And I Can Cook, Too

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

May 24, 2007

My Fellow American

I’m moving out of Larg’s Bay and into my professor’s house in Semaphore (the town next door) next week, and then I’ve got two weeks to find the next roof over my head. A friend from improv put out a “calling all friends with spare rooms” email, and much to my surprise, got 8 replies. Tonight I made my way into the city to meet Kate, potential roommate number one. Kate is in her mid-40’s, a professor in media studies, and from California. Her house is in ritzy North Adelaide, just a half hour walk into the city. We met at a pub around the corner from her place, ordered our fish and chips (not nearly as good as the Larg’s Bay Snack Kiosk but I digress), and got to know each other a bit. Rather, we got to know our mutual likes/dislikes about living in Adelaide.

Friendly people, the Central Market, national health care, fabulous public transportation, lamb, decent salaries (for those lucky enough to find a job), beaches, birds, wine.

Dislikes: slow internet connections, Mexican food (think nachos with spaghetti sauce), q-tips, game shows, mayonnaise, hamburgers.

So I guess the good outweighs the bad. Although most of the bad edible…..

May 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Skinnies!

Carol and Louise both had birthdays this week, and to celebrate, we hit the town. We started with drinks and pupus..I mean, entrée’s, at Apothecary (a beautiful bar built in what used to be, you guessed it, an apothecary – I wanted to move in), then moved on to Ying Chow for fabulous Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, Tea Smoked Duck, and Red Vinegar Short Ribs.

If I Were In Charge (And I Am) Here’s How I Would Make Chicken in Black Bean Sauce

1 Lb. Chicken, boned, skinned, and sliced into strips
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tsp. Fresh Ginger, minced
Four Green Onions, chopped, white and green parts
1 Tbsp. Fermented Black Beans*, rinsed (skipping this stage would be a bad idea), and chopped coarsely.
¼ C Sherry (please don’t use cooking sherry, it’s just a bunch of salt, and with the black beans, you don’t need anymore salt)
(Also, cooking sherry is gross and not good in a pinch when you run out real wine and are having a bad day and are desperate.)
(So I’ve read.)
2 Tbsp. Corn Starch
1 C Chicken Broth
Oil, for cooking
Salt & Pepper

Heat oil in a pan or wok on the stove over medium heat. Salt & pepper the chicken strips. Add the chicken to the pan, and sauté until just done, about 7 minutes. Remove. Adding more oil if necessary, sauté the ginger, garlic, and green onion for two minutes. Add the fermented black beans, and cook for two minutes more. Add the chicken broth, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon or spatula to deglaze. (get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan). Using your fingers, combine the sherry and the cornstarch and mix until all lumps are gone. The result should have the consistency of heavy cream. If not, add more starch or add water to get to the desired texture. If you don’t know what heavy cream feels like, you need to get out more. Bring the chicken broth to a boil, and slowly add the sherry/starch mixture, a little bit at a time. The sauce should thicken quickly. When it reaches a nice, saucy thickness, stop adding the sherry mix. If the sauce gets too thick, thin it out with a little water. Add the chicken back to the pan, stirring to coat with the sauce. Heat completely through and let simmer 5 minutes. Serve with hot rice.

*Found in Asian markets. I’ve seen them labeled “Dow Se.” Not usually found in specialty gourmet markets because they smell.**

** Since you’re only using a tablespoon, you’ll have leftovers. They smell. To avoid smelling up your whole fridge, store in an air-tight container you will never want to use for anything else ever again. An old pickle jar would work. As would something from someone who recently broke your heart.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

May 17, 2007

Food and Drink in Contemporary Western Society
Contemporary Drinking Patterns

"Alcoholic beverages are becoming aspirational - we choose a beverage because we want to be a certain type of person." (Ankeny, 2003)

"Make more, and we will drink it." (Van Bodegraven, 2007)


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

May 23, 2007

I've Got Your Picture...

Yesterday, I actually bought the cord thing that you use to plug your camera into the computer and put your pictures onto your computer. I did this without the help of anyone except the guy in the electronic store who picked out the cord. And the guy in the camera store where I went first who told me to go to the electronic store. I feel incredibly independent. I also have scissors, so I know that I will be able to open the container holding the cord. I will probably not need anyone's help with that. But if I do, I'm sure the lesbians will be more than happy to pitch in.

