Rachel's Blog Rachel's Blog: Food and Drink

Tue, 15 Jan 2008
Shrove Birthday

Thanks to a sign at a local pancake establishment I have learnt that this year my birthday falls on Shrove Tuesday. I don't remember this ever happening before. You know what it means though, right? Pancakes followed by more pancakes, mask-wearing, sequins and dancing. Yay!!

I think I'd like to start off with some German Apple Pancake please. Mmm-mmm.

Thu, 18 Oct 2007
The Mysterious Plant, or, Do Me a Fava and Get Rid of Those Beans.

There are often odd little plants that pop up in our garden, largely because I garden in a lazy and experimental fashion. Something new appears and I give it the benefit of the doubt, waiting to see what it turns out to be. I call it the "It Doesn't Look Like a Weed" Theory.

So when two green seedlings grew out of an otherwise unoccupied garden bed I did the only natural thing: Avoided pulling them out. They grew cute little purple and white flowers. So far so good. I was told they must be peas — we've had them appear before due to using pea straw as mulch, but these were no pea.

A couple of days ago I noticed long green pods on them. "Ah, well, they must be peas," I said, and promptly ate a couple. Tasty.

I noticed they were much embiggened today, so I opened another pod for inspection. Considering there are only two vegetables that I was scarred with as a child*, I was not happy with what I saw, but sure enough they were broad beans.

Can't let a free veggie go to waste however, and I can't imprint Abbey entirely with my own tastes, so we picked a handful to have with dinner. Abbey shelled them as I got the rest of the meal ready. They were young, so I just boiled them for five minutes. Then the ultimate test.


Not bad. They are certainly a very savoury bean. None of the sweetness you get with a young pea or green bean. Not going to become a favourite, but bearable. So I put my previous experiences down to having older, tougher beans as a kid. Abbey was very keen to eat them. Didn't even want to wait until they were cooked. Once dinner was served she ate two. Then she said she was saving the rest and ate everything else. "Later", she said, "For a special treat. Dessert." Finally when the rest of her plate was scraped clean and only a tiny pile of bright, grey-green beans remained, she pushed the plate away. "I don't like them."

Vindicated! I knew it! Guess what's getting "weeded" tomorrow?

*The other being brussels sprouts.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007
How to eat at a sushi bar*

Just don't try these techniques in public, 'kay?

(via Chez Pim)

*Or, 'How this works is a mystery'.

Fri, 10 Aug 2007
Natto: an experience.
natto stirred with chopsticks

Abbey and I were lucky enough to be at a Japanese friend's house at lunchtime today. We didn't do it on purpose, but all the kids were having fun playing and she just asked if we'd like to stay.

Half an hour later we sat down to yakisoba, onigiri, garlic bread (not sure about the Japanese relationship to that one), steamed rice with natto and grated daikon, and botamochi with tea to finish.

All made on the spot too (except the botamochi which was purchased). I've never seen such speed in a kitchen before. Particularly impressive considering the four under-four-year-olds that were underfoot.

It was all excellent, even allowing for the bonus points automatically given to any meal I don't have to prepare.

Say what you like about acquired tastes. Compare it all you want to to Vegemite and blue cheese. This stuff is disgusting. Firstly the smell. It smells like a gnu with halitosis. Then there's the texture. The brown fermented soybeans are about the size of two grains of rice (or a guinea pig's faeces) and are coated in a light brown slime that is both sticky and slippery. The natto is stirred with soy sauce before serving with plain rice. I'm so glad our host warned us about this dish before I tucked in, but I'm a brave guest and I took a tiny bit. I should've known from the twinkle in the chef's eye that this was going to be interesting.

So imagine this - bad smell, a slightly crunchy texture that is at the same time sticking to your chopsticks and difficult to pick up. Now chew. The taste is initially of something that's gone off. There's a slight saltiness, but I didn't get the "cheesiness" that others say they can taste. Now, I like eating weird stuff, but for preserved foods I really need the acid taste of a pickling agent - like vinegar. If natto had that sour hit it might have been OK. Without it my instincts say, "This food will make you ill."

