Free Food

No, I’m not going to tell you where I live or what time dinner is served. I’ve done that before and the results weren’t pretty. 32 people turned up expecting to get fed because the food was free.

But I’m perfectly happy to feed one person for free – as along as that one person is me.

I come home from a lot of events that happen through meal times; dance shows, weddings, club meetings, etc. and I’ve frequently been too busy to grab a bite at the regular time. No problems – I just set my clock back a bit and figure to eat later. After all, there are plenty of fast food outlets clustered around my house – all I have to do is call in and get dinner, right?

Wrong. The fast food outlets may sell fast food, all right  – but it is food that encourages you to fast. Greasy, sugary, bland, and tasteless – and that’s only the soda pop. The semi-solid stuff is worse. Plus they charge multiples of $ 5.00 bills for everything. I have a loving relationship with my $ 5.00 bills and I grieve to see them go.

So I come home, rather than go out, and cook here. There is nearly always an alternative dish here that can be up and running within a half hour. My go-to meals include:

  1. The cheese toastie. With garlic and herb sprinkle and some cracked black pepper, a properly made Australian cheese toastie can stand in any culinary company. If I include sliced tomato I can even count it as healthy despite the fact that it will burn the roof of my mouth. Burns are a small price.
  2. Staggs chili. Canned, admittedly, and probably made of recycled Mexicans, but a delight nevertheless. One bowl will fill you for half a day. Let’s not wall it off…
  3. Sardines on toast. You have to make an extra slice as someone always drifts by and takes it. Use lots of salt and pepper and some seafood sauce and it becomes a world-famous savoury.
  4. 2-minute Indonesian noodles with added extras. The extras can be anything that has not yet escaped from the ice box; green pepper slices, chicken meat, bacon, sun-dried tomato slices, dubious mushrooms. You can 2-minute boil ’em in a wok and then throw the water out and spend another 2 minutes stir-frying in whatever you have found to make a real dish. Get yer Asian on.
  5. Onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic; fry ’em up, and then all you need is a couple of slices of toast upon which to heap it. Oregano and basil are nice too. No meat? No matter.

Note that for all these good things you pay nothing – because the wife has already stocked them in the pantry or they are leftovers in the ice box. You keep your $ 5.00 bills safe and comfortable in your wallet. And you eat well.

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What Do You Do When You Look At The Map, Eh?

If you are looking at the map of North America and stray above the 49th Parallel you give a little start and say

” Oh. Canada…”

And in many cases you will be correct – save perhaps if you go too far north and are looking at Alaska or too far east and are looking at Quebec. Most of the rest is still Canada.

It’s not the Dominion of Canada, except to us old emigrants who cleared out of the place before 1982. The current flag is a red-and-white affair with a maple leaf on it* – symbolising a hockey team that rarely wins. This is considered quintessentially Canadian – both the hockey and the the not winning.

I suspect the current Prime Minister is also somewhat of a red-and-white affair as well, though it is naughty of me to say that. After all, he is someone else’s choice, saviour, and burden, and it’s not for me to mock the afflicted – or their afflictor, either. As Prime Ministers go, he will….eventually…and unless he takes out Australian citizenship I am safe. There is a whole planet full of molten lava between he and I.

I do miss Canada on some October days when the memories of the autumnal woods and the clear air return but then this is the start of Australian spring and the weather turns cheery here too. There is always solace in Canadian Club, maple syrup, and Red Green Show re-runs.

I am a little nonplussed by what our local hoteliers think makes for a Canadian celebration on Dominion Day – 1st of July. There is a great deal of foofle about Clamato and poutine  and no recognition at all of butter tarts. Remember these got a Prime Ministerial vote of approval in the days when Prime Ministers were real. I should be prepared to make a suitable Canadian menu up but some of my friends would be horrified at what was on it. Many of the dishes were developed before there were gluten or food allergies and quite a few of the ingredients were on the hoof, fin, or feather prior to being on the plate.

I shall celebrate the day with a highball and work on a model of a plane for my little RCAF airfield, wearing my plaid shirt, moccasins, and Red Green braces. It might not be the Inner Canadian that the novelists bang on about, but it can at least be the Inner Former Canadian, eh?

* A corporate logo. The old red duster for me. A proper flag with a flag and a crest on it.

 

Sauce Pot!

Keen-eyed readers who like mystery novels and television shows may wish to turn their detective powers onto the heading image and see if they can figure out what we are having for dinner.

Winter has arived in Perth with prescribed burn-offs in the bush and lowering temperatures. The crayfish salad and tiny cold delicacy on the vast white plate has given way to food that will actually fuel the boiler. As the local fast food chains have decided to eliminate taste from their products – having gotten rid of nutrition some years ago – and the pubs have finally given in to their accountants and started charging $ 75 for a piece of steak ( Saw the menu the other night – still on oxygen. ), I’ve decided to make our own dinners.

This dish is no closer to traditional Italian cuisine than the local IGA supermarket shelves. As the checkout girl has dark hair I pretend she is from Milano and that makes it all authentic. If I lived in North Perth or the City of Stirling it might actually be, but I suspect the people who make the sauces and the pasta probably came from there a hundred years ago so we’ll go with that. And none of this nouvelle cuisine serving stuff – when we get a plate of dinner we want more dinner than plate on the table. Oozing over the edge is not considered a flaw.

