Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Top 5 Most Excellent Food-Related Thingamajigs This Christmas

  1. Not Cooking - The Boyfriend and I went to a local bistro that our friend Miss Narn works at for a traditional Christmas lunch.  So we got the usual turkey, ham, prawns, oysters, plum pudding, etc, but didn't have to lift a finger.  Except to get more food from the buffet.
  2. TARDIS Cookie Jar - A present from The Boyfriend.  So now every time I take a cookie, it sounds like a Timelord is about to touch down.  Complete with flashing lights!
  3. Korean Barbecue At Home - Korean barbecue has got to be the easiest dinner party set-up ever.  Get your meat, preferably 2 types.  Beef rib and bacon-cut (bacon cut, not actual bacon!) pork work well.  Marinade the beef for a few hours.
    Chop a head of lettuce into quarters, removing the white core.  Slice up about 5 cloves of garlic (I suggest 5 because garlic rocks, but you could get away with 3) into fine slivers.  Grab a tub of big ol' tub of kimchi - kimchi in Melbourne is readily available at Asian grocers in two sizes - big or bigger.  Take your pick.
    Cook some rice (in a rice cooker because it's easier that way, that's how we mysterious Orientals make rice), we made enough for 4-6 people.
    Lastly, prep two dipping sauces - the first is just salt and sesame oil in a 1:5 ratio, the second being my easy lazy version of ssam jang using white miso paste and ready-made ssam jang past in a 1:3 ratio.
    Then, take all of the above items and put in on your dining table.  Get some manly man-guest to grill the meat at table; the very same manly man can even snip it into bite-sized bits with kitchen shears just like they do in restaurants.  You can also place some garlic slivers on the grill, or heck, eat 'em raw if you'd like.  The meat can be eaten however you want - with rice and kimchi, or wrapped in lettuce along with the garlic slivers or whatnot, ssam style.
    I know my explanation of Korean barbecue awesomeness is rudimentary at best, but this ain't a post specifically about Korean barbecue.  If you'd like to know more, this is useful.  So is this.
  4. Other People's Husbands - No, not like that, you filthy buffoon! *SLAP* Let me explain.  Miss Narn got married this year, to a sweet and gentle Vietnamese lad who is a chef.  His English still needs work, but damn the boy can cook.  So when he and Miss Narn came over on Christmas night, he brought over *drum roll* black sticky rice with coconut yoghurt and toasted coconut.  As well as fresh sardine fillets.  All of which made me like this:

    They are SO not allowed to get divorced.  Ever.
  5. Eating With Friends - It was great to have a few friends over and eat a very non-traditional, no-pressure meal with them.  Miss Narn was tired from working all day, and our friends Siv and Heath had just come back from their big family Christmas in the country.  So to have them all around our table, casually knocking back a few beers whilst The Boyfriend and Vietnamese Chef Lad grilled the meat was really, really nice.  Sure, kimchi and marinated beef isn't Christmassy, per se, but I think the good feeling of hanging out with great friends is.  
After a terrible 2011, Christmas turned out a lot nicer than I expected.
Sure, we didn't plan anything big, but we got to eat good food in excellent company - and for that I am grateful.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Warning: Contains Dairy, Eggs, Booze and Christmas

Christmas.  Pass the booze, please.  Oh, and make it sublime, delicious and reminiscent of various holiday-endorsed sentiment such as 'good cheer', 'fun with friends and family' and 'goodwill to all'.

Yes, it's a lot to demand from a drink.  However, there is one contender that covers all bases.  It's appearance is pale and angelic. It's cold-creamy-sweet and packs enough punch so you'll be comfortably sozzled when making awkward conversation with relations you only see once a year whilst carving a large bird and wearing a daft hat.  If a drink could be deemed 'beatific', this would be it.  

Eggnog.  It is tasty and it is your friend.


"But madam", you cry, "isn't it fiddly and hard to make?  Doesn't it contain raw eggs which makes it mad, bad and dangerous to know for the pregnant, elderly and children?"

No, it's not fiddly and difficult, you lazy oaf.  It's actually frighteningly easy.  And yes, it does contain raw eggs.  But bugger it, you know what... I'm going to stand up for the noble egg right here and now.  Eggs are great.  Eggs are grand, in fact.  And I like them raw.  Not raw in bloody everything, of course.  Raw like this, this and this.  And not just any egg.  Get good eggs, from happy hens.  If you truly give a damn about eggs, you'll make sure of this.  You'll buy the more expensive free-range eggs from the supermarket.  You'll talk to the eggs-and-honey folks at your local market.  And if you don't care about eggs... well, you don't deserve Eggnog.  Eggnog DENIED.    

