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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Daring Bakers hit the Olympic snowfields

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

A very timely choice given the upcoming Vancouver Winter Olympics, Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian dessert and are named after their apparent birthplace of Nanaimo in British Columbia. As written on www.nanaimo.ca,
"According to local legend about 35 years ago, a Nanaimo housewife entered her recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest. In a burst of civic pride, she chose to dub the entry not "Daphne's Delights" or "Mary's Munchies", but "Nanaimo Bars". The entry won a prize, thereby promoting the town as much as her cooking."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2010

You'd be forgiven for taking us Australians as a bunch of tightarses. Our favourite biscuit is basically oats stuck together with butter and sugar, our favourite spread is something we need never fear of having to share with others when living overseas, we fry up a few onions, tomatoes and other basic staples and try and pass it off as chicken (albeit with a nomenclatural disclaimer), and one of our most beloved desserts is a way to use up old cake.

Yes, lamingtons. They're an Australian institution, along with the good old fashioned Lamington Drive. At least once a year my primary school would give out a Lamington Drive form to take home and bug (twist the rubber arms of) my parents and extended family members  for money to order lamingtons (and apple pies, for some reason) from some mysterious lamington and apple pie factory. We would then send in the form and money and patiently wait for that special delivery day when we would go home from school laden with piles of boxes filled with lashings of lamingtons, happy in the knowledge that our lamington greed was benefiting the P&F Association of the school to do... something... hopefully they weren't using the proceeds to purchase lamingtons for their meetings.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy 80th Nanna!

I enjoy entertaining friends. Feeding them when they come around, I mean, not tripping down the stairs in front of them or having a perfect bite of food fall off my fork just before getting to my mouth when out for a nice meal together. Having said this, when my Nanna turned 80 last month it was just a little too soon after Mum's birthday extravaganza for me to think about cooking for more than a handful of people without breaking into a cold sweat and getting anticipatory aching feet. I was therefore very happy to hear that Nanna's birthday was going to be held at the Northampton District Bowling Club for a number of reasons - we would not have to prepare and clean a house for the event; we could enjoy bowling club prices for drinks; there might be some homemade jams and conserves on sale; and all the catering would be taken care of by the lovely old dears.

It had been quite a few years between mock chicken sandwiches and freshly made scones for me, so I skipped lunch in order to take full advantage of the bowling club fare on offer during the afternoon party. Skipping lunch would normally be an impossible task for me, but I was actually driving up to Geraldton through lunch time, had only packed some fresh fruit for the journey and didn't fancy a roadhouse cheese sausage or bag of chicken wing dings (I can't see a roadhouse 'treat' filled paper bag without hearing "if the paper turns clear, it's your window to weight gain!" in my head), so it was remarkably easy to pull off.

Just as well, as the old dears clearly knew how to put on a good old fashioned bowling club spread. I was also quite impressed with the restraint they showed with use of parsley garnishes, only going all out with it on the plates of assorted finger sandwiches. Even greater restraint was demonstrated on the doily front - I did not spy a single one!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Foodie Exchange - Degrassi style

"Everybody wants something, they'll never give up.
Everybody wants something, they'll take your money and never give up" (dun! dun! dun!)

If you're of my era and grew up in Australia (or Canada I assume), they lyrics will whisk you back to a time of big hair and big pants, and to TV shows that tackled the big issues - Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High (and also the lesser known The Kids of Degrassi Street and movie School's Out). These issues were so big that the ABC played a warning for parents before the show, in case they didn't want their kids to learn about teen pregnancy, suicide, eating disorders or Joey Jeremiah.

Degrassi's premier band Zit Remedy, fronted by Joey Jeremiah, presumably playing their one and only song

Monday, January 4, 2010

Degolicious Dining at Jackson's Restaurant

A few years ago I spent a weekend down south with three friends, which we spent eating Miami Bakehouse pies for almost every single meal, washing them down with copious amounts of wine, supplementing our diet with Cheezels, cheese and crackers, watching 80s movies and thinking the house we were staying in was going to blow into the ocean from the gale force winds battering the coast at the time. We had grand plans of walking down to the beach and getting some exercise in during our girly weekend, but the wind and the pies kept us safely inside.

(To go off on a bubbly tangent, this was also the weekend that I tried Golden Crumpet Toast for the first and last time. Don't be fooled by their website's claims of it being "a fun, convenient way to enjoy that Golden™ crumpet taste". If you think traditional crumpets are boring and inconvenient then you don't deserve to eat them).

On another weekend, I enjoyed my very first degustation experience with these same three girls, and with bellies full to bursting and spirits high (due largely to great company and only somewhat due to the paired wines) we declared that we would henceforth enjoy such an evening together on a semi-regular basis, when our schedules and bank balances could allow it. This fateful evening was so long ago that I can't even give you a ballpark estimate of when it was, and we didn't follow through on this declaration until last month.

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About Me

My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

Read more about me here...

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