There will be red wine and it will be extremely cheap. Like $5 for a 2 litre cask. It’s time-expired Yalumba from the local bottle shop and if you drink it without letting it hit your taste buds it is fine. Actually it IS tasty, and the business of ” best by ” dates is a bit of a frandoogle when you are talking about basic blended goon. It is cheaper than drinking lacquer thinner or motor oil.

 

Nice Cake…For Store Bought…

If ever there was damnation with faint praise…

But we cannot help it. Even if we are not bakers ourselves, we can always look askance at other’s cooking. And we do it for the best reasons – we do it to honour our mothers.

Every mother makes three memorable classes of food; the stuff that isn’t as good as that made by our mate’s mother – the stuff that we don’t like to eat – and the recipes that are the correct standard of the world.

It might be sauerkraut, it might be banana bread, it might be oatmeal with gravel…but whatever it is, there will be one dish that we remember our mother cooking that was the correct way to do it. All others are pale imitations, no matter how well done. And we resist any suggestion that we are biased.

Our wives do something that is correct, as well – or we might do it if we are the cooks of the house. Our children will remember this. The difficult part is when our wives do a version of what their mother did, which is a version of what our mother did…and the three dishes are remarkably different, even if the ingredients are the same. Three women cooking the same dish in three correct fashions whilst eyeing each other off over the sharp knives is a daunting prospect.

When they present you with three different tasting tablespoons  to tell which is the right recipe…run.

 

 

The Logistics Of the Logistics Trade

I went to our local shopping centre this week and had a devil of a time getting out again.

After I parked and did my business, I found the lanes out of the place were largely obstructed by trailer trucks bringing in new produce, groceries, liquor and such. Lines of cars were swapping to the other side of the road and then being halted as the opposing lanes tried to squeeze between two 18-wheelers.

As a retiree I can take this sort of delay in good part – I am not in a hurry. Not so the other drivers, and it would appear that the Christmas spirit has largely evaporated…

I take it that most of this re-supply and logistics work is done at night when the car park is deserted – but that the recent holidays may have emptied the shelves ( they hope! ) and a daylight delivery was necessary. It certainly pointed out the fact that they needed more dedicated docks for the trucks  that were not in the main roads.

In the end, however, I am grateful for the shops being where they are and as well stocked as they are. The fact that I can buy food and drink locally is wonderful.

Bradney Soss

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Court of Christmas Justice would like to welcome you to this afternoon’s execution. We have prepared a criminal for you and will be dispatching him shortly in a spectacular manner.. But let us give you some of he details of his crime before the headsman takes over.

As you know, today is Christmas  Day – a festival day dedicated to kindness and good will towards all. It is also a time when good things are eaten and drunk, often to excess. Boxing day sees many a floor being vigorously scrubbed. There are traditional foods and drinks that bring happiness to all – and one of them is plum pudding with brandy sauce.

Now no-one would accuse the well-known hotel of being stingy with their celebration – they put on a  magnificent buffet within their main ballroom and made sure that there was enough wine, beer, soft drink, and other goodies to fill all. There was music, Santa, attentive staff, and an atmosphere of jollity. Indeed, their dessert line was as long and as replete as anyone could ask for. And they essayed plum pudding with sauce.

I suppose we should have taken warning from the sign that referred to the beige liquid next to the pudding as ” Sauce Anaglise “… It may well have been. I have never visited Anaglise but they may slurp this stuff from tureens. The awkward part is that someone may have thought it to be brandy sauce as the English like it.

The English are a sturdy race. I admire them for this. They can stand a great deal of fire. And they like brandy sauce for their plum pudding that needs to be served with care. They are wise people.

The beige liquid, on the other hand, resembled something that you would normally consult a colour chart for. Come to think of it, a good semi-matte indoor emulsion would probably have tasted better. One would have been prepared to put on two coats.

As it is, we have determined which chef made the sauce and he is waiting in the tumbril for his march up the stairs. Those of you in the front rows may wish to cover your plates when the time comes in case he splashes. It is not so much the fear of blood as the horror of beige liquid.

Strong Drink, Red Meat, And Immodest Laughter

I am a person of my times. But my times may not be right now. I am brought to this conclusion when I read the social media posts that would nag me away from a steak, a glass of whiskey, or a Catskill comedian.

Fortunately I live in a country that will still allow me my choices in nutrition, drink, and comedy. We have not yet had our life’s spectrum changed to shades of grey, pink, or green. We can still cheer for red, white, and blue.

My table is a private one – the comforting centre of a family’s meals. We see meat, red and white, on it regularly. If I am the cook, it is presented as well as I can manage, and I like to think that it has a great deal of comfort. In any case, the plates come to the washing-up sink pretty clean. I’d be happy if I didn’t have to shepherd hem through after that point, but that’s another story…I need not read how sinful I am for feeding my family…

Drink? I rarely rage through the suburb blind drunk and howling. Not that I don’t want to, mind, but the price of liquor these days means the best I can manage is occasionally standing in the front yard naked and singing. The neighbours have stopped watching.

As far as comedy goes, I am a throwback to the days of Wayne and Schuster, Burns and Allen, and Red Skelton. I want my jokes clean. I can mentally supply all the dirty words and political bias needed to spice them up, so the person delivering the comedy can leave them off.