If I ever want to revisit this experience I will scrape some of the scunge off the bottom of a wheelie bin. Thank god the garlic bread was there.

Mon, 29 Jan 2007
Tinned apple juice. With additives.

Coca-Cola Amatil have just launched a new energy drink to compete with Red Bull and V. It's a juice-based carbonated drink with way more guarana, caffeine and something called acai than a human body needs. It comes with those warnings on the side - not for the pregnant, the very young, the very old, or people who don't enjoying uncontrollable jittering.

The new drink is being marketed to young men, has a gothic-tattoo-flash-logo thingy on the packaging with fonts that are reminiscent of a video game. All silvery, red and black.

What's it called?


Come again?


Ooookay, let's think about this. What are they trying to say about this drink? People who drink Mother are caring, giving, and do your laundry if you buy them chrysanthemums once a year?

Perhaps it's supposed to be the Mother of All Drinks. Sorry, Coke, but I'm pretty sure that particular phrase is about three or four years out of popularity.

How I Met Your Mother?

Mother of God?

Mother, Mother?

Mother and Son?

What else could they have meant?

How about that expletive Bill Murray coined in Ghostbusters when he saw the Staypuft Marshmallow Man,
"Mother pus-bucket!"

Mmmm, tasty pus.

Which leaves us with - and I think this is where the marketeers were heading - that mother of all insults (sorry), Motherf*cker. Which we can extrapolate to "This drink will f*ck you up."

So there you have it. You have been warned. But if you were still going to try it despite the description of "caffeine-laden apple juice", well, you're on your own.

Tue, 21 Nov 2006
Whither celeriac?
You know in The Day of the Triffids, where you know the dystopia has reached its nadir, because the army is trying to make blind people subsist on watery triffids? That was based on John Wyndham's experience with black salsify. No, of course I am not telling the truth, but it could be true.

Zoe Williams throws out the swede, but shares tips for consuming the other vegetables in the box.

There is really nothing you can do with alfalfa apart from use it as a beard for your other vegetables. I mean a decorative beard, not a metaphorical beard, to make people believe that the other vegetables aren't gay.
Tue, 07 Nov 2006
Kids Dish Interview

I have been interviewed by Tansy on her new blog Kids Dish where I was grilled (!) on Abbey's eating habits. Kids Dish is all about food, young 'uns and how entertaining it can be when you put the two of them together. I think I manage to come across as one of those perfectionist parents with a near-perfect child that mainly exist to annoy others. Honestly it's not always hunkydory. Last night Abbey licked her fork twice and called it dinner.

Wed, 23 Aug 2006
Elderly Tea

The tea I am currently drinking is three years past its use by date.

Still tastes OK. I guess I'm so used now to strangely concocted brews that I could drink anything vaguely herbal and think it was doing me good.

Wed, 07 Dec 2005
LLB - Australia's drink of choice

A comment floated up from the vast oceans of the Internet today inquiring after a recipe for Lemon, Lime and Bitters. Beats me where that came from, but your wish is my command. (Sheesh, one drunken post and now I have a reputation.)
After battling heroically through the Angostura Bitters website, (Warnings - Flash, window sizing, new windows at every link and cheery cheery muzak) I have found the definitive recipe.

Lemon Lime & Bitters
Rim the inside of a glass with 5-6 dashes of Angostura® aromatic bitters
Add ice and swirl until the glass is evenly coated with Angostura® aromatic bitters
Fill glass with lemonade or Sprite and a shot (15 ml) of lime cordial or fresh lime juice. For a low-cal version fill glass with soda
Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime

But that's not all. Apparently this is Australia's drink of choice, a national beverage if you will, and we all guzzle it down at "the traditional nineteenth hole" of the golf course. Because we're sports mad. Mad! (The AIS defines "all" as 3.4% of the population.)

The tradition has been handed down through the generations, after a round of golf, when you are hot and thirsty the first thing you ask for is an Angostura lemon, lime & bitters.

Here I was thinking it was entirely another sort of bitters that was most popular in Australia.