Friday, May 18, 2007

May 12, 2007

The First Brush With Death

I was tidying my room and about to slip on my jacket when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Crawling around on the sleeve was a black spider with a distinct red blotch on its back. Having been thoroughly educated as to the hazards of the Red Back, South Australia’s most deadly spider, I knew that keeping calm was key to my survival. So naturally I screamed and threw the jacket on my bed. Understanding that nothing spells safely like a good plank of wood, I quickly left the bedroom and shut the door. I knew that if I stared at the closed door long enough, a solution would come to me. Then I remembered the internet in the next room and looked at that instead. Sure enough, the spider on my jacket was a Red Back, and if I’d been bit it would have meant the hospital. Then the following thought occurred to me: I’d thrown the spider on my bed. Cautiously I re-entered my room, certain that the spider hadn’t liked being tossed around and was now plotting revenge. I nervously glanced around the room half expecting to see a giant web spanning the ceiling. Hmm, I thought. If the spider’s in my jacket, then my jacket’s not safe. But if the spider’s in my bed, then my bed’s not safe. But how to know? Suddenly I remembered a little something called the process of elimination! I cleverly and gingerly lifted my jacket from the bed and took it to the back lanai. Holding the jacket pinched between my forefingers and thumbs, I shook it within an inch of its life. Out fell an aggravated Red Back Spider. I smashed the spider with my shoe, taking great care to ensure that it’s red back was facing up. I would have to show the corpse to Carol and Louise, of course. Just in case there were a couple more creatures in there, I hung my jacket on the clothesline for a complete airing, and went back to the lanai to admire my kill. I was denied. Search as I might, I couldn’t find the corpse. I searched the entire lanai, and checked the dogs for any “I’ve been poisoned” behavior. But the mystery remained unsolved. My dead spider was gone.
May 10, 2007

The Party’s Over

Party time! Carol and Louise had graciously made plans for the evening so the house could be ‘mine’. I’d sent out the invitation two weeks prior with a reminder earlier in the week. Two fellow gastronomes had declined – they had plans for the upcoming break and were anxious to complete all their assignments early – but the others were coming and adding to the buffet. Or so I thought. One by one my classmates begged off, until I realized that not a single person was coming to my party. What are you gonna do? I was gonna eat as many shrimp with caponata as I could, down a few glasses of wine, and cry myself to sleep.
May 9, 2007

Party Prep

I’d invited my classmates over to Larg’s for one last party at the beach house before I moved into the cardboard box. Folks were planning on joining me on the train directly after class, and I wanted to be sure that everything was prepared the day before. I’d asked everyone to bring a pupu to share, so I thought that just a couple of offerings on my end would be plenty. Louise and I went into Semaphore where I picked up eggplant, red pepper, capers and mushrooms. Louise then took me to a fabulous seafood shop where I secured a kilo of lovely prawns. My plan was to offer caponata, cheese, chilled prawns, and crackers. We got home and I quickly diced eggplant, pepper, mushroom and onion. I tossed the vegetables into a pan with a little olive oil, and added some minced garlic and oregano. When the onions were translucent, I added tomato paste and capers, and deglazed the pan with some balsamic vinegar. Lastly, I added just a pinch of sugar, turned off the heat, and let the flavors blend. While the caponata was cooling, I made a court bouillon of mire poix (look it up), lemon juice, white wine, bay leaves, and water. When it came to a boil I added my prawns and let them cook for about 5 minutes. I quickly removed them and stuck them in the fridge to cool, and had a quick taste of the caponata. It’s going to be a yummy party.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Theeyyyrrre Baaaccck!

The skinnies came home today and boy was I excited. As soon as class ended I raced to the Central Market and picked up a pork loin, some figs, onions and garlic, a few potatoes, and some beautiful green beans. I caught the next train home and walked in the door to candle light, soft classical music, happy dogs, and Louise at the kitchen counter with a glass of wine and Carol stomping around still in her camping boots wildly proclaiming her need for a shower. As usual, we all started talking at once, simultaneously asking about the others time while blabbering on about our own. We munched on bread with lemon infused olive oil and gorgeous sesame dukkah while catching up on all that had happened while they were away, and I got stuck in with the pork. I seasoned the loin with salt, pepper, and minced garlic and plopped it in the oven. While it was roasting, I stuck potatoes in a pan and the beans in a steamer. I then prepared a sauce for the pork. I started with a fine dice of onion and minced garlic sautéed in a little butter. While the onions became translucent, I diced a handful of dried figs and tossed them in the pan. I sprinkled in just a smidge of dried chili for heat, and after a few minutes added about half a bottle of white wine (contributed by Louise who deemed it not fit to drink but I took a sniff and decided it was fine to cook with and boy howdy don’t even get me started on that) and let that reduce until the pan was almost dry. I drizzled some fine balsamic over the whole mess and let that reduce to syrup. A tablespoon of Bush Mallee honey (tastes like it’s been smoked) and another knob of butter later and the sauce was done.