If you fall under the pregnant/elderly/child category - this drink is pretty darn boozy, so it's unlikely you'd be allowed to drink it anyway.  It's illegal if you're under aged.  Booze is a no-no when up the duff.  And if you're old/unwell enough that you take medications which alcohol may interfere with, it's no-touchy-touchy for you either.

So now that we've got the fun police part out of the way...

Mr Boston-ish Rum & Brandy Eggnogg

A Christmas morning drink which will see you through the entire day.  How else does one cope with the various vagabonds and miscreant visitors, heaping piles of foodstuffs and peculiarly ribald activity?

  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (I used castor sugar)
  • 1/2 cup spiced rum (Captain Morgan is a friend of mine)
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1 pint cream (the original recipe calls for 'half-and-half', i just used regular cream)
  • 1 pint milk

You'll need a large jug (such as a big ol' beer jug) and a stick mixer.  Seperate eggs.  The whites go into the jug and get whipped to buggery first by the stick mixer.  Plunge the stick mixer in back and forth like you're indicating something rude - that gets more air in.  Obscene gestures equal added fluffiness in the final result, just accept it and SHUSH!  Now add the rest of the ingredients.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Garnish with nutmeg.  Serve.

Repeat the entire process if necessary.  If the company is exceptionally tiresome OR if Christmas = one massive pissup, make alot.  It's not a drink - it's an entire holiday strategy.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

One Of THOSE People

Kids, listen up.  Eat anything.  Everything.  For those under 12 - Whipped cream, Kool-Aid, your little brother's boogers, mud pies, red food colouring.  College kids - caffeine yo' selves up now, doughnuts, ramen, cheesecake, all the refined carbs you can handle.

Because you sure as hell can't do that s**t at my age.

I'm not (too) old.  I'm not (that) young.  But I have to watch what I eat.

Or else I'll die.  Yes, we all die, but it's the difference between a dying ok ... or dying horribly.  And did I mention I get really bad gas?  Whether it be death (the horrible kind) or farts - I do not want to deal.

Yeah... this year I became one of those people.  I was out shopping with some friends, and we ended up scavenging breakfast in a mall food court.  One came back with a Gloria Jeans flavoured latte and muffin, the other hit up Muffin Break for some jelly slice, and me... I got a soy Brekkie To Go Go smoothie from Boost Juice, complete with Vita Booster shot.  That was the moment I became No Fun Anymore.

A bad hormonal health scare and a tally of my relatives who suffer from Type II diabetes turned me.  Like being bitten my a werewolf but replace, "Wax more often, lock up when full moon" with "Limit caffeine, dear God no milk".

The change has brought on deep, deep feelings of shame.  It's like someone stole my mojo, my cajones.  I used to laugh at the lactose intolerant, the vegan, the raw foodists, the calorie counters.  I would eat what they would not.  I would consume with no limits.  I was the MechaGodzilla of food.

There's something about loving food - all food - that is still cavalier and adventurous.  There is a certain derring-do-rock-out-with-ya-balls-out vibe to being a Proper Foodie.  Whilst most of the earth's resources are plundered and nearly every celebrity lady garden/gentleman sausage ends up in a dodgy video, in the realm of food there are still places to explore and conquer.

Foodies will eat shirako, chicken feet, balut, and a host of other delights/horrors.  We will wait for the better part of a year to get reservations at those restaurants.  We love chefs who seem like they're going to explode any minute now.  Like a satay skewer to a charcoal flame, getting burned is all part of the fun.

So being careful about what you eat tends to draw boos and hisses from your fellow food whackos.  It lowers your cred, questions the state of your big swingin' brass ones and makes you look weak.  It's like you don't deserve that Momofoku reservation and your copy of Larousse should be confiscated, given to some savant 18 year old at William Angliss or CIA.

Or maybe I've just got hangups.

Anyway.  I've been consuming less wheat, less dairy and less caffeine.  I have been eating more vegetables.  Sure, I'll indulge in those cute baby potatoes roasted in duck fat at That Fancy Dining Establishment I Occasionally Visit... but I will not be having fries with my burger, thanks.

Dammit, I won't even be having the burger.