Friday, September 30, 2011

what's hot on the cooktop

So my kitchen here may be of no epic proportions (quite frankly, it's just big enough for one person to cook/stand/reach wall-to-wall comfortably) but some of the meals I have been whipping up recently are not skimping in the taste sensation department. Now, I told you earlier that I would be giving a detailed account of some of my more eloquent dishes, so if you have yet to eat today or hear that rumble from down under (not "Australia" down under, but "tummy" down under) then you may just want to wait and read/see this post until later!

You. Have. Been. Warned.

In the past two weeks, I have found much pleasure in perusing the many grocery stores which lie within walking distance from my flat. We have Coles, Woolworths (personal favourite!), Jack's, IGA and several other major chains that all carry different specialty foods and spices. As you can remember, most of the produce is quite frankly out of my reach (red peppers here are a whopping $10 a pound and a small bunch of basil is $3) so I have taken to more clever ways to satisfy my cravings. First, I have noticed what the main influence here is. Now Nicholas, what is that you may ask? Well, anything Asian is a big trend, so that means lots of different Asian-style vegetables, sauces, meats, etc (duh, we are right below Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and China). My friends will even take fresh/frozen seafood and for a light snack use a bit of swordfish, create a quick dim sum soup and top it all with broccoli and peppers...they even eat the stuff with proper utensils. Some even laughed when I said we snacked on the likes of Ramen and Triscuits back home...I suppose I would snickered have too if I had a hot cup of dim sum to warm the soul. Anyways, back to the main point: Asian-style ingredients are cheaper. Therefore, instead of buying bulk groceries like in America, I decided to buy what I need daily and save myself the cost of things going bad (and besides, our refrigerator couldn't even fit a whole turkey on one of its tiny shelves...oh, and remember it's shared between three people). That means everything is fresh and shopping is actually fun, because I can often just look around and make up recipes on the spot to satisfy that persnickety craving. But enough torment with talk of ingredients and the like.

Without further ado, Le Menu (a not-so-comprehensive list of some of the things I have made, thus far):
*Stuffed mushrooms with sausage
*Pasta with fresh pumpkin/zucchini/pepper/onion and cashews and cheese in a white sauce
*Pizza margherita with fresh tomatoes and feta with sausage
*Pork loin with tarragon butter and peas and rosemary potatoes

There are many other pairings, however I have decided to only include the ones I photographed, so you can get a better idea of what everything looks like. To put everyone at ease, I guess I could say yes, yes I am eating well. I have even decided to try my hand with some new Asian-themed ventures (since the likes of coconut milk and jasmine rice reign supreme here). I even recently went on a shopping trip (today actually) to try my luck at making these dishes with the likes of chicken/beef and lots and lots of curry/sesame seed/soy/and chilli sauce. Pictures of that to come soon!

Aside from the aforementioned cuisine, I also have indulged in some purely Australian delicacies. One, Vegemite, I was all too nervous to try, since many American had cautioned against the salty spread. But what I have discovered
is the creamy substance tastes a lot like worcestershire sauce with a heaping does of sodium and slight hint of veggies. Best used
on toast or crisps and with a first layer ofbutter/pepper, it is not for the faint of heart (and yes, I'll bring some home so you can try it!). Another fancy of the Aussies are lamington bars, which I love! Basically, the dessert-like food is a spongecake in the shape of a cuboid which is coated in a traditional layer of chocolate icing and then desiccated coconut. They really are fantastic and best eaten in multiples with a heaping glass of milk (no, I can't bring any of these home, they would spoil and crush!).

Aside from all these goodies, there has been no eating out (too expensive, unless you count the one Italian BMT sub I bought at Subway for $9....$9 Footlong? Try singing that in place of $5 doesn't even sound right!) I do hope to try some of the many Vietnamese restaurants placed conveniently near our house soon...but alas, money will need to start flowing in before such a venture.
Which leads me to my last and final point (the "icing on the lamington" if you will): I will be away for exactly one week starting tomorrow. If you are a savvy reader, then you already know my work with the circus starts bright and early tomorrow morning at 8:45 a.m. and goes until roughly 10 p.m. every night. That means I won't have time to use the Internet at all during the week. If I can steal a minute or two to post a picture or update, I will, but don't count on it. What you can count on is many, many pictures from this week that will either be hilarious or very embarrassing of myself. Regardless, you win!
Ok, I must go now, as the library is preparing to close!

In the words of a one Julia Child: "The best way to bone a duck is to just do it!"

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