Yeah, that was ok.
May 5, 2007

I Want Some Wine

I’d done a little improv since my arrival, and had received an email from a complete stranger who remembered meeting me but of whom I had no memory inviting me to spend a day touring the McClaren Vale wine region. What the hell, I thought, a day a drinking with a perfect stranger, why not? With absolutely no idea who was driving, I stood outside my front gate and waited for a red hatch back to pick me up. The hatchback arrived, and behind the wheel was Tracy, who at what was apparently my second glance was somewhat familiar. “Right!” she said, “where have you been in South Australia?” Alarmed at my admission that I’d been only to Adelaide, Larg’s, Semaphore, the Barossa, and the Barr Smith Library, she decided to take the scenic route to McClaren Vale. We drove through Elizabeth and Glanville, Brighton and Glenelg, and after a lovely hour of stunning scenic beaches, were on our way to McClaren Vale. The area is home to wines known by all (Rosemount), wines known by me (Shirvington), and wines known by those in South Australia to be world class. We started at Simon Hacket. The cellar door (tasting room), was filled with the artwork of the owners daughter, and there was at least one piece on the wall that, in a previous life, would have been mine. We tasted everything from the Riesling to the Grenache, and I picked up a couple of bottles of Shiraz Ligonier to enjoy later in the week. We then proceeded to Paxton, one of the areas more popular wineries. The AAA Shiraz Grenache and the ’03 Shiraz both made me swoon, and I added a couple of those to my collection. We were off to Chapel Hill, where the Verdehlo was lovely but not worth writing home about, which is precisely why I’m writing home about it. We then stopped off at d’Arenburg, home to previously enjoyed exports like The Stump Jump and Dry Dam Riesling. My intention had been to pick up a couple of each at cellar door prices, but then I saw a tasting menu that included a 100% Mourvedre and an Ironstone Pressings GSM. Commenting to Tracy that I was making a mistake I’d be paying for at 18% interest, I picked up a bottle of each. Tracy, insisting that she was enjoyed playing chauffer for the day, determined that we should try to hit as many more wineries as we could before closing time. We raced through Gemtree & Dowie (absolutely lovely Candenzia, [a blend of Grenache, Tempranillo, and Shiraz – a fabulous table wine at a great price] and a surprisingly divine Chenin Blanc), Coriole Vineyards (Old Barn Shiraz Cabernet that did, in fact, taste like an old barn, whether or not that’s a good thing is subject to debate), and through to Red Dot, where the Old Vine Grenache made me cry “I love you” several times over. As we were heading out of the valley, we noticed a cellar door at the top of a small hill. Leconfield Wines, the sign said. Neither Tracy nor I had heard of it. It was 15 minutes till closing, and we decided to give it a try. We walked in the door of the beautifully decorated tasting room/mini museum, and there he was: Hunky Joe Wine Guy. Although I’d been shockingly responsible with my tasting (after all, now that I had a friend with a car I didn’t want to lose her), I’d been shockingly responsible about 37 times, and while in full control of my faculties I was feeling no pain. “How you going?” the cute wine guy said, “What would you like to taste today?” “Hello cute wine guy!” I replied, and if Tracy had had any wine in her mouth it would have come out through her nose, “I’d like something that will blow my socks off!” He leaned in, placing his elbows on the counter and his cute head in his hands. “Can you be a little more specific?” I leaned over the counter. “I’ve spent my day loving the Grenache.” I replied. “Great!” he said, “Now I know exactly what to do.” As he poured a 2006 Richard Hamilton Grenache, a 2003 RH Marion Grenache, and an overwhelmingly good (and surprising) 2004 Sparkling Shiraz, we chatted about the McClaren Vale, the differences between the 2002 and 2003 Shiraz, and whether or not Robert Parker deserved a) the flack he gets for being the single most influential person in the international wine market or, b) his job. Finally, Tracy coughed, and I realized that the sun was going down and it was time to leave. I purchased a few bottles of wine and we were on our way. I didn’t get his name. Or his number. So maybe my flirt’s not yet totally on. Then again, I did get a free bottle of 2004 Richard Hamilton Centurion Shiraz, so you be the judge.
Ok, I think I’m back now. I haven’t spent the last three weeks entirely in the pit; I’ve also gone to class.

April 24, 2007

Food & Drink in Contemporary Society: Changes in Diet and Eating Habits.

Before we can analyze the reason for a change, we must first establish that a change has taken place. To do that, we must identify the conditions that were present before the change, and the conditions that are present since the change.

My eating conditions prior to February 17, 2007 were of a social nature. My eating conditions post February 17, 2007 are solo events. I do not enjoy eating as much as I did prior to February 17, 2007. Clearly, a change has taken place. A careful analysis reveals that one reason for the change is that I am almost in the South Pole and Kim in almost in the North Pole. She has Polar Bears, I have Penguins. Neither tastes good.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Almost there.

Monday, May 07, 2007

May 6, 2007

Still climbing. Almost there. Can see the light at the top.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday May 4, 2007

I'll Bet You They Won't Play This Song...

I just said "pussy" on the radio. Four times. I'm feeling a little better.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

...still digging...