I could do with a bit of cheap and hot and wonderful right now, so I fried up a mess of bacon and onions, threw in a three cups of cheese, 500 ml of milk, 2 tablespoons of butter, and some sort of packet of garlic potato bake spice for good measure. The pasta was four cups of cooked macaroni and the lot went into the bacon frypan for a final heat and melt.

And yes, it was very good.

The Menu Of The Week

But which week? This one, next week, or two weeks ago? Possibly last year, if the date label on the package is anything to go by. Freezer roulette is about to start.

We have an upright freezer in our kitchen. A sturdy, moral appliance that is stern but fair. I believe it is of puritan stock. It holds what appear to be our most treasured possessions in a cold death grip. But the time has come to loosen that – and to gradually eat out all that is in there in some sort of recipe.

When you look into the thing, nothing really comes to mind save the reflection that someone must have thought they were going to do a great deal with frozen mango. I would certainly like to do something with it, but I’m going to wait until after dark so that the cops don’t catch me. I daresay there are dinners you could make with it, but there is a long distance between make and eat and I am trying to increase that.

The sir-fry vegetables are no problem, as they go well in a wok. The various mystery meats may also be candidates for this sort of cooking, or a long stewing. Some of the packages have date stamps in Roman numerals. They have never been thawed, so they are probably safe to eat as long as your tongue is disconnected.

The packages of novelty treats like pork belly and dead prawns are somewhat problematical – the former because it is disgusting and the latter because they very rapidly become disgusting in hot weather. We have to time the prawns for Bin Night to ensure that they leave before we are forced to.

At least the ice cubes will be fine. I’ll make sure that they are disinfected with rye and ginger ale and disposed of sensibly.

Everything In The Pantry Is An Ingredient

In hard times you eat what you can get and whenever you can get it. We are proving this to ourselves now as we look at what the pantry has to offer.

Without breaking into the stash of baked beans  – both cans – or the equally vast horde of soup and sardines, we will have to consider what can be done with the rice, pasta, and wheat flour…given that we rarely approach any of the containers.

We’re good for Asian condiments in colourful bottles with Japanese writing. If sushi breaks out we’ll be all set. Likewise if anything needs Coleman’s mustard we are ready to go. Other than that, it looks as if the combinations are going to be either eclectic, catholic, or mixed beyond belief.

I hope that it will not come to eating only our own cooking, as we have long lost our last Michelin star. Pray that the takeaway joints will not succumb. I am prepared to drive by them at 20 kph and catch whatever they can sling out the service window. Though I am a little hesitant to go past the pho place and order the laksa under this arrangement.

That stuff’ll eat the duco right off the Daihatsu…

Fidel Gastro

This is an idea so cool that it needs to go viral. Or at least bacterial. Howzabout a pre-mixed pressure can of germs that can be purchased over the counter in any convenience store or chemist shop? With a fold-out nozzle like you get on a WD-40 can. Then you could spray a room or just one sandwich by merely flipping out the little red plastic tube.

We’re not talking plague here – or anthrax, smallpox, or Canadian politicians. This is just good old-fashioned gastro of the sit-on-the-pot-and-groan variety. Something you could pick up on public transport or at the library. Only instead of being a random occurrence, the BGA Butt Blaster Bug Bomb makes sure that the people who deserve to be ill are the ones who get to be.

Of course you’ll have to be responsible about its use. We make you sign a waiver at the counter stating that the BGA BBBB  will not be used on babies or the elderly. We’re not monsters, you know. But everyone else is fair game, particularly if they have a sense of humour. Or not, as the case may be. You’ll find out pretty soon.

If the product proves popular, we are thinking of introducing a commercial size suitable for fast food restaurants and large private schools.

The Local Holiday – Part Three

Review yesterday’s reflections on why people travel for their holidays before we go on.  And then consider why staying at home may meet all your needs.

a.  You wanted a change of scenery. There are new sights to see within a mile of your easy chair. You can go to them on a bus or train ( for free if you’re old enough ). You can walk to them in some cases. I’ll bet few of the readers have been to all four corners of their respective towns. Who knows what sights are to be seen there – I rode a local bus through what I thought would be familiar suburbs and found that the town has changed into a new place. And I was not riding some death-bus full of grinning bandits into unknown peril, at $ 10,000 a go.

b. You wanted a change of weather – this really amounts to wanting cool when it is hot and warmth when it is cold. Or dry when it is raining. Got news for you – Cool comes out of air conditioners – if you have one, use it. If you don’t, go to a mall that does.

Same thing when it is cold. Sit in front of the fire or go to a warm café. Libraries are warm and quiet and they have free entertainment for all ages. They also have seats and let you sit there reading all day if you wish.

Weather will eventually change anyway – in Melbourne, four times per day. Just be patient.

c. You wanted new food and drink. Oh, please…there are more restaurants in your town than ever you have eaten at. And more bars, pubs, taverns, etc. for exotic drinks. You cannot eat or drink more than a certain amount in any one day and all you have to do is go into a new joint and sample their menu. Most Australian cities have more ethnic variety in their eateries than any of the countries that they emulate. Where exactly is Generia , anyway? Their cuisine seems familiar, if bland.

d. New people? Go to a new pub, club, mall, church or temple, and look around. Go clean, friendly, and polite and you’ll meet people you want to meet. Every newspaper and radio station advertises groups looking for new members every day.

e. Duty Free? Really? Is it really a good idea to pay $ 10,000 in holiday money to come back with a giant half-price bottle of Johnny Walker? You could go to the local Dan Murphy and whack down $ 100 and come away with all the whiskey you can handle. A queasy liver at 1/100th of the cost.

f. Relaxation? If your idea of relaxation is sitting on a beach getting skin cancer, you can do that at Cottesloe or Swanbourne. If you want to break your arm surfing, Margaret River is just three hours away. If you want shows and movies, there are plenty going on every day right here at home.

If relaxation for you is sitting in a café, there are a number of districts here that want your dollar.

g. Peace and quiet. This is the best news of all. You can get this in your lounge room for just a few dollars. Here’s what you do:

  1. Clean the house. Not a major campaign – just a day’s tidying. Sets the scene.
  2. Get in a week’s worth of ready-to-cook meals or a handful of local restaurant menus.
  3. Get a carton of beer or cola or whatever. Or a few bottles of the local vin ordinaire.
  4. Get an armload of new books from the library or book shop.
  5. Put on your holiday clothes – loose ones.
  6. Unplug the land line phone.
  7. Put the mobile phone under two pillows.
  8. Turn on the air conditioner and make yourself comfortable.
  9. Watch TV, read, practice your hobby, write letters or postcards, sit and think, nap, or eat and drink. All week, if you wish. Go to bed as early or late as you please.

Amazing how good it feels, isn’t it? And you are not dependent upon airport transfers, bell hops, tour guides, airline schedules, or any other travel hazard. You will not be stranded anywhere, as your bed is a room away. You are near your medical base. You can ring out for food if desired and ring friends to invite them to share it. You can binge watch on telly. You can be as vacant as you wish.

You can write internet weblog columns undisturbed.